Sunday, August 27, 2006

mail, e-mail and sms

Oh, I love the way we now communicate. If we refuse to see someone face to face, send sms. And it doesn’t matter if you were an MP, Director of Custom or a diva. The use of sms seems infinite. You can use it to make Mawi a millionaire, send a ‘brand new City vs second-hand Tiara’ jokes, offer ‘massage’ service or threaten somebody. When someone had used the sms to ‘talak’ his wife, I wonder if he can use it also to say ‘aku terima nikahnya’ so and so. And if you were better equipped, like having a ‘communicator’, O2 or a ‘blackberry’ (or the old-fashioned’ lap-tops) send an e-mail. I say lap-tops are old-fashioned because only salesmen (ha ha ha….) lug them around these days. The convenience of the IT technology allows people like me to work something at home or wherever, post it on the internet and when I get to the office, download and continue. But old habits (laziness) is something hard to change. Kalu malah tu malah gok. Even if the government pays for your latest Nokia. I used to keep up with the technology, used to use an O2 but when one day the battery goes jeng and caused a memory wipe-out, I decided to ditch it and went back to a primitive 6230. My staff in particular are happy because my sms instructions are now shorter.

Used to be we send messages by postmen at the post office. Only then, we call them letters. If the messages need to be delivered urgently there was the telegram. (Well Alia, I know you have never seen one but when I was in boarding school like you now, there was a thing call telegram money order and it was a real life-saver.) Posmen rides a red bicycle and goes around delivering letters or the occasional parcel. That image was immortalized in the textbooks of that era.

In Kemasek, there wasn’t even a post office until the late 70’s. We had a wakil pos at a Kedai Haji Salleh. There was a red post box in front of the shop and in the shop was a post counter. You can get your stamps there. Then, stamps wasn’t meant for posting letters only. We kids had a saving program called kad simpanan setem pejabat pos or something like that. Every five cents you saved gets you a stamp that you paste on a card. Once you collected 20 stamps or a ringgit, bring the card to post office and have your deposit recorded in Buku Simpanan Pejabat Pos. Because there was no post office in Kemasek, a full card gets me a trip to Kerteh for the deposit. There were cards for ten cents and twenty cents stamps but with a ten cents a day pocket money, five cents stamp was all we could afford. I have lost the Buku Simpanan but I believe like the thousands of my generations, there were still some balance in them stuck in the unclaimed money fund. But at least those remaining few ringgits now helps finance the nation.

When I was small, I was amazed at how letters were delivered. I had for a long time believed that letters dropped in the post box would find its way through an underground pipe line or something and wallah find its way to the postmen at the other end. Funny eh? Yes, funny, because I believed that until I was seven or eight.

My seven year old son? He can already figure out the wireless network to play his internet game.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

menda gok standad standad ning?

Once again, somebody are making noise. Malaysian universities failed to make it in the top 500 universities in the world. That is by the Shanghai Jiao Tong Top 500 World Universities Ranking. Who is the Shanghai Jiao Tong? I have no idea but I know for sure that name will surface again same time next year. We are so desperate for ‘world’ recognition, don’t we? Solution? Surely we can repeat a resemblance to Malaysian Book Of Record. Move over, Guinness! Get it?

Not that many days ago too, the press had a field day attacking the poor ‘sweetheart’ Syarifah Amani. Some ‘Persatuan Melayu’ from north even calls for her to be stripped of her award. Pity her. Pity Faizal too. Soon the ‘persatuan’ will ask Astro to strip the AF Juara from him because he can only speak Melayu with plenty of ‘g’. ‘Saya tuju kang kemenangang saya ini kepada peminak-peminak saya……’ He said something like that on the podium that night. Did he not?

All the ruckus we make, especially in the national papers, are really not worth the print space. It seems that we dwell on the issue like to ‘lepah gerang’ (lepas geram – standard Melayu). Or do we ‘lepah gerang’ because of the pent-up frustration we have been harboring within? Phew! Some ‘frustration’ we do have inside, it seems.

I remember the earliest time of standard or ‘piawaian’ when crash helmet law was introduced some ages ago. It soon set the people talking about standards, standard this and standard that. ‘Hok ni standad, hok ni dok’ they would argue. ‘Aku tahulah hok ni dok standad, tak dok cok siring’. Oh’ its SIRIM for the uninitiated.

Then we had another ‘standard’ invasion. Malaysia adopted the SI (System Internationale) system of measurement. Kain se ela is now sold se meter. Gula sekati became gula se kilo. No more kaki, inci or ‘hung’, its now millimeter, centimeter and meter. Batu (miles) became kilometer. And batu jalan (milestone) became ….?

Then came the standard Sistem Ejaan Bahasa Melayu. No more ‘2’ to represent plurals as in buah2. It was to be buah-buah. No more ‘e-tanda’ and no more apostrophe at the end of a Dato’. Don’t they linguists know how difficult it is to differentiate between perak (silver) and perak (stupid) when you couldn’t pronounce the e and e-tanda correctly?

For us professionals, we were told that to be world class, we have to be accredited with ISO and for that we have to pay a bundle. Standardizing creativity and artistic sensitivity? Come on! We know it’s about making money. For somebody else at least.

If only we came to our senses and know that we can’t bring everything to uniformity we could know that we need not live by other people’s standards. More importantly we could learn to accept mistakes and the imperfection of others. We could laugh at the ‘stupid(ity)’ of Amani, ‘senyung sokmo’ a la Faizal, and preserved the beauty of our (old fashioned) language. If we can live not by the standards of others, not even the Shanghai Jiao Tong, or some standard of ‘malay-ness’ as proclaimed by any ‘persatuan’ or the ISO, we would be much open and tolerant. And we could save a lot of money, or print space in the newspaper.

After all, in our way of saying it we can always quip, ‘Menda gok standad standad ning?’