Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Walk to Remember

Walking with my love in the morning is something for me to treasure. A walk followed by a short jog have become our routine for sometime now. It takes about an hour; so we have time to take the kids to school or wherever they need to go during this school break and make a quick dash to beat the punch machine. Yes my office is still using that old musical punch machine that gives you red for being late. It really  bothers me  but do it anyway for the sake of work ….whatever. I personally think it is ridiculous. The weather was perfect this morning; cool and quiet. The moon was still there when we started out; the full moon was barely visible before the sunshine took over for the day. It was really great to go out early in the morning and feel the freshness of the air. And more importantly to be alive to start another day in a long journey called life.

Walking ,in the UK for example, is a big deal. At first I did not really get it but as you heard the explanation it started to make sense. I mean it was something about their habit that then became a tradition to walk when the weather gets warmer especially in the Spring. They do the walking through the countryside sometime in groups. And when I tried walking in the Spring , it was really something. When all the trees get new leaves on and the landscape goes green, you can feel the joy and the excitement everywhere. And also during the long walk beside talking you tend to hit some stones with your stick and see who can hit the longest. Maybe that’s how golf came to the world. The history says that golf originated in Scotland; so that walking tradition might contribute to that in some ways. I mean people in the UK go to court for this walking rights. Some of them got summoned for trespassing a private land. They fought and won the case as the court found the path has been used for a long time (by their ancestors); so we are talking about a long tradition of Spring ritual. In the city they do the walking by means of parade. In Northern Ireland they fought to their death for this annual ritual.

So the phrase “ let’s go for a walk” that we can find in a movie or read in a novel has a bigger meaning to it. A therapy of some sort to have a private time together between two persons; mum /daughter, father/son, husband/wife etc. It is the time you slow down the pace of your life for a while. There is no need to rush just take one step at a time and enjoy the company. So beside the time and a partner, you also need a good environment; clean , green and settled. With our tropical climate it is easy to produce the green landscape but one thing that bothers me a lot is the rubbish and the dirty environment. The “tong sampah” are usually placed along side the path by the road side; and most of the time they are filthy beyond imagination. But not in Shah Alam where the environment is always clean and we respect the good habit by reminding ourselves, our kids and even our community to find a bin for the rubbish. Sadly in the other part of Malaysia where the town council is not in order or the attitude of the local community is not “good”, this thing still happens.

Anyway, maybe you think walking is trivial and old-fashioned, but try it anyway with your loved ones (like your mum/dad/wife) and treasure the moments that you will remember for the rest of your life.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Shiah : the old nightmare is back

Yesterday was 10 Muharram which was the Day of Ashura and a holy day in shiite calendar. So the raid happened at the cell center in Gombak and made the headline. I am sure the celebration was held all over the country. I read the news and my mind went all the way back to the early 80s when we went to a small town outside Wichita, Kansas to ‘save’ our friend. If I remember it correctly, it was Emporia,Kansas where a big number of Malaysian students had turned Shiite including my dear friend. It was kind of sad to see them pray like Iranians where they beat the lap three times to finish off the prayers or call out the name of ‘Ali’ during the azan. But they were secretive and we did not get any information about our friend that day. Back in Wichita we had two of the top Malaysian Shiite: Jalal and his friend J. Both them were married and lived reclusively with their own way of life. They learnt Persian just to translate Shiite books into Malay. I wonder if they have anything to do with the current movement in Malaysia. But actually the movement has been around for a long time. Remember last time they were arrested already for the same thing; but now the new generations have taken over and we can see small children have been taught to do the body-beating. My arwah uncle headed a cell group in Kota Bharu sometime ago. He kept a few pictures of Iranian leaders in the house and one time his “followers” came by his house for Raya. So as the house guests we mingled with them. They proudly talked about new cells coming up in Kelantan and Kuala Terengganu. I listened with a burning pain in my stomach but controlled myself to get the whole story. So the “growth” has been active for a long time.

Shiah spells trouble. Period. Whatever people say about it just stay away. The catching phrase is always “ shiah ni banyak jenis dan yang ni tak bersalahan dengan assunnah wal jamaah”. Once you believe in that, then that’s it. You are gone. May Allah

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"artificial" Singapore

Crossing over the causeway brought us to the land used to be our place. Not anymore—physically or otherwise. It has become so foreign even the resident seems to be out of place. An old balding Chinese man with shorts ,slippers and a plastic bag walking along a well-manicured pedestrian path with a sophisticated building at the background, so contrast of each other that I wondered if the connection between the two has lost. It seems that everything around this place is built for someone other than its own people. I followed the tree line as we move along the highway with the road signs displayed in English with some traces of Malay heritage. Maybe that’s all what is left from the yesteryears when the place was used to be our hulubalang playground. I wonder if that would also be of us in the future when Malay culture would become a heritage of some long lost tribes of the past. I refused the analogy to be refuted and justified. We are different, I assured myself of the circumstances. But how different? No good answer to that, I supposed. But to tell you the truth I don’t see anything here which is better than back home, nothing excited me and nothing to be looked up for. This place is so artificial that I would be rather living in my kampong than putting up with all this hiked-up modern city. I want to be in a place that I can call home. You know like my place in Shah Alam where I can go back , put my feet up and feel so “saved” at the end of the day. It’s not an “anjung seri” interior but it’s my place, my home.

But some people would go all the way furnishing their house with expensive sofas , magnificent dining table and luxurious decorations so to entertain the guests. Maybe that’s what happening in Singapore; everything is done for the guests not its own people. The locals are tucked into the flats and housing estates as if they are the shame of the country. I smiled for I have never been so proud of my country, Malaysia. We are doing alright. I noticed how the faces of the locals have become everything but their own. The Chinese, Indians, or Malays without race identity as if they have become a new race of the land----or given up as someone told them to. It happened during the colonial time, so I can accept that. It happened when you were in a foreign country. So we do out of respect. But why does it happen in your own homeland? The words “ slave of the states” keep flashing up without warning; but not sure whether that’s a good thing or bad. I guess they keep the colonial yard stick to this very day and read it like some kind of a holy book. Can you imagine to see a Chinese boy who could not speak a word of Chinese; and told the Chinese couple to read the instructions themselves. The instructions were obviously in Chinese. Within that boy I could see a new generation that has lost their heritage and done away with history. Maybe they want to let go the things of the past for it has brought back nothing but a painful reminder of the brutalities they endured to defend this land.

I moved on to see the fish, the big crabs, the sharks and the jelly fish. I waited for the dolphin show only to find the tricks were outdated (I saw that more than 25 years ago in LA). The seals were also as old as myself. I was bored to my stomach could not even have a mood to snap some photos.

Could not get into the Universal Studios because the tickets were sold out. But again I supposed all the rides were at least 10 years old. I left the place angry to myself…..fooled by the belief that my place is not any better than this one.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Filling up the long school holidays

Whether we like or not our life revolves around the school breaks. All of the sudden the roads seem empty and not as busy as they always do. And the kids are every where, doing nothing. They play along the busy road, waiting for the bus that is nowhere in sight or filling up the parks doing everything other than jogging. The rest would be sleeping at home.

My kids’ school break whereabouts will be as follows :

#1 : Away at the college until Dec. + her own trip visiting friends + BTN.Settled
#2 : Busy with SPM + PLKN. Settled.
#3 : still no plan; refuses any tutorial.
#4 : Math tutorial twice a week; Tun Uda Mosque program also. Settled
#5 : a one-month program at Tun Uda Mosque Shah Alam + swimming at weekends. Settled.

School break Trip : Singapore.

