Saturday, May 30, 2015

Berakhirnya Epilog Cinta dari Leederville

After 34 years.

34 long years. May be a bit too long, I must admit, but life has a cruel way of manifesting itself. Move on; experience new life, meet new people. Leave all the pasts behind.

Yeah, the more un-romantic way of looking at things. Not me; I don't look at things in that manner.

Truth be told - I did not have the opportunity to return. Life conspired against me returning when I could still recognize things. Ideally, time should have stood still (for me). Everything would be still be intact. The landmark; the streets, the school and the house that we rented.

It would really be a walk down memory lane. I probably would still see and meet the younger me.

[sniff, sniff - pass me the tissue please] LOL

But 34 years old is a bit too long not to see someone. From a slim 18 year old boy, I now have white hairs, on the good side of me. On another side, I have none. I am over half a decade mark now. I have a big gut now, of course. She would not recognize me at all in this state.

But I am not alone in growing old. She did too.

And I can hardly recognize her. She in her own way has expanded a lot  - on all sides of her. From a slim her, she has overgrown her much. I am not sure I like her in this state. I certainly could not recognize her anymore.

Of course there are traits and names I still recognize. Mitchell Freeway, West Leederville, Oxford Street, Bourke Street.

And of course Cambridge Street.
Combo pix of me in front of Cambridge Court in1981 with my roommate and in 2015 with Arif and Akmal

Specifically 50 Cambridge Street.

This is the apartment I nearly burnt down, while cooking my rice on the stove. It is still intact. It is every way that I can remember. Exactly the way I would remember them.

Walking down Cambridge St, crossing the Mitchell Freeway and walking along Oxford Street to Leederville Teh. I'll alwyas remember that.

On weekend, we would visit our seniors at the University of Western Australia in the suburbs of Nedland/Crawley. Of course posing at the Swan River would be a must, especially with the yacht in the background.

That's me and friends in 1981 at 18, and the boys in 2015 in their early twenties.

At last, the romance of Perth (in my mind) is gone. It is still a nice and beautiful city; that I have to acknowledge.

But the romance is no longer there. Sort of. I am free at last.

Thank goodness!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

My lil Perth - Epilog Cinta dari Leederville II

Perth is a city that brings a sentimental longing in me. 

It is a city that opens up a wistful affection for my past, a period that I can consider as happy days, and a year full of hopes and dreams, and a lot to look forward to in my life.
Perth from Kings Park. It is a beautiful city by the Swan River. Taken from

Don't get me wrong. Happiness is not absolute. Nothing is.  For the year that I was there, I can only remember the good life, never mind that I did have my fair share of  ups and downs, when I was there. Like, this is the place where I failed my (car) driving tests.

Tests, mind you, as in the plural sense. Did I mention four times?


Our mind often plays a wonderful game with us. It blocks the bad memories, the sad episodes in our lives; those are quickly forgotten, or at least, if I can still remember it, I can now laugh at it.

All I remember was on that cold February morning, walking down the streets at Wembley - having just landed in Perth the night before.  It was more like the wee hours of that morning when we landed. It was still summer, but I was shivering. The air was cool - it didn't feel summer at all; but it was fresh;  and crispy. It has a peculiar atmosphere that remain etched in my mind. I left Australia more than 30 years ago, and yet I can still feel the crispiness in the air. That crisp air that morning after we landed in Perth probably has a lot to do with the gum trees - eucalyptus, if you must.

It was Australia to me. 

I am longing to have that feeling again. Fresh from completing our SPM, and thrown to the wonderful small city that is Perth, from the backwater of Kota Bharu. You can't beat that feeling. I own the world then; the world's my oyster. the sky's the limit.

It was a I-am-here-to-conquer-the-world feeling. It was a euphoric feeling.

I am sure I can't replicate that feeling internally in me. 30 years have passed; I have been battered by life - sort of, I can't pretend to have that innocent feeling again. Not unlike the song Lost That Loving Feeling, by the Righteous Brothers.

I never had the opportunity to return before this. My career took me to new places all over the world. But never my lil Perth (and in a sense, my Melbourne). I am sure they have grown. So much water would have flown by the Swan River (and the Yarra too) over the years. I am sure I may not recognize them as I would 34 years ago. Leederville Technical College is no longer Leederville Technical College. It is something else now. But I hope the building is still intact.

But my apartment on Cambridge St is still intact. Nothing has changed that much. Or at least that what I can see from Street View. I remember the walk that took us past the flyover over Mitchell Freeway.

Us at Nedlands, beside the Swan River in 1981. The picture tint is red with the advent of time, but the memory is intact.
Or the wonderful suburb of Nedlands/Crawley, where the equally majestic and beautiful buildings of the University of Western of Australia are located.

I can't wait to head back. As I told a friend, I remember Perth with all my innocence intact. I was there for a purpose. Study and get my degree. Well, in the end, I got my degree not in Perth, but Melbourne.

But Perth is the place I got started in life, so to speak.

For that I look up to Perth fondly.

Very fondly.


