Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Children of My Life

Childhood is such a precious, yet trenchant part of life. We all have memories of our days as children along with stories of lessons learned. Childhood is reflected by most as being a time of bliss and enlightenment. As I recall my childhood, an avalanche of mixed feelings suffocates me.

Now I have kids of my own. This is one of the most beautiful things ever happened to me in my life – to have my own kids. I have a personal vow that I keep deep in my heart ever since I decided to have family of my own; I will give all the love and care to my own offspring as it is adverse to what I have had experienced during my tender years as a child.

If I were to go off from this very world tomorrow, I hope Fara, Sam and Edrin will someday read this blog for they’ll have it something written in words on what was in my heart during my lifetime. (Hey kiddos, you guys know it too well how much I loved and cared about you).

Yesterday, September 22, was Sam’s birthday. Before I knew it, he is already celebrating his 12th birthday this year. Just 2 months ago, on 26th July, Fara celebrated her 14th birthday and in the first quarter of the year, on 11th March, Edrin had his 9th.

Nature has it written in its book; they will grow up albeit my unfounded wishes to have them stay as kids for as long as I live.



Thursday, September 21, 2006

Recession: A Night to Remember

According to the definition, recession is when a period of general economic decline; specifically, a decline in GDP for two or more consecutive quarters. This is where the amount of business activity in the economy by looking at things like employment, industrial production, real income and wholesale-retail sales has reached its peak and starts to fall until the time when business activity bottoms out (Mike Moffatt, Your Guide to Economics).

It will only unleash to spurt when it hits the rock-bottom – a place nowhere else to go but to bounce back up.

Forget about how the economists look at it. As far as I am concerned, during the time I came back from overseas; our country was still being enveloped in recession. We were among the first countries to tumble in the domino effect of it and funny, among the last to stand right up. It was a bad timing for me to be back when the country was still recuperating from a waft of recession. Jobs were scarce and I was jobless.

It was a big blow on me since I used to have a good job with a good pay and had a good living in overseas and all of the sudden I had no means of income after returning back to the home country. If only I knew it was really that hard as what I was being forewarned, I would have had delayed my departure from the place until such a time that was right for me to be back. The pinch of not having source of income came to life when I started to exhaust my savings. It was at a speedy rate. Was it me or recession to blame?

I was having hard time to ration over the subsistence for having no clue on how the outlook of life course would fabricate for me. I was being trained over the typical day-to-day life in a foreign country and had no bona-fide-benchmark to compare with to fit the newly encountered life in Malaysia. Mind you, I was only a high school student when I left the country and had no idea on how the working life like in my own soil.

I felt miserable. At times, I would take refuge from my worrisome by roving around town especially in the night, to have moments for myself amidst the hustle bustle of the city. I still remember, the land area that sandwiched between Jalan Tuanku Abd Rahman and Jalan Raja Laut where Sogo is now located used to be an open area with a nice big stage in it called Pentas Sultan Sulaiman. The place was used for many types of events like cultural shows and such during weekends.

I was there on that Saturday night when the cultural dance was being performed. It was a good cultural dance routines by the dancers from the Ministry of Culture with thousands of people were watching and it lasted until 11:30 pm. After it was over, I decided to stay a while longer.

Crowd started to get thinner after hours past especially when it was way past midnight. It was a nice feeling to witness the changes from huge crowd to a smaller crowd, from very noisy to quiet or rather less noisy and from hot to a bit cooler temperature. But then I became curious when I noticed the place was gradually filled with transvestites. Well it was at least 40, 50 of them encasing the area until the parking lots behind EPF building over that side. Only then I realized that area was used as a pick-up point for those transvestites.

I have a habit of sitting quietly in a corner watching people. People are to me a very interesting species that are with clear distinctions from one to another. I would be in my own world reading the movements, the way they communicate, gestures, body languages, facial reactions and what not; of which in some ways it is analogous to my own self. I could never stop exploring and wondering about people and their characters and always get pleasant surprises in my findings.

I could see those transvestites were very pretty that put the local female artists to shame. I came to learn that they dubbed their names with the girly sounds like Suzy, Elly, Misha, Mimi, Sherry, Rose and the likes. And I am very sure they were way off from the actual names officially registered. I was so amused seeing them seducing the guys as much as outraged by the swear words with the kind of husky-feminine-manly voice when they got irritated by some cheeky guys.

