Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Arif Fauzan Othman: Remember his name!

Eclipse 1
I can't - for the life of me - explain about psychodynamic figurative that Arif Fauzan Othman is renowned for. In the world of arts, I am illiterate, uneducated and uncultured. We may be cousins, but we are world apart in artistic sense.

"Ojan," I texted him a couple of days earlier. "AbangMan will be at the gallery on Wednesday." 

Fortunately I was the only one that time, so I have a monopoly of his mind, and so he explained to me every single details of the paintings hanging at Arti Fine Art Gallery in Melawati.

"Man and mother nature," Arif Fauzan Othman said of the theme of his solo exhibition. The man in all his painting represents – well - Man. Men. Mankind. 

Shadow Beyond A Catastrophe.You can see the smoke billowing out on the foreground
And the destruction that follows him.

Look at Shadow Beyond A Catastrophe above. A man standing over what I perceive as the body of another man. Murder case? May be. You interpretation is as good as mine. But for sure it is a destruction by men on men.

The ladies in his painting do not (necessarily) represent – well – the womenfolk. As usual, they are bigger than that. They represent Mother Nature; Mother Earth if you must. No wonder the colour he chose are earth colours and grim. No wonder I can’t find smiles on their faces. They are not - unlike the man - gruesome; they are beautiful as usually they are, but they certainly look sad. The paintings are beauties in sadness.

A friend, one Soraya M remarked: "She's so pretty, in a sad and haunting way. Makes a good subject."

It does.  

Who is she? I did not ask in detail from the artist. Perhaps I never will. Sometimes there are things best left alone. And unknown. It will be more mysterious that way. I have seen a few pictures of her as shown by the artist, but I do understand that the two are sisters. She made pretty good muse for the artist.

We shall leave it at that.

Eclipse 2
Arif Fauzan admitted that it is easier to sell painting of the girls and a bit more difficult to sell man's painting. I have no doubt of that. The paintings of the girls are more pleasant to the eyes, even to a neutral like me - especially to neutrals like me! I could easily consider them adorning my walls, but would be hesitant to - errrr - consider the gal's counterparts..

I am not sure I can look at him on a daily basis. Another man - a stranger at that in my house? Definitely not! (Hahaha)

It can also be reflected in the sale of Arif's masterpieces. Only a couple of the Mother Nature series have not been sold from an entry of, say, 10. I would consider them sold out. But if I am not mistaken the paintings with the male character have not takers at that time of visiting.

In any case, I would think it is a good solo exhibition by Arif Fauzan. According to the Arti Fine Art gallery owner, one En Yusri, in the old days (read:70s or 80s), it is difficult to sell even a single painting. Things however have changed over the years. The fact that more than half have been sold speaks volume for Arif Fauzan's talent.

Things have certainly changed. People are more affluent nowadays, and more appreciative of work of art, and are now willing to spend over a masterpiece.

Even I would be willing to spend money on this piece - she has certainly caught my eyes. If only this piece is available, I'd pay the asking price. But then again, may be I am willing to say that since I can't have it regardless.
And to be honest, I would need to buy a new house just to hang Ambergris. It is that big. You would need an empty wall in a big living room. Make that a living hall and your hall would look elegant, I can promise you that. Ambergris is a lively piece; very unlike other pieces. May be because of the colour scheme. It is cheerful.

And I love the pose - the form, if you must. The setting has been carefully choreographed by the artist in his imagination. The girl is at peace; the setting is solitude.
The artist with the blogger with Ambergris. This is how big the painting is
Since that is unavailable, I would have to consider other alternative. I'd like to keep one of his painting at home. I already have one. So I decided on this piece. It is called Northern Light.
Northern Light
Northern Light may sound English - western to be precise but she represent the Malay demeanour with her attire and posing. It would suit my house decor, I believe. This would be coming to my home after 31 Oct, at the end of the exhibition. It is an investment. I'd pray that Arif Fauzan would become very big in the near future. And his work would appreciate in value!

But I am not buying to sell later. I am buying so that I have something I can pass down the generations!

Going back to his paintings, this is what the artist has to say; in Arif Fauzan's own words:

We live in the world of constant battle
Between Man and Mother Nature
The ones that should be living together
Not challenging one another
Intelligence morphed for more destruction
The faith is gone and so is humanity
For control and monopoly
In the name of freedom
freedom from our land'
freedom from our privacy
freedom from our will

Here are what I saw at the gallery that day.

