There's been way too many fatal bus crashes in this country, and everytime it happened the people in power would start condemning this and that, suggesting this and that, investigating this and that. But every single time, it would just quieten down again in a few weeks and all's swell again. Until another crash that is. Repeat ad nauseum.
As someone who used to ride longhaul express buses regularly for close to a decade, I can tell you that rarely the ride was comfortable. If it travels by day, the aircond were never cold enough. By night, it feels like Siberia. The seats would sometime be broken, either you can't lower it, or it won't stay up. The toilets would always be horrendous, leaving you to hold it in until the next stop. And the worse part is, the drivers are always very reckless. I would usually stay up the whole journey since I don't dare sleep with that kind of driving (as if by staying awake I could do much about it).
So as a (former) seasoned bus traveller, I am here to present two solutions:
1. Get the all-talk politicians to actually ride one those buses incognito, and feel the thrill. They'll be shitting their Brioni pants before the bus even reached Bentong or Kuala Kangsar. But of course don't expect swift action. It'll take years for things to actually change around here. Even with shit-stained Brionis.
2. Modify the buses. Don't bother putting in speed limiters, or GPS or what not. Just make the driver sit outside the bus. Mould the bus body to exclude the driver's area, so he'll be exposed. Don't give him a seatbelt either, just a helmet would do. Then we'll see if they'll drive as recklessly anymore.
What say you?
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
There's been way too many fatal bus crashes in this country, and everytime it happened the people in power would start condemning this and that, suggesting this and that, investigating this and that. But every single time, it would just quieten down again in a few weeks and all's swell again. Until another crash that is. Repeat ad nauseum.
Monday, December 21, 2009
Back in Form 2, Pondar was my bedmate. He's vivacious, loud, cheeky and yet quite sensitive. He was my partner when we started a dorm ritual - watching a cute chinese girl pass by the school gate every afternoon without fail on her bicycle. We would rush back after afternoon prep classes and head straight to the balcony outside our dorm. There we would wait for that familiar red bicycle to come down the road towards us. At first it was just us, watching in silence. Then we got bolder so me and Pondar would often fight to be the one to say hi to her. At first there was no response. Then she started smiling to us as she passed by. Then she started waving to us. Then one day we even asked her name, and she replied! I can't remember what it was anymore, but the afternoon girl-gazing became our secret activity day in day out.
Of course later on the rest of the guys caught on to what we were doing and the crowd soon grew. After a while the girl stopped coming round our way, and the daily sessions ended just like that.
We were also caught head banging to some punk-rock cassettes, and as a punishment was beaten up by the prefects and made to stand in the middle of the hockey field and shout at the top of our lungs that we won't be making anymore ruckus in the dorm until we lost our voices.
After leaving school I rarely met him. Then he went on to work in his hometown in Labuan. Then on Saturday we got word that he was involved in a road accident in Labuan and suffered massive head injuries. He passed away that day.
Innalillah wa-inna ilaihi raji’un – Truly to Allah we belong, and truly to Him shall we return. Goodbye dear friend and brother, thank you for all the memories and we will miss you.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Up until a few years ago my dad had to support a family which includes us 5 kids. Then when Pija got a scholarship to do medicine in Ireland, I guessed it must've eased the burden a bit. Me being the antithesis of Pija was not smart enough to warrant a scholarship and so stayed within these shores and enslaved myself to PTPTN instead. Of course it's not enough and always, always late so dad still had to come to my rescue many times over. So when I started working I vowed not to ask for financial help any more, unless when I really really have to (so far it's been 3 years and a month, go me!).
That leaves 3 kids to feed school and generally bring up for my parents. The full benefit however fell to Kimi who quickly swooped in to ask for a car (and subsequent modifications afterwards) as a ransom for going to class. And he's only 19. I on the other hand walked to class for 15 minutes per way for 4 years before my dad granted me the use of my mom's old car. Even then it's because I had to go for my internship in Sony.
Anis showed me her new Crocs (these babies don't come for cheap, especially for something so simple) a few days ago, and she even got her own handphone these days. She is only 8! Iffah's always stuck to the MP3 player, and she's got Nike kicks for getting straight A's in her UPSR. My younger siblings sure got it good when compared to the time when both me and Pija were young.
Back then both of my parents were just teachers newly starting out, and with two kids to boot. I remember the envy I feel when my cousins brought with them expensive toys when they came over to play, but there's a sense of apprehension that it was not prudent for me to ask for something like that. No, we did not go lacking in any sense mind you. I made up for it by spending my time at the kampung - fishing for ikan puyu at the stream behind grandma's house (with a rod made from bamboo, DIY-ed by my late grandad himself), flying the wau at the paddy field during the dry season, looking for rubber tree nuts to turn into a creative helicopter using nothing more than that, a rubber band and an ice cream stick, buying buah gurah (some sort of concrete marble, I guess) to play against the other boys and so on and of course divebombing into the river at the waterlock, where apparently my dad got his scar when he dived onto a submerged tree branch in his own boyhood days. No history did not repeat itself and I did not get a similar scar to show for it =P
In school, I was exposed to other boys who are much more well off. I learnt something new from them - brand names. These kids would wear Billabong or Quiksilver, and the rest of us would dream of the day when we will be able to wear those stuff. Then of course it escalated. Handphones started being a necessity, and I only had my first one in 2001 (Mitsubishi Trium, yo!). I bought my first Levi's (with PTPTN money, hehe) in 2003, and still wears it until recently when I got to fat to fit into it. Bummer.
Anyway, when I started earning my own money and practically no one can stop me from spending it all away, I went a bit crazy at first. My attire to work today is an example (Clarks shoes, Nike socks, Dockers pants, CK boxers, Nautica shirt, Cerruti watch, Boss glasses, Gap messenger bag). It's all about Brands! I'm a good contributor to the country's revenue coffers ;) But with time, it eased off. I have more clothes than I can wear (I counted 30 work shirts alone, that's enough for 6 weeks of work), enough gadgets to make a spaceship out of and not much more I can ask for. But there's one more thing I'm thinking of now. It's one of the legacy of my schooldays, watching those have-kids flaunt it while I can only dream of it. I will make it a reality real soon...
Gua nak beli jam G-Shock ah!
Sunday, November 22, 2009
People (except for those who have known me for ages) are often surprised when I pick up a call and start blabbing in my native Kelantanese. Even friends who knew that I'm from Kelantan would still find it weird and funny when I speak the lingo, especially for the first time, in front of them. But this next fact I guess would surprise them even further. I'm a huge fan of dikir barat, yes ma'am.
I guess it started when mom started buying dikir barat cassettes and later CDs from the night markets and would play them in the car. So I had to listen to the songs, which very quickly grew on me. The rhythms are often similar, with traditional music and sometimes clapping in the background, but it was the lyrics that got me. Often they are meant as advices, telling you the dangers of drugs or the perils of badmouthing people for example. Most times, it's done in a very humorous and catchy way that the song would be stuck on you.
But I've never seen a dikir barat performance yet. Sure I've seen the one students do up in schools, and the ones shown on RTM yonks ago (AIDS merbahaya, Aedes pula mengancam manusia, remember?). But then I saw a video of the National Dikir Barat Competition, and was enthralled! Maybe about 30 men sitting in lines, the rear line on a pedestal so you can see them. Their moves were complicated, synchronised perfectly to the music and changes tempo in tune with the song. It's like nothing I've seen before. I Youtubed more videos and saw that this is the norm for a real dikir barat performance. This is no child's play, this is a complex performance.
Since for competitions it is basically a debate, and the teams would make their case. This is where the importance of having a good tukang karut comes in to play, because he needs to improvise the lyrics as the 'debate' goes on. The awak-awak would be repeating his lines (and in a more informal setting, with much gusto and improvisation on their part too) while performing their moves which only makes us of the upper body and the knees. The tukang karut would often make lighthearted jabs at his opponent, riling him up a little, and when his turn ends we'll see the reply!
I read on a forum dedicated to dikir barat connoisseurs (dikirbarat.net), the tok jogho represents the King, thus he is always seated and his song is more serious. The tukang karut is his laksamana, where he would take the King's words (in the song) and use it to lead the attack on the opponent. The awak-awak are the foot soldiers, mirroring the laksamana's words in numbers and put it to action.
But of course, don't take my word for it. There's much more to this art form, and you'll do well to explore it yourself regardless if you're Kelantanese or not. I am very glad that back in Kelantan the dikir barat scene is still very much active, with some tukang karut achieving fame and perhaps even celebrity status. Take a walk to the nearest pasar malam whenever you're in Kelantan and you'll find a stall or two selling the latest albums. You can even ask them which is the top album of the moment, and you won't be disappointed. If you're looking for the live performance, try ask around. There's one going on someplace, sometime, I'm sure of it ;)
P/S: if you see rappers improvising their lines during 'battles' and think that is impressive, then you've seen nothing yet homies.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Get your winter coats out boys and girls, it's gonna be snowing this Friday!
Oh haven't you heard? There's gonna be a freak winter storm in KL, we might be snowed in so stock up on food and stuff quick!
I'm gonna go look for a snowboard tomorrow (does anyone know where I can find one in KL?) so that I can spend the weekend snowboarding in Bukit Belacan. Ami Yummy already made plans to go ice skating should Sg Klang & Sg Gombak froze over. Brown ice to skate on, nice.
