How Long I Have Been Married

Daisypath Anniversary tickers

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Rediscovering Penang, The Island of My Maternal Grandparents

Penang is naturally close to my heart for the simple reason that my maternal grandparents called it home after my grandfather retired in the early 80s. On top of that, my mom's younger siblings all married Penangites, so the blood ties with the island once called Prince of Wales Island is strong in our family.

The demise of my late grandfather last year meant that the only family ties left on the island are my uncles and aunts whom also chose Penang as their home. I am determined not to dilute those ties by attempting to swing by as regularly as I can. Furthermore, my grandparent's final resting place are just next to each other at Masjid Jamek Sg. Gelugor not far from their residence in Minden Heights (next to the Universiti Sains Malaysia campus).
However, have to admit that my work schedule and own family commitments in KL sort of prevented me from going up north as often as I would have liked.

I think the last time I came was in March 2009, when my grandfather passed away. Yeah, that was the last time I really visited Penang. Subsequent visits to the island from that point onwards was merely for transfer from the Bayan Lepas International Airport to the mainland of Seberang Prai Utara or further up to Sg. Petani, Kedah; strictly work-related.

Hence I was determined to give the island of my maternal grandparents what's due - a full-fledged visit. And it couldn't be even more fitting that to bring my wife and kids for our year-end family vacation to Penang, before school re-opens in a week's time.

It was kind of spontaneous, and I thanked my wife for making all the arrangements. We reserved a beautiful junior suite at the swanky and contemporary Hydro Hotel perched on a hilltop overlooking Miami Beach, one of the sub-beaches sandwiched between Shamrock Beach and Golden Sands Beach, collectively known as, yeah you guessed it - Batu Ferringhi.

My daughters Farisya and Azureen were of course excited. Any place with a swimming pool excites them.

We travelled to Penang on Christmas Eve, on Friday evening. I would have love to leave earlier but my wife who is now a senior government educator had some work to do (she is an SPM paper examiner this time around), so we only managed to hit the road at around 4.00 pm. The entire journey took 6 hours, with a one-hour pit stop at the Sg. Perak R&R area for refuelling and early dinner.

We finally checked-in at Hydro Hotel, Penang at 10.00 pm, as I was what the Americans say "Doggone Tired." I slept like a log that night.

Our hotel - Hydro Hotel, Miami Beach, Batu Ferringhi, Penang

The following day, on Christmas, our first official day at Penang, we decided to play real tourists by rediscovering the island I once frequented as a boy, teen and young adult. But being me, I refused to succumb to the usual garden-variety tourist spots, because I am not a tourist, I am a traveller.

Even before leaving KL, I already knew one place which I wanted to visit - the newly restored Suffolk House at Jalan Air Itam, which was once the former residence of the Governor-General of Penang (then known as Prince of Wales Island) during the reign of our British colonial masters.

So, we paid a visit to Suffolk House which is now managed by an NGO known as Badan Warisan. The sight that met us was breathtaking. It is indeed a magnificient mansion, with a well-manicured lawn surrounding it, and the Air Itam river flowing dramatically besides it. Well, the river looks more like a polluted stream nowadays. I am sure it was crystal blue 250 years ago.

Suffolk House, which was once doomed after decades of neglect, has been restored to its full grandeur through an intensive fund raising campaign by the Penang Heritage Trust. I regretted not taking a better picture of the house with its lovely manicured lawn as the foreground.

Anyway, there is some dispute regarding the actual history of the house. The most consistent version is that it was built by who else than Captain Francis Light, the British East India Company officer who founded Penang in 1786. It is highly likely as Light hailed from Dallinghoo of Suffolk County, East Anglia, hence he aptly named the mansion Suffolk House to remind him of his home country back in England.

The house back then was built within Captain Light's pepper plantation and the naval captain resided there for about eight years before he died of malaria. The British Empire then took full control of the house, making it the official residence of its Governor General for Penang, and even at one time, for the Governor General of the Straits Settlement.

In the years that followed, Suffolk House continued to be the grand old lady of Penang, playing host to numerous social and official events of the British Empire until the 1920s when the Crown decided to sell off the property to a local Penangite, Lim Cheng Teik, presumably a tycoon of the island at that time. That marked the start of the house' downfall as it was then in turn sold off by Lim in 1928 to the Methodist Church of Malaya for the purpose of constructing a Methodist missionary school. In fact, the church petitioned to demolish the house to make way for the school complex but fortunately, the Penang Municipal Councillors at that time rejected the motion. Instead, the church built the school adjacent to the house which still stands until today.

World War 2 then followed where the house was used by the Japanese military administration and after that, the era of neglect began. For some cruel reason, the house was left to rot and declared unsafe for occupation in 1975 as deteriorating conditions hit the peak, on the verge of collapsing.

