Friday, March 7, 2008

Twenty years (and more) ago

I have always been interested in the 'science' of things. Maybe it's because of my educational background. Thanks to the Malaysian education system (I shan't say more), I was in the science stream in school and continued to be in that field in university. I had a good time learning the 'biology' of things although at the end, I could not see myself making a profession out of it due to my varied interests.

While waiting for my STPM (high school) results prior to entry to university, I took up a part time job as a dental assistant. While some people may not relish the thought of looking at someone's oral imperfections and the gore that followed, to put it mildly, I somehow quite enjoyed watching the dentist at work, performing almost miraculous feats and transforming a person's smile to something quite perfect and pleasing. After that two-month stint, I even had dreams of taking up dentistry!

My exam results were not good enough for me to qualify dental school plus those days, the Malaysian university 'system' was not 'flexible' for 'certain categories' of students which I happened to fall under (If you are Malaysian and not of majority race, you know what I mean). For me to have qualified, I'd have to have scored straight A's.

I wasn't too disappointed actually since I was still unsure of what I really wanted to do. My dreams ranged from being a dentist, a scientist, to a musician. Career guidance was not readily available in our education system then, unlike now where you have qualified counselors to provide proper assessment of your interests and strengths and point you in a better direction. Options are much more vast now too with the mushrooming of private colleges, twinning programmes, distance learning, part-time courses, and overseas education for those who can afford it.

To cut the story short, I was blessed by the 'system' with a place in Universiti Sains Malaysia (Science University of Malaysia) in the beautiful island of Penang. My four years there were one of the best times of my life where I met great friends and enjoyed close camaraderie. That was almost 20 years ago. I still keep in touch with quite a number of them, besides my primary and secondary school mates, and we've all grown older and wiser and settled down into our own little worlds in various parts of the country and the world.

Twenty years is a long time but it still feels like it was just yesterday. A twinkle of an eye and how much things and life have changed and evolved. If I look further back, past my uni days to my school days, that would be over 30 years of history! I wonder what it'd be like in the next one to two decades when I look back....

This post was triggered by an email exchange with some friends where one of us will be among the first this year to celebrate our 40th year on planet Earth. Happy 40th year to you, Pat, and to all of us 'monkeys' of the Chinese zodiac. And yes, I've yet to dig into my memory bank to help you out with details of our yesteryear games like 'zero point'. Kids nowadays only know games in their computers, Playstations and Nintendos. It's just so sad. We should start introducing five stones, congkak, the 'feather-shuttlecock-kicking game', 'hantu galah', hopscotch, what else?

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