Saturday, December 09, 2006
Well, who wouldn’t? Apple is warm, funny, affable, friendly and approachable. She has these captivating charm and elegance, instantly drawing everyone and anyone to her. Apple is simply irresistible! She also has the flair of putting people around her at ease. Being around her is such a blast as she’ll just crack you up in no time. You just feel so comfortable around her. The four of us stayed home, goofed around and had a good laugh.
I just don’t know that she is so good with kids too!
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
But hey, busy is good. Busy means you are alive and kicking and fighting and forging forward.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
It’s a 1300 sq ft condominium unit just minutes from my office, easily accessible by train, good amenities, decent neighborhood, reputable developer, free hold land title and ready by the end of next year. Going at around 320k, it was bit pricey but all the boxes on my requirement list were checked one by one. I fell in love with the place immediately.
I found it: my dream pad! I was over the moon thrilled. Well bear in mind I was still looking at the model only. I started to do some rough calculation on the loan arrangement in my head. “ I can afford this!” Then I got so excited my thoughts drifted far far away thinking of how to decorate my pad, what furniture to buy, etc. I practically saw myself living it large there a year from now.
So I went to see the show unit t the site on yesterday. It was what I was wishing for. I love the floor plan, the layout, the balcony and the surrounding. I was so set to buying.
“It’s going at 340k now!” The sales agent told me.
“What the fuck!”
I’m back on house hunting mode now.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Giddily she was yakking away about her honeymoon. Her story was so heavily glazed with the sugary sweetness that I bet she has been rinsing her mouth with honey and corn syrup. EJ was radiant with this post honeymoon glow. It was almost blinding! But I could still see her lips curling up sheepishly every time she talked about her life as Mrs. B. Her eyes sparkled with joy but shrouded with this dopey dreaminess. She dashed off; no she floated away, as the husband was coming to fetch her home. Well she shouldn’t be driving anyway as she was totally loaded. She was certainly high on something.
Whatever she is on, I sure as hell want some, ASAP!
Oh boy, marital bliss is highly infectious.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
In the beginning, it was difficult to communicate; obviously there was a language barrier there. It was like being in a foreign country where you do not speak the language. You resort to hand gesturing and pointing. But the trouble was all the pointing and gesturing were indeed the language itself! Here, I could actually make a huge ass out of myself, or worse still, offend the Deaf if I point or gesture with the wrong finger! Therefore, it was a little intimidating as I felt inadequate and ill-equipped to communicate with the Deaf with my limited signs.
I was almost floored looking at them signing fervently to each other, across the room! I think it’s the best way of communicating as the eyes are fixed on the hands and faces while the ears are not distracted easily by the surrounding noises. Signers are totally devoted to each other during a conversation, nothing else and no one else. The intensity and passion is incredible.
Upon knowing that we were learning sign language, the Deaf were definitely helpful and accommodating. They signed slowly and finger spelled to ensure we understand. Somehow I was so overwhelmed that it was such a struggle even to read their finger spelling, let alone sign.
"Just let loose and have fun."
It turned out to be more than an enjoyable evening. It was a very interesting learning exprience and the most fulfiling and best assignment I ever had.
Monday, November 13, 2006
It was a clear hot sunny day. I was on camp duty, cooking and cleaning and some light work around camp, a rest day actually. The gang was slaving away at the site as the project was slightly behind schedule. We were tasked to construct the roof, make windows and doors and paint the building. There seemed to be so much yet to be done.
Around lunchtime a local pulled over breaking the news to us. At first everyone was skeptical and thought he was joking. He turned on his radio in his truck. It hit us like a wall. We dropped everything and rushed over to the little store down the road with a TV to watch the news.
It was indeed happening. The 12 of us crowding in front of the tiny TV looking at the footage of thick smoke billowing from one of the towers. Then, followed by the footage of another plane flying low crashing into the other tower. And finally both towers collapsed, leveled. These images kept repeating on the tube with lightning speed commentary in Spanish. I saw the image zoomed and panned along some who jumped of the blazing towers. It was horrifying.
Everyone was extremely quiet during lunch. No one said anything. Perhaps the magnitude of such insanity had sunk in and we were just trying to make some sense out of it. What the hell was going on? How did it all happen? Who did this? Why? How could we actually watch this on TV for real, on a news channel, not a movie channel? The world was going crazy? But it made no sense. I was hungry but I was too sick to eat. I couldn’t sit still doing nothing after lunch, so I went to work at the site.
I remembered planning my traveling into Bolivia after that. I called the Bolivian embassy inquiring about the visa requirement for a Malaysian visiting Bolivia. The embassy officer told me that I would need a visa and how I would go about obtaining one. Before hanging up he asked: “Are you a Moslem man?”
Can you believe that? I did not bother to proceed with the visa application. I wondered if I’d ever get the visa if I said yes (though I’m not).
Everything changes after that terrible day. For example 911 is no longer a mere emergency number. It’s also how we spell terrorism and hatred now. Keeping a beard or wearing a scarf can be deemed making a radical statement. Fear and paranoia will be forever an integral part in our lives.
In the end, the movie fast forwarded to a thank you barbeque in a park on a bright sunny day two years later, organized by the two surviving police officers rescued from the rubbles, John and Bill. The movie shows Olivia, Bill’s daughter born not long after that fateful day already an adorable toddler, running around happily and innocently.
Perhaps that signifies a new beginning and hope…
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The baby excitement was leaping and spewing out from the screen. Her husband, D was already talking about decorating the baby room, planning which route to take to the hospital when the baby is ready to pop, etc. Without knowing the sex of the baby, D had bought the baby a stuffed toy. She signed off the email with S + D + "little grape". How adorable?
Of course there was talk about baby’s names. They were set to name the kid after his grandfather if it’s a boy. If it turns out to be a girl, they would be scratching their heads. Hence they were asking for suggestions. I happily obliged and hoped that they'd use them.
That email just made my day!
