Friday, March 5, 2010

Book Review: TGWaCP

The title of the book was too long so I made it short for the purpose of the title of this post...

Currently: sipping tea and listening to Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from the 'Nutcracker'. I heart orchestra!

Ok. On to the book review.

TGWaCP is short for The Girl With a Cardboard Port.
It's a story based on a real story of an Australian woman and her trials.
Her story revolves around 3 countries: Australia, Singapore and Tanah Malaya (before Malaysia was formed and after).
She describes her life starting from when she was but a teenager living with her mum and siblings after her fathers death. She describes her feelings for her dad as a love-hate relationship: loving him because he was her dad and hating him for how he treats her.

After her fathers death she moves in with her auntie and since her mother is poor, she was to give up her dreams for a scholarship and work. In times of trouble she recieves help from a Jewish family and falls in love with the son of that family.

One day she decided to purchase a rosary for her dead dad in hopes that she is forgiven of her sin: 'She had wished that her father would just die and he did.'
When she reached the cemetary, one minute she was standing over her fathers grave and the next she is bawling on his grave. When she returned home, she refused to work and seeing this as an act of disobedience her auntie sends her to a 'Christian boarding school' which later she found out turns to be a school for wayward girls. In the school she was beaten and verbally abused by the 'sisters'. She described her stay there as a prison and slowly she feels that she is losing herself. This is shown when she is constantly called 'Number 5' by the sisters and her constant reminder that she has a name and family.

When her mum came over for a visit, she no longer could stand being in the 'prison' and begged her mum to take her out. She was thrown into a cell for her disobedience. Just when she thought that was the end, she was rescued by her Jewish boyfriend and her mother. Sadly, right after that episode, her boyfriend was sent back to Israel.

Once again she lives with her aunt, uncle and her family. Suddenly a past lover of her mother comes and ruins what little peace she has in her life. The man, Ken, verbally abuses her and her mother. Unfortunately, her mother needed to marry the man in order to support the family. At one point the heroine of the story came back and discovered that the man tried to drown her mother in the bath tub. After rescuing her mother, she had to flee from her house in fear that the man will send her to prison for trying to murder him to save her mum. So she flees and stays with her co-worker (a prostitute).

Her friend suggest that they runaway and they followed some trailer guys. Here the heroine was tricked by her friend and she lost her virginity in order to pay for the transport, accomodation and food. However, after that episode, her friend no longer told her to service any customers.

At one point, she decided to marry a chinese man in hopes for better life, but things only got worse. He does not care for her at all and sends her off to Singapore. In the foreign land, she felt so lost. Cultural differences made it even more difficult for her to adapt. She is not respected nor loved by her new family and thus lives in constant loneliness. She then saved an indian girl and the girl starts to work for her.

When her husband found a mistress, he then sends her to a kampong somewhere in Tanah Malaya. Where he rarely visits and only calls for her for formal gatherings. In once such gathering, she publicly humiliated him by accepting to dance with an indian man (who in those days are deemed lower class compared to her husband). Racial discrimination were abundant. Not only between Englishmen and the natives of Malaya but also between the Chinese, Indians and other natives. In my opinion, it made the whole world feel filthy and horrible. Men go around raping women of lower station and prostitution were abundant.

In the kampong, she was attacked by a terrorist group and to save her children she sacrificed money, food, medicine and also her body. In her despair, she decided to go into prostitution to support her life and that of her childrens. She also unexpectedly fell in love with one of the terrorist. She even mentions that she would have runaway with him if he did not mention her children.

When her husband came and took her from the kampong, he brought her back to Singapore. She was so tired of everything, she just wanted to go back home to Australia and she even begged help from her sister-in-law to reclaim her passport from her husband. Unfortunately she was tricked by the entire family. Her husband tried to use her to pay off his debts.

In that moment of madness and despair she received her passport from her sister-in-law and was told to leave but her children cannot go with her.
She left for Australia but did not feel the happiness that she thought she would have. How could she when she just lost her kids?
When she reached australia she thought "I've reached home, but at what cost"
Even years after, when her daughter came to question her abandonment, she could not. How could she tell her child that she was raped, used by their father, attacked by terrorist and falling in love with one of them?
Her son refused to forgive her and since she did answer her daughters questions, she too couldn't forgive their mother.

