Back in school, the food sucked. I am not exaggerating, it truly sucked. Often when I told people about it, they would tell me that 'it can't be that bad lah'. Well, I don't know if it can get any worse when you can expect maggots in your veggies and fly eggs (telur lalat la) on your chicken on an almost daily basis. The mee hoon would be springy like rubber bands and the fried mee is soaked in some funky reddish oil. The sambal sotong they serve for Friday lunches was always rancid and the sambal udang was completely inedible. Above all, I'm still unable to eat chicken korma without gagging to this day, in memory of the infamous ayam petrol (chicken dipped in gallons of oil and a smattering of spices and they call it korma). Heck even the dining hall cats refused to eat the fishes we threw down to them, one cat even ate the veggies instead.
It was so bad, we had to resort to other outlets for good food. The canteen was the best bet for better food. Even better if you dare to sneak out and 'fly' to town to get the delicious Nasi Lemak Karok (it's no longer there, we checked), or to the train station for a dose of good old NGA (Nasi goreng Ayam) at Cik Nah Cik Ni (also now defunct). Of course not everyone is willing to take the risk, or just too goodie-two-shoes to do so. There's always the third option - Order.
Order would consist of one Tokan who would be the boss of the night and one or several Runners, depending on how big an operation it would be. The business concept is simple, buy 5 you get 1 free. They can get orders of 30-40 sets* normally which equals to 6-8 free sets. They can either eat it themselves, or sell it off, or exchange it for other goodies**. The order will be taken discreetly on a very small piece of paper and noted down in codes, in case things go south. Macam drug traffickers la pulak,haha.
The food would arrive around 3am or so, and the Runners would go about distributing it to the customers. Then you can see folks waking up to eat and probably chat a bit before resuming their slumber.
Unfortunately, Order is deemed illegal by school rules. The wardens are aware about Orders and they tried their best to thwart it. Sometimes they would catch the Runners in the act of completing the transaction (done over the fence at a pre-agreed place), other times they swoop in while we the customers were eating. Once cries of 'Rampa' rang out, everyone would try to hide the evidence. Some simply put it in their lockers, or under the beds or straight to the trashcan. Me, I have a different way. I would wrap my right hand with the wrapping paper and secure it with the rubber band and put the hand-rice combination under the pillow. Of course, face need to be turned towards the wall so that they can't see the oily lips =P Solved the problem, hands need not be washed, and NGA does not go to waste!
Many years on, I still yearn for a good dose of NGA and Teh Ais. Although it doesn't taste quite like Cik Nah's anymore, you have to make do right?
Sets* : a normal set is a pack of NGA and Teh Ais. Then there's also set fakir and set mahligai (or sometimes called set maharaja). The name denotes the price while the actual content of the set may vary.
Goodies** : normally this would spell D or M. Dunhill or Marlboro that is.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Back in school, the food sucked. I am not exaggerating, it truly sucked. Often when I told people about it, they would tell me that 'it can't be that bad lah'. Well, I don't know if it can get any worse when you can expect maggots in your veggies and fly eggs (telur lalat la) on your chicken on an almost daily basis. The mee hoon would be springy like rubber bands and the fried mee is soaked in some funky reddish oil. The sambal sotong they serve for Friday lunches was always rancid and the sambal udang was completely inedible. Above all, I'm still unable to eat chicken korma without gagging to this day, in memory of the infamous ayam petrol (chicken dipped in gallons of oil and a smattering of spices and they call it korma). Heck even the dining hall cats refused to eat the fishes we threw down to them, one cat even ate the veggies instead.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It must be a Malaysian thing, makciks and aunties carrying a Harrods' bag as though it's a posh handbag. It's gonna open in KLCC, so there goes the 'boli kek London nih ha' tag. Rest in piece.
I don't mind braving the traffic jam, or the droves of people in Bukit Bintang on weekends. I am annoyed though at the flocks of schoolkids dressed similarly (guys in skinny jeans, funky t-shirts and a variety of caps, while the girls in whatever Sg Wang is having on sale last week) loitering around the Sultan Ismail/Bukit Bintang intersection. Shuffle my ass, go do your homework!
I pity butches, or pengkid as they call it here, I do. They do try so hard to look like a man, don't they?
- Polo tees with the collar turned up, checked.
- Hair done up in spikes or leaving an ekor at the back, checked.
- A multitude of supposedly male accessories (like bangles and silver necklaces, haha), checked.
- Smokes like a chimney, checked.
- Grabbing tight to the girlfriend at all times or at least hold hands, checked.
- Mannerism as kerek as possible, checked.
Basically they did all they can to look like a mat rempit, is that not reason enough to pity them?
Yeah, I've been doing this quite a bit now. It's therapeuthic.
Friday, December 19, 2008
I'll turn 26 in exactly 1 month. Wow.
I am tired of listening about the attitude of some of the recent landslide victims. Maybe someone should drill into their heads that shit happens, and it's partly your fault too for wanting to live on the hillslope. Now that it happened, no point in being an ass about it. The people there are trying to help you, jangan la macam bagus sangat expect orang buat itu ini. It's funny when natural disasters hit poorer people, they are very thankful for every bit of help they got. From what I'm seeing, these folks are getting more than usually given to poorer folks. Kau ingat kau kaya tuh kau bagus sangat ke? Makes me sick.
I hate it when people I don't know add me on Facebook and not leave a message so as to why are they adding me. They might be long lost friends or even relatives, or might even be readers of this blog (ha, wishful thinking) but tell me who you are! I don't approve strangers blindly, sorry.
I think the cleaning lady has a vendetta against me. Almost everytime nature calls she'll be cleaning the toilet thus barring it from use. I had to skip down the stairs to the next level, so ma fan.
I'm still thinking what to get myself for my birthday. Should I go and tint the car, or should I buy the battery grip instead?
I wonder if Muntazer al-Zaidi called Bush a 'dog' or the more correct term a 'bitch'.
I wanna go to The Wine Room and catch that band again. Anyone else?
Lapar lah, lambatnye lunch.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I went crazy last Friday at Kinokuniya and left with these 5 books:
Arvind Adiga - The White Tiger
David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas
Kazuo Ishiguro - The Remains Of The Day
Jonathan Safran Foer - Everything Is Illuminated
J.M. Coetzee - Slow Man
I am now reading the first book from the list, and so far it hasn't disappointed me. It's a controversial Man Booker Prize winner, so it should be a good read. Too bad I can't find Ian McEwan's Saturday.
On a related note, I have been quite disappointed with local writers so far. I've read highly acclaimed local books like Dina Zaman's I Am Muslim, Kam Raslan's Confessions Of An Old Boy and Andrew Leci's Once Removed, and truthfully none of them lived up to my expectations. Dina Zaman wrote well enough, but her books feels more like a blog than a book. I like only one anecdote from the whole book. Kam Raslan is a bit better, I thoroughly enjoyed most of it though the last third was a big letdown for me. Andrew leci, what can I say. He tried too hard to be funny, but it didn't work. He should just stick to writing columns on football instead.
But there are local writers that I truly love. Ever heard of Tamar Jalis? In case you were born after the 80s, you won't know about Variasari and the Siri Bercakap Dengan Jin written by the aforementioned. I have been looking for reprints for ages but haven't found it yet. The other day as I was snooping around for more info about it, I found my lifesaver. Someone apparently decided to scan and put up the soft copy version of the series online! If you are like me, a fan of the series, go ahead and pay this page a visit and get the details how to read those stories again.
Then there's also S. Othman Kelantan who wrote mostly about the Kelantanese rural life in books such as Juara (the basis for the movie Jogho by U-Wei, my favourite director)
I'm also looking for Hashim Yop's Korban Keretapi Maut, which basically tells the story of a young man forced to work on the Death Railway during the Japanese occupation of Malaya.
Tell me, which current local writer I should read next. There's too much hype flying around and seemingly any blogger can write a book these days. I want quality, a little help anyone?
Thursday, December 11, 2008
1. People who decided to turn on to the main road from a junction eventhough another car is coming at a considerable speed towards them, and then decide to accelerate at a leisurely pace. This often causes the other car having to brake hard and this will be automatically followed by a bagful of cusses from the other driver, usually directed towards the slow car's driver's innocent mother.
Proposed Mitigant: Apart from gently nudging them off the road (if you are driving a big 4x4 that is), change lanes or reduce speed immediately once you see a potential one. Usually driving an old model Datsun or Kancil. Makciks in big cars too.
2. People who got into packed LRTs wearing a big backpack and tried to find a nice spot to stand without bothering to take the bag off first and hold it. The offending backpack often smacked people's head (pity the short 'uns), or other commuters' books/magazines/boobs while the dumbass makes his way. Cue repeat when he tries to get off from his spot in the middle of the carriage.
Proposed Mitigant: Hold on to his backpack while he's trying to find that spot. He'll think the back's many straps got caught somewhere and will take it off his back to take a look. Repeat for fun.
3. Chinese schoolkids on LRTs in the evenings. I'm not being racist, but this is from my years of observation and the fact that strangely I seldom see Malay or Indian schoolkids on the trains I am on. They would stank to high heavens, which is bearable since in the evenings quite a lot of people smell after a long day, I can live with that. They would also talk in the loudest voice they can muster, eventhough the other party is just next to him. After work, I'd like to get some nice quiet time and most other commuters are quiet maybe for the same reasons, but with them around it's plain impossible. I do feel like smacking their heads with a big backpack at times.
Proposed mitigant: Noseplugs and Earplugs, or earphones. Make sure the volume is up to max.
