Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Time to move on..

Ten years ago (I can't believe it myself that it has been that long), I enrolled Ariq in his first drum lesson. Ariq was 4 years old and he had been asking for drum lesson for almost a year. Starting the drum lesson was as exciting for Ariq as it was daunting for me. My music lesson was not the best experience I had in my life.. Anyway, it didn't take too long for Ariq to understand rhythm and drum playing. It took longer for him to settle down and stay focused during sessions.

After 1 year of lesson, we moved house, and I had to stop his lesson because our new home was quite far from the music school. Plus, all the energy was focused on the moving out and moving in process, including starting Ariq in the new school. It was during the period of KG B for Ariq. He was exhausted with all the changes at first, but, after a few months, he started to feel adjusted and he started asking about drum lesson again.

After one year adjusting to the new life, I finally found a new music school for Ariq, not far from home.. Right when Ariq had had enough of waiting and was ready to start drum lesson again. This time, Ariq was starting 1st year of Primary School. 

He was so happy when I told him that he was starting drum lesson again.. and I was happy to see him happy..

After taking the drum lesson for about two years, Ariq started performing in his music school concerts. He played drums to the songs prepared by his drum teacher. The first few concerts were quite a challenge. Not because he was struggling with the songs, but because he had to wait in line for his performance. He was still a little impatient as he was excited about going on stage and playing in front of the audience. He wasn't always flawless, but he finally understood that it wasn't perfection that matters, instead his feeling for the song, which lets him gain better understanding of himself, his skills and technique. Concert by concert, he rose up to be more confident.

At the same period of time, around third year of primary school, Ariq was invited to audition for the school orchestra team. However, he came home with the news that he wasn't chosen. I kept encouraging him to keep trying and be confident. He must believe that he would make it the next time.. And he kept trying, every audition, for the next two years.

Fifth year of Primary School, I was really puzzled when Ariq's classroom teacher asked me why Ariq still hadn't joined the orchestra team. I replied that he still hadn't made it through the audition. Ariq's classroom teacher was puzzled by my answer. Trying to end my confusion, I finally decided to meet with the orchestra teacher, from whom I finally found the answer to the mystery. Ariq didn't understand that he wasn't auditioning for membership, he was auditioning for songs. Since there were more than one drummers, the orchestra teacher had to place the right drummer for each song. During these auditions/practice sessions, Ariq always felt uncomfortable and kept leaving the practice. When I saw the orchestra team members, I understood why Ariq thought he wasn't chosen. The orchestra team consisted of highly talented, dedicated, young musicians, and most of them were older than Ariq.

For almost a year, I had to personally take Ariq to orchestra practice, 'handed him over' to the orchestra teacher and waited until the practice was over.. Finally, after a few orchestra performances, and Ariq had started to get to know his teachers and friends (seniors and junior members), Ariq finally felt belong in the orchestra team and he would go for practice by his own effort.

Throughout sixth year of primary school, Orchestra became Ariq's passion and his world. More than learning music, he learned about teamwork, harmony and advancing his music skills. Both Ariq's drum teachers (the school orchestra teacher and the drum teacher at the music school) always gave Ariq advice and encouragement. They knew Ariq so well that their advice was always in sync although they never met. I was so glad that Ariq had two excellent teachers.. And Ariq respected them very much..

At the end of sixth year, Ariq graduated from primary school and decided to study in a boarding school. He admitted to me that it was really hard for him to leave his drum playing, but he believed that he needed to see a different side of life by moving into a new environment.. During enrollment process, Ariq asked the teacher of the boarding school if there was a possibility for him to play music there. To his relief, the teacher explained that there would be time when students could do some sports or music, and one of the teachers can supervise the students if they need to go outside the school boundaries to do their activities.. Unfortunately, Ariq kept getting sick through the first year of Junior High School, so that his dad decided to take him home after the final exam..

Ariq was enrolled into a different junior high school for his second year. This school was very close to home, to give him a chance to fully recover. Once Ariq's health was better, he decided to rejoin the orchestra team, and start his drum lesson again. Both his teachers happily welcome him. During his fragile time -becoming adolescent, changing schools and not perfectly in good health- his drum world was the steady thing in his life.. I was really grateful of his teachers..