Here is Epilog Cinta dari Leederville Part I.

I told this story to a friend. He vehemently agreed with me. He felt the same way about Carbondale and the crisp air when he first arrived there. Another friend who was in Perth a couple of years agreed too; she said so in her comment below.

So it could be Perth, but may be it isn't. Yes, I do love Melbourne too, where I spent 4 years of my undergraduate years, but I did not feel the same about Melbourne, the same way I had described below.

May be it was because this was my first ever trip overseas, when I was not even 18.

Anything else beyond Perth - London, Tokyo, Houston, New York, Colorado, even Melbourne seems like a downgrade.

May be it is like first love. You can't beat that feeling you had with your first love. Everybody else beyond first love would be a downgrade. 

And this time around, no gal is involved!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Your money ain't yours until you spend it?

Taken from
You know I left office early yesterday - just before Friday prayer.

Prayed at KLCC mosque and then had a quick meeting with my partner. Nothing much to tell of the meeting itself, but his parting remark - pun was unintentional - was that the-money-is-not-mine-until-I-spend-it left an indelible mark on me. I raised my eyebrows and paused for a few moments. I had to mull over that statement. It sounds like an oxymoron to me, but it struck a chord nonetheless. It went against every grain of my soul and philosophy, but somehow he sounded right.

It messed up my mind.

I am someone who would diligently  save money. I am not a spender - not even a small one, unlike the late Sudirman (The Big Spender - May Allah bless his soul). I am someone who loves to see money grows in my bank account. It is ok to be sleeping on the floor and not having a dining table, but it is not ok not to have money in the bank.

Those things were of course true in my earlier life - now, I sleep on a bed with a mattress and dine on a dining table. Which did not say much in any case.

And it is not like my bank accounts have swelled today, or that I have a Swiss bank account nor do I have offshore bank accounts.

But how would spending my money makes them mine?

Unthinkable philosophy to my mind. This is simply not me.

But since Haji Nazari is someone I looked up to, so I decided to head to the Ferrari showroom. If he says so, he must be correct. So I should be spending money to make them mine. And might as well I buy the prancing horse model. 

F12berlinetta may be? F458 Spider?

Browsing around at the models on display, I noticed that F458 Italia comes at a price of RM2.

RM 2? I am sorry, I missed out the M, which stands for Many Many Multiple zeroes.

I slowly took out my wallet. Of course my wallet was always bulging - with receipts. You will always see that if you look at my pant's pocket. With hope, I started counting all of my one ringgit bills in the wallet. Alamak, I did not have RM2 M. I do have RM2 for sure. I am may be a few ringgit off the asking price. Probably I would tell you that the difference is a lot, if I was being interrogated by Malaysian Police.

Tip-toeing out of the showroom, I headed to to another showroom.

So I decided to buy this instead. This would not cost me RM2 M. It was so much cheaper. Four-fold cheaper. Surely I can afford his one?

How do you like my car?
With this spending, I am ensuring that the money I did not have is now mine. All of the half million ringgit.

My bank account has swelled.

No wonder I am rich!


PS Haha, gotcha! This is a friend's car who was kind enough to let me drive yesterday afternoon. Thank you very much ;) I am putting this in fine print, so that you would not read this and would think that this entry is a bragging entry. Hahaha.


It reminds me of a saying that says that what we have are not ours. Only those that we have given away in alms and for His path are ours. I guess this is correct if we consider looking at it from the context of hereafter, and I could not agree more. Whatever money you have in the bank will go to our next of kins when we pass away. They will not be ours and we will not have any benefit of it.

Only those we have sadaqah will be considered as our deeds for the hereafter.

This is not a real entry to be honest. A first attempt at satirical entry. I made up the story to test friends and relatives and see their reactions to me driving expensive car. Apparently from their silence, save for a few closest friends, I know they could not comprehend that this poor guy could afford such a luxury.

And they are certainly right!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Who lets the cat out of the bag?

I have had an unspectacular career generally. 

Nothing much to shout about. I have done my part, efficiently I presume (and hope). It had taken me to various countries to work - and the family had enjoyed those stints, but beyond that I don't have patents, nor have I published a significant number of papers.

No complaints though. No regrets. It is what it is; I am what I am. Could have done this; could have done that. Yeah, sure.

So when two publications came-a-calling, I was surprised. Why would anyone want to know my opinions on issues pertaining to the industry, or for that matter whether my opinion matters. I am too miniscule, or too unknown except to a close circle of companies and people. I don't indulge on high level issues.

Especially on policy matters.

I don't really care, and to be honest, I don't really have an opinion. Many are beyond me. I am struggling with bread-and-butter issues for the company that I have little time - or interest - to dabble on this high level stuff.

But the fact that two publications have been making appointments for interview puzzles me to say the least. 

Who lets the cat out of the bag?

I prefer to be anonymous. Not that I am complaining though. Thank you very much for nominating us; thank you for trusting me. Whoever you are.

Anyway, today Friday 11th, The Oil and Gas Year journal dropped by to have the session with me at the office. Their publication is out of Dubai and they do yearly analysis and market research and interview personalities for each major oil and gas country, including Malaysia.