Yesterday afternoon I got another email from her. She had a miscarriage during the night. “Oh no!!!” This time I could not contain my sadness and grief. My heart just sank into a bottomless pit. I wanted to cry.
The whole situation just sucks. They must be devastated. I was stunned and I did not know what to say or do. As a friend, I felt helpless. How painful it is to face these life changing experiences in such a short time, I could not even begin to imagine. I replied her email and said a prayer for them.
One thing I’m certain is that S is a strong and determined woman. She is always calm and composed catching any curve ball thrown at her or picking up those hit her. As she is recuperating now, she had already called family and emailed friends about the abrupt end of her pregnancy. She is crushed and disappointed about this sad episode but she refuses to let this haunts her. Together with D they will move on with chin up high.
Rereading her email this morning, I saw her strength and resilience to forge ahead. She will come out of this stronger and braver. I know she will.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Like a drug addict or substance abuser, I have always got endless excuses for my incessant abuse and indulgence. It all started during my college days. In the beginning I pumped iron to pack some muscle onto my stick-like frame. After joining the 9-to-5 club, I signed up to a gym working out regularly to kill time and to stay lean and toned. Now I hit the gym at my office every weekday evening in order to avoid the rush hour traffic. On top of that I also swim twice a week and log about 20k running a week.
It is simply amazing how I turned elated after each gym session. I practically am basking in the post workout glow. I’ll be high on dopamine, endorphin and testosterone. Dopamine induces a sense of euphoria and hope, albeit temporarily. Endorphin numbs the strain and pain of the ever-increasing workload. Testosterone gives me an extra boost in the ladies department. Totally a happy camper!
Therefore, I supposed somewhere along the line I got hooked. If I don’t get my workout fix, I’ll be feeling like shit. Something just doesn’t seem right. I’d feel lethargic, I’d lost my appetite, I’d have trouble sleeping that night, I’d run on an extremely short fuse and snap at anyone within a 10 ft radius around me.
In order to indulge in my habit, I’d sometimes reschedule dinner plan with friends or call in for a rain check last minute. I had declined invitations to happy hour altogether just to ensure I got my gym shot. I should have seen these red flags so long ago. But I was in denial.
My obsession turned severe when I avoid any form of communication, even eye contact in the gym. In fact I’d be annoyed if someone trying to make small talk while I’m doing my bench press super set. I just want to be left alone doing my weight regime, sweat it out, hit the shower and get out of there, preferably without uttering a single word.
My road to recovery began over a weekend in last October. I recently enrolled in the sign language weekend class at the Y in town. I normally do not go into town during weekends. Then the thought came to me on my way to class on that fateful Saturday: I should have packed along my gym bag and get my gym fix before attending class, as the Y is just a stone throw from my gym. Brilliant, I can pump more iron! On Sunday night, I sat idly in front of the TV as the Monday blues crept in slowly. I suddenly rejoiced and looked forward to going back into office the next day, because I can go to the gym after work tomorrow!
At that moment I know I have a problem and I need help.
Quitting cold turkey is tough. It’d send shock waves to my system and the withdrawal syndrome would be too much to bear. I still go to the gym daily but I dial it down a couple of notches on the intensity. Later on I hope to slowly cut down the number of days. Oh, and I started talking to people in the gym.
Well, just taking it one day at a time.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Just as we cheerfully anticipating another double celebrations of Diwali and Eid El Fitr (both being celebrated by Hindus and Muslims respectively, a couple of days apart) this year, an Islamic religion authority released a call to the Muslims asking them not to visit their Hindu friends during Diwali and not to wish them festive greetings even, as such deeds are viewed as acknowledging the existence of another God, hence defying one of the core teachings of Islam: accepting Allah, the most merciful and the most magnificent as the one and the only God.
Islam is a religion of peace and a way of life of tolerance and love. Respectful and meaningful conduct with the non-Muslims is well documented in the Hadiths and the Koran. There are teachings of the prophets living and working peacefully with the non-Muslims. I’m no Islamic scholar but the call by the religious authority seems so contradictory to the Islamic teachings. It’s simply beyond logic. It’s like we live together under one roof but we do not talk to each other at all. What kind of peaceful co-existence is that?
Personally, I strongly believe that Islam is indeed a beautiful religion preaching peace, tolerance and love. The teachings and values of Islam are universal, timeless and honorable, but the followers, that’s another story. Some of them can be insensitive and ridiculous. Though fortunately such bunch is of the minority, they did do some considerable damage to the religion itself.
But in the spirit of festivity and goodwill, we shall ignore such incident. Seize the day to be the bigger person to forgive and forget. Do not let the incident dampen our celebrations and merry making.
Wishing all the Hindus and Muslims a blissful Diwali and Eid El Fitr.
Opps, I’m late for an open house for some amazing feast.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
A swimmer I met in the pool thought that I looked like the ‘rich Indian’, Indian from northern India. “Dark but not really black, you know.” He said to me. Sorry dude, I’m not an Indian and I’m not rich.
Then there’s this sweet girl in the gym: “Oh you speak Mandarin! I thought you are not Chinese.” She exclaimed, after hearing me speaking Mandarin. Let me guess, you thought I’m an Indian. She nodded vigorously.
Last Thursday, a man asked me if I’m going back home to Borneo for the Diwali and Eid festival long holiday. He thought that I’m a Sarawak native aborigine after I told him I worked in Miri before relocated to KL. Now I’m a native tribesman. This is a new one!
Well, can’t blame them. I am a hell lot darker than the average Chinese guy. Although I’m fluent in Mandarin, I rarely use it, because we speak English in the office so I automatically speak English to anyone and everyone, inside and outside of office. I do speak pretty good Malay, without the Chinese twang. I can survive without rice and Chinese food. While most of the Chinese are quiet and reserve, I’m relatively loud, direct and blunt (borderline abrasive).
But I do have the Chinese almond shape eyes.
