Thursday, October 29, 2009

Late flight home

Was away in Penang the last 2 days.Penang is always green and fresh.Stayed at Vistana where internet is 24 hours and free (printing service is also free) This is better than hotels in KL.I think they have a wide experience with people on the go (tourists, biz men/women). In Japan, it's like that too.It's a service NOT so much business per se.I like that.

Dr Jelani and his colleague collected me at the airport.Rang Zairi.He didn't pick up the ph so I figured he's in Geneva again.Text-ed "was in Penang but as always, you were away."(I figured by the time he got back from somewhere I'd be gone. That's the reason why I wrote "was in Penang"). Tengok2 pakcik tu ada kat Penang and he wrote besoknya "sorry you were in Penang." Hahaha.Then we found out we were both in the present and in Penang! But no time to go nasi padang.Pi tengok USM's Alumni House.Simply fantastic.1 million katanya.All alumni money.Whoa! Then of cos' Zairi had to tell me and Puan Sharifah abt ular senduk on campus. I just found out cobras love to live in hill slopes.

Anyway, the workshop I conducted for Dr. J's students went well, alhamdulillah.It was fun interacting with the students.They asked loads of questions.Met Dato Salleh Yaapar briefly too.Tak sempat nak borak panjang.Met other friends (gals) and we spoke on Michael Jackson.Hahaha.It started with Hajar mentioning she saw me on TV, speaking on MJ and we all agreed, MJ's death took a piece of our adolescent lives.

Flight back to KL was slightly delayed.I am sooooooooooooooo exhausted, folks.Saturday: the beginning of another long stretch of meetings (which will end on Wedn).May Allah grant me good health.Kesibukan dunia adalah juga satu ujian Allah.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Other pics (Casablanca)

A Moroccan friend took us around during our 6 hrs transit in Casablanca.Lunch at a traditional Morrocan restaurant

The mosque on the sea

A traditional bazaar in Casablanca

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Goodbye Conakry, farewell Africa

Guinea launch at Novotel Hotel, Conakry

Dato Seri with the PM in Guinea

Prof Sano, Dato Seri and Msian Ambassador in Guinea at a Tunisian Restaurant

polis pengiring kita yang tak makan disaman

At the museum

From my hotel room in Conakry before I got stuck in the lift

I settled in nicely.Here in African dress with my bodyguard and driver (they look after me and Kaossar)

Selamat tiba di KL from Dubai (with transit in Casablanca again from Conakry.Flight from Conakry was at 3 am.But the Kedutaan chap and our alumni buat semua check-ins so I managed to catch 2 hours of sleep after the banquet at Saudi Ambassador's home.Beautiful home by the beach but malam so tak nampak sgt the beauty).Our stay in Conakry was a rushed one cos' of the one day delay in Dakar, Senegal.But media coverage was good sampai mana2 kita pi shopping (no shopping mall here cuma kedai2 yang mcm slums) semua org tau sapa kita : Malasie!Malasie! depa jerit.Nasib bukan Manohara! Manohara!

Becos' Prof Sano (our former colleague at IIUM) is now Minister of Religious Affairs and well trusted by both Prez and the PM (who we met and he's equally ikhlas..being a former banker at IDB ke world bank and called back to serve the nation), maka kami semua dilayan taraf menteri (I felt like Rosmah Mansor.Kita ada military personal body guard and ada driver.Pi mana2 ada org nak carry our bags and bukakan pintu.Heh heh)

We met many ministries and many unis.We are serious abt south-south ties.People have high regard for IIUM and jam 1 am on the day we were supposed to leave, I had to entertain a parent (org kaya) who wanted to send two of his boys to IIUM to study Business.In Gambia, one student cannot masuk (cos' we were not aware they had changed their uni entrance qualification.No more A Level.Kita dok pakai A Level lagi)so the mom came to appeal.Her sister buat bio-tech/pharmacy at IIUM so the sis mestilah cerdik juga kan?