4. People with BO who have no qualms about hanging on to the bars and let the whole car smell their armpits. Last week I had the misfortune to stand close to this fella with very bad BO, and it was in the morning. I cringe at the thought of him entering the same car as mine in the evenings. But I pity this petite girl standing in front of me, her face was directly in the line of fire, so to speak. I can tell she was tortured the whole journey. Perhaps she's now driving to work after the trauma she went through.
Proposed mitigant: Bring an extra aerosol deodorant and spray it on him. Hopefully he'll get the message and buy his own. Or he would just look for you every day so he can skimp on the deodorant and still not smell bad.
Such is the life of a commuter.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Tribute time again.
5th December 1995-5th December 2008. 13 years as a matter of fact, that's how long I've known these folks I call brothers.
If you read through my old posts there would be quite a few referring to them either in the current timeframe or in those 5 years I spent in Kuala Kangsar. Yes I am closest to these bunch of people. It helps a lot that I have many of them living nearby and/or working nearby.
For this post I'm gonna tell a(nother) story, not witty, not funny and not even interesting. It's more to do with me, but those people are the pak pacaks in this story, so it is kinda related, kinda.
5th December 1995, I was woken very early in the morning. I think it was 3am or so. Mom woke me up and told me to resume sleep in the car. So i got up with sleep ladden eyes and got into the backseat and naturally dozed off again. I woke up again when we were somewhere near Grik, where my dad stopped at a mosque so that I can shower and change into the spanking new white shirt, white pants, black Bata shoes and black belt (not of the karate kind, mind you).
Before long we arrived in Kuala Kangsar, the sleepy town in the heartland of Perak. We passed by Prep School and turned left at the intersection to head towards Big School, the most recognizable landmark for my dad. My first concrete image of MCKK was Moque '96 standing by the Prep School gate ushering parents and my future brothers in the compound. Him in the maroon blazer reserved for prefects looked like the epitome of the school for me then.
At Big School only we realized that registration was at Prep School, so we head back. I remember a chaos of colours and many different dialects spoken. And of course, young boys in all white outfits looking as lost as I was. Registration was a blur for me (except for an episode concerning Rustam, but that's another story), as I was still taking in the new sights.
Then we were ushered to my new bed, the one that my mom won't be changing the sheets or sweeping under it. Mom helped me unpack and put my stuff in the old wooden locker, and dad helped me install the mosquito net (yes, we still used those then). Then it's time for lunch.
We went out to Lembah to have lunch, again I kept seeing boys in white everywhere. All fresh-faced and innocentlike (like only, after a while I know it's a misconception!). Then head to Fajar Supermarket to get some biscuits and fruits for me before heading back to Prep School.
It was 2pm by then, and as I stepped out of the car my dad said "this is it, we're leaving now". I remember my answer was "why, they say parents can stay until five". Dad told me they have to make the long drive back and since my brother and sister are at home and mom was preggers with Iffah at the time, they'd like to reach home before dark.
So I head up to Dorm D and sat on my top bunk of the double decker bed. I watched out the window since I know Dad will take the Jalan Taiping to head home. Then I saw it, that blue car going by. Reality hits, I felt abandoned and angry. Then the wave of loneliness hits. I looked around the dorm and see other kids still with their families. I was jealous.
After 5pm, Prep School has settled to a melancholic quietness. I was lying down in my bed, trying not to think about my loneliness. I looked to my right and saw A78 shining his shoes. To my left, A81 is sitting up on his bed and writing his name on the exercise books. Then I saw it, the glistening stream down his cheeks. I got up and went to the toilet and yes, I cried.
Happy 13th year anniversary to the Thoroughbreds of 9600. Never forget.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
On almost every Wednesday without fail, some people will receive an sms from me saying something to the meaning of "Wednesgay lunch, 1230 @ XXXX". Yes it's a deliberate misnomer, and I did it tongue-in-cheek because, oh nevermind.
It's a ritual I look forward to since I can count on a lunch where business is discussed in minimum. Trust me it's hard to get that kind of lunch when you work in the financial industry. This rate that sanction this bill that line this limit that wanker, you know the drill. Je deteste.
Of course what gathering like that won't invoke the old stories told to death many times (so much so that people who hang around us bunch a lot can tell the story themselves!). So today's lunch session was no different. We retold stories and jogged each others mind for the nitty gritty details of those days. Today's predominant topic was what happened to us during Dark Age.
Our Dark Age, or Zaman Jahiliyah to most meant Form 2. Secluded in New Hostel with only 6 prefects to watch over us and largely no warden supervision. We went apeshit to say the least.
I was in Dorm IT (beats me what does IT stand for, since the other dorms are named numerically), popularly known as Dorm Budak Jahat. Needless to say, I was shocked to learn I've been thrown in that dorm instead of the goodie two shoes dorms that I belong to. Hey, no sniggering! But then I had to blend in the crowd, so to speak...
Some of the things us Dorm IT folks did:
- play hockey, rugby, volleyball, footie, basketball, squash and tennis. Yeah, inside the small space of circa 25x30 feet, inclusive 7 double decker beds and 14 wooden lockers). Cue many broken window panes, lockers and shitloads of bruises and cuts. Kids are crazy.
- the dorm used to have 9 double deckers, but we send 2 of them crashing from our 2nd floor corridor. Reason? Because we can't find a better solution to remove those empty beds so that we can play all of the above. We also have an extra locker that initially served the purpose of holding the brooms and dustpan et cetera. Pretty soon it became the place we practiced our 'karate' skills. It did not last long, that locker.
- created a 'secret passageway' to facilitate movement after lights off. We simply used the space between the ceiling and the roof! We had 1 or 2 cases of people misstepping (you have to step on the wooden beams, not the soft asbestos(?) ceiling) and fell right through. Others just poked a hole here and there with their feet.
- have gigs using Gaban's top of the range walkman and someone's PC speaker (an arrangement we used until Form 5), headbanging to the likes of Green Day's Nimrod, The Offspring's Ixnay On The Hombre, Goldfinger, Rancid, Bad Religion et al. We were into punk back then, and the KL folks would feed our appetite for the best punk music available at the time. Ohh, Korn and Metallica was also included in the playlist at times. And of course, Butterfingers!
- organize outside food orders from the Rahmaniah restaurant just across the road from our farthest corner of school fencing. No phones needed, we only need a lookout and someone to to yell out "Rahmaniah!!!" until someone came over and took our order. The downside was that we can only yell when there's a car passing so that the prefects don't hear us. It also meant that Rahmaniah folks too can't hear us. Hoarse voice was the order of the day, but what wouldn't we do to get a decent nasi goreng ayam and fresh orange back then?
- fool around with a bottle of aerosol and lighter. It was fun to watch Tuah blowing those flames like it was a KRU concert (they were kinda cool then, and don't pretend you never liked their old songs!), but it was much more fun to see Tuah coming back to the dorm after getting caught by a prefect. Said prefect simply took those apparatus from him and blew a flame at Tuah, resulting in burnt eyebrows and singed hair. Tuah minus right eyebrow = funny as hell. Tough love indeed.
- Gets beaten up quite a lot by the seniors due to our behaviour. Some more than others naturally, but I think we all got our share in the end.
Before you panic and start thinking about yanking your kid (or future kid) off boarding school altogether, consider this next fact. That crazy bunch now are bankers, engineers (8 of us have engineering degrees from all over the world, imagine that), a pilot, a consultant and other assorted professions. We all turned out alright, even though people have written off some of us as hopeless back then.
Who would've thought, huh? So next week, anymore takers? Tak pakai tie kena bayar lunch!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I took another day off yesterday to clear off my annual leave for the year. I woke up early (bummer) and watche dTV until about 11 something before getting ready to go out and service Renee (the car, I'm talking about the car!).
Drove the short distance to the service center and waited about an hour for everything to get done. After paying and just about to leave, I noticed my hands-free kit was missing from the car. After looking for it for 5 minutes, I got out of the car and complained to the manager that someone stole my stuff.
Disappointingly, he kept telling me that I might've left it at home. Are you stupid, I remember putting it away before exiting the car at your SC and I've been telling you that several times now. Then he asked the mechanics and seemingly no one has seen it (surprise surprise). So just like that, it vanishes into thin air.
Since they're not gonna refund me, I said it's alright. I told him I'm not mad because it's a very valuable thing, but I'm mad because someone stole my stuff from my car when I leave the car in their hands. Bluntly I told him "you better jaga your boys here, one of them is a thief".
I thought that's enough to ruin my day. I went back and check my mailbox for bills and was shocked to see my water bill for Sept-Nov was in total exceeded RM300! I was fuming mad, I called the management office, but they already left for the day (or just not bothered to pick up). I called up my relatives just to check on their rates and was quickly convinced that I've been conned. My aunt with a family of 5 in total + washing the cars and watering the plants, never exceeded RM30 per month.
I thought I would escape Monday blues by taking leave, I couldn't be more wrong *sigh*.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
There's so many pretentious blogs out there, I feel like gagging.
One of them writes in the manner you would expect of one or two famous Malaysian blogger. You'll see the resemblance instantly, but that impression was not to last. First thing that gave him away was his English. He wrote primarily in BM, sometimes being abstract and all cryptic. It was fine by me, whatever works for you man. But when he starts interspersing his entries with several lines in English, I start feeling sorry for him. My grammar might be bad, but his is atrocious! And to think that he's been quoting Rimbaud and Freud and poking fun at people who can't speak English properly, how sad. Did he use a dictionary everytime he wants to put in several lines in English?
