Monday, February 16, 2009

14th February 2009 - The Valentine's Day

I was not alone, however, I had a group of single young people, stars and snowdrops around me with a series of planned activities. About 20 of us from Raleigh UK travelled from all over United Kingdom to participate a 3-day 2-night community project at Hanwell Castle, Banburry, Oxfordshire. We worked on a valentine bridge, valentine steps, transplanted snowdrops, kept the garden clean...... It was a lot of hard works, teamwork and a friendship gathering. We pledged to visit this place again with our Mr. Right and Ms. Left when true love showered us.

The journey started with a few emails to confirm the community project and a few calls to set an appointment to wait at Marylebone railway station. We traveled on Friday evening to Banburry. After that, we had dinner at a classy restaurant called The Moon and Six Pence. We slept at Hanwell Village Hall for 2 nights under zero degree Celcius. It was really cold.

On 14th Feb, we woke up for self-prepared breakfast. We had packed lunch after some hard works done. We have ended the work of the day at 4.00p.m.. Later, we proceeded to an English pub, The White Horse for live Six Nations Championship, beers and blackcurrant juice. We went back to the hall for our group ping pong championship and Bolognese spaghetti cooking session at the kitchen. It was a fantastic dinner.

The coming day, we finished our works on the ground, packed and went back by train with sweet memories. Friendship forever!


Hanwell Observatory

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Incredible Train Journey from Chennai to Margao, Margao to Mathura, Mathura to Agra and Agra to New Delhi - an estimated 4300 KM

A very friendly tour agent near the entrance of Chennai Central gave me some tour information with a touchy hand. She ran her hand along my arm, from my arm to my back. I was not very happy, in fact, I was offended. The way she acted was just like a low quality man who was trying to take advantages of a woman. I had a hard time figuring out why she wanted to do that. Later, I just accepted that it was the way she reacted as a friendly person. I showed an angry face with a very big reaction. She sensed my unhappiness straight away, and she responded with a spit. I just said thank you and got myself away from that place within a second. I was safe.

Next, I walked into Chennai Central. It was amazing. I met a lady at the ticket booking office for foreigners. She was the best. She was a very professional and quality individual. She helped foreign visitors to book their trains. She booked me the trains I wanted within a very short time, and I loved her job efficiency. I told her that I wanted to reach New Delhi for a connecting flight to London, and I requested first class trains or the best class which was available at that time. "Ms. Wong, welcome to India, and I hope that you will have a wonderful stay. I know that you are a good lecturer," she said. I was blushing and nodding with thanks. I guessed she must be my student’s family member.

I was there to wait for my turn, and the queue was very long. I was the only Chinese lady, and I was alone, therefore, I attracted unnecessary attention from those people who were waiting for the booking. I met some new friends there. I met an English man, two Russians, two Albanians, four Pakistanis, three Arabs and two Italians.

First, an extremely interesting English man introduced himself. He was about sixty years old. He introduced himself as the "last" in the country. I was surprised why an individual had such a low self-esteem.

I replied, and I said, "Nice to meet you. I am a Malaysian with a big mission to work for a better world. How can I help you?"

After that, he responded with an angry face, "You're a Chinese in Malaysia. You have no power. Malaysia means Muslims’ world."

"What? I think you must be mistaken. Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual country. We have equal rights in Malaysia. Power is gained only for respectful individuals. No races involved," I said strongly.

Later, he tried to argue. I did not have any intention to continue the never ending conversation. I just apologized, and I told him that I needed a rest because I had a long flight. He continued his own speech, and I just kept quiet. He mumbled something to me which I did not quite catch. I heard something like I was silly because I chose to have a transit in India.

Well, I never mentioned anything about my self-help research on the solution of miscommunication. He tried to talk to one Arab couple and they shouted at him. "Mind your own business. Did your mom tell you that not to talk to strangers?"

The English man kept quiet.

I was stunned.

Later, two Pakistanis shouted at him. "Keep your mouth shut. Mind your own business." I felt pity for him as he was a friendly person, but, from the others' perspective, they could not accept him as a friendly person.

I prayed for him that he will gain back his self-esteem and confidence. My advice to him was to stay in his country to build a career, and at the same time he should get rid of his negative attitude. Talking positively has its merits definitely.

At the same time, the two Russians tried to get some information from me. They wanted to travel with me. Of course, I welcomed them to join me. Three of us went to Chennai Market.

