Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Resolution......

I did not realize my 2009 resolution, which was the same resolution, unrealized in 2008.

Focus! Focus! I keep telling myself, but there is this distraction called... my job. Get out of the comfort zone! Get into the combat zone! Are you crazy? How will my children eat? Will they have to eat rice and home cooked meal only? And deprive them of Pizza Hut, or the beef noodle at Secret Recipe? What about the occasional McDonald's?

If I were to give up my day job, how will I get around without my company car? Are you implying that I will have to buy and MAINTAIN my own car?

What about my Astro? Are you saying that I have to give that up, too? No ESPN? No StarWorld? No HBO? How will I know what's going on in this world without CNN, Bloomberg or Al Jazeera?

No, no, no... I must continue to work and earn a steady income, so I can pay for my children tuition.... Tuition... how else are they going to get a proper guidance to get all those As... You are not suggesting that I do it, are you? Yu mean actually spend time with my children? Hello.... I've got to work...

I'll spend more time with them when I retire... that's when I've amassed enough to live without working... but until then, I have to work, work work.

My resolution to retire early will just have to wait.....

HAPPY NEW YEAR!.... the final year in the first decade of the twenty first century!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Love and Marriage

There ought to be a law that restrict stupid people from breeding. Or maybe, increase the age of statutory rape from 15 to 25. There's just to many stupid people out there getting married because they want to boff each other's brains out. They don't know that boffing will result in the girl boffer getting pregnant. They just thought that the girl is getting fat. Then, the baby comes out and they don't know what to do with it. It starts crying and they slap it around to keep it quiet. Then, the baby got quiet, they got worried (by instinct, I suppose they sense something is wrong) and they send the baby to a doctor. They tell the doctor the baby fell......

Instead of just asking brides and grooms to do a HIV test, I think they should all sit for an IQ test too. Make it real simple, because those who got married just to legitimize boffing do not use their brains. Most of the blood is pumped to the lower half of their bodies.

Then, there's incest. These are committed by horny fathers who can't afford a whore or to shy to go to a whore house, so they just force themselves on their own daughters. Sometimes, brothers do it to their little sisters, for the same reason.

Then, there are pedophiles, these are mentally sick people who can only be released back into society after they are castrated.

It sickens me to read news of young children being abuse....

My only consolation is that God has promised them heaven, for they have died in innocence.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Under the coconut shell....part II

There are so many things I want write about today.

First, is to ask for Rafael Benitez to quit as Liverpool FC manager, so that the club do not have to pay the contract breaking penalty of (rumored to be) 20 million pounds. Mark Hughes I believe is looking for work now...

Secondly, I woke up this morning and watched "Sicko", another America bashing documentary by Michael Moore, this time about public health care. Once again (as with his previous documentaries), the genius of Michael Moore managed to put us under a coconut shell and let us peek at the world through the hole he made in it. He was comparing the public health system in his native land with National Health System in the UK and something similar in France. Then, as a climactic end, he took some "sickos" to Cuba, and showed us the wonderful Havana Hospital, with it's free health care. I really like it when people start bashing the Great Satan, as the late Saddam Husseim calls them, but Mr. Moore was comparing his country of over 300 million people covering 3.7 sq miles of land, with UK (about 61 million people on 93 thousand sq miles of land) and France (about 60 million people on 100 thousand sq miles of land) and also with Cuba which have just over 11 million people living on 40 thousand sq miles of land... Is this a fair comparison? In my mind, the only way for a nation as big as the USA to provide free health care is to become a socialist or a communist country.... like China. However, it begs the question... what about us? A mere 26 million people living on 126 thousand sq miles of land, and our health care is so damn expensive... (actually, I know why.. but let it be for another day).

Thirdly, after watching "Sicko" I was flipping thorough the channels and suddenly saw a documentary about my favourite political person, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, on the History Channel. The great thing about this documentary is that it didn't vilify nor did it vindicate Tun Mahathir. What I think the most interesting part of the documentary is that, one of the interviewee, the Bar Council representative who at one point in the documentary said that resigning from his PM post was the best thing Tun Mahathir ever did, said at the end of the show, that all that Tun Mahathir had done during his tenure as PM for 22 year has made Malaysia what it is today. Maybe he meant it in a negative way... but, before Mahathir, people know where Singapore is and they know where Thailand is, but they have no idea where Malaysia is. Mahathir put Malaysia on the world map. Thanks Tun...

Lastly, I am reading this book by Tom Hodgekinson entitled "How to be Idle". When I bought it, my wife said I should already be an expert on the subject matter. But, I thought it should be interesting, perhaps an insight of how to release oneself from the shackles of employment and acquire passive income and early retirement, which I aspire to do within the next few years. .... now I regret paying RM39.90 for it. It's just a book telling people that you don't have to feel guilty about goofing off. It's all in good humor I supposed, but having to go to great length to research on the matter of shirking the duty for which you are paid seems to me like asking a child to play truant... and don't worry about it, it's ok...

But, I bought it, therefore, I will finish reading it... Maybe, I'll change my mind.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Under the coconut shell....

While in Geneva, I noticed an advertisements all over the city urging people to say "no" to the building of minarets.

By the end of November, the resulting poll was that more than 50% agreed to ban the construction of minarets.... Why?

From what I read, the Swiss do not want Switzerland to become a Muslim country. That, by allowing minarets to be built, will eventually result in women being forced to where burqas, and stoned to death in the streets and subject the Swiss to shariah laws.

