Friday, April 27, 2007

Encounters with fav. scholars/writers

I met up with Prof Jonathan Culler and Prof Sandra Gilbert, two scholars who I respect much.One for making structuralism/post-structuralism less painful for me, the other for her brilliant insights on women writers (Prof Sandra Gilbert is a very energetic, quick-witted and kind person.I sat in her class this week.Didn't feel the time cos I enjoyed listening to her and her students' discussions)

Started reading Barack Obama's The Audacity of Hope.Can he write! Politics to him, is a full-contact sport (must meet/talk to/listen to the people one wants to represent) Wasn't Blair like this too at the start of his career?

Sen. Dennis Kucinich SHOULD be the next US President! :)




as well as this

Monday, April 23, 2007

Time out

Environment-friendly people
Rawa's obsession (at the mall with Chrissy)

With a friend of the Earth

Ithaca Falls at a safe distance

If you listen to the TV/Radio or read the papers, it'll look like humanity is gone for good.

I decided to have my own 'escapes' during the weekends (starting with Friday).Missed the world sufi music/dances cos' SEAP's annual dinner coincided.It's OK.I think Will would have a video on the whole event for me to see.I hope!

The dinner was good (foods and music/dances).I met some new friends.

Sat: went on a picnic with Chrissy and Yuni at Ithaca Falls.Ada pulak orang nak berpacaran (thinking the place was isolated).Lelakinya agak berumur.Yang perempuannya agak muda.Lepas tu dua budak lelaki muda pulak tiba.Tak taulah memang nak meninjau2 atau finding a spot to berpacaran also.We all buat tak tau je.We found a nice spot to talk about so many things. Call it time-out.Or escapism.Or escapade.Or whatever.But we had fun not talking about wars, murders, shootings, men making bad decisions, women behaving like men, etc.

Then we went shopping.For a while the world was problem free.

Chrissy slept over at my apt.I got the couch.

Sun: Earth Day.Mary came to collect us and we spent about an hour at the Farmer's Market.Learned how to do compost tea for my garden. Will teach Bibik how to do it. :)

Kejap lagi nak keluar celebrate Manu's b'day.I'm tired of death/war news.Wanna celebrate life!

Some pics.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Vigil for Virginia Tech

Cornell offered vigil for Virginia Tech at the Sage Chapel today (April 19, 2007)

Read Prof Ridwan Laher's blog on this tragedy at and Bob Geldof 's response to the 1979 shooting in the YouTube clip is a must watch.
Thanks Ridwan, for this interesting write-up.

I hope someone somewhere will do something about the gun law/fear culture in the US (also elsewhere).We need a lot of work on instilling culture of love and compassion.The girl of the 1979 shooting was a victim of sexual abuse (by her father.She asked for a radio as a gift, her dad gave her a gun.She said it's because he wanted her to shoot herself...see links in Ridwan's blog)

Thursday, April 19, 2007


River cutting across Cornell
From the Clock Tower at Cornell Uni

Dragon Day

The lake from a spot in Cornell

As I walked back from the Olin Library today, I saw a whole patch of snow up a slope sprayed with green and from far, it did look like grass (and hence Spring). Only Cornellians can be this funny.I laughed so much that onlookers might think I had finally gone bonkers. :)) I wish I had my camera with me to snap that nice patch of green on snow.
Zu, if you are reading this, I nak tergelak bila teringatkan nama kawan kita yang bunyinya bahlul. Ejaanpun dekat2 nak sama. Did you find out what it meant?

I'm placing some pics of Cornell which Adi took during winter.Takda kerja nak buat sementara menunggu Asar.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Naik hantu (Spring Blues)

Naik Hantu (Spring Blues)

How can I write of magnolias, daisies, cherry blossoms

roses, lavenders, tulips

daffodils, camellias and irises

when I still see seas of winter?

I leave no winter mark

on waves of cold emotion

signalling death

of a time

of a place

Naik hantu

a Malay expression when one is sick and tired

of something beyond one's control

Are you mad at God?

Is God at fault

that everything is so confused

day is night

night is day?

Spring is Winter

Winter is Spring?

Do we know who we are

And who HE is?

Is this not time to reflect?

In the words of a sufi

"I searched for God and found only myself. I searched for myself and found only God"

No reason to naik hantu.

* This poem was recently published in Indian Literature (2012), an English-language literary journal published bi-monthly by the Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Better days elsewhere

Kim Leng's indoor tulips in Portland, Oregon

Nagoya Castle in the background and a tea house before you

There's no doubt, prolonged wintry days make me depressed.