Fast forward to the year 2000 where restoration efforts officially kicked-off by a group known as the Penang Heritage Trust, with full support of the Penang State Government and I believe also with the blessings of the Federal Government.

View at the top floor of the house, with its magnificient pillars and wide verandahs, typical of colonial mansions built at the height of the British Empire

Fund raising was a monumental challenge as the State government only granted sufficient funds for structural reinforcement. The rest was up to generous contributions by various quarters which trickled in slowly but surely. Just when all hope was lost in completing the restoration, HSBC Bank came to rescue by injecting a cool RM2.5 million which assured the rejuvenation and reincarnation of Suffolk House. It opened its doors to the public early last year and charges RM10 as admission fee. Fair enough as they would need all the money to maintain this grand and stately home.

(To be continued...)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My New Year's Resolution(s)

Since it's been almost a month since I posted anything in this pathetic blog of mine, I thought best if I shared my New Year's resolution considering that 2011 is just around the corner.

Just to recap, I think 2010 was a great year for me, careerwise, as I completed my first year at my current position (since my promotion in October 2009) and personal wise too in terms of my travelling as I clocked a new personal best of three overseas trips in January (Phuket; Thailand), July (Bali; Indonesia) and earlier this month (Krabi; Thailand).

However, it was quite a challenging year in terms of me managing my deterioting relationship with my wife of 11 years, though of late, I am pleased to report that things are slowly but surely getting better.

Anyway, here's my 2011 resolution which I pledge to attempt to do :

1. Worry less about the wellbeing of someone whom I really care about at the office as she already has a husband to do that job.
2. Focus more on patching things up with my wife by really cracking my head to come up with ideas to re-ignite the fire of romance which for some cruel reason has been lost after more than a decade of marriage.
3. Increase my savings for rainy days ahead.
4. Give more attention to my kids who will be in Year 4 and Year 1 of primary school especially in helping them with their homework.
5. Be a better leader and manager of my department by upskilling / equipping myself with all the necessary leadership elements / parameters / qualities set by my employer.
6. To spend less on expensive lunches and after work drinks.
7. To catch up on my reading - less fiction and more self-help books.
8. To lose a significant amount of weight by committing to a workout regime which includes a diet regime in tandem.
9. To focus, cherish and savour the company of true friends who really care about you rather than harbour hope to be inducted into the circle of friends of individuals who don't really care about you and just obliged to be nice to you because you are their superior or colleagues.
10. To rely less on my most capable subordinate so that I won't be so miserable in her long absence sometime next year.
11. To take my wife and kids to Gold Coast, Australia.

There it is, 11 resolutions for 2011.

May the force be with me...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Saying Thanks, When It Matters Most

Is it so difficult to say thanks?

Do you say thanks to the toll booth operator each time you pay the highway concessionaire for passage to wherever it is you're going?

Do you says thanks to the cashier at the window of the fast food drive-thru for reuniting you with your favourite burger, fries and soft drink?

Do you say thanks to the gentlemen that held open the door for you to pass through?

Do you says thanks to the pump attendant who just filled your tank so that you get to continue your journey?

Do you says thanks to the flight attendants who provided that award-winning service which made your long-haul bearable?

Do you says thanks to your husband for taking out the thrash religiously every night eventhough his favourite tv series has started?

Do you say thanks to your wife for frying the rice for you at 6.00 am so that you can share it with your office mates at the pantry at 8.30 am?

Do you say thanks to your boss for allowing you to leave the office a little earlier so that you can get ready for the concert you're watching that night?

Do you say thanks to your secretary for preparing your mileage claim so that you get some extra cash while waiting for your next pay cheque?

Do you say thanks to your kids for still loving you unconditionally even if you came home late from work and forgot to buy the doughnuts they wanted?

Do you say thanks to your friend who is still willing to give you the benefit of the doubt under the most bizzare of circumstances?

Do you say thanks to someone who is willing to go the extra mile for you and ask next to nothing in return?

Do you?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Power Of Facebook and A Great Love Story

I bumped into my senior from varsity days this morning while having breakfast. Apparently, he has just been relocated by his company to the identical sister tower of where I work.

It was really good to see him again after 15 years. Actually, I have been communicating with him via text messages and Facebook prior to this, but we never had the time to actually meet up. Now that he's based here where I work, I guess we'll be seeing each other more often.

Anyway, he confided to me that he married his campus sweetheart earlier this year (second wife) after being apart for 15 years too! And amazingly, they were reunited via, yes you guessed it - Facebook!

My senior, Mr Z is really a lucky son of a gun. According to him, his first wife agreed to him marrying his old flame without much fuss (hmm, I find this hard to believe). Well, maybe a pot or pan flew across the kitchen before she finally agreed to sign the consent form. But nonetheless, he is now a member of the coveted "Double Barrel Club". Haha.