After reading this novel, I closed it with a heavy heart. I've never before manage to grasp the realities of the past and somehow, after reading this tale I feel that I'm SO very glad I wasn't born during that time. I didn't like how there was constant worry in the air, how poverty in those days were so much more horrible than what it is now. How did people live in those situations? When I think about my brothers and sisters of faith in Gaza and Palestine I feel their pain. How could they bare it? How could anyone make them bare it? Oh God I pray for them. I'm so helpless and I feel there is nothing I can do but pray.
If only people understand, really understand, how precious peace is. How everything, EVERYTHING, that we have now is so precious. The hours we spend laughing and enjoying our time, the lazy hour we spend on Facebook and the good food and homes we have are so very valuable that I wouldn't trade it for anything!
People say if we don't fight for our rights then we are cowards, but fighting isn't the only way to win.
When we do something to protect the things we love, it doesn't matter if the other party wins the battle as long as we win the war, as long as we manage to protect the things we love.

I watched this drama where a man running a restaurant happens to see his wife being scolded by some mafia guys. People would think that the right thing to do is to defend her and fight back but he went in front of them and apologized. He bowed fervently and begged forgiveness. Do you think he is a coward? The gang just laughed at him and left. He isn't a coward. He manage to save the people he love. He cherished his wife more than his ego or his pride.

Sometimes, fighting is not the right way to solve anything. If he fought back, they would come back with more men and just make things worse. We really need to know our priorities and know what is in our life that we care about most of all. (Learn your strengths and weakness as well as the strength and weakness of your enemy)

Muslims during the time of the Prophet s.a.w, sacrificed everything they had for their faith and even their lives. Goes to show that pride, ego and stubborness isn't something worth protecting. It is our life, the people we love and the faith in Allah S.W.T. that we should hold above all else. I remembered one part in the book I read about Saidina Abu Bakar where during the time of Uhud war (sorry if i got this wrong. I don't quite remember), when the muslims were losing the war and many fleed and left the prophet, there were a few men that stayed behind with him. The prophet (in his tent) prayed fervently to Allah S.W.T. for help. He prayed to the extent that he became very weak. Abu Bakar, unable to watch his friend any longer, embraced the Prophet from behind and exclaimed "That is enough, for surely Allah S.W.T. will grant your wish". After that, they won the war. I seriously almost cried (again). The extent of their friendship and their love towards Allah S.W.T. is probably something I am not able to match. I was just so touched.

For surely Allah S.W.T. helps those who seek help from him. He remembers those who remember Him.

p.s. This is probaly the longest book review I've EVER done (and a day before my midterms). O_O

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Bystander Effect

This is really fascinating read. Click HERE to know what I'm talking about.

One lesson I got from this is: More doesn't mean better.
In one of the videos about the child getting kidnapped I was so touched with what the two young man did. Imagine seeing a kid screaming for help and not doing anything. How horrible!
Is society REALLY like that?

I seriously hope not. Research and studies on human behavior can sometimes provide a pattern or a system of the human behavior but I believe its not permanent. We can always break out of this system. We just need to be conscious of what we do.
Its not simple but I believe in it.
People don't automatically fall into the bystander effect. It's just scary how we (in general) like to leave the responsibility to other people.

In my class there was once a case where my lecturer told the students at the back row to send a representative to come down and get some papers to distribute to the group of students who sit at the back. This would require only ONE student to come down. Yet the decision made for ONE student to volunteer to come down took more than 5 minutes. Imagine the exasperation. My lecturer actually yelled "What? ARE YOU DEAF? I said COME DOWN TO GET THE PAPER!!!!!" Do you see what happened? The students in the back row assumes that someone other than themself would go down to get the papers and in the end no one made a move. Only when my lecturer yelled did some students begin to move.

Its really exasperating! A decision that could be made within miliseconds turned to 5 minutes just because everyone in the back assume someone would do it. And this was a simple decision to make. Just stand up and go. It's not like they had to save someone or jump in a river or something. So imagine if you saw a person drowning. How many minutes do you think you'll take if there were other bystanders with you? I think by the time you made a decision the person would have already drowned.

I find human psychology my favourite study. I recommend others who like this field to read BLINK. BLINK is a book written by Malcolm Gladwell delving into the topic of human psychology in cases where we have to make snap judgement. The power of thinking without thinking. Somewhere along the lines of your subconscious mind.

How often do you find yourself regretting over what you did? Or maybe thinking why you did such a thing? Maybe you didn't have much time to think over what you did. Or maybe you just did what first came to mind.

Blink underlines studies on stereotyping, preconceptions and the effect of pressure or duress towards our actions and our decisions.