I hope they are right; I hope I can start reaching out regionally.

The interviewing team from Dubai and they have been in the country since September

The interview covers the prospect for for 2015 for both the company's perspective, and the prospect of 2015 in general. Kuala Lumpur as hub for oil and gas in Asia Pacific is always a favourite question.

Fortunately they did not ask me whether oil price is going up in 2015 or why RON 95 and diesel  have little price disparity at the local pumps, or why until today we are still using Euro 2 diesel {sigh}, or any political questions!

But here are some of the questions that they posed. To be honest, this is soalan bocor and I have prepared myself the night before with some facts and figures.

I am sure many can answer some of these questions better than myself!

I do hope I have given them something quotable, and that I did not make a fool out of myself.
The Oil and Gas Year 2015 will be published in March 2015, and it would be interesting to get myself in here with other major players in Malaysia. I feel small though.

Earlier in  late October, The Oil and Gas Financial Journal dropped by for a session. Hey, I am an engineer. I don't do finance. They must have gotten the wrong person to interview. Huh!

The team from Oil and Gas Financial Jorunal
It would be interesting if all of the sudden, I got featured in two journals in the same year. It would be a coup. But really, I will be pleased with one. I'd take one anytime.

It would be an icing on cake for 2014.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Joy of Simpler Things in Life

I thought I was in the pink of my health. 

Even at the half-decade mark.

And why not? I have just completed my ECG test at the behest of my insurance agent - she had wanted me to have a different set of insurance than the one I have. So one Saturday morning, last Ramadhan, I took on the treadmill at a specialist clinic in PJ and completed the five sets of strenuous exercises.

Did I mention that the ECG was done in the month Ramadhan?

And I came out unscathed,  and if I can exaggerate a bit, with flying colours. The heart that is more than half-a-century old is fine and dandy, despite all the food binge I had through out my life.

So I was  happy. Happy as a bee.

No, no, relief is perhaps a better adjective to describe my feeling. I have always had an issue when it comes to checking my health. I didn't want to know. I was afraid, if I am honest with myself. I had always told my bosses in previous lives that I didn't want to know and that I would prefer it that when my time comes, I would just drop dead.

Not that I would want that anytime soon, especially then, and not now.

So when I was feeling not well (had a bout of diarrhea for nearly a week, the week before), I dismissed it as something that would soon pass. It has been a week and it does not seem to go away. But I did not have fever or anything, so it was business as usual.

However, that Saturday 8th Nov it had taken a turn for the worst. I was supposed to attend Dr Zaharuddin's seminar with Arif - instead, I had to ask Akmal to attend on my behalf. As for me, I then slept on my sofa all day that Saturday, and of course on Sunday too. Twice on consecutive days that weekend, I went to the doc. The second time on Sunday, I was given antibiotic.

That's how I survived the weekend.

Monday 10th was the start of training for my biggest client. I had no choice but to drag myself out of bed, and drove to UNITEN, where the training was being held. "You looked and sound bad, Rahman," Steve Saunders (my instructor) acknowledging my remark that I felt bad that morning.

At 9 am, I officiated the opening of the training session with about 18 attendees, and by 0930 hours, I was beginning to shiver. I decided to leave the training room, but I paused to take a breather of the sunlight at the car park, and then I drove to Columbia Asia hospital near my home. Had my blood test and immediately went home for a rest.
Columbia. Shared room.
An hour later came the test results .

"Can you come to the Hospital so that we can discuss the test results?"

"No, can you let me know over the phone?"

"We don't normally discuss results over the phone," came the reply.

"The results will determine how fast I would be there. If it is positive, I'll come immediately. If not, I'll take my time and come later in the afternoon. I am sick, you know," I tried arguing.

"It is positive."

I paused to ponder on the implication. The dreaded result is now known. I was going to be hospitalized; there was no two way about it. I then asked Arif to drive me to the hospital .

At the doc's office, I was pleading with the doc not to ward me. "Can I not be warded? I promise you that I'll take lots of fluid," I smiled wryly when I made the request.

"Why?" the doctor asked me.

"I hate the needle!"

"Don't worry, I'll do it for you," he reassures me.

I have seen Mak in pain over the blood samples. Most of Ampang Puteri nurses are novice over taking blood sample. Her arm had blue and black marks over it due to sampling issue. And how about the needle for the drip?
I can never imagine myself with this, but this is my right hand, taken my bro

They are big to me, and it looks painful.

And now I had to undergo it myself. Barely 2 years on. [sigh]

Actually the doctor was not that bad with the drip needle. I didn't feel a thing, to be honest. I was relief, and now I have a drip over me. For the first time. The dreaded needle is in me. For 52 years, I have not been admitted to a hospital; it is a proud record for me to showcase that I have been healthy.

And with His grace, I have not had anything to warrant me to be hospitalized. For over 50 years, no (big) health issue, no mishap. I am thankful to Him.

And no thanks to a single mosquito bite, I am now hospitalized. If He is going to take it away from you, at an instant, He can, if He wants it.