Thanks to Kim Leng (of my High School days) who sent a pic of her indoor tulips.They sure cheered me up. Kim lives in Portland now (wave "hi Kim!")

Another good friend now living in Cyprus scanned me a postcard I sent him from Japan some years ago.I had loved Japan so much and this postcard brings me happy memories of warmer days.

It's a picture of the Nagoya Castle in Japan.Built in the 16th century, it was destroyed in World War Two but was rebuilt in 1959.

To my brother Tim, thanks for this postcard.Mek would be so happy to see this. :)

Mek is my (biological) sister who knows Tim.

Winter in Spring

This picture was taken today.

Manu sent me more:

Which idiot is not convinced of global warming?

Indonesian Culture Nite at Cornell

Sitting with Dian, Saiful and their family. They are from Acheh

Flash didn't work.Can you spot Rizal? Dia main guitar

Tarian piring from West Sumatra (tarian Rawa)

More of piring dance

Someone asked if I had enough sleep (after reading about my various travels here)...I said ya right..not enough (just as I would back home, anyway).

But wait!
After Denver, there's this evening's show: the Indonesian culture night and we had performers from NYC coming in with the Indonesian consulate.Some Cornell students also performed wonderfully.

We were served Indonesian cuisine (prepared by some friends I know including Dian and Yuni) Rizal played in the band.Could he sing! As Aiman would say of listening to Indonesian music/songs... " rasa macam on the road.." (feeling la maknanya tu).

Some pics.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Conference in Denver, Colorado

Lawyers and judges at the conference

With some of the 112 Fulbright scholars at the conference in Denver (from France, Poland, Brazil, Tunisia, Malaysia and yang satu lagi tu tak ingat from where.All from different fields and disciplines)

At our typical lunch time on the 38th floor (we can see the whole of Denver from here)

Me and Fran (I bought his book Getting to Know Denver, siap suruh dia sign)

At the Writers Square

Part of the Rocky Mountains (Iron Flat ke hapa namanya, this in Boulder, Co)

Gelap.With 2 of 5 Fulbrighters at my dinner theatre table

The famous Broadway show Ragtime was re-staged (by a diff. group) at Boulder.

Over 100 Fulbright scholars from 57 countries were chosen to participate in the 2007 Fulbright Visiting Scholar Conference on 'The Rule of Law:A View from the American West' in Denver, Colorado from April 11- 14,2007.I got lucky to be chosen.A fellow Msian based in Texas was there too and we shared the same room on the 22nd Floor, The Grand Hyatt Denver.Best sangat! But tiring cos' our days were packed with lectures, tours, homestay and finally dinner theatre at Boulder, some 45 mins away. CIES and the IIERMRC really took care of us and I think we'd learnt so much from the 3 days and also from one another.

Since the conference was specifically on law/s (from water law to land law to tribal law, corporate wrongdoing,etc) we were exposed to all sorts of court system and the speakers were judges and lawyers and Law Professors as well as a rep from an NGO. On first night lagi an American journalist raised the issue of American occupation in Iraq! Also someone from Ukraine asked what if no one cared about laws and constitution (cos people would still be struggling with basic needs of their day to day lives) got really heated up.It was America alright.Back home, journalist mana nak tanya soalan2 celupar macam tu? You may want to check out this online radio

Then I joined a well-known writer and photographer of the history of Denver, Francis Pierson on a city tour with many others of the group (there were two groups but I chose to join Fran cos' he had written a book on Denver and I was certain I'd get a lot more info from him as a guide).Yup, I was right.We learned much from the walking tour around the city (some chosen spots)

Homestay: Zu and Mohammed of Egypt and I got paired with a very nice couple, newly married.Christina reverted to Islam in 2002 and her husband is from India (a software engineer) They took us out to an Italian restaurant (makan lagi!) and we went to pray maghrib at a mosque off Welton St not far from our hotel.We met more muslims there.They have many mosques here.Denver is so huge despite being in the middle of nowhere (asal padang pasir, surrounded by Rocky Mountains). I love Denver and Zu and I went shopping at Cherry Creek masa semayang Jumaat (we all cabut lecture..penat dok dengar pasai law..but managed to catch the last part of corporate wrongdoing by this lawyer.Best jugak)

Then we went to the Federal Court and were addressed by a few judges who explained the legal system in the US esp Colorado.There was a mock court as well.Fun gila as 12 of the batch sat as jurors.There were a judge and a few lawyers amidst us (lawyer dari Germany kata German legal system lain sikit)

Lepas tu kita dibawa ke Boulder, some 45 mins away (so kita naik coaches) to watch a play ragtime (dinner theatre).I sat with Hannah from Manchester (UK), 2 Spaniards, one chap from Serbia and another from Kyrgyz) Setengah negara ni I pun tak pernah dengar.The actors yang jadi waiters kita sebelum depa acted.Syok oh.Dapat closeup.Great talents!