For one year, Ariq's adjustment into the new life (again) was not as smooth as I would hope.. The new phase of life, new friends, new experience, triggered the emotional roller coaster in him.. There many things that he and I didn't agree on. His adolescent curiosity often crashed with my expectation of him to be a responsible young adult.. My days with Ariq felt like they were filled with rocks and storms.. Still, he found his constant and stability in his drum world..

During the second year of junior high school, Ariq watched his seniors in orchestra team leaving the team in pursue of their new lives.. Until  only a small number of senior members left.. And as Ariq was going to be in his 3rd year of Junior High School, he had started preparing for another new phase of life too..

At the end of second year of junior high school, things became so tough, that there was a point when drum-life was the only thing that could convey a lesson for Ariq, so his dad had to challenge him by taking away his drum lesson. At that point of time, orchestra became his primary anchor.. I was glad that it actually became a learning phase for him. His interest expanded. He started learning bass guitar, piano and violin on his own. His teachers and friends in the orchestra team were his inspirations.. 

Despite Ariq's thoughts about how life would be after graduating from junior high school, once again, a change happened sooner that he had anticipated..

Starting orchestra practice session in the third year of junior high school, one of Ariq's old classmates who had continued studying in his old school (the same school with Ariq's primary school), was attending the orchestra practice session. Ariq was so happy when he found out that his friend was there as the new drummer.. Ariq had been asking a few of his friends from primary school to join the orchestra team as drummers, because being the only drummer for an orchestra team had always been quite a challenge, especially when there were more than 2 or 3 songs to practice at once.. Ariq was also relieved that once he graduated from junior high school, there was a great drummer already to replace him..

However, a mother's heart was not as easy to accept change as a teenage boy's..

Last Saturday, during the orchestra parents meeting, I was informed that the school orchestra was reorganising. The school committee would start to enforce the guidelines of orchestra membership, which was only current students and alumni -who graduated from senior high school-, could join or stay as members. Therefore, current active/non-active members who did not fall under these categories had to resign immediately.. This came as a shock to me, and it felt really hard for me to tell Ariq about this.. In the past, the definition of alumni was students who have finished a level of education in the school, be it primary, junior high or senior high school.

At the end of the practice session, I softly informed Ariq about the news and asked him to say goodbye to his orchestra teacher. He did as I asked and I was surprised to see the teachers' shocked reaction to the news. Apparently, they didn't know about the news yet. Ariq's teacher asked us to wait a few days for confirmation. He wanted to keep the team as long as he could.

I was silent as we walked to the car. I couldn't imagine how Ariq felt. His drum lesson was taken away, and how he lost his orchestra team too.. To my surprise, Ariq noticed my silence and he said something that was really unexpected, "Mum, my teacher needs to let me go, to let the new drummer adjust quicker. People do better without a constant backup. He is good and he will be fine. He just needs the chance and time to adjust. My being there would only be holding him back." 

I lost for words... 

His orchestra teacher was still hoping for the senior members to be able to help out with the upcoming performances in the current month, but it looks like that the school committee had a different idea.. There would be no transition period.

This morning I had the formal notification, and I couldn't help shedding my tears.. And I talked to Ariq again.. And again, Ariq's reply hit me hard, "Mum, why are you so sad about this? Look at it this way, the teachers have taught us everything that needs to be taught. We, the senior members, have learnt everything that we need to learn from the teachers and the experience. We have our instruments and our skills, we are ready to move forward in our musical lives.. Yes, the teachers are starting from zero again, but they know that they can't escape that.. So, just take it easy.. It is time to move on.."

Oh my... I was speechless again..

When times like this happen, I feel like I'm one step behind Ariq.. I still hope for stability in his life, but he keeps reminding me that his world is not about stability, it is about the determination to keep moving on and forward..

The confidence Ariq shows me calms me down, and despite the daily unending chase I give him,  I am truly proud of him..


Monday, 10 November 2014

Peek-A-Boo.. I see you.. And I scare you..!!

Hi Everyone..

I know it is not nice to stay quiet for too long, but, juggling time can be almost impossible sometimes. So, I apologise..

As unexpected as it is.. I can't believe that the reason I am writing in this blog again, after almost a year without any posts is a mantis...


Yes.. A MANTIS..

I've come across them many times since a was very young, but never realised how interesting they are until today..

