The Christmas Tree

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After weeks of cajolling, days of coaxing and hours of threatening, I've finally managed to put up my Christmas tree, lit it... and decorated it..  in that order.  It looks beautiful, with tinsels and baubles, tinkling bells , of angels and fairies, snowflakes, shiny red and gold  ribbons and bows cascading down,  berries and crystals,...  hundreds of lights shimmering through, ... oops!  I'm getting carried away.... it's always been like that with me.  Somehow, the sight of the Christmas tree brings out a sense of warmth and cosiness, of family and crackers, of a warm fireplace with Brer Rabbit ( read too many Beatrix Potter) of angels and fairies dancing in the garden ( too many Enid Blytons and Grimms Fairy Tales )  aiyo....there I go again....I can't seem to stop...Blimey, I used to and still do tell my son to keep a glass of milk and cookies under the Christmas tree before we leave for Church , honest.  Last year, I actually heard the sound of tinkling bells after the midnight church service, only to find out in the morning that the it was the neighbour's new door bell ringing tone.   Haaiyoooo, I was soooooo angry !!! Still, I haven't given up, still waiting one day......for Santa Claus and his Red Nosed Reindeer.  Life is about hope,isn't it ? and I have truckloads of it.........

And I am not even a Christian!

To those readers who are wondering why I celebrate Deepavali and Christmas, let me explain...

I am a Hindu and my husband is a Catholic.  The way I reckon,  the God Almighty must have had a very good reason why I was born a Hindu and  not Catholic and since I know for sure that  He knows everything and I know that He knows best , who am I to change my faith that He has chosen for me ?I have implicit faith in the One God so I am not about to change or convert to another for the sake of marriage, or  parental or community pressure.  Now, t h a t  would be a real sin, wouldn't it ?  I think what happens between me and God is my own business and no one,absolutely no one, has the right to ask or force me to  pray  against my wishes.  That would be morally and spirtitually wrong.   My husband, also a devout Catholic himself, has never requested nor asked me to do likewise.  He knew how devout a Hindu I was when I first met him.  And yes, I still thank the One God Almighty, whichever faith He is, for His Grace and Love shown through my husband's understanding . I think that is the highest blessing  itself., don't you?

 For those readers wondering what is Hinduism all about, let me give you the gist of it without boring you to death, hopefully.

Hindus believe in one GOD  although on the contrary ,   you might see and think that we pray to many deities.  We believe that they are all the various manifestations of  The One True  God.. God shows Himself  in different ways to different people, the same way, a nugget of gold can be turned into various ornaments with a variety of names.  Gold earrings, gold bangles, gold rings, gold chains, gold  necklaces, etc. etc., but still it is the same gold.  One God but various names...get it ?

  We believe in the Holy Trinity (, the same as the Catholics - The Holy Father, Son and Holy Spirit -  only problem is most of us don't realise it - different names perhaps ?) In Hinduism, it is  Lord Brahma, the Creator, Lord Vishnu, the Preserver and Lord Siva, the Destroyer.  It's actually a very pragmatic and practical approach to the cycle of life(  primary science class )- beginning with birth ( Creator) living the life given ( Preserver) and death ( Destroyer)  "Elementary Science really, my dear Watson" as Sherlock Holmes would say. .

As humans we are attached to the physical, emotional and material aspects of the world and thus are not ready  to realise the One  God Almighty nor have we attained the purity and spirituality of mind    needed to see Him. That would take many evolutions of birth and death for as  mere mortals, we are tied to the daily grind of the physical, emotional and material world. We have to go through our karma of past and existing  deeds,- in short , payback time for whatever good and bad deeds we have done . " You reap what you sow" is the best maxim I can think of.  Have you ever wondered why our grannies to parents to the elders keep telling us to do good-  it's because we will be  rewarded accordingly, the good with the good and the bad with the bad. Until such a time that we have no more  physical,  emotional and material attachments of any kind., and we have negated all our karma, will be able to see the  One  True God.  Till then, we will see Him differently from our coloured lens.  Some see through green coloured lens, some in red, some in yellow, according to our communal  beliefs, yet,  GOD is still the same from time immemorial.  Anyone heard of an official change? No. I rest my case. We cannot see him in our impure state  because that would be like exposing our  naked human eye to a zillion volt bulb. It would be too much too soon, and would  blind us,  for we are not ready . Unless we become sprititualy pure with no baggage of any kind   only then can we attain the kingdom of God and see Him as One.