Another girl is a famous blogger, but I think she is pretentious too. Maybe not as much pretentious as obnoxious. She writes about the pressure of coping with the popularity of her blog, WTF? Perez Hilton don't bitch about it, if you can't cope then stop blogging already. Ohh Ms Under-Pressure-To-Blog-About-Quality-Stuff, your entries are rarely of quality btw. You're just another blogger who happen to have a sizeable following, so it doesn't justify you condemning other people all the time too. Yeah, she has this stuck-uppish demeanour, telling people off for this, for that. And those people are people who reads her blog and probably idolise her too. Wow, this popularity thingy is getting to your head now huh?
Another guy posts pictures of girls in revealing dresses or just about in any circumstance he found blogworthy. He would rant and cuss those poor girls, all the while referring to Muslim values etc. Okay, first thing is, posting those pictures online does not help. You are spreading pictures of their aurat, I think you're getting a share in the sin too. Then all those cusses you throw at them, where's the Muslim value in that? Don't be an ass just because you think you're holier than the rest of us. One of the pictures is downright ridiculous, a picture of a girl eating with a male companion. She was condemned by this guy because apparently her feet is touching the guy's ankles (she was crossing her legs under the table). If you look at the picture, it's barely noticeable. I think this guy is a sicko who spends his time taking discreet pictures of girls and then acts as though he's saving the world while he's at it.
Oh well, for all I know there might be at least 1 out of the 5 readers of my blog out there who thinks my blog is just as bad =P
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I was on leave yesterday, just clearing up my annual leave and averting Monday blues while I'm at it. Today I came in bright and early, sat down at my desk and check the e-mails. Then I saw one Facebook notification in my inbox.
You are more desired than less than 20% of all people
Wow, when you discount all the weirdos and freaks, I'm like at the bottom of the barrel. Welcome Tuesday blues~
Friday, November 14, 2008
What I'd like to do:
- repaint my bedroom fresh crisp white, the original peach is downright ugly.
- repaint the furniture fresh crisp white too.
- DIY the closet idea I've had for weeks, I need the extra space badly.
- get on with the balcony mini garden plan, some greens would do wonders.
- rethink and redo the living room, it's getting boring after one year.
- print large size and frame some of my pics, the frames have been lying unused for months.
- make a second housewarming after redeco work is done.
- buy any of these: superwide angle lens, battery grip, pocket wizard.
- buy all of the three mentioned above, and not worry about how am I going to afford it.
- go for a long drive to somewhere nice, and not worry about exorbitant fuel price and toll charges.
- have a long lingering bath, with some Sade or Norah Jones or Missy Higgins playing in the background
- have a fruitful writing session on the balcony, with a mug or two of hot chocolate.
- start painting watercolour again, it's been a year since the thought last crossed my mind.
- actually go ahead and DO all of the above instead of just thinking about it.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Last Sunday marked 2 years of me being with the bank, and it has gotten me thinking ever harder. Am I happy? Is this really what I foresee myself doing for the next 20-30 years?
I studied engineering for 5 looong years, and did not even thought about pursuing that line of career because I have not much interest in it. The ridiculously low pay and high workload just served to further guide me away from engineering as a career choice. But it served me well back then, somehow girls were impressed that I was doing an honours degree in electrical & electronics engineering. So yeah, that piece of paper now lying in its' folder in my spare room at home only served its purpose to get me a job. Any job.
I applied for only one job, after much prodding by The Haz. I had no idea what the work was gonna be like, no idea whether I want to do it. I applied just so that I can practice my interview technique. My HR Manager was shocked when I told him that, perhaps I shouldn't have been so frank with him? I went along with the phone interview, then the first round face-to-face interview, then the 4-level assesment process and whaddya know, I was offered the job!
I was very lucky I know. Lots of other people wanted this job so badly, but so happens I managed to convince the people assessing me that I am the man they want. Not lucky enough? I got offered the job while I was still in my final semester, with my thesis only halfway completed, and I was due to start work on the same day I was gonna sit for my final paper. The penultimate paper if you must. (If you wanna know, I rushed through the 3-hour paper in 2 and ran back to the apartment to shower and change and arrived at the office for my first day at work at 12.30pm, of course I've told them in advance why I'll be late)
Fast forward 2 years on, I'm starting to wonder if what I'm feeling lately is not just the normal grumbles of a peon, but it might be discontentment showing.
I love the artistic side of things, though admittedly my talent is rather lacking. Working in a bank is currently utilizing 0.01% of that part of me, and I feel stifled. I envy my friends who have gone on to become art gallery curator, news anchor, professional photographer, professional musician amongst other things. They are happy. Am I?
No I haven't decided on anything, and I won't jump into making a rash decision. I need to think this through, and when (or if) I have decided, you will know.
PS: jogging and Domino's Classified Chicken pizza both helps in bringing down the stress level.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
It was a Saturday night, a free night we call it since we don't have to attend the otherwise nightly preparatory classes. Everyone would be up to their own devices, largely unsupervised until it was time for lights-off. Some of us would climb over, under and around the gates to go out to town and get some good grub in for a change, and some others would go out to the few cybercafes scattered around town. The rest would linger around the Big School, idling away.
This sort of idleness that bred the idea one Saturday night not unlike others, when someone had the bright idea to have a gig. A gig, at Night Court no less! Of course being the schoolkids we were, we had no access to the equipment necessary to have such a thing (except for the odd Kapok guitar or two). What we had was a Walkman that we connected to a PC speaker (a common set up then as a makeshift stereo system in the dorms), and we turn it up to max volume.
Night Court was a small place, and the attendees quickly filled up the space. Before long, we had many bodies rocking along to tunes of the day - Rage Against The Machine, Rancid et al. And you should have seen us! All decked out in our best 'gig-look' - Doc Martens, jeans, hair done up fauxhawk (this was way before Beckham did his, so there!) and instant dreadlocks (I belong to this later group, unbelievable).
Some souls even decided to make things more interesting, by splashing us with water! It was loud, it was hot and it was fun-tastic to that bunch of 17 year-olds. Just as we were enjoying ourselves, I saw from the corner of my eyes a slashing movement.
No doubt, the wardens has arrived. We scattered in all directions. The water splashed just now, bad idea. Now the cement floors are all wet and slippery, resulting in several guys slipping and landing in a painful thud and coupled with a lashing from the warden to boot. Vajie (bukan nama sebenar) panicked that he even tried to push his way past the warden. Needless to say, he got several lashings for his efforts. The wardens split up, and they hunted the rest of us.
I ran for my life, perfectly aware that my hair is still dreadlocked. I ran to the showers and washed my hair and then ran back to my dorm and tried to dry my hair as quickly as I can. I slipped out of my gig attire and pulled on shorts and old t-shirt (my usual bed attire) and jumped into bed. I was careful to even pose as though I have been sleeping for a while. I even tried to control my breathing so that my chest did not rise up and down too quickly.
Soon enough, a warden entered the dorm. My bed was by the door, so I'm instantly aware of his entrance. Taking care not to even blink (in case you don't know, even when you shut your eyes you can still blink and people can see you), I maintained my composure.
I sensed him standing right by my bed, and in an instance my cover was blown. He only had to put his hands to my chest and quipped "Laju berdegup jantung kamu masa tidur nih". Cheh, sia-sia berlakon =D
Epilogue: I did not end my charade there and then, and he left me alone too. Prolly it was because I wasn't known as a troublemaker, so he let me off. But I bet my face went flush straightaway after he said that. Malu weh! So kids, don't bother trying to fool your wardens in school. They know your tricks better than you think.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Ahh paghok nnisé, woh ttopoh keno maké mmugosir! *
When I was young I always heard about this creature called mmugosir, or more commonly known as mmugo, yet never questioned about it. Now that I'm older, I started wondering what the heck is a mmugosir?
My grandma would always complain that the fruits in her little orchard were always punoh habih maké ko mmugosir. And we would all just nod and sighed along, with nary an idea what sort of beast is this mmugosir.
Discussions with Kimi would always end up ngabé koksir and entailed a round or two of hysterics fits of laughter at our efforts to identify and give form to this mysterious animal. Usually such discussions would include another animal in - bokbong. I have a better idea of what that is, though I won't bet my life on it though. My best guess is bokbong = musang = a kind of civet. If I'm correct on that count, then why didn't they name Gua Musang as Gua Bokbong instead for the love of God? It's more interesting.
But I digress. Back to this semi-fantasy animal otherwise known as mmugosir, we finally decided to ask from the parents. But the answer given was not even half as interesting as the creatures we thought up in between the bouts of laughter. They said, a mmugosir is just a general word to denote any unknown animal. Yeap, killjoy.
* a literal translation would miss the mark, so what this phrase means is basically 'oh crap, the mmugosir ate the apples!
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Arriving safely in Stansted, we straightaway went looking for a place to crash for the night since we missed the last bus to Luton (our flight to Amsterdam was due the next morning at Luton). Surprisingly, the airport was packed full with people like us. Almost every nook and cranny was filled with travellers spending the night. Some even slept right smack in the middle of the floor.
We eventually settled for a place in front of the check in counters, since that's about the only available place. Before long, we were joined by others and the previously sparsely populated check-in area was soon lined with people looking for a place to sleep.
And slept we did. Only to wake a few hours later to lines of people on either sides of us trying to check in at the counters! We hurriedly grabbed our stuff and moved to the cafe for hot drinks and a place to sit.
When it's time to take the first bus out to Luton, we said our goodbyes to Charis who'll be going to collect her other luggage before heading to Heathrow for the flight home. The three of us promptly boarded the bus (which only had us and another lady as the passengers) and arrived with time to spare for the flight to Amsterdam.