Anyway, what I want to share is how romantic and dramatic Mr Z got to be reunited with his old flame via FB. Apparently, after his old flame got divorced (after only 4 or 5 years of marriage if my calculations are correct), she frantically searched for Mr Z for the past 10 years but to no avail.

And then as well all know, Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg created FB (why do all these geniuses drop out from Ivy League universities??) So, with FB, Mr Z's old flame finally managed to locate him.

It was a sad love story for Mr Z in 1996, during his final year at varsity. His girlfriend (the old flame) dumped him without explanation and it almost killed him. He lost a lot of weight and the pinacle of his sorrows was when he met with a road accident which broke his collar bone.

The old flame married someone else which as we all know by now, ended with divorce.

Mr Z on the other hand moved on and met his first wife. And who would have figured after close to 15 years, Mr Z would be in touch again with his old flame via FB. The old flame left her phone number in FB and it took two days for Mr Z to make that magic phone call.

Mr Z told me that when they finally met, the first two hours was filled with cursing by Mr Z, demanding the old flame to explain why she dumped him 15 years ago without any valid reasons. I guess she owed Mr Z that much after all these years. Because if memory serves me right, Mr Z met with the accident as a result of driving under depression because of his broken heart. Or was it driving under influence, hehehehe.

They were married one month later. Amazing, right?

Both Mr Z and his second wife must be forever grateful to Mark Zuckerberg for creating FB.

And Mark Zuckerberg had better not announced his travel plans to Malaysia in the future, because probably a frying pan would greet his forehead at KLIA....

I Still Love You, More Than You Can Possibly Imagine

This is for someone of whom I have been sharing my life for more than 11 years.

Maybe I didn't treat you
Quite as good as I should have
Maybe I didn't love you
Quite as often as I could have
Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

Maybe I didn't hold you
All those lonely, lonely times
And I guess I never told you I'm so happy that you're mine

If I made you feel second best
Girl I'm so sorry I was blind
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

Tell me, tell me that your sweet love hasn't died
Give me, give me one more chance to keep you satisfied, satisfied

Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Omnibus Snippets : Three Posts In One Go

1. VW Golf GTI : Hot Hatch Which Makes Any Guy or Gal Drool

Congratulations Suri Nordin, my colleague and friend on her latest asset acquisition - a brand new Volkswagen Golf GTI (perghh meleleh siot). She was officially the proud owner of the hot hatch from Germany at about 7.30 pm yesterday, where the car was handed over to her at the VW dealer in Jalan Ampang. She was accompanied by her busy body boss MFR yang melebih-lebih pulak nak drive the car. Hahaha, jangan marah my brother. :-P

Just a friendly reminder to Suri. That car has a lot of torque. It was built for speed. You get a beefy 2.0 litre engine with 210 horsepower at 5300 rpm and an adrenalin pumping 280 N-m of torque between 1700 and 5200 rpm. That's a lot of power babe, so go easy on the accelerator. Just a gentle tap on the pedal would be more than enough to make other cars on the highway eat the CO2 emitted from your exhaust and a firmer tap would not even allow them to see your tail lights.

You have made an excellent choice. A top notch German marque. Enjoy responsibly!

2. Sexy Safura Quote of The Day

I was having a drink with MFR, Suri and Safura after work yesterday. Safura is MFR's new executive replacing MS who is now enjoying his new stint at our employer's Australian venture in Brisbane.

She's cool but I tak berani nak puji dia lebih-lebih sebab her boss MFR will surely puke, not because of her but because menyampah dengan saya yang terror mengayat ni.

Anyway, Safura said something which is definitely the quote of the day. And it is one sexy quote I tell you.

"I hate trouble but trouble loves me."

Wow, I like! Because it seems to fit in my characteristics at the moment - playing with fire, hehehehe!

Yeah, yeah, MFR has cautioned me about playing with fire. I am well aware of the consequences. And I thank you bro for your reminder. It means you care.

Anyway, if anything goes wrong Mr. MFR, you have every right to tell me upfront as loud as you want : "Aku dah cakap!"

3. The Brotherhood Code

After the departure of MS to Australia, the two ace boon coons left as my partners in crime are MFR and MOS. They were already close buddies for quite some time before I decided to join the posse a few months back, despite me being in the same outfit for more than a year now.

Being like brothers, naturally we had a gentlemen's agreement which is basically a set of ground rules to ensure we do not step on each other's toes and overstep the boundaries. All in the name of materialising a bond between us which is stronger than oak, as what some redneck Texan would say.

