Monday, August 31, 2009

The day we celebrated Merdeka

The merdeka celebration seems old and outdated. No one seems to be as cheerful for the celebration as we used to. Everything from the road decorations to the TV events and the parade live telecast have been very NOT exciting----or nowadays the young kids would use the term “juak” Have we lost the patriotism? Have we forgotten the last hero that fell in the battlefield? Have we becoming so bored with the same old stories? …the same old cliché? So many questions that we all have so many answers. It has been a long 52-year-old history of nation building. Has it seem to crumble down like the sand castles ? vanished into the thin air without any trace. Why is it happening to my home land ? to my heroes? To my history and culture ? can’t you feel the hostility wrapped up at the same time with despair and hopelessness. After a long decades we’re still struggling to understand why our neighbors discretely burn some papers or smashed some coconut shells. We have lived with that for some good years and still somewhere within we struggle to accept or not to accept the scenes and the smells as part of life.

Merdeka means different things to different people. I would take it as the time to reflect from my own experience for the good of future generations. We have friends at school, at the office or maybe just or next door neighbor that come from different race and religion. We value our origin and our faith for the strength that comes with it to endure this difficult life. The fact that no one can deny; even if they do it is out of a total ignorance. In Malaysia we still appreciate the differences that we have without intimidating each other. And that’s good, so far. But today it seems we are at lost for not getting anywhere with it. The wealth has not get us any richer; the power has not get us any mightier and the struggle has not get us any better…hhmmm maybe we should stop using that “perjuangan belum selesai” slogan…it’s so demoralizing. The sky seems to be as high as before; the sun seems hotter everyday and the wind has not blow the pain away. What we are talking about….are we fooling ourselves with new slogan and motto every time the Merdeka is insight.

The word is not “perpaduan” but understanding; because perpaduan will make someone loses something to get into the pact. Are we ready to lose our faith and heritage for the good of nothing? I don’t think so. You keep your chopstick and let me eat with my hands so we can both enjoy the meal. It sounds that simple but for the good 52 years we have failed time and again to accomplish that. The gap seems to drift further apart as we strive for the well being of our own self. I guess we will mature over time; the United States of America got their first black President over 200 years after independence. The history tells us it is a difficult path.

Our forefathers fought for us to give the land that we called ours. We must cherish that and realize how difficult it was to tell people that this is our land. We are still afraid to shout the name of Tok Janggut as our hero, or Mat Kilau and many more because of our own ignorance. Everytime I passed by Masjid Muhammadi in Kota Bharu, I would imagine how Tok Janggut was hanged upside down at the Padang nearby. There are even pictures of him from those times. He was defiant of the white men and fought to protect a few yards of his kampung land and his people. He was a true fighter and should be our true hero today. But we muddled up with the West and remain without freedom for as long as we can remember. No matter how loud you shout the so-called Melayu slogan if the hearts and souls are still chained up; it’s nothing. I guess people have started to understand the true meaning of Merdeka. The picture that is totally different from what we used to see for the last 52 years.. Like MJ used to say, look into the mirror and ask the man in the mirror……have you changed ??

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Unity In Diversity...what a piece of crap...

I chaired an editorial board meeting earlier today for the faculty’s new computing journal. The task is supposed to be just routine stuff---but not today’s. I was shocked to find out how diversed we are even as colleagues; doing the same thing and working in the same place. The difficulty in reaching them and making them understand what I want to do and what they are supposed to do. I found myself in the same exact position again that deals with people and management. It was not a pretty sight and I guess this task at hand is no difference. Oh dear! Am I putting myself into trouble again? Trapped in the well that I just could not let myself out . How come I let myself down? The thing is that I can do this job not because I am better than anyone else but because I like it when it comes to writing. I write because I want to understand; and the more you understand stuff, the more you like it. I want my friends and colleague to like writing so they can understand better. The equation is simple but time and again I must realize that it does not work that way. It did not work before and it might not work this time as well. OMG how I wish that was not true.