I was actually not that naïve in the knowledge of gay world as I had seen it even worse in the overseas but it confused me a little looking at what actually exists in our own country with the attitude of it-only-happen-in-the-western-countries. Come to think about it, well, the basic rule of economics says, when there is a demand, there is a supply. I was also astonished seeing the patrons were rather of higher bracket of income people judging from the luxury cars stopped by picking them up after short conversations with the glass window rolled down, engine kept running.

I was watching at the closest group of “ladies” from where I sat down. There were 4 or 5 of them flocked together. One of them was very outstanding. I knew “her” name was Ju when I heard her friends calling her by the name. She was in a class of “beautiful lady“ that would make the authentic ladies envy over her look and poise. She was a quiet type and many young guys were teasing her. Being her, she had no problem in getting attentions. One moment or another she was engrossed with the potential "clients" she was after… or maybe those guys that were after her.

Policemen came. They were in a big truck. I think that was a routine surveillance by the enforcement unit in that area.

“Ju… polis datang… polis datang….” Her friend by the name Mimi shouted form yards away.
[“Ju… policemen are here… they’re here”]

“Ju... Cepatlah Ju… dah ada kat jalan sebelah sana….”
[”Hurry up Ju… they are over that side”]

It seems that Ju was still engrossed with her move and hardly heard what Mimi had shouted.

“Hey…. JUSOH…. Polis datang laaaaa....”
[“Hey JUSOH… policemen are here….]

Hahaha, then I knew HIS actual name was Jusoh.

Those transvestites ran helter-skelter and it was a funny sight to see when the ladies with the energy of men made their ways in hurry.


Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Yesterday was the 5th Anniversary of the twin towers of World Trade Center (WTC) tragedy in New York – better known as 911. On this particular day 5 years ago, I was in Indonesia, setting up a business over there together with two Malaysian friends and one Indonesian partner.

We rented a 4-story building for our office and we used the topmost floor of the building as a hostel for our staff. While waiting to find a proper house, we made do with the hostel for us to stay. At least it was cheaper than putting up at the hotels and after all we had only hired handful of karyawan (staff) at that time. There was plenty of space for us at the hostel before our full operation with a lot more staff coming in.

Dwan (not his full name) and I had just finished our dinner when Andre (not his actual name but pretty close) came up running from the office on the 2nd floor. I knew he was still working in the office when we were having dinner telling us that he was not in the mood to join us after an appalling squabble with the Preman (A member of an organized local gangster) over the business protection fees late in the evening.

“Saddam Hussein has just had his warplanes bombed the World Trade Centre in New York”. Andre

“Reallyyy?” I replied hastily but the actual thing running in my head was “Saddam managed to slip his way to the US soil?!” Amazing! But….

Obviously, back in my mind I wondered how in the world it may have had happened due to the impenetrable security measures of the US that I knew of. “That guy must be a hell of a great”. Silently an admiration towards Saddam grew.

Both of us found it hard to believe but not to the extent not believing what Andre had told us. Andre told us, a friend in KL, also our friend had just called telling about the breaking news.

We had no way to confirm the news because we did not have a TV set just yet and the social circle we had were still very limited for us to call up asking something casual like that. I did call up our Indonesian partner, Pak Sutrisno (his real name), but of no use, he knew nuts about it. Initially we never thought of getting the reliable breaking news from the internet. Minutes after talking about it, so then we realized how unintelligent we were and thus we quickly went downstairs to check it out over the internet.

It was true that something did happen to WTC, New York but it was reported that the airplanes hit the buildings, and both towers were hit, but not being bombed as we were made understood earlier. At that moment the towers were still standing. Speculations said it must have been a terrorist attack but by whom, to be precise it was yet to be determined. It made sense to me it had been an act of terror considering both towers were hit by the airplanes. If it was an aviation mishap, it would have just happened to only one building, one airplane. At that point, the initial idea of Saddam Hussein was in the plot as what Andre had told us slowly diminished. Reports by Yahoo were very quick pointing at the Al-Qaeda. Not just Yahoo, any source of news for that matter was very similar to one another.

It’s amazing; they could establish it in a matter of less than an hour to put the blame on. As-a-matter-of-factly speaking, they just simply point at them first, and the truth will come out later just like what it did minutes after the Oklahoma bombing incident. In that incident, it was proven to be their own people voicing out discontent over the corrupt system the Americans are rearing. To them, correct or not is another issue altogether. “We’ll deal with it later”.

After knowing the complete story about the incident, I had a mixed feeling. Call me less Islamic. I would never concur to the act when thousands of innocent civilians had died, tens of thousands were injured and many folds of thousands in tens had to deal with the losses of the loved ones. Having said that, not in a single pause of breath it means I am in agreement over the foreign policy of the US either.