Thus,in Hinduism, to be born as a human is already a blessing for we are the highest in the hierachy of all GOD's creation.   Animals have 5 senses - sense of  sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing.  Only humans have 6 senses -the extra sense being the  the power to reason between right and wrong, so that we may correct our mistakes and atone for whatever misdeeds done. ( To the Dumb and Dumbers, animals can think but can't differenciate between good and bad!)

 We humans are such a bunch of convoluted marbles that even the Alliens would have difficulty understanding us.  We  share the same red blood the world over  and yet some think they have blue,   we breath the same air  and yet we have kosher and unclean edibles, we believe in God the All Merciful and yet we kill each other in HIS name, We do the mistakes and yet we blame HIM for our actions...

Enough said..  It's way pass by bedtime and Santa might come in my dreams today.....

A cool school stool at SRJK Tamil Ladang Ebor,

Posted by Lakshmi
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This is what a fresh coat of paint and a rose did.  I  deliberately  choose a bright  background colour to hold the students attention. Youngsters can live with any colours and the base colour reflects  the brightness and boldness of their lives.  I wish I can paint all the chairs for them and add some colour to thier lives too.. Hopefully, I'll be able to get some volunteers to help me achieve this.... It will be a nice start to the next school year in January 2010  .  Volunteers  can email  me at   Would be glad of any assistance in this matter

By the way,  I wish all my muslim friends " Selamat Hari Raya Haji" and God Bless

Posted by Lakshmi
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This is one of the stools from the school that I had taken for a make-over  to show the students the wonders of decorative painting.

Baking adventure in school

Posted by Lakshmi
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I recently undertook to teach a bunch of 30 school kids who had just finished their Standard 6 exams, on the intricacies of baking cookies. As the exams were over and there were no specific lessons being conducted, I had volunteered myself to conduct the baking class at a small and quaint Tamil school in Batu Tiga (SRJK Ladang Ebor)I also roped in my son, Arvind, to entertain the Standard 1 and 2 children with his violin.. I thought he should start somewhere too....

My first impression of the school,( actually my first visit to a Tamil school, unbelievable, but true)was its size! SMALL , very small by mainstream national schools standards, but very very clean and very well maintained. Lots of potted plants everywhere, a small but well manicured field, a water fountain courtesy of some generous parents' contribution and an equally small canteen of Lilliputan size. The classrooms, were of course, you guessed it, small ... The distinct feeling of being in a 60's time zone was evident.Worn out wooden desks and chairs, mismatched stools donated by caring individuals, shoes neatly arranged outside the library ( imagine that!)and the icing on the cake, no screams and shrieks from students and teachers alike. In fact, the clean surroundings, the crisp cool air and the quietness of the surrounding took me by surprise! Ha, this is not the case in my kid's national school environment... everytime I leave my son at his school, I can hear the high pitch shrieks of the principal/ teachers admonishing the students , over the loudspeaker/PA system, no less, all the way to the main road !.
Curiosity got the better of me and upon further enquiries from the HM about the school's size ( naturally!), it was made known that as the school was not situated on government land,only the administrative salaries came under the Education Ministry's purview while funding for the school was left entirely to the PTA and private donors, hence the corresponding size.... Sad, isn't it? Despite our 50 years of independence as a multi-national nation, we're still under such archaic and lopsided rules in education for our country's best asset, the young children.