I enjoyed my time in Geneva, partly because it was really easy to find food I can eat. The Pizza Presto restaurant, just a few meters from the the hotel I was staying in, was run by an Arab family. On the walls were frames of Quranic verses, Allah and Muhammad. Each time I went to buy food (beef burger for 6 CHF = RM20), the place was packed and I am sure not all of them were Muslims.

I visited the Favarger Chocolate factory, and while we were browsing the beautiful packages of lovely chocolates in the chocolate shop, a white man appearing from a door that lead to their factory and greeted us with "Asalamu'laikum". He's the chef... the chocolatier.

Walking around in the city of Geneva and Lausanne, we did not attract any attention at all, when it's clear that we were tourists. And, our women wore headscarves, so everyone knows we are muslims. In shops, we received no better or worst treatment than other customers.

It was autumn, and cold weather discouraged too many outdoors activities, at least not until afternoon when the sun warmed the air a little bit. So, all in all, my visit of Geneva can summed up in two words.... blissfull and expensive...

I did not see any demonstrations, I did not feel any tension in the air.... so much so that for a while, I thought those posters were teasers to a theatrical performance... a take on equality perhaps.

Maybe I am naive..... I think the majority of us human beings just want to get on with our lives. But, there will be a small percentage that want their opinion heard. They want to tell everybody else of their fear (of Islam) and their concerns.... and this is news. The rest of the world's population, given this little window to look out from, see the demonstrations (peaceful or bloody) of barely 1% of the total population, as state of affair of the whole country...

But, having said that, I am not planning any trips to Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan, Pakistan or any Sub-saharan African countries....

God protect us...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Accident Retold....

When I crashed Abang Haris's three month old red Proton Saga about a quarter of a century ago (it is fresh in my memory) I was deemed to be in the wrong. All evidence pointed to me as the guilty party, because:
1) the skid marks indicated that my right side was on the other side of the road,
2) the other driver was an apek tua (well not so tua... maybe 40 plus)
3) I was young (I wasn't 20 yet then).

Sergeant Abu Bakar, I remember him well, was the policeman who took my statement. He was wearing a hawaiian shirt, unbuttoned down to his bulging stomach, and I, being scared and intimidated, dare not look straight at him and was instead looking at the few strands of grey hair on his leathery chest. He wasn't really interested in hearing my side of the story.... He just asked for me to accept his "special offer", a reduction in the compound.

So I was wrong, and Abang Haris paid for it. Abang Haris, I seek your forgiveness....

But, I tell you the real story now.

Mother (God bless her soul) wanted to go to Kak Sarah's house and I was in no mood to drive. I don't remember why. So, when mother insisted, I reluctantly agreed but I (being me) had to show a little anger. I drove fast to Kampung Tunku, dropped mother off and drove back to Bangsar, still angry. I was going down hill, and as a thing I like to do from that point was to just let the car coast down the hill, without pressing down on the accelerator.

At the bottom of the hill,, next to the Mobil station, I saw a pick up truck in the opposite lane signalling to turn in to a lane to my left. The driver seemed to hesitate, perhaps not sure if he should wait, or should he dash across. Just as I was approaching, he decided to go and I had to adjust slightly and eased into the right lane to avoid him.... that's when I notice there was a car behind the truck and the apek was following the truck in to the lane. Apparently, he didn't see me because his vision was obscured by the truck. A Nissan (or was it still Datsun then) Stanza... He moved forward and I drove right into him, standing on the brakes. Since I was already turning the steering to the left to avoid him, the impact deflected my trajectory, and I ended on the curb on the left side of the road.

Then, it started to rain.... and it rained so heavily, there were flash flood all over KL.

It is my fault? Maybe it's mother's fault, she shouldn't have been so insistent. Maybe, it's Kak Sarah's fault, because she was the one who insisted that mother come over. Or, maybe it is even Abang Haris's fault... he shouldn't have let drive the red Proton Saga. And, what about the pick-up truck driver, he (or she) must surely be at answerable, too. I had the right of way.... he should have stopped to let me pass....

But, he got clean away.

On top of everything else, the apek and Abang Haris probably had to pay off the good sergeant to "smoothen" the proceedings....

Everything Happens by Accident

My boss keeps reminding me and my fellow managers that nothing happens by itself. Somebody must have flicked a switch, pushed a button, literally or metaphorically, for things to get in motion.

It's a nice notion that somewhere along the line, there was somebody responsible for something that happened. Of course, it may not be a nice thing, and that somebody who was deemed to have "flicked the switch" or "pushed the button" may not want to take any credit for doing so.

But, more often than not, we can't really pin point the start of something. There's always something else that leads to another and we find it's impossible to separate the end of one incident and the start of another.

What riles me the most is when somebody takes credit to say, "I saw that coming." That's a load of bull, because nobody ever saw it (whatever the it is) coming. From the a death in the family right to the credit crunch, culminating in the fall of giants like the Lehman Brothers, somebody will come forth and say, yes we predicted this and that's why we did something five years ago.... please..... Even, the greatest inventions of the world, from the wheel to the internet, can be traced to a single point of a chance discovery... a mistake, or an accident.

I believe that the human mind is limited to it's experience, i.e. what it's seen, heard, felt in the past. Note how the most creative minds in Hollywood create supposedly "out of this world" creatures that look like an insect, or a lizard... something very much of this world but distorted somewhat. So, to actually create something new, we need to be inspired, by something we saw, heard or felt.

Of course, in order to achieve whatever we desire in this world, we need to have a direction. And, that's all that we can really do... to face the right direction. Even, the best sportsmen and women in the world agree that the moment the ball (football or baseball or basketball, you name it) leave your hand or feet, it is out of your control and the best you can do is hope...and pray.... that you've done enough to make go the way you want it.

