Light and Dark

For July 2016 week 3 of #‎MYWritersPoetryPrompt‬, there were two word prompts, ‘light’ and ‘dark’. I wrote about the co-existence of light and dark, good and evil. This poem is not about the triumph of good over evil, but about how their co-existence makes each appear as they are perceived in the present day – light being the good, and dark being the evil.

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Light and Dark

What is light without dark?
What is dark without light?

The light makes the dark
Look dim and dastardly

The dark makes the light
Look bright and beautiful

One without the other
Will lose its power and influence

They are pitted against each other
But each needs the other to thrive

An odd co-existence through the ages
But persists still due to necessity

Khor Hui Min
23 June 2016

 

 

#atozchallenge: Wonder of life

For RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #102 Birth&Cheer, the two word prompts are ‘birth’ and ‘cheer’. I wrote a haiku about a new addition to the family, the happiness that follows and how it brings family members closer together.

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#atozchallenge: Value of altruism

Did you know that doing good has health benefits?

According to James Doty, director of the Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, when we care for others and engage in activities that help, it results in lowering our blood pressure and heart rate. Research actually shows that in the long term, it can help us live longer. On top of that, the good deeds we do can inspire others to do the same.

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Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201212/the-evolutionary-biology-altruism

“We’re adapted to recognise suffering and pain. For us to respond is hard-wired into our brain’s pleasure centres. After we lend a helping hand, we receive oxytocin or dopamine bursts that result in increased blood flow to our reward centres. In short, we feel good when we help,” added Doty.

For example, Peggy Callahan is a documentary producer covering social justice issues and a co-founder of two non-profit organisations that help people who are enslaved or caught in human trafficking. What she does is not easy, but it brings her happiness. Thanks to neuroscience research, she understands why.

“When you do an act of good, you get a neurotransmitter ‘drop’ in your brain that makes you happy,” Callahan said. Also, there is a multiplier effect. “Someone who witnesses that act also experiences the same thing, and remembering that act makes it happen all over again.”

She wanted to leverage on that. The result was Anonymous Good, a virtual community and website where people post stories or photos of acts of kindness they’ve carried out, observed, or received. For each act posted, website sponsors make a donation to feed the hungry, free people who are enslaved, plant a tree for cleaner air, or dig a well for clean water.

“One act of good is much more than just one act of good,” says Callahan. “It’s part of a much bigger force.” A force for good.

Sources:

This article was adapted from ‘Altruism: Individual Serving‘, which was written by Carol Hart Metzker and published in the June 2016 issue of The Rotarian. 

The source of the image featured in this article is ‘The Biology of Altruism‘, which was written by Christopher Bergland, and published in 2012 in Psychology Today. 

New hope

Haiku Horizon’s prompt for this week #121 is ‘time’. I wrote about having hope with the passing of time. Sometimes, having hope is all the reason one needs to wake up and get up every morning.

Blooming
Attractive montane flowers

New hope

With each day new hope
Better than the day before
But time waits for none

Khor Hui Min
16 June 2016

 

 

 

New beginnings

For RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #101 Fresh&Wind, I wrote something about new beginnings. It is about hope and looking forward to a better tomorrow. We all need positivity and hope to help us get through the days, months and years. 🙂

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New beginnings

Fresh new beginnings
Fly by on the winds of change
To scale greater heights

Khor Hui Min
16 June 2016

Let’s look forward to a better tomorrow, and actively and collectively work towards making  today better than yesterday, and tomorrow better than today. If everybody does a little good, no matter how small, it will contribute directly or indirectly towards the well-being of oneself and the collective well-being of others in the long term. This is because doing something good not only benefits the recipient of the good deed, but it also makes us feel good about ourselves. 😀

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#atozchallenge: Up, up and away! If Walls Could Talk 1st Anniversary

The average person thinks that poetry is boring, and they also think that only poets think that poetry is interesting. I think this is no longer true in the modern age.

Perhaps in the past, poetry was the domain of the educated, literate people, who were few in the old days. With the improvements in education and the increase in literacy rates worldwide over the past few decades, poetry and prose have become much more accessible to the regular joe.

Then, there are poetry movements that bring poetry to the young, and make it accessible and approachable. Now, there are even poetry open mics (one might compare them to comedy open mic style) and poetry slams. Yes, everything is possible now. 😉

If you are curious and want to know more, you can check out If Walls Could Talk – Poetry Open Mic, which just celebrated their first anniversary last week. Incidentally, they are organising their first Poetry Slam on 25 June 2016, from 6pm to 8pm, at BlackBox, Publika. So, check out their Facebook page to find out more!

