15/02/13 - Saw Hema and Deepa for the first time this year, a day after Deepa's birthday. Was nice to talk briefly with them outside their house, though I don't appreciate the situation they're in and how it's being managed; it feels there's more to it to Kumar caring for those girls than he's revealing... Went to Genting Highlands with Vanajah and Shree; we took the cheapest lunch we could find, then went to the casino. Vanajah made quite a good luck charm, as she helped me win RM100 on roulette, though unfortunately I lost RM140, so a RM40 loss overall, but it was a good time. We then went round the theme park, and I finally got to see a Lion Dance this CNY season (right), and the lion even charged at me and bit me. Is that good luck?
08/02/13 - Went to Penang on Saturday with Ashwini and her family (left); we drove at night and arrived and visited a temple in the morning for two of the family's babies to have their head's shaved. We then toured around the island, visiting other temples and tourist places... Managed to get myself a tuition student within hours of posting an ad on mudah; teaching a 39yo man from Jordan, who appears to be a student here... And lastly a Happy 13th Birthday to Deepa; I hope she's doing well.
01/02/13 - Settled down again after my eventful trip to India, and finished my mini documentary on the Grace Children Home. Went to Batu Caves for the second time this month (after going a few weeks ago for Pongal) for Thaipusam celebrations (right) with Vanajah and Shree. Started back at college this week, though it's just introductory classes, and the Chinese New Year break is coming up too; at least I've managed to keep myself busy during the break.
25/01/13 - Had an amazing and very busy time whilst I was in India. Flew to Chennai last Friday and stayed at the Mallika Residency, a budget hotel I knew in the area. The first day I just spent exploring, getting to know the local area, then the next day I visited a slum village nearby my hotel and took plenty of photos round there of the people. I printed out my shots from that morning for them, but this led to an argument between two women over a photo being cut, which made things a little awkward. Whilst visiting the slum, I developed a close relationship with a young girl called Charulatha, who looked like Deepa's doppelganger (left), and she had a younger brother who looked a lot like Deepa's younger brother, Rooban.
After two days in Chennai I took a night train to Bangalore and another to Hubli to visit Pastor K Gandhi and the Grace Children Home (right) that was under construction. I was treated very well there and given plenty to eat; I took a lot of photos whilst there, and even shot a promotional documentary for them, which I hope could help them in sponsorship. They seemed really happy and blessed that I visited them, and I'll definitely keep in contact with them to view their progress, and revisit them if I can go back to India in July or August.
Took the long journey back to Chennai, where I revisited the slum (left), and decided to do some documentary shooting there, asking the people in the village to give their testimony of how life is for them in their slum, with an interesting mix of stories. Met two young women there, from Germany and Netherlands, do some tuition with some of the kids outside the Catholic church, the main landmark in the village, with a number of families, including Charulatha's, being Catholic. I later found out this slum is on Richie Street, an ironic resemblance to my name.
I budgeted quite well for this trip, just like I did with Laos two years ago, spending only around £250, which included flights (£125), visas (£30) and a donation to the Grace Children Home (£30). I'll be taking a study break from June to August, where I'll be in UK for a month, then I'll have another several weeks free for another trip to India, of which I may spend 15-20 days there this time, now that I have plenty of contacts there now.
11/01/13 - Finished off my exams this week, and now have a few weeks break to finally relax. I struggled on a couple of my exams, though fortunately three of my five subjects were easier subjects... Booked my flights to UK for June; I saw some discounted flights from Singapore to London and Paris, but after spending too much time thinking about which was the better value flight, the prices went up... Been in contact with a Pastor who runs a children's home in Hubli in India, so I'm making plans to try and visit there on my trip to India next week.
04/01/13 - It's 2013! Spent the New Year at Taman Wahyu church to take some photos, then saw Shanthi later in the week, who is trying to move house. Got exams coming next week, so trying to make sure I'm ready after missing much of the semester due to my problems.
28/12/12 - I seem to be blogging a lot less than usual nowadays, which is unfortunate. Since moving house and getting dengue, my morale has sunk quite a bit, which has affected my hobbies like web design and photography, plus nothing significant has really happened the past month, which is a shame considering it's the school holidays. Haven't had as much contact as I would have liked with Deepa as she's now less accessible with her new family. So as an alternative, I went to see Santha in Klang, who recently gave birth to her Nigerian boyfriend's daughter.
One of my main reasons for seeing Santha was to see Kavari, who I hadn't seen for almost half the year, and she let me take her Christmas shopping at KLCC (right). The other reason was to get back in contact with Shanthi, who Ranjitha has been staying with the past few months. It was nice to see them and the boys again, though Shanthi seems to want to be keeping a low profile right now. It seems there's going to be an awkward 'custody battle' as Shanthi wants to take care of Deepa, whilst Kumar wants to take care of Ranjitha, and I'm the middle man in all this.
Though I got to take Kavari out for Christmas, I was dissapointed that I didn't have any kids in tow for the Community Of Praise Taman Wahyu Christmas Service (left). Attending CPTW is the only Christmas tradition I've managed to maintain in my fifth Christmas in Malaysia, but it was a shame I had no kids as they gave gift boxes with toys, clothing and stationary to all the kids there. Still, it's good to be attending church again after my year long hiatus.
Spent Christmas Day in Taman Tun, where they did a small house prayer function that day (left). It's a shame I don't visit the Rumah Panjang village as much any more, but it's nice to see everyone again in the few times that I do. Got to see Tharani, who now lives with her father's family, and the dog, Dinky, now has five puppies (her last lot of three died several months ago). Kugunes new baby, Kavalesh, has also become much fairer skinned (for an Indian) since the last time I saw him.
As far as the rest of the month is concerned, I've scraped through my college studies, despite missing so many classes from dengue; as long as I get pass grades then that'll suffice for this awful semester. I got a shower heater installed a few weeks ago, which my father bought for me when he was in Malaysia; it's much easier to bathe with an instant hot shower now. And also, very pleasingly, I got my insurance pay out from my dengue treatment a couple of months ago, and was very pleased with the amount.
So how can I summarise my 2012 with my last blog entry of the year? The year started great, with nine kids in one house in Taman Tun to focus on helping, but they all slowly left to stay with other families as the year progressed, and my future with Deepa is uncertain. Tenancy has been a constant stress most of the year, but I'll spare the frustrating details now that I'm peacefully settled in a very nice Master Room. Photography work was great mid-year, with product photography and several appointments, though I totally lost momentum after my dengue.
My plans for 2013? I'll have my end of semester exams almost straight away, then I've got a trip booked to Chennai soon after (my first trip there in over five years). Planning on taking a study break in June so I can visit UK for a few weeks, as KLMU don't give long semester breaks, and I'll need some time out after two solid years of studies. Need to get myself working again, as a photographer or anything, as my savings dwindle lower every month. Not sure how my social work stands now that all those kids are scattered across Selangor, but I'll always do my best for them. Here's hoping 2013 will be prosperous...
30/11/12 - Took Deepa belated Deepavali shopping this past weekend at Times Square, and gave her RM50 to spend, a quarter of which she spent on buying me Christmas decorations. She also got herself a top, a watch and a bracelet, as well as me getting her a 'H' necklace, for 'Huckle', which I bought from Penang. After covering her Deepavali expenses, I then went to Tesco (and finally got myself a Tesco Malaysia Clubcard) the next day and spent another RM70 buying things for her for Christmas. Also booked myself a trip to Chennai in January as I saw some cheap flights available during my semester break; went to get my visa at the visa office, the interview felt a little interrogating but they should accept it this time now that I have a student visa (unlike two years ago).