Have betek leave juice, Man. Fortunately someone has commercialized it. Pix given by Abu
At this stage  of admission, my blood platelet was still high at 190. I was not worried at all. I have fever for sure, and according to the doctor, other indicators (e.g. white blood cells) showed that I have dengue, so it is better to be warded. My kidney has been compromised too. I have no objection to being warded; only the needle that I am objecting to.

For two days (Monday and Tuesday), I continued to have fever. I was between awake and sleep. I was dozing off, I guess, most of the time. At least on two separate occasions, I had guests coming in when I was sleeping - my neighbour and bro-in law. I didn't see them. They must have came and left (after seeing me fully asleep). I could not help it. I was tired, I guess. But I noted later to my former classmates in Whatsapp message at 1900 hours on Monday that I felt better after sleeping all day.

On Tuesday, my platelet took turn for the worst. It dropped to 60 at 4 pm. I thought it was an abrupt drop. Where was the 150 mark or 100, since the last platelet count was 190 on Monday. Aren't they supposed to pass through these first? Surely it is not a good sign, I thought.  I still have high fever, and the platelets dropping like crazy. I continued to doze off in between visitations by relative and staff.

Wednesday's morning (12th Nov) sample brought worse results. 30, and counting down, I guess. It was too big a drop for my liking. I was puzzled even more. But by then I had no more fever, so physically I was ok. I didn't feel bad at all; it was as if I was normal. I thought based on that alone, I should be discharged. But the other indicators were not so good.

They took another sample at 3 pm, and platelets have dropped to 20.  Get prepared, the doctor warned me. We may have to do plasma transfusion tonight, but we'll wait for 8 pm test results. 

"If your platelet counts drops to below 10, we would have to do the transfusion. It is a directive from Health Ministry. We have the blood ready for you already," Dr Amir explains.

They decided to have another sample at 8 pm. That's a first time - 3 samples a day; normally it was two. and it dropped further to 14.

I  sighed. What else can I do? It is beyond me at this moment. Why the sudden drop, and why not a more gradual decrease? And it continued to stay at 14. I was getting exasperated. I am  not sure if I can continue to stay strong. It was a mental battle.

But the good news was, by this time, I didn't have fever at all - it has subsided. Physically I was feeling good. The platelet stayed at 14 for that day, but since it is above 10, no plasma transfusion was required much to my relief. Physically I felt strong; I was in no danger of falling off the cliff. (Later on during follow up check-up, the Dr Amir told me of a patient who just dropped dead the next day!)

Or at least that's I thought. Only that I was worried about my platelet count.

Platelets continue to hover above 10 on Thursday Nov 13, but the white blood cell counts have moved into the normal range of 4. Previously it was precariously at 1. "We know based on this trend, I would expect that your platelets would increase soon. Normally white blood cells will increase first," Dr Amir continues to re-assure me.

In my mind, OK, OK, sure, but why would my platelet still very low. I have no clue, I was worried, but Thursday I was physically and mentally refreshed, never mind my platelet was still low.

By this time, I was already simply tired of having water. I could not, even if my life depended on it, drink. I was getting sick of water; whatever the drip can do for me, that's it. I simply refused to drink anymore. May be a glass during meal, but nothing more.

Birin & I in the morning. I was cheerful with his visit. He was here when the Dr Amir told me of the good news of my white blood cell improving
Actually at around 8 am, a former classmate Sabirin suddenly appeared in my room. It was a nice surprise to get a visit from a friend. That cheered me quite a bit; we shared 5 years of our growing up lives in a boarding school in KB, and now is a big-time contractor. With him around, you tend to get at least one laugh a minute. He is a cheerful-kind of guy.

Thank Yin for dropping by. It is really appreciated. It made my morning, especially with the good news brought by the doc. People said I looked cheerful; yes, I was.

And it was the start of my friends visiting me. Each visit brought more cheers for me.
Suri came visiting mid afternoon
I swear Suri and I are from the same batch in school, though 35 years on, he looked much younger than yours truly. Then my classmate Jamil dropped by.

Jamil came visiting in the afternoon. He had dengue before and he was worst than mine - denggi berdarah, and he survived. So I was going to survive too, I thought.
I never thought I was important enough to have my former classmates visiting, especially many were busy with their work and lives, I guess. Dengue is a common bane of modern lives, nothing spectacular that would require visitation. Yes, I have friend who died from dengue in 1998, and many more have died from dengue. I was that close to having transfusion, so I guess I was not that far.

To cap the visitations, An and Liza dropped by at around 8 pm, when I was just too tired sitting in my room, hence I was at the lobby with my drip when they arrived. An was a batchmate from school while Liza was, of course my Pasteur classmate then.
My first attempt at selfie. Lousy job I guess.
Shema and Aya  - both classmates - dropped by just before I was discharged on Satuday 15 Nov. Of course with Shema just coming back from her pilgrimage, I got a bottle of air zam-zam and dates, which I believe is khurma Nabi. Unfortunately, I didn't take picture that day, so there is no pictorial record with them. The both of them were my classmate in school. And Aya is now officially a datin. From my estimate, her husband got the datukship that Saturday itself.