Hopefully by next week they will be fully occupied.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Beast, The Girls and The Arab Ladies

My new task as a Coordinator is getting dull and boring. For a few short months I was scolded , bitched and bossed around. At this age I think I could no longer have the energy to absorb, pretend nothing happened and things would get better tomorrow. At times I was stunned to know that “minah mulut tak ada lesen” really exists among us. They would smile at us in the morning, give that bitchin’ look right after lunch and attack you before the day ends. As the new kid on the block, I have tried to be nice and all but you know what I am getting tired of it. Tired of being nice already….hmm.. I guess my patience is running thin already. But you know one thing about me is that I am not good with the ladies. I don’t know how to be “a friend” to a lady. A relationship which is limited to a handful of vocabulary. No touching. No emotional attachment. You can see but you can never get it. I don’t know what has become of me because when I was a child I like to befriend girls and played what they play like hopscotch ( “dek chok” what we used to call it back in Kelantan) or “main selambut” etc. Too much of it until I became so “lembut” like the girls…or that was what they called me..well maybe the boys were so jealous of me I don’t know. But being called names was not good at all and I started to be like “boys” and all played “guroh” and looked for “buah getah” to collect and compete. So from then on a lady was a No-No. But now things are different. Sometime we made a decision and it is not on their favor and you get scolded, or even when the mistakes happened which was not your fault at all, you get scolded. For reasons that beyond your comprehension or common knowledge. Where did you get that, bitch?! I said…silently… myself. The rage in unbearable but I don’t want to lose my anger. I have been angry all my life and decided to do away with it already. A grumpy old man does not have a pleasant face at all. So I worked to control my anger and put it on a permanent leash. Many people from Kelantan especially, including myself, have this behavior….called “pongoh”—an explosive anger that will ruin civilization within its reach when it detonated. An ugly beast within the soul of a man that makes a man of what he is---so I believe.

During my recent Umrah trip, our Ustaz said to leave your anger at home and never bring it with you to Makkah. I pledged to myself that I will be a nice little boy and whatever circumstances there might be, I would not get angry. For the most part of the trip I was OK and the beast was under control. Then one time I was waiting for the elevator to get to my room for a bad grueling stomach ache like your ass was about to explode and shit all over the floor, a big-ass Arabic lady came along. I pulled the door open and looked at her. I did not ask her to go in but she went in anyway. The elevator was so small and she was sooo big I could not squeeze in for the ride. You know what.. I did not know Arabic so could not ask her to come out or argue of what happened. All I could do was to slam the door hard…too hard that the sensor broke and now the elevator could not go up. It kept still and opened the door. Now the lady was screaming at me and from what I could make out from her voice was that she was mad like hell. I heard the word “haram,haram” a thousand times. I let her in and now she’s bitchin at me and all. But I left my anger at home so I don’t know how to get angry. Quite frustrating.

In another incident, I was queuing for zam zam water at a fountain along the place of Saie in Masjidil Haram. The time was about 6pm which is less than an hour from Iftar. The crowd was getting bigger and bigger. I squeezed myself in and found a good spot. Then out of nowhere a lady cut in. A beautiful nice looking Arabic lady cut in front of me for the water. She was beautiful so I don’t see any reason for not being nice and courteous. I let her. So when her turn to fill up, she took out two small mineral water bottles. I said OK no problem what a nice lady. Then she pulled out from underneath one big-ass two gallons empty bottle to fill up. I said What?! Excuse me! You can’t do that miss it will take forever……. Apparently she did not speak English and said something back to me in Arabic. She sounded like a mad old lady right before a menopause. After that she called out her friends from the back to hand her their empty bottles so she can fill them up too! I was furious! Angry! But you see I don’t know Arabic, so there is no way to unleash my beast. I have no way to communicate my anger. I was so disappointed. I hate Arabic ladies…they maybe pretty but their mouth have no brakes, no attitude…(or “mulut tak de lesen”). In the end I got my zam zam water after all; but I learnt also to dislike a species that I admired so much!.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shockers Reunion 2010

It happened last Saturday Nov 13, 2010. What can I say ? Chaotic. Noisy. Deafening. Everyone was trying to say something all at the same time. I guess the 20-odd years being apart is just too much for everyone. Too many stories to tell, too many confusions to explain and too many wrongs to be corrected. We wanted to nod more than what to agree, or laughed louder to the jokes than what they deserve. Being friendlier than what it used to be. We missed each other a lot, I can say that for sure. I saw many familiar faces, some were not so familiar and a few that I never knew existed in Wichita. But it was great fun don’t get me wrong. It’s always good to know someone especially your old friends. Friendship binds people in a very unique way; transcends who we are and where do we come from. Sometime we depended on each other more than anything /anyone else. We learnt things with each other and from each other. Very often we made mistakes together and now realized how stupid we were to even been thinking about it. But as friends we did not get on each other’s back so to speak for the mistakes that we had done. We survived through it. For a few days after the reunion I was trying to absorb all in; putting every single face into my mental compartments and relate them with a story, now and then. I must say that I was speechless the other day; just did not know where to start and what to ask. A usual me that I think will never change. I just did not want to spoil things, that’s all.

Ironically, everyone does not change that much. The second look will see that old face again. The body gets blimp up here and there, of course, but basically I saw my Wichita friends like we always do day in day out some 20-odd years ago. The MC asked, What was your most memorable moment in Wichita?—a very hard question for me to answer because every single moment was so memorable to me. I talked about some of it here, here and here. I am indebted to each and everyone of you guys for being there in Wichita with me. Maybe after the excitement has settled down a bit, we could think of how we can help each other now. Or is it a little too late for that? I hope not. Having family and all plus the burden of keeping own self healthy, we can use all the help we can get.

But the important thing is that we have done the first step; and everybody seems to be happy. In the next event, if we could get a bit more people to join in, it would be another great success.

Behind those smiles and laughter ,we keep within our own little secrets. Maybe it was not time to revisit those secrets but when we do, we will be in another level of reunion- the one that redefines our present. But there is nothing to be afraid, it might be more fun than we thought.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The time we were …

 (posted by Azlynah Abu Bakar(sitting next left from the teacher) in FB)

Someone posted this picture in FB and I was stunned to find that most of the kids in there were my friends from Sek Rendah Sultan Ibrahim (2), Pasir Mas.The picture was taken around 1973-74. I guess it is a class picture from the school; ironically I could not find myself in that picture. I am very certain that I can identify most of them and they were my classmates but where was I ? maybe it was before I joined the class. I think they were from the batch one year older than me. During that time there was a program called “express class” introduced to give a chance for some kids to “skip a year” ( by doing 6 months year 3 and 6 months year 4)and took Penilaian Darjah Lima in the following year. I think in year 5 some of those kids were my classmates. But I like the picture because I want to show you the meanest teacher that I ever had---Mr Salim, that one sitting right in the middle of the picture ( I talked about him here and here). He had no reason to be so mean to the kampong kids in Kelantan who could not pronounce an English word like the Queen of England. It’s just not fair. I am not sure I like him much until this very day.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Day of Celebration

Today is Deepavali. Shah Alam is quiet as people taking the long weekend to go on a short holiday or balik kampong. I will be here as my kids will come back to Shah Alam for their short break. In fact I won’t be going away for while as long distant driving is no longer my cup of morning coffee anymore. Aging is catching up very fast; so my life has to slow down a bit. But today is the day of celebration, with the spirit of 1Malaysia we are happy for our friends. And that’s about it I think we should not go any further than that and join them in the festival. We respect what they are doing , happy with the occasion and let them do whatever that they have to do on this day. As a citizen of this country we owe everyone that much and try to avoid any conflict that might lead to something out of proportion. At the same time, there is a limit where we draw the line because we have our principle; as stated in the Qur’an :

1. Say (O Muhammad (Sal-Allaahu 'alayhe Wa Sallam)to These Mushrikûn and Kâfirûn): "O Al-Kâfirûn (disbelievers In Allâh, In his Oneness, In his angels, In his Books, In his Messengers, In the Day of Resurrection, and In Al-Qadar, etc.)!
2. "I Worship not that which You worship,
3. "Nor will You Worship that which I worship.
4. "And I shall not Worship that which You are worshipping.
5. "Nor will You Worship that which I worship.
6. "To You be Your religion, and to Me My Religion (Islâmic Monotheism)."

