Sunday, December 24, 2017

Annual Year End Rant...

Here we are at the end of another year. I have lived long enough to no longer expect the so-called new year brings new hope. New year's day is a holiday celebrated by everyone on earth no matter what race or religion they are. Perhaps, for that few minutes or seconds before and after 12 midnight, we, or at least the majority of the citizens of earth, are one. Then, at 8 am on 2 January, we get down to doing the same thing we did before we go on our year end holidays. For a fleeting moment we live in a fantasy, living the life we dream of and still earn a decent salary, before, the work week start again, schools are opened, and we are at the top of the ride again, spiraling down into the abyss we call life.

That is, until we retire. For some, retirement seems like paradise. After the long hard life that, the promise of days of doing things because you want to, not because you have to, is the highest level of living on this earth to be achieved. Then, after a while we find out, that we need to have some motivation to push us to do the things we want to do. Suddenly, life loses all its meanings. Many turn to God, spend time at mosques, re-learning the Quran, listen to talks and sermons of the best ulamaks. Well and fine to prepare oneself for the afterlife.... it's just that we're not dead yet.

Some of us are still (relatively) physically healthy, we can still think rationally, and we have so much experience and knowledge of the world that we can (if we wish to) impart to the new generations. Except that, most of our knowledge is obsolete. Or, totally useless, at least in the present world of smart things.

Going back to our daily grind, as we start a so-called new year, we are becoming more relying on technologies we don't understand. We imagine that we are the masters of this technologies because we can command it, by a press of a button, or the swipe of the screen, to do our bidding. But, we don't understand how they work. We only know that we need to do something simple and a bunch of invisible algorithms in a device that we can carry with one hand, do all the work, then, in a literal blink of an eye, we get the result. Slow devices that takes too long to process our request are reviled and replaced. Too long could be about 20 seconds or more.

Little babies can use these devices with ease. Give them one of this smart things, and they will leave you alone for hours. And, some parents actually clap their hands in glee to see their cute little off-springs poke their cute little fingers on the screen. Little do they realize that the little baby, with its limited knowledge and zero life experience, is able to do the same commands that we adults do. Who needs brains.

That is our future, that is what we will be. The machines are taking over. The servants are slowly rising to become our masters.

Look out for a man with Austrian accent demanding to see Sarah Connor. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Why I hate pets

Today, my son, Aiman, accidentally stepped on our pet hamster, Bucky. The late Bucky was brought home by my elder son, Afiq, not more than a year ago. Bucky was a winter hamster. That's why Afiq named her Bucky (before confirming Bucky is a she) after Captain America's nemesis and best friend, James Buchanan (Bucky) Barnes a.k.a, the Winter Soldier. This is the fourth pet we had to bury, (if you count the five or six Koi Fish as one since they all died together when the aeration pump stopped overnight). I felt sad every time we lose a pet. 

That's why I hate them. I get attached to things (dead or alive) easily. I guess I am insecure that way.

When I was young, some one gave me a balloon, the first one with helium in it... just like the ones on TV. I loved it so much... I had it tied to my wrist for the whole day. Then, while sitting on the sofa watching TV, the string must have come loose, and the balloon floated up.... toward the spinning ceiling fan. By some miracle, it did not pop, and floated away after being hit by one of the fan blades. But, for me it was a traumatic incident. I watched in utter horror while the stupid innocent balloon rose up to the merciless menacing blades, destined to certain doom and oblivion. I cried my eyes out, my brother-in-law looked on, unbelievably and with ridicule, while my sister (Kak Besah) comforted and hugged me to her breasts, saying it's OK, it's OK.

Before that I had a cat, whom I called Lassie, after the famous TV dog Lassie, not knowing that Lassie was a girl dog and that my cat is a male. The cat looked nothing like Lassie the dog. It was white with a couple of black patches and a short tail. One day I heard a commotion outside, and saw Lassie the cat writhing on the ground for what seemed to be a long while before he became quiet an died. He was run over by (I think) father as he was reversing out of our garage.

These traumatic incidences have sworn me off having pets. I hate having pets because they die.

The last one that made me cry was our rabbit Nibbles, when he died in June 2016...

Today, it's Bucky's time.... I will miss her...


Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Perfect Day

What is your perfect day?
Asked the motivator
I look at him and smile
A perfect day is when
I created something
A drawing of anything
A pattern on a piece of white paper
A paragraph of my thoughts
Add another chapter in my unfinished novel
Typing in my blog about random things in my head
Lazing around doing nothing
But, to the motivator I actually said
Achieving what I was set out to achieve...
Corporate objectives and KPIs,
Meet my deadlines, and perform the best for my masters.
That is really my normal day...

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

It's My Brothers' and Sisters' Fault.

I am a daydreamer.