We refer to the agreement as the Brotherhood Code or simply, the Bro Code. It was MFR who coined the word. The Bro Code. Come on, say it again with me. The Bro Code. It sounds manly, macho, credible, decisive and authoritative.

So, what are the ground rules stipulated under the Bro Code? Honestly, no rules have been cast in stone but it should be among these lines :

1. No flirting or having affairs with each other's spouses, especially behind each other's back.

Itu aje...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Running To The Beat Of My Own Drum

For the past two weeks, I have started to hit the gym again, after almost two months being absent from my own workout regime.

Excuse - I was buried with work. Yeah, yeah, the oldest excuse in the world.

Twin Towers Fitness Centre (TTFC) must really love members like me who religiously pay the monthly fee of RM120 but rarely uses their facilities.

I decided something finally had to be done to ensure TTFC does not profit blindly. So I started going again. At first, I anticipated that it would be difficult for me to get back into my workout regime after a hiatus of two months. But surprisingly, I was able to do it quite effortlessly, both cardio and also toning workouts.

I am thankful God decided to maintain my fitness where I left off two months ago. I can still run at a speed of 9.0 on the treadmill for 30 minutes straight without stuttering or what we Malays call "pancit".

Running makes me feel good actually. You tend to relax mentally despite your body working overtime to meet the requirements of your running.

And I don't limit my running within the comfort of the air-conditioned gym. I take it further - at the KLCC Park and also Taman TAR Ampang Jaya. I am really running like nobody's business nowadays, clocking an average of 4 to 5, sometime 6 km per run!

Even friends and family find it hard to believe that I am able to run like this despite my rather large physique. I always told them - the key is fitness. If you are fit, a fat guy can actually outrun those half his size. Believe me, I've seen cases like this before at the park where I run.

Anyway, here's a tip for those who feel like taking up running. Don't try to do outdo yourself, let alone others. Let the other show offs pass you by. Just run at your own pace. If you feel you must stop to walk, do it. No one has to impress anyone. As the name suggests - jogging, meaning you jog, not sprint like Asafa Powell. I've seen so many dimwits who sprint at the beginning only to pant for air and stop just after 100 or less metres. And I am still running, slowly but surely.

Running is also a good way to vent out your frustration or manage your stress. Because when you run, your rapid movement will clinically prevent you from thinking too much, providing your mind with a temporary sanctuary which blocks out undesired thoughts. That's why a lot of people who has problems take up running. Because it is good for your health and because it helps you to block out disturbing thoughts, even if it was temporary.

There was a nice Malay movie entitled "Sepi" which was actually a set of love stories intertwined. In one of those stories, a shoe manufacturer / entrepreneur played by Tony Eusoff lost his wife in a road accident. So to block out memories of his demised wife, he took up running as a new passion.

I was kind of inspired by that. Because at the moment, my life is also kind of messed up.

Running seems to solve that momentarily, until I find a more permanent solution to all my current woes....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Unsuspecting Beneficiary of Unconditional Love

I wish to discuss about unconditional love today.

It's something which we all get, at least from our parents.

In my case, I'd like to believe that I am enjoying unconditional love from my parents, my wife (although of late she rarely shows it), my two bubbly and adorable daughters, and also my siblings. In theory, at least.

Most of us, especially the less observant, would simply dismiss that the parameters of unconditional love are confined to family alone, or at the very most, dear and close friends.

But I beg to differ.

Because I am now giving unconditional love to someone despite her not knowing it. And I intend to keep it that way (unless she reads this pathetic blog of mine).

Yes, she is my friend and colleague, but I only knew her a few years back and only got real close to her recently (well, more than a year now) due to work requirements.

I don't know why I am feeling this way towards her. But she once said jokingly that a lot of people "sayang" her.

I didn't really see it as a joke. Because I do "sayang" her. Sangat. Unconditionally. How about that?

I guess she fits my idea of the ideal woman. Very down to earth; sweet; smart; efficient; committed to what she does; occasionally and appropriately funny; jovial; caring; loving; and highly responsible. Of course I can go on and on, but I doubt my fingers would have the strength and perseverence to endure typing more justifications as to why she is ideal. Trust me, the list would be non-exhaustive.

But rest assured, I will always have the strength and perseverance to endure showering her with unconditional love. I'm pretty sure about that.

Like in the song Forever by 90s British R&B group Damage, even if she took my heart and tore it apart, I will love her still forever, and in this case unconditionally.

If you happen to read this, yes YOU, the beneficiary of my unconditional love, don't freak out okay? I see myself as your alternate protector, as a surrogate brother who self willingly pledged to see you through thick and thin. Everyday I pray that you will be happy, I pray for you to be happy with your husband, who's a great and lucky guy. I pray for your constant health. I pray you will be blessed with great kids. I pray you will be protected from harms way. I pray you will be deflected from any wrong doings.I pray whatever bad past you had will be buried forever and cease to haunt you again. I pray for your wellbeing in totality - spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially and professionally. I pray for you, unconditionally.