This is not the first time I organize an event in the faculty; but why I feel a squeeze I just don’t know. As if you were driving and all of the sudden people closing in on you from all directions—left and right; a truck himpit you from the left and a big bus comes in from nowhere to your right. You are squeezed in the middle. You will be left raged for being weak and helpless. And before the day ended someone called in and told me that they have an event going on at the same time and at the same place…..can we merge into yours ?..... What? I am being hijacked as well! I just do not understand this…so now there will be another program crept into my workshop with no explanation whatsoever. I wanted to smack the heck out of whoever at the other end and said NO!....but I didn’t.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Buku Catatan Hati Nik Nur Madihah

Buku ini telah berbulan-bulan diterbitkan tetapi saya tak berkesempatan untuk mendapatkan dan membacanya. Apalah ada pada cerita budak-budak ni, kata hati kecil saya. Cerita biasalah….belajar bersungguh-sungguh, buat nota, beri tumpuan dan tawakkal. Kemudian dua hari yang lepas ada kawan sepejabat menghulurkan senaskah kepada saya untuk derma PIBG sekolah anaknya. Reluctantly I grabbed the book with about the same feeling as before….nothing much in this book. OK lah I agreed to buy one for my daughter Ariefah who studied at the same school as Nik Madihah. Maybe she could learn a thing or two from this girl. I glanced a few pages and stuffed it into my backpack. The next morning while waiting for my dearest to get ready I took another glance and flipped a few pages.. Then I started reading; page after page. It took me not to her house and her life but back to my own home and my own life. Oh my dear I was amazed how her narrations have described the life that I used to live. Difficulty. Poverty. Dignity. SubhanaAllah. My eyes started to get wet and soon they could no longer hold the tears back. I saw myself in those pages struggling to be oblivious to the things happening around me. I did not want my Mak to be sad and Ayah to be worried. I knew how to be a poor kid in a poor family that had nothing but each other .

She talked about “etok” in the book. OMG----“etok”. How could I explain this rare delicacy from Kelantan. No where else you can find this “etok”. It is a small shell thingy that they harvest out of the riverbed. Mix with lemon grass and salt and left to dry under the sun . So yummy. You can still find this “etok” along the roads in Kelantan. But be warned---it is the food for poor people. I would indulge into this nostalgia from the yesteryears whenever I passed by the “etok” stall. I used to buy them for 10 sen while walking home from the pasar and I would reach my house by the time I finish the pack. My mom always brought home a big pack and ate them with nasi kerabu. And we still do that whenever I go home for a visit.

The picture of her family rented house seems too familiar as I could feel the dried wooden wall tired from the soaring afternoon heat. The planks that made up the floor seem badly battered from greeting the soiled footprints. That’s my house. Those are our stairs. Nik Madihah goes on narrating her life; a uniquely ordinary young girl from Kelantan. She went against all odds and achieved what she has aimed for. That is out of ordinary. She narrated not only her life but mine as well as many others from Kelantan. That is our life in Kelantan to this very day----we all have one thing in common --- poverty. Look at the dilapidated house, the family who lives in there and those around it are the pictures that portray Kelantan and her subjects. But we are happy all around because we believe not in life but the Creator of life.

I wish Nik Nur Madihah a lot of luck because her journey is still long and difficult. But as her life taught her perseverance and a strong sense of determination, she will be okay InsyaALlah. Just like me!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The tale that I wish was not true

This place has been the center for spiritual pilgrimage for so long and I am here as well. Very thankful to Allah for giving this opportunity. The time is a bit pass 2pm. I am staying on for the Asr prayer. There is no point to go back and forth giving away your health to the unforgiving heat wave. I would like to tell you about last night.

