Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Think and grow rich... thought but still poor.

I think I have read all the how to get rich books. I know how the rich thinks, I know what it takes to be a rich dad, I know about the millionaire mind set. They all tell the same thing. You need to have a passion and work on it. In fact, all the advice from the wealthy people who became wealthy from telling other people how to get rich is the same. Work on your passion, satisfaction is your real goal, the money is a bonus.

There's an article I read about one very rich man who said that he does not know how much money he made. Because, he didn't really care for it. But, it's the thrill of making money that drove him. In fact, it's an addiction that he now goes to therapy to learn how to relax.... and enjoy the money he's accumulated.

The problem with me is that, now that I'm broke, I start to read all the emails I get from these business 'gurus'. Other times, when I feel that I am well off, I have money in my wallet, I sometimes just click to open it, so it will marked as read. (I hate having unread mails in my in box). When I am broke, again, I go to meet people who promise me "an extra stream of income". I go to those multilevel marketing talks that riles you up, and burns your desire to become wealthy. I read those adverts with people posing next to their luxury cars to show they've made it.

I want to be rich, too!! I can do this!!... Yes!! Yes!!..... then I get my monthly pay and... well... I can "do" this later.

That's why I am a failure. My motivation is money. Rich people do not see money is the motivation. Did Bill Gates created Microsoft to make money? Did Steve Jobs produce iPhones and iPads and iPods because he wanted to make money? As far as Warren Buffet is concerned, picking out stocks is just like picking out the winning horse in the next race, or picking out the winning team in the next football season. He likes that, some he loses some he wins, but the satisfaction of picking the winner far outweighs the rewards that winner brings.

All I need to do is to find that one thing that I am passionate about, and I'll be on my way to unimagined wealth.

I'm still searching.......

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

9 - 1

And life goes on....

Yesterday, Allah took my sister Kak Esah (Hjh. Aishah binti Jaafar). 

At first, I was inclined to write something about her.... then, I suddenly realized, that I am more concerned about us, who need to continue living and get use to losing the ones dearest to us.

I start to imagine how Abang Haris feels. Perhaps, partly relieved that Kak Esah's battle with cancer is finally over...and partly, anguish and hurt, when he lays down in bed to see the empty space next to him.

Kak Sarah, my eldest sister lost her husband, Abang Raya, about a decade ago, and how she copes with life after he's gone, the loneliness, the emptiness..... takes amazing inner strength and courage.

It's unfortunate, for us who are still on this earth, that we have to continue to struggle in a world of sin. A world full of temptations that comes to us in the most subtle of ways and on every side.

No... I am not suicidal. Just in a melancholy mood. Losing a loved one, knocks me on the head, and for a while I see the world clearly. The shallowness of worldly things, and the filthiness of my worldly existence. 

I love Kak Esah and Abang Raya, and I will miss them sorely, as I will my father and my mother. But, what can I say about them that we don't already know? They've made it.... They are in a better place. 

While we sat outside the room where Kak Esah was being bathed, my nephew, Ahmad Fadhil Dhafri said to me, that Tok Aki (my father) and Tok Wan (my mother) are probably waiting for her now in heaven. Yes, I believe that, too. And what a lovely moment it is, to see them together again. And, how happy would they be to be together again. And, I imagine, next to my mother and my father, Abang Raya stood welcoming Kak Esah... 
Selamat Datang... 
Ahla wa sahlan...

Makes me want to be there....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Eleven, eleven, eleven....

In the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the eleventh year of the second millennium.... nothing happened.

And I just decided I wanted to write something in my blog so that in the archive, there will be a post on 11.11.11.

But, I would like to give a shout to the 20 in front of the 11. Today nobody gives a damn about you.

Until the Sunday two weeks from now when it will the 20th of November. Only then you will be recognized.

When it will be 20.11.2011.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Laziness, I am you...

Of late I have been feeling tired.

Walking up the stairs, up the incline towards my MIS class, I wished I was at home planning the a day out with my kids. Hanging out at the mall, or go see a movie. Haven't done that for quite sometime. And, soon, they won't want to do that anymore. Soon, and the signs are already showing, it's no longer cool to hang out with your family members.

Going up to the 5th floor in the ancient lift I told my good friend Sukman that I'm running out of steam. No stamina. He just smiled.

The prospect of another semester to go, and to come up with a research paper within the next 9 months or so, brings out a sigh out of me. I'm too old for this.

But, I have committed myself, and I will see this through. But, it's not just the MBA program. It's everything else, too. It's my work, too.