Thank you, guys. You guys made my day.

The platelet was still below, but I was recovering.

On Saturday, my platelet count was still 30, but the doctor thought I could be discharged since my other indicators have stabilized for sometimes already. I was not going to argue with him; I was getting tired of staying in bed for much of the day. By then I probably had lost 3-5 kg and I am sure I looked haggard. My sister says so; and I have no doubt about it. I have not shaved for a week now. So I was quietly pleased that he would do that.

And by 3 pm, I was back at home, driven by Akmal.

But to be honest, the battle was far from over. I may have been discharged on Saturday 15 Nov, but the worst days of my life was for the next three days.

I made my living room my bedroom. The sofa and the carpet were my bed; occasionally I would go up to clean up myself. But honestly, I was not on the way for quick recovery. My house was filled up to the brim with my wife's side visiting on Saturday, but I was in no position to receive any visitation. It stressed me out completely. I just need my rest, and I can't take bulk visitation.
Crab soup and fresh betek leave juice. I could not take it after the 1st bottle
I just sat on the sofa, did not talk much, not that I talk much in normal circumstances. I was between awake and sleep and I was forcing myself to be awake.

I have learned my lesson. When visiting, depending on illness, make it a short and sweet visitation. Don't overdo it with lengthy visitation, unless the patient can handle it. Dengue is one illness patient needs much rest and sleep.

Don't get me wrong. I know each visitor brought with him or her, rezeki and more importantly their prayers. I know that, and I am thankful. I am thankful for all those who visited me, and those who had prayed for me.

My sister and auntie MCKam visited me on Monday. Same thing. I did not talk much; I simply could not. I was lethargic; I was tired. I could not even open up my mouth to answer their questions. But their visitation was good in the sense that it was short and sweet. Later on she told me this, "You scared me twice - at the hospital and at your home. You looked so haggard and your eyes looked sunken. I told you that it made no sense to go out because of dengue."

May be I was that close to going out, if you know what I mean. Who knows? By blood platelet count, I was down to 14 on numerous occasions. I was giving up on my fluid intake - I could not just drink anything, and I was purely relying on my fluid drip. And one needs lots of fluid intake when one has dengue.

Technically, I was giving up. I also slept all day those three days post hospitalization, and at night obviously too. I ate very little, manly lived on bread and soups that my wife would buy.

But the worst part was the nightmare at night. I was practically having nightmare every time I go to sleep. I would be awake at 12 am, or at 3 am in the morning, wondering if I am still alive or would continue to be alive, and why I was feeling so depressed. When I close my eyes trying to go to sleep, I would feel as if my world was spinning. When I awoke, I would be staring at the ceiling and I would cry, "Why? What's going on? Why am I feeling so sad? I am going to recover, am I not?"

I was getting depressed. I really was.
Imagine this, but with thousands of these spiraling in your mind, and not in this nice pattern,
every time I close my eyes. They were more random. Taken from internet
I was in zombie state - I was hallucinating; I was trying to figure out what's going on, and that I only have only dengue, and that I was not going to die. It sure felt that way then. I did not feel like I was getting any better. The nightmare and the hallucination were really bad. And only when I managed to convince myself that it was just a dream, then only I would feel better.

But normally the feeling of relief would be short.

Most of the time getting back to sleep would be a chore. I had to convince myself that I am going to be ok, and that I am not dying. But it was futile. My mind was spinning - not physically - every time I close my eyes. I would wake up at least a couple of time in the course of the night. And it would be the same thing, over and over again.

My world was crumbling down. It felt like the whole world is resting on my shoulder. I was feeling really bad. I had thought about death. At times, I was convinced then I was not going to get through this. At times, I was convinced that death was imminent. That was the worst part of my dengue fever. I did not get this while at hospital. It was the home recovery that it was the worst part of them all.

If night was bad, day time is no better. I may be awake. But I was tired; I was lethargic. My zombie state mean that while I know where I was, I was not in the position to do anything. I was helpless. I can only sit or lie down on the sofa. I could not care less about anything, to be honest. It was like I was stoned, to be honest.

My bio-chemial compositions must be totally imbalance. They were causing havoc in mind.

It took me three days to get through this phase. Really long three days.

Only on Tuesday I believe I did not have the nightmare and I have a bit more zeal for life. Mostly because I know I was going back to the hospital for check up, and chances were I should be ok. I was worried of course more about the needle, but it was the least of my worry.

160 came the result. The doc gave me a clean bill of health.

I had driven to the hospital - on my own, for the first time in more than a week. It felt really good driving the car. The radio was set at top volume. I opened the window, I was letting all the polluted air of Kuala Lumpur filling up my car and lung. I thought the driving really rejuvenated me. I was - at last - free.

I then went on to Jusco and shopped for fruits and of course my beloved Marmalade.