So it’s clear how to perceive this festive season.

I was married on Deepavali day some 20 years ago. The date has changed as it is determined by the moon; but with the mentioning of this day I would remember the occasion that has changed my life forever. When I got married, I promised to my wife that I would quit smoking. Easier said than done; so I learnt it the hard way. The first few weeks were the hardest. You can’t do it in an instant but still you want to keep your words to the lady. I was torn between love and lying. Every time the nicotine-craving came; the mouth drooled, the head spin like the wheel of fortune and you were drawn to the inevitable. I would sneak out like a teenager buying the loose cigarettes from kedai kopi and eased myself somewhere in a hidden place. That time I was in Dungun so the secret place would be the open beach at Telok Lipat or somewhere along that coast line. Sometime I rushed to my parent’s if we were back in Kelantan. My arwah Ayah smiled at me as I battled for the toilet from my brothers. I needed the smoke badly. Ayah said “jangan hilang punca kita kan orang laki!” meaning that to take control of your lady and smoke as you please. Don’t be a coward, full stop. It hit me like a brick. What has become of me? I asked myself. How long am I going to sneak around like this? Remember the pledge to quit smoking…so you will do this for the rest of your life if you have to. I reasoned with my inner thoughts. Once I visited a family during Raya and he offered me a puff. I don’t smoke, I said nervously. “Haah!”, he said sarcastically. With my bluish lips, no one will believe you are not a smoker unless you are an ass trying to play angel in front of your lady. I swallowed it bitterly. I did hang on to my words, although very thinly, until I was completely out of the woods. Now that after 20 years, the mouth still waters for the nicotine. But if I tried to smoke I could not even finish the second puff. The body has completely rejected the smoke.

The point is that quit smoking is not an easy task but it is possible. If you are serious about quitting than the first thing you should do is to get away from your “smoking buddies”. Run away from them as you run from a debt collector. But for men , friends are everything. That’s why the pledge to quit smoking cannot survive for long. But I did that with the help of my wife and my children; because they have become my new close friends.

The second thing is that you will gain some weight. This is also hard to accept. But I am happy with it; as you grow older you don’t really care that you have a big fat ass. Don’t let it drag for long though, work it out as you think that the weight is going out of control.

Overall the suffering and craving will be overcome by healthier body and fresher breath. You will be much more happier and contented.

Good luck if you are thinking of quit smoking. Do it today. Right now!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Art of Exam-Cheating

Now that the examination is in full swing; students are scrambling for anything that they can get their hands on to release the tension. Sometimes exam can be very stressful and for the unprepared desperation leads to a serious academic crime called cheating. It is a serious offense but for some it is just nothing. Because cheating maybe has been part of the learning process since the day they stepped into the classroom. For so many years I have been in this field, I encountered a lot of cheating cases. Even at one point our own lecturer who took a degree course was caught cheating in a final exam. Can you believe that your teacher was caught cheating red-handed? Unbelievable. In the end she got away with it—no harsh penalty. Anyway I list a few techniques here that have been favorite with the students; maybe there are other technique that I do not know of, please comment.

1. The note-smuggling technique

This is one of the classic case to serve your last minute preparation for the exam. We, the invigilator, do check each and everyone of the students coming into the hall but somehow the notes can be so invisible. I salute one effort at Inst Prof Baitul Mal where the students have to go through a body check before the exam. They really check each and everyone for anything suspicious. Usually the notes will go under the exam slip, strapped to the calculator or hidden inside the pencil case. But this technique is a kamikaze one because once caught you are dead, my dear. The notes will be a hard evidence of your mischief and will be used against you in the trial.

2. The long-neckers

This technique is awesome if you can find a good friend who is smarter than you. Sit him in front of you and signal him when the coast is clear. He would raise the answer booklet a bit and you just prolong your neck like a giraffe and get the answer. The invigilator could not do anything other than a good stare for you to stop.

3. The toilet-going

This is a serious step and students do it for the paper that is very important to pass. The notes will be left somewhere in the toilet and when the time comes; they will go for it. At one point this technique was very popular among students until UiTM has to come up with a procedure for going to the toilet. 1) they have to write down their name in a log book. 2) one of us has to accompany him to the toilet. Check whether the toilet is clear or not. So question like …adik nak berak ke kencing? not uncommon. See how pathetic the situation is when people are desperate and out of control.

4. The palm-top

This is to write everything on your palm. I don’t know how much you can put on that tiny little space; but it happened. Some was caught in the act. But the problem was how do we keep the is on the palm. Believe it or not, they photocopied the hand just to show that the notes were really written there.

5. The leg-painting

This one is where the notes are written in on the legs. They would excuse to the toilet and read it there.

6. The conspirator

This is a desperate case at one private college where the lecturer would go into the exam hall and guided the students on how to answer the exam. So stupid. That would mean everybody will have the same answer. That’s how we spotted the problem. An investigation was carried out and the students told the whole story.

7. The wireless talian hayat

This is the latest technique to use the handphone and a bluetooth speaker.He was caught in the act but everyone just could not believe what he has just pulled off.

But please remind yourself and your friends not to be so creative in committing crime. It’s not worth it. Be honest to your self for a change. Your effort will be blessed and your success will be much more meaningful.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thinking of Family and Friends

The rain came early this year. My concern goes out to family and friends in Pasir Mas, Wakaf Bahru and all over Kelantan. The heavy rain will come with devastating flood and agonizing days of glooming weather. I pray for their safety and strength. Flood is very common in Kelantan and the neighboring Terengganu as it is the end-of the-year event. But ironically I don’t see any massive effort to minimize its consequences. As if every year as fate has it, the people of Kelantan and Terengganu will face this disaster to wrap up the year. The rescue efforts will pop up during the prime time news bulletin to show some big people riding the speedboat like some tourists from a foreign country. But the people are used to all these and never expect anything more to come and give them a sincere help. We moved our cars, cows and other animals to the higher ground and hope for the best. That is our solution to the problem which is not very good at all but what else to do. They want to build a 100-storey building that costs billions of ringgit and despise the agony of the people; what a schmuck! This is one of the reasons why the people of Kelantan never trust those politicians from KL.

I was shocked to find out that my friend Abd Latif has passed away. He was my colleague in UiTM Dungun as well as my student in an MBA class. He was very friendly and easy to get along. May Allah accept him among the soleheen. Good bye my dear friend!

Yesterday we were delighted to receive the news that two of my colleague from FSKM have been promoted to professor. Prof Dr Nor laila and Prof Dr Azlinah Mohamad. What a great news! They both deserve the new title. Both of them work very hard and have contributed a lot to the academia. Congratulations!

