Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Coke of the 70s

A piece of history is making a return.

Years ago when we were kids, the only 'branded' drink I can remember is the Kickapoo. There was no Pepsi, no coke, no 100 Plus - or at least I can't remember those brands in the early 70s when I was growing up in Lenggong.

Of course then, we can drink water directly from the tap and I believe it is as good as the Perrier!

Living in such small town and during such simplistic time however have its rewards. I remember buying soda drinks for 20 cents or less during those day - may be for even 10 cents. I don't remember no more.

So I was surprised today when I saw a stack of drinks in the mobile stall of my favorite pau seller. I thought he was selling kicap, but upon enquiry, I was told that it is air loncat. I had no idea what's air loncat, but I was told it was basically homemade soda.

These are exact replica in term of physical bottles and taste of the drink we used to buy at Kedai Pak Lah, at the edge of Lenggong in the early 70s. I don't know that anyone still make them. To be honest, I don't know that anyone would still buy them.

The ice-cream soda is excellent!

Except yours truly of course, for old time sake!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

It has been 12 long months


I guess for now, I will recycle this article I wrote which should have been written for the anniversary. But I posted this much earlier and I guess I would need to update it to make it an anniversary entry.

I guess there are advantages and disadvantages at both 360 and blogspot. There are certain things I love at 360 (like the fonts), but I guess many more bloggers are at blogspot, so why not. It is also easier to attach pictures and the likes at blogspot, so I guess I would try and make this as my permanent site. I guess in this age, nothing is permanent, but you know what I mean.

This is an edited version to suit the occasion.

Confession of a Serial Blogger

You know I would love to tell you that I thought I could make the world a better place by voicing my opinion over the net - that my opinion somehow would make a difference to the people of Africa, Palestine, Iraq and especially of us in Malaysia. Bla bla bla, yadda yadda get my drift.

Or that I would become the next Jeff Ooi or Rocky of the Rocky's Bru fame.

Or that there is so much wisdom in my story mory that so many people can learn lifetime lessons from me.

Fat chance.

Actually I was tricked into blogging.

You see, while I do love to write, I had never actively and consistently written over a long period of time. Typically it was done whenever I have free time, or when there is a sudden burst of inspiration (which is more of an exception than the rule), or if I am honest to myself, whenever I was trying to fight off sleep at the peak of the graveyard’s shift in the mid to late 80s.

Then I was a Mat Kilang (as opposed to Minah Karen) - albeit an educated one at that, if I may add.

So as frequent as it rains in the Kalahari, I would hit the jackpot and the NST would pay me for my article, and for every paycheck, I would be able to lunch myself at the canteen for the next one month. During the dry season however, which is the norm in the Gobi, I would be working through my lunch hour.

Life as a struggling freelance writer!

During the 1990 Thomas Cup final lost to China, I hit the jackpot with an article criticizing BAM and Elyas Omar entitled “Basking in glory over nothing”. Another sport article condemning Raja Ahmad (Zainuddin, then of Perak FA) soon appeared and I was flushed with Nestle’s products. I don’t recall the title anymore, but if I were to write that now I would call it “The mentally unsound should not be holding public office."

Mind you, while it may looks like I was a armchair’s critic, most of my arguments were sound (take it with a pinch of salt ok!) and hence NST picked them up and published it. Of course there is no rule that prohibits the mentally unsound from writing articles for a mainstream newspaper.

I had never thought of blogging then. I didn't know how to do it and I knew I didn't have the time. Struggling through daily work, and then in the early millennium, through my MBA classes, I had never bat an eye lid seeing the mushrooming of blogs in the internet. I was quite contented writing for submission to my lecturer so that they could grade me and award me another piece of paper.

So when a friend sent me a note inviting me to visit her blog early last year ("Did u get my invite to 360? Masukla n c," she said), I was excited about it. There was this introductory article about her wondering what to write and a short note to her former colleague at Bank Buruh (which to this writer was the Bank who introduced him to the stock market).

Then she said, "Nanti u try la. Can b quite engrossing." Since she was the numero uno in the English language in class in the 70s, and if she thought I could do it, then why not? It may not necessarily be better than hers, but it’s something I could call my own.

So the very same day I took pen to paper and wrote something about the plumeria or kemboja. That was Jan 27, 2007, 11 hours after this friend cheekily challenged me that I should write too.

So here I am 12 months, 118 articles and 52,000 words later – if you can call those ramblings and rantings articles. To be honest, she must be having the laugh of her life (something like this ); laughing about how gullible this friend of hers was. She puts that article as bait, and I bought them all – lock stock and barrel!

I am stuck in this vicious cycle of writing and posting, and I am not seeing an end to this unpaid job. I know I can't get rid of my day's job, and I know I can't make a living out of my night's job.

I would never have thought I would get going for this long, but I am thankful to Him for giving me the opportunity in the past 12 month to put my thought in writing.

If nothing else, Arif and Akmal would have something to read if ever they were to close down Kinokuniya - as Bro Zawi has said in his blog Life as I see It, "long after I am gone".