Tree Hugger 1 series
Tree Hugger 2 series
Stain on Your Fingernails
Out of Devious Boxes

If you remember, in December 2013, I posted an entry called Old Painting by Othmansor. His real name is obviously Othman bin Mansor and of course he is related to Arif Fauzan Othman. He is the father.

You can read about the entry here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Membenarkan Yang Biasa, Membiasakan Yang Benar

Most of the time, I found riding a cab stressful.

It would normally be a matter of time when - not if - I would be cheated out of my fare.

Don't get me wrong. The last of time I rode one to Bukit Bintang from my office, nothing unusual happened. The last time a friend forgot his computer bag, it was returned by the cab driver who operates out of Bandar Tun Razak.

So it could merely be my impression. As people say, susu sebelanga rusak dik nila setitik, though again, I am under the impression that there are more than a setitik nila as far as errant cab drivers are concerned.
This is not Pak Sujono's cab. I did not hire nor can I afford this ride .
For the first time, I decided not to wait for my normal Bluebird Cab in Cengkareng. At peak hour, they did not seem to be coming at all. So instead I took Pak Sujono's Proton Persona Borobudur cab. As we were heading out of Sukarno-Hatta's Terminal 3, we passed by the flyover to downtown. That exit was manned by Pak Polisi, so traffic was under controlled even though it was peak hour.

So he said, "Well, only when the police are there!"

I laughed. I told not to be too hard on Indonesia. It is the same in Malaysia, though things are very different in developed country.

"Benar," he replied. "It will take many generations to correct the wrongs."

The he said something that caught my attention, though I have to ask him to say a few times to digest the content. Of course we were speaking in Bahasa, so it took me a bit longer to digest it. Be he said it beautifully.

"Janganlah kita membenarkan yang biasa; seharusnya kita membiasakan yang benar, " he continued.

I paused for many moments to mull over these words.I even had to ask him to repeat a few times.

"We have to go against the traditions, and do only the correct things. Traditions do not mean that they are correct. We may have done them for generations, but then, many a time we did not know any better. For example, if anyone dies, according to the tradition, the tahlil sessions will be conducted for 7 days and again at the 40th day. It causes a lot of hardship to the deceased's family. This is not right, but this is the tradition in Java. Muhammadiyah would not allow this anymore."

I nodded in agreement. Whole-heartedly.

"Have you heard of the predator fish and the small fish?" he asked me. I said no.

Normally they can't be together in an aquarium for obvious reason, but someone had done this experimentation. They put the small fish in a small glass compartment (in the aquarium), so the big, predator fish would attack the small fish to eat them. But of course, the predator fish did not realize about the glass wall, so it keeps on hitting the glass wall.

And it hurts them.

"It happens many time such that when the small fish is released to the main aquarium, it was never attacked again by the predator fish!" he concluded.

I'd take the story at face value and I believe we can be "conditioned" in similar fashion. 

If we have a good system, everybody would follow them. Look at Singapore, he continued, even Indonesians would follow the law there and would be a very disciplined driver in Singapore.

I smiled. Of course, I noted in my mind, even the supposedly discipline Singapore driver would drive as recklessly as their Malaysian counterparts when they are driving on the highways of Peninsular!

That's Pak Sujono for you. He seems like a well read and knowledgeable person. But he was only schooled up to Kelas 5. He told me so. I guess that that would be standard 5 in primary school. "Dulu bapak saya seorang preman and he had not encouraged me to do well in school."

But do not get him wrong. He did not blame his dad. Just telling the fact as it is.

I guess he learned a lot in the university of life. He even quoted me Ayat 85 in Surah al-Baqarah. I can probably quote you the first 10 verses of the same chapter!

We talked about many more stories from Sukarno and the ideological war that went into Indonesia's independence, between him and this two other buddies. This uneducated cab driver from Java is really educated about life as a whole.

Thank you Pak Sujono for a very enlightening ride.  To me, he is a Porche class cab driver and a great ambassador for Indonesia.


Actually I did not try to argue with him on the fish story. I read about fish 30 years ago, just after I returned home in 1986. Monash would send me their post graduate magazine to me, I am not sure whether it was yearly or twice yearly. I remember about one of the article was about fish and whether would feel pain (as we human would).

I am not sure about the conclusion then. But browsing through the net, I am told that fish do not feel pain as we would. They do not have the neuro-physiological capacity as we do.