We arrived from Madinah around 9pm. Getting into Mecca was not a problem. The traffic was okay but it built up as we went further towards al-Haram. By 9.30pm we reached our hotel. Well we went in for a shock. Not in my entire life that I came across this type of “hotel”. Maybe a few times I saw in the classic Arabic movie on Astro when I could not sleep. We went up in an old lift where you have to open the door like a refrigerator. And you could see the floors running down pass you as ascended to the upper floors. The door with a battered lock greeted us, like someone had a bad day needed a release and kicked the ass out of that door knob. There was a fridge, a closet, an air-cond that sound like a train engine, five beds with tattered linen that I think have not been washed since the days of pharaoh. That’s it and a modest WC. I guess it’s ok and can live with it. Around 10.30 pm we went down for supper. I mean down, really down into the dungeon like the one in that Merlin story. Is this our dining area? I just could not believe my eyes. There were a few tables surrounded by all sort of broken TVs, some old stuff and a few shirtless Bangla preparing food. It’s scary really. I walked to the table as if I did not see anything. I tried to pretend but come on how could I? If I saw one big ass rat passing by I’d be out of here. Luckily there was none. So I ate my supper with those shirtless Bangla still cooking and doing stuff in the kitchen. I hope they did not prepare this food for us. I was right thank God as there is a room down there where they are staying and they prepare their own food. I mean there are people living down here as well. I checked the place out and found about 20 pairs of slippers outside the door. Just could not believe myself. The food was okay---edible that is. Well I was hungry, anything seemed tasty. Those people are still there making the place their home. They are hairy and ugly and by then I have to stop eating. Excuse me but I have to puke. Is there a toilet here somewhere?? Yes everywhere, so you can puke just about anywhere down here in the dungeon. I really need to get my money back; this is major breach of consumer rights. They said “ penginapan sederhana di Mekah” (modest accommodation in Mecca) but this is nothing near to that, this is a rat hole!

So there you go my whining story about the place where we called home for about 6 days while staying in Mecca. I mean it was really bad but we have quite a large group and none of us complained. There was even a big corporate figure from Bank Islam in our group and he smiled all the time whenever the state of our living quarters came up during tea. I just feel that it isn’t fair. Whatever it is the things are done with and whoever got the big chunk out of our suffering and hardships has got away already. May Allah compliment our hardship accordingly. So if you are planning for an umrah trip in this near future consider my tips here :

1. Look for a direct flight to Jeddah or Madinah. And don’t underestimate the short transit period; it could turn out to be the longest trip of your life. The big hassle during the transit is not worth to be endured with. Save your energy for a good and healthy days in the holy cities. Expect to spend up to rm400 more on the ticket but believe me you would not mind.

2. Accommodation in Madinah is okay. So most operators will brag about how good their hotel is. Do not fall for this as most hotels in Madinah are good and near to the mosque. They are also easily available.

3. The accommodation in Mecca (as I have experienced above) makes a lot of difference. Go for the best deal on this one. The best of course the ones in the Zamzam Tower. But there are also some affordable ones around this area(as I found out later during my walkabouts after the prayers). But with the renovation going on in and around Masjidil Haraam the operator will use that as the excuse. Get the fact straight and shop around for the ones with the best accommodation. Reject right away if transportation is in the equation. Well we will take you there and bring you back to your hotel. Nope believe me things will get very chaotic when transportation is involved.

4. Other than that things are pretty much ordinary. I know that we go there for ibadah but one thing you could not resist is shopping. A lot of “heart throbbing” stuff with dirt cheap price tags. So bring a lot of money and go for it. (aaarrrghhhh I did not want to tell you that but then again you might know it already). Whatever you do; do not forget your intention to increase your iman and taqwa. Being there is already a big accomplishment so don’t worry about it.

5. In end it is ultimately the trip of your life and the money well spent. Enjoy it!.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ramadhan will arrive again

The year seems short
It was as if yesterday I woke up for
…..that heavenly sujud during qiamullail
…..that tears afraid of an-Nar
…..that serenity of soul during the prayers

Ramadhan will be here again
…waballigni Ramadhan
And let me reach Ramadhan
For this mind and soul
Longing for Your rahmah wa maghfiroh

Let this coming Ramadhan
Will be brighter and livelier than the last
With nur iman and taqwa
From the cleansed soul and
The heart that longs for the redha’ of the Creator
The forgiveness that has been promised
And the Jannah…….