Maybe I'm just going through the low point of my life cycle. It's that point in your life when you started to reflect on your life and compare it to those who've made it and suddenly realize how much you could have achieved. It's a cycle, and tomorrow or next week or next month I'll be happy again with the smallest of achievements and thank God for my pathetic existence.

For now, I am in this pensive mode, where, more often that not, I find myself staring out into space, contemplating the past and having no hope for the future..... because all I see is more of the same of what I am doing today.

Right now, I just want to lay in a hammock, near a beach somewhere, under a shady tree, looking out to sea.  That's it. Just idle away while the world revolves around the sun.

Nothing.... I want to do NOTHING!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

He's not crazy, he just don't care....

Heart's Desire by Safia El-Shams
There's a guy who spends his days walking up and down the road that in front of my office building. Some days, in the mornings especially, he would greet me and asks me for some money. Some days, I oblige, other days, I just shake my open palms at him. I find him annoying because when I open my wallet to give him RM2 he would up his ante and ask for RM5. Sometimes, he even goes up to RM10. But, I never give him more than RM5. After which, he would get a stick of smoke from the mamak shop, then sit at a table with some unfortunate stranger. Unfortunate because, he hardly bathes.

My office mates said that he wasn't always like that. He used to help his mother at her food stall somewhere in the area. He started wandering up and down the this street after his mother died. He has no brothers or sisters, his father ran out on them a long time ago.... so now he has no one... nobody to tell him what to do.

There are days when he would totally ignore me. Walks past me, like we never met before, when just a few hours ago he greeted like we were long lost friends.

I would not categorize him as "orang gila". He just lost some self-consciousness. He is not aware of how he smells or what people think of him. At least, that's what I thought. I had hypothesize that, crazy are people who have lost their self-consciousness at various degrees.

Today, he surprised me. As I was sitting in Haslam, he approached me and slapped my table lightly, sat down and in a low tone asked me something. It was noisy, with oldies music blaring from the radio near the cashier. But, what I could make out was that he was asking me the name of a girl. I said I don't know. And he mumbled on. Then, he touched me and asked me if the girls in this area can be flirted with..... How am I supposed to answer that. Do I look like a pimp? I just smile and turn back to continue reading my newspaper. He went on rambling for a while. Then, finally, he thanked me, like I've given him the best advice ever, and left. He did not ask for money, or bummed me for a cigarette, or asked me to buy him his usual teh-o ais.

He left the table.... and left me wondering what's that all about.....

Well, he maybe he doesn't care.... but, everybody has desires.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The road to hell is paved with good intents....

Once there was a man who all his life have nothing but good intentions. But, everybody in his village said that he was the devil. He robbed and maimed. He killed and destroyed. When he was caught and brought to justice, his defense was that he was only trying to feed his family.

When he was growing up, he was not good at school. The teachers all say he was hopeless, his father thought he was an embarrassment, his siblings thought he was a burden, society keep reminding him that the world would be a better place if he wasn't in it.

Only his mother saw him differently. Only his mother loved him because he was her son.... and for no other reason. And later, he met the woman of his dreams and married her and had beautiful children and he vowed that they will never ever go through life as he did. He swore on his life, that he will do anything to ensure his children go the best schools, eat the best foods, wear the best clothes, grow up to have the best jobs, to be whatever they aspire to be....

When he was sentenced to death for his evil deeds, he smiled and said, I have given back to society what society have given to me. There was not a single doubt in this mind that he is destined for heaven.

The records will show that we was a murderer, a terrorist, gangster.... And this record will remain for many decades.....until somebody (for one reason or another) decides to rewrite history and vindicate him. Show the benevolent side of him and put the fault on society for creating a monster.

What about those people he killed? What about the children he orphaned? What of the women he widowed? And the parents who buried their children? Did they deserve it? They, too, were part of the society that shunned this poor man, that sent him to the gallows, for trying to provide for his family.

Is he a hero or a villain?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Not Doing Nothing

I have been on compassionate leave since Wednesday (Kak Long was hospitalised with acute gastric, but she getting better now). Although, the first and second day I was busy ferrying people and stuff to and from the hospital, but the third day (since Kak Long was discharged late Thursday afternoon) I woke up in the morning and wish I was going to work.

But, my wife said since I'm entitled to the three day compassionate leave, why not take it all.

Every weekday, I wake up and count the days to the weekend. And Sunday evenings, I dread to think that I have to go to work in the morning.

