Campus Capers…Not

I’m going to tell you about my alma mater today. Why today? Well, since USM (that’s Universiti Sains Malaysia) is in the news today. World ranking and top universities and all that. Falling in world ranking! USM was 111th out of 200 top universities in the world and this year, not even within the top 200. As an alumna of this “green university” which was once named one of the most, if not the most beautiful campuses in Malaysia, I believe I have enough experience to tell you what it’s like on the inside.
Crazily enough, USM had been my one and only public university of choice ever since I was 16 or in Form Four. I remember I had this cheesy “USM- Destinasiku” sticker on my cupboard door for ages (I believe it is still there today – no one managed to peel the sticker off!).

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Sixth God's Water

Being sick is no fun. And having a thumping headache is equally awful.
I think it takes my body a couple of days to be in “sick” mode. I think my sniffles, headache and scratchy throat were a culmination of a number of things I did. Well, last Sunday I happily wolfed down nasi kerabu and rendang tok, bought from the nearby pasar Ramadan. But the rendang tok was heavily spiced. Not chili-burning hot but once spoonful of it and I knew it had a load of heat-inducing spices which could either give me a sore throat or an upset tummy.

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A Zahir Bliss

Paul Coelho, one of my favourite writers, says that he doesn’t need a lot of things to be happy. He was quite contented moving into a sparse two-star hotel in France, equipped with just “the essentials: a fireplace, a view of the mountains, an Internet connection and a satellite dish”.
I think when we really think about it, it’s true. It sounds cliched but there is much joy in doing simple things.
Like this evening.
I had forgotten how good it was just to sit back and relax after an early dinner. What made it even more special was that I finally got my hands on Anita Roddick’s Business as Unusual – a book I had hankered for, for the longest time! And to think I found it in the USM library!
I’ve been Roddick‘s fan since I read about her when I took a Business Management paper during my uni days. And I’ve been hooked. Roddick is not only a business woman, she’s also a business woman with heart and soul. Loads of it.
But the oddest thing is, as Roddick herself admits, she’s a total business outcast. No stuffy corporate bigwigs for her. She didn’t start with a business plan and she’s never read about business theory and yet she’s hailed as of the most courageous business people of this century.
She also said she’s often surprised that business schools are inviting her to speak because she defines entrepreneurial spirit as the antithesis of the business school.
True. Very true. It takes a lot of balls to be an entrepreneur. It’s like being a guerrilla essentially. There’s no fun when the guerrilla turns into the Government, is there?
But the review must come another day. I just felt that contentment comes easily if I have a good book, Opus playing in the background and a nice, hot mug of tea nearby. Absolute bliss.
There’s always something sexy about classical music and books together.
And tea. Preferably Earl Grey.
PS: The Zahir is Coelho’s newest book. Zahir means “present” or “visible” in Arabic.

Minoru Abe…and Moi

I don’t know what my IQ is. Never been tempted to find out even though
1. I did my thesis on the intellectually gifted
2. Nic is a member of Mensa
3. He tells me the test is not THAT tough
I think I have this problem of not wanting to ruin this lovely self-image of myself, built up over the years. I’m rather fragile I guess in that way. I have carefully constructed this image of me, how I should be, what I should be, over the years (the past 31 years in fact) and I am highly possessive of anyone taking a brick or two out of me. I don’t want to be “holey”.
Yet I love doing puzzles. Any puzzles. From those China-made metal ring puzzles, to Sudoku and to Minoru Abe.

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Three in One

Monday was a good day. I call it a good day because I ended up spending half my day ogling at books, smelling them and of course, reading them!
I’ve always lamented that Penang’s bookstores are a sorry bunch. It used to be just Popular, Times and MPH but the size was the factor. Small, cramped bookstores and limited titles (and some truly archaic ones as well) did not make for a good book day. I could not stand and read a bit before someone would jostle and say “excuse me” in the narrow aisle that I was standing in. That spoiled my book browsing.

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