I guess just for the record I would like to post a couple of comments I got on my writing.

One of the most treasured comment or complimentary I got was from a former English teacher of mine. She said, " I have visited your blog. Enjoyed reading your work. Very impressed! I like the issues you dealt with, light and refreshing."

Thank you Cikgu.

You know, coming from a true blue (English) teacher, that comment means a lot to me.

Another friend said, "I like reading your work - it is like reading newspaper. But you weren't much of a writer at school."

Well, I don't read mainstream newspaper nowadays, so I am not sure if that's a compliment or otherwise!

Another said, "I like your account on Murai."

Thanks sis.

OK 'nuff said. It is for the record only, and nothing else

The Queen of Kooyong

So Sharapova is back in the final of the Australian Open.
I have not followed tennis for sometime now. To be honest, I lost interest, and prefer to just read the newspaper the next day if Fed-ex were able to add more to his grand slam. Don't get me wrong - I am waiting for the day when he overtakes Sampras in that department.
But I guess that will not be at this year's Australian Open.

In my years in Australia, I was hooked on tennis much earlier than I was cricket. It was a no brainer. Cool-iced Borg was at the peak of the rivalry with the hot-tempered McEnroe. Unfortunately for me, Borg was on the way down, so the last final we saw of him, he lost to McEnroe.
However, that didn't deter me from watching tennis, as there was a tennis star worthy of her place at the tennis' hall of fame.

Watching Chris Evert in action was like watching poetry in motion. She was beautiful and she was graceful. I would sit in my house at Bourke St in Leederville Perth, with my eyes fixed on her on the telly. I would buy tennis magazines that would have her on the cover.

Never mind that I had never touched a tennis racket in my whole life (then).

Moving on t0 Melbourne, Kooyong (which was just 30 mins train ride from Monash), then the home of the Australian Open, I could not find a friend who would accompany me to the Open to watch her. I didn't ask actually - I know they would laugh at me for wanting to watch her. I couldn't - I was a member of their usrah group!

One thing about Chris Evert, she was not as aggressive as Martina Navratilova. In fact they were so opposite. Martina to my eyes was a 'man'. Of course Chris being the 'lady' had difficulty coping with Martina's athleticism. Chris Evert was basically a baseliner who would wait for the opponent to make mistake.
She typically played a patient game. At times, baseliner may a be a bit boring to watch, but it is definitely not boring to watch Chris Evert.

And obviously, she was more fun to watch than Martina, for the obvious reason!

I had followed her career (18 grand slams, behind Margaret Court, Steffi Graff and Helen Wills) and life (from afar of course). I thought she and Jimmy Connors were an item then, but in the end, they didn't get married. She instead married John Llyod.

Now in her fifties, she had just gotten engaged with another great Australian, the Great White Shark - Greg Norman.

Well that was the 80s, and I guess nowadays people would be following another great tennis player, the beautiful (of all time?) Maria Sharapova.

Luckily for me, when I started working on my own, the first thing I did was getting rid Astro, so I cannot be watching her on the telly no more.

Of course in the look department, no one can beat Maria Sharapova. From tennis perspective though, I thought highly of Justine Henin, but I guess people - make it I - don't watch tennis simply to watch their skills.

Ah well, men will always be men.

But there will only be one queen of Kooyong for me.


Then again, later on in my student life, cricket took over my sporting passion with Allan Border and co being the in-thing for me, never mind that the Australian team was as bad as the current Liverpool team. Nowadays though, irrespecctive of whether or not Maria Sharapova ended up as the princess of Australian open, Manchester United is the only news for me, sport-wise.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The mountain, to the climber, is clearer from the plain

(picture courtesy by En Low Wai Chong - thank you sir)

What a week it was!

It was a plane hopping exercise to be honest. Nothing more, nothing less. Four cities in 5 days, excluding KL of course. (But I am not talking about London, Paris and New York here of course, just in case you would think that I am trying to mislead you. My travels have never been that glamorous!)

I have always enjoyed my trip to the other side of Malaysia. To me, it is untouched and unspoilt, the way the Peninsular was in the 70s and early 80s - until greed tears us apart. Strolling in KK and Bintulu, albeit without purpose, is an exercise in humility. One would see and feel the sincerity of the people, many of them yet to be touched by the pursuit of worldly wealth, but in themselves are the richness of life unseen no more on our side of the peninsular.

This is however slowly but surely eroding away in Borneo.

Nonetheless, a whirlwind trip to anywhere is always not advisable, so the daily flight at 7 am didn't help. It is not good for the body, waking up daily at 4 am, I know that. But beyond that, the trip was not was not of bone breaking nature.

I still have the time to stop and smell the roses, so to speak.

So we went to Kundasang.

I have always loved the mountain. To me, they are to be admired, and of course respected. They are the backbone of this planet earth, without which this mother earth of ours would simply disintegrate. To me too, the mountains near Calgary would be one of my two choices of place for my retirement, never mind that the winter may be a bit harsh.

But they are so beautiful that they are heaven on earth.