But, today, I get a glimpse of what happens the very next day after my retirement. I woke up in the morning and find that I have no goal for the day. On weekdays, the goal is to get through the day. The work that I do, monitoring my staff's work, signing checks, making decisions... I take for granted. And I dread doing it, and worst still when I realize that I have to do it all over again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

But, once I stop doing that..... my life have no purpose. I mean, I can only look forward to.... what? Sleep all day? Watch TV? Play computer games? Ok... what about tomorrow? More sleep? More TV? More games......

So today, I ended up cleaning the house.....

But, I know now that, while I often dream of doing nothing and earning a lot... I really have to do something.

I need to plan from now, for retirement.....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Skyline Series

A view from my office window

Another perspective...

Using my old Nokia 5800, I took this in after my dawn prayers....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Circle of Life: Before I can do something else, I have to do the same things.

I am at that stage of my life where I wish I can just retire and yet still draw my current income (maybe a bit more).

Come to think of it, I have been in this stage for the last decade. It is disheartening that I am part of the majority in the bell curve. But, like everybody in that sector, I really have no idea of what I want to do. I am where I am because I was walking on that road of life with my eyes fixed only as far as the ground at my feet and went along with the traffic flow. My life has been a series of random decisions made, not by me, but by chance.

Not that I am complaining. I think I've had a great life. And, that made me a little bit more grateful to God. As a human being, there are times when I think that I could/would/should have done better for myself. Yet, at the same time I acknowledge that there are so many thinks that could have gone wrong.

I guess that's why I like the poem by Robert Frost "The Road not Taken". Frost wished he could take both the roads that lay before him as he stood at the fork, but felt sad that he could take only one, and therefore, will never know where the one he did not take would have led him.

Now, as age began to take affect on me, I think I'll prepare a bucket list. In fact, I think I'll lay it out in my next blog.... Things to do before I die....

In the mean time, I think I look for another job, with a higher pay.....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


When we were young, the world seemed so simple. Because our parents will try to explain the world to us in the in the simplest way. A line is drawn and all that is behind this line are good, and everything else is bad.

When I was growing up, the Red Indians are bad, the Germans are bad and the Japanese are bad. The Chinese are bad, too, because they eat pork. Indians are bad because they are dark skinned. Generally, all Non-Muslims are bad.

In my simple mind then, Malays are good, and all Malays are Muslims. The Arabs are our role models because our Prophet Muhammad was an Arab. Democracy is good, and all our leaders, our Prime Ministers, our Ministers are all good.

Back then, only Pak Imams (old people) wear the "serban", and only Pak Haji (old people) where skull caps (hence the name, songkok haji), and the words of these (old) people are gospel. Policemen keep us safe, soldiers are our heroes.

There was little doubt in my mind, that these were the indisputable truths.

Then, somewhere along the way, knowledge and experience have planted the seeds of doubt in my mind and it flourished, fertilized by the advancements in information and communication technologies. Now, the world is gray.

Now we know that the Red Indians were fighting for their existence. Now we pride ourselves when we own the German and Japanese products. Today I can honestly say that my best neighbors are Chinese and Indians and my worst ones are Malays (and presumably Muslims). Now we know the rich Arabs do not think it's worth their time and money to help their poorer brethren. Pak Imams and Pak Hajis, and ministers (prime or otherwise) have been caught with their pants down and in various compromising positions.

Today the corruption of and abuse of powers by those who supposedly our protectors are legendary.....

While once it was rigid and steadfast, now truths are flexible and we bend them as we please to keep our hold on our stature in society, our access to creature comforts, and our decadent lifestyles.

As I get older, I realize that the only thing we can truly rely on is the fallibility of man. Being human, we are born to make mistakes. And, how we rate our fellow humans, whether they are good or bad, is based on how much we are willing to forgive their mistakes.

Sometimes I look at little babies, sweet and innocent...I feel sorry for them... Because they have no choice but to grow into an adult.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kota Kinabalu ..... It takes a hold on you....

Eric, the 22 year old driver who drove us up from KK to Kampong Luanti, in Ranau, suggested that Kinabalu really originates from the Kadazandusun word "Aki Nabalu" which means "Revered Resting Place". And, that the story of the chinese (Kina) widow (Balu) were made up just so people do not associate the capital of Sabah to death.

Interesting, and I think that appealed to me more than the tale of the abandoned wife of a Chinese Prince, who climbed up to peak to wait (and eventually died there) for her husband who went back to China and never returned.

