Monday, February 26, 2007

The Moment When the Mind of Your Child Is Read

(Click on the pic)

I doubt if there is more fascinating sentiment than the feeling of self-worthiness when what’s behind the mind of your child is expressed out in his or her writing. A small thing that looks big to me.

Fara, my daughter of 15 years had the short essay written for her English class. In her words – below is the easy-to-read excerpt from the scanned copy above:

Person I Admire

My life is as perfect as it can be for the past fifteen years of my life. My parents have taken a good care of me.
My father is not from a rich family. He comes from a poor family in the Eastcoast of Malaysia. His life when he was a boy was far behind as compared to the life I am having now. He worked hard in his studies until he made to the University in overseas. He wanted to help his family to attain better life.
Due to his hardwork, he is now a successful person. He is a Managing Director of an IT company. He is also good and kind father. He teach me what life is all about. He once said that life is not easy. We have to struggle in life.
He is also give support and advice to me. He wants his children to be the successful person just like him. He always said to me to study hard.
I admire his hardwork till he becomes a successful person. I hope I will be the successful person like my father. I love my father so much!

- Fara Liyana

May be it’s a little overstated about her father especially when she sees me as a successful person that may give the impression to readers as being flush and leading a well-heeled life. Actually, the reality of my life provides an insight into shadowy world far removed from what I am in office or in the inadvertent tango, foxtrot and salsa of my words for blog entry.

Suffice to say, I’m leading a simple life, far cry from glossy-finish as it may be seemed. It could be due to not having the substance to gleam with, but I pray hard to God that I’d be the same person if one day I turn billionaire. Hence, I want to be easy in life as I wish for God to be easy on me in the hereafter.

Well, I don’t blame Fara for seeing what she sees. Successful can be construed in variety of ways. Just like any fathers out there or any parents for that matter, I never showed the downside of me to the kids. Being a father of this world age, I try my best to give an imminent of life as practical as it can be. I try to shift away from the stigma rooted among our forefathers in their advice to their offspring as in the likes of not-to-be-like-me or to-be-better-than-me thingy. Without having to divulge, by way of what the children can see and feel, it can give clear target for them on the yardstick to dart at, and to transcend is only a bonus.

I am beaming with pride in clandestine when she got the message well in understanding life as a tough thing; to struggle is a vital part of it. It makes me feel like my love and care as a father has taken into some degree of achievement, not just mere indulgence as to reinstate what I didn’t get when I was little.

I may be ahead of some of you readers here for already having a teenage daughter while you are still busy changing their diapers and enjoying the very first word of “mama” or “papa” from your babies – or may be watching with pride they take the first giant step to walk, and fumble, and fall, and cry, and a hush in the comfort of your embrace, and try again with your guidance and assurance. Or may be I am a bit behind when some of you are now already missing your grown up kids in college and enjoying calls from them asking about your well-being.

But trust me, whatever age your kids are now at; they are the reflections of us as parents.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Weird Things About Me

On Saturday, Feb 17, traffic in PLUS was pretty bad and I was caught in it. People were in their Chinese New Year balik-kampung-exodus while I was just on my way home for lunch. I chose to cut through Sg Buluh toll instead of the exit to GUTHRIE Highway miles ahead, but it still took me almost 2 hours to get there from Jalan Duta toll. Sigh! Ordinary traveling time would only take less than 10 minutes. It was a little remorse in me for not taking MRR2 instead.

But then, I realized those vegetations and majestic rocks along the highway were fascinating – so beautiful. I never take closer look at those all these while because I would be running at speed when using highway, as everyone would. When in a situation of bumper-to-bumper for hours, consciously, I started to enjoy the beautiful views that I missed all these years. After all why would I grudge over the traffic condition when I was not in position to change? At the same time it reminds me of possibly I would’ve had missed several beautiful things in life as well due to the fast pace of life we are living in. Thanks to the stand-still traffic for the inspiring moment.

