Call me a girl, call me a poofter as long as I can try.
Today for no reason I like to cry but the fact is I can't. I couldn't force the gland to produce salt-taste dew down my cheek.
But what I could do was listening to sad songs.
I'm trying to get to the core of this melancholy mood. When I dig, nothing major in my life than needs me to cry. Maybe horoscope running bad today! yes, blame the zodiac
The last lesson? I don't think I should say that. Reason being? I don't learn much from the creative writing class I took except I learnt a good lesson- not to study at Auckland University! reason being? The practical and technical class turned into a theoritical and more to literary criticism. That's the reason being.
I feel a bit restless today. My heart beats at the same speed as the clock ticking. Reason being? My piece (writings) will be criticised later today in class.
For some reason, I feel like people won't like my story despite that some of my friends have read it and loving it but I'm not fully convinced. Reason being? I crafted the story as per scene for screenplay.
I really want to put the story in here but due to copyright reason, I don't want my idea to be stolen! 'Cuz I have a bigger plan to that piece to be a short indie film.
Today, my second session at University of Auckland.
Oh yeah, in case I forgot and in fact I forgot, I enrolled myself at Auckland University short course in Creative Writing. Motive? To write creatively. I doubt it will happen.
So last week Tuesday, 9 Sept was my first class. I was in a car waiting for the class time while eating my kebab for buka puasa. Seriously, studying after hour (working hour) is a pain in the ass. Here's why. I finished work at 430pm and I got 2 hours to dispose before the class start. These 2 hours sounds like, you can spend it without even realising it. But when you fasting, these 2 hours can be torturing. What more you are at the last few hours of your fasting and you energy run low. I tell you, i was dragging my legs around town for window shopping to spend those 2 hours.
I refused to hang out at library. With my almost empty stomache, I couldn't picture my stomache making loud sound breaking the silent. I don't want people to stair at me and having the thought I'm starving myself to look like Paris Hilton or worse think that I am a malnurish and broke Asian. Oh poor me.
Anyway at about 6ish just before the class start i walked in the building. It was dark with several lights were on. It's early spring and day time still shorter than night. Outside, the trees that line the street gave me a spook. With only trunk and branches with the absent of leave, the silhoutte of tree behind the street light really look like set in horror movie.
I was waiting for the lift then there was lady standing next to me. I don't bother to look at her. Not being sombong but just not into people. She got in the lift and she press the buttoned to 3rd floor. "Which floor?" She asked.
"Third", I said "are you attending creative writing?" I just don't want to have awkward moment in the lift.
She said yes and i told her it's been ages since the last time i did some studies and she also agreed with me. We talk while walking into the class. She did introduced her name but I just don't remember. I'm really bad at name. I almost forgot my father's name. Just kidding.
We sat next to each other. I looked around. It seemed like i was the only non-white there. There were 5 man and double the numbers are female students. They all looked aged. Some in their late 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s. Suddenly i felt damn small.
Having the idea that English is my second lingo, am i up for this course. Creative writing, do i have the juice for english writing. Gosh, i felt small like the biji sawi. Seriously felt intimidated.
When everyone was there, the tutor wanted us to introduce ourself with these points- name, writing experience, and current reading.
"Hi, i'm Shahwaluddin Mat Rasul-"
"What was your name once again?
"I'm sorry. How do i pronounced it?"
"SHAH-WA-LUD-DIN" Gosh. This is the reason why i hate my name. "But just call Ed. I was PR for ** and I've writing for the media back in Malaysia. Press Release and all that stuff. But i don't like corporate writing. The last book i read was Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson"
And since then I'm no longer below the radar. My name keep being called. I don't know why, since uni, lecturer or tutor always asked me in class. Was it because i have a nerdy look? I should blame my eyeglass then. Thanks to Ryan for exporting the red glass from Malaysia.
Then we have the writing exercise. We were asked to describe a street or hood (neighborhood) from a child perspective that witness and accident but not describing the accident. My brain could work that out. Apa taknya baru lepas buka puasa then pekena plak exercise yang very confusing. But i did indeed write mine. But it was suck caused it full of "but" in my sentence!
Then the other read theirs. I was like, omigod, they were freaking good man. the imagination is very vivid and being put into writing. Then this sudden urge in me, "in wanna be like that". I did not feel small though. Despite mine was completely terrible. I learn just by listening to their writing. Then i know how should i write the next time we have exercised like that.
Anyway today is my second class and i've been a noughty student. I didn't finish the reading that Craig (tutor) gave us. Shit. Nevermind. I won't participate in critical discussion of that Kundera work about Prague.