To the hip-hop homies who wore snowcaps and bubble jackets in the hot and humid Malaysian weather, now's the time to don them in style and minus the profuse sweating, bless!
"Dear all,For those who miss last weekend newspaper on the flood situation in Kelantan and Trengganu, the weather forecasted for around this coming November 15th is cold Siberian wind (due to melting of the ice caps – global warming) will be heading towards the equator and will result is another round of heavier rain hitting the East coast states. In this connection, the freak winter storm predicted for coming November 20th (article below) may have some truth, just stay aware and note the freaky weather in KL from now.
Rumours are surfacing about a freak winter storm that is expected to hit the Kuala Lumpur city centre on Friday, 20 November 2009 at around 7pm. Being near the equator, KL has never experienced such a cold weather phenomenon and residents used to the hot and humid weather are warned to take serious precautions.
Reliable sources think that there are reasons to believe these rumours following some unusual weather-related events that many parts of the world have experienced in recent history. Those who have never experienced extreme cold weather are advised to stick close to one another for support. I suggest reading this article on How to Survive Being Stranded in Snow and other similar ones you can find easily on the internet.
As I personally know some of these sources, I will send out further notices as we get closer to the anticipated event. Remember, mark 20 November 2009 in your diaries. In such an occurrence, there is safety in numbers so stay close to one another, especially after office hours!"
P/S: Please don't tell me you believe this crap? One of the most ridiculous e-mail forwarded to me ever, mindblowingly ludicrous! But then I wouldn't complain if it actually snowed here, would be a nice change right? =P
Sunday, November 8, 2009
The stage was set. A sea of red greeted my arrival in Bukit Jalil yesterday. 3/4 of the stadium was jam packed with fans bedecked in red and white. The noise level was wild, drums and trumpets helped to trump up the atmosphere and synchronise chants. Banners was unfurled around the stadium and flags of various kinds were on display (one joker even brought a PAS flag with a silhouette of the Malaysia Cup on the white 'moon'). Everyone was in a party mood - anticipating an excellent game as just reward for making a lot of effort to attend the game and show their support. It's game time!
But we were to be disappointed by an abject display by the team. The defenders were disorganised at best, missing tackles and making miskicks. The midfield went missing for major parts of the game. The strikers seemed nervy and kept holding on to the ball for too long. Main culprits would be Nizad Ayub (7), Norhisham Hasan (9) and Zamri Ramli (27). Looking at their game, they should be playing in Liga Belia Jajahan Bachok instead of at the highest level like this. Us in the stands were getting very frustrated with the inept gameplay on show.
After Shahurain scored the excellent first goal (again due to bad defending on our part), word on the stands was that we will not come back from that since the team is known to play badly after getting behind. True to word, they did. We still had hope going into half time though. But when Hairuddin scored another (yes you guessed it, atrocious defending again!) from the get go of the second half, there seemed to be no way back now. Even with Nizad and Norhisham taken out replaced by Che Hisamuddin (11) and Khalid Jamlus (25), the performance did not improve by much. By then it became apparent who is the worst player on the pitch. From where I'm sitting, major calls for Zamri to be taken out (and probably buang daerah to Rompin) was getting louder. I guess Negri players have also identified him as the weak spot as most of their attacks started coming through their left flank. It was like Negri having an extra player with his bad passes, positioning and tackles. It's practically a game of 10 against 12.
When Zamri brought down a Negri player for the penalty, the Red Warriors fell silent. Zaquan Adha converted coolly, and at 0-3 down I decided to leave this debacle for my long train ride home. Apparently quite a lot of other people felt the same way. I think I caught the first train out of Bukit Jalil but it was packed full to the brim with Kelantan supporters. There's still a crowd on the platform, mind you. I'll tell you later about the train ride itself ;)
Some supporters threw firecrackers and bottles and even burnt stuff last night, but somehow I understood. You have to be there in the stands to understand the frustration. It didn't make it right, and I should know better since I had a firecracker explode at my calf leaving an angry red patch of irritated and slightly singed skin, but understandable. Many of these folks came all the way from Kelantan by all means possible. Some took leave to ensure they had time to queue up to get the tickets while some paid crazy money to buy tickets from touts when all else fails. When more than 60,000 supporters made all kinds of effort off the pitch, shouldn't we be expecting the team to be making the effort on the pitch too?
Yes we lost to the better team. Negri absolutely deserved the win, and we deserved the thumping we got. I reserve my praise only for Indra Putra (23) Daudsu Jamaluddin (15) and Halim Napi (1) who played well enough to preserve whatever pride we have left. Well boys, let's start looking forward to next year. Bukit Jalil sekali lagi boh tahung depé? Bereh!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Don't you just hate it when people misunderstood what you're saying and the result made you look bad?
Case in point, I dropped by a branch of a bank earlier today to make my car and house loan repayments. Filled up the forms, queued for like 5 minutes, went to the counter, gave the teller the forms and fished out the cash from my wallet.
I gave him a lump sum for both repayments, and there's a balance of RM35.36. But because of the rounding up the balance due was RM35.35.
So the teller did his stuff and then started taking out money for my balance. He gave me RM35 in notes and started counting the cents from a box of change. I noticed there's still 1 sen coins in the box, so I casually asked him:
"Ada lagi 1 sen?"
Perhaps it was my tone, or he was caught unaware, he replied:
"Memang kurang 1 sen sebab rounding up".
Arghhhh, and with that he effectively reduced me to a cheap ignorant idiot who even asked about the 1 sen deficit! I started to correct him, but then the damage's done. Note to self, go to a different branch next time.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Was surprised to see on Facebook a picture I've not seen before, yet so familiar. It's a picture of my late paternal grandfather Allahyarham Haji Abdullah Haji Salleh (known affectionately to us grandkids as Abah) when he was still a teacher. My auntie posted it up from some stranger's short blog entry about him.
"Cikgu Lah adalah guru yang mengajar SMAS Pulai Chondong ditahun 70an. Ia tinggal di Kampung Galang. Ketika berulang alik kesekolah ia menaiki keretanya kalau tidak silap Datsun. Beliau sudah lama kembali kerahmatullah. Dahulu guru dapat mengajar murid dengan berkesan kerana dapat sedikit sebanyak dapat menggunakan body contact iaitu seperti menggunakan kekerasan tangan dengan niat mengajar. Jadi kita murid adalah merasa takut dan ambil berat untuk belajar." - dsnbuluh.blogspot.com
I've heard countless stories about him from my dad, my mom (whom Abah doted on like his own daughter), my aunties and uncles. Of course since I spent a lot of my childhood days with Abah and Ma, I have my own memories of him.
I remember him asking me to buy his favourite pack of cigarettes - Peter Stuyvesant - and I always get to keep the change. I remember him taking afternoon siestas on his favourite kerusi malas (deck chair with multicoloured plastic strings wound around the metal frame, you know what I mean) shirtless and waking with reddish stripes all over his back.
I remember motorcycle rides with him, me in the basket in front and him riding leisurely. Nobody wore helmets back then. I remember burning my knee on his hot motorcycle exhaust when I stumbled while getting off. I still have the scar to show for it.
I remember his ungainly Subaru (or was it Daihatsu?) minivan, and his red Fiat car. Apparently my dad said he loves small cars.
I remember trips with him and Ma and young Che Na and Makdik to Penang and Langkawi. I even remember asking him what does the signboard 'ikut kiri kecuali memotong' means.
I remember him taking the flight to KL with us, my first time ever. I remember him sending us off when we boarded the flight headed for London back in 1993. I remember excitedly reading letters from home telling us in East Ham that Abah and the rest are planning for a visit. He never came.
A few months later he passed away while we were a million miles way. While I was a million miles away.
To that unknown blogger, thank you so much for reminding me about this man I loved. Abah, once in a while Pih still thinks about you. Al-Fatihah.
Monday, October 19, 2009
The other day over lunch, I was talking to some friends about handphones (mobile phones, cellphones, don't be anal) and the fads that was considered the in thing back then. Behold I present, Top 10 Handphone Facts Of Days Yonder!
1. Remember when every other person owned a Nokia 3210 or 3310? The biggest draw was the Snake game, which can keep you occupied for hours on end. Getting your name on the High Score of your friend's phones was the ultimate reward.
2. Circa the same period, these phones made it possible for users to compose their own ringtone. No more annoying factory standard tones, hello annoying self-composed ringtones! Some people would buy the small booklets with the codes to the latest songs, some had the musical gift to be able to dictate the codes by ear. Bless!
3. Somehow it became a (very daft) trend to hang the phones by a lanyard around the neck. For those who can afford the prohibitively expensive small phones, it didn't look too bad. But then you'll see idiots with a 3310 trying to do the same and end up with a stiff neck at the end of the day.
4. Phones then was very much customizable physically. You can change the plastic casing for about RM10, and also change the screen backlight from boring yellow to white blue or red. Then some bright light discovered that you can put a picture on the LCD which only shows up when the screen is off. When the screen lights up, the picture disappears *gasp*.
5. There was a time when transparent plastic casing was a sought after item for it's cool factor. How to make it much cooler? By using a special battery with multicoloured LEDs that lights up whenever the phone's active i.e. incoming call. Groovy!