This morning we had visitors at home. My husband's high school friend with his family. When they were leaving, around late morning, there was a mantis on the orchid leaf in the front yard. Since I have never have a photo session with mantis, I thought it would be nice to do it while the weather was nice.

The mantis was not running away. It was slowly moving from one leaf to another, and it was cooperative when I held a twig in front of it to move it to a different bush. I really had a great time shooting it.

While taking pictures, I started to realise that the mantis seem to be aware of my presence at all times. Every time I moved my camera, The mantis moved its head towards me (or my camera) . I had its face in almost every shot. I think it was amazing. It didn't seem to be scared by me, unlike some other animals that usually try to run away from me when I take their pictures.

I See You..

I Still See You.. 

After a while, I noticed something else, the mantis did a little head shake from side to side, every time I happened to be facing it face to face. And, it started to stand face to face with me more directly. Not looking at me sideways anymore..

Ready.. Get Set.. JUMP!

After this last shot, where I caught it standing at the top of a tall leaf, suddenly, the mantis crouched, and.. JUMPED TOWARDS ME!

I jumped and screamed, as the mantis landed on my head. Gladly I was wearing a headscarf, so that its legs didn't get tangled in my hair. In panic, I shook my head and waved my hand on my head to get rid of the mantis.. But the mantis was nowhere to be seen..

I went inside to change my clothes, but it was not on my clothes either.. So, I decided to make sure that the mantis was alright. Not hurt or anything when I flicked it with my hand..

It took me a few seconds to finally see it, on top of Sinta and Joe's car.. It was calmly walking, as if enjoying the smooth feeling of the car, compared to the rough surface of leaves..

Me and My Shadow..

Look at me, I'm dancing..

I thought the mantis looked great on the car, and I started to take pictures again. But this time, as soon as the mantis started moving its head towards me, acknowledging my presence, I decided to stop the photo session. I didn't want to experience the jump for the second time..

It was really a great photo session with the mantis..

Thank you for reading and see you again soon..

Peek-A-Boo.. I See You..

See You Later.. 


Later in the afternoon, I told my husband about the mantis shaking its head. He said that it was the mantis' way of scaring a stranger.. Well, I learn my lesson now..

Monday, 16 December 2013

Mission: Elephant (Kyra's Day Out)

Kyra loves elephant.. everytime we take her to the zoo, she is always 'glued' to the elephant area. We can walk around and see other animals, but she will always ask us to take her back to the elephants!

While her brothers are  having a play and study weekend at a friend's house, we decided to take Kyra on a day trip to the zoo. She was jumping up and down, when her father told her that she was going to visit the elephants..

Kyra woke up late this morning, so she had late breakfast. We left the house about 11 a.m. and we reached to zoo at about 11.30. The weather was warm, but thanks to the trees, it was nice inside the zoo. From the entrance, we went straight to the elephant area.

The first one we saw was the male (my personal guess was that he was the alpha). He was the biggest one we saw in the zoo and he had an area all to himself. He didn't mind the crowd, but he didn't really look for attention either. I tried to take shots of him and Kyra, when suddenly, he leaned to the wall that separated his compound from the next door compound. Not sure what he was doing, we were guessing he was looking for his family..

We moved on to the next elephant compound. There we saw two female elephants, one looked older than the other. These two certainly were looking (and enjoying) the attention from the visitors. We were not supposed to feed the animals, but some people tried to give peanuts to the elephants. One person even threw a mango.

I was worried the elephant would go excited and misplace his foot, which could result in the elephant falling from the high area of the compund. It turned out that the people coming with the guy who was giving peanuts, were thinking the same thing. They asked him to stop feeding the animals, and he did. I think the guy was happy enough because the elephant's trunk touched his palm when taking the peanuts he offered.

At that time, Kyra started walking away from the elephant compound. She wanted to have a ride on an elephant! She has been waiting for this chance for some time now. So, we started walking to the elephant ride area.

Before we reached the elephant ride, we went past the elephant nursery. I read about the baby elephant's birth on the internet, and I was so happy to see the baby with my own eyes! The baby elephant was so cute. It was walking fast around the nursery, while its mother was watching.