Nothing happens by itself? But if we do nothing, something will happen anyway.... right?

Master Uguay said in Kung Fu Panda... There are no accidents.....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

80% of Torres

I did not bother to set the alarm clock to wake me up at 3:30 am this morning. Last season, I'd make the point to watch Liverpool's every game. "Early days" still, they all say and opposing managers all "refuse to write them off" after beating Liverpool with late goals, I say they are being very polite.

At first, I refused to believe that this current appalling form is due to the departure of Xabi Alonso. But, I now have little doubt in my mind that the Reds are missing him.... terribly.

This season, LFC is a one man team. No, not two, one. Gerrard hasn't showed up this season. This season, all the teams in the world fear only one man.... Liverpool's Number 9, Fernando Torres. The only one of Rafael Benitez's great acquisition. At 26 million pounds, he's proved to be a bargain.

His mere presence on the pitch, forces opposition teams to camp in front of their goal. They are afraid to venture out too far and leave their defenders at the mercy of his power and speed. Take him out, and you will hear the huge collective sigh of the opposition team and supporters. And, they know they can now open up and start venturing onto the other half of the field and start testing the legendary but aging Jamie Carragher, the listless Kyrgiakos, the under performing Agger and Skrtel, industrious but still inexperience Insua, the attack minded Johnson.

Last season, when Torres was injured and only manage to play for less that half of the season, Liverpool fared better because there was a strong midfield. Marshalled by Alonso. This season, there isn't anybody there taking charge in the middle of the battlefield, making meaningful passes that produce penetrating attacks. Last season, two goals isn't enough buffer to beat Liverpool. As the opposition defense tire, Alonso will put the ball through to Kuyt or Babel or (if he's available) Torres.... and the game is turned on it's head. This season The Reds only came back once against Bolton.

This season, LFC is slowly sinking into mediocrity, despite beating Manchester United at home.

As Rafa said, 80% of Torres is enough to beat Man U. Probably even less of him scored the equaliser at Craven Cottage. And, Lyon got lucky, he was at a low point then. Take him out, Fulham scored two, and Lyon equalised.

The rest of the Reds, with the exception of Benayoun.... Nobody wants them on their team right now.

Let's take a break this season....

Monday, November 2, 2009


Nothing on this earth is absolute. What may seem good could be bad, what seems bad could be good... maybe not immediately, but sooner or later, we learn that, all that glitters is not gold and not all that glitter is (I confused myself there, too. But, you know what I mean..)

Hindsight is 20/20 vision. Some (many) people will say... "I saw that coming", after the thing happened. But, the greatest of human minds cannot possibly see the future.

I read a motivational article sent to me via e-mail, which I was supposed to send to twenty other people or something bad will happen to me. It was interesting enough. Actually, I've read it before a long time ago, late 2001 or early 2002, after the fall of the twin towers in New York.... also known as 9/11 attacks. (By the way it's 9/11 only in the USA, everywhere else it would've been 11/9).

The e-mail entitled "A Purpose Behind Every Incident" tells the accounts of (supposedly real) people who were inevitably detained under various circumstancees on the morning of 11 September 2001, and were subsequently, spared the fate of those who weren't. As far as I am concerned, the stories tell of people who were in the wrong place at the right time. The purpose behind these incidences (if they were true) is that they are not supposed to die...yet.

But, what if there was a woman who was already out of the building when she discovered she had left something in the office and turned around to get it. Maybe, there was a man who decided to help somebody with something, when he has already done his work and should have left the building an hour ago. Maybe there was somebody who woke up early that morning and decided that he or she will not be late for work again from that day forth.....

The only purpose behind these incidences, should they actually happen, (we'll never know), is that it's time for them to die....

And, I did not forward the e-mail, I deleted it. I hope God will protect me...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shopping for a girl

Today (26 October) is my eldest daughter's birthday. 16 years old..... the most confusing age. I'm talking about me as a parent. After work today, I exited the NKVE at Subang Jaya to go to my
favourite haunt, Subang Parade. I kind of like it there since it's not too crowded like Sunway Pyramid, and there's MPH and Rock Corner, my two favourite stores and there McD and Pizza Hut and Nando's and Secret Recipe and Sushi King and even KFC.

Anyway, I thought of getting my daughter a soft fuzzy toy, but Nur is really known for the soft fuzzy type. Besides, we already have two big teddy bears and one turtle soft toy which are pretty much abandoned.

She like those Jonas Brothers.... not all of them, just one of them, t
he cute one... I don't know, it's Nick or Joe or Jacob or Jeremiah or something. So I thought maybe just get her a CD. The poster at the entrance of the CD shop looks new... but when I asked the shop assistant, she said the album was at least half a year old, with a "where have you been, old man?" look on her face. I hate Jonas Brothers.

The only thing I am sure of about Nur is that she likes to read. She'd devour books, thick ones which I take a month to finish, she'd take it all in in three days. And, then she'd read it another round or two, depending how much she likes them. By that time I still would not have finished my book.
At MPH, I headed straight to the teen section and there was a whole shelf of books about vampires. It is halloween season, after all, but, vampires seems to be the in thing. Stephenie Meyer started it a few years ago, with her quadrilogy of "deeply romantic" novels about vampires and werewolves. But, I blame Bram Stoker and his classic novel Dracula for introducing this blood sucker to the world.

Anyway, it was getting late, and I was still undecided on my girl's birthday present. Earlier, at the office I googled "what to buy a 16 year old" and got "a gift card or certificate" as the most popular gift. Of course, all of those who answered were Americans. We don't have those here... So, why don't I just give her RM100 and she can buy whatever she wants.