Arrived in Schiphol soon enough and it was drizzling. Had a nice surprise when the blond and blue-eyed lady immigration officer greeted me with selamat datang and bade me selamat jalan . I was expecting to see many Indonesians and Indo-dutch people around, but not from this lady who looked as Indonesian as I am Italian.
Took the train to Amsterdam Centraal station and by the time we got there, the rain was in full force. We had to walk the short distance to the Damrak Hotel and in due course got drenched wet and miserably cold.
Fahmy and Muk went off to the coffeeshops while I decided to brave the rain and went exploring. With a map in hand (though rendered completely useless since the rain turned it into mush in my hands), again I got lost. I was trying to get to van Gogh Museum and HRC, which looked near and easy enough on the map, but ended up overshooting the right bridge by miles and had to backtrack in the pouring rain. It was kinda hard trying to find the right canal bridge since I only had this clue to follow after the map was KIA - take the 7th bridge. Needless to say, I lost count.
Managed to find HRC, but not van Gogh Museum so I headed back towards Dam Square. On the way I remembered that the Anne Frank House was somewhere on the route so I set off to look for it. Found it quite easily on Prinsengracht, thanks to my pathfinder skills (and an abundance of signboards) and spent some time in the glorious heat of the House/Museum.
Had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant somewhere in the maze of Amsterdam streets. Note to self, next time read the menu fully before ordering. I saw a set menu and after reading one or two items and checking the price I ordered it. Then I read the whole thing only to discover Babi Ketjap (pork cooked in soy sauce) as one of the items in the set menu! Luckily the nice Bapak had no problems with me changing my order.
The night was spent in Baba coffeeshop, not doing anything much really =P
Then it's back in the rain to return to the hotel. I was feeling very disappointed since it rained heavily for the whole day and night, I went to bed wishing for at least several hours of sunshine the next day.
Woke up to semi cloudy skies, but at least it wasn't raining. Went back to the nice canals to take some pictures and before you know it, it's time to head back to Schiphol. Greeted with an apa khabar and was sent on my way with a selamat jalan by the guy at the passport checking counter, and with that my Euro Trip ends.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
We arrived at Treviso airport at around 8.30pm. Initially we were planning to just spend the night at the airport before making our way to Venice in the morning, but it was still early and none of us felt too eager to be sleeping on the floor that night. Hence we made some calls and managed to get a room at Hotel Tri Santi in Treviso town.
Salvatore the owner was very nice in picking us up for no extra charge from the airport, and the hotel itself turned out to be a quite pleasant little hotel on the outskirts of town. After watching John Q dubbed in Italian for a while (with running commentary by Fahmy), we fell asleep soon enough.
Next morning, after checking out we took the bus to the train station and headed for Venezia St Lucia station. It only took about 15 minutes or so, and before you know it the Grand Canal is in front of our eyes.
We headed straight for the hostel, which is located just opposite the station across the Grand Canal. Almost immediately we started our city tour. First we headed for the Jewish Quarter but found nothing much of interest there so we headed towards Ponte de Rialto, the famous white bridge instead. There on, we walked towards Piazza San Marco. We managed to stop once or twice for gelatto fixes. Lecka-lecka don't even cut it close, if you ask me. It was an art trying to eat 3 scoops of gelatto packed tightly on a small cone, cue sticky fingers all around =D
The Piazza is jampacked with tourist, all jostling for a good spot to take photos. We walked a bit further to Riva degli Schiavoni to take more pictures and to just hang around the Piazza for a little bit. It was a beautiful place to be in, looking at the wonderful buildings on one side and the open water and gondolas piered on the other. The weather was cooperating too, it was just perfect indeed.
Then only we look for a place to fill our grumbling stomachs. We found a nice quiet pizzeria just off the main tourist areas, and rested our feet over a long lingering lunch. We went walking around for a bit more before heading back to the Piazza just when the sun started going down. Too bad for us, it was a bit cloudy by then so we did not manage to catch the amber hues that we expected. You can't always have everything right?
Going back to the hostel after that was a challenge. Since Barcelona I have always fallen into the role of 'pathfinder', the guy with the well worn map always in hand. In Venice for the first time, I got lost. But the saying goes that to get the Venice experience, you have to get lost in the labyrinth of small streets and endless canals and bridges. So we got lost and ended up going the opposite way at one time (not my fault this time, honest!). But soon enough I found my bearings back and we found our way to the right canal, bridge and street. It was a relief, since we were all getting quite hungry and tired too.
Dinner was at a nice ristorante by the Grand Canal, right in front of our hostel. The food was good and the ambience was priceless. Too bad it started to get really windy, chilling us to the bone!
Sleep came easy of course, weary bones looking forward to rest for several hours before it's time to get going again.
Next morning, we took the waterbus to Murano Island nearby to see glassmakers strut their stuff. Had lunch in nearby Serenella (the best pasta ever!), and took the next waterbus to Burano Island. Burano is a quaint fishing island, with vibrant multicoloured houses presenting a postcard perfect photo op. We spent only a short time in Burano (but of course, I had time for another gelatto fix!) before heading back towards Piazzale Roma in Venice.
Grabbed our bags, and boarded the bus at Piazzale Roma to head straight for Treviso airport. It's time to go back to London. For Charis it's the end of her Euro Trip, she's returning to Malaysia the next morning while for the three of us, London is just a temporary stop for our next leg - Amsterdam!
And of course, you'll have to wait for Part 4 for that ;)
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
(let's take a break from travel stories first, it'll be resumed after this intermission =P)
Every month on payday, I would do my budget for the month ahead and would try hard to stick to it the best that I can. Of course, I almost always didn't manage to do that.
This month however, my internal accountant is flashing a red flag. After calculating all my necessary spendings, it came up to 85% of my salary! Normally it's not more than 65%, the reason for this surge is that I have to pay off some other bills and fees relating to the house, on top of the usual expenses (car and house repayment, utility bills, LRT pass, fuel etc). Trust me, owning a house is no easy (nor cheap) matter.
So with the balance, I calculated and found out that if I carry on with my normal spending and eating habits, I would be literally broke in 2 weeks. What now brown cow?
Well, I decided I would only eat out during lunches (I have no choice anyway) and eat at home for dinner. So, I did a quick mental inventory of what I have in the kitchen:
1 pc chicken breast
1 bag mixed veggie
1 pack hotdogs
2 boxes murtabak raja*
3 pc instant roti canai (my gran made em!)
1/2 chocolate cake
1 bottle whipped cream
1 bottle Hershey's choc sauce
1 bottle mustard
1 jar mayo
1 pack Cheesedale
1/2 pack dried pasta
2(?) cans of sardines
1 can Prego pasta sauce
assorted herbs and spices
2 packs instant noodles
1 bag rice
1 bottle cooking oil
I think that should be enough to last me a few weeks. It's also a good time to start shedding some pounds off, don't you think? Ahh, it feels just like back in the student days - not having enough money to even eat!
* it's a delicacy from back home. It's named so because it was created to cater to the Royal family at first, and the price reflects it too -_-
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
We arrived late in Beauvais airport since the flight was delayed. Took the shuttle bus to Paris and then took the Metro to head to Porte de Chatillon where we had a booking at the Formule 1 hotel.
Arriving at Chatillon-Montrouge was a bit unnerving. It was just past midnight, the roads were almost deserted, and the place looks kinda dodgy too. We walked a bit trying to find the hotel, but then we thought better of it and hailed a cab instead.
Luckily we didn't try to walk, it was quite a distance away. It wasn't the right station to get off really, since it's nearer to another tram station.
So we got in the hotel and were looking forward to a nice shower and a warm bed, but our hopes were dashed. Turned out, Charis wrongly booked the rooms for November! They were fully booked at the time so weren't able to accomodate us. The man at the desk was helpful though, he called the chain and found out they have rooms at another Formule 1 way across town, nearby Porte de Saint-Ouen.
So us four weary souls dragged our bags to the tram station and struggled to get the tickets since we don't know how to operate the machine and after a while only did we realize that it was broken. Luckily the other machine was working fine. Hopped on the tram and made our way to Porte de Vanves station. We were running by the time we got off the tram since the guy at the hotel said the trains run until 1.30am, and it was already 1am by then. So we got in, bought the tickets and sat down at the platform and waited for the train.
And we waited. And we waited. And we waited.
Then one of the staff came around to tell us that the last train was at 12.45am, and not 1.30am. Now what do we do?
Plan A was to sleep at the station and wait for the 1st train at 5.30am, but they closed it down so we walked out in the cold and started walking blindly.
It was the night before Raya, and back home it's around 8am on Raya morning. Dad and Kimi would still be at the mosque I guess, while mom and the girls would be at home getting ready to head off to kampung after sembahyang Raya. Me, I was out in the cold, literally, on the streets of Paris. Such was the folly of the this traveller.
Soon enough the coldness is taking its' toll so we decided to just hail a cab and get to the other hotel no matter how much it would cost. By 3am we were all showered and ready for bed. I called home to wish my family Selamat hari Raya and went to bed at around 4am. A long day indeed.
Next morning, we headed out bright and early and took in a quick breakfast of warm croissants and hot chocolate before rushing to Eiffel tower. Went up to the top and took in the view (while the wind was threatening to blow us off the tower).
Then, we walked across Pont d'Iena and headed along the River Seine all the way to Place de la Concorde. Then we walked through Jardins des Tuileries before arriving at Musee du Louvre.
