Sunday, October 31, 2010

Exciting weeks ahead

Hello folks!

The final exams have started. Nov will be a busy month : what's with the marking, thesis examining, travels, weddings, guests staying over! Somehow I'd miss meeting Carlotta who'd be in KL on Nov 23/24.I thought of meeting up with her in Spore but I'd still be away.Watch this space for news. If all goes well, I'd be able to report live from dangerous places.

Hilary Clinton is also visiting our university (ISTAC campus). I do not count this as part of my exciting news. :)) If Obama came, I'd be excited.Haha.

Meanwhile, enjoy what is left of the year. I can't believe how fast time went.For those celebrating Deepavali, have a good one.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How to prostitute your art

Sometimes I am disappointed with my writer friends. In their enthusiasm to be rich and famous in this country (you must be kidding, right? Is it even possible unless you are writing chic lit or porn materials), they'd stop at nothing.

This includes demanding a ridiculous amount of royalty (when it's just their first work or first international work). Or get politicians to launch their allergy! But I guess to each his/her own.

I would not even get someone famous to write my preface.It has to be a scholar or someone known for his/her thinking skills.Not for C4! :) (I get personal here but puhlease, have some respect for your art).

The situation in Malaysia is pretty bad actually.Who do we look up to as a role model when it comes to writing? I wish Anwar Ibrahim didn't have to stop writing.I don't care if he sodomised young idiots/not but he moved people.We need charismatic figures to keep us alive.What they do in their private lives (or private parts) should not be our concern.

I met or rather heard Anies Baswedan in my last trip to Jakarta.He's trained as an Economist, keturunan Arab dan sangat ganteng (muda orangnya, amat refined in speech and manner).Yah, Jakarta is lucky to have a new hero, a role model for their young ones.Kita ini ada apa? Haramjadddah semuanya. I love that word! say it again! :))

Anyway, Anies mengepalai pergerakan baru: Indonesia Mengajar (a scholar friend of mine in the US kata Indonesia Membelasah..jangan dong! Kita ini bukan terrrorists!) Anies dalam ucapannya ingin menjana pemikiran intellectual populasi yang cukup move as a nation yang bermaruah (bukan rakyatnya diekspot sebagai orang gaji). Jadi Indonesia mengajar is to educate rakyatnya.Bukan untuk membelasah Msia (Ganyang Msia is gone).

Kan berwawasan gitu? Anies bukan politikus.Dia itu Rektor sebuah universiti.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I am ready

a rare moment: few crowds here (I got my moments during
both hajj and umrah, alhamdulillah! Just pray for them!)

Folks, it's the hajj season now.

I'm ready to return to Makkah.Not on hajj but on umrah.It's been way too long.Almost 10 years ago?

I first went on umrah (Golden Holidays with MAS..then they did many foreign cities including Makkah).Many of you were not there when we failed to do hajj a few months earlier that year or that hajj season (my father in law was running a travel agency business and had been taking people in and out Makkah after his retirement with the government) But that year was the year the Saudi government decided to restrict hajj visas.I wasn't ready.Nik was eager.I wanted to do my umrah first then hajj.But Nik was so so eager.So maybe it was me that everyone didn't get to go (except the judge who went as Tabung Haji's cook..last flight.He was so determined cos' it was on and off so many times.We even chartered a plane when all the flights were gone...Imagine that? Que sera sera).

But after that failed hajj season, I went on umra with my eldest sister and my niece (Nik didn't want to join us cos' he had gone a couple of months earlier).It was the best time of my life.We had no man with us.That's a no-no to go to Makkah.But we had a family who were willing to include us as part of their family members (a young lawyer and his dad and his young family).It was like going on a holiday.Our hotel was there right infront of Kaaba.Everything was nice and pleasant.

The following hajj season, Nik and I got an offer from Tabung Haji to perform hajj.I was ready this time.I had learnt what I would have to do while on hajj in my umrah trip.