So are the mountain ranges at the Kinabalu Park. You would see 5 or 6 different ranges in the background, with the different hue and shades denoting their distance.

Scenery postcards are made of!

So I was cursing my luck and lamenting to the organizer that I was not told of the trip beforehand for me to bring my own camera. It is very seldom I didn't bring the cam to all my trips. I was basically a 'trigger-happy' guy and a hoarder in as far as pictures are concerned!

I have melted many times over that day - like ice cream on a hot summer day, when I saw this view. If only...

It was so beautiful that I was wishing that I could open an office here with me punching my computer in the valleys of Kinabalu, trapped between the foliage and insects and leave the KL office be manned by my engineers. Let them battle the KL traffic daily, while I immerse myself fully with nature.

Oh, sorry, I was day dreaming.


The title is a quote by Khalil Gibran, the most famous Egyptian poet, philosopher, artist. This is one quote I remember from years ago studying English literature at high school (MRSM KB). And it should be reflective of our journey to the foot of Kinabalu that day.

We didn't see KInabalu but the cloud.

Monday, January 14, 2008

P Ramlee on his songs

For the first time, I laughed incessantly and loudly in public!
I was browsing Kinokuniya this afternoon, enroute to the Education Fair at KLCC, and decided to take a peek at the Malay section. I have not been there for nearly a month.

I saw a book entitled "P Ramlee, Bapaku". I picked it up and started reading the back cover to get an idea of the content. As usual with any book store, the book is sealed to ensure no one would get free reading.

I have a couple of books on P Ramlee, and I thought may be this would spice up my book collection in my library.
I laughed when I read the back cover. It has the following story about P Ramlee and his son Nasir.
Bapa dan saya sering berbicara dalam bahasa pasar 'gua' dan 'lu'. Pada satu hari, saya bertanya kepada bapa, "Kenapa lu asyik bikin lagu cinta, nama perempuan, dan bunga? Gua tak minat." Lalu P Ramlee naik radang, lalu berkata dengan nada marah, "Ada tiga sebab kenapa gua bikin lagu macam tu. Satu, gua punya suka lah. Yang kedua, lu anak tak guna sebab tak tau menghargai hasil karya bapa sendiri. Yang ketiga, berjuta orang suka lagu gua, dan bila gua mati nanti, lagu-lagu gua akan menjadi lagu klasik."

Well, what can I say? I can quite imagine him saying that, but PRamlee is PRamlee. There is no doubt of the whole truth of his statements.


I wish I have copied a letter written by P Ramlee to Saloma, which was exhibited at Pasar Seni 15 years ago (when I was still working at Dayabumi). I must say I was really impressed with his English - I mean he wrote a beautiful love letter to her in Queen's English.

If only they would reprint it. I am sure many could learn from him on this aspect of life!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Selat Melaka bukan pemisah

So Bapak Presiden is here in Malaysia.

So there had been many issues affecting bilateral relation between the two nations, and somehow they have affected the people-to-people relationship. Somehow, I do think many of them were over-hyped and sensationalized.

Personally, I don't have any problem with the Indonesians per se and I don't think we all do. In fact, I can count on many of them as my friends. Friends who would invite me to their home whenever I was in their town, and friends I would invite for a meal at my own home here in KL.

The writer in Bontang - a remote Kalimantan gas town with a Badak engineer and his family at their home. Nice bungalow with two maids and a gardener, something I can never afford in KL. This is circa 1997, and his name escapes me at this moment. Maaf Pak. Sudah lama kita nggak ngobrol, iya.

If I were to meet them by chance at Sukarno-Hatta, or at any bandara for that matter, many would greet me with a title "Pak Guru." Personally I think the Indonesians are the most polite people (other than Japanese) on the face of the earth and that Malaysians (including me) are typically 180 degrees opposite.

I don't get the same red carpet treatment from anywhere else.
"Pak Guru" with his understudies at the end of a training session at Lemigas in Jakarta, circa 1996.
I should know. I have been frequenting Indonesia since 1994 and have travelled the length and breadth of the country. I am proud to say too that I have done the Friday prayers at many different mosques in Indonesia, more than what I have done in Malaysia. Aceh - the nothern most part of Indonesia, yes I have prayed Jumaat there; Medan, sure. Kg Haraban near Bukit Tinggi, and in Padang too (both in Sumatra Barat), mosques in Pekan Baru, and Dumai (both in Riau), mosques in Palembang, Sumatra Selatan.

In Jakarta, of course the Istiqlal, not to mention other smaller mosques and even in office building. Cirebon, Balongan, Jogja, Bandung are some of the cities I have been having my solat. Banjarmasin, Balikpapan and Bontang in Kalimantan, I have been to all.

I have stayed and do training for one months for their engineers in Jakarta, partially during the fasting month.

I have known one client (who later on became a good friend) - a big sized Batak named Simanjuntak. To be honest, he is perhaps the friendliest person that I have ever met. He would acknowledge me from the other end of Sepinggan Airport when I had only met him once - and everybody looked at me when he shouted my name when he saw me. As if I was his long lost friend!