Fortunately for us.
Because if they do, we might be banned from eating fish.
The hook of a fishing lure is stuck in the upper jaw of this rainbow trout. Whether the animal feels pain is not verified beyond any doubt, according to a new study.
Credit: Alexander Schwab

Read about it here.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Damba di Dada

This song reminds me of Dungeon, the coastal town of  the state of Terengganu. A town with no shopping mall.

But with a beautiful beach. Perhaps the most beautiful beach in Malaysia.

I had been working for sometime by then, but may be only a year in Terengganu, when I decided to move from Kerteh. I had to commute daily as it was 30 km from office, but luckily I have friends to pool car with.

She was a not the most glamorest of singers in the late 80s. May be because she was not a looker, but I was caught by her voice and the Malay melodies of most of her songs. Her album has no killer song, but I must say most of her songs are candies to my ears.

A time when when rock music was the music of the time, so her keroncong and Malay melody laden songs were a breath of fresh air to me.

Then I was living in a kampung house - on stilt. 

Simple music for simple time.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Syed Haron - Songwriter/Composer Extraordinaire

"Tuan Syed Haron!" I called him,

He turned around, and I grabbed his hand and shook it. Not knowing me obviously, he was puzzled by the attention this stranger is giving him.

"Thank you for Hujan, thank you for Warisan and thank you for Hanya Lagu. I think Hanya Lagu is yours, right? " I said, while still holding his hand. (Hanya Lagu was his first composition for Sudirman that caught my attention in his first LP in 1978.)

"You remember alll his songs?" his wife exclaimed, listening intently to my monologue with her husband. "I was brought up with Sudir's songs, dan tentunya mesti ada lagu-lagu tuan Syed. Masa itu saya sekolah menengah." I replied.

He squealed in delight, obviously embarrassed by the attention, and clearly overwhelmed by the occasion. Being a humble man, suddenly he was surrounded by more and more people wanting to take pictures with him.

Hujan and Kepulanganku are probably his two best songs; they are a delight to my ears. Kau Akan Kembali, Tak Perlu Diucapkan and Hari Itu Dalam Kenangan were amongst the other many hits he had with his best buddy Sudirman. Untukmu is another pleasant song to me. Beautiful. Back then I would only know him by name, and had never seen his picture. They were all beautiful songs and I can only then admire this gifted songwriter.

Warisan has been used many times over, over many events and occasions, especially Merdeka day celebrations. Yes, I don't understand why he is not being recognized and rewarded by the government. He deserved better for sure. Lesser mortal had been rewarded much more.

Thank you again, tuan Syed Haron. Your songs live on in my mind, and I am sure I not exaggerating if I say in thousands others. Make that in million others!

The boys also memorializing the occasion with this picture


You can read my take on Kepulanganku here. Otherwise here is the song.

 Hari Itu Dalam Kenangan

I uploaded this song. Now with over 24,000 views and 77 likes.

This is the first song he penned. I like this song. It is close to my heart.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Kesempatan yang datang

They say one is given one chance in life. If you didn't take it, you'd lose it forever.

I am not sure to be honest. But I know if opportunity comes a-knocking, I wouldt complain of the noise. That's just me. [sigh].

But this song from Pelangi is a beautiful song about just that. I love the lyric and the melody. I love the piano arrangement. It touches my heart in 1987, and even today. When this song was popular, I had just gotten a job with the black gold company. While it has nothing to do with the lyric per se, but I remember spending 2 weeks for orientation at Bangi training centre - can't recall whether it was Maybank or another bank's training centre as Petronas in 1987 had not completed building its own.

Of course it was a testing time with Ops Lalang then, but we were too far from KL to see the impact. But I remember many of us at that orientation.

Bagaimana ada terjumpa
Bolehkah kau ku sapa?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Excuse me, did you just arrive from London?

When I was asked to give a talk on career day at my alma mater - this time under Ansara KB umbrella, I was unsure. Unsure whether I was the right person and have the right credentials. Have I done enough in my career to give me an air of authority to talk to anyone, especially school leavers? Do I have a career worth talking about in the first place? Or would I be talking nonsense and confuse them even more?

Or worst, guide them into the wrong career!

I am not sure who nominated my name to be honest - was it Ku Hamid, or a former teacher in KB? I am not an orator, nor a speaker who speaks from memory, and with gusto, and did not have to prepare to give a talk. As a rule of thumb, I need powerpoint slides to guide my talk.

