C’est mon premier article en le Français!

Je m’appelle C.K. Je suis étudiant débutant Français à Alliance Français de Kuala Lumpur. J’aime l’ordinateurs, les livres, le rock, les films et le Internet.

J’ai trente-trois ans, mais je ne travaille pas. Pourquoi? Je n’aime pas mon travail. Pour dix ans, j’ai toujours fait la même chose. Pour ma sabbatique, j’apprends le français.

C’est difficile d’écrire- pas assez vocabulaire et grammaire !

A week in French class

After a week, we had been taught how to conjugate verbs into present tense. I was told that this was something that French kids recite everyday in school (like how we Chinamen recite the multiplication table in school- remember?). Having grasp enough verbs and conjugation skills for French verbs ending with -er, we started to write and converse in French.

Body: Whatever we have learnt may seem pretty odd to someone who speaks, writes and reads the language. Imagine if you were to drop into our class and overheard a typical exercise:-

STUDENT 1: G-o-o-d Murning
STUDENT 2: Gud Mourning
STUDENT 1: Howe air you?
STUDENT 2: Fun. And you?
STUDENT 1: I’m unwell too. Do you like the chinema?
STUDENT 2: I adore the a cinema. And you?
STUDENT 1: No. I detest the chinuma.

and so on.

I wonder how it would take before we can have real conversations. Right now, we have learned the present tense so our grammar confines us to just a moment of present time. For instance, I can’t ask someone whether if they liked (past tense) something or to say something in the future.


– Vous aimez le cinéma? Le théâtre?
– Non, je n’aime pas le cinema. Oui, j’aime le théâtre.

– You like the cinema? The theatre?
– No, I don’t like the cinema. Yes, I like the theatre.


I’ve signed up for a French class and today was my first lesson. As it wasn’t raining and considering that the place (Alliance Français) was near my office, I decided to leave the office at 6.00pm. The moment I hit the road, there was a huge, huge jam. For 20 minutes I sat patiently while my car moved 10 meters. The problem was, my class was supposed to start in 10 minutes time.

I got into class 10 minutes late. The teacher was a big genial guy who spoke with a French accent. I didn’t catch his name so I got to know later that his name is Ruffino (or feno for short).

I also missed the first joke of the class when he told the students that they must be disappointed to learn that a Malaysian is going to teach the class. But he ensured them that having a Malaysian is better because he will be more committed to the students as opposed to having a part-time French expatriate who:-
1. Can’t speak good english
2. Treat this as a by-the-way job

But having settled in quite nicely, I started to observe the class. I didn’t remember all of the names of the student but some did stand out Patrick (the young boy who has a problem pronouncing his “l”s and “r”s), Pixie (the girl who, well, looks like a pixie), Hanizah (because the Feno keeps calling her “anizah”- the French don’t pronounce the “h”, you see), Mala (who is one of the 2 Indian ladies in front of the class but I’m not too sure who’s who yet). Et deux de mes amis bon- Jennifer et Baset. There was also a Lithuanian private airline stewardess in the class. Can’t remember her name but both she and Baset were the only 2 foreigners in the class.

We were asked why we wanted to take up french. Unprepared for that question, I said the first thing that came to my mine- because I wanted to watch French films without the aid of subtitles. A pretty insignificant reason compared with some of the people who wanted to do it because they are thinking of relocating to France for professional reasons.

So what did we learn in the first lesson? Why bonjour, of course!

We learn salutations as well as words that would be use in the course of the lesson. These included words like écoutez (listen), repétez (repeat), lisez (read), écrivez (write), je ne comprends pas (I don’t understand), Je ne sais pas (I don’t know) and etc. (or as Feno would say ehhseahteweahwa)

Photo Journal 12 Aug 2004

“La Bodega is fully booked,” the usherer said impatiently when asked. I looked around and I saw rows of empty tables with tiny signs reading “Reserved” sitting innocently on top of them. Apparently, they had an event that evening so we were asked to proceed to The Lounge.


Normally, a place with a name like “The Lounge” brings to mind stuffiness and pretentious settings but it turned out to be a nice cosy place. The highlight of this place is the sofa sitting area that resembled a very plush living room. We didn’t participate, but groups of young people can be seen boisterously playing board games, burning the hours away with the rolls of their dices. As the night continued, voices which started as murmurs gained in volume because by then alcohol has seeped deeply into the souls of the patrons there, releasing from them, the thoughts, desires and fears that were normally locked by sobriety.

The Lodge
The Lodge

As for us, the adventure was more decent. We had some tapas, more than a few drinks, 2 and a half packs of Marlboro Menthol Lights and called it a night.

Title: Trip to Penang

I drove down early today (started at 4.30 am) but left KL only at 6.00 am. Headed into the North-South Highway via LDP. The road was clear, the mist was thick and my car was steadily chugging an average of 150 km/h northwards towards the Pearl of the Orient.