From there we walked along Rue de Rivoli heading towards Georges Pompidou Centre. From there, took the Metro to Montmartre, alighting at Grands Boulevard station. After purchasing the customary HRC t-shirt, had dinner before heading to Avenue des Champs-Elysees.
Walked along the length of it until we arrived at Arc de Triomphe. By then it's quite late at night and the shops were closing. We headed back to Eiffel to take in the light show before heading back to Porte de Saint-Ouen, back to our hotel for a well deserved rest. My feet were screaming murder by then.
Next day, we took the train to Val d'Europe to visit the designer outlets. Bought some stuff for mes parents, and extra socks for me (yes, my budget only permits me those sadly). Before long, we're back on the train to head back to Beauvais to catch our next flight. This time, we're flying southeastwards. Venice, we're coming for ya!
Catch that leg of the Trip in Part 3 ;)
Friday, October 17, 2008
After checking out on Saturday morning, we headed for London to bum around until it's time to check into the apartment in Bayswater. It's actually more like Paddington seeing how far it was from Bayswater. We spent the night there and after checking out the next morning, we hung around town to kill time before catching the flight out to Barcelona.
We planned to head to Luton at 3pm so as to have ample time. Someone said "rilek la, korang nih kalut betul. Aku dah amek bas gi Luton 10 kali dah, tak pernah lebih setengah jam", so we decided to heed his 'advice' since it sounded like experience talking. Funnily enough, the bus trip took one and a half hour and we missed the damn flight. Of course, that someone is then ranting about "siot lah bas nih, lembap betul" even though it's stated on the brochures as the expected journey time. But pointing fingers does not solve the problem at hand, so we bought the next ticket out to Barcelona and it cost us 8 times more than the original ticket, plus 2 bus journeys (since the next flight is going out of Stansted) and a night that will have to be spent at the airport.
So it was, my first night ever spent sleeping at an airport. It wasn't fun.
Next morning we checked in as early as we can and soon enough were on our way to sunny Spain!
We arrived in Girona just before noon and made our way to Barcelona ASAP since we already wasted half a day. Dumped our bags at the hostel in Ronda de Sant Pau, and immediately took off for lunch and a stroll down La Rambla heading towards Plaça Catalunya.
Headed for the Info booth there to ask about the flamenco performance and bought the tickets there and then for the performance at Tablao Cordobes (it's 35 euros for dance plus sangrias, with dinner it's way more expensive).
With city map in hand, we walked down Passeig de Gracia while admiring the excellent architecture. Several Gaudi buildings were along the road too, plus his lamp posts which incorporated his trademark organic style (and mosaics, of course). By the time we got to the Diagonal station, we took the Metro to the Sagrada Familia.
It was a grand sight, the architectural and sculptural work was breathtaking. We sat down at the roadside cafe just across the road from it to admire the sight.
Then we headed back to Pension Paraiso (the hostel) to shower and get ready for dinner. Deciding that we just had to try the tapas and paellas that we've heard so much about, we headed out in search for those. We ignored the more upscale tapas joints along La Rambla and hunted for a more quiet place. We found a very nice tapas bar in Plaça de Sant Josep Oriol, a small square with some tables set out in the middle of it. There's a busker playing spanish guitar melodies nearby too - perfect. And the food was good! But of course, on our shoestring budget we can't afford to really eat to our hearts' content but it was a good tapas experience all the same.
Then it's time to make our way down to Liceu nearby which is Tablao Cordobes where we were to catch the flamenco.
If you are ever in Spain, you must catch a flamenco performance. In Barcelona, Tablao Cordobes is considered as one of the best if not THE best place to do so. The place was small and cosy and it was jam packed with people. And the performance, nothing I can say will do it justice. Vigorous, passionate, lithe, emotive, they're just some of the ingredients. Though I did hope that some of the people in audience would refrain from using flash when taking pictures. It's distracting. Use available light people, please.
By the time it was over, we were hungry again. Daniel and Mike whom we met earlier at Girona airport wanted to find a place for drinks but it was getting late and we were already tired. Did manage to meet up with Jane though before heading back. Lucky for us, right in front of Pension Paraiso, there's probably 5 kebab joints! So we got out supper there before retiring for the night. Thank God for immigration.
Next morning, we headed for Les Corts station via the Metro. What is there? Well, just a short stroll away is the Camp Nou! (teringat plak Hasbullah Awang - "kita bersama lagi di kubu kuat AC Milan, Nou Camp!"). We bought the tickets for the stadium access and promptly snapped zillions of pictures. The place was huge, and evoked memories of games watched on TV previously *wipes eye*. The bad thing was that we didn't get to see the dressing room. Or maybe we missed it, then that would suck worse.
After Camp Nou, we headed for Parc Guell across town. It proved to be a formidable journey from the Metro station. It's an uphill trek for around 1.5km and my calves and knees and thighs were all screaming in unison from the sudden distress it was put under. They have been underused for a long while now, mind you. Parc Guell is an interesting place. There's an observation point where you can see all of Barcelona. There's the center plaza with the mosaic-y seats, curious figures (dog's heads, mosaic lizard etc) and organic pillars, all pointing towards one man - Antoni Gaudi.
Then we had to head back to pick up our bags and then head towards Girona again for the next leg of our trip. We got to the airport in time (since the rest of us made it a point to time keep and ensuire we get to the airport with lots of time to spare), and soon were on our way north heading towards Paris!
And that, will be in Part 2 of Euro Trip ;)
P/S: This is my 100th post, hurrah!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
It's been weeks. Since the presentation, I've been to several countries before finally arriving back barely in one piece. For that, look out for the next entry.
So, leaving the place I called home for four weeks was a bitch to say the least. And I wasn't trumping it up when I said home. After a while, you get a kind of affinity for your room, your hangouts etc eventhough we all know it's temporary. It's a kind of fleeting love. Short and sweet. A four-week stand.
But upon arriving in KLIA, as I exited the glass doors and instantly enveloped by the humidity, it brought a smile to my face. This is home. Broke a sweat within 10 minutes too, no doubt I'm back on familiar shores.
Arrived home and was disappointed to see that my bro has wrecked the house. Open pizza boxes on the table, empty cans on the floor, dishes unwashed, laundry piling in the spare room, and a broken vase to boot. Not even my room was spared. I was weary with 10 days of non stop travel and almost on-existent creature comfort, and was expecting a nice clean house like i left it (thanks to mom and Kak Cho who helped out a lot in getting the place spick and span) so that I can just crash.
So I did the dishes and Makdik helped to pickup some of the thrash, and after that just gave up and slunked down on the couch. After Makdik left, took a long shower to wash off the grime and travel off of me. Before long I was in dreamland, amidst the mess that was formerly my home.
Woke up at 2am, hungry since I haven't eaten since breakfast on the flight and cooked up a quick fried rice with tuna (honestly all I have in the kitchen then was a can of tuna in brine, some rice, oil and the assorted condiments). It wasn't good, but enough to last me until the next day. Turned on the TV and watched DVDs until it was time for me to go to LCCT to catch my last flight for some time (I hope), back to Kota Bharu.
Now a week later, I have a bad flu, coughing incessantly and still having trouble sleeping correctly. That's why it has taken me this long to write something about it. And now, stay tuned for stories from the Euro Trip.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
So the presentation is done. We've been working day and night for this for weeks, and now it's all over. Relief is understating it. But another feeling is stronger - sadness.
On the coach back from Canary Wharf, looking at the rolling hills passing by, I was secretly trying to capture it all in my mind. Almost desperately in fact, trying to make mental imprints of these lovely surroundings. Yes, my time here is coming to an end. Tonight we're having a fancy schmancy dinner, where I bet people will be exchanging contact details and business cards, no doubt many are in the same veins as I am.
Tomorrow will just be a debrief session and before you know it, that's it. Of course, not all of us will immediately leave. Some are staying in London for a while longer, while some are traveling to Europe like me. Whatever the plans are, I might not meet the people again. These fun bunch of people who for the past 4 weeks have acted largely not as the straight backed bankers we're supposed to be but rather the fun people they actually are. And for that, I'm glad.
Moving on is never easy. Harder when you're leaving not only the place, but the friendship that you've forged over the days. I'll surely miss playing foosball and pool at night at the bar, hanging out at the lounge while sipping hot chocolate, the pre dinner strolls around the lovely campus etc. It has become a routine, and pretty soon I have to return to the old routine. 40 minute commutes per way to work, long nights alone at home and weekends spent thinking about work. Not exactly an appealing prospect to tell the truth.
But my home is not here. For all the good that being away is offering, I still would not trade it in for my life back home. It might not be as sweet, or as fancy, but it's a comfortable life I've moulded myself, though not always at my own behest. I guess it's true what they say. In the end, I still prefer the hujan batu di bumi sendiri.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Another weekend recap, indulge me.
Saturday morning, off to London yet again. Went to Campden Town Market to people-gaze. Loads of interesting characters there, and the crowd was a bit suffocating. It was a nice sunny Saturday yet again, prolly that's the reason people were out in droves that day.
Then we're off to Covent Garden. Watched the street shows and took some pictures and bought some chocolates too. Met Kue to pass him the kuih raya that my mom
made me asked me to take along. He came all the way from Cardiff just to get them, lest the wifey aka my lil sister be unhappy =P Enjoy the kuih raya Kue and Pija, my juadah raya will be croissants and baguettes probably.
Next up, British Museum. Took the tube to Holborn and walked the rest of the way there practically directionless. We just randomly crossed streets until we see lots of Asian people huddling together (which usually means a tourist attraction). Last time I was here in 1994, I was scared shitless of the mummies. So, I went to have a look again. Cue hair tingling on the back of my neck, but it was alright this time around. That was a relief, I tell you. After a while, foot aching like mad and starting to feel tired and hungry, we went out and took a nap on the small patch of green near the front gate.