And I had an idea. I started sending text message to friends. Azhar, my old friend from school just know how to tickle me with his reply that makes me look stupid laughing in the driver’s seat by myself. Well of course, it’s not too strange for people now but if you were to be seen laughing by yourself in a car some 20 years back, they might have thought you were out of your mind or something.

I also sent Idham in Jeddah a text message and he was kind enough to reply, even called my mobile (after I reached home). He told me he was on his way home for lunch. Kids were in school and he gave me the idea of “dessert” was in his lunch package.

When I browsed his blog today, it didn’t surprise me with the entry
Lunch….” But it surprised me with his previous entry. – Idham tagged me to write on weird things about me.

Oh boy, I know I may find it hard to write them down because the subject is not dearly to me but rest assured I am a good sport.

And it is proven hard when I keep thumping the backspace on the keyboard, even to the point deleting the whole thing before I got some momentum to go on.

What 6 weird things about me?

1. My working desk in office, nothing on it. No pictures of wife & kids, no clickety-clack of steel balls pendulum, no replica of a horse, no pen holders, nothing. I keep it clean all the time. It helps me more focus on my work. The only thing would mess my desk is when I am working on something. If it only requires 3” x 3” memo pad to write on, only that small piece of paper is granted a permit to be on it.

2. I’d fold and staple nicely the rough papers before throwing them into dust bin. I never crumbled them up. Any small pieces of paper or anything, I’d put them into used envelope, have it stapled before discard. Never a liquid of any form will be in the dust bin. Yanti, the cleaner gave a comment, “Sampah dalam bilik Boss sentiasa rapi, nggak perlu tukar plastiknya!”. Very true! That damn plastic bag has been there since the Japanese left Malaya.

3. I consider myself a helpful person but I’d be the last person to offer help when I know many others rushing to help. Pity the voluptuous lady in her low cut wearing tight skirt having flat tyre in the parking lot.

4. I do enjoy blending in the crowd after having my car parked somewhere. I’d be in my jeans and T-Shirt at the bus stand, standing there, putting up the same expression like other commuters before settling somewhere for my drinks. I was once chauffeured driven together with a bodyguard armed with a revolver when I was on my duty in Jakarta in late 90’s. I asked the driver to drop me in the city and I walked back to hotel by myself after hours pretending to be a local.

5. I was a risk-taker and recognized no threat to my life when I was young. When I was behind the wheel, I’d push the machine to the limit. I won’t stop until I heard tyres screeching and the smell of burnt rubber was so satisfying. Winding road was heaven to me. It was hell of a fun when the adrenaline pumped up with fast pounding of heartbeats and sweating. Now no more! (Anda mampu mengubahnya!)

6. I was a professional speaker / trainer that used to train hundreds of speakers in all aspects of public speaking throughout the Asia Pacific basin. I was complimented by people as an eloquent speaker on the stage but I would be dumbfounded when I have to face a camera. I was once offered for an audition with the local TV station for English section news but the thought of spotlights beaming on me and the big camera in front to swallow me whole, was enough for me to retreat. And it was not my cup of tea anyway.


Well… I have done my part!

I am now quoting what Idham said, “I will carry on the tradition and tag the following unfortunate friends (sorry folks, I have run out of enemies)”: hehehe
Those are....

1. NJ (Love to see the other side of you)
2. Kak Elle (This Singaporean lady is known to be a good sport too)
3. Rina Jordan (Because you're cool)
4. KC (I know Idham has tagged you but I’d love to have you fall in the first 6 in my request)
5. JoKontan (It’s all because of my love to you my man)
6. Mommy Alif (Well, you're not trapped but invited)

I’d love to tag Kopi O but he holds no blog though, hehehe

RULES: People who are tagged should write a blog post of 6 weird things about them as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave a comment that says 'you are tagged' in their comments and tell them to read your blog.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

“The number you dialed….”

(Thursday: Feb 15, 2007: 3:15 pm)

“I am not too sure whether I have no answer to that or you have a wrong question!!?”