I remember talking to one by the name of Ricky in the small oil town of Dumai in Riau. He once told me, "Pak Rahman, saya suka sama Ziana Zain, Fauziah Latif dan Ning Baizura." I smiled at him. "Waduh, Pak Ricky, kok suka sama yang cantik-cantik saja," I teased him.
"Well, not really," he responded, "Ning tidak cantik."
He was right (Sorry Ning!). But one can imagine the closeness of the relationship between the people of the two nations.

Another friend, Nurul - he, yes he is a he, is from Madura, told me during a phone chat some eight years ago, how our songbird Siti Nurhaliza was on telly the night before. "I wish she is Indonesian," he said. He was going ga-ga over her singing.

I laughed at him. "Yeah, right. Fat chance we would allow that to happen," I said.

So what's the problem really?

Government to government perhaps?

The one month training in Jakarta in 1997. We did our fasting together too. This is a time when my hair is still black.


The title of Pak Guru is just a term of endearment and I know it does not reflect my standing in the industry. I brought it up just to show just polite they are vis-a-vis us Malaysians. That's all.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Maal Hijrah 1429

I have always thought so highly of the Hijra calendar.

For one we decided the count in the year in 632 AD and chose the year of the prophet's migration in 622 as our base. The Gregorian calendar, if I am not mistaken, started its count in the 15th century and chose the birth of Isa Alaihissalam as their datum (though they missed it by a good few years).

In other words, the year 1429 Hijra is actually 2630 AD if we were to start the count based on the Gregorian calendar. Or more if we were able to count to Adam's day on earth!

Too big a number, I guess, for us to use daily. And what's in a number anyway, right?

The lunar based calendar was apparently pre-ordained by God in the Qur'an. And being lunar-based, our religious holy days tend to rotate a bit year by year (solar year that is). While it is difficult at times to keep track of the holy days, if one were to use the solar Gregorian calendar, but to my mind, at least no one has the right to keep on fasting in the short winter days year in year out.

Not that it matters that much for us here in the tropics.

I have always pitied the guys in the southern hemisphere. Christmas is almost always etched in my mind with white snow blanketing the house and lawn. So in Australia I thought it was funny when the public loudspeaker was blaring the song "I wish for a white christmas" while we were basking the hot midsummer sun.
Then again, who am I to say the Ozzies do not enjoy putting shrimp on their barbie during Christmas?

No chance, I guess, for someone to be fasting for 18 hours through out his life if he were to stay put at a milder climate country as a purely lunar-based calendar like the Hijra would always be 11 days short than its solar-based counterpart. I had never had the opportunity to be doing that to be honest, and I am not sure if I would like to have a go at it or not.

So I was explaining the virtue of the Hijra calendar more than twenty years ago to my Indian colleague Theva during a chat, may be during a grave yard shift change-over in Padang Rengas.

Him: "Then how would you decide when is the time for planting and other economic activities which is normally based on the four seasons?"

I had no answer to him then. I do know now that, while the Chinese use a 'lunar' calendar, it was a modified (or adjusted) to take care of this quirk. So would the Jewish community. I was told that intercallary is forbidden for us and hence it was not done for the Hijra calendar.

I guess for us, we would have to use the lunar to determine our holy days and another solar based one for other activities.

Since it was pre-ordained, I guess the Maal Hijrah is no longer just an arbitrary point in the time plane.

But one thing puzzles me. We seems to have so many different dates (solar calendar dates) for our other celebrations (Eid etc), but there seems to be consensus when it comes to Maal Hijrah. During one year, the world was celebrating Eid on four different solar-calendar dates. How come we can agree on the Maal Hijra?

May the New Year brings us closer to God, and may he reward us with iman.


Have a blessed Maal Hijrah everyone.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Truth is stranger than fiction?

Honestly I would rather write about something else. Today I went to two shops looking for cooking oil and there was none. With today's The Star headline that says " Supply Boost" with the flooding of 70,000 tonnes of cooking oil, I thought I would be able to buy at least a container. But I would have no luck. Last night my kids and I were at Jusco and I passed by empty shelf normally meant for (palm) cooking oil.

First it was sugar, then flour and now cooking oil.

But honestly we can - and should - live without it. Just don't fry any of our food. We can surely cook using other methods - boiling for example - and they should be healthier too.

So I am not really bothered about it.

Then there is this story about the school fees. Aah well, I hate politicians who thinks he runs the country.

Never mind, let's not talk about those depressing stories. Now back to the main story.

Stranger than fiction?

I thought it was a story Drama Minggu Ini would love to have a hand on the script.

I was browsing the online newspapers tonight while waiting for the magrib prayer. I don't buy newspaper nowadays. For one I don't have much time to go through them; so the free newspaper The Sun is sufficient.

Furthermore I prefer to get my news from alternatives sites and of course the ever dependable blogs.

I came across this story from a tabloid that the couple of the accident victims in the Pekan crash (six died) were supposed to get married. Nothing new with that, I supposed; only that he was married with seven children himself and that the first wife didn't know that he was getting a second wife.