I had a good experience and a bad experience in Chennai Market for a cloth and a stitch. I loved my white dress, and it was made by a professional Indian man. And, I hated the blue blouse which was stitched by a European Muslim. She charged me eighty Indian Rupees. However, I did not like it for she was not able to sew a straight line on my dress. It was too bad because there was no money back guarantee. It was cheap undeniably but I would prefer to request a better quality even with a higher price.

An auto-rickshaw which I paid and arranged earlier was not present. I was almost late to catch a train. I had to get another driver to send me to Chennai Central. When I reached the train station, a baggage carrier just lifted my baggage without my permission, and he ran very fast to the train platform. I ran after him aggressively, and I shouted at him. "Hey! My baggage! Please give it back. Stop!" He make me ran after him, and eventually, he stopped. He checked on my train ticket. He pointed at the list which was pasted on the train's body, and he asked, "Is this your name?" I replied, "Yes". He quickly ran into the train, and searched for my seat. "Ms. Wong, here is your seat. It is one hundred and fifty Indian Rupees, please. " After I gave him the money, he thanked me, and he went off. The train departed after a second. "Oh! Thank you, my Lord. I am on time," I said. I sweated and breathed frequently after the run.

The train travelled towards Canacona Station. I was very disappointed because the lady told me that she would give me the best seats. Unfortunately, her definition of the best sounded wrong to me. I talked to the conductor who was in-charge to change my seat for a better compartment. I wanted an air conditional compartment but the conductor did not come back to me. I just accepted on what I had. It was four decks of old beds with ceiling fans. I slept at the third deck. “Thank you for a safe journey with quality people around me.”

I met four quality Indians, one English man and one French man on the train. Simson, Gilbert, Edward, Fernandes, a college lecturer and a round-the-world traveler. We had some conversation about the India Government, Christianity, meditation, yoga, Malaysian, Buddhism, agriculture, Mumbai, Manglore and seafood. I voiced my concern about some Christians who practiced meditation and yoga. They are Christians. However, they were agreeing the Christians who were practicing meditation and yoga. I was really happy with the response. I told them that I liked Buddhism as a philosophy of life, and I believed in God. They urged me to understand more about my talents, and needed not to worry about which religion I should believe in. They said there were terms called primary religion and secondary religion for an individual. Well, they solved my problem. It was good news for me.

Moving on, I got myself off at Canacona Station. The French man and I shared an auto-rickshaw to Palolem beach. After that, we lost touch since we checked in different guest houses due to individual preference and budget constraints. I forgot his name. I hoped we could meet again in the future. It was convenient for me to hang out at the nearest restaurant from Francisco and Marie guest house. I had my dinner with three Korean ladies. They ordered Kingfisher beers and some snacks. I had a Coke and a seafood platter. A Korean was on six months unpaid leave from Honda, Japan. She was an engineer there. She was on her plan to round the world alone in six months, and she hoped to meet her dream man. Another two Koreans were students. They wanted to know more about the world. The following day, I went to the same restaurant for my dinner. It was a seafood platter and an apple lassie. Four French men ordered Foster and some snacks for a girl friend's birthday celebration. One French man caught my attention because he seemed like a friend of mine, a Malaysian with heavy make-up. We had a great dinner. He sat next to me, and we had a lot to talk. We spoke American English. Hopefully, we could meet in Beijing in July 2009.

In my train Journey from Margao to Mathura, I met an Indian who could speak Malay. He worked with the Indian Government. He was a sailor. He was posted to Jakarta, Indonesia for two years. Therefore, he had picked up the Malay Language. Later, I met a very helpful textile businessman. He helped me to plan my day trip at New Delhi. I had a map. Three of us had a fantastic conversation about Malaysia, Malaysian, Tun Dr. Mahathir, Vision 2020, agriculture, Indian sarees, Indian food, chapati, Agra and Taj Mahal. They helped me to get out from the train at Mathura for a shorter distance to Agra for Taj Mahal.

I had a short trip to Sri Krishna Temple with a trishaw. It was run by a very professional man. I was impressed because he sent me to the destination with a small amount of money. Soon, I got myself on a train from Mathura to Agra. Upon arrival, I met a young American, another round-the-world traveler when I wanted to purchase my ticket to New Delhi at 6 a.m. on the following day. We agreed to travel together for budget reason. We thought of seeing the Taj Mahal before sunset, but, unfortunately, the gate was closed. We cancelled the train tickets, and he decided to stay a few more days since he really liked Agra. I just made a single purchase. I went to New Delhi the following day for my flight to London. We checked in a recommended accommodation by Lonely Planet. We asked for two single rooms. I requested for a morning call at 5.45 a.m. because I wanted to be the first person to see the Taj Mahal in the morning. We had a simple and nice vegetarian dinner at an Indian restaurant, and we had a lot to talk about Ph.D., research, military, internet security, NASA, George Washington, George Mason, Software Defined Radio, Satellites, his profession, national defense investigator, and my profession, lecturer. He mentioned his passion about teaching and Australians. He said,” Australians are unique. They are a combination of characters from the east and west. They are elegant and a bit wild character.”