Now feeling refreshed, we walked towards Piccadily Circus and took a detour to Chinatown to get some cup noodles for the Euro trip this coming weekend onwards. We broke our fast at a Lebanese joint which was overpriced and not fulfiling. We need to look for Turkish joints next time. Since we had only about 10 minutes to eat, we practically shoved it down our throats before rushing to Queen's Theatre for the main highlight of the day - Les Miserables!
We managed to get quite good seats at about 32 quids, and the show was excellent. It was very polished, I was enthralled the whole time. I'm glad we took the time to catch it, it was well worth the time and money. The songs were nice, the cast were superb, the set were great, no wonder it has been staged for 22 years now. If you are ever in town, do take the time to catch this, or the other musicals. They're there for years and years for a reason, and a good one too.
This week will be busy with preparation for the presentation on Thursday. Scary!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Let the pictures do the talking first, shall we?
Anyway, the game panned out to be a very good one with Villa constantly on the attack and the threat of Ashley Young was very apparent. After the break, he went on to score Villa's second! Spurs introduced Giovani into the game, then only their game kicked up a notch. Nearing the end, Bent scored a consolation goal but it wasn't enough to catch Villa. We went on to win 2-1, and I was jumping with joy, though discreetly. I do not want to risk getting beaten to a pulp by an angry Spurs mob, so I kept a straight face until we were safely out of White Hart Lane =P
The experience was super, the atmosphere was electric and my EPL cherry-popping could not have been any sweeter. It might not be at Villa Park, but I take whatever I can for now. Thanks Nigel and Ashley for making it a night to remember. Clarets and blues forever, up the Villa!!!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
What a long day.
Started out around 10 with Fahmy and headed to London with no plans at all. Only when we arrived at St Pancras we decided to go visit Arsenal and Chelsea's home grounds. We headed to Holloway Road station first and went around the Emirates Stadium taking some pictures. Then we wanted to go to White Hart Lane as well, but got lost somewhere near Seven Sisters so we took a bus back to Kings' Cross instead.
Since it was only about 4pm, and still a lot of time to go before iftar, we hit the green and took a nap. Yeap, it was a nice day today with the sun out as though it's still summer. Loads of people taking in the sun too. We looked for a quieter spot and actually slept for an hour. We only woke up because it started to get quite chilly.
Then it's time to continue our journey. Went back to Green Park and headed southbound again. Next stop was Knightsbridge, Harrods. Too bad we were fasting since the foodhall looked so inviting. I was practically salivating at the food on display, and the price wasn't so astronomical as I thought. After torturing ourselves with the good food on show, we left and finally headed for Stamford Bridge.
We got there around 6pm and took more pictures. After that we just hung out at a halal kebab place nearby the stadium. Iftar was a huge lamb kebab and fries with coke, nice. It's actually excellent when compared to the food we're getting here. Not that it's bad, just that having 3 kinds of potatoes every day is a bit too much to handle.
After that, we headed straight for St Pancras to return to St Albans. Managed to take a wrong train, and only reached our destination at about 10.30pm. Met Irene, Wakako-chan, Harris and June too in the train, so we took a cab back together.
Now I'm enjoying my sweet nectarine that I bought at M&S, and watching some lame gameshow on the telly (you wouldn't believe how many gameshows they have on the telly). My feet are hurting so bad, but I bet my bottom dollar my Overnight Foot Treatment lotion will soothe them
Friday, September 12, 2008
It's been a busy week.
But first things first. Cooking at Deep was a great experience. My group was under the tutelage of Chef Nick and, we breezed through the menu which I can't remember what it is exactly now. I think Gloria or Tara still has the recipe, I'm gonna get it from them and cook it again back home. Since I was fasting, I didn't even get a chance to try the food. It looked and smelled delicious though.
Then over the weekend we just went to Oxford Street for a little shopping and then I brought Fahmy on a sight seeing tour of London. Funny how I still remember how to get to those places 15 years after I first set foot here. Sunday was spent in Watford, again shopping and killing time.
Then this week, we're supposed to do a presentation in front of some managers at the HQ in Canary Wharf! I don't think I've ever been more nervous to present than this. But I did volunteer to present and I did well enough I guess. But the days leading to the presentation last night was hectic. We worked day and night trying to do all the research and related work. Plus now I'm finally seeing some of these people's ugly side. Nothing takes the best and worst out of people better than pressure.
Today we went up to Marston Vale forest nearby Bedford for a community project. The place was so pretty, but the work we did was nothing short than draining. Since I can't even get a gulp to drink, it's that bit harder. But we did it, and now I'm back in my bed waiting for iftar, which is still almost 2 hours away.
Anyway, things will just get busier after this. The fun and games has ended ladies and gentlemen, now it's time for work. Bleargh.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
The leaves are starting to fall, I guess autumn is finally arriving for sure. It was sunny one day and wet and windy the next for the past few days, but I think summer has finally moved on to greener pastures for now.
Yesterday we went to the Hertfordshire Fire & Rescue Service Training & Development Center in Stevenage for a one day fire fighting related training. One word, superfun! I always had this dream when I was very young that I want to be a fireman when I grow up. Who would've thought that working in a bank would lead me to be a fireman, even for a day. Yeap, I even got to ride in the fire engine, with the sirens blazing ladies and gents. Nothing feels sweeter than a childhood improbable dream coming true, eh? My team (Jim, Ricky, Indri and Nad) ended up 3rd out of 5 in total, so nothing much to shout about. Safe to say we all had fun and enjoyed it tremendously. Ohh, one of the activities include sitting in a metal container while a fire was lighted in front of us. That was to demonstrate the dangers of fire how to be safe in such a fire. Trust me, should a fire happen, don't ever get up. Crawl and get out. There is a reason to it, and I've seen it.
That was fun, though tough. Little did I know that what I'm supposed to do today is much much tougher. We had to teach. I have a family chokeful of teachers, including my parents and both grandads, yet I always felt that I'll be useless in the teaching role. So cue me anxiously wondering what the hell am I gonna do when I'm supposed to teach a class full of 17 year old girls at St Albans Girls School. Yes, they are 17!!! My class when I was 17 was like a warzone, so I dreaded the worse.
Turned out, it wasn't so bad. My group of 4 (Ricky, Gloria and Serena) did quite well I think. The kids were marvellous, they did not misbehave as badly as I thought they would. Of course there's some bad apples but the rest were very cooperative and smart enough for me to respect them as adults. Perhaps the fact that the school is one of the best schools in the area helped, but we all sighed a collective sigh of relief once that was done. The best part is, I did not get any negative feedback at all while amassing quite a list of positive ones. Perhaps I do have the teaching genes in me after all. A career change soon? Don't bank on it.
What's on the plate for tomorrow? Well, ever heard of a restaurant called Deep? It's in Chelsea and it was formerly the set for Gordon Ramsay's cooking show The F Word. Guess what, we're gonna be cooking a four course gourmet meal tomorrow, right in the hallowed kitchen (exaggeration, yeah) of Deep. Won't say much yet, will let you guys in on it when I'm throuhg with it, alright? So tomorrow's team will consist of me, Tara, Ricky (different one this time), Crystal, Kanika, Jim and Stephen. Let's hope we don't kill anyone with our food! Ohh, Gordon won't be there, so I guess we're all spared.
Alright then, gonna go and have a bit of a stroll around the place before berbuka. Selamat berbuka (or sahur if that's your next meal) everyone!
Monday, September 1, 2008
Yawn, I'm still jet-lagged it seems.
This morning after a hearty breakfast, the 5 of us took a cab to Radlett and took the train to St Pancras. Spent the day doing touristy stuff, went to Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Birmingham Palace and finally lunch at Malaysian Hall in Bayswater (in spirit of Merdeka we decided to have nasi lemak there). Sure, I've done it all before the last time I was in the UK but this time with friends it's a bit more fun. Stopped at Boots to get toiletries since I only brought my perfume, deodorant, toothbrush and toothpaste with me, then at Tesco Express to get some food for sahur/midnight snacking before heading home.
Dinner was quite bland, but the company was brilliant so the food was largely shoved down our throats with not much of a thought. The guys seemed cool enough, so it might be an enjoyable 4 weeks after all. Oh there's even a guy from Bermuda who had to fend off questions of how do people work in a place like Bermuda, that's like an oxymoron or something.
So tomorrow we'll start the first session, don't really know what to expect so we'll see soon enough.
Yeah, I've been updating quite regularly of late haven't I? Boredom people, boredom. Nothing much to do after dinner, most of the guys are still hanging out at the pub but I was too tired to even focus on the footie match on the telly so I left early to take my bath and get ready for bed. Yes I know it's still early, I'm updating to keep me awake =P
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Hey folks, first posting from St Albans. The weather is nice, so don't believe everything that Vidic said.
Anyway, the journey went well. Left home at about 4.30am and finally arrived here at about 9pm local time. That's almost 24 hours of traveling altogether, inclusive of a 3-hour transit in Bangkok.
Anyway, the 12-hour long flight to Heathrow was marred by a yob who kept swearing loudly in every other sentence, and trust me that bloke talks a bit too much for everyone's liking. Big boy playing with big words, I wonder if his vocabulary extends more than 12 words (half of which are variations of the word fuck). Loud, vulgar and downright disruptive, he even threatened to slug some of the guys who told him off. Suffice to say, the flight was not very comfortable with this unwelcomed element on board. It started the moment he stepped on board, and he sat right near us, only a coupla rows back.