Hopefully i didn't not make fool of myself tonight. The only thought i have now is what to eat more than what to read.
How do you know? Whatever I did people will notice (laugh). Anyway, yes I went to circus last Friday. My housemate told me he got free ticket from some people at charity organisation. So after dinner we took bus to ASB Showgrounds.
So how was it?
Nervous at first.
Nervous? Should you be happy?
Okay I tell you what, personally, I don't like clown. Never ever like them. So you know, circus and clown are jive together so I was a bit afraid. Frankly, I'm phobia to clown after I watched IT (adaptation from Stephen King novel) when I was little. Since then every time I see them, I kept thinking about they are an infanticide or a serial killer that hunting children. Scary (his hair stands at its end).
So you see them (clowns)?
Thanks god I done. I think if they welcome me at the entrance, I bet I make some scene there like I was about to enter ghost house! (laugh). The clowns that I saw were on top of their (circus) van with their wide eyes and big nose. I dare not approach them even though my housemate asking me to take the photo.
Then what happen inside?
we were there at about before 7 pm and the show started at about 7ish because they were having a charity auction right before the show. Oh yeah, the night that I went was for charity. There were some bloody good deal during the auction for example digital SLR for sold for NZD$700 whereas the RRP is about thousand plus. After the charity auction ended, they turned the light off. Then we heard this husky and coarse voice talking something over the microphone. Then I was like, "who is this retard?". Then the spotlight light followed and that was when I saw his face. He look like Einstein with round belly and that super frizzy grey hair (or maybe it was blond!) and wearing red tailcoat. Immediately I felt sick. Felt like throwing up. Nak muntah.
I don't know. It's hard to explain. But I bet it something what I was conditioned when I was a kid. You see I did watch movies and tv programmes about circus. If you remember, circus at those time (19-20th century or perhaps until now) were oppressive. The owner of the circus using forced labour and threat to their casts and talents. And those working at circus were freaks- those people that doesn't fit in the society like a lady with beard whereas she was having excessive male testosterone . They were underpaid or not being paid at all and living in poor sanitation and diet. So when I was a kid I always felt pity for them though I know it was just a movie but I have a reason to believe it (were real). I still think it was real. So back to this Einstein guy, I didn't look at him and my housemate told me off to not saying "retard" as it derogatory.
You weird man (laugh), I think you can also work in circus.
Just joking. So what's after that?
Before that, I was reading the ticket and it said "Shokarn- Oriental Spectacular" and from the cover they have this Chinese guy with red nose riding a dragon. Instantly I knew it something got to do with chinese acrobatic performance. Then I read some description at the back (of the ticket), "Emporos, princesses and dragon fly high into the air to recapture the sphere so that the kingdom is saved. All thing intermingles with the magic of the circus in this fabolous new show". It sounds good.
I thought the acts was having some sort of story telling element but not all, only the opening act. The write up was like Peter Barnum and Robber Baron era of public relations- it was merely a hype and nothing like it (I'm sorry because I sometime read too much and started to become so critical to many things in life). But nevertheless, the first acrobatic performance was pretty cool.
Tell us about it.
Look at the video.
Okay, how about the other acts.
Some were lame and some was boring and some were ok.
It sounds you don't enjoy it.
I wasn't. Since this is my first time, now I know circus is not my thing and I will never like it. During the show I kept raising questions and my friend was a bit annoyed I guess. For example, I asked him did the Chinese performers were having a proper visa to work in circus or were they holding just a visitor visa. They were also kids working at the circus and I started to wonder should a kid be allowed to work even though it is for show business. My head that night keep boggling.
So describe your night in 15 words.
Disgusting. Gross. Manipulative. Exploitation. Cold. times these 5 words by 3 and it shall make 15 words!
Let me tell you something that I never tell anyone before. I now know the power of god.
When I was in Malaysia I wasn't the god fearing person. I did pray but very seldom. I prayed just to satisfy my parent. I prayed not to ashamed off not praying and when i was just by myself there were unlike that I will pray. I would rather just sit around and let the (pray) time passed without any feeling of guilt.
Nonetheless, I still get what I want. My only philosophy at that time was, if you work it out you will get what wanted and prayer was lame excuse for abiding Muslim to get what they want without any effort. I believed this is how I got here (New Zealand) with my tireless ways to make my wills came true.
Then there ups and down in Auckland that I handled beautifully with my sane mind. Still I strongly believe it's nothing got to do with god and there were solely from my own effort to make or break.