I booked my flight back to Ithaca awal cos' tersilap baca prog! (I took my shuttle to the airport at 3.30 am.The whole thing habis noon.Gasaklah.I was very tired anyway...penat lecture tour 2 weeks tu belum habis)

But I made many great friends (and minds).Some friends had gone through a lot -- losing their loved ones so early..ada yang anaknya meninggal umur 17, 28 and the guy who sat next to me during ragtime...berlinang air mata cakap anak dia umur 45 hari baru meninggal.He was here.By the time he flew home, they had buried him.Kesian)

I hope no more travels lah.P-E-N-A-T and I need to finish up my writing.I have an appointment to meet my fav. scholar on Thursday: Prof Jonathan Culler.He's based at Cornell.Yang sorang fav. lagi masih bercuti in Thailand (Ben Anderson) Maybe tak sempat jumpa. :(

Monday, April 09, 2007

Taking time off a busy lecture schedule

Francis' pic of my garden in Malaysia

Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Reading my poetry to a group of students

Where we had lunch (Afghan cuisine at Nawab's)

Tengah feeling baca poems
Reverend John being interviewed (he's role playing, folks!)

Of early English settlers....

cantik juga bunga ni.... (trans: this flower is beautiful...)

I have so many pics at Williamsburg , Virginia partly becos' my brother Francis is a keen photographer.So I am putting some of the pics here.We didn't take any at the Duke of Gloucester (DOG) Street but it is also in Colonial Williamsburg, a tourist spot where tourists come to experience the early English settlers' living (macam Melaka lah or Jorvik in York).People play role ni.The Reverend I was with in a pic enclosed here was an actor.If you talk to him, he'd say he signed the Declaration of Independence.Fahamkan dia cuma berlakon. :)

DOG Street in Colonial Williamsburg
We found a spot to eat our lunch
on DOG Street in Colonial Williamsburg
some people are ashamed to be associated with
anything colonial
but here, it is an attraction
a pride of a state
people come to experience what it was like
to be early English settlers
what it was like to be amidst the firsts to sign the Declaration of Independence
Independence of what?
for whom?
Is it still?
I have to re-learn my American history
to join in the celebration
this trip will be one of many
to educate me
but back to our DOG Street lunch
sitting with Anthony, Jason, Francis and a few others
we were of a rich mix
Anthony is 100% Filipino but looks very mixed
dressed in his military uniform, asking curious questions on religion, performance and skits
Jason was easy going, an eye witness to the start of a public quarrel of two visitors
an elderly man and a mother of an excited kiddy
who tripped and annoyed an elderly man, set to have his quiet munchie
barking began on dog street
we were witnesses to a theatrical performance
as we are all to any other fightings and killings
in different parts of the world stage
It's fun to watch
just as it was watching war reports on TV
But my brother Francis spoke to the mother
asking are you alright, m'am
cos' he knew what it was like to be attacked for protecting his kids
flying back to Asia on a long-haul journey
where he was denied meal for asserting his paternal instint
but the high drama would not be complete
without this African American guy cruising in between the shouting and screaming
of two angry adults, trying to pacify the woman, protecting his brother, the elderly man
the woman's husband started to pick on the African-American guy and I guess this is the scene
in which you'd bring in the race sin...
when it could have been just a kindly gesture
The drama got heated
We decided to move on, to find peace
for ourselves
and write reports for others to imagine the kind of
adventure we had been in.
So tune in to this TV.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Talk at Ohio Uni at Athens

With Karla at Ohio Uni. (Athens) campus
Ellis Hall in the background where I gave a talk on Msian Muslim women writers

Nancy drove me to Ohio Uni in Athens ( Only 45 mins from Parkersburg.

Cantik juga campus dia although like Cornell, it's a university town. Met a few Muslim students from Msia, Indonesia and Saudi at my talk on Msian Muslim women writers.