When we finally reached Heathrow, the Metropolitan police boarded and took him away in cuffs amidst applause and wolf-whistles from the rest of the passengers, I kid you not. And he resisted, it's kinda fun in a way seeing the two cops (bobbies isn't it?) pulled him out of the seat and dragged him off. Some of the guys who were threathened gave statements and all, it was very eventful indeed. How's that for in flight entertainment?
Oh it did not end there though. Once the sod was taken away, the Thai wife continued his charade. She kept going on about the people don't understand him and whatnot. Can't really understand much though, Thaiglish (you no understand, you come give money me not happy etc). Save it lady, we understood his unprovoked actions well enough.
Anyway, good news is that I have wi-fi in my room so I'll be able to blog and IM, so drop me a line anytime yeah? Gotta catch some sleep now, I feel so stoned already. Good night!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
F: Uncle, Proton Edar Desa Tun Razak pergi ka, dekat jalan Alam Damai sana?
U: Yes yes, masuk.
U: Keleta ada losak ka?
F: Ha'ah, pakai tak sampai sebulan dah rosak. Saya hantar servis sana, ni mau pergi amek.
U: Tak sampai sebulan ah, wahhh. Ini Ploton ah, kualiti talak ah.
F: Itu lah pasal, tengah drive skali dia mati pulak.
U: Itu macam ka? Manyak bahaya woo.
F: What to do, bad luck lah saya.
U: Lu talak ong la saya ingat, tapi tak apa. Manatau itu keleta punya nombor boleh menang besar punya. Itu jam, boleh guna duit itu buat bayar keleta la!
You crack me up Uncle, thanks for the joke (though he was deadly serious about it). So, 0389 can win big ah tomorrow, anyone willing to give a try?
Monday, August 25, 2008
I bought a new car a few months back. Only last month it arrived. Now, it's in the shops.
It broke down thrice while I was driving on the road, all in 3 days. Sent for repairs after the 1st time, and called Proton Assist too every time it happened. After the 1st repair, they told me it's working fine now and should give no more problems. They also told me it was my fault, it happened because of my driving style. Now it happened again despite me following their new driving style recommendations.
Today it broke down again as I was sending it to the Proton Edar Service Center. It broke down just a coupla kilometers from the Center, so I called them for assistance. Their answer was "tunggu la kereta dah boleh start balik then baru datang sini, tak pon call Proton Assist ". How does that help me who were stranded in the middle of the goddamn road? Luckily my insurance company provides free towing service, so the car was towed to the Service Center.
By that time I was very pissed off at the dismal quality of the car and also the attitude of the staff. I've had to deal with numerous incompetent Proton staff ever since I paid the booking fee back in April. Of course, some are actually helpful like the saleslady Anne at Proton Edar Jalan Ampang and the guy who attended to all my calls to Proton Assist. Everyone else, especially those at i-Care are just a waste of space. i-Care? What a joke. I-Don't-Care more like it.
So I went back to the office feeling very furious, and started to send out some e-mails. Yes, I wrote to NCCC, and then I also wrote to The Malay Mail, The Star and Berita Harian demanding answers from Proton for the extremely poor customer service and product quality. After about an hour, The Malay Mail called me up for more details. They asked me to wait for Proton's reply once they publish it. I hope the other papers would publish it too.
I wrote about this in a forum for Proton owners as well, and someone told me that I'm doing a brave thing. Brave? If I stay quiet, I might not even be around anymore soon. I've been lucky so far that I've not gotten into any accident every time the car's engine just stopped running while I was driving, but my luck might run out. This is not bravery my man, this is self preservation.
I have stayed quiet for far too long, being too patient with Proton's incompetence. Not anymore.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
In 9 days time I'll be on my way to London. It's going to be for work, so I don't expect much fun and games though. After that I'm gonna go do a bit of travelling in Europe, my itinerary counts Barcelona, Paris and Venice as my future destinations. I'm still thinking of how am I going to be able to finance my travels, from my research Europe is definitely not for those with thin wallets (such as yours truly). But hey, I 'll worry about that when I return to good ole Malaysia. What better excuse to lose weight than not having enough money for dinner (since my Mastercard is creeping nearer to the limit after buying flight tickets and booking accomodations) right?
So Ramadhan will be spent several continents away, with a few friends for company and no ketupat or rendang in sight for Raya later too. By the way Raya will be spent in Paris, ooh la la. It would be nicer if we actually have the time to spend it with my friend T (she's residing in Paris with her hubby now), but tight schedule meant that my Raya will just be on the sidewalks of Paris. Care-bear said we could tie up some buns in leaves to substitute ketupat and use bolognese sauce as rendang, an idea which I'm filing away for use just in case I get in the Raya mood at Porte de Chatillon =D
I never really looked forward to Raya before this, but when I can't experience it as per norm (2nd year running, last Raya was also spent away from home) I kinda miss it a little bit. Human nature is crazy like that, sometimes. Maybe it's just my nature, but whose keeping score anyway? For the longest time, I've always loved the idea of Raya. The build up to it which starts around the same time as Ramadhan always gets me in the mood. Then you'll hear the evergreen Raya songs being played, and you'll start remembering childrood Raya celebrations which are always much better. You'll see certain fireworks being sold (illegally, of course I never bought any. Really!) and you'll start getting flashbacks of the time your sister poked your aunt on the arm with the sparkler, or rogue rocket mercuns going berserk in the dusun next to your grandma's place etc. You'll hear certain Raya songs and it'll have a special memory like Dari Jauh Ku Pohon Maaf would always take me back to schooldays when we would sing it at the assembly just before going back to our respective hometowns for the Raya break.
There's tonnes of things that makes waiting for Raya fun. Then it's already Raya, and for me the fun ends after the morning prayers. Raya has become anti-climactic. After that it's just a blur of food and handshakes and orange cordial. In a jiffy, Raya is a thing of the past. But since last Raya, I don't even get to feel the build-up. This will be another Raya spent like any other day of the year. Next year? There's a chance I might be in Hong Kong, so I can't even be looking forward for that one.
Excuse my rambling, I was hit by a sudden rush of nostalgic Raya moments.
P/S: I know you guys who studied overseas will think nothing of this, and I don't intend to compare. This is solely what I feel.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I've found some very very good blogs of late, and some of them are actual writers. As I read their fluent prose and sentences, I started to lament my own shortcomings as an aspiring writer. Yes, I've always wanted to write for a living. Unfortunately I have nothing to show for even after all these years of aspiring.
For a while back then, I wrote poetry (yeah, laugh it up!). My mom wrote Malay poems which often reminds me of Usman Awang, whether she's aware of it or not. I wrote english ones, which upon rereading it now, reads like a bad attempt at Poe. At best. Dozens more remain unfinished, some are just one liners even.
I used to write short stories too, most of it left unfinished when I lost the plot midway. There were a few grand plans with Ainaa to write a collaboration-style novella which never saw completion. Nothing new there.
I bought the laptop with the plan of writing something worthwhile for once, so that I won't make an excuse that the PC is hidden behind a wall of junk that I can't use it to type out my premier work. Ahh, the follies of the lazy.
Perhaps, perhaps I'm not cut out to be a writer after all. My grammar is atrocious, my mom the English teacher has long given up on trying to correct it. I've always been told I have a good vocabulary, but even that is no longer my forte I feel. I'm beginning to go lazy and use the same old words over and over, leaving the more flamboyant or colourful ones disused. Left to rit and die in my mind.
I am 25, but not far from turning 26. Is this it? Am I going to accept defeat now and live free of the nagging feeling that I'm wasting my talents away. Do forgive my self-indulgent use of the word talent, since I subscribe to the mantra 'if I don't think highly of myself first, who will?'. Misleading? Tak kisah lah.
But then, the twist is, writing keeps me sane. I write because I have to. I blog because it's the easiest way to write now. I think I may have forgotten how to write with a pen. I write to let my thoughts out, lest they be trapped and go stale inside my mind. Stale thoughts are poison, mark my words. Thence I keep holding on to this dream of someday seeing something I wrote in print. It might be in the bargain bin after a few weeks, but I wouldn't feel bad about it. At least that one lifelong dream will be fulfilled at last - to be a writer.
You may say that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. Right on, John.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I just came back from watching The Dark Knight, alone. I avoided KLCC and the likes for the crowd tend to be suffocating, even on a weekday like this. Instead I drove the short distance to Galaxy, where I managed to just walk in 5 minutes before the movie started and still manage to get a very good seat. It might not be the best, but it's enough for me. Some 2 hours later, I walked back to my car. Deciding to skip dinner, I just drove back home.
I drove silently while listening to Pearl Jam playing softly in the car. Parked and went up to my unit, unlocked the grille and door and switched on the lights. The place blooms to life. From the foyer I can see my display rack overflowing with books, my couch that often serves as my second bed, the TV I've been planning to hang up on the wall but never actually done it yet and the retro carpet I got for cheap in Nilai ages ago - my living area.
Switched on the TV, nothing good on. Nothing new there. Out of habit I left it on as background noise, it helps to kill the loneliness. Bad habit, I know. Went to the kitchen to drink some water, and thought for a while about that kitchen cabinet I've been planning. Next bonus maybe, if there's gonna be one for me that is.
Walked back to the living area, past the dark wood dining table that mom made me buy though I wanted something smaller. Thank God I heeded her advice, now it doubles up as a utility table too. A small square table won't be able to hold my junk, and that's a fact. Mom always knows best, kids - listen to her.