As I laughed these mistaken identity incidents off all together, I’m glad at times for not being identified as a Chinese. I can’t deal with Chinese being calculative, especially when it comes to money; say something like two bucks fifty. I can’t stand Chinese being kiasu, competitive over some mindless insignificant crap and actually afraid of being one up by the others and then losing face BIG time. I can’t tolerate Chinese being selfish and defensive as they have no qualm about screwing their friends, or family even, over like 6 times in order to save their asses.
Too much! So I try my best not to be associated with those Chinese.
Monday, October 09, 2006
I woke up early, 8.00 am early. What the hell was wrong with me? I just could not get any more shuteye. So I got out of bed to start my beautiful Sunday.
Looking out the window, it was indeed a beautiful Sunday. The sky was slightly overcast and there was a light yet refreshing breeze brushing through gently. The sun peeked through the thin cloud, splashing generously her golden rays upon the distant skyline.
I turned on the radio for some lazy Sunday morning tunes. I put a load of laundry into the washer. I made coffee. I flipped a couple of pages of magazines contemplating what’s for breakfast. I decided to bake a carrot cake, this time full on with cream cheese frosting.
Accompanied by the music, merrily I started the entire mixing and whisking and beating and baking routine, stopping now and then to sip my coffee. In no time the room was filled with the delicious fragrance of cinnamon from the carrot cake. Lovely!
“Not a bad morning.” I thought to myself.
It was then I looked out the window again. “Where’s the beautiful skyline?” The pleasant view and wide-open space outside my window was shrouded by this ugly gray veil of haze. I felt choked!
My day went downhill from then on. Something wrong with the washer, so I had to manually rinse all my washing. By the time I done I was all sweaty and hungry and tired. I had my carrot cake and dozed of in front of the TV. The afternoon heat woke me up. I was sluggish and lazy and sticky. Even a refreshing shower (I forgot to shower waking up in the morning) did me no good, I couldn’t sit still to write, I skipped lunch, and I was definitely not going out into the haze. So I did the only sensible thing: heading back to la-la land.
I got up again around evening, still feeling heavy and lethargic. It must be the heat and the haze. I have not been active the whole day. Cooping in the house vegetating on a Sunday was certainly not a great idea. Some fresh air would do me good perhaps.
Looking out the window again, what fresh air?
I went out anyway. I drove to the pool for a quick dip and for some fresh air.
Fresh air? Who am I kidding?
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Last Friday a new staff, let’s call her Newbie (she’s young, just out of college), came to borrow the laptop for a presentation in the afternoon. Newbie was to return the laptop by the end of the day. But she did not. I only came to realize that Newbie was still holding the laptop after office hours and she had left the building. I managed to call her and she informed me she had locked it in her desk and she would return it on Monday morning. No biggie then.
Come Monday morning, I thought Newbie would return the laptop first thing in the morning along with an apology for the late return. Nope! Not happening that way. Another colleague came looking for the laptop and only then I realized the laptop still with Newbie. So we went over to her place to get it. The other colleague picked up the laptop (Newbie did not even hand it to us). She simply blurted out an obligatory I’m-sorry, and back to work. That was it. Not even the slightest tinge of regret or humility in her tone or her demeanor. She was rather matter-of-factly, remorseless and guilt free.
The episode got me thinking a bit. What is happening to our young people nowadays? What happen to their common sense? You borrowed something from me. Shouldn’t return the item on time? More importantly, what happen to their common courtesy? You borrowed something from me and you forgot to return it on time. Shouldn’t you make it up by returning the item to me at the next soonest and available opportunity and be apologetic? These are actually something so very fundamental in any relationship, with anyone and everyone! Is that too much to ask for?
Perhaps it’s bad parenting. Perhaps it’s bad education. Perhaps it’s bad TV. Perhaps it’s the youthful arrogance and invincibility. Perhaps it’s the attitude, as they call it.
Perhaps it’s old age. Perhaps it’s me being the anal old fart. I remember how I used to roll my eyes when the elderly lamented about the young generation being disrespectful and taking things for granted.
Look at who’s bitching about the youngsters now.
Perhaps I need to take a couple of chill pills.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Parting is never easy. It takes enormous courage to pick up yourself, leave all things near and dear to you behind and head on to face the uncertainties ahead, alone. As a clean break is impossible, you carefully rummage through your life, searching for that something, small enough to fit in your suitcase but big enough to hold the love from home. Perhaps a picture, a book or even a song. It will hopefully give you a sense of familiarity in the foreign land.
At the same time, the anticipation and excitement are just as overwhelming. Imagine after about 12 hours or so of shut eye onboard the flight (and I hope you are one of those who could sleep on the plane), you wake up to a new time zone, new weather, new people, new environment, literally a whole new world! Isn’t that exciting? Limitless wonderful possibilities await you at the other side of the world. Isn’t that something to look forward to?
Farewell stirs up a lot of emotions and even more extreme spectrums of emotions. So I hope you do leave with tears welling up in your eyes, a big fat grin slapping over your face, a strong resolution resting in your heart, calmness surrounding your head and tingling excitement tickling all over your skin.
If you don’t, a couple of glasses of the in flight Champagne will do the trick!
All the best, Lavi.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
I like the step-by-step approach of baking; it’s very systematic and organized. Just follow the recipe of mixing and blending the ingredients and then baking them in an oven. Voila! Minutes later the house will be filled with the wonderful aroma of the freshly baked cake or cookies. There’s something reassuring about the whole process, for the fact that if you work on it properly and diligently, delightful result is guaranteed. That’s certainly a spirit picker-upper when I feel I’m stuck at stuff I’m working on, be it writing, dealing with people, studying or slaving at work.
Baking is very fun as you are allowed to experiment with different ingredients and portions. You can triple the chocolate chips (always a good thing) or replace the nuts with raisin or use brandy instead of juice for the extra kick. Hence I find baking therapeutic, as you can express yourself according to your desire and mood at that instant. Do whatever you feel like, be creative, let your imagination run wild, and push the envelope.