In this case, it was fated that he didn't get the chance to marry her.

Stuff for the Cerekarama slot for TV3, I guess.

However the story I knew from years ago was even juicier.

I barely knew him since he was new to the company, and I was about to move on in my career. But I had taken a ride with him driving going back to KL myself since he was a weekly commuter. For him, it was a change in career and he had to leave behind his family behind. With him living a long distant life - separated from the family due to work commitment, he got to know another woman at the new workplace and eventually married her. He didn't declare it - his wife and family didn't know the double life he led.

Every weekend he would drive back to KL to be with his family.

I guess only his parents knew about the second marriage.

One day his parents came for a visit. They were supposed to return by flight. But they missed the flight. Being the filial son, he offered to drive them back on a 10-hour journey.

But fate would have it that he was killed in a road accident during that journey.

At the funeral, the (first) wife was wondering about the stranger who was giving him the last respect. The secret had to come out during the funeral, movie-style.

You know, I always thought this kind of story is unreal. You saw it in the Drama Minggu Ini slot and you would dismiss it as a figment on the writer's imagination; of someone living in their own world and out of touch with reality.

But many-a-times we forget that truth can be stranger than fiction.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Color of Paradise - The most beautiful film ever?

And there was no Julia Robert or Angelina Jolie starring in this movie!
Inarguably, The Colour of Paradise is the most beautiful film I had ever seen. I would even rate it as the best movie ever, in any language.

And it was not made by Hollywood.

Last December, Kelantan organized a Mini Fest Kelantan 2007 at Dewan Besar Balai Islam, Lundang. Of course I didn't know anything about this - with me being me, having KL as the center of my universe, until I read Kickdefella blog. The banner and the story mentioned the name Majid Majidi, and I knew I had missed an opportunity to meet this great master film maker.

Years ago, circa 2000 or thereabout, I came across this beautiful film that got me hooked on all films Iranian. I am not sure how I came to know this film, but I bought a DVD and watched it with my kids, and I must admit the film moved me to tears.

And it is not about the senseless and over-hyped boy-girl love story.

Neither this is your typical run-of-the-mill movie.

"The Color of Paradise" is a fable of a child's innocence and a complex look at faith and humanity. Visually magnificent and wrenchingly moving, the film tells the story of a boy whose inability to see the world only enhances his ability to feel its powerful forces. [The color of Paradise homepage]

To me, the film is cinematically stunning and beautiful. The cinematic is an art work; the way Picasso and Da Vinci move us with their arts. The landscape is spectacular to say the least. One need not know Persian; in fact one needs not follow the storyline to be absorbed into the film.

Just watch the following trailer. (Click here if you can't access it)

Don't you agree? This trailer alone should be enough to make you feel the spirit of the movie.

Having said that, if one were to follow the storyline - it should be easy with the english subtitles, one would feel for the blind boy named Mohammad - his joy, his agony, his concerns and his fear.

I am sure we had shed tears watching this movie. Searching, I came across this.

You can feel it for him; the tears were real. So was mine, seven years after watching it for the first time.

Mind you, there was no stunningly beautiful actresses strutting their stuff here in the movie (Hollywood or Iranian) and there was no need for that at all. Except for a couple of scenes, they were hardly any other character in the movie except Mohammad, his dad, his grandma and sister.

For someone with a very short attention span, I had watched this a couple of times and is the perhaps the last film I managed to watch it completely.

Eight years after it was released, I am still waxing lyrical about it.

That's Iranian movie for you, and they are so many light years ahead of us.

Will I live the day when our film makers can make such great masterpiece (instead of junks)?


What about another equally beautiful Majid Majidi movie, The Children of Heaven?
Eight-year-old Ali and his younger sister Zahra are accustomed to taking care of the many daily responsibilities in their family. When Ali loses his sister's newly repaired pink shoes, its disasterous because she has no other pair. Ali begs Zahra to keep quiet until he can recover them. When the shoes eventually turn up, they are on the feet of another little girl who probably needs them just as much as Zahra. Finally, Ali rests his hopes on a citywide footrace for third and fourth-graders where the third prize is a pair of shoes.
You would be rooting for him to win third place (and not win the race) so that he would win a pair of shoes. Simple story and yet it was so absorbing.

Tags: Edit Tags
Saturday January 5, 2008 - 12:34pm (SGT) Edit Delete Permanent Link


there was a time kalo x silap kt tv2 atau astro ade tayang byk cite2 from iran...and sy ingat2 lupe pasal ni..but i still remember every week, we(mak and me) waited this iranian muvi.. and of couse,kitorg pon byk nangis..but yg bestul2 best hanye ade dua tiga je...yg lain tu mcm x syok sgt..then pastu kiteorg stop..
Saturday January 5, 2008 - 03:18pm (SGT)

I barely remember that on the telly. But I guess you are right. Well, once you have seen the top end of the Iranian movies, anything else would be up to the standard set by Majid Majidi and hence your perception that the rest weren't that good.But I believe on average they were better than the best of our movies.
Saturday January 5, 2008 - 05:58pm (SGT)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Langit Biru - from love song to environmental battle cry

I didn't realize that our songs, while most are about love, would have such strong environmental influence years later.