6. Remember Ericsson T10, Philips Twist, Nokia Banana et al? Those used to be cool...
7. Now how about Sagem, Alcatel, Siemens, Mitsubishi? If you have no idea that they used to produce handphones, then you must be quite young. I wonder if any of them are still producing handphones?
8. Simcards used to cost an arm and an ear. I bought my Maxis simcard for RM198 at a stall in Carrefour Subang Jaya (it was even pricier before that, RM200++, does anyone remember the price?). Now they're practically giving it away for free. Bummer.
9. It used to cost 60 freaking cents per minute to make calls from prepaid numbers, and for most folks they had to make a RM50/RM60 topup last for a month. SMS was the way to go brother.
10. When desperate, or whenever you know the other person is using postpaid, or whenever you feel cheap, just do the popular thing - misscall! It's the Malaysian equivalent to the 'hey, call me back' message at no cost at all. People who misscalled me often will just get one from me in return. It's my way of saying 'can't, my credit's running low too'.
Got any more?
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Boss: So how's our penetration rate year to date?
Me: We're currently at 13.9%, while plan for the year is 8%. We have exceeded the target by 5.9%
Boss: I think the plan was too low.
Me: No, I don't think so. As at Decemeber 08 we were only at 5.4%.
Boss:. Hrmm, ok.
That was the closest I came to slugging my own boss. I was given that target of 8% because the penetration rate has been rather dormant for years. Now that I've exceeded the target by a big margin, how dare he say that's because the plan was too low. I've worked my ass off for this shit, saying 'good job' was the least you can do.
I need to leave.
Monday, September 7, 2009
I know it's not a good thing to do, but when it's not yet 4pm and the tummy is playing an angry tune so loud people around me turned their heads to look for the source, my mind invariably think about food. Oh the torture...
No secret that I love a good eat. It's a trait that runs deep in the family. We would go anywhere for a decent bite. Therefore I present to you, Must Makan List!
1. Pasar Ramadhan are also synonymous with Roti John, but there's only one definitive Roti John for me (and a whole lot of other people) - Roti John Unan Putrajaya. Memories of those wonderful Roti Johns are like a tide crashing at my resolve, should I break you'll find me amongst the faithfuls standing in line for up to an hour just to get their paws on the Roti Johns.
2. The Nan Corner in Ampang Jaya was famous for the roti nan, but I go there for something else. What often goes together with 7-11 outlets? Ramly Burger stalls! This one, we christened Burger Sampah is my favourite. They burgers are uber-messy, overflowing with sauce and mayo and falls apart and the slightest of touch. And that is why I love it so much.
3. Taman Kosas is not ordinarily known for it's gastronomic delights but Nasi Lemak Kukus Hot Station is a different story. It is cheap, tasty and not crowded (yet) like other famous nasi lemak joints. The place does a bad job of advertising itself with the lack of signage, but that's only good news for me since the crowd are mostly locals or regulars I guess.
4. If you ever found yourself in downtown KL, in the vicinity of Masjid India, then head on to Insaf for a meal that's gonna leave you struggling to stay awake afterwards. Nasi Beryani and ayam madu, coupled with the blended Mango drink - bliss! Prob is, when the bill comes, you'll know why the joint is called Insaf =P
5. Ohh if you like popiahs, head over to Desa Pandan's Pasar Ramadhan for some good ones. It's RM1 each, but it's a lot bigger than your normal popiahs. The line gets a bit long too, so do come early!
Let's leave it at 5 first, I'll continue with more whenever the fancy strikes me. Selamat berbuka today, folks ;)
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Hi folks, have not been blogging for a while now. A bit busy with the real life. Yes, I do have a life seemingly, surprise surprise.
Last week I was on a business trip to JB, a day trip some more. Took the first flight out (had to leave home by 5.30am to make that flight, sheesh), and came back later in the afternoon.
Thing with me is, I always like to strike up a conversation with the cabbie. Seldom I find a cabbie whose not talkative anyway, most of them just need a little prodding to start going machine-gun mode. A travel guide to KL I read once said the cabbies here are the center of information, ask them anything. Whether it's the right information, is anyone's guess.
The early morning cab ride to the airport was with a young-ish Indian guy, I chatted with him a bit about his family and his work. He gave a useful tip too: from KLIA in the afternoons, better take the cab directly home rather than taking the ERL and trying to get a cab from KL Sentral. He said a lot of cabbies won't be around since they don't wanna be stuck in traffic jams during berbuka time. Since he's not gonna gain anything by offering me that advice, I decided to heed that advice later.
From JB airport to my destination, a Malay pakcik was the cabbie (Proton Saga Limo beb!). After making small talk, the pakcik then proceeded to tell me all about the Iskandar plan, Nusajaya, Syed Mokhtar, which roads are jammed, Pasar Selayang and so on. It's like a verbal Wikipedia!
After my meeting, I rushed back to the airport to catch the flight back to KL. The Chinese fella driving was very talkative, I only asked him the Malaysian equivalent of Bonjour "dah makan?", and off he goes. He was asking me lots of questions about myself and my job, and offered a lot of advices too. It went something like this:
"Boss, saya tanya you punya gaji boleh bagitau ka?"
"Err, RMXXXX (some random number)"
"Saya cakap ah, itu sangat sikit tau. You kerja polis pon boleh dapat lagi banyak. Ini you kerja sampai malam, travel sana sini, tapi gaji sikit. You tamau masuk government ka?"
"Why ah, ada best ka?"
"Ooooo, itu paling bagus punya! Gaji bagus, kerja senang sikit, takda pening-pening punya tau. You ada join UMNO ka?"
"Haha, belum lagi la."
"You kena join cepat-cepat, sana senang mau dapat peluang kerja. Saya tahu ini memang fact. Sama juga kalau saya join MCA, sama juga. Tapi saya sekolah rendah saja, you sekolah tinggi sure senang. You rasa berapa banyak harimau makan harimau?"
"Hah? Errr, tak ada la saya rasa"
"Betul, ini sebab.."
And it went on and on. He never ran out of topics it seemed. Much more fun that listening to the radio, hands down!
From KLIA back to Ampang, it was an old Indian uncle driving the cab. This guy really made the most of his job, he knew the latest price of oil per barrel ("semalam ada orang Petronas naik cab saya, dia bagitau"), the economic V-shaped recovery ("last week ada Korean businessman cerita sama saya"), Vietnam's economic potential ("saya punya regular customer selalu travel pergi Vietnam every week") and so on. He impressed me! I could actually talk shop with this uncle, and he's taking it all in his stride.
Forget the radio or your iPod next time you're in a cab and strike up a conversation with the cabbie. Chances are you'll be in for an interesting if not fruitful conversation ;)
Thursday, August 13, 2009
I have always disliked maths, though it will always be a mystery why the hell did I do engineering in uni and now working in a bank. My maths grade were okay during school though I hated it so much, except for during Form 4.
You know what they say, it being a honeymoon year and all. I really took it in spirit and frankly didn't bother much about my grades. Tasted my first F9 for Add Maths in Form 4, and it continues a few more times. I have no problem with Mod Maths but with Add Maths, I was completely lost back then. Mr. Tan was our Add Maths teacher then, a very patient and passionate veteran teacher who tirelessly tried to get us to understand what he's teaching us. I feel sorry for him looking back now, it's like dumping knowledge into a black hole =P
Anyway, when Form 4 comes to an end and Form 5 comes around, i realised the folly of my fooling around. I started studying Add Maths, asking for help from the bright sparks in class like Lada (goddamn he's a genius, he can sleep all throughout the period and still be able to solve the problems given!). The first exam of the year came around and funnily enough I was able to answer the questions posed. I felt a flicker of hope there!
So the day came when Mr. Tan told us the papers have all been checked and marked. He's gonna call us to collect our papers starting with the highest going down to the lowest. Groans were heard all around, we're not expecting this public humiliation!
"Hazrul Nizam, sangat bagus. 100%"
"Azahari, bagus juga, 100%"
Then I heard my name. MY NAME?!!
"FH, 99% bagus"
In a daze I walked to the front of class and picked up my papers beaming with utmost pride. Then Mr. Tan came up with the ultimate killjoy.
"You buat sendiri ke?"
P/S: Sumpah aku buat sendiri langsung tak tiru. People around me were all F9 Club members, aku nak tiru sape weh??? I don't blame him though, from failing continuously to getting 99% must've been very suspicious to him, bless his old heart.
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Ever since I started working in the Bank, I've learnt the importance of good customer service. This is why I would willingly pay more to buy from a good sales person than save the few bucks at a shop where the sales person couldn't care less.
It also made me aware of the amazingly bad customer service I've had to endure. Choice selects:
Hands down the worse ever. Their Proton i-Care helpline is a joke. They promised me the car in 2 weeks at most, and I only got it after 3 months. And that was after dozens of calls made to the Manager who only talked to me the first time, and then keep evading my calls by being 'away' every time I called his number. Found his cell phone number and called him and voila he answered! Guess what, he's in a very important meeting and will call back. He never did.