To be honest, it took me more than just the second week to recover. I did not bother going to work. I did not bother checking my mails. I did not bother checking how my staff were doing. I was hoping that they were all on auto-pilot. The dengue has really drained the energy out of me. While I have no fever, I was lethargic. I was tired. I was weary, fatigue, if you must; it was as if I was burnt-out. All of those combined.

All in all, I reckon it took 3 full weeks to come to my senses and be myself again. Four weeks if I am honest.

But then again, up to this posting date, I am not myself yet. When I read the quran during solat, it would not be with the same passion and I was not stressing on the wordings and sentences, like I am used to. It was as if I had lost my zeal. It was as if I was just passing through when I read those passages. Something in me is still missing.

Dengue. It can kill you. In my case, it had drained me out of my energy. Completely.

I still hope I can fully recover God-knows when!


To be honest, I have rediscovered some simple things in previous life that I have forgotten in my present life. You can't beat being hospitalized to make you ponder on what you had left behind, and how good they were then. I mean, life is so good nowadays that our breakfast would be roti canai as a minimum, possibly nasik lemak, or mihun goreng and perhaps some would have half-boiled eggs.

If I were to have bread, it would be taken with freshly fried eggs, or half-boiled eggs. Or I would turn it into sandwiches, and it would be done over sandwich maker that Mak gave us many years ago.

And the bread would have to toasted - freshly toasted. I can't have cold bread unless they are fresh from the oven.

My kids would take the bread over say peanut butter, or peanut butter jelly or some fanciful names.

Yes, I can order my food over a menu at the hospital, but over breakfast, I was reintroduced to food of yesterday. I had never thought that while one was ill, this wonderful spread that I have forgotten would taste so wonderful than it became my daily staple. 

I am of course talking about marmalade.
I finished 'em all. Me alone, thank you very much!
The bread was soft and fresh, and the butter complement the marmalade. When I spread it on the bread (and butter) and tasted it, I was like, overwhelmed. What is thing? I thought. Marmalade, it says on the cover. Marmalade? Marmite, I remember. Marmalade? This taste like a orange jam. It tasted so good than I finished my whole ration.

And I had to ask for the same breakfast the next day.

And of course, when I returned to the hospital for their follow up check on Tuesday (18 Nov), I decided to drop by at Jusco next door, and bought one big bottle of marmalade jam. It was the smallest I can get, as I was sure I would get over it soon, and then no one else would want to eat them.

But until this post is published, the bottle is 3/4 empty now and I am still stuffing myself with marmalade jam on my bread. It is so good (even today) that I would not be bothered to have the bread toasted.

Funny how an illness could allow to relish simple stuff as marmalade. Something I have forgotten from an an earlier life.

I am looking back after all these. Life can take a sudden turn. One day you are healthy. The next day, you could be dead. Life is that simple and can be tragic. 


I would have to thank to those visiting or at least sending get well wishes. My former classmates of Pasteur 80 of MRSM Kota Bharu top the list as I have mentioned above. Their WhatsApp messages had really cheered me up and kept me occupied through out my stay. And all their prayers.

Of course, on the very first day my bro Rasi visited me with Kiwi fruits and isotonic drink. Thank you for coming, bro. My sister Sham who visited me twice, and my Auntie MC Kam who visited me at home. Her visit left an indelible mark on me. I was thinking that who else do I have left in this world. I don't have that many anymore. I am talking about my elders - aunties and uncles. Not many are left, and may be my turn would come soon. Fortunately I have one who would visit me during my hours of trial.

My bro in law Dr Kamal who visited me twice, and the relatives from my wife's side also visited me, notably my mother-in-law and Roslan and Ina. My former partner Ir Mohd Nor also visited me at the hospital.

And those who sent their regards and prayers from afar.

Thank you. 


It had been a trying month the last month (Nov). A one-week training that has been planned for months was cancelled just the week before (initially scheduled for 27 Oct week).

The instructor who had been away from the US had a less-than-six-month-before-expiry passport just when he was about to fly to Kuala Lumpur (from India) and hence was denied entry to board plane to KL. He could not extend the passport at the Embassy in India. It was Deepavali's week!

So he had to fly back to Houston!

I was frantically trying restore my dignity with my client and get training which was supposed to be on the 27 Oct to 1 Nov be replaced with a firm date (got 10-14 Nov).

And with that done and the instructor back in KL within 3 weeks, my health starts to deteriorate. I could feel it; but since it has been a hectic month, life went on, I supposed.
Steve with some of the attendees at the end of training session on Friday 14th. I was still in the hospital

And of course, to cap it off, I had dengue the week the instructor was doing the training for my esteemed clients! 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Kembara - The Legendary folk group

I have a confession to make.

Kembara is not really my kind of groups. I love ballad and sentimental songs, and they are certainly not Alleycats. They don't normally sing about love, falling in love, unrequited love - my kind of love songs. Their songs were normally soft-rock or folksy, and they sing about train rides, about blue collar workers, they celebrate hard-core labourers, about being in prison, about corruptions, and other social issues in the 80s.

Uh oh, and I am supposed to sing along?