It was still difficult, folks.Hajj is a physical test with spiritual reward.It was really really hard...I had to sleep on hard ground, walk miles (OK maybe I'm exaggerating but I had to walk a long way), carry heavy bags, collect peebles in the dark ~ I could have easily picked taik unta anytime yah?, etc.Worse..the crowds...and I hate crowds.My idea of worship is doing it in a complete silence and peace, with lots of space to move around.With no one pushing and rushing their rituals,

You won't find that in hajj. But if you ask for your peace, you'll get it.Kaabah is a place where all prayers are answered. :) But not without hard work. :)

But I did it.I came back (friends said looking younger and very radiant) and told my young friends to perform their hajj while they are still young and fit.It's a physical thing.A few friends took my advice including Dr Adris (a doctor friend upnorth) who recently emailed me that he does this every year now with his family (usually umrah). He agrees that hajj is not for old people.
Let's hope there's lambaian kaabah in March/April next year for me and family. Labbaikallah hummalabbaik! I really really wanna go and do my umrah once more.
For those on their way to the holy city, we wish you a mabrur hajj.Enjoy the closeness and the spirituality of the cities (I love Madinah...much more friendly than Makkah)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spanish Dreams


great mosque in cordoba

I was in Spain many years ago.I loved the country despite it not speaking English.It was brave of me to travel alone especially taking Ave (bullet train) from Madrid to Cordoba thinking oh well, it's only 2 hours.Yes, 2 hours on Ave but not on other public transports (9 hours!) And I didn't know (for lack of Spanish) that the Ave ticket I bought was a one-way ticket (I think the guy at the counter was trying to say he only had one-way ticket for the day)

In that kinda blissful ignorance, I toured Cordoba. Went shopping and visited the oldest mosque (now a museum). People were not friendly unless they were Muslim descendants (a few people with Arab looks said hi to me).

Then it was time to my! what flight would be early in the morning from Madrid and I had no transport to go back to the city.Luckily I had a contact in Cordoba (a very nice gal met at the conference in Vigo).I rang her up and she arranged for me to find a way back to Madrid (all done via phone...maybe she lived quite far from the city to meet up).I got on a coach.9 hours drive! Took a taxi in Madrid to go back to my hotel (and got cheated!)

But I caught my flight back to KL. Phew!

But I loved Spain.There's a certain something in it (other than good looking people to look at.Hahaha).Managed to catch a play ("Don Quixote") Simply fantastic!

Why do I get nostalgic now? Cos' I have a friend living in Granada who we'd like to visit.I missed Granada (another city of Islamic heritage) in my rush to visit Cordoba.InsyaAllah, when Z lives in London, we'd go. :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New exploration

My new friend, S rang me up about a newly found health centre.So I drove all the way from Gombak to USJ Subang Jaya after work to check it out.It's run by a former engineer (lady).I'm easily sold, right? So S and I spoilt ourselves rotten for a good 2 hours.Wan (the lady owner) was saying she treats the body like a complete system.We cannot just address one must address the whole system.My, she looks like she's 18, OK? And so much vitality....give me back those years, Wan! :)

It's been so long since I was in this neighbourhood.I almost lost my way.S was hopeless.She doesn't drive (she can but won't).Her husband spoils her rotten.But after our time out at Wan's, we went to explore a new restaurant in our neighbourhood (S lives near my area...a pure coincidence, a convenient one...S will be my shopping partner, OK? And her kids are all grown up too.She spends her time watching Indonesian soapies..which I don't) S's choice was bad.I do not eat big meals anymore these days (tengoklah pinggang ku yang ramping, dada ku yang bidang...hahaha)and I ended up vomitting when I got home.It's not what the late Princess Diana had.It's just bad food/s.But S said I like it..I like it...I'm sooooo hungry.Duh.

Nik slept at his conference venue last nite so I ended up writing my paper for a conference coming up soon (travels again.Sigh).Was on the phone with Lina and G and Z in between writings.Funny people. :)) Z wants new food/s.She's not coming back this weekend or next (a group of boys and gals from a private college in the UK will be visiting her college and she's hosting them with 15 others).