Then, as I turn to go, there before me, stacked on a table, was "the perfect gift for Stephenie Meyer's fans", so it was written on the packaging. A tin gift box, in it notebooks with the cover of the four novel in the Twilight series. And since Nur is a fan of Stephenie Meyer, I picked one up and asked the cashier to wrap it for me....

Driving home. I had second thoughts. Maybe she won't like the gift. What would she want to do with a note book... I mean, we've got face book and twitter and myspace and what not to express ourselves these days, who writes in a diary? Even I am writing this in a blog....

Well, I'm not turning back to Subang Parade, I will have to hand the gift to her and say something apologetic like...sorry Nur, this is all I can think to get you.... or, something flattering like, sorry Nur, what do you give a girl who has everything? Corny or cheesy (I can't tell the difference) but, maybe, out of pity she'll pretend to like the gift....

After the dusk prayer, and dinner, Sapiah called everybody to our bedroom for a birthday gift presentation ceremony. Ija with the camera and I and Nur posed, with Afiq and Aiman in the back ground somewhere....
Well, she loved it and thanked me a few times.... and it sounded genuine to me.

Money well spent, I'd say....

Happy Birthday, Nur.... I'll always love you.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Liverpool: Premier League Champs 2009/10

Reds 20 Year Wait Ends!!

I am sleepy... I got up at 3 am this morning to watch Liverpool vs Lyon, knowing very well that my favorite English Premier Club can easily lose. This is a tough season for Liverpool FC. Already we've lost 4 in 9 games. Last season, Liverpool only lost twice, but drawn 11 games, and ended up 2nd to Manchester United.

This Sunday, at 9:30 pm Malaysian time, I will be glued to the TV to watch Liverpool take on the league leaders Manchester United. My son, who is not a football fan, asked why I keep supporting Liverpool and keep getting frustrated. Support other teams, my son recommended. Maybe he's right.....Arsenal is not faring too badly, and I am an admirer of Arsene Wenger.

Last season, when Liverpool were going through their slump (as every team in the league will experience at various stages of the Premier League season), drawing games they should've won comfortably, I actually, supported Man U for a while, because I (as I told my Man U supporting friend) that the team I support seems to lose.... and they did. First a 1-4 defeat to Liverpool at Old Trafford (my favorite game of 2008/09 season) then to Fulham (2-1) at Craven Cottage.

No I can never abandon Liverpool. Even after all these years that they have the cursed Carlsberg emblazoned on their chests, which I hate, I still would not abandon them, only I will not buy the jersey.... Next year the shirt sponsor will be Standard Chartered, and I am putting aside some funds to buy (at least) one, in July 2010.

If (if?) we are to lose to Man U this Sunday, I hope it will be the rock bottom of Liverpool's slump. If we are to lose, then I say that I will have to wait another season to see Steven Gerrard lift the Premier League trophy.

But, I am still hopeful. In the beginning of the 2004/05 season, I made a mock newsletter using Microsoft Publisher and the headline was, "Liverpool: Champions of Europe Again!!". Later in the season, it came true, in the most spectacular way... in Istanbul.

Thus, the title for this post. I am hopeful that Liverpool will call upon the spirit that was the MIRACLE of ISTANBUL, and fight their way back to the top of the table....

Saturday, October 17, 2009

To Market, To Market, To Buy ..... Fish...

Today, I went to the market, by myself.... alone... without my dear wife. As she is incapacitated, and the food supplies were running low, it was up to me to ensure the survival of our family. I've done it before, I think, a long time ago, just after the birth of my youngest child, while my wife was in confinement... but, that was almost 10 years ago.

07:30 hours, after the debriefing by my wife, equipped with a list of things to buy, I embarked on a journey of uncertainty..... I was unsure what ikan senangin (threadfins) looks like. The night before, I googled an image of the fish, tried to commit the picture to memory.

07:48 hours. Arrived at destination. As usual there wasn't an empty parking space in sight around the Subang Jaya SS15 wet market. I stopped the car and wait for somebody to vacate a space. There were a few, but they were on the other side of the road and were quickly filled by others who were also lying in wait.

08:02 hours. went once around the block and found a space, a little further from the market than to my liking. But, I told myself the walk will do me good.

08:04. Zul the fishmonger's stall was crowded. I could hardly see the fish. I stood behind a barricade of women, all of whom were taking a life time choosing a fish...which, apart from the different shapes and sizes, looked the same to me.

08:14 hours... A gap appeared. A rather sizable woman, having instructed Zul the manner in which she liked her fish to be cut and cleaned, reversed from the edge of Zul's shelf of fish, pushing the others to her left and right away, and in a flash I squeezed myself into the gap she created.

08:18 hours. Put four fish that looked like senangin in a plastic basket thrown at me by Zul. That's all? Zul asked. Yes, I replied and told him to clean them and I come back later.

08:22 hours. Stood in front of the veggies stall, and looked down the list.... sawi (mustard greens), cabbage, chili, coriander and onions. Two chickens. I had to ask the sister behind the counter for coriander because I really don't know what that looked like, otherwise I took every one of the veggies myself. An amazing achievement, and a comfort to know that all those time I was dragged along by Sapiah to the market did yield some benefits after all.

08:47 hours. Approached the chicken stall, put up two fingers and the young man wielding a cleaver nodded. He chose two chickens and put them on his scale and quoted the price which I agreed to.... Seemed rather pointless. I would've agreed to any price he mentioned, not aware am I of prevailing price of chicken today.

08:51. Went back to Zul's stall to pick my fish.