I got the car, and it has a suite of problems, the worse of which is a faulty ECM which resulted in the engine shutting down suddenly and can't be restarted until the car cools down. I called the Proton 24-hours Helpline to tow my the first time it happened, smack in the middle of a very busy traffic light. Guess what, the guy who was on the line kept asking me for my car insurance policy number. WTF? I blew my top off, and told him to get a tow truck quickly because my battery is low and I can't stand being honked at by asshole drivers who think I deliberately parked my car in the middle of the intersection, despite my hazard light blinking. And no, the tow truck never came. They sent a mechanic who touched this and that and said it's wiring problem. The car engine then has cooled down enough to be restarted.
Went to a Proton Edar service rep, and they said it's been fixed and blamed me for going up inclines without downshifting to a lower gear. They said it's caused by 'spark plug masuk minyak' whatever the hell that means. Within a day it broke down again, in the middle of MRR2 as I was sending it to Proton Edar Service Center for second opinion. I was maybe 2KM away, and I called them for assistance. They told me to wait for 30mins and see if I can start the car and then call them again. Luckily I found out the night before my insurance offers free towing service, no questions asked.
So finally problem was solved, but not after going through all this shit. Dato' Syed Zainal, do something la beb. Macam haram customer service kau nih.
If I forgot to pay my bills, they would be so diligent in cutting off my net connection. But when their service was like shit a while back, they didn't even offer an explanation until a few weeks later. What, no courtesy to even refund us for the subpar performance? Imagine getting a time out message even to open Google.
My calls to them about it were always answered 'we're upgrading bla bla bla', or 'we're already looking into it bla bla bla'. When I asked when will this be resolved, they won't give me a timeline.
Even though it's okay now, but the experience left a bitter taste. They should have handled it better by sending personal letters to the customers or something before people gets mad about it. Jeremy Kung, any ideas? Don't tell me you only employ geeks with no social skills over there.
I never had problems with IRB before, until recently. I submitted my tax forms which shows that they owe me a sum of money for tax overpaid. After a few months of waiting (way past their promised deadline to issue cheques), I received a letter from them. I was excited since I was anticipating the cheque.
What I got was a letter saying I have to pay an extra RM750 due to previously untaxed portion or something. I was told to settle end by month end. So I called their customer service hotline.
I waited for a long time just to get to speak to someone. At every menu choice, the instruction is very lengthy and complete with some IRB message or something. When I finally managed to talk to someone, I was glad she was a nice girl. So I asked her what's all this about?
She said "encik tak perlu risau, kita akan offset payment tu dengan encik punye PCB. Jadi encik tak perlu membuat apa-apa bayaran". Huh, so why did you guys send me the statement along with the instruction to pay up and everything then? When I asked her what am I supposed to do, she said "encik tak perlu buat apa-apa, encik boleh abaikan saja statement tu". Arghhh!
Don't waste paper and my time lah!!! You could've just let me know in a short paragraph that you have debited certain amount from the overpaid tax balance because of this and that. Easy right, Dato' Hasmah?
Some others are excellent, like Domino's, Maxis and Astro, but the rest still have a long way to go.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I remember when I was walking down Avenue de New York towards Flamme de la Liberte, taking in the cool Autumn morning breeze while watching the Parisian life go by around me.
I remember thinking how lucky I was to be given than chance, to see far flung places I have only otherwise heard about. That was 11 months ago, I think it's about time I count my blessings again.
I am grateful that I still have my family, not a perfect one but I would not trade it for anything else. We are loud, boisterous and can be embarassing when we are all together. We seldom do things together now since we're far away most times, but we try to whenever we can. I'm happiest when I'm around them, though I don't show it often enough.
I am grateful that I have a wonderful extended family who loves to joke, laugh, cook, eat, travel, laugh (oh, I mentioned that already?) and in times of trouble, never fails to be there for each other. These are the things that helped shaped my life, and helped me see the lighter side of life, and how the worse of things can be endured with some hope and some faith. And of course, some laughs to ease the pain =)
I am grateful to have loyal friends who don't judge me for me failings, and have always been a phone call away whenever I need a time out. 13 years now knowing them, not a moment felt wasted. They're the best shrinks around, but they won't shy away from telling you to be a man and move on with your life if it warrants it.
I am grateful that I have met other cool people in uni and at work, people who shares my mentality and bandwidth. People who helped me get through the bad patches in uni and at work by just bitching along with me.
I am grateful for having a good stable job which have provided me with the means to do so many things I have otherwise only dreamt about. Sure it still sucks at times, but at times like these I'm just happy to still have this job.
I am grateful to be able to enjoy myself using my own money after I started working. I travelled a lot, I tried new things, I learnt new skills. I also wasted my money on a lot of things I don't need, but like little boys I did it just because I can. Sure, my savings account is pitiful but I can honestly say I've lived my life the way I want.
I am grateful that at a relatively young age I managed to own my own place, in a prime location to boot! The fact that the value has more than doubled in less than two years doesn't hurt either =P Most of my savings went into it, and it's damn hard work maintaining a house all by yourself. My monthly utility bills plus the mortgage takes away 1/3 of my salary, but at the end of a long day at work, I'll be sitting down with a nice drink on the couch and I'll be thinking that it's all worth it ;)
I am grateful that I managed to even buy my own car after that, after almost 4 years of driving my mom's old car ('90 Proton Knight y'all!). Though people been questioning my decision to buy a two-door, though people asked me why didn't I get a Honda instead of another Proton, I didn't flinch. First car is an emotional purchase, since that's the only car that made a connection with me (besides a Ferrari, but that's a different story), I went for it. Carpe diem.
Most of all, I'm grateful to still be alive and healthy. I'm grateful to be granted so many good things, and am given the strength to endure the bad things. Alhamdulillah.
"There are as many nights as days, and the one is just as long as the other in the year's course. Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word 'happy' would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness." - Carl Jung
Sunday, August 2, 2009
I thought Innuendo was the worst live act I've seen, but Search just took the crown last night. Allow me to gripe from the start of the whole disaster called Di Awan Biru concert in Bukit Kiara on Saturday.
Firstly, the ticketing agent must be out of their minds. Tickets bought only entitled you to a reference number. Tickets are to be collected at the venue itself. No surprise when hundreds of people were shoving and pushing their way to collect the tickets from the 5 or so available redemption counters. The counters were placed right next to each other with no breathing space, and there was no one to control the crowd. Even worse, it's placed right next to the entrance point - which is another point of contention.
I don't know why, but seemingly the guys at the entrance chose to open only two narrow channels for people to pass. It might've worked swell earlier but it's almost 9pm and everyone was trying to get it, 2 channels just won't do it. After so many people telling them to open up more channels, they opened another one. God, can't someone with brains be in charge?
Now that we're through, and made our way to the field, we thought things will go smoothly from now on. Wrong. Search was late by an hour, which I was already expecting so I don't really see that as a problem. Then when they started the first song, Amy's mic weren't on! Great way to steal the thunder, well done sound engineer! The fireworks and flameburst on stage was cool, but we came to see Search and not the pyrotechnics.
Second song, Balada Pemuzik Jalanan was cut short by guess what, a power outage on the stage. Everything went quiet and dark suddenly and we were treated to a blast of spotlight while they rectified the error. The crowd was getting very annoyed now. Took them a while to get things done too. Given that the sound system was very bad in the first place, this is not helping matters. Amy's mic were on too slow on some songs, the bass' amp was very very bad, and the keyboard was way too loud. Somebody shoot the sound engineer, please.
Also I must say, Search did not meet the crowd's expectations. Come on, crowd favourites like Rozana, Kejora and Meniti Titian Usang were not played! Even the hugely popular Gadisku was only part of a medley. WTF??? Isabella was marred by Kid's erratic amp (sounds very much like my jamming sessions back in the days at Zai Am Studio, Kuala Kangsar honestly). Then they resorted to some solo jamming sessions by Yazid and Din which no one wanted to hear thank you very much.
Fantasia Bulan Madu? By the time they played that, a sizeable crowd has already left. I left halfway through Fantasia Bulan Madu too. The murmurs from the leaving crowd all have the same flavour - disappointment.
Should somehow someone connected with Search came upon this, know that most os us had to brave hours of traffic jam just to get to the venue, and had to tussle to get tickets at the redemption counter, then more pushing and shoving just to get in. No one complained very much in expectation of a stellar performance by Search, but we all left bitterly dissapointed.
I say, give it up. Retire. Let Search be something of a memory rather than serve this kind of half-assed effort to the fans. Honestly Amy, langsung tak berbaloi wa pegi wa cakap sama lu, ok?
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
If you've read my old entries you'll find that I travel quite a bit. I don't do travel-in-style because I prefer backpacking more. It's a lot cheaper, makes more sense (why should I pay top money for a nice 4-star hotel room when the only time I'll be in it is to sleep at night?) and it's a lot cheaper. Enough reasons for me ;)
Anyway, I have received some messages and e-mails asking me for tips on backpacking (watch out Ian Wright!), so here's some of the stuff I have advised people before, based on my own experience:
1. Make sure you have enough money. My rule of thumb is budget for USD100 per day, that is inclusive of room, food, transport etc. If you are backpacking around SEA, chances are you won't exceed that amount (unless you shop).
2. Keep your valuables with you at all times. This includes your passport, wallet, money, phone, camera and laptop if you are foolish enough to bring one. Might sound like something everyone knows, but it's a fact a lot of people take for granted.