That is what I said when I tried to be a little wise with the caller at the other receiving end. But it didn’t turn out as I thought it would – my words seemed to be taken as challenge to her and made her furious. I was taken aback with slight regret.

“Looook… the question is very simple…” she said with higher tone of voice that I could almost imagine seeing her to start fuming, perhaps jumped off her chair with fist clenched at her waist.

“Why did you send the documents to the branch office instead of straight to the Headquarters?” “You’ve put many people in the hot soup… blaa…blaa… blaa... blaa… blaa…You knowww? Blaa… blaa… blaa… You see?!!!” It was a lengthy blow from her. I found it hard to trip with my words in between over her stormy weather.

From the words “Branch office” and “Headquarters”, I sensed something was not right already. Subsequent words from her made me certain I was caught as the wrong actor in the wrong drama. As far as I could remember, the only documents I sent recently were to the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), nothing to do with branch office or headquarters thing. The only place that holds the ministerial office is in Putrajaya, nowhere else. After all, the Ministry Office is not known to me referred to as branch office and if it did, where is the Headquarters?

“Hold on a sec! What documents are you referring to here?” “What branch office… what Headquarters?” I asked her as I tried to align the direction of our sporadic row.

Seconds after articulating my confused state of mind started off with her explanation that elucidated her points, she then retorted in a familiar twang of hers;

“Aiyaaa… Very sorry woo…” It was an apparent gargle in her mouth to lament her blunder.

All in all, the blame went to the wrongly dialed number. Fair share of blame also went to my name Zack was similar to her intended receiver that made it passed through the receptionist and my secretary without hiccup. The accentuated significance was about the documents, very much to what I had on mind to start the roll. May be my speaking voice sounded familiar to her too. And, on top of it if blame is really that essential; a scuttle in her deliverance without proper overture on the subject matter due to her dismay had made perfect coincidence for the howler.


I didn’t want to know further what troubled her with the documents wrongly sent but her bash on me made me baffled for a few minutes. The first impression came to mind was my documents sent to MOSTI had created uncalled for turbulence to the officers there. It has brought good jolt in me, afraid that the company’s integrity is at stake over certain issue.

Well, it was just flatulence in a daily routine. It may be looked like pointless incident that fits to be called time waster. But I do not look at it that way. Yeah, may be wasting my time and emotions for a minute but to me, what’s behind; it is coherent to profess one’s muff and error as a part of learning process for parties involved.

Ms. Wong, wherever you are, I am glad you ended up the whole thing with big laugh and thank you for another blooper that added to the shelf of my library of experience.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Of The Thoughts Circling In My Cup of Nescafe

Every now and then I choose to be by myself having my Nescafe at my favourite joint at the ground floor of the building that holds my office. My timing is almost exact everyday as 10:30 am is the time of my choice. Most of the times I get to sit at my favourite table over at the corner of the restaurant with big round pillar at my back, serves very well as an added strength to back me up, subconsciously. Nice open view overlooking the slope with big condominium blocks on my right across the street, up on the steep incline.

“Biasa Bang?!” A young lady would say and I’d quip with short reply, “Yeah!” or sometimes my nod with little smirk is more than sufficient. That’s the familiar short exchange we’d have when she pre-confirms my drink. Occasionally, I’d be ahead of her, “Biasa!” and she’d smile in return. I can take for granted; the steamy Nescafe will be there for me, in minutes. She wouldn’t ask for any orders for food because she knows, more often than not I was there just for drinks – I’d ask when I need it. But sometimes she would. At one time, with her big smile, she swiftly dashed to my table asking – just to create a cyclone of air when she wants me to smell her new “Sweetheart” perfume she’s using and fishing for compliments from me. Rest assured I am always generous with my words.

Oh by the way, she’s a big fan of Mawi!

It is not just about the young lady at the restaurant but also a woman whose working on the flower plants that covered from below the 4-foot high walkway of the building until some 10 feet to the pavement close to the car park. Over the years, I have been watching her taking care of the plants – fertilizing, watering, cutting, trimming and pruning. Every time I am drowning my distress in my Nescafe, she’d be down there nursing the plants. What attracts me is when I see her works with full of passion and dedication – makes the impression of special bonding exists between her and the plants.