The next time you catch me gazing me at you, it's just me counting my blessings for having you around in my life at the moment. I became a better person because of you. I am motivated to do what I do now because of you. Don't take that away from me. I am guilty as charged for loving you that much but I beg for a deferment of sentencing, at least until I die.

Thank you for rejuvenating my rather prematurely dilapidated life. You may not believe it, but you make loving you so easy for me.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hanging On For Nothing

As I write this, I'm listening to Brian McKnight's One Last Cry for the thirteenth time. It's one of my favourite R&B ballads, released in the singer's 1992 debut album. It's a good song, really good song. Perfect to nurse a broken heart and shattered dreams.

I just discovered that a beautiful dream or wishful thinking which I've been hanging on to for the past 5 years was actually for nothing. A waste of time, energy and emotion. I could have done better things, like improve my writing. Or hitting the gym more often. Or simply be closer to God.

Anyway, God works in mysterious ways to liberate you from something which could've destroyed you in the long run. And I thank God for that. Who would have figured that it would be two dear friends, or brothers in crime for that matter, that would actually break the news to me. F & M - thanks so much for finally knocking some sense into my head. Now I realise that you are truly are my blood brothers despite us only recently being ace boon coons.

Yes, it was hard to swallow at first. It was a blow straight to the pit of my stomach. But I am rebounding well. I'll be fine. But give me some time, for drowning of sorrows cannot be done overnight. This will be long, that much I'm sure.

I am liberated from this dream permanently now. My mind is freer now. Free to do better things that should make me a better person.

As for the wasted dream, my only regret is for the people of whom this dream has hurt. So many people have made sacrificies for this dream, all of them unconditional I'm sure. But in return, the dream has committed an unspeakable act, probably more than once, that betrayed the love and trust given. For that, I feel so sorry. Not for you, dream. But for the people whom you have hurt and lied. Worse, they don't even know. I pray they will have the strength to endure it if they ever found out because it will be ugly. Even I was adversely affected and the bitter irony of it, I'm not even relevant.

Lesson learnt - next time you see shiny and juicy apples at the supermarket, check again. It may be rotten inside....

Thursday, October 7, 2010


...will it really meet its noble objective of luring back the best brains of Malaysia to their home country? I still have reservations about this.

Yes, our PM's intention is good but for as long as I can remember, I never thought highly of Malaysians who choose to work and reside abroad. Because majority of these people, while having succeeded in making a living in Sydney, London or New York, usually also ridicule their home country - my country mind you, as being the reason why they left in the first place for the so-called greener pastures.

Okay fair enough. You claim that Malaysia is not able to offer you employment or the salary band you so desire. But for the sake of argument, why can your other fellow Malaysians still make a decent living here in good old Jalur Gemilang land? This issue is so subjective, no party - whether the Malaysians abroad or the Malaysians here, would want to take a step back and re-evaluate their stand. But I for one, as someone who is a product of the national education system - from primary to tertiary and now working for a respectable Malaysian company, would insist that serving your nation is allegiance of the highest order. Period.

The worst kind of Malaysians are the ones who studied abroad on Malaysian government scholarship, be it JPA, MARA or PETRONAS, to name a few. Once they graduated, they secure employment in the country where they studied and cancel out the scholarship bond by repaying their sponsors. There is even a greater number of Malaysian students who simply dissapear and that's when you see the long list of defaulters advertised by their sponsors on the back pages of Sunday papers. The ones biting the dust would of course be their guarantors who were suckered to sign on the dotted lines prior to these ungrateful lots' departure overseas several years back.

And then of course there's the other kind who slog it out from scratch, saving every penny or dime to achieve their dreams of the promised land. The kind depicted in immigration-theme movies like Crossing Over and Bordertown. As a result of this, Malaysians travelling to Britain in the future, for example, may be slapped with a visa ruling, something which we have enjoyed being exempted from by our colonial masters, due to Malaysians of these kinds overstaying on social visit pass in various parts of the kingdom.

What else? Aah, yes. Malaysians with dual citizenship when our laws clearly prohibits that. Malaysians who give birth to their child abroad but still come back to KL to register their birth certificate and then return back to Toronto where their child's Canadian birth certificate also awaits. Malaysians who prolong their stay in, oh I don't know, Philadelphia, years after they graduated until they are forced to come home when their mom is dying in Temerloh and on and on and on.

My point is - kalau dah memang tak nak balik tu, tak de nya dia orang nak balik. Sebab hati dah terpaut pada flat di Notting Hill, London atau townhouse di San Francisco atau apartment di Lower East Side Manhattan, New York.