Don't get me wrong. I am sure I have listened to enough Kembara's albums to call myself a fan. I thought each one of their albums is excellent, high quality recording and compositions, and are very different from any other group that existed in the 80s.

They have good melodies and good lyrics, and with the charismatic M Nasir at the helm, they were bound to be legendary. They could have taken all of M Nasir's songs (given to Alleycats) and become THE Alleycats themselves. But that they did not do. They did not take the easy way out. They took on social issues and ground them into soft- rock songs that bore no similarities with any other groups.

That's Kembara to me.

You know, I have been disappointed with last year's M Nasir concert at the philharmonic. Even with first class musicians, he did not sound like M Nasir, and his songs became detached. Listening to him at the MPO was a chore. My mind was strained so much trying to figure out the songs that were played then, so much so I did not enjoy them at all.

You can read about my take here.

But this one is different. This Kembara concert is perhaps the best M Nasir concert that I have attended. M Nasir sounds exactly like - well - M Nasir, and Kembara sounds like Kembara in their albums. His voice is not a strain from trying too much and he sounded very natural, as if he had turned back the clock of time.
Taken by MStar

With apology to S Sahlan and A Ali, of course, since this is supposed to be a Kembara concert. I thought they were excellent themselves.

In fact, I thought it is because of A Ali and S Sahlan in their support roles, M Nasir is free from the burden of expectancy. This is the time he can become one with his friends, who understood his music.

Or perhaps in the absence of those Berkeley graduates, who messed up M Nasir's songs big time trying to westernize or philharmonizing them, M Nasir and Kembara were simply able to be themselves. Kidding, kidding hahaha, Dato. Love your Suatu Masa arrangement!

I would declare that this is the best concert in a long, long time at the Istana Budaya.

You know exactly what to expect from the trio, and it makes the concert more predictable.

You know the intro, you know the key, and you know exactly when they are going to sing, stop, or hit the high pitch.

And that's why I love this concert.

M Nasir is back at his best, to be honest. He was all over the place, and he made the stage his. It is so wonderful to see him so energetic and with a voice to match. I remember him saying many years ago how he could not get back the spirit when  many of his songs were written - after 30 years have passed. I can understand that - then he was young, naive perhaps, fresh, single and definitely looking for love. Life was full of idealism and energy. 30 years on, you may get a beaten-up-by-life guy, though I am sure that's far from the case for M Nasir. But he is back at his best. As far as I am concerned, he is the young M Nasir who could hit the high notes as per all the songs in Kembara's albums. And he did not have to try very hard at all.

A Ali was a bit more subdue; but he played his part with his low pitch voice. I really love di Perhentian Puduraya. So sad to remember the iconic bus station of Kuala Lumpur is still very much around after all these years. Or shall I say, so happy that it is still around, which is uncommon in Malaysia?

I thought the banter between A Ali and M Nasir was hilarious.
Taken by Arif
And S Sahlan? What can I say of this unassuming man. He was the perfect foil for M Nasir; a real anti-thesis of M Nasir; everything that M Nasir is not, and he filled up those remaining slots on stage.


The moment they stepped out with the sunken stage raised, I knew I was in for a treat. Even for sentimentalist like me. The music starts filling up the small concert hall; I knew most of the songs, though not necessarily all the lyrics. And with the background montage, we were all set.

Ekspress Rakyat was filling up the concert hall. 

The party is on.

Their music is normally for you to start swinging your body. You are not supposed to sit passively on one's seat, and wallow in one's grief or agony over that unrequited love. There was no such song. We are supposed to be celebrating about everything. You need to move. You need to sing along. And you got just that with Bas no 13, according to M Nasir is the bus he would need to take to go to Geylang Serai, never mind that it would be the second bus (no 12) to be taken from his home. 

It is a catchy song.

(I did take Bas no 13 (and No 14). But is from Ampang Jaya. And it was bas mini No 13, of course.)

I guess this is what is wonderful about Kembara's songs. They told a story and the story is not necessarily the boy-meets-girl love story. It is not even a significant story to be told; but nevertheless, it is a social story for M Nasir. It is his story and the history of Singapore and Malaysia.

I wonder who is Wan  Chu and whether she is still alive today?

So they wrote songs about a bus, and a bus station. And about those nameless labourers? And anything about insignificant daily events, and we paid them tonnes of money to watch them perform in 2014?


Akmal, let's write songs about our trip to Tapah, about starting up a company, about facebook page, about Air Asia, about Monash and Sunway, about mee goreng and roti canai. I am not sure if anyone would want to hear us at all.


Anyway, let's get sentimental a bit, shall we? Malam to me is perhaps the best ballad that night. I would cry listening to M Nasir crooning about the darkness of the night. I really would. He sounds exactly like in the original song, and it is full of longing and yearning.

What else can I say about this song? [sigh]

And what about Keroncong untuk Ana, and Kiambang? Wonderful ballad from a soft rock group.

But I thought the best song would be Kupu-Kupu. I barely remember this song to be honest, but once I hit play at Youtube, the night before, I know I am going to love this song live by M Nasir. This song, to me, is ahead of its time.