You see in the 80s, there was an initiative called The Blue Sky initiative spearheaded by California (the California of Tomorrow or Calot). Calot was the catch phrase when I was working in a refinery then. In the mid-90s, at one refinery in Balongan, Jawa Barat, the engineers would always be telling me about the Langit Biru initiative they were undertaking.

All these undertakings are about a clean air and a cleaner environment. Many of these initiatives originated from California which has a very strict environmental regulations and we would always be looking towards California for our directions.

It is also apt that I found out this morning in the The Sun that California was suing the US government for blocking the state 's tough new standard on greenhouse gases emitted by automobiles.

Welcome to the state of California. And they are not alone - fifteen other states are joining the California's suit.

Good luck California.

In the meantime, back here in Kuala Lumpur, I just found out (say less than six months ago) that Langit Biru is actually an old Malay song. And I guess it would remain just a song here.

I have always like this song by Sanisah Huri. It was made popular by her in the 70s when I was growing up. I thought that, like many of her songs, this is strictly hers. But I didn't know actually it was not. Not until Klasik Nasional a couple of months ago started airing the original version by Djuita.

I love both versions, to be honest. I thought I would never be able to say that. I would always thought that the original version of any song would be THE version for me. All others, ciplak!

But not this one. Both are equally beautiful in their own right.

While I had always like the song in th 70s, I didn't know the title. Afterall, there was no love in langit biru. I would not have thought that would be the title until Klasik Nasional.

I found these two versions while I was waiting for the RC shop at Amcorp to open last Sunday. Browsing one stalls I was amazed to find one stall with literally hundreds of old songs that you would not get anywhere else.

It is a heaven on earth in as far as old music is concerned.

I, for one, am not that familiar with Djuita. Did she has many other hit songs? I am not too sure. But one thing for sure, I am impressed with the musical arrangement and the sound, eventhough it was recorded in the 50s. For sure it sounds like a decent piece unlike many of the songs churned out by our 'songstress' nowaday, which to me, was produced just to make sure that she has a new album to her name, and reap more money for the record company.

Even though I didn't plan to buy anything, in the end I bought 12 CDs and I promised myself and the seller that I would come again and buy the rests - just to make sure I have all the oldies that I love so much in my collection.

I would not have to wait for Klasik Nasional to air them for me no more.

Yeah, this is like a mimpi yang tak jaga-jaga, and please don't wake me up.

Listen to both Langit Biru version here.

Election dah dekat kut?

Oh my God! I don't believe it.

Entah aper dah nak jadi ni. Just when I have been losing hope, all the sudden there is light at the end of tunnel.

Dah bertahun ler teman dok komplen kat sesapa yang nak dengar (macam ler teman dok nulih ni kot-kot ada yang nak baca...hehehe); yang apalah yang teman dapat dari dok bayar tax beribu-ribu setiap tahun?

Yer ler, apa idaknyer. Tiap-tiap tahun duit yang teman bayar tax tuh boleh teman beli kete cash, tak pun kumpul setahun dua teman dah boleh beli rumah.

Bukan rumah banglo ler - macam banglo abang Zek yang 52 bilik tuh; gaji teman bukan beso maner - beso sikit dari gatekeeper jalan ketapi jer. Kira teratak kecik jer, tak pun rumah setinggan. Tapi rumah ler juga.

Kalau sakit, teman pegi Ampang Puteri. Selalunyer kompeni teman bayo, tak pun insuran teman yang bayo. Nak pegi hospital gomen, ish tak sanggup teman nak berbaris berjam-jam.
Buku-buku sekolah anak-anak teman teman beli sendiri - tak penah pun dapat buku free. School fees and ntah aper-aper fees lagi teman tak penah culas. Teman tau banyak kawan-kawan teman, gaji lebih beso dari teman pun masih dapat buku-buku free.Tapi teman tak nak ler buat camtu. Kalau dah tak layak, ye ler tak per. Teman beli jer sendiri.

Tak nak teman nak menjawab nanti kat kubur; macam aper yang aruah bapak teman cakap kat mak teman dedulu.

Kalau teman pegi jalan, teman kena bayar tol. Ish ish...state road banyak sangat lori. Kalau dah dok belakang lori panjat bukit berapit, tak payah ler. Kome pegi jer ler tidur dulu. Kalau tak pun, pegi minum kopi ker teh tarik ker kat memaner. Jadi nak ngelak tuh sema, terpaksa ler bayar tol kat UEM bagi kaya kuncu-kuncu orang politik.

Aper ler guna teman bayo roadtax tiap tahun?

Jadik, apa yang teman dapat dari duit tax teman?

Tak penah dapat aper-aper pun.

Tuh yang teman terkejut beruk tuh biler balik hari ni. Nyaris ler teman dah makan ubat hypertension pagi tadi. So tak ler teman kena heart attack tadi.