The baby elephant was thirsty and went to drink from the pond. The pond was surrounded by stones, probably for the safety of the baby elephant. The baby was safe from drowning, but it took a lot of his efforts to move his short legs around the stones. The baby was not about to give up though. It drank until it had enough, then it slowly walked back, over the stones..

Yep! The baby elephant and Kyra are as persistent as one another.. Children never cease to amaze me!

From the nursery, we went straight to the elephant ride area, which was only across the walkway. I bought the tickets for my husband and Kyra, and found a good spot to take pictures.

Kyra waited in line patiently (which amazes me, since the line up was quite long).

Once she reached the top of the stage thing, where she would hop on the elephant, I could see that she was eyeing all the elephants that were coming and going, trying to find an opportunity to touch the big animal. My husband kept asking her to stay away from the edge of the stage, worried that she might slip and fall. She followed her dad's direction, but, her eyes were still looking for any elephants walking towards her..

Finally, it was Kyra's turn to hop on the elephant.. YAY!

My husband asked her if she wanted to sit in front of the elephant handler (note: other riders, especially the kids, sit behind the handler. I didn't even think that people were allowed to sit in front of the handler). I was busy trying to take pictures, I didn't notice where Kyra and my husband were sitting, until later, when I was reviewing the pictures.. When my husband told me that Kyra wanted to sit in front, I didn't think that she was actually allowed to.. I was really surprised when I saw the pictures, it looked like she was rubbing the elephant's head and talking to it!

When the ride was over, Kyra hopped off the elephant, and gave a big pat on the animal's head. I think they have become friends now..

As we were walking away from the elephant ride, we saw one elephant was being taken out of the ride area, for drink and splash. While Kyra was lining up, I saw the other elephants doing the rides were taken out in turns for drink and splash. At that time I couldn't rush to take pictures because I was worried I would end up losing my spot, and couldn't take pictures of Kyra on the elephant. Now that Kyra's ride was over, I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to see this rare occassion. I had my camera ready and started taking pictures..

I was enjoying taking pictures so much, that I didn't realise that the elephant was walking towards me and standing right in front of me! I wasn't using the zoom, because I was standing close to the elephant. Can you imagine how close this elephant got to me, if it shows up this big on my camera lens?

My husband was laughing at me, as I jumped back.. But the elephant was only as interested in me as I was in her.. It was an experience I would never forget..

Kyra waved at the elephant and asked us to move on. My husband suggested that we went to see the snake show. Luckily the show had just started, so we didn't have to wait long for the people to come in. At the end of the show we offered Kyra to have her picture taken with a giant snake, but she refused, "I like elephants. I don't like snakes, " she said.. I guess I have to accept that. Aza is the reptile lover, while Kyra is the big animals lover.. haha..

We started looking for the Children Zoo.. It turned out that it was on the other side of the zoo! We went in, and right away we could see little ponies were tied to the trees, ready for kids to take a ride on them.

At first Kyra didn't want to have a ride, but then, she started walking towards the ponies, saying that she wanted to pat them.. The handlers warned us that ponies are still horses, they have strong legs and they can kick!

I said to Kyra that to get near the ponies, she had to buy a ticket. She finally said yes. However, since it took some time for her to make that decision, two other kids had entered the pony ride before her. They took the ponies offered by the handler. Kyra didn't want the ponies taken by those kids. She had her eyes on the brown one.. the biggest pony there!

I thought that when one of the handlers brought the smallest pony to her, she would go for it, but NO! She actually said no to the handler, "I want the brown one!" So, the handler called out the other handler, the handler of the brown pony. The other guy was grinning, "She asks for the brown one! The big one!"

I told him that we just had an elephant ride, and she was riding in front of the elephant handler. The pony handler laughed, "That's good. It means she is a brave kid!"

Just like the elephant ride, I didn't realise that Kyra was holding the rein, not the stump on the saddle. The other kid who went on the pony was not allowed to do this. The handler kept reminding him to hold the stump and not to touch the rein. I guess, the pony handler was as brave and confident as she was.. ;-)

From the Children Zoo, we decided to have lunch before going home. On the way to the food area, we walked past the elephant nursery again, and we caught the sight of the baby elephant feeding.. it was a very beautiful sight..

After lunch, we finally went home. Kyra was already tired, and she had done everything she came to do. So, it was time to rest..

Until next time.. :-)