I just bought “The Joy of Cooking” a couple of weeks ago and so far had been churning out a banana bread and a batch of chocolate cookies. Yummy! At the end of the day, I like baking simply because I like to eat!
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Now, 10 years later, I signed on for a long weekend getaway on Perhentian Island along the east coast with 8 of my buddies. Being older (and hopefully wiser), I ignored the previous experience; basically jumped on the boat with a simple mission to have a fantastic weekend with the people I love.
LaviYa…Ya… the Orgy-nizer of the year. How could we ever thank you enough for taking up the enormous challenge of organizing this island escapade? It was impossible to fit everyone’s schedule and budget and preference and demand but you simply took them all in and waltzed through gracefully sorting out bus ticket and boat fare and booking the chalet. On top of that, kudos for successfully fending off the constant antics and pranks from the 3 dick-heads. Anyway, we still strongly believe that you have got lesbian tendency. It’s ok, I love you no less for that.
Aulalalalala, the second target of the practical jokes from the 3 dick-heads. I was worried as you were kind of moody and quiet throughout the trip, probably due to our endless comical assaults towards you. We were trying to have a ball with you on the island. It was great finally seeing you laughed and yakked and yakked and yakked. Thank you for getting back the old you and joining in the fun. Seeing you ripping up the dance floor is such a reassurance. You go girl! Check out her website at AulaUpstair.com or AulaAngkatSikit.com
Arip a.k.a. Dick-head #1. Aside from his major contribution towards dick-headness, he was the activity director. “Today we go snorkeling.” “C’mon let’s play Frisbee.” “Who’s in for kayaking?” I must say I was trying to wiggle my way out of kayaking but it turned out to be a great 3 hours. We got 2 weeks worth of workout logged in. We found a lovely stretch of white soft sandy beach with crystal clear water. Most important of all we saved the leatherback turtles by continuing digging the nest on the beach (after a group of tourist stopped), bringing out a few more recently hatched baby leatherbacks. It was an incredible experience and that made all the sore arms and arching back worthwhile.
Roobs a.k.a Dick-head #2 and Orgy-nizer #2. He single-handedly managed the booze department and obviously did an excellent job. When he told me he would bring 2 bottles of stiff ones, I was happy. But when we got to the island, I was ecstatic as he brought along a minibar and a bartender: lemon and salt, shot glasses, cocktail mixer, tomato juice etc. Every occasion was a drinking occasion: he would be doling out shots of tequila to kick off the vacation, mixing bloody Mary to jump start the next morning, getting us beer after dinner, serving then a few more shots for capping the night. Roobs, you are the man!
Azleh the lover-man. A week before the trip he surprised me with a call telling me he’s crashing our island party, rain or shine he’ll be there. That was fantastic! He’s a good lad but we seldom get together due to different work locations. He likes partying and chic-ogling just as much. It’d be a blast. However, he was rather quiet at times and that left me wondering if he’s having a good time. Well, now that I know that he has got a chic thing over his head, that explained it all. I’m sure he’ll be able to patch things up with the hot mamasita of his very soon. Good to have you coming out with us.
JY, the official photographer for the trip a.k.a. Mr. Surprise Surprise! He initially insisted not to go into the ocean. (Surprise counter: 1) I know what you are thinking, why come to the island and not get into the sea? So, by the end of the first day he shot about 450 pictures of us goofing around. But the next day, he went for a short hike with us, sat in the ocean relaxing (Surprise counter: 2), got part of his hair wet (Surprise counter: 3), drank first Tiger and then Carlsberg over dinner (he kindly declined all our previous imbibitions) (Surprise counter: 4), danced up a storm (Surprise counter: 5), and finally the ultimate, took off his shirt and carried on dancing up a hurricane! (Surprise counter exploded!!!)
Skut, the metrosexual intrepid traveler. He just came back from Bali Island and Pangkor Island not too long ago. What better way to maintain an enviable holiday tan than going for another island getaway? Seasoned on the road, he came prepared. He brought along endless tales from Bali (“when I was in Bali…”), 2 beautiful Balinese sarongs (with different ways of tying them), 2 different SPF sun blocks (left over from Bali trip, 1 for body and 1 for the face), packed lunch of tuna and pita bread (totally taking care of his body), mega bucks worth of snacks (in which 35 big bucks worth of them were unfortunately left behind at the bus station).
Kevin the outsider. We met this new friend on the island itself, during our snorkeling trip. This poor guy was forced to take 2 weeks off work. Lucky bastard! He was traveling alone and we were actually staying at the same chalet. He’s a cool dude, out having a good time and meeting new people. We ended up having a lot of our meals together.
Finally yours truly, Boonsky a.k.a. Dick-head #3 and Tan-Doori. Other than occasionally chipped in some dick-headness, I did nothing really. I just showed up. In the end I got a tan (as I’m called Tan-Doori now), contracted the severe laughing overload syndrome, drank myself silly and smoked like tobaccos were tax free. I was just happy to be there hanging out with my mates and had a good laugh. I'm glad I jumped on the boat.
Such is life, sometimes you just need to show up.
P.S.: Next trip we are heading to Cyprus. Road trip anyone?
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006
The swimming pool was packed with families and kids. I only managed to do a couple of laps. It was absolutely impossible to swim laps without bumping into other swimmers. It was an obstacle course!
As I was taking a breather, I saw a man guiding his daughter doggy-paddling across the pool. From the opposite direction, a guy was doing backstroke kicks. The little girl and the guy were totally on course for a head-on collision.
But fear not, we had got daddy coming to the rescue. The father would steer the girl away from the guy, or so I thought.
Instead, he vigorously splashed water at the approaching backstroke guy! The poor guy must have startled and probably choked till water coming out of his nose. He stood up, regained his composure and had not a clue where was the splashing coming from and why him? The father meanwhile simply rolled by with his girl, as if nothing had happened! He did not even apologize!