Many of my friends are also going for hajj.Alhamdulillah. It’s not an easy thing to do so being chosen to have such opportunity is very lucky. Many of them are among the million Muslim converging in Mecca. They will go and come back with thousands of tales and stories. But the most important thing is whether they learn from all those stories.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hari Ini

Hari ini
minda gemuruh kembali tenang
jiwa gelora kembali reda
laluan mula menampak
faham kembali menapak
yang kusut telah terurai
membuka seribu maksud
melerai pelbagai soal
menjawab sehimpun tandatanya
luasnya ilmu Tuhan

Hari ini
ceria melambai pergi
sepi mula bertamu dihati
tawa pun telah dibawa lari
dalam menangis banyak riang ria
menghibur hati yang gundah
mencuit dan mengusik
untuk terus mendakap
hidup yang pahit ini

Hari ini ...
Lega belabuh di kaki langit
Bahtera KAD meninggal pergi
Bersama peti ilmu nya
Melambai dengan seribu harapan
Manggapai sejuta impian
Hari ini berakhir dengan indah sekali

Kursus Audit Dalam InED-1/2010
Hotel UiTM
Shah Alam

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hajj – the time to reconcile with your Lord

LabbaikaALlah humma mala bbaik

Labbaikala shari kala kala bbaik

Innal hamda wa ni’mata lakawal mulk

La shari kalak

And the recital goes on and on, from millions of people converging to Makkah al mukaramah for thousand of years; including maybe you and me.

1. If you are one of the many Malaysians going this year then alhamd. Shukor, you are about to go on the greatest journey of your life. Maybe you have gone to London, Paris or Tokyo; but believe me, this one is different. How different? Well you have to experience it yourself. Making a niat to go for Hajj has always been very difficult. It is true that people say the first step is always the hardest. You think of who will replace you at the office, who will pick up your children from school, who will feed your cat or water your plants. If your mum or dad or your sister knew about the intention then they will come even before you can make that call. So most of the time it will be settled; the house, the kids, cats and plants will be taken care of. Then your inner thoughts will come and haunt you at the end of the night. Am I ready to become a “haji”? a word associated with an old man who has nothing else to do in the world other than waiting for his death! Do I have to give up my weekend trip to a karaoke joint or late night with an old friend or nick a chick for a midnight drive? Evil thoughts that make life so “interesting” start to colour your niat. If that bothers you then it’s time to sit down and seek answers from Allah. No one can answer that for you if you really want to make this trip worthwhile. There is no point to go there because everyone goes and now it is my turn. But no worries mates!, if you really have a pure intention to go, Allah will give ways InsyaALlah.
2. Hajj is a very physical exercise and demands stressful commitment so go while you are strong and healthy. We never know when we will fall sick or become poor so grab the opportunity fast while you are at it. Not much we can do when the knees are no longer strong, or the eyes are losing sight.
3. Someone said that he has everything already the car, the big house, wonderful family and fantastic career; whatelse do you ask for during haj? Well what about a healthy soul for a change! The one that know who the Lord is, that we are the creation that will return to Him someday and afraid of His Judgement Day. Indeed that is what the haj is for….a spiritual reconciliation with the Lord to beg forgiveness and “redha” for this life and the life hereafter. That would be the time and place to do so….start from the Wukuf in Arafah until the end of haj.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Signing in from my new office

The world does not have to know but I do have a new office now and loads of unbearable tasks and responsibilities. Assumed a position as a Coordinator in InED (Institute of Education Development)---the place where people take long distant learning, night classes and franchised programs. I am into that franchised programs at the private colleges around the country. This new office is nothing fancy at Intekma Resort but being with new colleague and new environment is quite fascinating. Not sure whether my appointment here is a good thing or a “cold storage” deal. But I have started to feel as cold as the Siberian weather. You know when people are not keen of you too much they have a habit to send you off to a far far away land so you don’t bother them anymore. And this place is quite far away from the faculty. But I’m gonna be positive and happy with this new place.

I will be looking after the programs from my faculty running in three private colleges : Kolej YPM KL, Institut Baitul Mal and Unikop. The total number of students is less than 100 so I am OK as it is quite manageable. However, in addition to that I also have to monitor subjects from FSKM ( my faculty) taken by all programs in all franchised colleges……that really sucks because they have already given me a headache. They are scattered all over the country and have all sort of problems; and the most serious one is a high failing rate. Most Math subjects are potential trouble makers. But work in this position is mainly administrative---meaning, you have to smile a lot and know how to play politics. Nothing technical, so it is quite daunting. I guess it is time to dust off the bow and sharpen the arrows as the hunting season is about to start. Have you ever been hunting? Neither am I but I went fishing sometime ago, it’s the same thing. Going into this new post is like going hunting or fishing, at the end of the day what counts is how many birds have you got in the basket. At the end of the day can you deliver or not? Can you do the job or not?
Sometime we don’t know what are we supposed to do ( due to whatever reasons…) and that leads to in competency and unreliability. That’s not fair because most of the time it is not our fault, but one has to be aware of this thing and see when it is coming. So this few weeks would be my time to reopen my old chest box , flip through the age-old manual and see if I could pull a rabbit out of the hat once again.

But the sad thing is to be pinned to the desk from 8-5 again. That’s the curse that comes with this package and I am not used to it. Still struggling like a “ cacing kepanasan”.Been thinking of all sort of excuses to get out… but again, for what? I think by now I know how to be a good “servant”---truthful to your duties and serve your subjects well. Anyway, let me settle down, know my office mates and what have they. I will join their Jamuan Raya later this week , bring over my wife’s signature dish---nasi dagang and see if I can fit in or not.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Melakar Destinasi Cinta

Dalam dakapan cinta
Dari dua insan
Yang saling bercinta…mak dan ayah
Biarpun perit dengan hidup
Biarpun pahit mengunyah masa
Walau tanpa kata dan ucap
Cinta tetap ku rasa
Menusuk hati dan jiwa
Melakar tinggi bak mentari senja

Dicabar dengan cinta
Menagih dan merintih
Dari insan yang penuh luhur
punya hati yang bercahaya
Cuma untuk bekalan
Bila sunyi datang menyapa
Pada hujung malam
Buat teman bermimpi
Untuk hari esok…yang penuh dengan janji-janji
Tapi buatku….cinta hanyalah tipudaya
Merobek segala harapan

Masih dilindungiNya
Untuk terus bercinta
Dengan isteri dan anak2
Yang mengajar sabanhari
Akan erti cinta
Akan kata cinta
Akan ucap cinta
Indah sungguh anugerah Ilahi
Pada cinta dan yang dicintai
Megah tersangkut pada hati
Bak mata kail menagih mulut haruan
Makin disentap, makin merobek naluri

Sungguh bertuah, alhamdulillah
Dengan cinta ini
Ku belai dengan kasih
Ku usap dengan sayang
Inilah hartaku, dunia dan akhirat
Tiada lagi yang lain
Kan ku genggam bara cinta ini
Biar sekali ia membakar

Ku siram cinta ini
Dengan airmata
Pada malam-malam yang sunyi
Dalam sujud dan qiam
Agar dilindungi oleh Nya
Adakah cinta ku sama dgn cinta para rasul
Adakah cinta ku sama dengan cinta para sahabah
………para solehin wal muqorrobeen
Adakah cinta ku layak di persada jannah Mu
…sebagai cinta orang yang soleh

Ya Rabb
Suburkanlah cinta ini dengan iman dan taqwa
Lindungilah cinta ini dari kekufuran
Redhakanlah cinta ini untuk syurga mu
……almakwa wal Firdausi
Agar dapat kami bercinta …
Untuk selamanya
Ya rabbul masyriQain wa rabbul maGhribain