At the Guinea launch each alumna came up to speak on how IIUM and Malaysia helped them with their personal and career growth.It was an eye opening for us (some of our colleagues want integration and islamisation of knowledge revised) Meeting and listening to our successful alumni in Africa made us realise that we had the right formula.We may have to improve to be better but not to discard the original formula.African alumni are self made,innovative lot.Millionaires and some in the making (yang tak tunggu nak kerja dgn org but they created jobs not only for themselves but others.Ini yang kita very2 proud and mereka tak leave the country for a better life mcm setengah org Msia yang gomen hantar buat Master's or PhDs then tak mau balik.African IIUM alumni said IIUM taught them love for the country and they wanted to return to serve and build their nations and help eradicate poverty)

Travel advice: Satu perkara yang perlu ambik perhatian if you are in Conakry, Guinea, jangan masuk lift sorang2 or with a man cos' electricity supply depa not reliable.Depa pakai generator and that often breaks down.I was stuck in the hotel lift a day before nak balik KL.My God..mcm cerita thriller! (I remember scenes from movies and acted accordingly.Mula2 frantically pressed all buttons.When that didn't work, kick and hit the lift door screaming help me!help me! Then think of the phone.Frantically dial any number.When you hear a voice, speak in English and say you are trapped.Of cos' English is no good in Francophone countries.Ni yang gomen dok sibuk kata English is a global language.It can kill you! So when I heard a voice, the man said receptio..receptio and hung up on me.Mana I ingat apa number reception.I called again.Dia ingat I bergurau so I thot how do I communicate to him I was a damsel in distress.I wailed! I betul2 nangis! By now I could not breathe well dah..fresh air takda.I thot nak buat mcm spy stories..climb up the lift but nak panjat pun tak da lobang.Then death images came to me and thots like "tak sangka mati kat Afrika dalam lift".Then I baca apa2 ayat doa yang I ingat..doa nabi yunus, doa nabi musa..and then lift jalan and terbuka macam laut merah)

I dok terfikir if I were trapped with a man..mampos aku kena raped! So syukur alhamdullilah ntg happened but an episode to remember Conakry.Just remember this: don't go into a lift with a man.It can happen anywhere (kat UIA pun ramai org got trapped in the HS Building lift.But at least we speak English/Malay)

I'm glad to be home, folks.Out of Africa, with much to remember and lots to learn from.I miss people we met there (I love our alumni and it was sad to leave them) but Malaysia IS my home.I can't imagine living anywhere else.Bersyukurlah kita.Bersatulah kita. :))

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Greetings from Conakry,Guinea

we looked for the Imam who was pleased to meet with us

made of sands of different colours and origins

artist at work

Statue of Liberty on Goree Island

the slave house.Small rooms under the staircases for rebels

curious young minds, on the boat to Goree

Goree Island, Senegal where slavery in the West began

Our first flight from Dakar to Conakry was cancelled (technical prob katanya).So we spent another nite at Terrou-bi Hotel.Nasib hotel cantik dan tepi laut.The first nite we arrived, Duta Msia bagi tempat tidur kat rumah dia so breakfast was Malaysian. :) We were supposed to leave that morning but flight cancelled so we checked in Terrou-bi Hotel (takkan nak tidur rumah Duta lama2 kan?)

Then met a few people from local unis and an alumna who's willing to promote IIUM in Senegal.
Lepas tu sebab ada masa, we went to visit Goree Island tempat slaves dihantar ke America and Europe.Pics later.

Then the following day baru pi Conakry via Bamako (Mali) Haiya, siksa! Delayed lagi a couple of hours.Entah apa masalahnya.

When we finally got to Conakry, Dato Sano Koutoub (now Minister of Religious Affairs) and Duta Msia (Dato Wan) dah tunggu.Kita semua dapat body guards and naik kereta state diiringi polis.Kelakar sebab kat sini tak sapa perdulikan benda2 gini.Polis pengiring tu had a tough time suruh orang ke tepi.Africans do not believe in class/hierarchy.Bukan dia tau takut kat sapa2.I love that spirit!