That was so rude! No, that was so fucking rude!
I hate to say this but perhaps Reader’s Digest got it right, ranking KL the third rudest city in their survey.
Now, think and please think long and hard. When was the last time you acknowledged the wait staff serving you food? When was the last time you thanked the stranger holding the door or elevator for you? Or when was the last time you hold the door or elevator for the others? When was the last time you greet someone along hallway? When was the last time you talked to your neighbors? Or do you even know them? When was the last time you were punctual for an appointment? When was the last time you apologize when you bumped into someone? When was the last time you stop for the pedestrians at the zebra crossing?
Again, think long and hard. When was the last time you got cut off by another maniac driver on the road? When was the last time you hear a mobile phone ring in middle of a movie? When was the last time you got service with a smile from the sales staff? When was the last time you saw someone ran a stop sign or a red light?
Well, you probably get the idea now. Tell me, honestly, are we not a rude bunch of people or what?
Friday, September 01, 2006
Next to the trail was a pond where the villagers farm fish, lined with wooden fence and enclosed by the soaring trees. Paddy growing season would start shortly. The stillness of the pond would turn emerald green with paddy plants. Soon there would be no room for the captivating reflection of the blue sky and white fluffy clouds. Life in the Kelabit Highlands is simple and quiet, like the reflection on the pond.
Tired and sore as I was, I had to record this on camera.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Undoubtedly, the whole fiasco is news-worthiness, but definitely not to such extent. After all it was just a damn wedding. What value has it added to the general public? How are we educating the society through that? Don’t we have more pressing issues to grace the front pages and prime time slots? Say, I don’t know, world hunger, poverty, Middle East crisis, the Iraqi war, the Israeli-Lebanese war, public transportations, budget 2007, oil price, crime rates, the haze, scientific breakthrough just to name a few.
Perhaps it's all about the power of love conquers all. It brings hope and joy into our lives. Nahhhh... I don't buy that.
Well, I suppose it’s about supply and demand. People are actually very much so interested in the wedding, hence such extensive coverage. But don’t you think it’s worrying that the society placing such mega enthusiasm and anticipation in a wedding instead of other more relevant and critical issues? What does it say about our society and our mindset?
To me, that’s depressing and sickening!
Think about it.
Monday, August 28, 2006
I work on the 13th floor at Tower 2. What a lucky number that is! As a staff I have access to both towers as well as the sky bridge. However, I only had been using the sky bridge once, returning to my office after attending a meeting at Tower 1. The highest floor I had ever been to was level 61.
Until last week…
Last week I had to go all the way up to Level 70. To get there, I first took the express and direct elevator from the ground level straight to the 42nd level. Then I hopped onto another elevator to get to Level 60. From Level 60, I switched to another elevator, again to reach my final destination of Level 70. It was very much like flying long haul with several transit flights where you rush to different terminals and wait idly at the departing lounges.
I was alone in the elevator for the last leg of my trip up the tower. It was then I realized that I have broken my old record. Yeah! Some quick arithmetic in my head, I also realized that I was roughly 320m above the ground. Suddenly I felt my knees turning weak and I found myself holding the handrail in the elevator for support. I was afraid of heights!
Then all sorts of crazy what-if thoughts came flashing in my head: What if the elevator cables snap? What if the tower just came crumbling down? What if I somehow fall out through the window, off the Level 70? My knees went weaker, my breathing turned faster, my heart pounded harder and my grip on the handrail grew tighter.
“Oh my God!”
When I got there, the colleague I was meeting was away. Therefore I was told to wait at her workstation. There were French windows all around offering magnificent view of the city. Instead, I just stood at her workstation and looking at pictures she had at her workstation. I was afraid I might actually fall off the building if I went to close to the window (the window can break, you know!). I was too chicken to go to the window!
When I was done with business, I headed straight down, pronto! Several transiting lifts later I reached the ground level, in one piece.
I was so happy I almost kiss the ground.
Monday, August 21, 2006
Waking up early Sunday morning, really early.
This better be good.
I met up with a couple of friends heading out to the fringe of the city for a hike. Half an hour drive later, we were tying our shoelaces and getting ready to hit the trail.
Happily we walked into the bush in the crisp morning air. Shaded by the foliage and surrounded by trees, it was serenity in the air. I absolutely enjoyed being engulfed by these lush of green. There was nothing in my head but happy thoughts. Green is simply so powerfully soothing and relaxing.
We hiked up a small hill then came to start our walk above the canopy. There was a 200m-suspension walkway constructed high above the tree for hikers to enjoy the view of the hills (well, at a cost of 5 bucks). High above the tree, light breeze greeted us with joy, brushing away the sweat and tiredness. The vista of the rolling green hills was amazing. It stretched for miles and miles it seemed. This was my happy place. The city skyline was hazy and distant, as the way it should be, far, far away, along with its noises and heat and stress.
I love walking in the bush.
Monday, August 14, 2006
There was a line in a song which loosely translated to while we hold the glitters and sparkles in our hands; our hearts turn barren and bleak which struck a chord with me. How true?! Materialism and individualism take up so much space in our heads that there is no room for spiritual growth anymore. What spiritual growth?
I realized I was drumming my fingers on the steering wheel earlier, then humming along later and now singing along, out loud! The DJ then came on and said that the program plays pop tunes from the 70s and 80s. Great songs live through decades, even eons. Ah… I did listen to these numbers during my teen years. No wonder I could sing along. They brought back loads of memories from those days, flashing in my head.
Suddenly, a strange feeling came over me; “Damn! I’m old.”
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Perhaps I saw what I did not want to see: he pushing the work to a new engineer, he waiting for information instead of proactively getting the data needed, he spending time surfing the net for personal errands, he dispensing motherhood statement but not any substantial analysis, he taking no actions, he sitting around doing nothing! What pushed me across the edge was the fact that he is a senior staff, he earns at least 5 times my salary (he’s an expatriate), he demands a lot of additional perks and benefits and he yet sits around and does absolutely zilch!!