I love seeing people doing their best at what they are doing regardless of what they are. I am annoyed to see someone who demonstrates less interest in what they are doing. Have it ever occurred to you when you’re almost at the brink of your outburst with a waitress at a restaurant showing no interest in her work as if you are there to trouble her as a customer? Any experience with a nurse at the counter with thick and heavy glasses gives an outlandish gape at you when asking for information? Ever came across a security guard behaving like he’s the owner of the building? But I know a lady executive friend who admires a hunky Bangladeshi security guard because of his spitting image of Hrithik Roshan. Heh, that’s beside the point!

Back to this flower-woman, I don’t know how old is she but I have a hunch she looks older than her age. I know she’s from Indonesia when it vibrates well in her speech. Deeper in my thought, I surmised her having a family back in her home country with perhaps children to feed upon. Probably, she’s here with the husband in their efforts to make ends meet, leaving the children behind or she could well be all alone here. I have an easy way to know by asking her but it won’t be fun. After all it doesn’t help me much to record the unnecessary data in my head. The very thing that triggers me is, when the thought of her with her life, having to succumb to the living very likely not to her choice but circumstantially she has to face it. Above all, when she is at it, she is at her best. I do not have any specific benchmark to compare her commitments and dedications in work with mine and but I ask myself; whatever things in my hands now, am I to the standard of what she is demonstrating?

Reminds me of Idris, the guy we hired for decorative concrete work in our lawn. According to the neighbours, the charge was a bit too high but my wife and I agreed it was worth the money spent considering the quality of works delivered. I was even prepared to pay higher than the amount he put the price on.

Some years ago in the company I was at, for the company annual dinner, we in the management purposely wanted to have the lower ranking staff to handle the function. Ridzwan was a store hand in the company. Without much details in instructions, he distinguished himself out, outshined, ahead of other peers, even voluntarily took up the stage as a Master of Ceremony for the function. And he played his guitar and sang to the tune of “Isabella” too. Regardless of whether he was singing or not, he did bloody well with all his wits and charms handling the whole function. Successfully!

I took mental notes on every single thing right from the beginning. A few days after the function, I summoned him to my office. Guess what? I pushed him into training department as a trainee junior executive. He was in tears, happy when someone could see what’s hidden in him. On his way out of my office, I could see the gesture of him wanted to give me a hug – lest not proper, he shook my hand – almost crushed my bones. Regardless of what paper qualification he was having or he was not having, I knew that he could handle the job. After yet a few more rounds of tears battling the unknown new world to him, in 6 good months of probations, he managed to position himself as a full-fledged junior executive.

My Nescafe won’t take the whole day to finish. My Nescafe couldn’t wait for my thoughts to last either.

Time to go!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Ghost! What Ghost?

They said a monument was erected at that place. A gentleman, neighbour and friend of mine with his screen name Berlingo took trouble to track down the monument at the crash site of Japan Airlines that plummeted to the ground in a botched landing attempt at Subang Airport way back in 1977, on September 27, to be precise. It was reported that 34 out of 79 passengers and crew were perished in the incident. The crash site is situated in Elmina Estate, at the mouth of the gateway to our place, Saujana Utama.

Berlingo’s quest was inspired by a tease in our community forum about ghostly figures & phantoms and strange noises that were reported being seen and heard apart from some other inexplicable occurrences experienced by people. The conscientious head honcho igniting the rag was
Kudin. It is believed that due to the people were killed, aptly to scene of carnage in the area, it in some way, our neighbourhood become haunted. This is an account from my neighbour KC in her blog.