I wish the Malaysian Government all the best with this newly-established Talent Corporation.
But again, with all due respect, lebih baik lah naik kan gaji kami yang memang setia berkhidmat di tanahair ni...

Monday, October 4, 2010


There were two really good write-ups in Mingguan Malaysia last Sunday on Rumah Terbuka Hari Raya or Raya Open Houses, one by Awang Selamat and the other by Noraini Abdul Razak. Both articles were eye openers actually (for those who concur with the writers' views) on a trend which I also feel is becoming unhealthier year in year out, at least for the past 5 or 6 years in the running.

The thing with Raya open houses nowadays is that it has become a status symbol for urbanites, especially in major cities, led of course by KL and its surrounding suburbia within the Klang Valley. Everyone is racing to do theirs, to a point that they have to cross check and even negotiate with friends to ensure their "event" do not clash on the same day of the weekend. To that extent.

And don't even get me started on the amount of excess food prepared for these open houses, especially the ones on a larger scale, which usually involves full-fledged catering. A friend actually shared her experience attending an open house of her hubby's pal which ended up with her hubby only managing a "hi, how are you?" and that was that. Her hubby's friend - the host, was so busy entertaining the sea of guests, that he couldn't even spend 5 minutes to have a decent and quality conversation for my friend's hubby who endured two hours of hell stuck on the Middle Ring Road 2 (MRR 2) to get to the open house.

It was so different about a decade or two ago when we could still go to any of our friends or relatives home during the month of Syawal without too much of a hassle. No need to lock dates in your Outlook Calendar or handheld devices. And the host themselves merely served whatever was available in the kitchen. It didn't matter how many people came in a succession of how many days. Whoever came, whether in small or large numbers, were entertained with much affection which is the core culture of any Malay family. Even if it was just kuih raya or simple nasi himpit with kuah kacang, what mattered most was the quality time spent together, talking and laughing till our hearts content.

But the reality today is looking at the MRR 2 near my house for two weekends back to back filled with thousands of vehicles stuck in a massive jam. Why? Because of all them were racing to attend their fourth or fifth or sixth open house, zig zagging across the city from Gombak to Puchong, or from Kota Damansara to Bukit Antarabangsa, or from Cheras to Rawang. Last Saturday was the worst I think. It was a standstill on MRR 2 from 11 am till 11pm. That is pure madness.

I guess I am also guilty for joining the bandwagon of open house hosts when I did mine last Saturday. But mind you, mine can't really be defined as open house as I only invited certain people. Because I believe smaller scale get togethers ensures quality time spent among friends, relatives and colleagues.

You may have your own views on this. And I have shared mine.

Till next Syawal...

Monday, September 20, 2010


Alhamdulillah, saya telah selamat pulang ke ibu negara selepas hampir seminggu bercuti sempena Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Pagi raya pertama, seperti biasa bersama ibu dan bapa saya di Hulu Kelang sebelum berlepas ke Johor Bahru selepas solat Jumaat untuk beraya pula bersama ibu mertua.

Perjalanan melalui Lebuhraya Utara Selatan agak selesa dan lancar, kecuali kesesakan sementara di laluan Nilai-Seremban yang dianggap biasa memandangkan Seremban mempunyai tiga persimpangan yang agak rapat – Seremban, Port Dickson dan Senawang. Memang menjengkelkan namun masih dibawah kawalan. Habis kuat hati ini berdetik – macam bagus je Seremban ni.

Selepas Senawang, lebuhraya lancar selancar-lancarnya, ibarat landasan utama Lapangan Terbang Antarabangsa KL. Kelajuan ditingkatkan sedikit untuk menggantikan masa yang sedikit terbuang ketika mengesot di Seremban tadi.

Sebagai individu yang telah berkahwin dengan orang Johor selama 11 tahun, saya sudah masak sangat dengan setiap bahagian lebuhraya tersebut dari Tol Sg. Besi sehinggalah Tol Skudai, setiap selekoh, bukit bukau dan gaung. Every nook and corner. Dan apabila kenderaan merentasi sahaja sempadan Negeri Johor Darul Takzim, pemanduan ditingkatkan ke tahap yang lebih berhati-hati. Sebabnya? Mudah sahaja. Kerana pemandu-pemandu negeri tersebut, terutamanya dari JB sendiri, pantang melihat kenderaan plet luar, khususnya plet Wilayah Persekutuan seperti saya. Pada mereka, kenderaan plet luar adalah daging segar (fresh meat). Boleh diratah. Boleh dibuli. Kerana mereka raja di negeri tersebut dan orang dari KL seperti saya bangang di negeri tersebut kerana dipercayai tidak tahu selok belok jalan di situ. Begitulah agaknya tanggapan pemandu-pemandu kenderaan plet J.