 

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Retro microphone on stage in restaurant. Blurred background. Source: http://7-themes.com/6905520-retro-microphone.html

 

I wrote a poem in conjunction with the first anniversary of If Walls Could Talk. Hope you like it. 😀

If Walls Could Talk

If walls could talk
They would sing songs
Of joy and rejoicing
They would cry songs
Of sadness and pain

If walls could talk
They would tell tales
Of people squished against walls
And squashed against each other
Huddled in groups on the floor

If walls could talk
They would laugh at the time
The people couldn’t get
Through the door anymore
Snaking all the way down the stairs

If walls could talk
They would whisper about the time
The man in white came
With long white beard
And talented guitarist son

If walls could talk
They would wonder aloud
At all the poets and poet-wannabes
And all the poetry lovers
Who would come all the way

If walls could talk
They would talk about
All the different types of poets
Quiet and loud; serious and funny
Reserved and boisterous

If walls could talk
They would talk about the night
Gaslight Café was the most
Happening place
In Damansara Heights

Khor Hui Min
10 June 2016

Read another article I wrote about the If Walls Could Talk First Anniversary:
Thursday poetry reading with A. Samad Said

 

 

 

 

#atozchallenge: Thursday poetry reading with A. Samad Said

If Walls Could Talk – Poetry Open Mic celebrated its first anniversary last Thursday, 9 June 2016, with a big ‘1’ shaped cake, and poetry readings by a bunch of passionate Malaysian poets, among which was our famous Malaysian Literary Laureate a.k.a. Sasterawan Negara, A. Samad Said, fondly known as Pak Samad.

The founder and organiser of If Walls Could Talk, Melizarani, said over 200 people clicked on ‘Going’, so you all better come early, because Gaslight Cafe can only fit 120. So, we did!

There are many kinds of poets – quiet, and reserved, loud and boisterous, entertaining and funny, serious and thought-provoking, plus some rapper dudes too. At the first anniversary, we saw the whole range of them, and listened and watched them.

The show of the year

Music is a form of poetry, a poetry of sound, and the show was aptly opened by Az Samad, the very talented guitarist of international acclaim, who also happens to be A. Samad Said’s son. His fingers moved deftly and fluidly. Every note was as it should be, and everybody enjoyed his performance.

As the evening progressed, we saw and heard many poets, from the very young Team DemiGods, to the veteran writer Dato’ Dr. M. SHANmughalingam, and everything in between, but a common theme emerged. Poets individually and collectively expressed their belief in unity in diversity. No matter what was our skin colour, hair colour, eye colour, mother tongue – they felt that these were only surface deep. We are all human, and we should not let our differences divide us. I thought it was a positive movement that I also agreed with.

Hidup Bersama (Living Together)

The star of the night was A. Samad Said, and people came far and wide to see him. I got there really really to book a seat, because there were only a few chairs, and the rest of the people had to sit on the floor. They trickled in at first, but kept on coming, and the people on the floor had to squish together to let more people come in, until finally, there was no longer any sitting, squatting or standing room at all. So, the people at the door, and the people queuing on the stairs, all the way from the top floor to the ground floor, had to be There were definitely more that 200 people were there in Gaslight Cafe on 9 June 2016, maybe even more than 300!

You can see A. Samad Said’s reading of his popular poem Hidup Bersama, accompanied by Az Samad on the guitar, by clicking on the following videos, which were recorded using mobile phone by Amy Yu.

 

Here is his poem:

HIDUP BERSAMA
By A. Samad Said

Kita sudah sampai di lereng amat indah, di bawah pelangi,
dalam ufuk yang masih mencabar;
dan kita ikhlas berjanji untuk bermaruah,
tenang dalam segala uji cabar dan debar.
Kita mencari hanya yang tulen dan jati,
sekata hidup, mengerti dan berbudi.

Kita wajar mendaki lagi kerana puncak
yang jauh. Dalam gelora dan taufan
tak tercalar tekad kita kerana kemerdekaan
mengasuh kita bersuara dalam sopan,
yakin menyanggah musuh, tulus menambah kawan,
inti tunggak dan menara kebahagian.

Kita datang bersama anak-anak yang sedia menyanyi –
sihat, teguh, bertekad dan berani.
Mengelilingi tasik, mendaki gunung,
kita mengajar mereka berjiwa besar dan berbakti.
Tanah air akan indah, megah dan bermaruah
jika kita sentiasa mensyukuri anugerah Allah;
dan bumi akan subur, makmur dan mewah
jika kita bekerja dan berikrar hidup bersama.