Obviously, I volunteered to buy all the baking stuff of flour, sugar, butter, rolled oats, nuts, raisins, eggs and peanut butter for my baking do. Brought along my baking trays, whisk, bowls and my portable oven too. I then proceeded to divide the kids in two groups and gave each group the measured ingredients to mix it themselves. I wanted a 'hands on' approach by the students instead of a lone ranger demo . Some of the boys had the ' I'm the man and I don't do kitchen work' attitude ( sigh, typical male 'mental' syndrome, ) Had great fun bringing them down a peg or two, how? I made them clean up the mess . Served them right, I say! Everyone was given a chance to mix and shape the dough and from their squeals, chatter and laughter, I knew they had fun . Baking was a bit slow as I only had one oven running but the smell of the baking cookies was wafting in the air as some of the teachers found their way to my class to 'help'.

I managed to finish the class by noon and having distributed the cookies to the students and giving them the recipe to try it at home, I packed up all my stuff, dumped them into my car in the ensuing rain and headed straight home to cook lunch for my dear husband and kids..

Despite being caught in the heavy rain and feeling cold with water dripping over our heads, my heart was lighter and an indescribable feeling of happiness enveloped me. I dare say, it was for my son too.

Community Service

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For some time now, I have been trying to reach out to various segments of our society and introduce to them the beautiful world of painting. To this end, I have given demos in schools, single parent associations, ladies clubs, retirees associations, and to school children.

Today, as part of my community service outreach programmes, I conducted a simple workshop cum art class for a group of primary students. The boys ( presumably brought in by near exhausted parents needing a break from them !) just painted whatever they felt like it .. with splotches and blobs everywhere , punctuated by laughter and funny faces, which I thought was a good thing... Ah, the girls, they were the complete antithesis of the boys... seated in their seats and diligently trying to follow my instructions, with a few giggles in between. How sweet and predictable they were. The timid ones got bolder after the first hour or so and the boys, despite their short lived interest ( that was predictable too..!) did make some effort to paint something that looked like a daisy, was like a daisy but was not a daisy!!

Those Who Enter Must Wear A Smile

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I got this interesting choice of words from one of the craft magazines and thought it was most apt for my home,instead of the usual ' Welcome ' signage. This is part of my Trash 2 Treasure features and as before, I painted this in similar fashion as my previous one, on an old window frame. The old frame was lying idly in my house for sometime and as the prospective customer showed no interest in confirming her requirements, I took it upon myself to paint it. Only the flower alignment differs. Also this was done in an 'arty' and carefree manner, with slip slap strokes for both flowers and foliage. I didn't want to make it prim and proper and perfect....

Me thinks it look pretty good, don't you?

Welcome to Tanah Aina

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Sometime ago I wrote about my hillarious trip to Raub in Pahang with Puan Sri Sabrina and friends. The 5 intergrated and beautifully maintained farmstead, named after her 5 children, Tanah Aina Farrah Soraya, Tanah Aina Farhana, Tanah Aina Fareena, Tanah Aina Farouq and Tanah Aina Azareena are now open for bookings or reservations for day and weekend trips. All five farmsteads are beautifully landscaped within the parameters of environmental friendly conditions and each of them is nestled among the natural charms of the forest and river. You have to see to believe it. To add to the charms are orchards of durians, mangosteens, langsat, rambutans, etc. For example,at Tanah Aina Azareena, the dining and lounge area on the ground floor opens to a crystal clear stream... A personal chef and staff member is part of the package and you can even specify your own personal menu specifications. It's a beautiful retreat for a family, for sure!

I have been to all 5 so you can take my word for it. It is an experience you won't forget, at least I didn't! And no, I'm not getting anything of monetary value for writing this article going goo-goo gaga over the farms, lest you think I am! I just want to share with my readers my personal experience. For anyone interested, there's a special promotion going on from now till 31st December 2009. Please call Ms Mary Heng at 012-6713823 for further details.