Friday, March 24, 2017

Another Time

If there be another time
When things are different
And love was uttered
With the passion
Of a lover
Then life would be different
And love is less painful
Hope will not be abandoned
Dreams may just come true

Thursday, March 23, 2017

One step forward... A few steps back.

When I heard about the horrible London Attack on the radio on my way to work, the first thing that came to my mind was ISIS. But, as the voice of Theresa May cracked as she denounced the attack without revealing the identity of the lone assailant, I found myself praying, please let him not be a muslim.

At the time I am writing this, the ethnic and religious background of the terrorist are still not known. But, the buzz on social media are largely divided only on whether Islam should be banned everywhere or we shouldn't judge Islam based on one man's act.

Islam.... nobody even considered that maybe the man shot dead by police after driving over almost fifty people and killing five (the latest fatality number) could possibly Irish, or Welsh or Scottish or even Japanese or Korean or Chinese. Nobody will even think he's white.

I am hoping that maybe he will be an extreme Catholic, or a rogue Buddhist, maybe, they did horrible things, too, in Myanmar. And, how come there are no Jewish terrorists (some may argue that they commit terrorism on the poor Palestinians... but they seem to be very selective that way).

But, it's hope against hope. The vilification of Islam and Muslims by white supremists and Islamophobes, the travel bans, the suggested vettings, now all seem justified.

I cringed when I saw that Donald Trump tweeted something.... but it turn out to only a statement of condolence to Theresa May.... very presidential. Yes, even he looks good now.

It's getting tiresome. Like a broken record.... Islam equals terrorism and terrorism equals Islam. All the efforts to project Islam as a religion of peace, undone by one stupid act that achieved nothing but maiming and injuring innocent people.

Oh my God... even I have gone ahead of myself... even I, despite not knowing the true identity of the attacker, have secretly concluded that the man is a Muslim. Maybe, he was a man on meth. Maybe he was hallucinating.  Maybe he's crazy....

..... as bad as it sounds... I sincerely hope so.

(My thoughts and prayers for the victims of the London Attack. My deepest condolences to the family of the heroic Police Constable Keith Palmer, who perished while defending his country)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Smong - an unheeded tale

While visiting Banda Aceh over Chinese New Year, we (my family and I) were taken on board a 2,600 ton floating power plant that the force of the 2004 Tsunami pushed 5 km inland, crushing everything in its path.

The power plant is too heavy to be shipped back to sea, so the Indonesian Government just converted into a museum.

One exhibit was a 200 year old poem by the people of Simeulue Island about Smong;

Enggel mon sao curito (Listen to this story)
Inang maso semonan (Of a time long ago)
Manoknop sao fano (a village was drowned)
Uwi lah da sesewan (So the story goes)
Unen ne alek linon (Preceded by a quake)
Fesang bakat ne mali (Then a wave so high)
Manoknop sao hampong (all the land was engulfed)
Tibo-tibo mawi (all of a sudden)
Anga linon ne mali (If the quake is strong)
uwek suruik sahuli (and the sea ebbs)
Maheya mihawali (at once seek)
Fano me singa tenggi (your place on higher grounds )
Ede smong kahanne (That is Smong)
Turiang da nenekta (History of our ancestors)
Miredem teher ere (Remember this always)
Pesan dan navi da (the message and it advice)

Right after the 9 point earthquake struck, the people of Banda Aceh, went about saving people from collapsed buildings. Those near the seashore scrambled to find buckets and bags to collect the fish left high and dry as the tide ebbed quickly.

Our guide, who lost all her family members to the Tsunami told us, nobody knew what a Tsunami was. The word was alien to them. When the sea came in, it claimed over 120,000 lives.

Our guide, said sadly.... we have been warned, but we did not listen.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Money Changes Everything

I have been listening to some Bee Gees songs while doing some work tonight and suddenly remembered a dear old friend. We grew up together, and we're closer to each other than our own brothers. And growing up, I probably spent more time at his house than at my own.

We both love the Bee Gees, especially after watching the movie Saturday Night Fever starring a young John Travolta in the late 70s.Up until the day I got married, I don't think there was ever anybody closer to me than this friend.. and cousin.

 I got caught up with my life, moved to Subang Jaya, to start a family. We hardly see each other thereafter, only once in a while, mostly during Aidil Fitri.

Perhaps, it is me and my wife's arrogance perceived by my friend's family that, I begin to feel I am not as welcomed in his house as I was during my younger years, when I could come and go as I please at anytime of the day or night.

Later, about 10 years ago, I started my current job, and suddenly my office is near his house. We started to meet again frequently. On days I could take a longer lunch, I would call him and we'd have lunch somewhere in Sri Hartamas.

Then, he quit his job to focus on a business venture and, again we drifted apart again.