And I don't talk without doing some kind of research and back up my talk with data first. So I had to ask a staff of mine to prepare 40 pages worth of slides and I prepare another 40 pages, and software with a demo so that I can illustrate my points.

And I will bring chemical engineering down to SPM students' level.
I am going to change the title to Chemical Engineering for SPM Students

Even if the talk was only for secondary school, and secondary school students - albeit smart students, I need to do a good job, and not a half-hearted one. I need to make an impression on them.

But I over-prepare myself in the end, which is typical of me. I was told I have from 1030 hours to 1300 hours, so I took it that I have 2 1/2 hours to talk. That will be 80 slides in 2 hours and 30 mins worth of simulation demo of the very basic principle of chemical engineering.

My presentation and demo materials
All in all, it took five days of preparation for my engineer and another 2 days for me. That's 7 man-days worth of worth of work for a 2 1/2 hours talk. Too long a time, but I had to start from scratch. I didn't have anything to start with. I even told the organizer (in jest) that I can talk for whole day if I am required. A senior at school Abg Zahari quipped that one should not give the microphone to 3 types of person, unless we are prepared to give them ample of time to talk.

1. a trainer
2. karaoke singer
3. politicians

Yes, of course. I fall into the first category!

But I did not expect the worst, to be honest. In the end, it became a 15-min talk. It was a nightmare, too early in the morning to have one. I have 2 1/2 hours worth of slides and I am given 15 mins?

That's the official allocation, though I am quite sure I took a lot more. More than my fair share of time. We had to talk to a bigger group and each discipline of engineering have to share the 2 1/2 hours available.

I was waiting for nasik berlauk, but this guy turned up first, so it has to be nasik tumpang for me
And after I was given a good breakfast of nasik tumpang - many hours after waking up at 3 am, I was in no mood to argue. I had to re-group and move on. 

That's life, I guess. Just make full use of what's given. I think I had gone through enough to know what to expect, and when to argue and fight, and when to accept.

When I was preparing the presentation earlier, I was not expecting to fight for students' attention or to ensure that chemical engineering had to be their chosen discipline. I was there to give them a choice, so that they can choose wisely. Nothing more, nothing less.

Our super senior Abd Zahari talking about aviation and being an aircraft engineer
It was not a competition amongst all the branches of engineering. Not to me anyway. I was not there to say chemical engineering is most important profession in the world. I was there to put the right perspective for the students to choose a career.

But I came fully prepared with data as back up, so I did not make mere statements.

Anyway, so what if chemical engineering is less important than some other disciplines - or more important. It is how you made use of it to build your career and what you contributed to the profession, to the nation and in the end how you lead your life.
Looks like me, talk like me. Is it me? I am not so sure.
So, I had 3 good questions from the students, more than my fair share of questions - for 8 speakers. And perhaps many students are considering to take up chemical engineering, again more than any other engineering profession.

That's definitely me. But taken at the wrong time when I was facing the other side and when my slide is not colourful and attention grabbing. This is when I started talking about the ideal gas law. Hahaha..nothing much, all SPM level physics
I feel good. If I had made some kind of impression on them, it was worth the trip to KB on a very early Sunday morning. I did not cost me that much - more like paying for a bus ticket, but I did lose many hours of sleep, which at this age, I may or may not need it.

One thing I am impressed is the fact the whole event was conducted in English. Heck, even the doa was in English. And the students spoke fluently in English, even during Q&A.

I am impressed. Good job, teachers.

The event was officiated by a former student - a very successful one. Datuk Kamarul is owner and CEO and the brain child behind Uzma Berhad. He is not just a successful entrepreneur but also a well known petroleum engineer.

To me, he had visions of what he wants in the future at the start of his career. I wish I was like that when I was just starting in the 80s. But I guess I did not have visions of myself in 30 years' time then. I was then happy to just be an employee. NOthing more than that.

Datuk Kamarul officiating the career day talk.
I am not sure during my time, in the 70s, of how many time I was invited on stage. I remember competing in quizzes ( and winning at least one), and of course many of those quizzes were conducted in the hall. But for better or worse, I am neutral about remembering those. if at all. If one remembers too much, I guess it can mean one thing: one had had public caning on stage!

I will be scarred for life had that happened to me. Haha, in retrospect, I can laugh I guess.
View from the stage, taken by yours truly. It is now an air-conditioned hall
There were 30 of us, ex-students that days. Many medical specialists amongst us that day, and of course a wide ranging careers from engineers to accountants, including artist - graphic artist that is. From the well known such as our good Dato and Nik Hasyudeen to the unknown like yours truly! From the old like yours truly to the youngsters.