I love Africa.Kejap lagi we may meet the Prime Minister or the Prez.Sano played a major role mengatasi the recent problem (takda benda pun..western media je kecoh to show tanpa mereka, third world cannot have stability.The French ambassador dah dipecat and a new one will arrive today)

Guinea ni kaya dgn diamonds dan lain2. Apa pasal Msia slow nak invest? They need experts to improve their electricity and water supplies (Spore akan masuk to cater to these needs). Telekom and BERNAS masuk kejap tapi angat2 taik ayam or their technology tak leh compete dgn British Telecom.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Salam from Banjul, Gambia

Minister of Justice, Marie is an IIUM alum

with some IIUM alums at the Gambian launch
(ramai lawyers and entrepreneurs)

the guys and Dato Seri Rector

some Gambian culture show
(breakdance came from Gambia)

Cherno is the chapter's Prez and CEO of Gambia Chambers of Commerce

lunch at a former Brit colonial building, now a hotel

lunch at eco-friendly Sandele (owned by Morris, a Brit in Banjul)

Lamin, a top notch Gambian criminal law lawyer (jutawan)

another Lamin, jutawan in the making (also a famous criminal law lawyer.Lamin and Lamin would be at each other's throat in court but outside, they are IIUM brothers)

I want this room at Sandele (overlooking the blue sea)

a corridor at Sandele (made of environment friendly materials)

Friday prayer at Banjul mosque.Joof wanted to be with the women.CEO of Takaful Insurance.

Banjul International Airport

Brussels Air

We touched down semalam on Brussels Air, the only international airline that flies to Banjul, Gambia. Air Asia/MAS patut look to Africa for its new market.Byk pluang sini.The Chinese do not waste time (they are flying by the thousands for all kinds of business.Malaysia lembab macam biasa despite African nations' readiness to do business with us).Hey guys, you nak biz opportunities come see us at Alumni Office.Kita punya alumni here are all holding important positions.Network depa luas (jenis angkat telefon and out we go).Masa imigresen tried to give me hard time (konon I takda clearance nak masuk Gambia walhal kita ni sesama Commonwealth countries..our alumni dah arranged kita masuk as VVIPs tapi depa lambat tiba so for a second I was in trouble but then the guys came.Angkat phone je and we had the officer apologising to us for his line to some office mah.We missed meeting the Prez but the Minister of Justice, our alumna, came to meet us and took us out African first break for 2009!)

I tell you this: budak2 Gambia ni belajar kat IIUM tak sia2.Depa balik and set up and founded so many things: Islamic finance system...sekolah utk professional courses like those for accountants (and the sch is reputable! the beauty is depa tak pinjam bank loan pun! Duit sendiri which depa kumpul dua-tiga orang and now sekolah depa dah into 2000 students dah...they are creating a middle class group in the country.One successful lawyer akan sponsor 30 students to go to schools every year poor students access to education) We are so proud of them.They don't make money for themseves but help build the nation. Something our rich Malaysians have forgotten to do.Depa ni jenis speak up their mind.Ada satu high ranked police officer kerana principle, telah di fire dari police force but he became a millionaire through his private legal practice.Yang sorang lagi tu kerja dgn Prez.Masa interview nak kerja dgn Prez tu, dia pun spoke his mind and just could not be bothered if he didn't get the job but the Prez employed him and memang bijak budak ni.Prez yang juga jenis gini tak pulak takut org yang berani criticise him.Tak macam Malaysia, eh? (despite the government coming to power through military coup)

Oh kat sini orang putih ramai suka dtg utk holiday.But they also bawak budaya neraka jahanam sebab yang suka dtg ni perempuan2 tua yang gatal (who like to pick up local african beach boys yang rata2 Muslims and jadikan mereka gundik2 mereka semasa mereka bercuti).But segelintir je (beach life here) sebab rata2 rakyat Gambia ni religious.