09:15 hours. Finished my roti telor at Restoran Sri Melor Jaya, asked if the mee goreng, two maggi goreng and six roti canai take away order is ready. It was and off I go on my way home. A satisfying day, I'd say, with a warm sense of achievement.

09:43 hours..... I forgot the sawi.....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Smokeless Days

While waiting for my wife, as she was undergoing surgery, I regretted that I didn't bring to the hostpital the book I was reading, "Life of Pi" by Yan Martel. I had not finished reading it, in fact, I abandoned it for a while, because I can't stand the graphic descriptions of how (driven my hunger) Piscine Molitor Patel killed turtles and birds.

Bookless, I found myself walking to the mamak restaurant across the street from the hospital, with the intention of buying a pack of cigarettes. I approched the cashier counter, looking past the cashier, and scanned the showcase of a variety of (supposedly) repulsive pictures of various cancer ridden anatomy. I've always preferred the gangrened foot (and by consensus the least repulsive of all the pictures) but whatever the picture, they are easier to ignore than the nagging yen for nicotine.

Then, as I was just about to reach for my wallet in my back pocket, it occurred to me, that, at that particular moment, I did not really have a craving for a cigarette. For me, a cigarette craving only comes after a hearty meal. And that morning, at around 11 am, I was more hungry than full since the last meal I had was at 7:30, a breakfast of roti canai and teh tarik. So, there was no compulsion from within me for a smoke.

Which concludes, that the only reason I am standing at the cashier counter in a mamak restaurant, staring at the colourful array of attractively packaged cigarettes, is because I have nothing better to do. I wanted to buy a pack of cigarettes, not because I needed a nicotine fix, but because I forgot my book....

The cashier, I suspect not of local birth, asked a few times of my desire, and followed my line of sight, trying to guess which of the lovely packages I was staring at. After a few minutes of indecision, I raised my hand to the cashier and walked away.
I walked the length of the block of shop lots, the majority of which are eating places. There are two mamak restaurants and ironically both are named Taj. The smaller one is Taj cafe and the bigger one is Taj Curry House. To differentiate them, I refer the smaller one as Taj Murah while the bigger one......Taj Mahal... (I am sure you saw that coming a mile away).

The doctor said, just before the nurses took Sapiah away, that the surgery will be about one and a half hours long and then she'll be in a recovery room for another 2 hours. Since they took her at 10:45, by my calculation, Sapiah will be out of the operating theater by 2:15 pm. I, therefore have another 3 hours to kill. I stood in front of Taj Mahal for a while, thinking what should I do, and where should I go.... Or, what the hell, just buy a pack already... Dunhill Light 14s... said a small voice.

Taj Mahal only have packs of twenties, I observed from afar, of their almost bare cigarette showcase. Then I walked into the Seven Eleven, next to it. I took a Star newspaper and got into the queue to pay. When it's my turn, I flashed out my RM50 note and asked for a Dunhill Light 14s. "Sorry, bang takde duit kecik." said the boy behind the counter. I do have RM1 and I rummaged through my jean's pocket and found a 20 sen coin. Just enough to pay for the news paper.....

I did not go back to Taj Murah, where I first stood indecisively in front of the cashier, simply because I did not like the way the cashier was looking at me as I pass by his post. He looked apprehensive, as if I am an escapee from the psychiatric ward.
With the Star tucked under my armpit, I went back across the street, up to my wife's room, switched on the aircon, laid back on the artificial "lazyboy" chair, read the news and eventually fell asleep.....

Thus, by a twist of fate, began my smoke-free days. The last puff I had was just before Friday prayers on 9 October (my birthday, by the way). Which makes this day the 5th day in a row I haven't smoked. Who knows how long this will last.... my biggest challenge is when a cigarette is shoved in my direction in a social gathering.
But, then again, it's something I do to fill a void... to do something... I must keep in mind, that I do not need a nicotine fix, and therefore, do not need to unnecessarily damage any vital organs...
We'll see how it goes....

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Best Birthday Ever!!

It's 9:39 pm as per my bedroom wall clock. In approximately, 2 hours and 20 minutes I will have lived on this earth for exactly 45 years.

And today, strangely, I have been receiving more birthday wishes than I can ever remember. The first to wish is my wife of course, although, her actual words we.... 45 today huh? Perangai tak berubah... Then, my phone started to tinkle, and the wishes started to pour in.... ok, I got 5 text messages. One was from Maxis, the telephone company, one from an insurance company and another from the electrical goods store where I bought MP3 players for the girls. The other two were from my female friend (as opposed to girlfriend) and the other is from Edward, who sold me the insurance from the aforementioned insurance company.

Then, there are my facebook buddies... all 4 of them wrote a birthday wish on my wall....

A few years ago, I told myself that I will be retiring at 45. This milestone, just a couple of hours away, seems unlikely to be achieved. I realize this while I was inching towards the Duta toll plaza this morning, having to relent to an insistent woman who was intent on squeezing her BMW 3 series in front of me, when she looked ahead to see that she was not aligned to any of the four smart tag lanes.

Then, it dawned on me. Alas! I exclaimed, all is not lost. Did the government not increase the retirement age from 56 to 58. So, mathematically, I, too, should push my retirement age by two years. Yes, my new retirement age will, therefore be, 47, i.e. on 9 October, 2011. Thereafter, i felt much better about myself.

At the office, I pretended to not know, that my secretary and my assistant manager was planning a surprise birthday bash for me. We were having our annual departmental Hari Raya gathering, and the pink Secret Recipe box perched on one of my staff's table was a dead giveaway. After, my speech and doa makan, to my "surprise". the cake had my name on it.... who would've guessed.