Perhaps those were what I wanted to see. So I could justify what I did. Subconsciously my actions were pre-meditated. After all I initiated the discussion. Then I challenged him continuously. And I interrupted him several times. Also I barked out instructions to him, of what I see fit as the course of actions. Finally, the worst of all, I left him no graceful exit.
He was certainly guilty of slacking off and not doing his work. So I believe that my actions were justified, except that I was being a nasty SOB for putting him in such a place with no exit plan.
A friend told me:” An great man, who wants to do great things, must learn to hold his feeling, his emotion and his rage”. That moment I turned into the smallest person in the world. I felt like shit for the rest of the day.
Next time I’ll do it behind closed door.
Monday, July 24, 2006
“Holy shit! There is a lot of stuff you brought for a 5-day affair.”
Just for fun we listed out what she brought. Let’s start with what all ladies love the most: shoes. She got 6 pairs of shoes with her. Firstly, a pair of black high heels, purely for formal affair. (Shoes counter: 1) Next, there is a pair of open-toe heels and pair of low heels pumps (since when pumps are things you put on your feet?), both is versatile in functionality and colors. They are the work-cum-play shoes. (Shoes counter: 3) She also brought a pair of trainers for gym (Shoes counter: 4), a pair of strappy flats for walking and lounging around. (Shoes counter: 5) Finally a pair of pretty girly sandals for going out. (Shoes counter: 6!!!!)
“No! Wait a minute; I bought the pretty girly going out sandals here. So technically I only brought 5 pairs of shoes.” She protested, proudly.
For clothes, it was just as complicated, for us guys at least. Attending classes during the day requires office attires of which must be stylish, sophisticated and look classy. For that she got 2 blazers, black and beige for easy color coordination (I thought black goes with everything), 3 work skirts, 1 work pants and 7 work shirts for mix and match. (Reminder: It was a 5-day course). Going out clubbing after class at night needs something skimpy, hip and sexy (no complaint here), so she brought 4 clubbing tops and 3 pairs of jeans. Traveling on flight and lounging around call for something light and comfortable. So she packed 3 t-shirts and 2 shorts. Working out needs the work out tees, sport bra and 2 pairs spandex/lycra pants. In addition, there are the necessities like bras, knickers, and panties, which the numbers cannot be disclosed to guys. Oh there were also 2 scarves, a denim jacket and a caftan for bed.
But I supposed that’s logical and fair, just as you need the proper tool for the job. What is not logical and beyond my comprehension was the number of items she brought!
Again I voiced my bewilderment with a “Wow!”
“At least I didn’t bring my denim skirt!” She shot back, again proudly.
I was speechless...
Monday, June 26, 2006
I decided to do something about the bowls and cups.
“Mom, there are only two of you here now and there are all these brand new bowls and glasses and what not, are you keeping them just in case we can use them when the Queen come visiting? Why don’t we give those away?”
“No way!” Mom protested.
“Why not? You certainly can’t use all of them. They just take up space and you will need time and effort cleaning them now and again.”
“I bought these bowls for your sister for her adoption ceremony. Those glasses are free gifts. Keep them, I’ll use them one day.” She insisted.
“Why don’t we get rid of those we are using now and use these brand new one instead?”
“No!” She replied, with a heavy underlying end-of-discussion tone.
“C’mon mom. I just don’t understand, why keep them if you are not using them.”
Mom just gave me her trademark sharp piercing look.
I know that any sound I make there after would lead to an argument equal the intensity and damage of the deadliest hurricane. But I was pissed off, I was fuming! What's the point of keeping these extras? No need, why keep? It was driving me nuts! The fact that these collections, not just bowls and cups, been steadily increasing at an alarming rate and turning the house into a huge thrift store does not bother her the least bit. It was not even funny anymore.
I gave mom my trademark whatever look.
So these extras continue to find permanent residence in the house.
Mom has always got a reason to keep all these extras. Her standard first line of defense: She’ll use them one day. When I press on, she says there are for my wedding! Good Lord I haven’t even got a girl friend yet! As I keep pushing on, she would say that it cost money to buy new ones and go on lecturing me that I could be a bit more cautious in my spending. She would also say that it’s her house and she lives there, not us. Her house, her rules! But her ultimate reason: “Those came with when I marry your dad.” Sentimental value, what can I say?
I know why mom does what she does and for whom. She knows one day we the kids would start our family and she would then give all these extra to us. She knows how tough and how expensive to start a family hence every penny counts, hence her every penny stretches, still, even now that we are all somewhat financially independent. She would say that we are not rich people, even if we are, we can be poor in no time if we are not wise and cautious in spending.
Suddenly the rage that consumed me turned into guilt. Damn! Don’t you just hate it when your parent is right? I just hope that she did not catch my whatever look.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Second half saw Tun Dr M went defensive, saying that the media twisted his words when he was simply raising questions. Cunningly, like a fox, he also launched a pre-emptive strike at everyone, predicting in the coming days he would be demonized because of his outspoken nature and his quest to seek the answers to his questions.
Just like football, He shoots! He scores! Goal!
And isn’t that clever shot? Now, anyone and everyone who even hinted slightly of his scathing remarks again will be deemed vilifying him hence proving his words right.
With the ball on Pak Lah’s court, what next? He quickly moved to retaliate, rather gently and subtly though, promising the government will again answer the questions fielded by Tun Dr M, this time in writing, not to him alone but to the people, disclosing the whole truth. Once and for all to erase any tinge of doubt, by trumping the transparent government card.
In addition, there was a substitute came onto the pitch, Proton chairman, Datuk Azlan Hashim. His role? Revealing that his efforts to meet Tun Dr M to explain the Proton saga were not reciprocated. He failed to score an appointment with Tun Dr M in at least 5 occasions. What else could he do?
Wow, brilliant comeback!