Anyway, I do not actually intend to discuss over this. I just want to relate it to the eventful moment that occurred on 911 in the year of 2006. It has been a good coincidence; 5 years after the twin towers of WTC in New York crumbled, on the date, my neighbor has received a bundle of joy. Bundles, if you don't mind!

They have got twins! We do not talk about twin towers anymore. Yeah…We are talking about the twin babies. Two babies… They were born on September 11th… 911!

GAB: I wish had twins as well but genetically speaking, both sides of us husband and wife do not carry the genes. Congratulations to Azli and wife for the arrival of their 3rd and 4th children!

These are not their babies... it is meant for decorative purpose only!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

It May Happen To Anyone

Plenty of embarrassing moments happened to us during our lifetime. One or two of the occurrences would make us smile when thinking about it even after years passed. Whereas some of the incidence, we may just lock them up deep in our hearts not even our spouses know about it. Feasibly it is not so much of a secret as secret really is but it may sound too foolish to be shared with others. Trust me, after some time lapsed, we would then be able to relate to others and laugh over it.

It was in 1999. I was a senior staff with a public-listed company that had an office in Sun Complex in Bukit Bintang area. For Kuala Lumpur, that area or that building in particular is known for its unwholesome and rampant vice activities. Majority of the apartments above the office floors are used for that purposes. It is not uncommon if one has to cramp up and brush shoulders with the chicks in skimpily-clad outfits and pimps with a mundane looks in the elevator. Every now and then I had to succumb to the repulsion looks from the corner of their eyes suspecting me as an enforcement officer due to my haircut and body build.

Every time when people asked where my office was, it was kind of averse for me to say it out vociferously for having funny feeling that people may get wrong impressions out of its locale. And it’s very true! Some would have a second gaze at me while pondering up something before trying to hide their qualms and to steadily come up with words in continuance. Subtle and understated! Anyway, it was not so much of embarrassment to have had the office in that building but the unexpected incidence that did.

It was after a big meeting. I was checking on something on the computer at the side table to the right of my working table – close to the book rack. My working table was placed at one-third of the room width in that twenty-by-twenty dimension with plenty of space at the back before the 3-foot-high built-in cabinet – close to the wall. While at it, I was trying to recall the points to compare to what was on the screen and they were written in the notes that I had prepared the day before. They slipped off my mind.
I had a bad habit of piling up the documents, books and notes of current use on the floor before decided to have them filed or arranged by the secretary. The notes were lying on the floor.
I squat over to get my notes under a thin stack of paper files.

Praaaaaap!!! “Oh, Goodness… Gracious… What the…“. I knew it! I just knew it! That bloody old pants… It had already given me sign when I was out from the driver’s seat in the morning and now I had to pay the price for my ignorance. A whole wide gap of torn in my pants started inches below the fly, right up to the back part of it – more than a foot long. It was amazing that it opened so wide and it ensued almost all at once until I could feel the gush of cool air from the air-conditioner rushing in to my bottom. As quick as it ripped off, I stood up. Looking around not believing what have had happened. One idea after another came playing on my mind searching for a way to have it settled as discreet as possible.

The only possible tailor that I could think of at that moment was one at the ground floor of the building.

Now… the most awkward and uncomfortable walk of my life to sneak out of the room, get to the elevator and tiptoe my way to the tailor. I felt like a drug pusher carrying his commodities to pass through tight securities at the airport to execute from one step of the way to another. Tried my best not to let the staff noticed when I walked pass to the door, leaned as much as possible to the wall of the elevator and let others cleared before cautiously step out and inched my way to the tailor while having to pause every once in a while pretending checking something on my cell phone when people were passing by, made sure no one closer at my back. Need not to mention it has had exhausted a lot of muscles in the butts in efforts to keep it look as natural as possible.

Finally, I was at the tailor.

“Aiyya… Ini bukan tailor wooo… Sini jual butang saja maaa…. Itu sana jalan Federal Hotel wa ingat ada lo…”

“Ah So, sini tak boleh tolong jahit ke, mesin jahit ada tu… Tolong la!”

It was only a small shop. The shop was selling buttons, ribbons, threads and strings but not the tailor that I thought it was. After explaining my predicament and showed her what exactly looked like to my pants, she laughed and agreed to help me out. It was ridiculous for me to walk that far like she had suggested with the problem I was having.