Then, the thing that has never happened before in my adult life, happened. They lighted candles, 4 big ones and 5 small ones, and they started to sing.... the Haji Bakhil birthday song.. you know.."Allah selamatkan kamu....lalalala". It was really embarrassing, and I blushed and grinned through out the song. Finally, as they reached the end of the song, I took a deep breath and (thank God) blew out the candles with one puff, and there was applause. The last time I blew out a candle on my birthday cake (with my name on it) I was five years old (I think).

It's not that nobody ever care to celebrate my birthday. It's me who never wanted and prohibited people from celebrating my birthday, apart from a simple birthday wish and a birthday card, perhaps. But, I must admit, that this was probably the most fun birthday I ever had.

Thanks to my secretary and my staff....
To top off the day, I got home today and found a hand made birthday card from my children saying the one thing that will always melt my heart.... I LOVE YOU, DAD...

Thanks kids.... I love you guys, too.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Brotherly (Macho) Love

Looking at my children, how close they are with each other, made me realise that I don't know how it feels to be them... to have siblings with age difference small enough to actually share an era.

I was born in 1964, which means that I started school in 1971, at which time my youngest older brother is well into his teenage years, my eldest sister is 30 years old.

I was almost like an only child, spoiled silly by my mother and sisters, frowned upon by my father and brothers as an annoyance. I have no fond memories of brotherly love, like wrestling each other or playing a game together, which makes me rather apprehensive of how my two sons relate to each other. They are 5 years apart, but I was often afraid that Afiq will treat Aiman as a nuisance and leave him out of whatever he was doing. That, happened for a while, but I found out that Afiq blamed Aiman for not being able to play his PS2...(long story).

I straightened that out, and ever since, he and Aiman are so close, it warms my heart... and saddens me that I never had such close relationship with my own brothers, largely due to our age difference, and that by the time I was approching my teenage years, all my three brothers have flown away from our nest. So, I end up spending most of my time next door, at Pak Uteh Hashim's house, whose children are nearer my age group.

Not that I blame my brothers. I was such an annoyance..... A whiny kid, a cry baby who ran to mother when he couldn't get his way or if my brother/s played a little rough on me. I know that today, if I ever come across a child like that I'll really like to give him a good spanking.

Even later in my life, as I imposed onto the lives of my sisters, Kak Esah, then Kak Sarah, then Kak Esah again during my college years, while there is a closeness between me and my sisters, there was a marked distance between me and my brothers. And more often than not, I have the impression that my brothers are closer to their repective wives' families than they are with us. (And I am just as guilty of this myself, having lived my entire married life in my in-law's house).

It seems like, there is a bubble of space between me and my brothers. Was this created by my childhood behaviour? So much so that, in the subconscious of my brothers, I am still, and will always be, that annoying little brat? Or is this just the way we (the men folk of our clan) were brought up? To be manly is to shake hands and that's it. Any display of emotions beyond that is just not...macho.

I like to think it's the latter. Our father is one macho guy, as far as my memory serves. The emotion that he would willingly show is anger. There is no doubt of his love for his children, but he's the old school type of dad... if you know what I mean.

But, this does not mean that there is a lack of love between the men folk of the Hj jaafar clan. Far from it. Perhaps, just a lack of expression. That is all... And, honestly, I don't think I am ready to start hugging and kissing my brothers from now on.

But, I would like to say to Abang Mail, Abang Enal and Abang Fuad... I love all of you!! (Said in a deep manly voice with a clenched fist beating my chest).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Memory Full...

The arrow of time can only move in one direction. Forward. That is the law of the universe... the law of God. What this means is just that we only have memories of the past, and we can't see the future. And (it is theorised) that even if one has gone to the future, and come back to the past, he will not have any memories of the future he's gone to. So all we have in our minds are things that has happened in the past.

I am trying to think of things that happened in my life, and the more I think, the more I realised that, I seemed to have forgotten of so many things in my past. This happens all the time, (especially during Eidul Fitri), when the conversation, inevitably, steered itself to comparisons of then and now. More often than not, I am surprised that some people remember things about me or what I said or do that I have no memory of. And it amazes me that some will remember every detail of a certain long gone event like it only happened yesterday. Once, I showed an old picture to Din (my cousin, my brother, my friend) and he recalled almost everything that transpired that day, why we took the picture, who took the picture, what we do after that... Amazing.

I have memories of smells, sights, feelings... of how it was, but I cannot recall specific things. I remember how it feels to be looking out the window of my father's house in Muar on hot afternoons, or the scent of the air just after it rained. Or, mesmerised by the multitude of ripples in puddles of water that formed every time it rained on the field between our house and Mak Uteh's house. I remember the smell of mother, the scent of "bunga cempaka", I think, which grew in our front yard, which she liked to put in her hair. I remember how frightened was I when I awoke in the middle of the night, when there was only silence but the ringing sound in my head, and I remember the warmth and security of my mother's embrace, when I whispered to her that I was scared. I remember the joy of waking up, and finding that my father and mother has come home from their trip and next to my pillow was a set of miniature cars.

I remember the sadness of evenings, when the school holidays are over. That feeling of anxiety when I just remembered that I have unfinished assignments that needed to be submitted on the first day of school. I remember the feeling of falling in love, or having a crush on a girl. Of the embarrassment of rejections, the joy of acceptance.

And in these memories, things seemed to be simple. We all seemed to be carefree. Living our lives just for the moment. Que sera sera... What will be, will be. And, many a times, as we reminisce, how we wished that we can go back to that time....