Things turn custard when my visa expired, my instances happening and all of them is beyond what I can control. I constantly being tested here and there, poke at many angles and keep getting problem with Immigration. And I was still into myself, I still manage to handle it. There are few individuals helping me (Cherlyn, Graeme, Halimah). My inner strength is still strong. I still didn't face any nervous breakdown. I became strong and still I think god has nothing to do with it.
Until when I ran out off effort, when I reached the last resort to complaints to Member of Parliament of Auckland Central yet the outcome was still uncertain. That's when I found my god. I started to approach him like never before. I started to pray 5 times as we obliged to do- something that was hard for me to do before. Then I started to sacrifice some hours of my sleep and waking up at the wee hours to sujud in front of him asking forgiveness and requesting my wish to get my work permit being granted.
I did it religiously. Constantly looking at look for the next praying time. I have changed to somebody I was not. Surprise to my own self. But all for my own good.
Then last week on glory Friday afternoon, after almost two month get my self close to god, He finally giving me second chance to live in New Zealand for another 9 months. Though I was applying for 2 year work permit, I didn't complain. I got no reason by the way and learn to appreciate.
I still remember on that day, Friday 27th June, I said alhamdulillah for god knows how many times. It came out of my mouth like bertasbih to him.
The news came with a price, knowing how glorious He can me. The almightiness. Now I know how powerful doa can be. It is in fact our sword but provided we had all the effort working in hand with the prayer. There's no point hoping from god without making you own effort and that's lazy. In my case, I had all the efforts but I was arrogant.
Since the good news, my life start to come together again. I got my old job at Telecom NZ.
On Thursday 3rd July, I walked with my housemate to my first day of work.
"Did you realise today I was suppose to be the day I fly back to Malaysia", I told him.
In case my visa was rejected, I booked flight on 3:15 am of 3rd July back to Malaysia. Instead, at 6:50 am I was still in New Zealand instead of boarding Royal Brunei Airlines and could be somewhere at Australia's airspace.
But at 6:50 am, I was walking following path He had chosen for me.
Ask any kids who they are terrified most. Chances are, more than half of them will say dentist. Forget kids, I've known a fully grown adult who also scared of visiting a dentist. He'd rather take panadol to relief the ache!
Am I scared of dentist? Boastfully I got no reason to scared of them (unless there's a clown in their office! Oh yeah. I developed a clown-o-phobia and this thanks to Stephen King's IT!). Anyway, I wasn't religiously visiting them as per recommended every sixth month. To be frank I can't even remember when was the last I had my teeth check. What I remembered I had a filling at IIUM Dental Clinic. Was it 2005 or perhaps 2006. In short, it was more than 2 years.
This few months, I keep gettting toothache especially at the top right and sometime bleeding even when I merely gargle. Considering it has been awhile since the last visit, I gave a serious thought to visit one (dentist) in here. This morning, I called one clinic at Quay St which I saw when I taking bus and asking about the treatment cost. They quoted me NZD$250 for scaling, polish and X-ray.
Then I asked my friend about her dentist and rang them. The clinic is at K' Road which is nearer to me. The lady that answered the phone told me it will cost me about NZD$150 for the same treatment quoted at Quay St clinic. I am being calculative, so I went to the later clinic.
I appeared at the clinic at about 5 minutes to 10. Judith, the receptionist asked me to fill up a form since this is my first visit. Then I was ushered to a dentist room and was introduced to Dr. Tammy. She's an asian. I'm not sure what she is; chinese, korean or japanese but one thing for sure she's from far east asia.
I bet she not an immigrant considering her age, she looks young and her impeccable kiwi english. Perhaps she was second generation or third kiwi.
Dr Tammy was really professional. When we done the check up she constantly asking me if it hurts. I still remember when I was in IIUM clinic, they don't bother to us how I was feeling.
The gadget in the clinic was pretty modern. She done the X-ray for record. She then checked each individual teeth and once she discover some cavity she used camera (very high definition and allow me to view it.) It was pretty amazing to be able what's inside our mouth especially those are that we can't reach. A small cavity look like a crater in Mars. I was quite embarrass when she showed me the images of my wisdom tooth. There were stained.
"I hardly can reach there even when I floss" My simple excuse.
She then told she will teach me how to brush our wisdom tooth and that added my embarrassment. I would rather know how (to brush teeth) rather keeping my ego. Well to some it might sound like an insult. But who cares. It your teeth, let the professional do their job.
She started scaling my teeth to rid the plaque away. Followed by polish which leave a tingling effect on my lips. Then she told me I need to do 2 fillings. It was tiny mini actually. But hey, better do now before it gets worst.