I had to strip off my pants and that middle-aged Chinese lady made me hide behind a flimsy curtain in the corner of the room next to the altar with the deity. She passed me a steel chair to sit on while she was sewing the torn in my pants. We exchange words while she was at it with at times she couldn’t help it but giggling. I could only hear her voice.

An hour before I was in the conference room having high-talk with some big shots and now there I was, sitting on the cold steel chair behind the so-called curtain, half-naked, watching the hairs sticking out from the legs while the upper part of the body complete with the shirt and tie – feeling like an idiot.

I felt like the deity on the altar was comically smiling at me.

GAB: After all only that Ah So knew about it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Just a Hiccup in the Office

We are in the virtual business. A part of our corporate direction is to build a sustainable content business for the country. You can consider us as a Content Provider, if you like. But only a fraction of it though.

In the past few months, we were accused of illegal spamming by the Mobile Operator. All our shortcodes for our Short Message System (SMS) services, totaling seven altogether had been blocked since late June 2006 pending investigation by Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commissions (MCMC).

Our gateway provider, “X” Sdn Bhd has received notifications from Digi Telecommunications (Digi) saying that the reconnection of all shortcodes will depend on the investigation of MCMC. What more, Digi will continue to charge the monthly fees for all connections even though the connections are suspended. To add more insult, all revenues will be held permanently.

I was so furious over it when the gateway provider, “X” Sdn Bhd. putting the weight on us when the spamming accusation was forwarded by the Mobile Operator to them. Quickly I had our Network Engineer to get all the records in our database checked. We intend to compare data with X Sdn Bhd but they put it as obscured. I was mystified.

It is to me incomprehensible that only one out of three mobile operators seemed to have this problem with our contents. We don’t have problems with Maxis & Celcom. If we were to spam, we could’ve spammed all the mobile operators. I do suspect there is a technical glitch on our payment gateway provider, X Sdn Bhd but it is a little early to say things because we have to wait after our “ruler”, MCMC to do their job first.

As far as I am concerned, I am now in the middle of preparing all the necessary documentations to be ready for the OFFENSIVE mode instead of defensive. When the place is being marked as “X”, sure we mean business. Financial losses have been imminent, loosing a lot more is not a good option. The only choice we have now is to gain.

The owner of the legal firm we are in business with is now all smiling …

GAB: Funny… not a slightest of thought came to me when I was at home with my family

Friday, September 01, 2006

Leader of the Pack

The Prime Minister was coming to town. It was just a matter of days now.

Haji Malik. He was the busiest person in that kampong for having the responsibility to bring 20 busloads of supporters during the PM’s visit. Armed with cash provided by a disclosed source, it was rather easy for him to have it arranged. But, in a way it was not that easy either. For him to arrange buses was easier than having the target for number of people reached - 1000-strong. When you are in a stronghold of the opposition party, it is less glamorous even when you carry a title of Ketua Cawangan like him.

Haji Malik was a fighter though. Nothing could stop him when he had already mastered the skills to attract. It went unspoken; lunch and dinner would definitely be free. The real attraction was when the participations were rewarded with some pocket money. He also had a way of planting paid agents to persuade others to participate. These agents were paid with handsome amount of cash. If in the context of a structure in a corporate company, it was as good as a pay for a senior managers but of course it was not that so in Haji Malik’s organization.

Generally accepted principle is, when people are more than willing to participate even if there is no monetary rewards are given, those are the people with clear notions, and wise too. But when it is executed in such a manner, the right thing looks so wrong. The stinky thing is just swept under the carpet.

No fool. All buses were loaded with people. Off they went. This was the day that Haji Malik would firmly shake hands with his superior telling that he has done the job with cinch. Proven by 20-bus-loads of people to his credit. True enough, someone from Bahagian greeted him when he reached the place. He grinned from ear-to-ear when his "immediate boss” gave compliments and spoke highly of him in front of his people and others of the same rank as him from other areas.

The PM was scheduled to arrive in no time now but Haji Malik still had his hands full. He had to make sure the welfares for his people as promised were well taken care of. Being in a small or maybe messy organization like Haji Malik’s, the boss still has to do almost all the tasks. He was even still busy coordinating the last bus arrived to park safely when he was actually supposed to line up for the reception. If lucky he would be able to shake hands with the Prime Minister.
By the time the PM arrived, he rushed like crazy to the reception area but he was drowned in a crowd.

Nobody had even noticed he was not around in the line-up of important people to greet the PM…. Let alone to care!
GAB: I am very sure Haji Malik would brag over shaking hands with the Prime Minister for days if he managed to be in time.


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