This seems like a draw. No winner? Perhaps the people are the winner. At least we may finally find out what’s the rationale behind all the government’s calls, not just simply dismissing any critic with the it’s-people-wish card.
We, the people wait…
Monday, June 12, 2006
Today I received an email from afar, from someone I thought no longer dear to me.
Simple and direct, she came straight out and laid it all on the table, well in the email. Cut through the chase! No nonsense! No more beating around the bush! No hold barred!
She did it.
The question remain though: how do we deal with the 22-hour flight time, the 4 years, the 14 time zones, the Pacific ocean, the Rocky mountains, my sense of complacency, my fear of commitment, my stupid oversized ego?
But hey, we will work it out, somehow.
I was happy, very happy again.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
Such relentless attacks seemed emotional and personal, like a child throwing a tantrum, stomping on the floor and pouting his lips, for not getting his toys or candy. Perhaps it’s true, as we age, we do act and behave more and more like a child. Again, like a child, perhaps this child is simply seeking for attention, fishing for sympathy.
This tirade certainly caught the nation by surprise, unfortunately the unpleasant kind! Perplexed with questions, loads of them, we waited for the comeback from Pak Lah himself.
Well, if the provocative Tun Dr M were expecting a mano y mano duel, he would be disappointed. Of course Pak Lah is not going to say anything. Basically he can’t say anything anyway. Counter-attacking will only make him look petty, grudging, defensive and cheap. Holding his fort and keeping silence will show him as an elegant and charismatic leader. It is totally Pak Lah chance to be the bigger man here and he did just that.
And, cleverly this general let his admirals and majors and even the privates to do all the counter attacks. More harsh words and severe language like uncalled for, out of line etc!
In the calm and uneventful political scene here, this clash may be just as exciting and captivating as the World Cup battles. Let’s just hope it will end soon though so we can return our undivided focus to what is more important at the moment, the World Cup!
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Vipere au Poing (Viper in the Fist), based on the novel by Herve Bazin, is the memoir of Jean Rezeau. Living with his grandmother, he was enjoying his childhood with his elder brother Freddy. The grandmother passed away and their parents came back from Indochina with a new brother Marcel. They quickly found out that their mother, Paule was a cold and terrible woman who was incapable of love and compassion. She hated them and extremely abusive and cruel to them, especially to Jean.
So he rebelled against his mother. Jean led all resistance efforts among the brothers against their mother, including two attempts to murder her, which failed miserably. Later he ran away to Paris to seek refuge with his maternal grandfather, who was a senator. Jean’s short stay in Paris made him realized how lonely and love-deprived his mother’s childhood had been, resulting her being such as a mother. And realizing this he knew that his mother could no longer hurt him anymore, his anger turned into pity. Suddenly the mother was not such a villain anymore.
Perhaps it was truly bad parenting. Perhaps it was generation gap. Suddenly I remembered of how a friend said he had been away from home for so long that his values diverge so much from his parents that they will never meet, as they almost do not see anything and everything eye to eye. I think we will hardly ever see thing eye to eye with our parents. They will always be the know-it-alls to us and we will always be the know-nothings to them. Somehow both parties can never be able to see that, however old and wise we are. Perhaps the parents are blinded by love and devotion while the children are blinded by guilt and fear.
In the end, Jean left for boarding school and never again saw and spoke to his mother, until her dying moment, years later. He thought he won but why was he not happy? Maybe his mother was victorious for he bore with him the distrust, hatred and angst his whole life. He remembered he caught a viper at the courtyard when he was young and he choked it to death. In fact he was holding that viper in his fist all his life.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
“What else do you buy in a book fair? Why do you go to a book fair if not to buy books?” I hear you asking.
See, I might have bitten more than I could chew. I’m currently reading three books, on and off. First one is The Art of War by Sun Tzu. This one is a tough cookie as it’s in ancient Chinese, not exactly a page-turner. I bought it actually first to improve my Chinese pronunciation, second to learn and hopefully improvise the some of the war strategies and philosophies. Therefore, I always read this book out loud. That limits the venue to my room only, normally before going to sleep, ending up putting me to sleep.
I then started on Daughter of the Killing Fields by Theary C. Seng, the memoir of the author surviving the Khmer Rouge regime since she was four and ultimately confronting Pol Pot, the man she said responsible for the death of her parents and 1.7 million Cambodians, 21 years later. It should be a compelling and heart wrenching account of her struggles and sufferings during the dark period in the Cambodian history.
I say should because I barely made it past the author’s note before I bought and dived straight into a new book, The Snows of Kilimanjaro (TSOK) and other short stories by Ernest Hemingway. Though Hemingway is renowned for his simple, direct and descriptive style, I had to read TSOK twice, not because I love it that much, but because I could hardly grasp what the story was about. Well, second time reading of this hunting tragedy did reveal the brilliance of Hemingway’s mastery in descriptions and imaginations as well as his love for Africa and passion for big-game hunting. I want to go to see Africa, now!
On top of that, I have got two magazines to flip. I am a Men’s Health (international edition) regular as it has got tonnes of useful stuff written in simple and informative way with at times laugh out loud funny lines. Since I’m a photo-nut. I also read Practical Photography, almost religiously.
As I was packing during the recent move, I found out that I also have three new books waiting for me, two of which still in plastic wrap: The Republic by Plato, Between Blood and Bombs: A Journal of War by Shahanaaz Habib and A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson. Of these three, I can’t wait to start cracking on Bryson. I think he’s absolutely funny. Between Blood and Bombs is the story of the author’s two trips to war torn Iraq in April and November 2003. Needless to say it’s going to be a heavy read. That will have to wait. The Republic, I don’t even know why I bought it. Was I feeling philosophical then? Or was I trying to get the tax rebate?
So many books, so little time to read!
I spent two hours at the book fair. In the end I succumbed to the temptations. I bought a book: The Art of Magic and Sleight of Hand.
What can I say? I’m weak!