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Merdeka Minds

Our forefathers fought and died in the war so we can live as a proud and free nation today. Every time I tried to put myself in their shoes, I will get goose-bumps, a chill in my bones. But that was the reality of life back then. They could have to let it go and enjoyed the “cooperation” with the foreign bastards; some did and some did not. I will celebrate the day for those who did not; like Tok Janggut. He was labeled terrorist by the Bastards, hunted down and hung upside down in Kota Bharu for everyone to see. No record of protest was ever mentioned by anyone during that time; thus he was truly believed by all as a terrorist and deserved to die. Maybe people were too weak to show any protest. We believed the Bastards and our coward leaders trusted the Bastards as they drove the brutal Japanese out of Malaya. And that was how we gained the freedom by sucking up to the Bastards. Freedom washed up to our shore so cheaply. The blood of our forefathers was tolerated in a negotiation in London. Are we truly free from the Bastards? We never wanted to ask that question because we are afraid of the answer. Our mind, our action even our life in one way or another are chained to the Bastards. If I were to live back then I would hopefully be one of the fighters, running around with parang or golok to chase the Bastards away from my kampong. But I was born after the war and all I could ask is why didn’t we fuck the war with the Bastards? WHY? History is there for us to learn and take lesson; not to suck on it for reasons to be contented. For some war is a crime; but if you look at it again, war is the implementation of your struggle (pengisian satu perjuangan). So if you never struggle for anything then war seems to be so far off; just like a man born on a silver plate will never understand a struggle to fight hunger or poverty. My father told me that when the Japs landed at Pantai Sabak and traveled the dusty road by their bicycles through the kampong ; he and his friends would cheered them like we cheered the LTDLangkawi race teams coming through our towns. The difference is that the same Japs would comeback and brutalized his kampong later on. All the horror stories during the war that we heard came to reality. He was in tears when recalling all those times to show his deep sense of fear and agony. The struggle of Tok Janggut was genuine but the Bastards painted it otherwise. When I passed the place where Tok Janggut was hung upside down near Masjid Muhammadi, my mind would stop thinking to let my body feel the whole scenario. The ignorance. The fear. The showcase of death. The Bastards. And the Suckers who fed the Bastards.

It was the time our people searched for their dignity, pride and values. I am not sure whether we really have got it or not but we are consistently being labeled as a lazy race who prefers to “negotiate” our ways instead of fighting for what is right to us. The minds are still “chained up” with bitter memories of the past and has slowed down our pace. Freedom is to let go the chains and be the one race that defines itself. For better or worst.

Happy Merdeka Day folks!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Bizarre Teaching

Some teachers would do anything, weird or otherwise, just to get the message across. The young ones especially often lack in confidence that he/she is in charge in the class and everyone must listen to him/her. This brings out some bizarre way of teaching which sometime unbelievable. Maybe some of us can relate to this as we also might have gone through it during our schooling days. And that’s some 30 over years ago; but believe it or not the same method still exists today. Why do you think that students behave strangely stubborn or brutal? towards their friends or even teachers?....because some teachers still believe in canes and canings. this is largely happening in sekolah agama/maahad tahfiz. Never underestimate the school whenever you drop off your sons/daughters to experience such learning. During my primary school; way back in standard 2 or 3, I had an English teacher and he was really an ass. I think he’s from Penang so you know how he should look like. He would come in and taught us some strange language that we could never relate with. We all tried of course, just to avoid his “pelempang”. He would stick his tongue out like a dog and spank us like a fly on your dirty dinner table. And “us” meant the boys who pronounced the Queen’s word of English as one of the Kelantan’s; and that included yours truly of course. I could smell his perfume and would get traumatic all over again whenever I sensed it today. I don’t know the brand name but I still could recognize the smell. See how sad the impact can be on a child? He could rot for all the rats, and see if I care! For the girls, he would be gentle and soft….well that’s understandable but for this teacher he would go a step further and called up those who were “weak” to his desk. He gave personal lesson while his hand went up and down caressing the girls’ behind in front of the class, right there and then. We did not know it was wrong…because teachers are always right, right! Duh!

Anyway, when I started teaching at ITM, bizarre teaching surfaced every now and then. I went by a class one time and saw some of the students standing on the chairs and some on the tables. Can you imagine a 20-year-old standing on a table? He could reach the ceiling. I mean, was that some kind of punishment? For what? They were old enough to have their own kid and you asked them to stand on a table. Unbelievable. Another one would ask his student to bring “satu bungkus nasi lemak” for him every time during the class. And he would eat it in front of the class. I saw him and could not believe my eyes. He is now a popular Prof on Era FM.

I have my own thing during my early days of teaching which I feel so bad whenever I remember it. In one class I announced a pop quiz. Please take out a piece of paper and don’t move your head around. The question was : draw me. Yes I asked my students to draw me. Now what in the world learning has to do with that? But they all did it alright with some odd shapes and sizes. I even put them up in a notice board for the selected ones. That was really a useless piece of teaching crap.

So remember teachers out there….do have fun teaching but at the same time teach your students something! Something useful for their future..their life.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

20 years with UiTM

Today I celebrated my 20 years with UiTM…without candles or cake; just me with my thoughts. It does not matter really, what is there to celebrate anyway just 20 years of your life. I am sure none of my colleague is aware that I have been there for such a long time. But for me it is a big deal. I am proud of myself for being here and make myself useful. I have done something for other people, teaching and stuff. I feel good at that for myself.

Looking back when I was fooling around in KL finding teaching jobs here and there, I remember filling up the application form for a teaching position at UiTM(formerly known as ITM). Back then teaching in ITM was not highly sought after. The pay was so ridiculously low and you would risk yourself being sent away to the place where civilization was unheard of. Like Dungun, in Terengganu. Are you ready to go to Dungun? they asked me, we have one opening there in computer science. I said, why not?! So naïve despite the fact that I have no idea where in the world is Dungun. So I rented a taxi to go there with all of my stuff. It cost me rm250 to reach there. With the endless stories from the taxi driver, the ride was not as boring as I expected. I could not remember how I put up for that first night in Dungun but ended up sharing a rented house with a gay man. I mean this guy was really gay; later I found out he has a boyfriend and went off to see him every so often. He never came on me; thank god for that, maybe I was not his type. But life in Dungun back then was very simple and quiet ( another way of saying that it’s damn boring and out of reach from civilization) but I don’t have a heart to say that because deep down inside I liked it there. Maybe I’m a boring person, I got that from some people. But for me the place was easy to connect with because when things got so bad on you , just head to the beach, sit down and let the wind blow your problems away.

UiTM Dungun was also as primitive as the town itself. I mean a remote cawangan of a big institution should not be left out like that; but sadly that was the case. We had to lined up at 8 in the morning to print a quiz or handout for the day’s class. Can you imagine only one printer for the staff to use? Well that was 20 years ago, yep you right must put yourself in the right time frame. Now we have a printer for every lecturer---a laser printer that is. But somehow I managed. At one point in a computing class, I brought a bunch of computer games floppy disks and made the class free so everyone can grab a game and has a feel of utilizing computer. No one interested and left me standing alone in that lab, shocked. I mean I would do anything to blast an enemy in that shooting arcade but no one here really cared, so unbelievable.

In another class, a programming subject, I expected a work done before hand. A simple programming assignment that you have to do before coming to the class, and no one had put an effort to do it. I was so furious. “Get OUT”, I yelled at the top of my voice, sending everyone home. I had never done that before but that day I was holding my last straw. I just could not tolerate such irresponsible behavior. Soon after I received a show cause letter to explain the incident. The students claimed I used a foul language in the class. They heard me saying “Get the Fuck OUT”. So I replied the letter and explained to the boss what had happened. I learnt the lesson not to be “over”- enthusiastic in teaching. You do whatever you are asked to do, within the time given, according to the syllabus and that’s it. Just leave the “ mendidik anak bangsa” crap at the motivation camp that you attended every now and then. Looking at those times, teaching for me is not for the students or other people, it is mainly for myself. I teach others so I can learn more and understand better.