Until, last month, he called me asked to meet. He must see me, he said. I can hear the desperation in his voice.

He came to my office during lunch and, as our conversation carried on, he said the words that I dread to hear... he wanted to borrow some money.

As a principle, I do not lend money. Simply because I hate to ask for it when the promised loan tenure expires. As a principle, any money I give away... is just that... a give away. I don't expect it to come back.

Tonight, while the song Tragedy blasts in my ears through my earphones, I started to reminisce about the time we spent together in my hometown. I feel sad... because now, every time I see his name appear on my phone, I hesitate to answer.

I miss the old things we shared....

Friday, December 30, 2016

2017: New Horizons....

Another day closer to the end of another year.

It's just another day in the Gregorian calendar. Muslims already had our new year a couple of months ago, and, was treated by many as another public holiday.

The Gregorian Calendar is named after Pope Gregory the XIII who refined the original calendar started by the Romans. Julius Caesar tweaked it a little and changed the name of the 7th month from Quintilis to Julius... or as we know it today, July. (Subsequently, Augustus Caesar also changed the 8th month to August from Sextilis... which is a good thing).

Anyway, 2016 was an eventful year I supposed, with all the things happening around the world, death and mayhem, suppression and oppression, corruption and pollution. Children killed, women raped, immigrants drown fleeing unrest in their home country.

Sometimes I can't believe that we are already in the 21st century, almost 2 decades deep. Yet, racism is still as much a problem as it was in the last century.

For me, 2016 has been a year of change. A shift in paradigm. My wife quit her job in October 2015 and, to occupy her time after the novelty of not having to go to work wears off, she start selling stuff she bought from Bandung. Textile, blouses, dresses, hijab and telekung... even hoodies and ointments and cosmetics.

We were never business people. I have made that conclusion when, in 2003, I tried and failed as a businessman. Robert T. Kiyosaki wrote in his book that to do business you need a mentor. I mean that's what his book Rich Dad Poor Dad was about. His mentor was his Rich Dad.... but I guess I miss that part... emblazoned on the front page.

Wiser and older (in that order), and with a bit more resources (a.k.a Money) to spent to go to seminars and courses, we are now weighing anchor and casting off on our new ship, into areas we never thought we'd ever venture into. We have new circle of friends... or at least my wife has. Friends who's been there done that and friends are doing it as we are.... although, most of them are much younger than us....

So here goes everything. Will we make it? I pray to God we will.... there's no turning back now....

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Wind and The Sun

Image result for the wind and the sun

Aesop's Fables was probably the first book that my father ever bought for me. It has left a couple of profound marks on my development as a human being. One, I now only read short stories... and two, I am Shams... the Sun....

THE WIND and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger. Suddenly they saw a traveller coming down the road, and the Sun said: “I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can cause that traveller to take off his cloak shall be regarded as the stronger You begin.” So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveller. But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveller wrap his cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair. Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the traveller, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.


That's why many people tell me I am soft.... but hot tempered.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A dish best served cold

I don't like babies. They are so cute and cuddly, then the next thing you know they are adults. But, you are still responsible for them. It's not fair, for God to make these babies so cute that, as they were growing up, you just want to give them everything. We feel really bad when they cry and we are happy when they laugh. So, we want to keep them happy, and by keeping them happy, we are happy... I guess it's self-serving.... like everything else we do in life.

God made us such that we keep wanting things. When we were small, we want to grow up, when we're grown up we want to get married, after we're married we want to have babies... then we can't wait for the babies to grow up and when they've grown up they treat us like a bottomless ATM machine. And, they think they have a right over whatever we own. And, that the things we gave them, are their rights to have. And, you ask yourself..... why I did I want babies?

I am envious of a friend. A very successful friend. He treats his children like adults. He doesn't worry where they are, or whether they'll come home or not, in fact he encourages his children to get out of the house as soon as they turn 18. They all turned out ok, I think, at least, from where I was, as we sat on the patio of his club, smoking cigars.

Me... I am one of those over protective dads. I get anxieties, thinking about my children. Are they safe? Will they be able to take care of themselves when I'm dead? What if they get into trouble and I can't get to them? I need to know where they are all the time..... It calms me to know they have reached their destination. When one of them comes home late, I have this imagination that they could be in an accident and bleeding to death somewhere.

But, in return, they think I am being silly. I think so, too.

The weird think is, all this seems oddly familiar. A dejavu.... from a different angle.

I read somewhere that, children are the grandparents' revenge. How true that is, at least in my case. This was how my parents felt while bringing me up. These are their anxieties, their anger, their exasperations. Only now as a parent, I am understanding what my own parents went through bringing me up.

If both of them are alive today, they will probably say... Serve you right!!

God bless their souls.