Hmm…the “Pearl of the Orient”? Of late, one sees less and less of that term being used for Penang. I wasn’t expecting much from the trip as it was quite a rush trip with us spending only 2 nights and 3 days in Sunway Hotel. The reason why me and my family went down there was because…well, just because.

We reached Penang in slighly under 4 hours (including a 30 minutes stop along one of the fine R&Rs). The thing that drive me nuts was that Penang drivers are slow. They would drive their vehicles below the speed limit and the road boundary lines mean nothing to them. It was as if the lines were there because Penangites didn’t want their roads, with gravel and tar, to sport an ubiquitous dull black look. So they painted in some lines and they have a secret conspiracy among Penangites to ignore them. For instance, consider the following situation:-

a) Motorcyclist is at my left side
b) He/She/It wants to turn right
c) He/She/It cuts in front of my car to turn right
d) Not wanting to kill him/her/it, I apply my ABS breaks and my tires screech to a halt
d) He/She/It gives you the “die-non-Penang-driver-die!” look

Besides that, Penang was good. The first thing that we did was to go for food. We went to Ayer Itam for the famous Asam Laksa stall only to be told that required another 10 minutes to be ready. Seeing that there are other stalls there as well, I finished off a bowl of Hokkien Mee. Hmm…heaven. Patiently, I went back to Asam Laksa stall and waited the remainder of the 7 minutes. When they were ready, I ordered one first, having in mind to get 2 more bowls later. When it arrived, the Asam Laksa didn’t taste as good as my memory can recall. In fact, it was rather bad. If you like the taste of Mark’s Laksa in 1U, don’t even go for the Ayer Itam Asam Laksa at all. Compared to Mark’s, it was bland, watery and frankly, quite tasteless.

Immediately after lunch, it was apparent that my mother wanted to do some shopping. She has this fixation with brooms that are sold in a particular sundry shop in Ayer Itam. If I had a bigger car, she would have purchased 10 instead of the 5 that she got.

Next, we checked into Sunway Hotel.

Now, I must say this:- if you like Penang food (as much as I do) then for your next trip to Penang, you should check into this hotel. The smorgasbord of Penang hawker food along the road is incredible! From Hokkien Mee to authentic Curry Mee (the one with the white soup and chili oil), from Char Kway Tiow (with crab meat) to Char Kway Kuk, from Pig parts porridge to Almond tea, this is the place to be!

So, total count for the day:- 1 Hokkien Mee, 1 Asam Laksa, 2 Curry Mee, 1 Char Kway Teow, 1 Almond Tea, 1 Leng Chi Kang, 2 Lor Baks, 1 Oh Chean, 1 Hum Chin Peng….hehehe!

Free Culture

Lawrence Lessig’s latest book “Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity” isn’t only free, it is a subversive exercise to see how far we can go in terms of intellectual property protection.
Go to his website to download a free electronic version of his book or, my favorite, download a “remix”. In theRemixes section, the book is available in multiple formats, translation and, yes, even in MP3 audio book format. On top of that, if you want to own a hard copy of the book, you can buy it from Amazon or your nearest bookstore.

This means that Lessig is losing a portion of his book revenue because people would freely get his book in other formats (PDF, mp3, txt, etc) which is well and fine with him. What’s important is not the revenue from the sale of the book (though that might be a lot) but proving a point that as people share ideas freely, the basic ideas can be built upon by other people and improved.

What better way to prove this than to quote a real-life example of what happened not long after the book has been launched. A few people got together and decided to record the book into an audio book. They organized themselves through the internet and the unpaid volunteers divided the chapters of the book among themselves and went wild with their notebook or computer microphones. The result of that was an audio recording of the book that took less 24 hours to complete! To make matters even more interesting, another group, wanting the the audio book to sound more “professional” decided to do another recording! And all this, without the need of a written consent from the author.

(Of course, if the producers of the amateur audio books were to sell their “performance”, they would be prohibited due to restrictions of the license that Lessig has applied to his work).

If you have come to my site often, you would have noticed a Creative Commons logo on my page. Click on it and read the licence. The license covering my work in this blog is a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 1.0 license. This means that I, as the creator of the content within this site, allow you, the reader, to use and create derivatives of my content freely as long as you do not try to make money out of it.

In the old days, works are preserved as scrolls, books, records, tapes, etc. This physical method stores informations as atoms, whether it is the atoms that make the molecules in inks or atoms that align themselves to a magnetic orientation in tape. These atoms can be scrambled (by rearranging, thus destroying them) and information will be lost forever. In this digital age, however, information are stored as bits. Information as bits are what digital discs (though not the form but the information contained within the form) and the Internet are all about. Therefore, information cannot be easily destroyed because they are easily stored, replicated, copied and manipulated.

Lessig believes that as corporations clamp down on copyright, works that are not commercially viable will not be made available anymore. The cost of imprinting information physically is costly and atoms are scarce- try to get a copy of a rare book and you’ll get the picture. Therefore, a large part of unprofitable body of knowledge is lost forever. With a Creative Commons, people like me hope that our work will not be locked into rigid intellectual property protection and will be available freely.