I don’t know how far the truth is. As far as I am concerned I still laugh off over the buzz. I even challenged on the possibility of meeting a ghostly figure myself. But then, I am not too sure how I would react if the figure really appears right before me though. I hope I won’t be frozen to death! In jest, I even said wanting to meet up with a phantom of
Al-Tantuya, a Mongolian lady of whom was depleted to bits with explosives after being shot dead on her fateful night last year. The ferocity took place some kilometers away from our place. It became big news in the country not only due to the brutality that had been but also when it was convoluted with VIP’s involvement.

CRUMBLED MONUMENT: It proofs that the tragedy has slipped off from people’s minds after 30 years it happened. It serves as a reminder that after some time of our passing, we would well be forgotten also.

Courtesy: Berlingo

OVERLOOKING THE HIGHWAY: Nobody knew the site would then be as it is now and I never thought of staying in a place I call home not far from it.

Courtesy: Berlingo

Speaking of haunted and ghosts thing, when I was a boy of 11 years, it was said that Wak Lah, a bomoh in our area, was in possession of a skull of a man from Thailand who was hacked to death and decapitated. The skull was kept in a huge ceramic vase (tempayan) under his house wrapped in layers of yellow cloths. The tempayan itself looked scary enough with the moss covered the outer part of it, dusty on the lid made out of hardwood. Let alone when the house was old and spooky, far off from other neighbours’, surrounded by creepy big trees with leaves pouting at the top that it gets dark early in a day. The “kemenyan” scent was the fragrance of choice in the house – perhaps due to Ambi Pur was not in business yet.

For some odd reason we found it ridiculous to ask adults whether the skull was really in there or not. At least that was the talk among us kids. We kids believed what we decided to believe. It was also said that, when past midnight, if you were to bring an egg as an offering to the spirit, you’d see a long slithering tongue protrude over licking the egg in your hand but your life would be spared. It wouldn’t break the egg, left it intact but once you crack open, you’d find it empty.

I had a funny idea together with my buddy Ariff. We planned for an offering just to see the slinking swathe of the ghost’s tongue feasting on egg.

On that particular night as planned, we were all ready but it was a bad start when neither one of us wanted to hold the egg in hand but just to be a spectator. I had the egg stolen from granny’s fat chicken in the den. After some arguments in the dark, I gave in when we came to term that he had to be next to me all the way through, holding hands. There we go; I was the one with the egg in hand that would be the master of the show.

We walked ever so slowly approaching the bomoh’s house with the tempayan as a spot marked as X. You couldn’t imagine our heartbeats at that moment even when we were actually still some 100 meters away from the spot. Goosebumps were like thousands of small nipples enveloped the whole body, hairs sticking up like a porcupine. It felt like the heart was jumping off the chest. Every tiny sound of anything seemed to be too outrageous. In the compound of the house, some 20, 30 meters away from the target, it was so dark that we could hardly see each other’s face but the path we walked was not strange to us.

After number of stops and hesitance, double-checking on our motivations and the barometer of our confidence, we were finally under the roofed side of the house with the tempayan was only some 5 meters away at the “tiang seri” (major pillar) under the house. The moment we were about to duck for head clearance to enter beneath the house floor, I felt Ariff’s hand jerked as if he was puling off, brought a heavy gust of blood in me, not to mention sweating profusely, breathing ever so short. In reaction to that, I shuddered just as much. Upon feeling I had the same reaction; Ariff displayed sign of aggravation. I swear I could hear his heartbeat racing with mine, even louder when we hit the same note at the same time.

It happened in just a matter of seconds when the fusion of scare in us escalated rapidly from double to triple, from triple to quadruple and kabaam-boom just like the multiplications of nuclei joining together in atomic fusion of the atomic bomb. And so did to what entailed in our chaotic reactions whether to defy or to recoil from our hallucinations and deliriums created in our minds as if we were cornered by spirits, with long, slithering and menacing tongues everywhere around us. As far as I can remember, I took a step back. Ariff did just as many but with greater speed and longer span, followed by my other step back with a speed to counter his but overdone. Then he stepped back faster and longer. I copied and added, so did he. And it went on and on in that short period of time until we finally found ourselves split and running like crazy, just followed our gut feelings not knowing what we would hit in the dark. “Hungga sapa kecik ppalo-ppalo” (read: Run helter skelter until the head shrinks). That must be the fastest run in my life that possibly beat the hell out of Ben Johnson of my age.