Anyway, this was the third day of our vacation to The Land Below the Wind. We arrived on a Wednesday and was greeted by Halim. our chauffeur for the day. He brought us around KK but, since my wife and I are quite familiar with the town, we only went to the floating mosque.....
because it wasn't there when I was posted here for three months in 1994, and the Sabah Foundation Building or Menara Tun Mustapha.......
because we never went there when I was here in 1994.
There were other places we could visit, but we got hungry, so we decided to have lunch and Halim took us to a house, which is really a restaurant... but you'll never know it's a restaurant because there is no signs or anything that says or even suggest that it's a restaurant. We sat on the floor and ate our fill of rice with steamed fish and prawn fritters and stir fried veggies. The bill came to about RM150.. not bad for 6 persons.

After that, we checked into Le Meridien.. but we were too early. Our rooms weren't ready, so we took a walk across the street to the Filipino Market. I never really like going into this cramped market place where they sell handicraft, pearl, brooches, t-shirts and other souvenirs. Not much changed since the last time I was here. Although, what caught my attention was the frog purses which looked like they were made from real frogs... were they? I did not ask.

When I got back to the lobby of the hotel, about an hour later, our rooms were still not ready. So, we went to the lounge to get our welcome drinks. Fruit juices and my mother-in-law had some tea and biscuits.

When the front desk lady came to tell us that our room is ready, I went to look for our luggage which was loaded onto a trolley when we arrived but it wasn't there. I found it neatly stacked in our room when I got there. Our room faces the sea, and below we can see the swimming pool.

After taking in our spacious rooms (we got two connected rooms), the children and I get into our swimming gears and went to the 2nd floor to dive into the clear waters of the pool. A Mat Salleh couple was in the jacuzzi when we arrived. The minute they left, I climbed over into it and sat in the bubbling pool for awhile....

That night, Halim came and took us to the Fisherman Village seafood restaurant. We got a table not too close to the stage at my request. A cultural performance starts every night at 8pm, Halim told us, and the performers have the habit of pulling diners from the table up to the stage to dance with them. Hence, the requested distance from the stage.

My wife and I went to the front of the restaurant where there were two rows of aquariums (on on top of another) with sea creatures awaiting execution. We chose a fish... kerapu I think... three crabs, a bunch of prawns, and shellfish... We also ordered some Sabah vegetable, to be stir fried.

When they arrive, we realized that we ordered too much......

But, we manage to finish most of it. Simply because they are so fresh. I ignored all my self-imposed diet restrictions and dug into everything, loving every bite, especially those prawns. Wish I can have some now.

Then we got the bill.. RM370.... We made a resolution... fast food only for the rest of our vacation.

Back at the hotel... I fell asleep almost the second I lay my head on the soft fluffy pillows... Tomorrow, we go to the islands...


KK has a certain scent. I can't really describe it... like an old building.. musty.. That's the morning air smelled like to me, as we stepped out of the lobby of Le Meridien and go next door to the mamak restaurant for breakfast. Le Meridien provides breakfast of course, but at RM47 per head, and the mamak shop so close, we declined and made some savings in the hotel bills.

Restoran Mars offers the same fare as any other mamak shop plus fried stuff (rice or noodles) or Soto (which tastes like a normal soup, but nice anyway).

Then we went back up to our rooms and got into our swimming trunks and suits, and wear our normal clothes over them. Hisham, the owner of the tour agency we engaged for this trip, was already waiting for us outside the lobby to take us to the jetty.  At the jetty (behind Shangri-La in Tanjung Aru) we were allocated our snorkeling masks and life jackets. My son and I didn't get flippers... they don't have it in our size.

I've always enjoyed boat rides to the islands. The wind in our faces, the bumpy ride as we skimmed over waves and wakes of another passing boat... I love it.

We docked at Manukan Island and we were awed by the number of fishes swimming around the jetty area. I have been here before some ten years ago.. although, there seemed to be just as many fish (in number and variety) I saw also there isn't much corals left and there's a lot more garbage...

We found a spot, near a "Beware of Jellyfish" sign, plopped our stuff, stripped to our swimming suits, put on the mask and walked gingerly into the clear water.

We had to swim quite a distance away from the shore before we can see the fishes... but, we enjoyed it.. a new experience for my children. My daughter said her official favorite activity is now snorkeling.

Time flew quickly, and we got our stuff together and go back to the jetty so we can have our barbeque Pulau Sapi. This was part of the whole package (boat ride, snorkel gear and barbeque lunch) for RM95 per head.... cheap or expensive.. I don't know...

The last time I came to Pulau Sapi, the island was almost deserted... but when we got to Pulau Sapi, it was crowded.  And lunch wasn't ready yet, so my children and I decided to go snorkeling.. again. The corals and fishes are better here, but looking at the number of people there that day, I think, Pulau Sapi will soon follow the fate of Manukan.