Ramadhan will come
With maghfiroh wa rahmah wa ridhuan min Allah
For the good soul to see and to grab
The opportunity that might be the last
Let there be the easiest way
To freeze all the evil actions and thoughts
From within or out
From up above or down below
Let this soul be strong enough
To travel through the nur of Ramadhan

Let this Ramadhan
Be the best among the best
For the many years of my living
The days will be no more long and thirsty
The nights will be no more short and sleepy
I want to spend time with ALlah and His words
Contemplating the good news and bad
Listening to the prayers from the Angels
Asking forgiveness of the sinful actions
Seeking refuge from the evil thoughts

Ramadhan is the light
that brighten up the dead soul
To taste the heavenly sweetness
As an ‘abid who long for his master
For maghfiroh wa rahmah wa ridhuan min ALlah

Ya Rabb
…..waballighni Ramadhan

Friday, August 14, 2009

Leslie Lamport In Malaysia

I was in UKM earlier today with my student to attend a workshop by this great computer scientist from the states. Leslie Lamport is a celebrity for CS people. He invented Latex, that tex typesetting that amazed me during my graduate studies. And now he is in Malaysia --live!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Life's good

Sometime you wake to the sound of your noisy alarm clock and found yourself so complete and composed. You listened to your heart and it pounded to the rhythm of perfection. Nothing happened out of ordinary; it just that you feel so lucky to be alive and thank God for that. You wish to go out dancing naked in the street to tell the world how wonderful it is to be alive….just like Jimmy Stewart in “ Dancing in the rain”. You know that feeling. I guess that might be happiness; the one that everybody is going after. But again in life different people will get different taste of happiness. And some even resort to pain for happiness. Strange world isn’t it? I guess after living for so many years you can feel happiness like someone pinch you on the arm. It’s no longer a rhetoric but a true physical thing. I can feel whether I have delivered a good lecture or not…and every time I will search for that feeling. Sometime I waited till the very last minute or even to extend the time so I can have that good feeling. It is the understanding that have come and stood there for. Age must be the factor and through the years I have struggled to please other people. I must do what’s right so people won’t see me so weird and outcast. That dodgy perception is no longer haunting me and I just don’t give a damn what others say. I voice out certain issues just to clarify my understanding and satisfy the need for myself to know that I have my own opinion. I really do it in good faith not to rack the boat or anything. The other day I commented on an issue at my faculty in response to the events this weekend. They organize Bengkel pengurusan Jenazah, Bengkel Penyembelihan Ayam, Praktikal Penyembelihan Ayam, and followed by a Khenduri using those ayam. I found it a bit weird and sent out an email saying that I don’t feel comfortable to have “death”, “killing” and “feast” all in one. After the death and killing part I don’t have an appetite for a feast anymore. And the responses were so hard that I was accused “animal lover” and “ don’t kill others’ spirit if you don’t want to join”. Some people just could not accept criticism whatsoever. Well if you want to know we are now living in the 21st century and the old custom for not saying anything has long gone.

My happiness in life is my wife Salwana , my children Aqeelah, Ifah, Una, Maryam, and Ahmad. They truly make my life so complete. Errrrrrr….and last but not least ruffy, feena, friday and sunshine……my lovely cats.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

When a raging bull found the red flag …

In Malaysia, demo is an ugly word ; so ugly that even a school student knows it as “perhimpunan haram”. The scene that police are all over with tear gas and all. People are running all over the place for safety. And the media warn everyone to stay away as all access to the place are blocked. A sad scene I must say. After 50 years of independence we are still running away from our own shadow. We believe what people want us to believe and we still do what people want us to do. Is that an independent nation ?