The composition, the arrangement and the lyric - awesome.

Having said that, of course the highlight of the night would be the theme song Hati Emas. M Nasir really milk the audience into singing along with him. And the audience was willingly being milked by him. (Yes, milk us, milk us, says my sister who was there the next day.) We were all eating out of the palm of his hands. The song was played like for eternity.

I thought if it went on for another couple of minutes, the panggung sari would collapse from the sheer sound of a full house audience singing at the top of their lungs, feeling very sure that they all sounded like M Nasir himself.

I thought too I was that good, to be honest. I thought at that moment that night, I sound like M Nasir. I am sure Arif and Akmal sitting beside their dad had noticed how their dad had transformed into M Nasir!

To be honest, I would have watched them twice. Ot thrice, if someone was to sponsor me. They are that good, and remembering the good, simple time of 1980s is too much for me to handle on a single night. I want to experience it again, and if possible, re-live the 80s all over again.

If I could, I really would.

Taiping, and Kuala Kangsar.

Mak, and bapak.

Melbourne and Perth.

Kuala Lumpur, Ampang Jaya, Ampang Park, Pertama Complex and minibuses.

Monash Uni and Chemical Engineering.

Being single. Err.

I did not have a car for most part of the 80s. I traveled by bus, or even cycled to most places. I must admit that I have little money then. Well, may be not exactly true. I have lotsa money from scholarship that I receive as a student. Relatively.

I was not flushed with money. It is hard to come by. But I have little commitment, if any.

Certainly we had enough. Life then was simple, and cheap. Fifty cents would get you going anywhere in Kuala Lumpur by taking the mini buses. You struggled with the crowds, and the twist-and-turn and sudden stop.

And of course the smell of the sweating passengers, including yourself.

I didn't dine at 5-star restaurant or at hotel. I ate at warung tepi jalan. I didn't pay top notch money to watch a concert in a glittering concert hall, unlike on Friday night. i only listen to cassette or radio.

But that's life then.

We were happy. Much happier. Or at least, I thought I was.

Welcome back, Kembara. Let's turn back the clock. As I have said, I would have watched them all 3 nights. I really would, if I did not realize that I am over 50s and have just recovered from near death experience. So I did not. I thought at this age, I should at least heed to Kembara's song about being sesat di Kuala Lumpur, about poverty, about corruption.

And being big hearted - being Hati Emas.

And not spend money on my own personal enjoyment.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Serenading Juria


In the 70s, specifically from 1974 onwards, we lived in a government bungalow located within the compound of the police barrack of Aulong, Taiping. I guess the bungalow was built for senior government officer, so for security reason, it is placed within the compound of the police barrack. One can't be at a safer place. Most of the time, the police officer on duty would be opening the main gate for us; at times, we would open it ourselves to show respect.

As I have mentioned in a-much-earlier entry (2010) - Beautiful homes of my souls, the barrack boys are of different materials than us. They were much more hardy and resilient. Tougher, if you must. Unlike us, I must admit.

I wrote about them being thick-skin having serenading a particular girl that caught their attention. Yes, they would, much to my amusement. I would never do such thing. Of course especially not today and certainly not during those years.
But the song in particular was not really a big hit song, so I can't find it over at Youtube and posted in together with my entry.

Until I uploaded it myself last night.

This is a lesser known song of Hail Amir, but in 1978, I would think, this girl Ju (or Juria) was The girl at the Aulong Barrack. Perfect. I was really amused with the boys' antics to remember it until today.

Serenading Juria

And I certainly would not forget during one of the rare occasions I was at home - circa 77/78, a group of the Berek kids would sing Juria, a song popularised by Hail Amir. And they would sing it out loud; loud enough for me to hear them and remember it.

Juriah, engkau cantik, engkau goes the lyric. I don't remember the whole thing now. It was not the most popular of Hail Amir's songs during those years, but there is a reason why the kids loved to sing this song in the 70's Aulong Police Station.

For obvious reasons, there was this (pretty) girl called Ju - I am not sure if her actual name is Juriah or the Ju is just an initial of a slightly different name, I think, living in the police quarters, and she was the object of their attentions and affections.

As for me during those years, there were already many pretty gals in Kota Bharu, so I had never been bothered with the Berek gals! Obviously, I am trying to justify that I have nothing to do with this episode.

And I would like to make full denial that I have anything to do with this! ;-)

I remember this incident because I thought they were funny, and downright brave - if not foolish, to be doing what they did. Actually I found it amusing. It reminds of movies where the boy would serenade the girl at their home - and sometimes they got kicked at their ass by the gal's dad. PRamlee also has similar scene with S Samsudin trying to woo the maid in one of his movie - was it Antara Dua Darjat? But of course Wak Karto would come to the 'rescue' much to his chagrin.

Brave indeed - these Berek kids. And they must have thick skin.


This is Juria, but not the Juria of the 70s. Of course I would not have a picture of the Barrack police Aulong's Juria.

This is the Japanese version Juria and a fashion icon in Japan.