I was very happy as I opened the present. I was very happy as it was sent by someone so very dear to me.
I was not very happy as I read the card. I was not very happy as it was written by someone not so very dear to me.
I always believe that we both feel the chemistry between us. So what else has come between us?
About 22 hour flight time. About 4 years. 14 time zones. The Pacific ocean. The Rocky mountains. My sense of complacency. My fear of commitment. My stupid, oversized ego. Her readiness to move on.
So, what next? I don't know. I do know that we will remain the best of friends.
Well, life goes on.
Why is the 180-degree turn? Well, she wants to go back home to Indonesia.
After the third degree and the heart-to-heart talk failed to persuade her to stay, my sister consulted a Taoist master and a psychic (We Chinese do this, A LOT). To her horror, and everyone else’s, she found out that the maid has been putting spells, some sort of verbal chants on her family, most likely on her twins, as the younger one is virtually inseparable from the maid. It can only get worse as the maid may step up a notch, feeding them magic potion or using voodoo dolls. Apparently the maid is keeping a spirit to do all her dirty work. ‘Beware of the maid doing a number on your husband, by then it’s beyond salvation.’ The master warned sternly.
As a result, a scramble to strategize a counter spell casting campaign is launched. My sister went for a holy bath. She prayed to the deities. She gave the twins amulets to wear. She plans to feed the maid blessed water so she will listen to her and be good. The best defense is a good offence!
Meanwhile, more stories came up from anyone and everyone. My mother said the maid been sleeping with her door locked nowadays (up to no good in the room). An aunt noticed the maid has got an attitude lately. My sister found her stealing. Suddenly, the maid goes from Mother Theresa to Monster Theresa.
But I can’t help thinking: A young lady in her early 20s, leaving her family and everything behind back home, coming to a foreign land alone with nothing, working to earn a hopefully decent living, is she really capable of such hideous acts, black magic and spells and curses? Why would she do those things? Are we not giving too much credit to the maid?
Even though my sister launches her multi-prong counter attack out of the love for her twins, I think we are guilty of stereotyping from all the horror stories we heard. More often than not we focus on the negatives only and paint the worst-case scenario in our heads up front, which then lead to an irrational and emotional reaction.
See threat. Eliminate threat. Kill first. Think later!
The only solution now is to replace the maid ASAP. But then there are the risks of not getting a replacement in time, the family will need re-adjustment, especially the twins, and God forbid, getting another spell-casting maid! The list goes on and on.
But then again, would you rather keep the current one?
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Ironically, I have too always maintained that I’m a social smoker. I smoke after having a couple of stiff ones, as it slows down my imbibing rate. I smoke after dancing so I won’t look stupid standing around. I smoke while I’m on vacation. Hey, I am on vacation! But these occasions are somewhat rare. It’s ok to indulge once in a while. I’m all right.
Until lately, I’m afraid I'm turning into a disgusting smoky smokerson. Whenever I see anyone lighting one up, instead of the caustic tongue and the dirty look, I am actually thinking of lighting one up myself! Oh damn, I am addicted!
No stress at work. No strain from relationship. I’m not trying to look cool. I don’t have that much money to burn. It does not get me high.
What exactly is it then?
Or have I lost all my senses? Have I lost my self-control? Have I succumbed to peer pressure? Have I finally surrendered to the tobacco devil?
It was boredom that drove me to do something new, somewhat new to me.
I was relocated to the big city for work and have been putting up in a hotel for the past 2 months. After the gym, the bar, the TV and the books, after the luxury of the posh hotel wore off, I found myself returning to a sterile and artificial room every evening. It’s not homely. It’s cold. There is not much to do. I’m bored to the core.
“Ahhhh… Why not go for a puff?”
So I started off buying a pack, smoking one at the hotel lobby (I specifically requested to stay in a non-smoking room).
Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Ahhhh… Kill time? Yes, those 5 long minutes. That got my fix of doing something different. I did not even finish the pack. They turned stale and I binned them.
I was doing ok, before I knew it I got another pack of fags, unknowingly, innocently. Now the urge of lighting up is getting ever stronger!
In the past I couldn’t comprehend how those smoky smokersons got started on this disgusting habit or how they continue doing it. Bad breaths, smelly fingers, yellow teeth, ashtray lips, not to mention high cost.
Perhaps it’s just as innocently and as easily. Just for fun, we simply dig a hole without realizing how deep, how easy and how fast we are going. In split seconds, we effortlessly dig into a hole that is way too deep. We can’t climb out by our own. We then tell ourselves that there’s no turning back and convince ourselves to keep digging.
Caution: six feet under isn’t that deep!
Good thing I was not in that deep and I managed to climb out on my own.
Phew, close call!
While it was easy to answer the first question (the answer is well, nothing much really), I had a tough time nailing the second one. I thought long and hard, yet came out with nothing solid.
The reality is life on the farm, cubicle farm that is, is quite a struggle. Struggling through the jams, struggling through the long hours, struggling through the files and proposals and struggling to make a decent living. Along the way, the monotony of the struggle turns us into dull ‘grown-ups’. We forget about all our childhood dreams, or worse still, undermine them. We are so busy chasing after nothing and that we lose sight of everything, especially the important thing.
What happen to the childhood dreams and youthful ideals? What happen to ‘the plan’? Working my craft, serving my profession, getting my own place, living life large, buying stuff that I like, buying stuff for people I like, traveling, taking pictures, writing, volunteering, doing something meaningful, leaving a legacy.
I want to do something good, something meaningful with my life. But what exactly is that something good, something meaningful thing? Now 30 years had zoomed by, I still haven’t a clue. I simply do not know! (Read: suggestions are welcomed!)
Coincidently a friend emailed me a checklist of things to do in life a few days ago. As I had a good laugh reading his, it brought me some sort of direction and with that some sense of relief.
Top of my to do list: Extend my life to at least 80 years because I can’t do all the stuff on my to-do list by the time I hit 60.
Happy birthday to me!