And by virtue of being the second oldest batch that was there, I was accorded a seat during the official photography on stage. Nothing more, nothing less, I told my former classmates - I am there only by virtue of my seniority and not because I was one of the more successful person, career-wise that is. I am happy - and contented really, to admit. So it was my minute of fame, I guess.
The 'talker' on career day 2014.
While I was sitting and listening for others giving their point view - after all, I was the first speaker, I was approached by a former student, who had just graduated from Vanderbilt Uni in chemical engineering. She has good grades and that is a good university for chemical engineering. And had just returned home in June.

I did not know that someone had snapped a pic of me chatting with her, technically interviewing her during the career day talk at MRSM
It was a quickie interview on the side. I was not expecting it, to tell you the truth. Yes, she can have a job with us, but I told her that I want her to exhaust her avenue or decide on her career to what kind of area and company that she would want to work for. Technically, I think many companies much bigger than mine would be interested in hiring her, so I am a bit cautious in hiring. I would hire her if she wants to be with us for the medium term.

Good to see and here people graduating with good grades from good school. Especially MRSM students.

On stage during the introduction - young and old
I met with a few teachers, some of whom I would meet every now and then. I saw and talked to Ustaz Ridhwan, whom I had not met since 1981. I reminded of the car he had in the 70s. While I don't remember of the make or model anymore, his number plate starts with AR - obviously it was not registered in Kelantan.

He was washing his car near the old building and I was between classes, or was going to the library. Having a bit more time then, I approached him. "Ustaz," I said, "you have my name for your car."

"AR stands for Abdul Rahman."

He smiled. "Bukan, AR tu untuk Abang Ridhwan," he quipped.

That my ustaz for you!
Ustaz Ridhwan and I at the Dewan Makan after the talk
Another funny incident occurred and was related to me by Cikgu Nik. At the end of the day, she was showing me around, and told me of this incident. "Rahman," she said, "they were asking me about you. Whether you were the guy who had just arrived from London."

I looked at her in bewilderment. I did not arrive from London and I doubt it if anybody would travel that journey for a career day talk unless he or she is already KB due to one reason or another. Either they made a mistake or.... Then  it dawned upon me!

"Oh, yes upon arrival at the registration counter, I did declare that I have just 'landed'. Pardon my English. Probably the way I spoke and pronounced the word landed, it must have sound like London!" I laughed.

Err, sorry lah. May be I should quit talking in English. I must have certain slang or tried to speak with a certain slang la kut.

Excuse my English!


The career day reminds me of Almarhumah Cikgu Azizah.

In the the days before Facebook  (late 90s, very late 90s), and the proliferation of cheap air travel, she contacted me and asked me to come and officiate the career day at my alma mater. Officiate: that's what I remember. May be I am supposed to just give a talk to the students. May be. I am not sure, to be honest.

But I remember she mentioning the word - rasmikan.

"Rahman datang la KB. If you are busy, just make a day trip. You can come in teh morning, and leave in the evening" she said, matter of factly, during the phone conversation.

My first view of my alma mater that morning
I did not make it then. I had to apologize profusely, but I presume I was too busy. Too busy building a career. Then I was. I was between assignments, so I was briefly in Kuala Lumpur. Otherwise, I was supposed to be in Houston.

Of course, since that day, I have made it to KB and my alma mater a couple of times. I had met Cikgu Azizah at her home in 2002, and when she was sick in Damansara at Cikgu's Somchit's house, but it left me with a deep scar.

For not heeding to a request by a former teacher of mine. She was not asking for the world from a former student. 

Moga Allah mencucuri rahmat keatas ruh Almarhumah.


If these are your pictures and would like to claim credit, please contract me, or leave a comment below. I got this from various sources and am still waiting for the official pictures with more of me during the talk itself. :) 

Credit to Hiday, Ansara KB Reloaded, though I believe the actual sources are many more.

It was a very early wet Sunday for me in KL on the 17th Aug

 when I left for KB
Chatting with Wak Leh, a batch mate prior to giving the talk

Cikgu Wan Nasihah and En Nik Ahmad, former pengetuas

Aaah, kambing golek

With Cikgu Nik Faridah during lunch

More group photo of ex students with former teachers

More money from Uzma?

I think this comes from Nik Hasyudeen's FB

During breakfast

Talk for medical career