One day I scrambled for a ride home to Pasir Mas. Since I hadn’t had my own wheels, I had to compete with students for the bus, and not many buses are coming through Dungun during those days. Students were going home for the Deepavali break but I was going home to get married. I made a quick stop at the ATM machine and withdrawn my gaji which will be the mas kahwin. My family was stunned, “mu nak nikoh guano gak kito mano ada pitih?” (how are you gonna get married? We don’t have the money…” my mum said. I gave them 200 ringgit. And truly enough that was the money spent for my wedding plus that some gaji for the mas kahwin. Borrowed a baju Melayu and songkok from my brother, put on my sneakers and off I went to the ceremony. It was at night so no one should notice anything. My brother bought some kueh with that 200 ringgit and served the rombongan that came over that night. I wanted it to be simple and it did not intimidate my joy and pride for being a married man at all. But the rombongan was not happy as expected. I am okay with that. People talked and said nasty things but it did not bother me at all because I was the one getting married and that’s all I could afford. So my married life began. The bitter sweet memories for the last 20 over years with my own family have also helped me to remain in UiTM and to wade through the challenges.

One thing about my colleague in Dungun was that they gave you space for you to draw your own path and destiny. I learnt a lot from them about all the nuts and bolts in this line of work. How to build your life along the career line so you can enjoy both of them effortlessly. I held many posts there but never complained of anything; I guess as a young man any shortcoming is seen as a challenge to face---so shut up and face like a man. I also am trying to remember if I made any enemy for all the years I was there; just could not figure out if any at all. Amazing isn’t it. But that was the life we had in Dungun. So pure, so human. The kampong folks around Dungun also lived a simple life. We could see people sitting together under the shade in between the coconut trees to escape the afternoon sun; as if waiting for something. Maybe nothing. In late afternoon we would not miss going to the beach and bought some fish from the sampan. They sold by the scoop; 1-2 ringgit per scoop( a five-liter cooking oil bottle). Not a particular type of fish but mixed/unsorted lot. And actually that was what they eat at the dinner table—the fish fresh from the ocean; can you get more original than that? I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to live as such. But now we could no longer see such sampan coming offshore with boatful of fish. They have stalls now along the beach selling the fish and all sort of seafood…with a much higher price. I will stop by every now and then on my way back to Shah Alam for that fresh fish, crabs and big squids whenever they are in season.

The first five years was the time I started to build my family as well as my career. It was not easy but you learnt the lesson along the way. My first car was a Nissan Sunny. I paid an insurance with it that was never there—the policy had never arrived. So I drove that car back and forth for a year with no cover whatsoever. I did not realize it until one day I hit a bunch of buffaloes. The car was a wreck and I tried to make a claim. How could people cheat like that? Unfortunately the broker was my own colleague. So sad come to think of it. In UiTM, I was doing the regular stuff during that time---teaching and a lot of training beside some occasional admin duties. I started one big research back then about SME in Terengganu. This research had set me apart and given me a chance to win a scholarship to the UK.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I left My Heart In Trolak

I received the letter with a heavy heart
The word “team building” was written so boldly
Like a decree from the heavens
Sending you to hell
hate team-building, my little heart told me
had been through it so many times
just too old for that now
so I searched for reasons
like many of us ….reasons not to come
nothing there, as if I was looking for a cookie in an empty jar
finally gave up and turned in the reply
I ticked “hadir” and looked away
As if I’d regret it later on

I am now glad I came
Saw old faces with new smiles
Old jokes with new laughs
Battered soul rejuvenated
And …
I saw new faces…intimidatingly young and energetic
Vibrant and dynamic
Fragile and naïve
Made me forget
How long I’ve lived this life
For another day… I am me again
Fresh and free
Unleashed……from the sacred wall of authority
We share the same laughter
Hallowing at the stupid jokes again
Life seems easy and fun

The horse-shoe line we made that night
Made me feel so guilty
For stepping over my elder brothers and sisters
For whatever reasons
In whatever circumstances
The invisible hierarchy of hope and respect
I will remember that …..

I wish the night would not end
So I could see the brilliant smiles again
Hear that big laughter once more
Or make that sound of chicken, cow & cats again

Do I have to go back ?
To the papers, reports and documents
to the never-ending miseries
Facing the monsters and the dragons…
The lions and the tigers …..
It’s not fair, isn’t it?
But life is never fair ….
The memory of this night
Would make me fresh and warm again
For a promise of better days ahead ….

So I left my heart there …
As a reason that someday
I’d go back and pick up
All the memories and the laughter
And smile one more time …….

Marilah kita merungkai segala yang kusut
Menjernih minda yang malap
Mereda hati yang gusar
Membetul niat dan rasa
Agar hari dan masa
Diberkati dan direstui olehNya………

8231 Ixora4
Felda Residence Trolak
27 June 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

I am a teacher

When I was little
I saw my teacher everyday
Happy, angry, fed-up, bored down
Little I know the subject they taught
Just a routine stuff for me to do
Finish the homework
or meet a monster called pontianak
Day in, day out
I used to tell myself…...or others to me
To study hard for better future
Until I grew up wanted to be one
I practiced to write on the board
Like my teacher did
I practiced to hold the rotan right
So everyone will fear me
I practiced to speak out loud
So they can hear me
That day on
I knew my destiny
To be a teacher

They come into the class
With tight jeans and sleepy eyes
Make me wonder where were they last night
Talking to the moon and the stars
To fill the sleeplessness
Hiding behind the darkness
For actions beyond reasons
Howling the laughter
Through the night with no end
I sat to ponder
My role in this insanity
Can I look beyond the spikey hair?
Or pull up that bum-exposing pants…..
Maybe clean up that black-marker-dirty nails
Oooo I really want to snatch down
...that ugly-tangling earring from that boy
and that black-devilish lips ...whatever
so they can see and hear
with their hearts and souls
what I have prepared last night
yes I am a teacher now
teaching the unknowns to the unwanted
I lost for words
Or tricks to play
So they will be entertained
But we are no clowns
With blobby nose and big ears
I sat to contemplate
My role in this mad world
Where learning is a strange word
Pretending to sit and listen
Just to wait
For the hour to pass
For the day to turn dark
So they can talk…..
To the moon and the stars again
And smile to the darkness
That will hide their secrets
….from reality

To all teachers,
Remember our pledge
To mould and to nurture
The buds that will bloom
And color the horizon
Like rainbows ……
A flash of hopes and promises
To remind our roles
Despite the insanity, ungratefulness
So one day
They can stand tall
And paint the sky themselves

    Usah dikira wang dan ringgit
    Usah dikira keringat yang menitis
    Usah dihitung masa berlalu
    Anak-anak sedang menuggu
    Untuk belajar dan berbicara
    Tentang hidup dan kehidupan

    Jadilah kita bak pepohon
    Menghijau dan melata
    Meneduh dan melindung
    Insan-insan dari perit kehidupan
    Moga dedaun kan terus merimbun
    Untuk seribu tahun lagi

Yes, a teacher…....for eternity.
Happy Teacher’s Day folks!

shah alam

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Remembering May The 13

When they went riot in KL, I was just a little boy; trying to find out what the old people were talking about. As I remember it, we never went into hiding or ran into the jungle or anything like that. The kampong was safe and sound; and I went about as usual to buy my favorite ice cream from kedai ah seng, as I recall it vividly. I grew up without any bad connotation of the May 13, as perceived by some of my uncles and aunties. I never knew the differences among us only people with different names and attitudes. I had a Chinese headmaster with his fat daughter, Chinese and Indian English teachers that got drunk every other day and an awesome Sikh friend named Balbir Singh. They were all people around me during my primary school(SIS(2), Pasir Mas, Kelantan,1972) which was not that far from May 13 1969. I guess in Kelantan race has never been an issue just because we are simple folks living a simple life.

