Thursday, 24 September 2009

OGA blog

Hi Everyone,

For more information about the BBGS alumni association, you're welcome to check out this new blog:

Please note that the information contained in the alumni blog is managed by the OGA separately and is not associated with or necessarily represents the views of this author.

Thanks and kind regards,

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Candle 28: Shaz M Zain

First of all Congratulations to the Reunion Organizing team & Back2BBGS for all that you’ve done! A splendid blog! I have been reading about Project Kindle since it started, but never thought to write in as I thought maybe I’m not good enough to be in it, but then, none from my batch responded and I was approached to send in, so here’s my story…

I was at BBGS for 11 years, from Std 1 (BBGS1: 1988 - 1993) & up to Form 5 (1994-1998). It was the best time of my years…Its all I remembered about my childhood, even my sisters also went to BBGS, and I have to say we all share on thing in common, we are proud to be a BBGSian!

What I miss most about my primary days are “main getah” , “batu seremban”, “galah panjang” before school starts or during recess. I wasn’t one of the good obedient ones as I used to break rules and be called up to the teachers room, once or twice to the principal’s office. There were many forbidden places for BBGS girls during that time and among them are Karyaneka and 7 Eleven! I used to visit Karyaneka, that was right opposite the school at that time, on days that I stayed back for computer classes, and of course I brought a gang (my close friends and partners in crime at that time was Sarah, Aireen, Andarmi, Izliana, Safina) with me, it was like a small adventure of ours visiting the different state houses, the mini zoo and also entertaining the Mat Salleh, there was once, they actually got us to sing the ‘Negaraku’ and recorded it on tape. We also went to 7 Eleven to get our Slurpees occasionally on those days we stayed back…I don’t really remember where the money came from since I only got 30 to 50 cents a day for pocket money but it was there somehow… Other than that I don’t really remember what I did, but there were complaints but all this small adventures of us never did reach the teachers & our parents..thank god!, anyhow I turned out fine didn’t I?

In secondary school, my fondest memory was of course the Choral speaking – we took this seriously every year, we always did our best and I really enjoyed the times we spent rehearsing and the interclass competition,. Other than that there was this after assembly singing conducted by Mrs. Abraham. And the most colorful event during the year was the sports day, the cheerleading competition was always an awaited event! I really loved it especially when Green house kept winning those years! Yes I was a full fledged Green house member, loyal all the way, unlike some who changed when they crossed from primary to secondary! Next best event is the Teachers Day, I always looked forward to the teachers singing the song “Saya Guru Malaysia” and their performance with the students. They were such a sporting bunch!

Another note on Choral Speaking, I remember one historical event that I am so honored to have been a part of. We once did a presentation for the Director General of Education in 1997. The poem was all about him as he was retiring, but the guests really enjoyed it. That dinner took place at the old KL Hilton at Jalan Sultan Ismail. Also, our class won that year for interclass competition – the judge was actually at the dinner at KL Hilton (I think there was some biased-ness since we didn’t think it was that good compared to 4sc2, which did better that year, but it’s ok, they won the next year! But they were a bunch of sour grapes for the entire year and hated our class for it!)

On the friendship in BBGS,I was in classes 1k – 6k in primary and form 1U-3U and then 4&5sc1. I managed to make lots of friendsand I still keep in touch with most of them. We just had our batch reunion last year and were able to trace about 70% of contacts. To name a few I still keep in touch with are Eliana, Amyrah, Azita, Nur Fareedza, Haslina, Hasliza, Nani, Hana, Sh Syikin, Nurul Asyikin, Poova, Fikriah, Faizah, Nina, Adriza, Noor Hazlin, Najua, Zahirra, Baemisla, Farrah, Zuien, Lili, Diana, Audrey, Ti Min among others.

Teachers were also great, and it's nice to know that some still remember me from those days, when we met at the recent reunion at Pavillion, this was what they told me or implied:
  • Pn.Jagdip – she was my teacher in Std 5 I think, teaching English, she always scolded me for being naughty and she remembers me as that only! *laughs*. I remember meeting her again in SBU, and she remembered my name then…
  • Ms.Jeyanthi – She was my science teacher in Form 2. She was telling us how she missed BBGS, how things are not the same anymore. She says we are independent, we didn’t need to be chased after to get work done be it social events or homework! Also, she said all they did was threatened us to get things done, and it was done! We were a good bunch…
  • Pn.Wahiddah – Class teacher Form 1U & 2U (year 94 & 95), she remembers us too. And she’s still small and we have grown taller than her now (she said this!) *laughs*.
  • Mrs.Lyla Roberts - My English teacher in Form 4 & 5(sc1) - 97 & 98. She did something really nice for me back in Form 4, you see, for the Choral Speaking at Hilton (explained above), we had to wear these peach baju kurungs with kain batik and there wasn't any with my size, she went to get the same peach material and got it tailored to my size, I actually told her it's ok, I didn't want to join, but she insisted and went out the extra mile yeah for that I'm grateful.
  • Pn.Azawiyah – didn’t really teach me, but she remembers me..
The other teachers that taught me were Mrs.Chong (Maths & Physics), Ustazah Rohaizan (Agama), Ms Kok (History & English), Pn Halimatus (Chemistry), Pn.Rohaizan (Biology), Pn Zarina Abd Rahman (Science & Maths), Pn.Zarina Othman (Geography), Pn.Baynum (Science), Pn Norhayati (Malay and History), Primary school: Ms Kua (Standard 6 class teacher), Pn.Norhayati (Standard 3 class teacher) , Pn.Ranjan (Standard 2 class teacher) & Pn Norziah (standard 1 class teacher) – Those are the few that I can remember: Thank you all.

