Beauty is in the details, undoubtedly.
A five star hotel I once stayed at in the country neighboring Malaysia down south, gave away some overly sweet and hard chocolates as part of their turndown service. By the way, the term turndown is derived from the act of turning down the linen for sleeping as carried out by hotels' housekeeping staffs.
On the contrary, I am pleasantly surprise at this clever little turndown gift at the hotel I am staying in HCMC. It comes with deliciously different crunchy cashew nuts instead. And to live up to its bookish/literature theme, it comes with a quote every night. Tonight it's about 'A Cow Grazing'. Cute!
Artist: "That, sir, is a cow grazing."
Visitor: "Where is the grass?"
Artist: "The cow has eaten it."
Visitor: "But where is the cow?
Artist: "You don't suppose she'd be fool enough to stay there after she'd eaten all the grass, do you?
Each room comes with a unique book and a poster depicting a quote from the same book. I have got 'The Giving Tree' in my room. It's a sad humbling story of how a tree makes one sacrifice after another so that its visitor, a boy, would always be happy. Its fruits, branches and trunk, all have been sacrificed but it is just as happy to have left with a stump for the boy (who is now an old man) to sit on, in the end.
|The Giving Tree|
We have got 'The Wizard of Oz' in the other room.
On another poster, I spotted this quote by William Eliot:
"Books are the quietest and most constant of friend; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors and the most patient of teachers."
From another poster in the hotel's Bookmark Cafe, I learned one important Vietnamese word: doc (pronounce "dock") means "to read".
The turndown service at The Alcove Library hotel sure put a smile on my face. It's a sweet end to another great day in Ho Chi Minh.
Today, we had the privilege of meeting and interviewing Imam Musa, deputy principal at Madrasah Al-Anwar. Our new friend whom we met by chance, took us to the madrasah at a Malay village where 300 Muslim families live harmoniously among non-Mulims. Madrasah Al-Anwar is home to 120 students and is the only Islamic institution in the city. On the third floor of the building sits a mosque - Masjid Al-Anwar. Majority of the graduates from Madrasah Al-Anwar have and would customarily further their studies at higher Islamic learning institutions in Malaysia. And all of them somehow ended up getting private funding from generous Malaysians. Alhamdulillah. Having talked to Imam Musa about the school and the Muslim community in Vietnam, I realized that the school is in need of a good supply of quality text books either in Arabic or Malay language. The textbooks which the students at Madrasah Al Anwar are currently using, are in a sorry state. They deserve better looking books with better contents. I have never agreed to the saying 'Don't judge a book by its cover' because a book must be appealing from cover to cover, literally. Imagine how the children in your country would react if they're fed with almost illegible photocopied textbooks? MashaAllah.
Pray, with the attention and assistance from certain groups/organizations, students at Madrasah Al-Anwar would be able to enjoy a more enriching learning experience and that they would soon be sparred from below-par textbooks simply because every child deserves a quality education.
|Textbooks used at Madrasah Al Anwar|
Should you choose Saigon as your next city break, do drop by Madrasah Al Anwar and drop some good Dongs or Greenbacks. You all are big money earners, not quite like Abdul Rahman whom I reckon is the sole halal home-made ice cream-man-on-wheels in Ho Chi Minh city.
Abdul Rahman and 84-year-old Khadijah really made my day today : )
Until next time, signing off from Saigon.
Madrasah & Mosque Jamia Al Anwar
157 B/09 Duong Ba Trac St.
District 8, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam