Thursday, March 22, 2012

Why can't we have this in Malaysia?

I am in the midst of planning my holiday abroad and have been booking hotel rooms, buying advance fares for trains - the usual things one would do when travelling.

There were a few instances when I thought - this would NEVER happen in Malaysia - especially when it comes to their customer service.

I had booked a room at a hotel a few weeks ago for a certain rate, after being assured that this was the 21-day advance super saver what not. Recently, for lack of something better to do, I dropped by and made a mock booking at this same hotel chain and was surprised that the advance rate has dropped by about 25%!

Of course, I understood that hotels have the right to set the rates according to the projected occupancy but I personally thought that it was unfair to me as I had done my booking well in advance. I would have understood if they said there was nothing they could do but I thought there was nothing I could lose in asking.

So I did - I emailed the manager and asked if they would consider giving me the cheaper rate as I had booked so much earlier. Afterall, if I had known this would happen, I would have left all the room bookings till much later. The reply came about a week later and he actually gave me the cheaper room rate!

The next instance concerned train travel - I had bought advance fares for travel from Liverpool to York but then discovered that we would have to delay the trip for a few hours. The website states that no refund can be given for advance tickets but for a fee, one may change the date and time. What they would do is give you a refund for the old tickets after you had purchased the new tickets. The two ways that you would be able to do this was by calling the help line or turning up at the train station.

Now, these websites usually would have chat lines for people to ask questions in real time. I immediately contacted one of the officers and asked whether I would be able to do this via the online chat?

She then rattled on about how this can be done by phone yada yada yada - and I was telling her that the cost of a phonecall would probably not make it worth my while and if I leave it till when I am in the UK, there wouldn't be any cheap advance fares left so I might as well forget about getting some money back and just purchase a fresh set of tickets.

She duly agreed and I was about to disconnect and was saying thank you when she suddenly said, However, as a gesture of goodwill - if you can purchase your new tickets and give me the reference number for this new trip, I would be able to put in a request for a refund for your old ticket.

I was speechless with shock for about 2 minutes not believing my good luck and proceeded to do as she had suggested. She even waited online as I completed the transaction. So instead of losing GBP33 and spending a further GBP27 for the new tickets, I managed to get a refund of GBP13, making the cost of my two new tickets only GBP14. On top of that, she said I would be able to get my money back by the end of this month.

I am still waiting for my airport tax refund from a certain airline after 5 months of emailing back and forth.

So how about that?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

When it is not fated...

I was at a hardware store in Selayang Bharu recently to buy paint when my ears caught the sound of pitiful mewing nearby.

Abg was in the midst of a conversation with me when he noticed that I was not paying attention. I just pointed out quickly which ones I liked best and went out to look for the kitten.

It was a tiny little thing - a tabby about 6 weeks old - and it was hiding behind the back tyre of the car which was parked by the road side across the street from the shop. I tried to persuade it to come out but it just looked at me with sad eyes and continued mewing.

It sounded like it was looking for mummy cat. I hear it all the time with my kittens. The difference is, with my kittens usually mummy would be running in a flash but no mummy came for this little one.

It wandered out as soon as I left and I looked at it looking around the rubbish dump. I crossed the road again and again it hid under the car.

We even tried to coax it into coming out with a handful of keropok - but all we managed was get weird stares from the barbershop across the road. We left after a few minutes - it was not the kitten's rezeki to be rescued by us, I guess.

Keep well little kitty, and be safe.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Dust covered snippets of my life

Recently I was going through a box of stuff which I had brought over from Ma's house. As I opened every single dust covered envelope and card, I was transported back about 20 years ago. Every word brought back a different memory, a different stage of my life, someone I knew quite well but not anymore - even moments I thought I never had.

How could I have forgotten these bits and snippets of my life? Every single one of those people and memories made me who I am today.

The boy with the green canvas bag whom I would look at longingly everytime he passes by my class - every Saturday I would listen to his voice as he shouts commands at the cadet team that he was in; it would be the same voice that could recite Quran verses so beautifully as he leads the girls in jemaah prayers during the fasting month.

The lanky Indian boy who would make it his life calling to come over and ask how I did in my English tests because before I came, he was number one and suddenly this girl who just transferred from Sarawak is beating him. He can be annoying as hell and was made fun of constantly by the rempit Malay boys in my class but we became friends eventually and I am sure he is doing well nowadays.