On some rules I loathed about back then, but kind of miss now:
- Wearing house badge is a must!
- Ribbon on the hair (ponytail)
- Spot checks
- Offence slip which translates to picking up rubbish after recess
- Toilet cleaning
- Class deco competition
- No rolling up sleeves (baju kurung)
- Cangkuk at all times (baju kurung)
- Queuing up outside the class after recess and being checked from head to toe by the prefects

On leaving BBGS in 1998, I joined matriculation under UKM in 1999 and subsequently went on for Actuarial Science in the same University. When I graduated in 2003, I joined a local bank as a Junior Executive in Risk Management Department and did my masters in Finance part time from RMIT . I recently left the local bank for a better position and hopefully future to join an Islamic Foreign Bank. I wouldn’t have come this far if it’s not for the strong foundation built during school days, BBGS has been a great part of me and is still is.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Candle 27: Rose and Sunitha

Candle 27 is a special joint-effort by two BBGSians, who are separated by half a century in years but strongly united in family spirit. Rose Ponnudurai, from the Class of 1941 (yes, you read that right!) is our most senior contributor to date, and her grand-niece, Sunitha Priscilla Arthur, is from the class of 1992. We thank them both for adding such richness and depth to our treasured archive of BBGS stories.
Sunitha with her Aunty Rose
Rose Ponnudurai (class of 1941) Imagine sitting for exams with warplanes flying overhead…. Or waiting 4 years for your results. That’s what Rose Ponnudurai experienced. An ex-BBGSian from the class of 1941, she sat for her CSC (Cambridge School Certificate) just before WW2 broke out. Here are some of her stories: “Miss Glasgow - I remember her for teaching me English. She took the trouble to personally coach me. You’d never think of a person holding such a high position like a principal, coming to your house at a low level. Real affection to help out, not just talking. I believe that is true Christianity, not just talking about (the Lord) Jesus, but doing the work that Jesus did. I remember this humorous incident: one time, Miss Gibson stopped by our house because she said “I get the smell (of fresh cow’s milk) just like in Ireland.” So I asked “Would you like a cup of milk” and she replied “Yes why not?” So I got her some milk and she was so happy. Because the smell reminded her of her homeland. When sitting for the CSC, we heard planes flying over the school. Some of my classmates started saying we’re going to be bombed. But we weren’t. Immediately after the exams the war broke out, so I had to go and stay in the estate with my parents. For the next four years we didn’t hear anything and I thought well, that’s the end of the exam results. I didn’t mind that actually! But after the war, my brother informed me that the results were going to be released. And I became so afraid, I kept telling my mother “Don’t know if I’ll pass, don’t know if I’ll pass.” I was not keen that my brother was going to get the results for me, but anyway I passed, and that made me happy.” Aunty Rose just celebrated her 87th birthday. Thank God for her alertness & strength till this day. She is an encouragement to many by her love, sense of humour and “mirth that has no bitter strings”. Widowed at a young age, she had to single-handedly raise 5 children (at the time ranging in ages 2 to 12). Aunty Rose credits the lives of the missionary teachers in BBGS for moulding her character. Sunitha Priscilla Arthur (class of 1992) As for me, I joined BBGS primary School 1 in Std 6 after moving from Melaka. I remember being totally miserable the first few months because I missed my old school, friends, old house…. Also my former school was coed & my first impression of BBGS (& KL) girls were that these girls are wild! (No offense intended :-). In a coed school, we girls tend to be a bit more, ahem,… well-behaved, we sit nicely (not like the boys), we’re soft-spoken, etc . And everything about BBGS just felt so strange & intimidating. But after some time, I grew to really love BBGS. And I’m grateful for the friends who made the effort to get to know me, reserved as I was. I remember Marina Ramli asking me questions about me, my family, former school, etc etc etc., felt almost like interrogation, but she really took time to make me feel at home. And Yap Lee Pheng who insisted I join in a game of “Bisik-bisik”, Yung Mei (Mei Purcell) who always cheered me with her jolly sense of humour, Mui Teng who showed me the canteen & insisted that I must eat (‘cause I was reluctant to go there, didn’t like crowds). Also my class teacher & other classmates from Std 6 Kuning 1987 who were so nice to me (if any of you are reading this-THANK YOU, it’s the little things that matter). Secondary school (1988-1992) were truly years of moulding & shaping. I’m grateful to my principal Miss Yeap & teachers: Mrs Abraham (she managed to make me actually LIKE Geography), Puan Sharifah, & others & also those who taught at the Christian Union meetings and camps (esp Miss Cooke, Miss Moey, Miss Siew, Mrs Kok, etc). Also am grateful for the many friends. It’s so nice to be reconnected again because of the Back2BBGS event - thanks again Joanna & the whole committee! But the most important thing that happened to me in BBGS was the divine encounter I had in Dec 89, in the school hall. Experienced the tangible warmth, love & reality of the Lord Jesus & realised for the first time that God is really REAL. This totally changed my life. Looking back, I know it was not by chance that I came to BBGS. God had everything planned. Indeed at the end of the day, this truth remains: NISI DOMINUS FRUSTRA.