After lunch, we had a choice of going snorkeling again or go back to the main land. We were tired and full by then, so we decide to go back to the hotel.

Got back at the hotel around 2:30pm... See my mother-in-law safely back to the room, then we went back down to the swimming pool. Another hour of splashing around, since we have the pool to ourselves, except for another mat salleh couple working on a tan by the poolside.. then back up to our room, a nice shower and a refreshing nap.... (sigh) this is the life...


Dinner was either KFC or McD. KFC won by simple majority. We walk around Center Point, bought some more food stuff at the supermarket and then pack KFC for dinner back at the room.

I thought that was the end of day 2, but my wife, insisted that I go see the seafood offerings behind the Filipino Market. I wasn't too excited about it. Our driver did not recommend it. We went anyway... I was a little curious.

It's just like a night market. There's the section selling vegetables, fruits, food (fried noodles, kue teaw etc) then there's the seafood grill section. There were six or seven rows of long tables and chairs, the head of each are semi grilled seafood laid out to be chosen by the throngs of people from all over the world. Yes, there were mat sallehs and Japanese and Koreans and Taiwanese and Hongkys (I think but they didn't look local). On the menu are basically fish and prawns and squids, from the normal sized ones to giants costing as must as RM40 a piece.

We bought one squid and one medium sized prawn, brought it back to the room.. what's left of it.. since we ate a major portion of it while walking around the rest of the night market.

End of day two....


Here we are, on the trail up to the highlands of Sabah. Our first stop is a small road side town which I didn't catch the name. It's the compulsory stopping area for all tourists going our way, either to Kinabalu Park, in Kundasang or all the way to the tip of Borneo Island.

From this spot, we can see clearly the peak of Mount Kinabalu. And, that's all we can do... accept maybe relieve ourselves since we are not sure where or when we'll get to the next washrooms.

Eric said half and hour stop, but after fifteen, we got restless and call Eric on his cell to get us (since he when off after dropping us at the viewing point).. but he was in the toilet...

Off again, and one hour later, Eric stopped at a village called Kampong Luanti Baru. Our first real activity for the day - the Tagal... or Fish Spa.. or feeding your feet to fishes. I've seen these fish spa. Where you put your feet into fish tanks and and let cute little fishies nibble on them.

We didn't see any fish tanks. We bought tickets; RM5 for adults and RM2 for Aiman. And some fish food... We walk up the path alongside the Moroli River, and wait our turn. After about 15 minutes of waiting and hearing screams coming from the other side of the fence separating the waiting area and the river, we took off our shoes and walked towards the river bank. And, there there were... a swarm of huge fishes splashing and writhing in the water, waiting for our feet. I was a little unsure.. but, the guide said to put the fish food in your hand and submerge your hand under water near your feet. I did that and these big fishes started to viciously attack my hand... like piranhas.. except that they don't seem to have any teeth.... It felt like a thousand kisses... My wife couldn't get herself in the water, but my youngest son... well, the fishes love him..

That was fun.. just 15 fifteen minutes though, before the lady with the bullhorn told us time's up.

After Luanti, Eric drove us back down to Poring.We had lunch and then took a jungle trek to the canopy walk. To get to the starting point of the walk took some climbing, but we all made it, even my 76 year old mother-in-law... bless her. We had fun here too. The walk way was just one plank wide and the drop was 30 feet. The first two bridges was ok.. but the third one gave that feeling you get in the groin area when you look down from a height...

Wish I took a picture from the the middle of the bridge but it was shaking about too much...

That's was the last activity for the day. We were supposed to stop by Kinabalu Park, but the traffic got really bad and by the time we got there.. it was closed. So we went back to the hotel....

That night, my wife said she wants to eat at the night market again. We went there, to the same stall we went the night before, took one medium fish, one small fish, ten small squids and a couple of medium sized prawns... it was enjoyable but  I can't help wondering would we eat here if the lighting was better.... Anyway, the bill was RM88. Boleh laaa....

Back to the hotel.. I showered because I was smelling like grilled fish. Besides, I love the showering at the hotel... using the message option on the shower head.

Sleep came easily....

Final day... we had breakfast in the room, pack our things.... hang around for a while, take some pictures.. then called the bellboy for our luggage, paid the hotel bill and call a cab.

Everytime I come to KK, I have a hard time leaving it. I don't know why. There just something about this place that begs you to stay. I know a few of my friends who've come here and stayed on. One friend even got married here to a local kadazandusun lady.... his wife in KL do not want to share so they got divorced because he wants to stay in KK.

I can't speak for the rest of my family.. but, I'd come here again... and again and again...