But we can't. We only live in the present. And, what we are today is the results of our decisions yesterday. Those decisions we made, are the building blocks upon which we stand today. The path we chose that led us to where we are now.

I for one, do not dwell too much in the past. I don't know why... maybe, it reminded me of those things I want to forget. Or maybe, it is my laziness that just do not want to bother with the things I cannot change. But, truth be told, it is those regrets that bother me most. Those times when I got caught in the moment and do or say stupid things which I thought were clever or cool at that time. Or, lies I told to save my skin, at the expense of others.... especially of those we love. Maybe I have too many of these kind of memories that leave a bitter taste in my mouth, which repulsed me from reminiscing about my past life. So, I tend to forget.....

It is always good to reminisce. But, memories are like dreams... we can't hold on to it.. we have no control over it.

We must not let it have control over us....

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Wind and the Sun

My mother told me that my name means the Sun. And, she bought me a book of Aesop fables and, though I love all the stories with its moralities, I can’t help but become attached to the story of the wind and the sun.

Thereafter, somewhere in the beginning of my life, I made the unconscious decision to adopt the sun’s virtue in making people to do things. And, today I can’t do it otherwise.

Throughout my life, people around me tell me to be more aggressive. They say I am too soft. Some adults say that I’ll never survive in the real world, if I continue to let certain things go... not get back at those who have put me down or bullied me.
Maybe it is the result of people constantly telling me that I am soft and indecisive that has made me soft and indecisive... Maybe this sun attitude as opposed to the wind attitude is just my way of consoling myself.
I don’t know. Perhaps, I am too much like my mother. My father is very assertive and will tell people exactly what’s on his mind. My mother tended to accept things. Most women in those times had to, I suppose.

But I get things done. I just do not like to dwell on what has happened and concentrate what we can do to correct the situation. Punishment? I will try to avoid that, too. Simply because, when something goes wrong, the further you dig into it, the more you will see that it cannot be attributed to just one person....

It the nature of human beings, I supposed, that one is very rarely complimented for a good deed, but, make one error, you will receive advice you never asked for, from so many “experts”. I’ve had a fair share of these advices, and from my experience none of them is useable.

So I don’t give advice, unless asked to.

Call it whatever you want, a low self esteem, lack of self confidence, not assertive, reserved, conservative..... I am what I am....

Non Sequitur

If life were a premise of death
I’m dying to live
If death is what we live for
Live and let live
If the rich are kind
There will be no hunger
If the poor are apathetic
What are the rich?
If war is the answer
I shall not ask questions
If peace is what we kill for
Please don’t have children....

Haji Jaafar and The Devil....

Haji Jaafar knows where the devil lives. He told me, and at first I didn't want to believe him.

"The devil called my name once," Haji Jaafar said to me. "It was when we, your mother and I, were travelling to Alor Star... or somewhere, I can't recall, but I know it was a long journey."

There were no expressways then. The roads were narrow and dangerous, and the journey up north will take maybe ten hours from Muar.

Hj Jaafar told me he heard it clearly, above the drone of the car engine and howling wind as he sped to his destination.

"Maybe it was the wind rustling the leaves in the trees," I suggested.

"No," Haji Jaafar said, "it can't be." I waited for his point of argument, but it never came. Instead, he fell silent and looked out the window.

"He even tried to cause an accident..." Haji Jaafar said to no one outside the window. "He pulled on the steering wheel... but I managed to fight him... I read out the ayat Kursi... and he went away.

"That's what happen that day, too. It was raining heavily, Bad was asleep in the back seat, your mother was awake.. she couldn't sleep, maybe she was a little scared. I wasn't going very fast, but the car just appeared out of nowhere... and hit on your mother's side. If it was a japanese car... maybe we'd be dead. The Opel Kadett is really tough.

"The devil... he blinded me. And he blinded the other driver. He caused this accident and it's my fault... I couldn't fight him then.

"The devil, he lives in your blood... he sits in wait... in your blood and make you lose your concentration, makes you careless, makes you reckless. He makes you feel lazy, he makes you want to do something else when you know you want should be doing another thing. He tells you there's no hope... that it's not worth it, whatever you are trying to achieve, he tells you, it's not worth it...

"How I wish the devil looks like those monsters on TV. You know, red coloured humanoids with tails and horns... and a goatee... if they really look like that, it's easy to fight them. But, no... if you want to see the devil, just look in the mirror...."

Mother had to undergo a hip replacement. Apparently, when the people of Tanjung Gading realised that Haji Jaafar and Hajah Mahani was involved in the accident, they all came to help. But, moving mother out of the car had caused her hip bone to shatter. And, for a while nobody noticed the little boy on the floor of the car behind the driver... but he was fine. Yes, the Opel Kadett was a tough car. The other driver (I heard) lost an eye.

I thought, maybe the anesthetics or the pain killers were talking. After all, he just had the stitched on his head removed. But, then, almost three decades later today, before I start on a long journey, although most people will recite the travelling prayers (doa menaiki kenderaan), I will always say the Ayat Kursi.... to keep the devil away.

Praise be to Allah... It has worked thus far.

(Note also how easy for us to perform ibadah during Ramadhan, when he who live in our blood is shackled...)

(Haji Jaafar, Hajah Mahani & the Opel Kadett)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

For the Love of God

Someone told me a joke about a man who had just bought a car. It was his first car and, not wanting to have even a scratch on it, he took it to a hindu temple, a buddhist temple, a church and a mosque.

At the hindu temple, the hindu priest chanted mantras over the car and tied a red string around the car's right wing mirror.

The buddhist monk sprinkled the car with water after chanting traditional mantras and then a white string was tied to the left wing mirror.