Read Nazmi's complaint over late announcement of Zaen's and Zakir's wins (I think it was this morning).In a way he's right.We don't fuss over literary wins.No celebration, nothing.But DBP has to observe rules as well.They could not announce before Bangkok OKs it (I wish I could go to Bangkok to witness the prize-giving ceremony ~ cos' I wanna see Thai regent and His consort!~ but dates clash.I'd be happy to pay my own just to experience the ceremony.Hopefully, one day I'd be da recipient.Am talking about the SEA Write Award, folks).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

An object ( mean..'subject' then) to love

I am quite convinced that we might need to 'rent' a baby to love during our week days.We thought of adoption..but we are too busy to play mom and dad again.I also suspect Z will be a bit jealous if we had another child as an object of love... (right Z?).

But it gets to feel really like we have no sense of direction at times especially if either one of us is away...last nite Nik was kind enough to change his plans of sleeping over at his conference venue (he came back for sweet).I was at Sal's..with my mom and came back pretty late and went shopping after that. :)

So where do I go to rent babies? The closest we can get is to visit Naily (Nik's adorable niece) every opportunity we can.But she's not friendly with us.Sad, sad life! :)

Soon, there will be 2 boys coming over to stay with us.Budak2 hafiz.I'm looking fwd to this.But it's not easy to feed them...can't just take them to my fav. restaurants with no halal logo, can I? I have to be sensitive to their religious diet.

I wish I had more kids now.I like gals.I think they are adorable and it's fun dressing them up.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Oldies

If you like me, grew up on the 60s-80s music, you'd love Olivia Newton-John and Cliff Richard (this post is about them)

Eeeee..I didn't know they had a r/ship! Look at the clips below.Cliff (who people thought was a gay for much of his life..which of cos' he denied..thank God..I love him!)so lovey dovey with Oli...but the last clip is so funny..after kissing her, he went no chemistry there.Gay, kot? :))

Oli ni pun liar juga.So many boyfriends (she was involved with one of the band boys of the Shadows..not Cliff then but Bruce Welch..uh huh..a married man)..banyak kali kawin (of cos'..she so sweet)but Cliff and Oli continue to be close friends even after her recent marriage in 2009 to the Founder of Alternative Medicine in Oz.Heh heh. I keep track of all these.Ingat apa? :))

My memory of ONJ is basically Grease and her Let's Get Physical song/video clip (we were doing our bridging course in Hamilton NZ, staying at YWCA hall..loads of crazy things going on then.Like an old woman, I am being nostalgic.Hahaha)

Anyway, let's play those songs again and re-energise (too much wedding food this weekend).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Not too bad tofu

Er..Terri posted a counter-argument to her earlier post:

Thanks for your concern Terri, but unfortunately, you can't believe everything you read on the Internet. Dr Joseph Mercola appears to be a well-known sensationalist and peddlar of fake cures, who has received formal warnings from the FDA (the US Food and Drug Agency) about making illegal claims in his newsletter, detailed here:

My suspicion is that in the same way that the big tobacco companies employed a lot of scientists to cast doubt on the tobacco-cancer link, the big meat production companies are spending money on propaganda too. Mercola's piece has a clear anti-vegetarian subtext, e.g.: "Zinc deficiency can cause a "spacey" feeling that some vegetarians may mistake for the "high" of spiritual enlightenment." and the rather dubious claim that somehow the increased height of second-generation Japanese immigrants to the US means they are malnourished and "frequently suffer rickets, stunting and other growth problems" and that this is somehow connected to not eating enough meat -- is ludicrous! Firstly, a paragraph starting "Some investigators postulate that..." is the kind of vague appeal to authority I'd expect from a lazy journalist or one of my students writing an exam essay, not from a supposed expert and authority on nutrition. Secondly, any "growth problems" arising from a switch from a Japanese diet to an American one would happen despite (or perhaps because of) a huge increase in meat consumption. Americans consume more meat than any other nationality in the world, and many times more today than their own grandparents did. These are uncontrovertial statistics. It seems absurd to lay large-scale health problems at the door of soya.