But now I know life is not that simple anymore. Differences do divide us apart; among kampong folks, local community, larger society and even a nation. In America, the society has been deeply segregated for decades and the struggle towards equality between races had exclaimed with assassinations and intimidations. “I’ve got a dream, I’ve got a dream ……” shouted Martin L King to kick off civil right movement that gave birth to new America. I think it is the best manifestation of “dream” to represent constant struggle that draws a path for the future generations. Can we dream for a peaceful Malaysia? Can we dream as well to see the Malays united under one flag? Can we dream of UMNO and PAS to unite for the survival of the Malays? … or is it too far from reality ? I guess they are trying but it’s like a sand castle that is washed away every time the wave comes to shore. Well maybe the sand castle has not been built yet and both parties have already talked about the windows and the kitchen cabinet . From my less than 2sen thought, both sides are lacking honesty. You can’t pretend to be honest and ask the other party to come and join your dinner. The history has been so bitter that any move, from both sides, deems to have hidden agenda. But politics make life even more complicated; that’s why I keep myself away from politics. Politics is about doing things your way; not the right way. You defend your principles and want things to run your agenda but that’s not necessarily the right way.

I dream for a society that values tolerance and understanding. I don’t want to give up my lifestyle for the sake of harmony; neither do you or anybody else. You keep your things and I keep mine. But we need to understand each other and when things crossed, we tolerate. That’s not hard , isn’t it?

When I was abroad during my study, people were very skeptical about me as I come from Malaysia. They heard stories about the Chinese being deprived of their rights and the Malays getting all the bounties. So it was hard as these people were our own lecturers and international students’ officers. But we managed and survived with the help of our own Malay brothers and sisters to attend our needs. When we experience such difficulties due to our nature of being a Malay; then the hostility began to emerge and gave birth to a deep sense of hatred. I pray to Allah for such senses to go away and out of my life.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mak! - my Mother

My mother is still strong and healthy for her age. Mak is 68 this year. Her hearing is going away now and we have to shout when talking to her. I don’t like to shout because I will shout only when I am mad. And when I am mad the world will go upside down. So in the house when Abah shouts everyone will go into hiding including the little kittens. But anyway, I have little chance now to go back and visit Mak very so often: I would call my sisters and brothers to find out about Mak. She raised all twelve of us quite successfully. With little skills she has, life had been very difficult. But alhmadulillah we are all very grateful to her and love her very much.

My love to you …
could not be spelled in words
or calculated in numbers
or valued in dollars and cents
or weighed in kilos
because your love to us
your life spent and sacrifice
far beyond
any worldly measures
may your name carved
on the heaven’s gate
taste the water of al kauthar
meet the beloved prophet
and receive the blessing from the Lord

Now I know the meaning of life
When aging is catching up
The knees tremble without warning
The joints squeak with every move
The walk is longer than ever before
The eyes scramble for a focus
And the loneliness that comes day and night
The stare over the horizon
Brings the promise of hopes
for my children, your grand children
could they run and chase the rainbows ?
as you ran with me when I was little
now I know where the tears came from
that ran down your cheek
every time when I asked my school money
it was not there, was it?
So you made a quick dash to the neighbor’s
For 20 cents to accompany me to school
I pray to Allah for forgiveness
For such troubles that made you sad
For every tear drop to be your good deeds
…and the key to the heavens

I dreamt of arwah Ayah a lot
He seemed happy
He gave me a smile
I remember his last days
When you cared for him…night and day
For the sickness that strange to us
For the pains that never went away
It was hopeless…but you never gave up
We were confused…but you showed us
…that love was never meant to be understood
For better or worst….you assured us that
….he was our Ayah
To love and cherish until his last breath
….when Ayah collapsed on your laps
The morning that we lost him…forever
I know you love him very much….we all do
I truly miss him a lot
Hope my du’a is answered
For him to rest in peace
The dream is a reminder…maybe
That death is close…to us, you and me.
So we should be more prepared….to meet the Lord

Today I want to tell the whole world
That my mother is awesome!
The best mom in the entire world
And we are blessed…
To have your hopes and prayers
As the wind…beneath our wings
Flew us high beyond our expectation
Took us to places we never dreamt of
Gave a good life

……..thanks Mak! we are good now…….

Read my other tributes for Mother's Day here and here

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Defining Moments of my Life

Living in Wichita in the early 80’s has indeed defined my life in many ways. It was the prime time of my adolescence and come to think of it, right now, I feel the details of those moments have later on become a big chapter of my life. But the life I was living back then was as flat as the land of the Midwest itself. There was nothing extra-ordinary to it but being in the strange land surrounded by strange people carved a strange character without much effort. I learnt a lot of things over there, well, since that time of your life you started to know many things , of course you must experience a lot of learning. The thing that I treasure until this day is the part when I learnt how to choose and make decision on my own. Somehow you have to because of you living away from your parents and what not. I made a lot decisions and lived with the consequences of what I have decided. Sometime there were good decisions but mostly there were plain stupid, so I thought. When I look back OMG why did I do that, or that? But hey who cares! I have survived through that you know. I learnt how to drive although my car was sitting there parking most of the time. It was an old Mazda RX-7. When my friend Azmi wanted to buy his car I kinda ask him to buy one for me. Just like when you know a friend going travelling you kinda ask him to buy you a cool t-shirt. It was like that and the car cost me 400 dollars. But the car broke down most of the time; I changed the exhaust system once for 400 dollars and still it could not run as well as it should be . Bad decision. Once I drove it to the mosque for a maghrib prayer and hit a sign post . That was the end of it; I just left it there by the road side and the next time I passed by, it was towed away. I had a Ford Fiesta once; nice little car that I paid for 700 dollars. It ran better than my other cars and used it to drive everywhere during that summer. I brought Abdul fatah to test drive the car when I wanted to buy it but I spoilt the negotiation. He was furious. Someone told me that these people prefer cash buy(well who doesn’t, duh!) so right away I offered him cash well before Abdul fatah said anything. Why did you ask me to come along if you want to do that? He was obviously upset. I felt bad and it was really stupid of me; I could get the car for a lot less. Another lesson for me, don’t rush into things.

Love life. Well that was the time when everybody else was having a good love life except me ( and a few other losers like me..hahaha). It did not bother me that much actually because I did not know how to anyway. I found fun and laughter with the guys until sometimes I wondered if I was gay. The AIDS disease was found in 83-84 so I just came to know what “gay” means. But to manage love life (or sex life) was really a daunting task for me. So I just let it go without putting much effort into it.

Read about my other recollections here and here.

Academically, it was hard as well. But Alhamd I manage to get through. I learnt Computer Science without knowing how great the technology will be later on in life. I did programming by punching holes in a card; so ancient that my student could not imagine how. So you carried a round a stack of cards in your bag? Heck yes! And imagine also if that stack of cards fell off and scattered all over the place; you would be devastated. But I persevered and dragged my self one semester after another, only to know later in life that programming skill is the lifeline of my career. I also struggled with English (read here!) but later on came to love the language; and now I will never let it go. Everyday I will write in English and brush up my grammar as well as vocabs. I’m still sometime confuse between “is” and “are”, the active and passive verbs etc but the beauty is that the language is so rich and vast you won’t get to the end of it. But in the end I did not make good grades just a pass. I felt nothing to cherish or to shout out loud; I did not bother to attend the convocation. What the heck for?

And in the summer of 1987 Ahmad Azhar Wagiran and Mazlan(thank you guys!) drove me to Peoria ,IL for my grad school. Another exciting chapter of my life was about to begin.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Young Breed vs an Old Stallion

I am not much of a political analyst but the by-election in HS is something different. A unique fight for democracy ( read dirty-slimey-smug-of-political-ass-kicking-back-stabbing) led by two interesting faces from a diverse spectrum of Malaysian people as in Kamalanathan and Zaid Ibrahim. One is a fresh face with an awesome character and honesty in every word he uttered and another is a charismatic lawman that seems to have the world at his feet. Honestly I like them both because they represent the new Malaysia that my children will grow and raise their family in the future. Their faces , ideas and thoughts spell a big word of tolerance, honesty and liberty. The parties they represent however, are still struggling to make themselves relevant to the people. In a lot of ways, these two political hopefuls are also daunting the task to cleanse and rebrand the old and dirty look of their respective party. But that’s another story altogether.