The christian priest blessed the car with holy water and gave the driver a cross to hang from the rear view mirror.

At the mosque, the imam was astounded since nobody ever asked to bless a car before. So after a recitation of selected verses from the Qur'an, he took a hacksaw and promptly cut the tip off the car's exhaust pipe..... to circumcise it.

When I first heard this story, I thought the new car owner was an atheist, albeit a superstitious one. This man, I had deduced, did not really believe in the existence of God, but he just didn't want to take any chances.

Furthermore, it is inconceivable in my mind that anyone should have more than one religion.

Then there's Piscine Molitor Patel. A hindu at (after) birth, he met a christian priest when he was sixteen and became a christian and soon after that he met an imam and became a muslim.

You will find him on Thursdays at a hindu temple for Pooja, on Friday afternoons at the mosque for Friday prayers and on Sundays, he's at church. Had he been a Jew, he'd be at a cynagogue on Saturdays.... and as his brother chided him, he needs to finds only three more religions and he'll be on holiday for the rest of his life.

He requested from his parents for a baptism and then for a prayer mat for his daily solah (five times a day). It was strange at first, but soon his family got used to it, although the pandit, the imam and the priest of his local temple, mosque and church respectively was utterly incensed when they found out about this multi-faithed teenager. Thereafter, he only goes to temple at crowded times, had to attend mass at another church and no longer lingered after Friday prayers at the mosque.
When asked why... his answer is always the same..."Bappu Gandhi said that all religions are true... I just want to love God."

"I just want to love God"

Is it really possible then for a person to have multiple religion? Why not? Is there so much difference between the beliefs and practices? All religions preach goodness and all religions are against what's the problem?

Being a born muslim, I was taught that there is only one God. And, it is wrong to say that the non muslims, when they are performing their prayers, are praying to their god/s. There is no other God, the ustaz told me. And, Islam is the completion of the human faith in God. And ,despite what Mahatma Gandhi said, I am told there is only one true religion, and that is Islam....

It is the only religion I know.

So, in my mind, Piscine, just like our new car owner, is an atheist, too. Praying is just a hobby for him, a past time. Like learning different kinds of martial arts or various types of dances. Because, had he really studied Islam, than he would have inevitably come to the surah called the Disbeliever (surah 109). It is the revelation that clearly defines that there can be only one faith in a muslim, for in the last verse God tells Muhammad to say to the disbelievers who had asked him to compromise his beliefs: "For you your religion, for me mine." (La kum deenukum wa liadin).

Piscine Molitor Patel was born in Pondicherri, India and later moved to Toronto Canada. On his way to Toronto, the ship he was on, capsized and he suddenly found himself in a life boat, along with a zebra, a hyena, an orangutan and a 450lb Bengal tiger...

It's a good book... check it out: The life of Pi by Yann Martel.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Abilene Paradox – because we didn’t want to let others down…

Abilene is a place in Texas, USA. I’ve never been there, but the first time I heard of the place was when I was in college (UiTM) during the Organizational Behaviour class. Dr. Zulaika told the class about a bunch of people, a husband, a wife and the wife’s parents, who were sitting around, doing practically nothing when all of a sudden the father said, ‘Let’s go to Abilene.’ From where they were, Abilene was 85 km away. Because he sounded so enthusiastic, the son-in-law said, 'Ok, why not.' The wife said, 'Yes, let’s have dinner there.' The mother said, 'Sounds like fun.'

The trip was bad, and the food was lousy and then they had to travel all the way back again. Then, the mother said, 'Maybe we should’ve stayed home.' And the wife said, 'Yes, I thought, everybody else wanted to go, so I went along.' The husband said, 'I thought you wanted to go, Dad…I didn’t want to disappoint you.' The father said, 'Not really, I just made the suggestion because everybody looked bored.'

It is a weakness. On everyone’s part for wanting to please others. That’s why a little impertinence is necessary. In the story above, impertinence would have saved them money and precious time.

Imagine, then, if the husband was a jerk, and instead of saying 'why not', he’d look up from whatever he was doing or while sprawled on the couch, and say something like, “WTF for?”…..

It is the right response… it was what the wife and the mother in law would like to say but is inhibited somehow by a hormone in their body. (Yes, there is such a hormone… it was in an episode of House MD). And, it is probably the answer the father-in-law was really expecting, minus the expletive, perhaps, but he would’ve been happy if his suggestion was shot down.

So, why am I writing this? Because, I can't get this one memory out of my mind.

Din (my cousin, my brother, my friend) and I were in Johor Bahru. This was a very long time ago, we were in our late teens. Din's father has taken ill and for some reason, he was sent to a private hospital there, away from our hometown in Muar. I can't remember how I got there, probably I went with my parents but then decided to hang around with Din. It was fun. We put up at another cousin's house, Aboy, and we listened to a new band called Alphaville and their hit songs "Forever Young" and "Big in Japan".

The next day, Din and I were asked if we want to go back home to Muar with my parents or hang around a few more days then go home with Din's sister. I really wanted to go home, but I thought Din wanted to spend another day in JB. So, I said lets stay.

But, the day was spent hanging aroung the hospital because nobody was available to take us around, and Aboy could not spend time with us beauce he had a tennis tournament or something. We complained to an adult (I can't recall who it was) who got angry and scolded us, and Din said to me, 'You are the one who wanted to stay...'

I walked away from Din and I didn't speak to him for a while.

Perhaps, I owe Din an apology, for walking away and not talking to him... but, neither of us wanted to make a decision and when things didn't go as we planned, I had to bear the blame for saying what I thought the other party wanted to hear.....

Sorry Din....