Ph connection tak guna ..I can't sms or ph home from my ph.They gave me local SIM card pun tak boleh.Neng and Papa, I'm safe here.Guinea ni tak pasti.We watched French looked pretty bad tapi Kaossar kata ni semua propaganda France yang nak bagi tekanan to kerajaan Sano Koutoub.Kaossar said safe to go although France dah nasihatkan rakyat dia supaya tinggalkan Conakry.We'll play by ear.Kalau kita skip Conakry, we'll have to buy tickets from Banjul to go back to Dakar and then Casablanca then Dubai then KL.

Pls pray that we'll get home safely. Jooli: takda benda sgt kat sini except the warm hospitality of people and our need to grow together as an ummah.Banjul looks like Kota Bharu in parts and yet the mansions and huge homes by the beach macam kat Europe.Dakar pun macam tu.Gap between rich and poor besar banget.Kat Dakar pun kita masuk mcm taraf Menteri...tak payah queue for imigresen ke apa ke.Bags pun wakil kedutaan handled.Thanks Msian Embassy in Dakar!Bas pun bas VVIP from tangga plane to VVIP lounge.Takbir! Kalau tak lagi cepat spine I sakit.

Kalau tak jauh Africa ni, memang I jalan kaki hari2 for a break here. Kampung life dia is great! :))

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Greetings from Dakar, Senegal

oooo..I love this pic.Fajr in Dakar (just outside my room at Terrou-bi Hotel)
Dato Ambassador in Senegal in a meeting with University VCs

beautiful dining area
at the hotel I stayed, nice waterfront

Salam from Africa,folks!

I'm in Leopold Sedar Senghor land, a great statesman, poet and intellectual.No one speaks English here and we travelled far (19 hours with stops in Dubai, Casablanca, Dakar and more in the next few days.My spine is behaving alhamdulillah)

The hotel we are at is so refined (French influence) tapi cicak africa is everywhere.Kalau termasuk dalam baju, I'm gone!

I must share with you stuffs we did at Casablanca and here tapi connection is bad and hence, expensive here.
To Neng (bibik's pet name for my gal) and Papa, miss you guys.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Of open houses, weddings and other kenduris

the bday boy

Playing a bday tune to the bday boy

Comel budak ni (Kamel's baby)

Me and Kamel: baru ini jumpa face to face (we met in Sang Kancil Forum, spoke on ph while I was in Ithaca and communicate via emails all these years, missed once or twice meeting in person..akhirnya 2009, in person!)

My detox prog failed.Simply impossible.Even at the uni, there are series of open houses (each office would do one).Ours will be on Tuesday.

It is now the weekend.Today je 3 (plus wedding reception and kenduri orang nak naik own sister's but I have to ask for an excuse.Someone in the family sakit mata..yikes! Z will have her SPM soon, Nik and me will have to meet so many people in the next week or two..nanti tergedik2 sakit mata, satu kerja pulak)
I met Yasmin Managing Director of Microsoft Malaysia.Her parents are my in laws' best friends (in fact Ayah Mud, Yasmin's dad, told me they attended our wedding in Raub). Yasmin is a very pretty and humble person. Read her here I should have asked for her card...nak invite dia dtg inspire our female students (and OK, male students too...nanti Shaukat baca ni, dia marah! I found your paper, dude.So you and your 2 friends tak payah di re-examine. The papers were in my bag all along.Phew!)

Pagi2 lagi pi jumpa Kamel to have breakfast with her (she's returning to California next week and we had to squeeze whatever time we had cos' nanti tak jumpa langsung.Today's breakfast was the only time.Met her sis Kak Lin.Nak jadi kecoh, I thought someone curi my purse while we were busy taking pics by the pool.Rupa2nya I left it in my car (all night!) Phew.Rushed life.Itulah pasal.