Now the character shooting is taking place; and it seems that Zaid is ducking a lot of bullets that are coming his way. He seems cool and collected in not denying any of them. It is good to know though that he is one rich fella with a taste of high life. And for Kamalanthan…well someone is digging into his past I am sure and they should do it fast as time to the poll is getting closer. Come this Sunday the people of HS will decide which one of the two will suit them well. For I me I would like to have someone who is fluent in law of the land to represent me in Parliament. I don’t know nothing regarding the law, the constitution, the policy that govern this country ;so I want a good hand to represent me in the Dewan---and that’s really the purpose of having an elected rep in the Dewan. And clearly we can see right a way which one is a good choice---and hopefully the people of HS will know and pick the right one. That’s really all…the other surrounding issues are irrelevant and only serve to spice up the election. And we all like that very much; listening to fiery speech talking nonsense about what the others are doing badly.

I would like to see our fellow Malaysians assess the thing rationally rather than emotionally. See the hard facts rather than rhetoric inuendos….it’s no longer a game but our future. Best of luck to both candidates!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Time for Presentations

With the semester is about to come to an end; mostly all lectures have ended with a few loose ends left to tighten up. And that’d better be the final presentations otherwise someone could be in a lot of trouble. In UiTM the final exam is well under way; you can see that as most of the streets and meeting places in Shah Alam are almost deserted because most of these people are nursing their splitting headache waiting for their turns to face the music in the examination hall. You can have fun some of the time ,babe, but not all the time. And this is one time that you have to prove once and for all that your existence is worth the while; prove it to your self, most importantly. But I am not gonna talk about examinations this time but the one that is less stressful---the presentations.

We use presentations as one of the assessment tools to measure how effective the learning has been for the students. In fact, it has been used so often in a lot of subjects I was worried that we would produce more ‘talkers’ than ‘doers’. The trend has started to show up as the materials for presentation have become easily available and students are getting comfortable talking and telling us what they would do rather than showing us what they have done. Most of them will get away with unfinished systems and poor presentations due to lack of proper assessment and lopsided evaluation criteria.

The most disturbing part is to sit there and listen to dull and boring presentations one right after another; almost like the same presentations over and over again. More disappointing are the ones coming from postgraduate students. The language is upside down with grammars and pronunciations are all over the place. If the language is difficult for you why can’t you spend a bit more time double check the grammar or the spelling of the words that you are going to shoot on the wall. That shows not the language disability but lack of concern for good presentation---‘pemalas’ would sum up perfectly. English is hard for me too, until this day, but I work for it and give a little bit of my time to check and edit my writing. And believe me if you work hard enough you will come to a point where you will LIKE the language. It helps you express your inner thoughts in a profound manner.

Anyway, for a good presentation your slides must contain :

1. Less texts
2. more images/graphics
3. minimal blink-blink

and when you do the talking please remember that : NEVER to read your slides. Anybody can read the slides so if you just stand there and start reading the slides you will put your audience into the most agonizing state of mind, not too long they will start talking and make their own presentation at the back. What you can do is to EXPLAIN the slide; face the audience and talk to them. OOOOooo that’s so hard, I can’t say things in English……well then PREPARE before you come and DO your HOMEWORK! That is the only way, no short cuts to learning/success. In case you haven’t figure it out yet. Good Luck!

Monday, April 19, 2010

A game called “democracy”

In this modern day and age no one dares to neglect the so-called “democracy”. A game that we all play so that in the end some one will win and the losers will go home thinking that the game was fair and square. But in reality we are all scared to death when we play the game. Both sides have every bit of a chance to win and for whatever it takes we can not afford to lose. The subject at stake could be anything from small to enormously huge; and we are mean sometime….the future of a nation could be put at stake. But in the name of the game called “democracy” that is very civilized. So we play along with millions of our money spent(some goonies even spent rm77 millions of poor people money to see one black man in a white house and prove he can play the game very well!) and sometime the lives of our countrymen lost to protect the stupid game. We endured the challenges so the world will see us as one of them not some barbaric bunch of people doing their own little things. I call this democracy thing a game because of its very nature where people can be very good at it, manipulate everything to win his cause and get away with clean hands----fair and square? For the uninitiated that’s the way how democracy goes but for a seasoned player it’s the game people play---so win the game to champion democracy. Ironically, democracy is so generic that you can put any mask on it and people still can identify it as the true nature of a modern and civilized world.

I had a brief experience leading a small association and wanted so badly to play this game called “democracy” right to the letters. I did not “play-play” or get into the hanky-pangky of things just played it bare and plain. I even put up a blank face so everyone can relate and let the democracy things play the role in every aspect of our decision making process. It was naively stupid thing to do and ended up a sore loser, isolated to lick the bleeding wounds. People don’t play the game that way as I later found out; for people to play their hearts out the game must be fun and interesting. Just like any other game it would be dull and boring if everyone play by the rules, right? People look for a good fight, a back-stabbing drama, some good ‘ol ass-kicking, name-callings, fcukers and suckers…..or something along that nature. And if you are not that kind of person better stay out of this game. Last weekend I had an opportunity to attend meeting to select a surau committee at my housing area. It’s a small surau but even here the game of democracy is played so well I thought it’s a joke. It was well planned with call for meeting well in advance and preparation to register voters being done so well. I thought we have all matured over the years and this gonna be a really “fair and square” game. How naïve I could ever be? Over the years people do not grow up in this but have got better and better manipulating it. I laughed myself although I did not find it funny at all. We were “told” to wait for the signal then cast the vote accordingly. Never go against the majority or refute the chairman. Apparently the chairman had understood the situation on how the meeting would end. And so the meeting went without any “glitches and bumps”. Everyone was happy. And that includes those who were not there but got nominated and won! As if no one among all 200 who attended the meeting is no better than those people. What a joke!
A clear indication that there is an invisible hand trying to squabble with the running of our surau. Maybe I sound a bit disappointed for not being nominated myself but honestly that is not it. Time and time again we are talking about the liberty of our own thoughts and actions without any influence from outside people; this is it . If those nominations have been premeditated, supported and won; we can never be free. The real democracy is to free our minds and actions from any foreign influence where we decide what we want and who we want to do it. We set our own agenda and execute it to the best of our ability for our own good. If in this small isolated exercise we still depend on others to make decisions then by God in Heavens when are we going to learn. We can never be free.

I am new to the surau and its surrounding community; but now I have a clear picture on how things are run and executed. The true picture is as ugly as I never thought it would be. How the minds are manipulated and the actions are fabricated. How some people have gone all the way to protect everything they believe have their names on it; for them to make sure things are as they should be. Forgetting that the surau is a public place (a house of God) for everybody to come and worship the God they believe in. So that it will not fall into some false hands that will lock it down for some strange reasons. Maybe there is a hidden agenda to foresee a bigger cause that will happen in a distant future. I don’t know but I am still soaking up the meaning of it all and the reasons behind the results after that fateful meeting.

Not far from here in Hulu Selangor, people are facing a bigger and more serious picture of the same game called “democracy”. But the clash between two or more ideologies would make the game over there more interesting and relevant to reality. A lot of seasoned players will converge to put up shadow plays and pick up some credits for their own self along the way. In the end the quiet town of KKB will remain quiet and people will be left to pick up the garbage left by the town folks as they leave for their luxury homes in the city. Just like after any other game, the players as well as the spectators will leave the field with their winning smiles or wounded hearts. No one remains except the local people wondering what do they get from all of this mess?