I haven't time today to try and research or refute all of Mercola's claims and aspersions about soya, but I can assure you that I'm not going to stop eating tofu on the say so of a medical entrepreneur. My recommendation to you and your friends Terri is to carry on eating foods that are a substantial part of one of the healthiest diets in the world (Japanese) until a more authoritative body such as the FDA issues a warning.

Oh, and a parting shot: if you think you'll eat less soya by eating meat instead of tempeh, you'll be mistaken: the vast majority of all the soya bean grown is fed to livestock.

Best of luck with your dietary choices,


Bad bad tofu

Thanks Teri for posting me this.There goes my soya drink, tempe, soft tofu and all. To Lady: this is the post promised.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bila air lebih mahal dari minyak kereta...

We dined out at this place last night to celebrate Nik's birthday (10.10.10...he's kinda special, isn't he?).It was at the recommendation of an old girlfriend, Ainun Baba.

Yes, it was as recommended.Fine dining, food was fanstatic (cuba salad dia..outa this world sedapnya..and it's prepared right there infront of this huge salad bowl.Z and I had a good laugh at this.I told her my salad bowl was bigger)

Then came in the soup..also outa this world.I had pumpkin, Z french onion..ahhh..I remember my history class french revolution dinner where we all dressed up in french/victorian costumes and my foster mom prepared french onion soup to bring over to the party and how my classmates and I jumped into the spa pool/jacuzzi at my friend's home after dinner.

Anyway, the issue on my dining last night was we were served the most expensive still water (probably on earth..hahaha) ~ RM32 per bottle.Tapi a certain percentage tasted clorin so I could not help but wondered if they bought empty bottles and filled up with local water (or recycled the imported bottles).

I just don't like how they didn't warn you that water isn't cheap...they simply asked this, "would you like some water, ma'am? Still water yah?" Ingat mcm tempat

Lepas tu the second bottle, they didn't bother to ask, they saw our empty glasses and poured.Came the bill...for still water..2 bottles: RM64.Minyak kereta seminggu about RM50 je.

But the rest was so good except the seafood dishes (fish dia tak sedap...not for close to RM300 per dish!)

You want to know where, right?
Somewhere near KLCC...but the ambience was great.But I think I'd go to Chalet at Equatorial again next time.

Anyway, happy bday Abam! It was a great evening anyway.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Kena saman

Sejak dua menjak ni saman system in Malaysia very efficient (tapi yang langgar lari kadang2 tak jumpa juga).Every month or so I'd get email alerts saying no more summons...(I find this bila ada saman je ler.Ini dah macam spam je ni).

Just the other day, ada courier service siap suruh I sign-mign.Ingatkan menang habib jewels..rupa2nya saman JPJ..ptui! Suruh bawak geran, road tax..mcm dah langgar mati orang.Walhal langgar traffic light merah kat UIA je (which is always long on red and kat kawasan kampong..kereta mana lalu kerap I langgar je the red light...takkan kita nak ikut pemikiran tiang traffik kan? Allah bagi otak..gunalah common sense...)

But aku dah kena saman dan dipanggil ke balai JPJ.Didn't even know where it was.Where got time to go some more.So counter productive akhirnya sistem macam ni.Bagi je la saman, kita bayar kat pejabat pos.Habis cerita.Nak lebih2, pi merayu kat balas NOT everyone goes to balai.

My staff dah cakap bawak surat rayuan siap2.So all pagi I mengarang surat...I kata I rushed nak kejar semayang maghriblah, takut traffic jam tak sempat semayang lah...biasalah kan ..all the sentiments...

I don't think they read pun.My staff kata dia tak bagi alasan pun, the discount tetap 30% which is RM210 (dari RM300).Aiyoo...kalau sedekah kat mesjid..banyakkkk pahalanya tu...ramai orang miskin boleh makan...

I think it's too much for traffic light offence.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Minggu akhir Syawal

Yang beraya sampai sebulan ni sebenarnya kita je di Malaysia (kadang2 tak cukup sebulan..terpaksa carry fwd to the first weekend of the following month).