One really interesting case in the book caught my interest.
"Tragedy on Wheeler Avenue"

4 police men driving by a neighbourhood late at night came across a young black man. They were driving pass and so they couldn't see him well. One thing they noticed other than the fact he was black, was that he was a small man. What does small mean? - It means he's got a gun. -
Its 12:30 in the morning and he's alone in a lousy neighbourhood. The preconception -he's got a gun.
The policemen believe that if he was alone in that neighbourhood he wouldn't dare come outside his apartment alone. Therefore, they believed him to have a gun. Or else where did he get the bravery to come out alone? (THIS is not fact. They just came up with this reasoning not based on any solid information but on their own belief that if he's black and in a lousy neighbourhood in the late hours it means he has a gun. I know this sounds irrational but if you were the police wouldn't you think so too? Try ask yourself and picture yourself in their shoes before you judge them.)
They stopped the car, 2 police came out and called out to the man, "Police. Can we have a word?"
The man panicked; terror was written all over his face. Why wouldn't he be afraid? 2 big white man are coming towards him at that late an time, so he ran. Now this then turns into a pursuit.
Here's another fact: The policemen are new to the neighbourhood AND new to the street crime unit.
Guess what happens during the pursuit?
The police men's heart rate soars. The pressure is on and they don't know how to handle it.
The man turns sideways upon reaching his apartment door and digs something in his pocket.
AND all hell breaks loose.
"He's got a gun!" And they began shooting.
After 41 bullets were shot, the boss went to the body and checks it.
"Where's the fucking gun!?"
One police officer runs up the street and another sits next to the bullet-ridden body and starts to cry.

This story from the book underlines the dangers of our preconceptions and stereotype.
The policemen saw that he was a black man in a lousy neighbourhood and came up with the conclusion that the man had a gun. You might think that this situation happened for probably more than 10 minutes. Fact is that it happened in a few seconds. Around 1000 seconds but these few seconds were enough steps and decisions to fill a lifetime.

Other books by Malcolm Gladwell are Tipping Point and Outliers. I got them both but have yet to read them.
Hope you'll read them too. (Here's another link to a review on BLINK)

And one last link which i find interesting...


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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Book Review: The little Prince

Clockwise (Start from the trees): Baobab trees, the drinker/drunkard, the conceited man, the lamplighter, the businessman, the king, the geographer/old gentleman and in the middle is the little prince.

Hello world! So here I am again to introduce (and if possible convince you to read this book) "The Little Prince" written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

I feel in love with this book at the first chapter of the story at exactly this sentence:
"Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is exhausting for children always and forever to be giving explainations."

At the very beginning of this novel (in my understanding) the writer wrote how different children and adults (or so they call themselves) see the world. How to the child, his drawing looks that of a boa constrictor who swallowed an elephant and how adults see it as a hat. How different children and adults are! Almost as if we are seperated in different worlds yet we step on the same sand and breathe the same air do we not?
Then the writer further stated that adults love numbers and figures. They lose sight of things that are important. When getting to know someone they ask how much those the person earn for a living or how many siblings they have or how old is he. They do not ask what does the person like to do or what are his favourite games.
I really love the novel, so much that it's hard to have a favourite chapter. One specific chapter on baobabs is very important to me. It is about how we treat our planet. The writer stresses the importance of this by saying how he took time and effort to draw the picture of the baobab tree. In order to teach children of how important it is for us to care for our planet. Where else would we live without it???
Oh there is so much that we can learn from this novel. Especially to those kids that are becoming adults and to those adults who forgot they were once kids. I'll stress one last important part in the novel. On his journey, the prince met many weird adults (from the king to the businessman to the drunkard to the lamplighter to the geographer and the conceited man) and perhaps the most important appearance in the novel was not that of a human but a fox. An animal which the prince tame and an animal who taught the prince the importance of a bond.


'My life is very monotonous. I run after the chickens and men run after me. All the chickens are the same; all the men are the same. Consequently, I get a little bored. But if you tame me, my days will be as if filled with sunlight. I shall know the sound of a footstep different from all the rest. Other steps make me run to earth. Yours will call me out of my foxhole, like music. And besides, look over there! You see the fields of corn? Well, I don't eat bread. Corn is of no use to me. Corn fields remind me of nothing. Which is sad. On the other hand, your hair is the colour of gold. So think how wonderful it will be when you have tamed me. The corn, which is golden, will remind me of you. And I shall come to love the sound of the wind in the field of corn...'
'And now you are going to cry!' said the little prince.
'I know,' said the fox.
'So you have gained nothing at all!'
'Yes, I have gained something,' said the fox, 'because of the colour of the corn.'