Lunch hours pi attend Z's SASA award giving ceremony at HELP.She got sch. leaver's achievement award (worth RM12K) to do A-Level at HELP.We'll leave our options open.If there are better offers after her SPM results, we'll re-assess this option.Ambik dulu in case tak dapat scholarship or awards lain (you know how competitive it is and Z does not want to do medicine.Sapa nak bagi scholarship kalau nak buat course yang not in demand, kan?) Kak Lin wants Z to join her youth prog (her son went to Uganda and Norway on this) but after SPM lah baru nak fikir nak buat apa.
I'm exhausted.
Malam ni nak pi celebrate Nik's bday pulak.Kalau delay, dia merajuk. :))

Friday, October 02, 2009

MacGyver Malaysia

En Zul tak kedekut berkongsi ilmu

Finally I got to meet him! The office invited En. Zulkifli Haron to help inspire IIUM Engineering students.I got in late (kena pi buat vaccination kat Ampang Point.Sakit nak mampos walaupun doctor tu kata pls cough and masa I pura2 batuk tu le dia injected me.Sakit juga!)

Anyway, I came in after an hour En Zul kita bercakap.I fell in love straight away with his sincerity and keluhuran budi and insights.He came tanpa charge but insisted only serious students attended his talk (crowd must not be more than 30).Kelakar gila but I was really, honestly, absolutely touched by whatever he said.I hope the students would be inspired as well and would be as innovative and creative as Zul.I hope he'll come again.One of those fun speakers who inspires.You can sit 3-4 hours tak berkelip2.Zul said no one can succeed without love for knowledge and his brain is like sponge: absorbing and absorbing.Lepas tu innovate, innovate.Simply amazing.He would only design things which would sell. Banyak cerita kelakar dia ni. The kids loved him too.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Strong tremor in Kota Damansara

I didn't feel it but hubby rang around 6.15 pm kata office dia kat Jalan Raja Laut bergegar kuat.I looked outside and yes, langit was pelik.Yellowish then nampak muram.

Nak kiamat?

Then our new Bibik told me at around lunch time, she felt a strong tremor too (dia terhuyong hayang) and the chandelier pun berhayun2.The cup in my kitchen cabinet jatuh (nasib tak pecah!)
I told Nik.Nik kata jgn percaya sgt Bibik tu (cos' all reports said semua orang rasa tremors jam 6.15 pm ke atas.Takda sapa reported strong tremor at lunch time) But I believed Bibik.Org macam dia takkan menipu (dia buta hurup).So pagi ni I googled to check on what time Padang punya earthquake and what time American Samoa punya quake.Samoa's came much earlier.So is it possible the tremor felt by Bibik was an aftershock of Samoa's quake.Kalau betul, kawasan rumah I prone to more tremors and kalau kuat lagi,mungkin boleh terbelah bumi! Masa tsunami 2004 pun the flats on the other side of the road pun terok kena.Fault line ke?

So I rang Jabatan Bomba and Jabatan Metereology to give my report.Told them to document reports made by callers like me of areas yang prone to strong tremors agar in the future, they can alert people to take extra precaution ke.We don't even know what to do if strong tremors happen.I dengar radio kata it's not safe to menyorok bawah meja (door frames are more secure).Ada juga kata stay in the car and don't go out sebab takut pokok or bangunan hempap (but kalau stay in the car, lagi mati katak if building/pokok jatuh atas kita)

Dalam keadaan sekarang, semua ilmu tentang conventional architecture/built environment mungkin kena revise.I dengar only KLCC yang dibina to withstand earthquakes.

Budak2 sekolah and the public must also be educated what to do when we go through what we went through yesterday (ada news I terbaca a pregnant woman terperangkap for 1 hour between her door and her grill door.Nasib she had her mobile ph.She was able to call her hubby who rang bomba to cut the padlock.If anything happened (fire or the building collapsed) she'd be a gone cookie.