3. Do not expect the locals to speak your language/english. Unless if you are travelling to a country whose mother tongue is your own/english that is. I have a very basic grasp of French which really helped while I was in Paris, but we struggled a bit in Italy and Spain due to the language barrier. A phrasebook (or even a printed page of basic phrases) will help a lot.
4. In countries that does not use the common alphabet (Roman is it?), you might want to ask someone at the hotel or airport to write down your hotel's address and embassy's address so that you can show it to anyone in case of trouble, or just to let the cab drivers know where exactly you want to go. Try pronouncing Thai/Khmer/Vietnamese words, and you'll fail most of the time, I'll bet on that.
5. Be open to changes in your itinerary. Be flexible, rigidness will only hinder the unexpected element of travelling. Try something new (like those deep fried bugs, which were surprisingly yummy!), do something different (some 'cakes' in Amsterdam anyone?). It makes the experience more fun and memorable!
6. Be prepared for the hangover. This only happens if it was an excellent trip. Places where you know you'll be back again sometime wil tug at your mind when you're back at work and trying to remember how it felt back in Venice/London/Bangkok/etc.
These are just the very basics, but I feel the main thing about backpacking is just to go and explore the place yourself. Good luck!
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Got back yesterday to a messy house no thanks to my brother. Dropped the heavy Deuter backpack on the bedroom floor and almost immediately fell asleep.
Only woke up this morning with a groggy head and a massive hunger pang. After sitting it out for a while, that's when the withdrawal starts to kick in. Yes, the post-vacation withdrawal syndrome for those not familiar with it. Symptoms are diorientation, and a heavy feeling inside, though symptoms may vary.
Saigon is a sprawling city made up of numerous narrow buildings packing the small streets. We stayed at one of those buildings along Bui Vien which is made up into a backpackers' hotel. Surprisingly the rooms are very nice and clean with daily maid service plus breakfast, and all for about USD3 per person per night.
Me, Loblo, JJ, Mulder and Abu all have never been to Vietnam before, so we don't really know what to expect. Now I can safely say it is more modern than Phnom Penh, with better sanitation and infrastructure, but not yet near KL or Bangkok's level. The people are friendly enough for the most part, the cabs are cheap if you know which companies to take. The standard rate from Ben Thanh market to our hotel was about 15,000VND, we got ripped off once by a meter-cab which quoted 50,000VND instead. A tip, use Vinasun or Vina Taxi only.
The traffic was crazy. Gazillions of motorbikes, and crossing the roads was like a suicide bid. We did what the locals do - just cross and hope for the best! Yeap, those bike will avoid you smoothly with only a few honks for the trouble. Otherwise just take a cab. Food was very cheap and good, no problem finding halal or at least seafood/vegetarian meals.
Those are the basics, which somehow combined to have this effect on us all, making it so hard to leave it all behind to come back to KL. Would I go again, yes. Definitely.
For pictures, go to http://flickr.com/thebanker.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Alas, I was bitterly disappointed. Some bloody idiot set most of the hill on fire I guess, leaving scorched earth and dried up vegetation for most of the hilltop. Though there were some nice shots to be had, but certainly not enough to sate my appetite.
Oh well, I guess that calls for Bukit Broga hike part 3 then!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
My mom went to Indonesia last week, and upon returning she dedicated this song to me. She said it's very popular over there at the moment.
Apa salah ibuku
Hidupku dirundung pilu
Tak ada yang mau dan menginginkan aku
Tuk jadi pengobat pilu
Tuk jadi penawar rindu
Tuk jadi kekasih hatiku
Timur Ke Barat
Selatan ke utara
Tak juga aku berjumpa
Dari musim durian hingga musim rambutan
Tak kunjung aku dapatkan
Tak jua aku temukan
Oh tuhan inikah cobaan
Siapa yang punya anak
Aku yang tengah malu
karena cuma diriku
yang tak laku-laku
Siapa yang mau bantu
Tolong aku kasiani aku
Tolong carikan diriku kekasih hatiku
Siapa yang mau
(Wali Band - Cari Jodoh)
Monday, June 15, 2009
Work is no fun, I guess everyone whose been reading my posts knows that now. However, I just found a way to make it a bit more interesting. Let's marry something more cool and thrilling with the inane reality of work. What could be better than to play pretend? How about turning the department into a Mafia organisation for starters.
We'll start at the Family's organisation. For the sake of my job safety let's give the players Mafia names. Let's see, the Family's don Vito Gazza is on his way out, imprisoned yet still calling the shots behind bars. Unwilling to let go, they say. The upcoming don, Larry Ianucci is trying to wrestle the control of the family bit by bit.
Then there's the 4 caporegimes. There's the oldtimer Eddie 'Pops' Santorelli, rose up slowly though the ranks. Quiet, unassuming, on his way out. Then there's Anthony 'Legs' Silvestri, loudmouth but mostly hot air. Massimo 'Bugs' Mancuso, mumbles but a ran a tight ship over his crew. Michael 'Big Mike' Cuneo the big guy, ran the biggest moneymaking outfit of them all. There was a fifth caporegime, Gianni Gravano who were recently made capo of a related Family.
Then of course there's us, the wiseguys. The guys who did the actual work for the Family. Often underappreciated, bullied and stepped on. But it's all in a day's work.
Then working for us we have the enforcers, the button men. Hard to work with most times, yet have to be nice to them if we ever want to get anything done. Too bad we can't give some of them concrete socks to go fishing in.
So there you have it, the Family. Any future work related rants would be in this romanticised format, fit for a TV series a la The Sopranos.
Don't judge me, we all need some kind of theraphy.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
I absolutely enjoy reading the Letters page in the daily papers.
One which I read last week in The Malay Mail was from a dissatisfied man who complained about IKEA. He complained that he wasn't eligible for the free parking that IKEA offers to customers who bought their goods. He also admitted that he bought nothing from the store. I laud the patient explanation by IKEA.
Another one today in The Star was from another man (I assume it's a man) who attacked a news report for calling humans 'aliens'. He said aliens are only for creatures not from Earth. He goes on to explain even mixed parentage children are still humans and not aliens (you don't say!). Oh he said he got his definition of 'aliens' from Wikipedia apparently. Solid. Perhaps he's not heard of a dictionary before...
Fun, isn't it?
Thursday, June 4, 2009
9 years ago, a group of boys grouped together and decided to resurrect the Annual Concert which has not been held for a few years. They have been jamming together for a few years now, so why not create bands and have a concert?
So the wheels were in motion. We never had specific bands during the weekly jamming sessions at Zai Am, so it was time to create it. The bands were pretty good for those days, but being jokers that we were none of us chose cool names for the bands. My band was the Butterfingers-worshipper, we called ourselves Soda Pop =D Another band played Nirvana religiously and hey called themselves Cock &Tail. Rage Against The Coke Machine played what else if not Rage Against The Machine. The Wisma Mat Sapaks played punk rock. There's prolly a few other bands but these 4 were formed from the core Saturday jamming crowd. See, it wasn't about the bands or the names, we did it just because we wanted to perform (like a rockstar, of course).
Flyers were designed in the spirit of the underground scene of the day, photocopied and distributed to death. I don't remember who designed the flyer, but I designed the backstage pass for bandmembers (I did the flyers for our Form 3 end of year concert - Vociferation Eternity). I still have one of those backstage passes you know.
So everything was in place, and the day arrived. Behold the first Annual Concert after 4 years, Malam Pria Mambo!
The night flew by in a blink of an eye. The bands played well, and I of course sang terribly (yes, I was the vocalist for Soda Pop unfortunately). The crowd was small, some parties pressured the juniors into staying away. The konon-pious crowd stayed away and pressured the inbetweeners into staying away too. Did we mind? No. We had a grand time yessiree.
And for that 15 minutes, I felt like a rockstar wa cakap sama lu...
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
It was a tiring weekend. After dinner on Friday I went out again to hang out with Han and Azlan over shisha. Left after a few hours to go fill up the car tank and returned home to sleep. Or so I thought.
After a few hours of tossing and turning, I gave up. At 2am I was in the kitchen preparing myself some breakfast. By 3am I'm already in the car ready to embark on the long drive home. Just as I started the engines, it started to pour. It didn't just rain, it was like someone dropped a huge bucket of water on my area.
Anyway, since I'll be driving out of town I figure it won't be that bad. Wrong.
It actually rained all the way to Kota Bharu. Visibility was very bad, and I don't dare push the limits of my Kruizers (good when dry, hopeless when wet). Took me an extra 90 minutes to reach my destination.
When I was somewhere near Machang town, the traffic was trudging along at a snail's pace. Then when I checked my rearview mirror, there's this Evo-wannabe Waja tailgating me. I was tired from driving and not sleeping the night before and the rain does not make things any easier for me. For this guy to be tailgating me so closely when there's obviously no space for me to move aside and impossible for me to go beyond 70km/h, I think he was toying with me.
The thing with cars like mine, people always thought it belongs to some nutjob who needed not much prodded to start driving crazy. I drive bloody auto, I'm not interested in racing you. So I did the only thing I can do in those circumstances. I braked hard.