'Goodbye,' said the fox. 'Now here is my secret, very simply: you can only see things clearly with your heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.'
'It is the time you have wasted on your rose that makes your rose so important.'
'People have forgotten this truth,' said the fox. 'But you must not forget. You become responsible, for ever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose.'


It will be really tiring to explain everything in my post and you'll probably not understand half of what I'm saying. I strongly recommend this book to everyone! Children and yes! to you adults out there who think you are mature. I always hear adults say how innocent children are and how they do not know what the real world is like and how immature children can be but seriously who are you to decide what IS the real world? Isn't the way we all view the world different from the other? A person in a rich family will see the world differently from an orphan in the streets. A farmer live life differently from a lawyer. No? So what is real and what isn't? Is your world real or mine?
I really disagree when adults say that children do not understand the world. Sure they lack experience and thus some understanding but what adults often don't realise is how children KNOW what is important in life while adults (in their haste to meet everyday needs and achievement) forget what is most important.

After reading this book I'm looking forward to read another one of his creation "Wind, Sand and Stars". So I hope you all would pick up this book and read it. Won't take you even half a day to read it. You'll gain something in EVERYTHING that you read. Hope you'll enjoy this book as much as I did. :)


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Monday, December 21, 2009

Body Damaging Habits

some cool info from my mum D:


1. No Breakfast
People who do not take breakfast are going to have a lower blood sugar level. This leads to an insufficient supply of nutrients to the brain causing brain degeneration.

2. Overeating
It causes hardening of the brain arteries, leading to a decrease in mental power.

3. Smoking
It causes multiple brain shrinkage and may lead to Alzheimer disease.

4. High Sugar consumption
Too much sugar will interrupt the absorption of proteins and nutrients causing malnutrition and may interfere with brain development.

5. Air Pollution
The brain is the largest oxygen consumer in our 20 body. Inhaling polluted air decreases the supply of oxygen to the brain, bringing about a decrease in brain efficiency.

6 . Sleep Deprivation
Sleep allows our brain to rest.. Long term deprivation from sleep will accelerate the death of brain cells..

7. Head covered while sleeping
Sleeping with the head covered increases the concentration of carbon dioxide and decrease concentration of oxygen that may lead to brain damaging effects.

8. Working your brain during illness
Working hard or studying with sickness may lead to a decrease in effectiveness of the brain as well as damage the brain.

9. Lacking in stimulating thoughts
Thinking is the best way to train our brain, lacking in brain stimulation thoughts may cause brain shrinkage.

10. Talking Rarely
Intellectual conversations will promote the efficiency of the brain

The main causes of liver damage are:

1. Sleeping too late and waking up too late are main cause.

2. Not urinating in the morning.

3. Too much eating.

4. Skipping breakfast.

5. Consuming too much medication.

6. Consuming too much preservatives, additives, food coloring, and artificial sweetener.

7. Consuming unhealthy cooking oil.
As much as possible reduce cooking oil use when frying, which includes even the best cooking oils like olive oil. Do not consume fried foods when you are tired, except if the body is20very fit.

8. Consuming raw (overly done) foods also add to the burden of liver.
Veggies should be eaten raw or cooked 3-5 parts. Fried veggies should be finished in one sitting, do not store.

We should prevent this without necessarily spending more. We just have to adopt a good daily lifestyle and eating habits. Maintaining good eating habits and time condition are very important for our bodies to absorb and get rid of unnecessary chemicals according to 'schedule.'

The top five cancer-causing foods are:

1.. Hot Dogs

Because they are high in nitrates, the Cancer Prevention Coalition advises that children eat no more than 12 hot dogs a month. If you can't live without hot dogs, buy those made without sodium nitrate..

2. Processed meats and Bacon

Also high in the same sodium nitrates found in hot dogs, bacon, and other processed meats raise the risk of heart disease. The saturated fat in bacon also contributes to cancer.

3. Doughnuts

Doughnuts are cancer-causing double trouble. First, they are made with white flour, sugar, and hydrogenated oils, then fried at high temperatures. Doughnuts, says Adams , may be the worst food you can possibly eat to raise your risk of cancer.

4. French fries

Like doughnuts, French fries are made with hydrogenated oils and then fried at high temperatures. They also contain cancer- causing acryl amides which occur during the frying process. They should be called cancer fries, not French fries, said Adams ..

5. Chips, crackers, and cookies

All are usually made with white flour and sugar. Even the ones whose labels claim to be free of trans-fats generally contain small amounts of trans-fats.

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