Ada dua longgok buku-buku pinjaman untuk dua orang anak teman. Ish, raser tak cayer ler teman. Bio bebeno?

Deme dapat buku free, yang seumur hidup deme tak penah raser buku free.

Nih pilihanraya dah dekat ker ni?


Terima kasih daun keladi. Teman nunggu lagi aper ler lagi yang Pak Lah boleh kasi. Bak kater sorang MB tuh, orang bagi pelikat kiter ambik jer. Tapi ngundi teman, rahsia!

Thursday January 3, 2008 - 07:27pm (SGT) Edit Delete Permanent Link


haha :) my kids too getting free books for the first time, kononnya jimat lah sikit duit, tapi fees dengar cerita pun 'free' jugak, the only country in the world, camtulah menterinya bercakap, tapi habis lah jugak RM120 'free fees' kononnya. BTW crude oil dah USD100 per barrel, hmm...oops out of topiclah
Thursday January 3, 2008 - 08:54pm (ICT)

Online Now
Yes, agree. I had two pay Rm260 for the free school-fees for the both of them. Who are they trying to kid when they say it is not compulsory? How does one know one's kid would not be penalised by not paying?
Friday January 4, 2008 - 06:56pm (SGT)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Tiada Lagi Kesinambungan Cita

The inevitable had to happen, I must admit.

When I decided in 2006 that I wanted Arif to have a taste of boarding school, Arif didn't object though I was sure that he was in two minds. (See my entries: This Used to be my Playground and From Aulong to Pengkalan Chepa, From Hussein Onn to Merbok).

I thought it would be for the better. Him having too much privilege at home was not good for his long term future. He needs to be independent, and I thought a dose of reality (of life outside his protective shell) would do him a world of good.

I thought I could force him to abandon the love of his life once I get him out of KL, and into a remote Northern town. I thought they would never be in contact again.

But I could never comprehend that his love for pizza is just way too strong.

So I relented; I knew that I could not separate them apart, no matter how much I tried. But I could not get Pizza Hut to deliver to him daily at his school. Not matter how much I tried. I dangled money to the Pizza hut managers; just deliver Pizza to him to his school. They can name their price and I will pay up - in advance. No question, no bargaining.

Sometimes money can't buy you everything!

He had grown too thin the eight month he was there. On the fourth day of fasting, upon noticing him at the front row during an assembly, his principal Puan Rohana remarked, "Arif, this is only the fourth day of fasting. Why are you already so thin?"

She didn't know he had been fasting since joining MRSM.

(The story was related by Puan Rohana to the writer.)

I asked him why his exam results were not that great. "I could not study," he confessed. "Everyday I was thinking about what will be my next meal."

I don't know where I went wrong with him, for he would not eat anything else but pizza.

Someone suggested that we must have not fulfilled a vow. Hmmm, may be. I don't know; I don't remember. I am sure we did make a vow if God were to give us a child. But I thought we had slaughter a goat, while he was a baby.

If there were anything else, I may have forgotten them already.

I thought it must have something to do with Calgary (HYSIM User Conference, Banff 1990). May be 'terkenan' kut in Calgary.

So it had to happen - I decided that his SPM is more important than having a son sharing the same alma mater as him.

So when a former teacher called me up last week, I told her of my decision. She laughed. I told her at the very least, he survived it for a year. "He didn't quit after two month," I justified to her.

"Yeah, and my niece only survived for two month at Taiping," she told me.

When I related it to another teacher of mine last Friday during the office warming, she was not surprised. She had told Arif and I, during last year open house at Hussein Onn, that the situation has changed much from my time in the 70s. "There are so much facilities at home nowadays," she told me, "that boarding school may not be the answer to everything in life."

She should know. She was the principal at MRSM Jasin and she brought up Jasin from the brink of disaster ("Teruk MRSM Jasin, Man," a colleague Khalis Abbas used to tell me, "kes polis pun banyak.") to the pinnacle. Jasin was the numero uno school during her tenure.

One of her student told me that Cikgu (Dr) Fatanah commanded them to take vitamin pills every morning. "I didn't," Cikgu told me, "The counsellor did!"

She was just being modest. She is credited with bringing up Jasin. She was even awarded a Tokoh Maal Hijrah for her contribution. She should be awarded a Datukship too for turning around an ailing school - much like turning around a big corporation, only harder.

She told me that her study indicated that our students need Vitamin B complex to strengthen their body and mind. Otherwise they got tired easily.

"So that was your secret, Cikgu?" I said, bright-eyed.

"Only part of it, Rahman. That was just one of the ten factors affecting a student's ability to study," she said.

Good enough for me. B complex it is for Arif from nowadays onwards.

I am sure if I sit down with her for another ten occasions, she would tell me all the secrets.
2008 is going to be a difficult year for me. I need to sit for my SPM (again), together with Arif, after taking it for the first time 28 years ago.

I hope with the availability of pizza again in his life, he would show me his true worth.

Even at a day school.