My senior roommates were three girls who were as different as chalk and cheese yet made us feel so welcomed. I had a roommate who cried every single night for at least a month, apparently having never been away from her mother. She is now a teacher, happily married with at least four kids. I don't think she has any separation issues nowadays.

I remember peeking mischievously through the curtain windows at 'baju melayu'-clad boys as they pass by on the way for Friday prayers, - I am now almost 100% sure that the shouts of 'Kantoi skodeng!' was just acts of random, and not because they really saw us doing it.

I must have been a fair senior in the second year of maktab, judging from the amount of cards I got and kept. I had never understood the concept of seniority and how that gave you special privileges and had never practiced it myself. Of course, I was never pretty enough or daring enough to be considered a threat and I basically kept a low profile and concentrated on my studies so I was never called into a senior's room for the purpose of being 'taught a lesson'.

But, I am making a presumption. When we were juniors, we would hear about girl A or girl B being called to see a certain senior allegedly for making eyes at a certain male senior. Occasionally it was because her school sarung was way too short or that she had failed to wear a chemise that her bra was showing. But it was all hearsay - I was never close with girls like A and B and have never cared if what I heard was true but this was what everyone was saying at that time.

At school I was the serious one. I looked at lessons as a way of venting out my feelings, if you could call it that. We moved around a lot and sometimes would end up in less than desirable schools - I don't regret it, as I said, every single experience made me the person I am today - and doing well in lessons gave me options to bring myself out of it. Though I have to admit, learning did not come hard to me - I enjoyed reading and learning so I never found it a chore.

Being in maktab gave me the opportunity to put down roots, it gave me a sense of belonging. I represented college with pride even when we lost in the 2nd round. I had the most wonderful friendship - we shared joy, tears, anxiety and laughter and sorrow. Those two years were among the best times of my life.

So, I went through every card and every small token I was given and smiled as each brought back a different memory. I try to remember every single person who passed by my life and made it what it is now and I wish them well.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

I just want what is mine

It may be just money, but after months of numerous emails and phonecalls, I am finally getting back what is mine.

Some people may give up, saying it isn't worth the hassle. Some just accept it as how things are done but no, no one should be allowed to take your money! and especially not because of them being lazy and inefficient.

The bank I had applied a loan from to buy a property had been very late in processing several payments to the developer, which resulted in me being charged late interest. I pay the bank on time, on the dot first of each month, is it too much for me to expect the same from the bank?

I don't think so.

Today, I got my money back. The amount isn't important, it's the principles.

Saturday, March 03, 2012


...if you really think about it, we live in such a screwed up world.

The older I get, the more aware I am of how screwed up we are. When I was younger, all I wanted was to finish my homework, not make a fool of myself in front of the school crush and see my friends. Perhaps there was more to that but age has given me selective memory storage it seems. I am sure life was as complicated then than it is now.

I woke up early today and read about yet another celebrity getting divorced. I hate reading about divorces. Maybe 'hate' isn't the right word. 'Amused' would be conceived as cold hearted; 'sad' may be thought of as me being dense - divorces are such a normal occurrence now that sometimes I don't see the point of people getting married.

I like attending weddings - they symbolise love, happiness, hope and a new beginning. Weddings give me a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, nothing to do I'm sure with being overfed with nasi minyak and ayam masak merah. I look at the newly married couple and I remember how excited I was that I now get to go home with Abg at the end of the day. When I thought of my wedding - it isn't how beautiful the hantarans were or how many came but I remember thinking, 'I will never be alone now.'

I send the newlyweds with silent prayers that their marriage will always be blessed with as much love and joy - I hope that they remember how much they loved each other on their wedding day, though it may not seem that way when things are bad.

As simplistic and as naive as that may sound, being 8 years ago and not knowing what may happen; some will say 'you still don't know what is going to happen in the future, woman' - I felt extremely comforted at knowing that Abg has taken a vow to be with me no matter what and where. Eight years ago, I looked at him and truly believed that we would grow old together, no matter how badly he snored or how fat I got.

Anyway, how can a beginning filled with such joy and love end so easily? What went wrong? What is it that our grandparents and their parents have that make them endure 30, 40 years of marriage? Is getting married serving a different purpose than it used to?

On the other hand, I would totally support divorce in a marriage that involves any form of abuse, of course.

Have we become too independent for our own good?