Fortunately all trees were left unharmed and we didn’t hit square to the barbed wire fence when we maneuvered the tough corner that would put Michael Schumacher or Mick Doohan to shame, escaped with only some cuts I called it scratches that good enough to bleed and had it nursed for weeks. We were also lucky for not trampled into cow dung, except for the torn kain pelikat that had to give way to serious punching of long steps taken with legs spread wider than the rhythmic gymnasts would – as stupendous as a speedy-chicken Road Runner.

The egg was dropped somewhere at the back or it could’ve had crushed in my grip. The grip was perhaps so forceful that if it was a rock in my hand, the rock would’ve turned diamond. I can testify to that slimy thing in my hand that I later found, it was the crushed egg – confirmed it was not cow dung.

And I became the prime suspect for the missing egg that tagged with a serial number and bar-coded by granny!

Just another foiled mission for a close encounter with the spirit and ghost, as what I thought, but I actually met many "ghosts" and "vampires" in the broad daylight in the real life.

What about you, met any ghosts before?

Note: Now I am developing a habit of asking question at the end of my entry.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Life is about struggling and striving. Life is about fighting. And winning! Life is about enjoying good living; to certain extent we might want to indulge ourselves in flashy, exorbitance and luxurious livelihood for good measure.

When I am at the apogee of my own easy-me-philosophy, I would say to myself, luxurious living is just like when you are holding your pee for hours that your bladder is about to burst and there you are at the toilet bowl enjoying it with the eyes closed in ecstasy, hence, you don’t want to trade for anything else in this world. Luxurious that is.

Perhaps, it’s not luxury as what luxury is but what luxury would bring.

Since I am not trained to be that sophisticated in life, I have a feeling that I can enjoy my RM 10 better than others spending their RM 100. May be I can sleep soundly and wake up happily in a master bedroom of my 2-storey end-lot terrace house in Saujana Utama than an opulent waking up in his flush bedroom overlooking a swimming pool in his 3-and-a-half storey mansion in Country Heights.

Or may be he is actually far happier, and I am only a fool for being imbecile and moronic for thinking that way? He could be relishing for his fine champagne at the back of his chauffeured driven stretch, laughing, while I’d be busy checking on possibilities of meeting him with his secretary to knock a deal or two.

Or may be the unpretentious chap with 7 small kids without shirts sleeping in a hall with mosquito coils stop burning, in the slump of a squatter area in Keramat, is waking up a happier person?

Who knows, may be an indigenous man of Orang Asli tribe deep in the jungle of Gombak wakes up in his makeshift hut to the traces of the aroma of last night's roasted wild boar in the fire and yet have a whole world in his grip, the whole universe funneling into him? Happier!

Happiness, in a sense of word, it is too broad a scale for one to rap it up cleverly. A banal line of cliché we often heard, happiness is subjective and hence, definition-wise, it is an emotional state that is characterized by feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction. A great philosopher, Aristotle, stated that happiness is the only thing that humans desire for its own sake. Men sought riches not for the sake of being rich, but to be happy. Those who sought fame desired it not to be famous, but because they believed fame would bring them happiness.

In the context, I think it is the same thing when I was in my stride having my dinner with “ulam” and “ike tawar” to go with “budu”. And... I love “ike singge” and “ikan rebus goreng” too – I’ll put aside those lobsters. If I were to equate to what I understand philosophically, it’s not the things I eat that make me happy but the enjoyment and satisfaction of eating those that makes me happy.

But nothing compared to the time when you are all alone with God in the middle of a quiet night crying and weeping on the prayer mat with a tinge of hope for forgiveness for the sins you had done and God trades you up with special feelings for you to go on living.

Are you a happy person? And what makes you happy?


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