Yeah stupid move I know, but I think he must've peed his pants a little because after that he kept a safe distance away from me before he saw half an opportunity and overtook me and was gone in...wait, he's stuck there. The traffic is heavy bro, lek laaaa...
Then it was all about Makdik's engagement and glorious good food to be had. But somehow it didn't turn out so well.
I was on MC yesterday because I got food poisoning. Had to go visit the john so many times my ass felt like it's on fire.
Now I'm at work, dehydrated and tired and in need of more rest. But since my inbox is burstng at it's seams, I can't take any more leave unfortunately, boo!
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
I am giddy, I want to get away. I need to get away.
Not that I'm unhappy, but can't say that my life is peachy neither. I know of one remedy, offers quick relief and like most drugs the effect is temporary. Yes, travelling is my ponstan for the mundane existence that is reality. Gosh I'm tempted to just buy a ticket to anywhere random and spend a few days away from all that I know. There's a certain charm in the uncertainty.
I need a break from work, from people at work, from anything related to work.
Patience, one month to go...
Monday, May 18, 2009
Eddie beat me to it, but here goes nonetheless:
Band of Brothers: all 10 of us in the pic for once, camera balanced on the ground, timer set and click! Loved the way it turned out.
Airborne: or Kanak-kanak Ribena. Only 8 guys in the picture. 9 if you count Fadli swimming in the background, you can see his head bobbing away at the back. Me, behind the lens as always ;)
So many pictures, some not even fit for general viewing (you guys know what I mean, haha). After so much dillydallying, we finally made this PD trip a reality. For that, I'm glad =)
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I'm one of the "silent copied". Do appreciate my workload doesn't allow me to get directly involved in this but by my reckoning, I think you have it spot on.
Keep up the excellent work, and apologies if we (as in my Dept) have unnecessarily slowed down your work in any inadvertent way.
If we had more guys like you in this bank, we'd cream the competition.
Have a great workday
That e-mail (copied word by word, only censoring out his name) made my day. It has been a very crappy day, and that's the only shining light to talk about. Thanks man, though I don't even know you and I doubt that you know me, that really helps to ease the pain.
I should really stop blogging about work, but lately work is taking precedence over my life. Do I need a new job, or a new life?
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
He's a tough man to love. Everytime he passes by any of us, we'll get a tight knot in our stomaches. Whenever he calls and summons us to his place, our minds will be racing trying to guess what's on his mind. No matter how perfect you thought your business paper was, or how holistic your presentation material was, he'll find some simple questions to shoot you and you'll be left thinking "why didn't I think of that?".
I've been working for him close to 3 years now, and many times I've been made to feel inadequate. It's a common feeling shared by even Senior Managers. He's very demanding, thrives on compliance and control and cost-effectiveness. He is a machine when it comes to work. The smartest and scariest banker I've ever known. He's my Director.
But today I can safely say with all my heart, I love that guy.
Remember the stuff about some idiots I mention in the last post, well we had another meeting with the same idiots who this time decided to call in their Directors as well. So my Director thought enough is enough so he joined us for the meeting. Upon entering the meeting room, I saw quickly enough I'm the most junior person in the room and fully expected to be made the black sheep yet again. 30 minutes later, he has slapped them up down left right for being inconsistent, not giving clear information, incoherent between themselves etc. Yes, that includes those 2 other Directors too. He also defended what I had been doing as correct as per their request. He then turned the tables on them and asked them to provide us with the relevant documentation by tomorrow and we'll respond by next Monday, and that's that. The look on those idiots' face was priceless!
Just for that, all these years of being tortured by him felt worth it. I heart you Mr G!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
It's been over a month since I last saw daylight upon leaving the office. Return home mostly in a daze, driving automatically and before I know it I'm plonked down in front of the telly and dozed off there. I miss my bed.
It's the head-cracking, expletive-ridden, migraine-inducing, blood-boiling kind of stress at work. Not made easier by idiots who by some stroke of luck made it to Senior Manager level, yet still spoke like a true idiot. Let's not go there, I'll be out of a job before I can shut my gob on that case.
Anyway, I always turn to retail theraphy to help grease the grind a little. You know, the drug to keep me coming to work and behave like a good natured boy should. So I bought meself a little something something from Cerruti. Alas, it's not enough! So I bought another something something from freaking Mont Blanc. Who said happiness can't be bought?
Well, they're freaking right. I've burnt a huge hole in my (spanking new) wallet, whoever said that would help in alleviating stress???
Hey, whining about it actually helped a little! And it's free too, bugger.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
I hate cubicles. I hate cubicles. I hate cubicles.
I want an office so that at times like this I can lock the door and lie down on the fugly mauve carpet and convulse in beautiful solitude.
Then of course, I'd still have to get up and resume my unending work afterwards.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Politics both thrill and bore me at the same time. Let's talk about something else, before the new cabinet is announced and I might have more things to rant which ultimately no one gives a shit about. OMG, I could be a damn politician!
I realized I've been telling a lot of stories recently. Well, here's another one =P
There's this chinese fella back in uni who we are chummy with. Let's call him Eric. He was housemates with some of my buds, so that's how I got to know him.
Anyway, the story goes that one night Eric was going to get lucky with the girlfriend. Since they are smart, he goes out to a 7-Eleven to get some rubbers.
So he walks in and browsed the racks for what he needed. Turned out, he can't find it. So he walked to the counter and casually asked the sales assistant "Durex ada ka?". The kid looked about for a second and told him they probably have more in the store room. So Eric waited while the kid went in back to look for his Durex.
After a few minutes the kid came back out and told him:
"Bang, Durex takde la. Eveready je ada"
Epilogue: Though I find the kid's naivety cute, I bet Eric thought otherwise, heh.
Friday, April 3, 2009
Tun Jeanne, are you freaking kidding me?
I thought it's the only title where one has to serve the nation at the highest level. As far as I know, only former PMs and former CJs are the only people almost assured (if not assured) of the title. So now it seems being a wife of a former PM is another surefire way. At least Tun Siti Hasmah was a patron for badminton for a long time, what have you done Tun Jeanne?
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
When I was younger, I never really had female friends. I was in an all-boys school ever since coming back from the UK and then went on to another all-boys boarding school for the next five years, what do you expect?
But when I was 14, a friendship developed with this girl I shall refer to as D. How? Long story. We started sending letters to and fro, and an awkward beginning soon bloomed into a very cherished friendship. She was the only girl I would call during the weekends and school holidays. So much so that even her mom knows about me and would sometimes chat with me before letting me speak to her. Safe to say my eyes were on the credit indicator on those public phones while the mom was talking!
But anyway, it was a cherished friendship for she was articulate, funny, and knowledgeable. Didn't hurt that she was cute as a button too =P
Met her for the first time when I took the bus to see her in her hometown. It's not that far though, only a 30mins bus ride away. Then met her a few times more after that.
Yes, I had a crush on her by then.
This friendship lasted for several years until one fateful day (chewah!). I hope I'm wrong since it's corny as heck but I called her on one Valentine's Day just to chat as usual and she rejected the call. Thinking nothing of it, I resumed watching TV. Then an SMS came.
"Sorry I can't talk to you anymore, I'm married".
She went incommunicado from there on and I made no more effort to contact her. Truth be said, I guess I was heartbroken. Not just because I had a crush, but because I felt I deserved better.
That was the story of my lost penpal, crush, bestie.
She found me on FB a few weeks back. She messaged me and asked if I still remember her. She's got a common name, so it took a while for me to connect the dots. Then it hit me. It was D. So I asked her to be sure, is she who I think she is. She said yes.
She told me that throughout all these years she has been looking for news of me. Only now did she found me. She apologized.
To me, it's all water under the bridge. It hurt then, but the wound has scabbed and peeled. She's now a mother to a little boy, and is working not far from where I am. Funny that.
Anyway D, if you are reading this you know who you are. Thanks for making the effort to find me and apologize. I really appreciate that. Say hi to that little boy of yours yeah?
T,M,D, (ha, I bet you don't remember these now!)
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I hate going shopping for new boxers at Isetan KLCC, but invariably I would always end up there. I hate it because every single time I went to the undies section of the men's department and walked over to the place where they have my preferred brand, there will be a female promoter standing nearby watching me. How uncomfortable is that?
I'm fickle with my boxers, I only buy those that I think looks nice (besides the obvious cutting, price and brand). Which means I would spend some time looking through the selection. All the while this girl would hover very closely and keep asking what colour I'm looking for, what size, what brand etc.
If I said it once that 'it's alright, I can handle it', don't ask the same damn question after 5 minutes!
Come on, put yourself in my shoes. How would you like it if when you're trying to buy a bra and a male promoter is asking you questions like what's your cup size, and eyeing your choices too. Not so fun, isn't it?
I know you're trying to help, or perhaps your boss have made it clear that no customer shall be left unattended or something, but hovering like that when a man is trying to buy his undies is not the way to go. On several occassions I left without buying because it got too annoying.
If somehow anyone who works in Isetan is reading this, please let those girls know. Especially since I have to go on another boxers shopping trip soon *sweats*
Thursday, March 19, 2009
It was a Sunday back in 1996, just after the morning prep class.We would mostly just laze around waiting for lunch, not that it's any good but because there's nothing else to do.