In reality demo is an act of expression. Is it so wrong to express yourself? The chaotic part starts when some kind of provocation is involved and that is naturally come from those men in blue. Why cant they protect us instead of shooting the tear gas? Again and again the peaceful demo has turned into something ugly and un-ruling . Maybe they want it to be seemed dangerous. Peaceful demo is supposed to remain peaceful. Protect the people so they can go on and voice their feeling. That is the very basic of human right. After a while they are tired of fighting and there is a new red flag for the bull to rage on… operators in the area. They come in groups to claim what said to be the damage from that weekend demo. People are so jahil about the true cause of the demo. Instead of helping they turn on the poor demonstrators. And our leaders watch with a smiling face…the bull has found the red flag. Bravo!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sharing experience with SBP pupils at Tiara Beach Resort, PD

Late Monday I sped off into the dark Seremban-PD Highway for an event at TBR organized by Bahagian Sekolah Berasrama Penuh, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia. These pupils are from boarding schools all over Malaysia brought down to PD for a week for motivational workshop. PD was quiet that night maybe after the busy weekend. But I can see the night is still alive even as the time is approaching midnite. I called up my friends who were patiently waiting for me at one of the noisy night café along that winding road by the seaside. I wish not to stop at any of them as they all seem artificial with all that neon lights, blinking lazily into the wee hours. I finally stopped at this café and as expected surrounded by the dim lights. There was a very annoying karaoke going on as I was trying to figure out what to order. I saw the table full with unfinished order so immediately I can smell some bad cooking skills from the kitchen. But it was a long drive and I was bit hungry that night so I just ordered whatever recommended. The sound from the karaoke session has not finished and it was so damn annoyed. I wish to be somewhere that this thing is banned altogether---so bloody useless. I don’t know about you but I like my meal in a serene environment so I can indulge into the taste and the conversation more thoroughly.

The event was very simple. They gave us a group of students and let us interact in whatever way we see fit to give some kind of advice or motivation. We spent the whole morning doing that and it was interesting to know them coming from various schools all over the country and different family background. For me it was very fruitful sessions and wish I could spend more time telling them all sort of stories. But I have a class that afternoon so have to rush back to Shah Alam.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My Last EMBA Seminar in Kuantan.

I wrapped up MIS subject for MBA students with feeling of unfinished and incomplete. So much to tell in so little time. The world of MIS has expanded and grown so fast in the last couple of years with the help of online applications and web services. So many issues to be reconsidered and reviewed in this new platform. I wish I could spend the day with endless time to discuss and digest the subject so they can really understand and appreciate it. I am really tired to go and spend my precious weekend to discuss something for the sake of the class alone; after which we go home empty and repeat the same thing again and again. My time is very special and I want to spend it for a worthy cause; for me as well as for others. I have a lot of this kind of weekend classes where students come once a week, like they come out of nowhere and expect a miracle from the lecturer to cast a spell on them so they can become knowledgeable. You know what…it does not work that way, learning is a long and daunting way of getting knowledge. Coming to the class on the weekends alone does not give you the right to be successful…it is the basic requirement for a part time student. Getting the best out of that two days , on the other hand , will grant every right to be successful. That would mean to DO your homework and getting as much information as you can prior coming to the class. Some students just don’t get it that way. For many coming to the weekend classes just like spending your free time doing some academic stuff with some friends away from noisy children. And by the end of it you will get a degree. It’s hard , I am sure, to give excuses after excuses for not attending the weekend functions or family gathering just to come to the class; but that is everything to a part-time student and we must make everybody to understand the situation. In fact that is the very commitment that you and everyone just like you have made before registering the subject. That important agreement must be upheld at all time. So how to be successful as weekend students ?
1) The most important part is to go to the class well-prepared. Take the day before to freshen up the last lecture or finish up that over due homework.
2) Lighten up the burden by doing group discussion. If you are married, let your spouse understand this and never miss your group meetings. Avoid meeting at the mamak stall, it just not the proper place for knowledge sharing. Book a classroom or meet at your friend’s office.
3)Show interest and participate in the class discussion. You will learn faster that way.
4)Ask questions honestly and in due respect of the lecturer. This will give an indication to the lecturer on how much the subject materials have been understood. He/she will adjust accordingly.
5)Be independent and try to study when you are not with the group. Spending a couple of hours before bedtime is a good habit.
6)Always make doa to Allah for the strength and perseverance in fulfilling your aim to be successful in your study.

The challenges are plenty and you will have a thousand reasons not to attend that class. In the end it is your choice. I wish all my EMBA students the very best and steadfast for that deserving rewards at the end .