Seperti dijangka, selepas persimpangan Pagoh menuju persimpangan Yong Peng, sudah ada kenderaan plet J yang membuat perangai. Sebuah Proton Waja mengekori rapat di belakang kenderaan saya sambil memberikan ‘high beam’ sebagai arahan untuk saya kembali ke lorong kiri. Untuk mengelak sebarang konfrontasi emosi dan lebih buruk, kemalangan, maka saya pun ketepi lah. Maklumlah, sudah pasti Proton Waja 1.6 lebih laju dan hebat dari Honda Civic 2.0 iVTEC dengan kuasa kuasa 155bhp kan?

Semakin menghampiri Johor Bahru, semakin banyak kenderaan plet J yang menunjukkan belang. ‘High beam’ menjadi mainan utama bahlul-bahlul ini. Lorong kecemasan turut dijadikan lorong tambahan bagi memecut kerana mungkin ramai pemandu-pemandu J nak terkucil agaknya sebab makan banyak sangat soto dan lontong. Saya percaya kebanyakkan mereka ini gangster-gangster dan Ah Long Ah Long dari Taman Sentosa dan Johor Jaya di JB agaknya. Tengok warna rambut pun dah tahu. Itu belum lagi mamat-mamat Kg. Melayu Majidee atau Taman Perling yang mungkin merupakan versi empat roda rakan-rakan sekampung atau setaman yang bergelar mat rempit. Dari Mercedes ke Toyota Camry ke Proton Waja ke Perodua Kancil, semuanya sama sahaja. Kurang ajar di jalan raya dan langsung tidak menghormati tetamu-tetamu dari luar. Bukannya orang lain pun. Aku berkahwin dengan orang negeri kau jugak, bahlul.

Mungkin kerana sikap pemanduan tidak senonoh ini lah yang menjadikan pemandu-pemandu dari negara jiran yang bermula dengan huruf S turut mengikut perangai suku-sakat mereka dari negeri J. Orang-orang S kalau masuk ke Malaysia, ibarat beruk baru keluar sangkar. Segala kekangan oleh pemerintah republik itu ibarat dendam kesumat yang dibalas dengan memandu secara tidak senonoh di Malaysia. Mereka berlagak kerana kenderaan mereka dikatakan lebih hebat dan kekuatan matawang dolar mereka membolehkan mereka mengambil risiko disaman oleh polis trafik kita kerana menurut mereka “berbaloi dengan kepuasan memecut dengan kelajuan patah tengkok.”

Salahnya sebab ada cikgu yang mengajar mereka begitu. Eh nanti. Mungkin saya tersilap. Siapa cikgu sebenarnya. Mungkin juga pemandu-pemandu dari S yang menjadikan pemandu-pemandu J menjadi tidak senonoh. Hmm, sekarang saya pula keliru. Apa pun, it works both ways. Pemandu-pemandu J dan pemandu-pemandu S. Hah, memang kena lah tu, penyamun berlawan dengan penyangak.

Saya pohon maaf kepada biras-biras saya Abang Is dan juga Che Eddie. Harap tidak terasa dan terguris dengan kata-kata saya ini. Saya percaya korang berdua tidak seperti itu. Namun, ini adalah hakikat yang harus ditelan walau pahit macam mana sekalipun.

Orang luar dok bercakap mengenai perangai pemandu-pemandu negeri J. Malu tau.

Tolong lah ubah perangai pemanduan kepada yang lebih selamat dan berhemah. Tak kan lah nak jadi macam pemandu-pemandu negeri PP nun jauh di utara. Yang itu memang dah tak ada harapan lagi untuk diperbetulkan. Semua pemandu-pemandu PP adalah gila. Patutlah kabel TNB meletup dan terbakar di Jambatan PP, sebab dah tak tahan dengan perangai gila pemandu-pemandu PP.

Wilayah Persekutuan drivers rock!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

England To Win The 2010 World Cup? Dream On You Blokes

I'm taking a huge risk writing this because if England does win the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, I'll never hear the end of it from the legions of England fans here in Malaysia. I don't get it. Why are footie fans in Malaysia so into England, huh? Take me for instance, I'm a die-hard fan of Arsenal and I enjoy following the Barclays Premier League (BPL), but not to the extent of rooting for the English national team.

Why? Because for far too long, England has been overrated and over publicised. Hyped up to the seventh heaven. I think the media here in Malaysia is to be blamed. They have sugarcoated the likes of Rooney, Gerrard, Terry, Ferdinand and Lampard as if these players are Gods. It's the same story during each World Cup. "Oh, this is the best England squad assembled." "Sure shot of lifting the World Cup." "It's now or never for England." "We will not come back empty-handed." And on and on. Hollow, half-baked psychological warfare from a line of failed England managers and now Capello looks set to fall into this trap like his predecessors.