Suddenly a friend came up to my dorm and declared that he saw "pakcik dining hall masak lauk pakai selipar!"
Well, we all know the pakcik had a very relaxed attitude towards hygiene (he usually smokes while cooking, often shirtless too), but this must be a new low! Even if there wasn't enough cutleries to use to stir the lauk, surely there are better things to use than the trusty green selipar jepun.
So we trooped down and headed for the dining hall kitchen. We were ready to raise hell, we had enough of this lackadaisical attitude. In no time, we were face to face with the pakcik.
And he was stirring the lauk with a normal laddle, while the offending selipar jepun is worn on his feet as normal. The surprised look on his face was priceless.
"Aku tak cakap pon dia pakai selipar tuh buat kacau lauk, hahaha!"
Nasib baik aku tak ingat siapa kau...
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
If a friend who haven't spoken to you in ages suddenly call you up for coffee, be wary. It's one of three - insurance, MLM or to borrow some money. Okay there's a fourth which is genuine friendly intentions, but that almost never happens right?
On to this MLM shit, do you know anyone who actually made it big with any of the gazillion MLM companies out there? I was almost fooled by a friend back in uni (perhaps not his intention, but I don't know), he put up a full blown presentation for friends on the 'unique' strategy of CNI. Reportedly he's earning 4 figures monthly even then. Now he's still just a peon like most of us, waiting for the next paycheck.
This other girl was also into CNI wholeheartedly to the point that she blackmailed me into going to a CNI meet with her. Of course, once there I was so tickled by the absurdness of it I actually burst out laughing and got kicked out. Safe to say she never invited me back. Oh and her, she's still working with a relative of hers and stayed with another relative for a few years before finally renting a place for herself. I wonder where did all those 'millions' went to?
Another guy was big into Omega Trend or something, and he really went into it headfirst. He even quit his studies and pursued it full time since he said he'll earn more money doing that than being an engineer anyway. A few years later, we're all in our final year and he had just rejoined and restarted his engineering degree. He's driving a new Wira though, but he said his mom bought it for him.
Another guy was an acquantaince of my ex, whom I went to see just to see what's his 'unique' proposition is. His story is so full of holes that if you add curry it'll be a tasty roti jala. Case in point, he said a kid who was his downline took it up part time for 3-months and managed to buy a brand new beemer. My ass. Which bank would give out such a loan, even if he paid cash it'll bring up a lot of red flags (student, suddenly having enough cash to plonk down for a new beemer, you do the math). Took him to task on a few points but left the rest for other people to have fun with.
Then I see all these people getting conned by e-mail scams (Nigerian money anyone?), SMS scams, scratch-and-win scams etc. When will people learn there's no such thing as easy money? With hard work, of course you can make the big bucks with MLM no doubt about it. But if you are that hardworking and persuasive, you might as well do Unit Trust or Insurance and have money and credibility innit? I always use this rule of thumb: if it sounds to good to be true, it prolly is.
Friday, March 6, 2009
"If they find something of interest in Asia that's at the right price, they may consider buying," - Mamoun Tazi, an analyst at MF Global Securities Ltd in London.
He was referring to a major global bank's takeover strategy. I think he's an idiot.
His 'analysis' is very broad and generalistic. Isn't it kinda obvious that everyone will only buy something that interest them if it's at the right price? I'm interested in a Ferrari but the price sure don't suit me (read: can't afford by miles!) so I'm not buying it. A Peugeot 206 however is at the right price, but it doesn't interest me.
Even worse, he used the words 'may consider buying'. That's another no-brainer, dimwit. I don't think I need to explain what's wrong with this right?
If his boss has any brains, he should give Mr. Tazi there a tight slap for making an ass out of the firm with that kind of statement.
Ahh, senseless rant. Happy Friday folks!
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I admit, I was never a very good student in school. Probably I was back in primary school, but then that could be due to the fact that I have two teachers as parents so non-submission was not an option. But then I got my big break - boarding school!
If there's one school rule I broke over and over again unrepentantly, it was staying within the gates. It started way back in Form 1, believe it or not. I would walk nonchalantly through Cikgu Azmi aka Wawu's gates and go down to Lembah for the roadside cendol (before it moved to the current location, it used to be located right beside the main roundabout and we would sit on benches perched on top of drains).
In Form 2, we would go out via the fence behind the mosque since there's a stump nearby that can be used to step over the fence. Either that or through the drain at the far end of New Hostel (before they blocked it with steel bars).
In Form 3 we had to ask for 'permission' from the Form 5 to 'fly', and I slowed down a bit since every time you ask for permission you'll be tasked to buy burgers or something in return.
Then came Form 4 - honeymoon year. Not to stoke old fires but we were practically left to our own devices since the Form 5 were unable to reign us in. I started exploring new territories. Ipoh became next port of call, thanks to Red & Yellow Omnibus operating out of KK bus station. We would either go to town legally on Saturdays and get changed in the public toilets and rush up the buses, or go out at night and spend the night at mosques in Ipoh. I know, what was I thinking? We went to Ipoh mostly to catch new movies at Ipoh Parade, or play arcade games at Yik Fong. That year, the best way out was through the gap in the fence leading to parking area for lorries. Most of us can fit through then, not sure now though =P
In Form 5, of course we can do whatever we want now. I took it another step further, fly to KL! First time I did it because Tuah asked me to accompany him because he wanted to go to Sg Wang to buy a new deck (skateboard, not cards). He's even paying for my bus ticket! So I went, arrived at Pudu and went to Sg Wang for a few hours and took the night train back to Kuala Kangsar. That year, going out was made easier when we befriended the guy who worked the kitchens. Thus Ekspres Surabaya was born - the dining hall van =D The fella would drive and we would lie flat on our backs until we got past the guardhouse, then he would drop us anywhere in town. But of course, you have to book your 'seats' early since it can fit only 4-5 guys in one trip and there's only one trip each night. Coming back in was usually via climbing over the connecting gate to the mosque and then making a dash for the safety of the dorms.
My parents would've been disappointed or even perhaps downright angry if they found out then, but since now I turned out not so bad after all I guess I can reveal some stuff now =P I am glad I did those things though, since life would be a lot less exciting if I hadn't. So yeah, perhaps I never was a teacher's favourite or a top student, but I don't regret a thing. Carpe diem fellas, carpe diem ;)
Friday, February 27, 2009
My school was one of the first in the country to have an internet connection, thanks to rich old boys, and that was where I got my first taste of the internet. That was back in 1996, when internet was just a fledgling technology in Malaysia. I learned about Yahoo and Hotmail and mIRC there, then of course the holy trinity of the internet. The time when connecting to the internet alone takes 10 minutes and the teet-krek-krek-toot was a welcomed sound, and getting disconnected was a common occurance.
I used Yahoo up until 2005 or so when I converted to Google, I'm still using the same Hotmail account that I registered back then and who can forget mIRC? All the cool cats and copycats were spending their time on mIRC back then. I used a few different nicks like feuersturm and dressler, and was a regular on #warisan (for SBPians kan?) school-centric channels like #sunset, #overfloor, #sylvatica, and some others I can't even recall now. When I'm bored I would change my nick to something inviting like liana^love and join common channels like #mamak or #metropolitan and enjoy the sudden burst of private messages asking "hi, a/s/l?". Boy we sure had fun back then ;)
Oh to this particular guy, I'm sorry I lead you on. We made plans to meet up, he said he's in Damansara area so I said let's meet in Uptown (back when Uptown was THE place to hang out), eventhough I'm in Kuala Kangsar. I told him I'll be wearing a skirt with a blue top. Tsk tsk tsk liana^love, kesian dia...
Then cybercafes started sprouting up everywhere, even in sleepy Kuala Kangsar. Some people would go to play computer games like CM3, Command & Conquer, Warcraft, Diablo etc, while I go to code. I learnt HTML coding from Yam during one of those boring computer classes when the teacher would teach us how to use Microsoft Word *yawn*. Visits to cybercafes on weekends would see me coding and later updating my first 'blog', that was back in 1998 or so. It was hosted on Angelfire, but I can't remember the exact URL now, pity.
Dad hooked us up to the net in 2000 I think, and we got a quota of just 40 hours to be split amongst the 3 of us siblings. So me and Pija would sometimes eat into Kimi's portion =P Nights spent online at home was usually spent downloading songs through Napster or iMesh (one song would take hours) and chatting through mIRC. There wasn't much else to do back then anyway.
These days I'm just a consumer, technology like Blogger just kills the need for me to manually code HTML like I used to. I can't hope to reach Eddie's level of web knowledge these days, or Yam's, or my brother's for that matter. My interest has moved on to other things these days but just like first loves, you'll always remember the good times you had together
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The Director have this annoying habit of calling people to give work and will mete out the tightest deadline possible.
Me, my boss and another colleague went to see him to tell him that a business case we're building does not sound viable because of it's low margin. To cut a long story short, we got blasted at and he ended it by expecting me to see him on Thursday morning with a comprehensive presentation on how are we going to overcome the limitations and barriers that we've told him earlier.
The worst part is I'm on leave tomorrow. Or supposed to be.
Since the person in charge of stats is on course today, I can only get the necessary stuff from her tomorrow. So I have to come to work tomorrow regardless of my approved leave. And hey, I might even still be at work tomorrow night.