It took about almost an hour for the whole process. When finished, as promised she demonstrated on how to brush my wisdom tooth. Now I know how.
Then the scary part- billing time. When calculated, I have to pay total of NZD$430 approximately RM1075 for 2 X-ray, scaling, polish, and 2 fillings. My mistake. I should have done the cleaning only. The dentist even recommended that but I was like, "just do all in one" and now I'm paying all in one!
I was quite worried. I'm not sure my credit card carry that much balance. I told her, the receptionist, to try swapping my card. But declined. Then I asked her can I arrange installment and she said I could. So I just paid half of that sum and the remaining will paid next week. Solve billing problem.
One thing about New Zealand healthcare, it extremely expensive in here. Healthcare professional are in scarcity. This dentist is one of the cheapest considering I'm living in city central. You can't get any cheaper (unless it's done by non-credible dentist. I wouldn't risk that).
In Malaysia, I remember when I was a kid going to dentist cost us about RM1 at the government clinic but I'm sure how it is now. You tell me.
Anyway, no matter where you are be it Malaysia or overseas. I think we should make it a habit to have it frequent check for our own good. Remember, we only get one set of teeth and it won't grow anymore like hair. Once your tooth aching your whole body is aching.
So now there's a big hole in my pocket and it burn again for the next 6 months.
Since the visa expired, Ed was left unemployed and finally the good news arrive. Our reporter are first to approach him.
Congratulation on your visa.
Thanks, mate. Syukur alhamdulillah
How you feel now?
The first thing I do was screaming. I always make noise when I'm happy or sad. I felt a big relieve. It's been a long battle I fought and it's seemed worth my time to wait though it wasted a lot of money.
So what's next?
I called my agency on the same day telling them my visa status. Previous they (recruitment agency) posted me to Telecom's Wholesale Provisioning Department. When my visa was expired early this year they put my name in KIV so I hope they will get my old job back. Anyway, they said answer will be given within next week (early July).
Don't you want to try something else?
Frankly, I did applied at some companies but the response that I got was their regret letter. It's quite hard to get a job in Auckland and since I was under Kelly Services, it might be the best option to just stay with them. It's handy cause they will find job for me instead of I scurry around like a rat.
Was it easy to land a in Kuala Lumpur than Auckland?
Absolutely. Employer in New Zealand is so idealistic. They want a super experience staff but what they offer is little. In Malaysia, from my previous experience, the employer is willing to hire fresh graduate and train them while on the job. In here, the expect you to know-it-all before hiring you. One more thing, to get a permanent job is extremely difficult. The best thing you could get is contract job. In my case, I work on temporary basis.
How's the pay like?
So far so good since my hourly rate is quite high. I won't tell you the exact amount, it's private and confidential (laugh). When (the salary) converted to Malaysian Ringgit, it may sound big but there's a big catch. First, 20.8% of the weekly wage goes to the income tax. That's a huge amount considering it's a weekly payment. Then, goes the (house) rental which burn your pocket about a fourth of your taxed salary. Let me give you an example, gross income NZD$680 minus tax of NZD$144.44 so you will bring home about NZD$538.56. Then you need to pay (room) rental which on average NZD$150 and that exclude the electricity and hot water bill. Then you need to eat, my average weekly grocery is NZD$70-100 and this exclude lunch money. So you left about NZD$200 - 300 per week for saving and shopping or for travel. Not that bad I suppose considering I don't have any other committment like car and petrol. Can't imagine how high the petrol now (sigh).
Wow, now I know the real situation. One, more thing do they have bonus system there?
Not likely. Only certain position and if i'm not mistaken the top executive entitle for performance bonus. But for a temporary staff you are dreaming. Sometime, even the permanent and contract are not getting bonus. It's very rare here. I personally think, Malaysia is a bonus heaven especially in corporate sector. A friend of mine working with TV3 were getting 6 months bonus! In that sense, I may consider relocate myself back in Malaysia.
Only time will tell. For now, I want to have fun while I still can in here.
Is it really fun working there?
Yes and no.
??? (raised eyebrows)
Here's why. The people are fun. The working culture is are more laid back compared to Malaysia. The people here is very friendly and it's easy to strike a conversation. The boring part was my job. Day in and day out are the same thing. I'm the type of person that like different setting and different task everyday and that what excite me here. Here, the role was so extremely boring but what motivated me was the money.
Thanks for spending time with us and we will visit you from time to time to get the update and kudos to you. Before that, any last word for our viewer out there?
Thanks to you too. Yeah I would to thanks my beloved god for granting my wish and thanks also to my family and friends who has been praying for me. May Allah bless you.