Even Carlsberg have produced car stickers splashed with "We support Team England for World Cup 2010" or something like that. You can get those for free at 7-Eleven outlets.

Maybe because Malaysians are too exposed to BPL. And the punters and commentators on ESPN and Star Sports for instance are also not helping because they too get excited when there is a live broadcast of international matches involving England. "All familiar names here, set to take on their opponents..." You see what I mean?

Yeah, they might be familiar names, but do they have the qualities to see England through to the finals of the 2010 World Cup? I doubt it. Sorry.

We tend to forget or perhaps overlook that La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, LPF and Eredivisie are also equally competitive, if not better than BPL. How else do you explain why Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Holland have far more superior national teams compared to their European neighbour across the English Channel?

It's all about chemistry. I think England is really lacking in this department. Too big of names blended into a concoction of mismatches - from defence, midfield to forward. The English system of play sucks. They should learn from their German and Dutch counterparts on strategy.

Remember how Germany under Franz Benckenbauer aka The Kaiser lifted the Cup in 1990? Precision play captained by the prolific Lothar Matthaus, you can actually draw imaginary straight lines on all the passes of each players. Critics said it was a boring system but Germany won their third World Cup because of it. Brazil with all the fancy schmancy moves, and it got them nowhere that year. Germany under Jurgen Klinsmann, almost similar system of play, came close to clinching their fourth World Cup in 2002 in South Korea but were denied by a slightly better Brazilian side. Whatever it is, still much better than England who were booted out as usual in the initial stages of the tournament.

Okay, to be fair, it will be interesting to see how the 2010 England squad will fare in South Africa, starting from next week. I can already imagine the English commentators - Martin Tyler, Andy Gray, Steve Bower, Alan Hansen etc. screaming "Rooney!! Oh, that was so close!" or "Here comes a Steven Gerrard freekick, the German defence are preparing for the inevitable." And the next thing you know, England is eliminated, again, either by the mighty Germans or the talented Dutch or the fancy Italians. Take your pick. My favourite is when England is booted out by the ever-dramatic penalty shoot-out of which the Germans have an awesome record.

I can't wait to read the headlines "England - Rubbish As Usual"

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Congratulations Datuk Shamsul Azhar Abbas, Happy Retirement Tan Sri Hassan

It's out now, officially.

The news that we have been waiting for, especially amongst Petronas staff and oil & gas industry analysts.

Datuk Shamsul Azhar Abbas (image, top), 57, the former Managing Director & CEO of MISC Berhad, has been appointed the new President & CEO of Petronas as well as Acting Chairman of the national oil corporation, succeeding incumbent Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Marican (image, down) whose contract expires on 9 February 2010.

Datuk Shamsul's appointment will take effect on 10 February 2010.

Alhamdulillah, it looks like Tan Sri Hassan is leaving the company in good hands. Datuk Shamsul is a Petronas man and has served the national oil corporation since 1974, in various capacities and key positions including that of Vice President of Oil Business, Vice President Petrochemicals, Vice President Exploration (Upstream) and Vice President Maritime and Logistics. He then went on to become the Managing Director & CEO of MISC Berhad which is also a subsidiary of Petronas, from 2004 to 2009.

I know a lot of Petronas staff will be sad to see Tan Sri Hassan leave. Me included. But I am happy for Tan Sri. He can now retire in glory after doing the country a great service for 21 years since he first joined the company in 1989.

Like what Petronas advisor and former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said "No matter how good you are, there will be a time when you need to leave." That statement was made by the old man a couple of weeks ago, when he was asked about speculation on Tan Sri Hassan's future in view of his contract expiring. Perhaps the old man already knew what was coming.

Bottomline, we have to learn to let go.

It would be too long for me to list down Tan Sri Hassan's achievements as the numero uno of Petronas. It does not have to be justified - everyone knows he did an excellent job. He continued the legacy of the late Tan Sri Azizan Zainul Abidin whom he suceeded and transformed Petronas into what it is today - the only Malaysian company in the Fortune 500 list and one of the strongest and most respectable national oil companies in the world, at par with the supermajors the likes of ExxonMobil, Shell and BP. Petronas indeed under Tan Sri Hassan's stewardship, has been inducted into the big boys league of the oil & gas supermajors.

It is something that we should be proud of despite Petronas being the subject of public bashing and finding itself dangerously close to be thrown into political quagmire of late.

To Datuk Shamsul, welcome aboard sir. May you continue the legacies of the late Tan Sri Azizan and of Tan Sri Hassan.

May the force be with you....