Update:  Rose Ponnudurai went home to be with the Lord on 20th April 2021, aged 98.  May she rest in peace.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Candle 26: Yang-May Ooi

Yang-May Ooi is a Malaysian-born writer and blogger (and BBGSian!) based in the UK. Her latest book, International Communications Strategy, co-authored with Silvia Cambie, is out July 2009. She has also published two novels with Hodder & Stoughton, UK. Yang-May blogs and podcasts at her multimedia online “magazine” Fusion View, the cross-cultural blog at She shares her memories with us on Project Kindle.

My childhood friend from KL, Mei W, sent me a link awhile back to a blog all about my old school Bukit Bintang Girls School, Back to BBGS in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I was at the BBGS Primary School 2, from between 1973-75, after which I left to come to school in the UK. Although I was there for only a short period, I’ve always had fond memories of the place and the friends that I made there.

Sadly, the school is no longer on its original site. In modern KL, the location is prime real estate, right in the middle of the shopping district. It clung on for as long as it could but eventually gave in to commercial pressures around 1999. The site is now the location of the luxury Star Hill development of condos - Bukit means Hill in Malay and Bintang means Star.

Although the primary school building was more modern than the colonial style secondary school, I loved the school building for its open verandahs and I seem to remember giant banyan trees and rain trees in the grounds. There was a very basic canteen near the playing fields selling laksa and fried noodles as well as stinky salted fish satay sticks and bubble gum. I would sometimes buy a bowl of laksa (10 cents, I think) but other times bring in home made sandwiches - chicken, corned beef fried with onions or fried luncheon meat, or home made fried rice.

I can still remember the names of some of my classmates - Gwen, Bek-Ngan, Jia Yee, Latifah, Valencia, Dolly, Helen. My class teacher was Miss Teh and our Malay teacher was Cik Zaleha. Miss Ma, the principal, was a very elegant Chinese lady who always wore a cheong-sam. Her deputy was Mrs Bux, whom we were all scared of because she had a very stern presence.

There were 50 pupils to class and I always came bottom - 49 or 50! - except in English, where I usually got 100% in all the tests. My family despaired that I was a dunce. At best, I was lazy and didn’t study as I should. They tore their hair out that my father was spending all that money to send me to school in the UK - what if it all turned out to be a waste of his hard earned money and I spent my years in England a layabout, good-for-nothing dunce? What if I never amounted to anything?

I think my difficulty at BBGS was that the text books and schoolwork was in Malay and I had previously gone to an English language school. We spoke English at home. I read in English, wrote in English, thought in English. At that point, the medium of instruction was still English and my friends and I also spoke in English. I was finding it hard to deal with the school work in another language, even though it was the national language of Malaysia. Also, I knew I was going to school in England and that I would never need to use Malay there so what was the point of it all?

In the UK, it took me awhile to adjust but as it turned out, this is where I thrived. I was still never top of the class to my extended family’s disappointment but I’d come in at respectable above average ranking. I never matched the string of A’s that my parents and uncles and aunts boasted of in their O’ and A’ levels but trundled solidly along with Bs mostly and the occasional shocking C and even an E! But I think I found that being in England suited me and I felt free to develop those other talents that I had that couldn’t be measured by exams.

But there are many things about Malaysia that I miss - the food, the climate, the warm and friendly Malaysian way of being, Malaysian English, the rain trees, that orange sunlight in the evenings after school. And although I did dismally at BBGS from an academic point of view, I had a happy time there with my class mates and my memories of the school and the sense of place I have about it makes me sad that it is no longer there physically in the location that I remember. Reading through the Back to BBGS blog has made me feel a bit like an old lady, looking back at her young days!

Back to BBGS is the personal blog of an Old Girl, Joanna Yeoh, and collects the memories and stories of BBGSians. It’s a huge undertaking for one person - thank you, Joanna, and all power to you - and all the BBGSian contributors - for creating such a fantastic resource and archive!