Tanah air memberi banyak, mesra mendakap kita;
kemerdekaan mendorong kita berdiri dan berbakti.
Dan kita sudah sampai di lereng indah, pasti tetap mendaki juga,
menyanggah musuh, menambah kawan tanpa jenuh, khuatir, juga tanpa rawan.
Dan dalam alaf baru semangat kita wajar padu,
berjalan kita atas nama tanah air dan bangsa –
bangga kerana merdeka, megah kerana bahagia.

Anak-anak kita bakal datang tangkas dan berilmu; dan kita, dalam sejarah,
bakal syahdu dan bangga, kerana awan yang indah, lapis pelangi lebih mesra,
wajah diri dan inti peribadi kita tunjang bagi kehidupan dan kemerdekaan bangsa
yang sentiasa sedia belajar mengerti dan tekun hidup bersama.

 

Here is the nice YouTube version of Hidup Bersama:

 

All in all, it was a great night, and everybody got cake! 🙂

Read another article I wrote about the If Walls Could Talk First Anniversary:
Up, up and away! If Walls Could Talk First Anniversary

 

 

Guiding light

It has been quite some time since I wrote a haiku. 🙂

Here’s my haiku for RonovanWrites #Weekly #Haiku #Poetry Prompt #Challenge #100 Top&Light. Congratulations to RonovanWrites for the 100th haiku challenge! Yay! 😀

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Guiding light

The lighthouse shines bright
On top of cliff; on land’s edge
Light to guide one home

Khor Hui Min
8 June 2016

 

 

#atozchallenge: Seen Hock Yeen Confucius Temple, Chemor

Hidden in the quiet town of Chemor, Perak is a gem of a temple. Set up by a schoolteacher, the Confucius Temple of Seen Hock Yeen is well-known for bringing luck to students who are going to sit for exams. However, it is also a place for one to dispel bad luck in other areas of life, as well as to make wishes.

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The entrance seems commonplace among temples, until you go into the temple grounds hidden inside. The pond, bridges and temple buildings all come together to create a most serene and beautiful landscape.

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I would like to point out that this is the only temple where my photos turned out more beautiful than the view that my eyes feasted upon, and that is unusual indeed.

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First-time visitors should come to the temple on either Friday, Saturday or Sunday, because that is when the tour groups from Perak, Selangor, and even as far north as Kedah and Perlis come to visit the blessed temple. When the tour groups visit, there will be guided tours led by the temple volunteers, with detailed explanations provided about the temple’s history.

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If you are in luck, as we were, the founder of the temple herself will provide the opening introduction about the temple’s background and lead the first prayers for your personal well-being and that of your loved ones as well.

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Visitors will be led to each deity or temple building, and guided on how to perform their prayers or share their wishes with their favourite deity, step by step. Confucius, being a famous sage who was highly respected in China, has been elevated to the status of a prominent deity here. Visitors also pay homage to the Goddess of Mercy and Buddha.

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Goddess of Mercy

At one point, there is a bridge to cross to dispel calamities, where one must remain quiet, and only look to the left. Of course, one should not look back or turn around too!

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The special bridge

The temple also collects donations for the needy all year around, especially single mothers who have to take care of their young children. This was the first temple I have come across that focused on helping single mothers, which is very good of the founder and volunteers.

The twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac are also featured here, in the form of twelve golden statues, and people were encouraged to pet their corresponding Zodiac animal, from head to tail, for good luck. 😉

There was even a bunch of cute little puppies, and the children were delighted to see them.

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The highlight of the visit to the temple was the sudden appearance of a pretty rainbow near the pond, and I had the good fortune of taking multiple photos of it. In the warm light of the period before sunset, it was the most lovely view I have seen in Malaysia in 2016. 😀

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The rainbow we saw right before leaving the temple
How to get there (according to Blog with Yan)
Coming from Penang:
  1. After passing through the Kuala Kangsar and Changkat Jering tunnel, you will come to the former Jelapang toll gate.
  2. Here, turn left towards Chemor.
  3. Go straight for about 10 km until you reach Chemor town.
  4. Turn left and drive for about 0.5 km until you come to the first traffic light.
  5. Turn left. When you reach the KTM overhead bridge, immediately turn left after the KTM overhead bridge.
  6. Go straight for about 3 km. You will see the temple on your right.

Coming from Ipoh: 

  1. Heading to Sg Siput, when you reach Chemor town, turn right when you see a railway bridge in front of you.
  2. Drive for about 2 km.

The address
Kuil Seen Hock Yeen
1 1/2 km, Railway Station Road,
Kampung Cik Zainal Tambahan 1,
31200 Chemor,
Perak, Malaysia

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The sunset we witnessed right before boarding our tour bus to depart for dinner

I think the temple is a lovely place, and I will be back! 🙂