Good and bad.Bad first:

Terlalu banyak makan.Not good for health.Better to puasa 6.Alternatively open house buat malam so sapa2 yang puasa 6 can berbuka free sambil beramah mesra dgn kawan2 and relatives.

Good: kalau niat sedekah, byk pahala.Also mengeratkan silrahturrahim (bukan mcm kawan I yang nakal kata: mengeratkan saloran rahim!)

Today I was at Uni of Liverpool's Raya Open House, held by a pool at Changkat Bukit Utama.Delesh sponsored meja/kerusi (baiknya dia ni..walhal hariraya orang melayu, kan?).I sponsored magician (I memang baik.Hahaha). Datin Noorkumalasari pun ada (her hubby alum Liverpool). Kita sempat le bergambar2 dgn dia.

Lepas tu I dah janji Epah nak pi open house dia.Nik dah tak larat so he balik tidur (memang...dia boleh jadi anti-social kadang2 esp. bila mengantuk).I ingat the NZ people (Hamilton's) would be there.Tengok2 punya la besar open house Epah/Malik ni.A garden party practically.A banquet to be exact.I dtg sorang pulak.Takda sapa I kenal except Malik and Epah.Buat tebal muka je..what to do..dah masuk compound rumah.Meja pulak dah penuh..duduk je dgn sapa2 dan buat muka tebal.Dua American ladies ni mula2 mcm sombong.I sat in the middle of the group's conversation.Buat je muka tebal menyampuk.From the conversation mcm orang putih tu dari LA. I pun buka cerita LA (walhal pi sana umur Z 4 tahun). Akhirnya I dapat kawan baru satu meja.Hahaha.One by one, depa kata I looked familiar..I kata I cikgu biasa...after so many dok kata yang sama..I kata ohh..I'm also a writer..maybe you guys saw me in newspapers/TV ke (dah mcm riak tu).Hahaha.

You'd think orang2 kita tak kenal ni (dan kaya raya) sombong but actually, mereka normal je.Tapi topik perbualan mereka tidak la begitu normal : my Porche...we don't keep our cars more than 5 years, I'm a Bimmer, I'm holidaying in LA with the family in Dec, anak2 I kat Kolej Tunku Jaafar, etc etc.Malas la I nak kata I pi Hong Kong je kan for my holiday and anak I kat Kolej UEM je ..itupun on scholarship, kan? But I'm happy there are so many Malays who are doing well.Kita tompang gembiralah.Dan mereka bercakap topik2 ni sebab inilah dunia mereka.Bukan nak eksyen.
Yang sorang tu cerita dia sempat habiskan puasa 6 dia (I still have 3 days to go).Yang sorang tu walaupun merokok (dan anaknya tidak) was very pleasant to chat with.
Yang nyata, I suka kuay teow Epah and kangkong sotong dia.Sedap giler.Lupa nak tanya caterer mana.Shangri-la ke, Hilton ke.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Pasaraya Blok M

Kalau nak shopping selesa di Jakarta, antara malls yang OK ialah Pasaraya Blok M di Jakarta Selatan.You go to Tanah Abang, Cempaka Mas, ITC ke Ambassador ke to buy cheap souvenirs and kain telekong yang cantik2 (chances are apa yang dijual di tempat2 ini akan dijual 3X mahal di mall2 mcm Blok M)

But I like Blok M sebab quality barangannya ( a bit like Sarinah but Sarinah tu bangunannya burok..dalamnya je cantik).

I've got practically what I wanted (lots of buku2 penulis Indonesia and SEAsian writers) and I'm ready to go home.

Tadi ada suicide bombing (kat tempat kita org pi semalam.Allah telah lindungi kami).Malam tadi got earthquake in some parts of Indonesia.Haiyo...very active energy kat sini.

The closing of our event was so-so.Tahun ni everyone looked tired and rushed.I pun tak larat sebab kena cirit birit since last nite (jgn makan salad tempat orang.Eat cooked meals).

See you guys in KL.I kena pi mengadap JPJ sebab langgar traffic light kat UIA tu.Siap suruh bawak geran kereta.Sigh.Malaysia negara ku...