Being the last one in a family of eight older siblings, I was born at the stage where my parents were already fatigued by child raising. Not that they did not care, just that... they are not overly concerned. There are pros and cons, I was only caned once by my father when I refused to wake up to go to school. I never wanted to go to school, but that day, for reasons I cannot recall, I pretended to sleep so deeply that even after my father carried me in to the bathroom, I actually laid myself down on the cold and wet bathroom floor. This is nothing compared to the punishments that younger (and angrier) father laid on my elder brothers (at least according to my mother).

I read somewhere, someone said that the two things that influence your future most are the people you hang out with and the book you read (Now, I believe we must add to the list; the movies you watch, the social media group you are in and the Youtube video you watch).

Analyzing the people around me as I was growing up, my friends are mostly the small town boys who lived in my neighborhood and my school friends, and they do not like to read (apart from this very popular Malay book called Mona Gersang, which was passed from one teenage boy to another). But, my elder brothers and sisters were English educated. We watched English TV programmes, and English movies (although, the first movie I ever watched was Achir Sebuah Impian, starring Broery Marantika and Emilia Contessa), listened to English songs and read English books.

So, it's their fault. My sisters and brothers, all grew up during the British occupation, albeit towards the end of it, had shaped me in a way that made me think better in English than in Malay. They exposed me to Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones to name a few. The only local celebrity that can be added to that list is P. Ramlee. I was exposed to some Malay arts and culture, too, but, mostly I know the song but don't know the artist. My sisters reminded me that I used to stand on an old dressing table and sing "Si Cincin Emas". I probably wiped that out of my mind when I hit puberty, because I have no recollection of it. 

The Beatles had the most impact on me. Especially, when I read that I share the same birthday with John Lennon, only 24 years apart.  And, when I learned that they are a group from Liverpool, England, I made up my mind that anything that came out of that place must be good. Hence, I am now a Liverpool FC supporter, though I never set foot on English soil much less on Merseyside. (Lucky for me, I only learned of Everton football club later). 

So my siblings gave me the preference of English over anything local (languages, etiquette, products, etc.), but, they were mostly inclined toward arts rather than science. Somewhere, somehow, as artistic as some people say I am, I love science. I love Physics, especially, even when don't I understand much of it. This is a mystery to me. Why do I bother to read Stephen Hawkings' "A brief History of Time" and Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" cover to cover without fully understanding it... 

For my SPM, I had only two A's, English and Physics. Maybe, had I been more focused, and maybe if I had known that arts and science are not mutually exclusive, I could have been another Michael Crichton or Steven Spielberg...

But, no... I do not regret not having written a bestselling science fiction that would later become a series of blockbuster movies and made millions. In fact, I think I prefer to be on this side of the screen, enjoying the finished products. Products of my imagination. I imagined a starship like the Enterprise, of hi-tech spy gadgets, the possibility of interstellar and time travel, hover cars, robots and artificial intelligence.

I just don't know where all this interest came from. But, it was started by my exposure to western cultures brought upon us by the British Colonials, passed on to me by my brothers and sisters.

To my Akak-akak and Abang-abang, thank you, I love you all.... God bless.    

Friday, June 30, 2017

Bury me at sea

When I die, bury me at sea
So there will not be an obligation
To water my grave, and sprinkle petals on it
Or, the need to worry what people will think
of how my grave was hardly visited...
Life goes on for the living
Time has stopped for the dead...
When I die, I only hope to live in memories
of those who want to remember me.
Say a prayer for me whenever they pray
Not only, on the eve of Eidul Fitri, throng the cemeteries out of guilt
That the dead was abandoned for 364 of the 365 days in their year...
No forced tears to be shed
No need for silent contemplation
as they sat about the stones that marked the place of my decayed remains
When I have become one with the earth from whence I came...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Reacting to A Reaction

Stephen Covey wrote in his book Seven Habits, that as humans we are not supposed to be reactive. We are not animals that make decisions on the instinct of life preservation and the survival of the species. That was one of the biggest "AHA!!" for me in that book... although, in truth, there were many, at least one on every page.

Alas, we are but creatures of emotion. If indeed we evolved from apes, the survival instincts has perhaps evolved into ego and, for some of us, it is bigger than the real feeling we feel for someone.

More often than not, we react to what we perceive to be hatred, or anger, or disgust. This perception is so often wrong, yet our ego concludes that, that someone who treats us differently today, must be angry at us, because we just did not have the humility to ask... are you angry with me? or, did I do something wrong?

Humility is the key and communication is the window. If you do not have the key then the window will remain shut, and the person you love on the other side will never know how you really feel about them.

The longer the window remains shut, the further away we'll drift apart. The next thing you know, loved ones become strangers.

I wonder if I (again) I have learned this lesson to late......

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....