Oh God, I'm sure I'm gonna be shot to pieces come Thursday morning. It's like preparing for my own execution, bleargh.
All in a day's work huh?
Monday, February 23, 2009
Last night's news told of another person running into trouble at Bukit Tabur in Melawati. Previously a Chinese youth fell and injured his head and broke his legs I think, and now a female news reporter were unable to come back down after scaling the hill.
My advise is, don't underestimate the hill.
I hiked/climbed up the hill once before and it proved to be very challenging physically and mentally to me. I'm in no way in my best physical conditioning so that is to be expected anyway. But the terrain itself is not suitable for just a leisurely hike.
Before I made the climb, I went looking for information about it on the net and most of it says that it's just an easy climb. A friend told me that his friend said it only takes 30 minutes to climb to the top. A few hours later, I say bullshit to all those people. Probably they were trying to make themselves look tougher by saying it's so easy.
Let me tell you how it is. The climb up wouldn't be very taxing for most people I would expect. It's more of a steep hike through secondary forest and shrubbery. I don't think climbers will have any problems reaching the first peak, where you can see the sunrise and also the Klang Gate reservoir. It's the most scenic and probably the only place you'll be able to sit back and enjoy the view.
My advise, turn back the way you came to go down and it'll be much much easier. For the more adventurous (or misinformed as I was) you can forge ahead and go through the strenuous part of the hill.
The hill then turns into a series of steep and narrow ridges which you'll have to negotiate by climbing up and down the face of the rock, mostly with no safety equipment at all (except for some ropes in certain places). At one ridge I remember having to jump across a gap to the other side. Don't look down seriously, or you'll lose heart instantly.
There's probably 9 such ridges, where you'll have to climb up and down each one to get past it. After all the cliffs are over, you'll find yourself walking through an orchard for quite awhile before reaching the Reservoir entrance where most people park their cars.
For climbing tips, please refer to my earlier post about the climb.
On a related note, I hiked up Bukit Broga on Saturday with Arin and Nizam and I was not disappointed. I will be back for sure! You can see some of the pics on my Flickr :)
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I don't really think of myself as a good photographer, I do it because it's a passion. I don't think I'll call myself a photojournalist or whatever superlative anytime soon because I realize I'm not worthy. Even my idol Shaz considers herself as 'An amateur' on her Flickr profile, go figure.
A lot of people do wedding photography business these days because it is frankly good money. But it is not easy money, make no mistake about it. Some people think that getting paid thousands just to take a few pictures for a few hours is easy. It is if you're doing it without putting your heart into it.
Before the shoot, you have to make sure all the equipment are working, all the batteries are charged and all the CF cards are working and free of other pictures. Then you have to make sure you have more than enough batteries for your Speedlite, just in case. Never use anything other than Alkalines for faster recycling time and lifespan, though it costs a bomb.
On the day itself, if you have time you should recce the shoot area to find the best place to shoot. If not, you'll have to think on your feet. Keep moving, keep looking, keep shooting. That CF card can hold several hundred JPEGs, don't skimp!
Though you are invited to eat, try not to unless if there's a lull in the proceedings. Weddings are normally hectic with goings-on happening all the time. Eat in advance instead. You're not paid to eat, you're paid to shoot.
You'll sweat a bucket if you're doing it right, trust me. Talk to people, it'll put them at ease with you. Bear inm mind you are an outsider, an intruder of some sort. You need to blend in.
After the shoot, it's time to go through the hundreds of pictures and take out the bad ones. Honestly If I shoot 600 pictures, I would in the end only be happy with 200 or less. My benchmark of 'terer-ness' is when I can take 600 pictures and be happy with maybe 500 of them. Then it's editing time. Some people only want the raw pictures, that'll make your life easier. I don't edit my pictures too much, if it had to be edited too much to make it nice, I'll just scrap it. Editing 200 pictures is not a small task I can ensure you.
After all that, it's time to be properly rewarded for your work right? Not quite. I'm still owed a lot of money from friends. Though at first agreeing to the t&c and paid 20% for the pictures, they don't seem to be willing to pay the rest of the sum. It's my fault too for being too trusting with friends, no black and white agreement etc. Harder to take was when I asked for the money and he told me that my pictures was so bad no one liked them, everything was wrong about the pictures. Eventhough it's tough, I accepted his comments and told him that then I won't take any payments from him for my part but the pictures must be returned. But no, he said he'll still pay because it's unfair to me. And that was 6 months ago. To date he has been using MY pictures on his website about his lovely wedding. Oh well, have a good life bro.
Oh and I do feel some photographers are way overrated, and overcharging too. I've seen this famous photographer's pictures and they suck. I'll prolly churn something like him too, but at least I'm only charging 10% of what he is charging and I'm under no pretense that I'm one of the top photographers in Malaysia. Give me a break. So a word to people looking for photographers, look around and do some research. Just because it's a more household name, doesn't mean that it's gotta be better than the part timers.
But what do I know right, a dilettante talking about the 'pros'...
Sunday, February 15, 2009
You know, I am a horror story buff. I love listening to or watching a good scare-fare. I am also a skeptic, I don't just buy any sundry ghost story if the source is not credible enough in my books. I have experienced a few myself, but I never actually came face to face with one. Until last night that is.
We were out at this small mamak nearby Ampang Point, doing the usual Saturday night routine of bantering and joking about. It was around 4am when we finally left.
I came alone, so I drove back alone too naturally. I live very nearby, about 5 minutes drive to get home or 15 minutes walk away (yes, I can walk there!). At 4am, you can expect very little traffic and that is the case. My neighbourhood was even more deserted with not a moving car in sight.
So I came to this T junction just behind my condo, and slowed down to turn right. I noticed someone is at the junction and is slowly crossing the road. Gile ape pagi-pagi buta berjalan-jalan, I thought. So I slowed further to let him cross first since he's in my way.
As he came nearer I thought why is he wearing a mask? So I looked harder at him and then I noticed more details that made me regret looking. He's either eyeless or closed his eyes completely, and his skin was a pasty grey shade (you know, like cadavers), and his face was of a very hideous old man.
My heart skipped a beat and I stepped on the pedal. I checked in my rearview mirror to see if he, you know, followed me back. Thank God he didn't. The hairs behind my neck stood up on end, and I kept thinking of the face. So last night I slept with a small light on.
I'm not asking you to believe me, I'm just telling you what happened last night. Like I said, I'm a skeptic and I always think of a good explanation for these things. Last night I had none. I wouldn't have been so freaked out if not for the skin tone. It's freakin' grey, not just some pale sickly human skin tone.
Oh if you're up for clichés, he was wearing all white too.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Dad is doing better now, a big thanks to all the wellwishers. Took 2 days of Emergency Leave so that I was able to help my mom out with either stuff at home or stuff at the hospital.
My family could probably qualify for a medical frequent flyer miles or something. My dad has been hospitalized several times for his heart condition, including a valve replacement surgery in 2003. Mom was hospitalized when she was preggers with Anis back in 2000/2001 due to complications. Anis herself was kept at the hospital after birth because she was born prematurely (due to the previous complication). Iffah was hospitalized due to pneumonia when she was a baby. Kimi had his stay when he went for tonsil removal surgery. I had mine for dengue fever in 2007. Pija? She's studying to be a doctor, she BELONGS in a hospital.
My hospital stay was not really unpleasant actually. I got dengue fever, but detected early enough so I wasn't kept for long. Only three days, though I wish I can stay for a few days more since I was lethargic for a further 2 weeks. But of course, the bank would be crazy to pay the bill as I was staying in a private room at Gleneagles. Yeah, we do have good medical benefits here :)
It was unpleasant mainly for the fact that I was woken up every morning at 5am for the
vampires nurses to suck take my blood. But they are nice and was good at it though, I only feel a slight sting each time. And of course the thingy where they connect your hand to the IV drip. That thing is a nuisance, especially when I wanna shower or go to the toilet. It's either I have to take the whole IV stand along or call a nurse to unhook me for a while.
The food was alright, considering that it costs a bomb to stay at the private rooms there I wasn't surprised. I mean I had nasi lemak, pancakes and fruits for breakfast and then chicken chop, salad and some other stuff for lunch and things like that. And I get to choose what I want to eat the next day from a menu. Doesn't sound much like a hospital stay, does it? Of course, the food was very much tasteless as hospital food are wont to be. I would've wolfed it down anyway if not for the lack of appetite and a bitter taste in my throat.
Though indirectly, I have experienced the condition of our public hospitals many times. The wards look ok enough but the toilets are not fit for a hospital I feel. I did not see any handrails nor anti slip mats. There's only like 3-4 toilets and same number of showers per ward which can hold around 30 people or so, and they have to share it with relatives who are taking care of the patients too. Plus you'll get people haning their laundry in the toilets too, isn't there anyway to better handle this?. Cleanliness is alright, thank God.
My mom told me about how hard it is to go through all the red tape just to get discharged from the hospital. The different offices that she needed to go to are all located in different places, and sometimes waiting for hours only to be told she was at the wrong place. I'm sure something can be done about this, process improvement anyone?
Still, I am thankful for all the good these hospitals have given my family and myself. Just perhaps some improvement will make the experience easier to bear for the patients and family.