I have no regret luring him to boarding school. Looking from a few hundred pictures that he had taken at MRSM, it looks like an experience I would not able to give him at home. He has more friends there in one year than may be his entire schooling life in KL. He has slaughtered and clean up chicken at his homeroom teacher's home. That's is not something I would be able to give him in Hussein Onn.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

From garage to Wisma Zelan

In a way, it was a reverse homecoming.

For more than two years, I have been working out in my own garage, at the back of my house, and most of the time without any real work and many times not getting paid for them. With wireless internet and a cell phone, I can practically work from anywhere. As far as the clients are concerned, I would submit report on time that they have no need to know about my office nor my whereabouts.

Whenever I travel, I would have a printer at the back of my car.

In other words, I have a mobile office, with everything that one needs.
So it is a bit ironic that I am back to having my own office that is high up in the sky but actually is now immovable. It has been only four month, but after toiling, looking for an office space, it surely feel like coming home, nevermind that I actually need to leave home on a daily basis.

Central KL is a no-no to me. Beyond the exorbitant price, I do not wish to battle the traffic. But the offices near my place are not up to the standard. Typical shophouses nearby are a bit rundown and dirty (or even the one at Uptown Damansara is dirty and smelly!) and not a conducive environment to work at.

So I was lucky when someone suggested Wisma Dwitasik (Tasik Permasuri) and Wisma Zelan (Bandar Tun Razak) to me.
Dwitasik is to me the one of the cleanest low-rise office block. Even the backyard lane was clean enough for one to have a picnic there. In the end, the 24-storey Wisma Zelan won me over with a corner office with a view of KL skyline. The view from the office. When I am down and out, this is one view to clear the mind. Just stare at the window and enjoy KL skyline. It is a fantastic view at night and beautiful on a clear day. Thanks for the excellent photo, Zali, my aircraft technician bro and budding photographer.
Wisma Zelan is no KLCC - I know that - but it is still an office block that house Tradewinds and many other legitimate companies. And its address is 56000 Kuala Lumpur.

A new coat of paints, new carpet and new air-conditioning and hey presto, I now have an office to operate from -my first office ever that I am paying from my own pocket.

The past 15 years I have been doing it for someone else (Hyprotech) - moving from Singapore's Bukit Pasoh to Empire Tower to De Palma Ampang to Megan Avenue to Menara Great Eastern, but doing it for my own self would give a different exhilarating feeling.

I am now an entrepreneur, a technologist, and a tax-payer. More importantly, I am now an employer.

Office Warming 28 December 2007 - A pictorial blog

The office and the signboard that says it all.

The doa selamat & tahlil is led by my best friend from schooldays, Syed Abu and attended by staff and families.

The pioneers at VMG SEA (this writer, Fitri (Simulation Engineer; exMRSM Taiping), Shamsiah (Accountant) and Zafirah (Simulation Engineer) and the family. I hope in two years we (VMG SEA) would be as big as the Hariri clan.

Having fun - A lively chat with my favourite teacher Cikgu Dr Fatanah. Must be a chat on MRSM as VMG's support engineer Zafirah is ex MRSM Langkawi, while Cikgu Dr Fatanah's last posting was as MRSM Jasin's Principal. En Ritzauddeen was second from left. I must say that I salute her for coming. She had never said no to my invites, eventhough I was just one of her many thousands students in a career that spans over 30 years.

Top:I wonder what was the joke someone (was it I?)was telling to have En Shahrul, Petronas' Principal Engineer and En Lukman in stitches!

Makan time and fun time with esteemed guests. In the end, everybody prefers to just sit on the floor. Seen here is En Shahrul and Pn Zalina at the table and En Hasnor polishing his guitar skills, and Fadzrul stressing a point while his boss Puan Fauziah listens intently.

GTS Engineers chatting, eating and working. They are sure a workaholic bunch! Next pic - En Sumardi and En Azizul with Shamsiah and Jabar having small talk.

(Left) Tn Hj Mohd Nor Basar of MECIP Global Engineers, En Shamsuri (my former schoolmate, currently with a French company, this writer and En Shahrul. (Right) En Mohd Ritzaudeen and his family at the event.

Shamsiah and friends (Right) The Hariri Ladies

(Left) En Lim Tech Huat (VME Process; ex Hyprotech), Fitri, Tn Haji Harun Pin (ex Lab Manager Petronas, ex MTC) with the host. (Right) They must be thinking "what la the boss is babbling about." They have no choice, but to listen, if at least for now!

Left - The preparation in the morning

(Left) En Low Wai Chong and I used to be colleagues at Hyprotech many years ago. Now he is a senior engineer at Petronas.

Akmal on classical guitar and Arif playing the piano on keyboard providing the live music entertainment at the office warming. Akmal played beautiful songs like Romanza (Author unknown), Vincent (Don Macclean) and Can't Help Falling in Love (Elvis Presley), while Arif played Richard Clayderman's songs like A Comme Amour and Letter Ama Mere, interspersed with classicals like Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (Bach) and the haunting theme song from the hugely popular Korean TV series Winter Sonata.