He wished to fall in love in Australia. I wished him all the best. Later, twenty Indian entrepreneurs are parked into my memory. I knew them in an occasion. I was impressed with their spirits to provide more jobs. Some of them are undergraduates from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras (IIT). They had their entrepreneur journey under some Professors' supervision.

“All the best!”

“I hope that we can meet again in near future when we have accumulated more wealth for a better society. It is a special thank you for the inspirational talks and entrepreneurial experience,” I said.

“Thank you very much!” I thanked them gratefully.

Indira Gandhi International Airport

Indira Gandhi International Airport meant a lot to me. It stood for revolution, friendship, humanity, human rights, hopes, a new world and a change to make a difference. It was a fantastic experience. We had discussed Mother Teresa and Barack Obama. We were referring to some new friends whom I had met along my journey to London.

"I do not have thirty Indian Rupees. Can I give you the same value in another currency?" I said.

"No worries, you may take a seat. I hope that you will enjoy your trip to London," said a boy at the waiting area in the airport. Later, he offered me a dinner. I truly appreciated what he did.

"Thank you!" I wished him a truly happy life. He was a friendly and understanding Indian who created a sweet memory for a Malaysian.

I met many Indians in India. However, I would like to highlight one man and one woman to appreciate their contribution to the society. Her father was very proud of her, and his wife would support whatever he did for a better community.

The woman was the only Asian who was working on Children's Rights Legal Aid in Kenya. She ran a law firm in Kenya, was hoping to make a difference for Children in the world. She told me about the eighty enthusiasts cum lawyers who would like to make a difference for children in Africa. They offered free legal services and free court representations for children in need.

She also told me about Barack Obama's home town and his little house. Everyone was very proud especially a black, i.e. Barack Obama got the America Presidentship, and his report to work officially at the Oval Office a reality. It was the beginning of a revolution with a black as the President. I understood what happened and, I tried to help if it were within my capability. I was listening!

I was very glad and happy to meet her because we had common interests to make a difference for children in the world. I had mentioned to her about the Kiwanis International, "serving the children of the world." She was interested. She urged me to start a legal aid for children in Malaysia. I told her that, Malaysia needed a legal aid for women particularly in sexual harassment related issues. I mentioned to her that the BAR Council in Malaysia was very efficient, and the organization aimed for justice and fairness. Her invitation for me to go to Kenya was accepted. I would definitely visit her in Kenya when I had some time buffers since I committed to some important responsibilities this year, i.e. I needed to get an enrollment for a Ph.D. Program in a university. I hoped to visit her this year.

“Woman, good job!”

Yale Law School initiated representing children worldwide programs particularly mentioned about the needs of help from the children in Kenya, which focused on the childcare and protection in year 2005. He was excellent. He had the God's calling to serve the community.

“Man, good job!”

He is an Indian who holds an Italy passport. He has his wife to be with him all the time. They are a very lovely couple. He is related to one of the missionaries of charity which is guided by Mother Teresa, and he has the calling to continue Mother Teresa's good work for the poor, sick, orphaned and dying.

“Hey! My name is Wong Hui Shin. Nice to meet you! I want to join the team when I complete my responsibilities in London and Malaysia. I also want to meet my soul mate. I want to follow my husband for some good work for the society if I have a chance to get into a marriage.”

“Must he be a Christian?”

“I guess it is not a must because I believe all religions play an important role in society, but, he must believe that God creates us, and He arranges everything for us.”

Mother Teresa was international famous in the seventies for humanities and charities. She started her charity work in India. She is an Albanian who has Indian citizenship. I like Mother Teresa's spirit to help the poor. She has created the ripple effects to spread the compassion to those in need. The Qatar Airways staffs were very helpful, and they were willing to provide solutions for their customers. I took a Swiss knife in my hand carry without my knowledge. The knife was advised by the security that I should check-in because it was prohibited in a hand carry. It was fair enough. I called the Qatar Airways staffs, and they managed to get it sorted out.

“Thank you very much, Qatar Airways for a fantastic experience.”