Reached out to the switch on the far wall, and the balcony is bathed in a golden glow. I picked up the laptop and sat one of the chairs that I set out there, next to the table with a ponytail palm plant on it. Switched the laptop on and started typing this, just an entry detailing my thoughts. Sorry, nothing even close to be intellectually stimulating here today.
And at times like these that I thank God for everything that I have so far. I do feel lucky, Harry.
Friday, August 8, 2008
The 4 of us, though one can be mistaken for a ladyboy. And it's not me!
We stayed at Thanon Khao San, where backpackers from all around the world converge. Highly recommended for you to stay here rather than Sukhumvit (which is pricier). It's a street lined with guesthouses, pubs, restaurants, massage parlours, tattoo parlours and stalls selling clothes, food and CDs. There several convenience stores open 24 hours too. Basically you can just live there for weeks without having to go anywhere else.
Bangkok is fun for so many reasons. Cheap stuff to buy, great cheap food (we survived almost exclusively on a diet of paw phia, phad thai, kao phat and fruits), lovely weather (it was neither too hot nor rainy when we were there), and of course the people.
The people are excellent! They must be the most polite and nicest people I've met collectively. Malaysia still have a long way to go to match them, seriously. Traffic jams in Bangkok are notorious but I seldom heard horns being blared, cars and tuk-tuks and bikes jostled for space on the roads but they are very tolerant of each other - giving space whenever possible. The people spoke softly and politely, like one would expect to speak to one's future in laws. Charming! One guy even slashed the price of his already-cheap Kiwi fruit shake just because I'm a fellow Muslim, how nice is that?
Of course, there are people trying to cheat you out of your money since you are tourists, expected to have wads of cash stashed somewhere. But show me a place with no such touts?
Then the parks, oh they are just so nice. Serene environment just a few metres away from the bustling streetscene of Thanon Phra Athit.
The massages we had was excellent, for only THB220, we had an hour of lovely Thai massage for sore feet and shoulders. We ended up going almost everyday. Manicures, pedicures, we did it all. THB200 for both, can you beat that?
Chatuchak weekend market was a chaotic blend of people and merchandise. Huge market plus a swarming mass of people plus sore feet and wallet equals to another round of massage!
It was all the more lovelier since we met some great Thai folks over there. My gratitude goes to all 'my friend me' over there: Chula, Mod, Nan, Min, Ang etc for making our stay there all the more better. 6 days was definitely not enough. We are already making plans to go again, next time just to chill and shop (since we've done the sightseeing this time around). The Bangkok syndrome is a hard one to cure, it seems.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I've been away, not that far but away nonetheless.
Sitting on the well-kept lawn of Santhi Chaiprakarn, letting the wind blow my hair all astray, I felt happy. I sat, sandals askew beside me and my camera resting on the grass near my feet - unused. I watched an old couple sit under the tree on the opposite corner of the lawn from me, and shifted my gaze to watch the other people there.
Behind me the Chao Phraya is giving an endless supply of fresh breeze, and I sat there taking in the scene while listening to a soft Thai ballad emanating from a not too far-off speaker. A girl took up a spot under another tree nearby and took out her iPod and notebook and was soon immersed in her writing. I wish I had my notebook with me too, but all I had was my memory.
I then laid down on the green, and closed my eyes. This is why I travel.
But now I'm back. Goodbye hospitality, gentleness and grace, hello back reality. Kuala Lumpur, I'm home now.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Okay, another slightly political posting. Skip if you're not interested.
Hands up those who thinks the Terengganu MB is doing a great job at handling the Mercedes case? I don't think we'll see that many hands up in the air.
I'm not gonna comment whether it's right or not to do so, or whether he's using the money entrusted to him in the best possible way or not. I'm thinking of another angle.
He revealed that one of the reasons they're buying Mercedes is because the maintenance cost of the V6 are too high, exceeding RM235k in one case. I think this is his dumbest act so far. Anyone with half a brain will see that something is wrong. An RM130k car is incurring RM235k of maintenance cost in 4 years. Yet those responsible for it never complained to Proton nor sent it in to Proton Service Centers to claim on the warranty. The cars were repaired/serviced at various workshops instead.
Tell me if it doesn't sound fishy. I would go ballistic if my car is costing me anything to repair due to its low quality as claimed by Mr MB. Normal wear and tear, okay but if it's gonna cost me even a fraction of what they spent, I'll just buy a new car instead. But I'll make sure I'll raise hell with Proton first. If I'm an MB, I'll request a personal audience with Proton's top brass to explain why the shoddy work on the cars.
I think, somebody has been claiming non-existing repair charges. Little by little at first, then got greedy when they got away with it. In the end it culminated in 235k worth of total maintenance cost. Isn't it funnier when the car in question was used by the previous MB and now the current MB? Coincidental, I think not.
BPR is on the case now, and if they don't find anything fishy then BPR has got to be investigated next. Mr MB just opened a huge can of worms, for his current posse and the previous one as well. Itu la, next time nak buat jahat biar pandai.
Anyway, it's just my lima sen's worth.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I was back in my hometown over the weekend and only returned to KL last night. I haven't been back since last October, and I can see the evidence of how long I've been away - new buildings have sprung up from nowhere!
Anyway, being back in Kota Bharu reminded me how I don't really have any friends there. I mean childhood friends. Pre high school, I've always been moving about. My first school was SK Pulai Chondong 2 (which has been renamed to SK Pangkal Gong I think), where my mom was teaching back then. Then I switched to SK Labok when dad was posted to teach at SMS Machang, which is adjacent to the school. Schooled there until we all packed up and moved to London while dad was doing his Masters at University of London. Kensington Primary School was my next port of call, followed by Langdon School. Came back and I was enrolled in SRK Sultan Ismail II and took UPSR there before sent away to MCKK.
It was only in MCKK where I first had a stable environment to make friends. I used to be in touch with a handful of various primary school friends, but most have drifted away with time and distance. In uni, I made more friends and some of them are still close friends until now. Now at work, I've made some good friends as well.
So my friends' list (so to quote social networking sites) only consists of people I know 1996 onwards. My friends back in Kelantan are almost exclusively guys I know back in MCKK (we had quite a number, 11 i think) actually. I think only one of them is working in Kota Bharu while the rest are scattered throughout Malaysia and beyond (one of us just got an offer to practice medicine in Aussie, congrats!). It's hard for us to find time and hangout like the old days, when school/uni hols mean nightly sessions of lepaking over teh tarik/milo ais and just chat the night away.
I'm thankful that since I started working, I am drawn back to the MCKK crowd since quite a few of us stays in Cheras/Ampang/Wangsa Maju area thus facilitating frequent lepak sessions. Of course people do get on with their lives and many a session have been cancelled due to those reasons. As more and more of us get married and have kids, will we still be able to do this? When we climb up the corporate ladder further, will we still have this much time to spend with friends? I am enjoying this time as much as I can because we'll never know when it'll be taken away in one way or the other. Overseas work posting, outright emmigration, QC (queen control =P) at home etc, all these might and will contribute.
Though I might lack actual childhood friends, the ones that I have are excellent enough that I don't really lament that lackness (eh, is this even an actual word?). Be it from high school, uni or work, I think I have a great set of friends. I'm sure you do too.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Can I surmise that all men have at least 1 expensive hobby? Some take to golf, and pay huge amounts of money for performance equipment and club fees and wagers (don't deny it fellas!). Others may take to cars (or bikes) and modify it to their hearts' and wallets' contents. It may look like crap to the general public, but it's eye candy to the owner. Ask my brother about his car, and he'll rant and rave lyrical about it. Then ask my mom for the opposite view on his ride. I tend to side with mom though, and he does admit that his car is a bit ah beng-ified now.
As for me, my sin is photography. I might not be spending as much as other people on it, but in my books I've been spending a fortune. When I first bought my Speedlite, my mom was shocked to learn that the price is equivalent to a brand new point and shoot compact digital camera (flash apa mahal sangat nih?!). To date I've invested in 2 extra lenses to complement the kit lens and 1 speedlite and some accessories. Next plan, save up for that ultrawide. I wonder if they'll accept my limbs as exchange. Or first born child. Kidding! (do they?)
But this is not my first expensive hobby. My first one was guitars. Learned it back in 2001, and after 2 weeks I'm in Sg Wang looking to buy my first six string. An electric one no less! That's ambitious for you. To buy that guitar and amp, I had to resort to an almost exclusively Maggi mee diet for half a semester. The lengths men will go to get the things they want are incredible. Since then, I've added 3 more guitars (a well used black Kapok, a midnight blue TGM acoustic and a wood veneer Epiphone classical), a Zoom 606 Multi-effect, and various accessories.
Sadly, my guitar playing is still as bad as it was then. But at least the room looks impressive when coupled with my brother's Fender Pbass and black Santa Cruz axe. Too bad the drum set is too bulky and noisy for my tiny unit. If not, we could have opened a damn studio.
Then it was the PC. I wasn't by any definition an extreme modder, but I want mine to look good, sound good and work good. And that equals to constant upgrading of this and that. Last thing I did was bought a 19" wide screen LCD monitor for it. After that I bought the laptop, so the PC is now idling in the room, with the guitars as company.
I don't know about golf, tried it when I was younger and it sucked. Perhaps my next hobby to take up will be cars. Sleek, expensive, fuel-guzzling Italian supercar. But that is still some light years away though. As for now, I'm sticking to what I'm at least half decent at - being the man behind the lens. But no matter how much I've invested (or wasted, your call), I'm proud of the fact that all of it comes from my own coffers. I worked hard to be able to afford all these things myself without asking for money from anyone.