Finally met Karla who wants to celebrate Msia's 50th year in August. She loves Msia so much that she travels there twice a year. She took us to exotic Salaam where we heard Jewish music (performers were from New York City).Sometimes they have belly dancing show here. :)

I love the buildings here. Very da cantik.
check this link ===>

Friday, April 06, 2007

West Virginia

Winter in spring at Parkersburg, West Virginia

Nancy and I at a lounge of a hotel at Parkersburg

Finally, met Nancy after all these years! I was doing an average of 2-3 talks a day (see their website at Nak pengsan rasanya. But I enjoyed meeting Americans of all walks of life and people of different age groups.The trip from Williamsburg was 12 hours on the Amtrak train from Virginia.Nak pengsan rasanya but my companion was a lady from Hyderabad (who's been living here for 30 years) so she shared her food (cappati) with me.Atas train, takda apa nak makan and it was too early to prepare anything from Francis' home w/pun Francis bekalkan I buah2an dan biskut (macam mak!).Nasi habis dikudap bebudak 13 orang tu (they were such a joy!)

What I loved about being at Parkersburg was the enthusiasm of Americans here to learn of the 'other' (ie Islam, Muslim women). I enjoyed their curious questions e.g does the infidel's blood value less than the muslim's. I think we parted as brothers and sisters (I hope) as we shared each other's stereotypings and perceptions of the 'other'. In Malaysia, we often think the Americans are ALL anti scarved women and how we too 'fear' them as some Americans fear seeing scarved/veiled Muslim women. It was a learning experience for me as I got to know Americans, close-up.
Greg's sociology class was great.There were about 50 over students in the class, asking curious and intelligent questions.
I spoke to 3 groups here.Loved them all although a bit tiring (remember my 12 hours train ride?)
Read my poems here.Ramai juga nak beli but stock belum sampai. :)

Williamsburg, Virginia with Francis

Spring at Williamsburg,Virginia
Dinner with Francis' Ramayana's cast

My brother, Francis in the Chapel at my talk

The talk

With Prof Sonn and Prof Ismail Abdalla

Muslim students at W&M
The College of William and Mary is a prestigious public school ("with a reputation of being a private school").It's second oldest in the USA after Harvard and had produced 4 US Presidents. I am grateful to Allah for the opportunity to speak to a group of intelligent students and distinguished staffs.Check their website
My brother Francis Tanglao-Aguas was my host.I gave a reading of my book to a group of Theatre students and later a talk on Islam and Literature/Arts/Culture including my work on Shakespeare at the chapel (in which many great speakers had spoken).I am humbled by the experience and the openness of W&M inviting diverse speakers to their campus.
We had Indian cuisine at Nawab's (the fish curry was so yummy) and the most memorable episode was lunch at the Cheese Board on DOG street (Duke of Gloucester).Good food and company (Francis' intelligent kids were there.Anthony I think will go far in his career later in his life.So bright and sensitive).How we laughed over the high drama at CB.We had the right composition for a street riot! (Anthony was in military uniform, Francis in songkok, me in tudung and the players were of diffferent age and ethnic group.I will write a poem on this)
We then cooked dinner at Francis's place for his Ramayana cast (13 students came).

Germantown with Suzanne and Asit

Bro Musa's zikir group, Philly

After lunch with Suzanne and Asit, Germantown

I stayed a nite with Suzanne (Dr Kalbach) and Dr Asit at Germantown, Philly.Suzanne took me to Philly Museum and showed me Philly's waterfront (Delaware River) and much of the city.

In the evening I cooked Chinese fried rice and Dr Lawrence (Dickie) came to dinner.He used to teach Spanish Lit and we had a poetry reading session (I read mine, he did one Spanish piece).They were all very humourous and George was right, very warm and hospitable couple.

My flight to Williamsburg was very early (and on a Sunday!) but both Suzanne and Asit woke up very early to drop me off at the airport.

I almost missed my flight though, cos' the queue was so long. Belit punya belit, I managed to jump the queue by checking in at the Corporate Section.One hamba Allah baik budi took pity on me.

I love Philly.I love everything about it: people, landscape, culture, art, mosques, historic architecture, nice homes, kedai2 halal. Syukur alhamdullilah for the opportunity.

The most unforgettable experience: moving with the sufi groups esp Bro Musa's zikir group.

If you see me wondering in the deserts of Africa in the next year or two, you'd know why. :)