Monday, 30 March 2009

Something to ponder...

There's an article in today's The Star Online about a young man who has the ability to screen other people to see if they are under the influence of or being disturbed by djinns. You can read the full article -> here. But let's steer away from any more `cerita seram' for the moment.

Here's something lighthearted. I am copying here, my response to a Facebook tag that I received from my friend Zarinah Salleh early this month.

Paste the sentences into a note of your own, change to your answers, then tag me and ten other people.

1. My ex..... girlfriend was so HOT that she could melt butter just by looking at it. I’m kidding… there never was an ex-girlfriend.

2. Maybe I should... stop thinking of my procrastination problems and get off my butt and do something about it. Hmm… maybe after solve my other problems first.

3. I love... to read and relax.

4. People would say that I'm...... snobbish. Yeah, that’s the first impression that I give to most people.

5. I don't understand... calculus, the periodic table, electromagnetism, finite element analysis, deoxyribonucleic acid… and a host of other things. But I do understand women, though ;-)

6. When I wake up in the morning... I thank God that I’m still alive.

7. I lost... my virginity when I was … (crap, I can’t remember my wedding night. The wife is gonna be pissed!)

8. Life is full of... challenges. Some people have it easy while others are made to grind. For me, I’m about par for the course.

9. My past is... colourful. I’m putting the bits and pieces in written form. Hopefully, it will be an interesting read. Otherwise, who cares?

10. I get annoyed when... people jump queue. Impatient people are real jerks.

11. Parties are... those group or association of people who stand for election, who think they are the best person to lead, who claim to have the solutions to all the problems, who think that they are the only ones that are RIGHT and anybody else who are not in their party are WRONG. Ooops! I’m not answering this part correctly, am I?

12. I wish... can play the piano. Or at least, any other musical instrument. Luckily, I can sing not too badly, heheheh.

13. Dogs... are a man’s best friend. At least, that’s what I learnt in school. But now for me, a man’s best friend is a WOMAN.

14. Cats... are now straying into my compound and are becoming a bloody nuisance. They crap all over the place! I’ve tried chasing them out but they keep coming back.

15. Tomorrow... is a period in time when things that should’ve been done today, would maybe (I repeat, maybe) be carried out. I just love tomorrow! It’s a mystery!

16. I have a low tolerance... for stubbornly ignorant people.

17. If I had a million dollars… then I won’t tell you.

18. I'm totally terrified... (sorry, can’t think of a good one to answer this. Yes, I’m terrified of certain things, but I can’t think of something that I’m TOTALLY terrified of.)

So there you go, Zarinah. A bit more info about me that you wish to know :-) And I'm not tagging anybody. Tapi kalau ada sesiapa yg sudi... silakan.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Another `Cerita Seram'

As an extension to the earlier post, here is another eerie story. And this incident is quite recent.

My 26 year-old niece (my sister-in-law's youngest daughter) is pursuing further studies in Kuala Lumpur. One weekend, about a few weeks ago, she returns to her hometown in Mersing to visit her parents.

She sleeps on the double bed in the spare bedroom. In the middle of the night, she wakes up to go to the bathroom. In the dim light, she sees her mother sleeping on the bed next to her. Her mother must have laid on the bed after she had fallen asleep.

She softly calls to her mother, "Mak...?".

Without turning, the mother replies, "Hmmm..."

My niece gets up and goes to the bathroom. On the way back, she sees the light of the television still on in the living room. She walks to the living room to switch off the TV. To her surprise, she sees her mother asleep on the sofa.

If her mother is sleeping on the sofa in the living room, then who is sleeping with her in the bedroom?

Daughter wakes up mother and tells her of what she has seen. Both mother and daughter quietly walks to the bedroom and switch on the lights. The room is empty. Whoever or whatever that was sleeping on the bed is no longer there.

Mother takes her holy Al-Quran and recites some verses. Outside, the sound of barking dogs fill the night air...

This is not the first time my niece has seen things that other ordinary people could not see. So far, alhamdulillah, there has been no physical harm on the family.

I sometimes wonder why is it that some people have the ability to see things that are normally unseen. Or do these other beings make themselves visible only to certain persons.

If you do know why, then you need not tell me.... because I actually don't really want to know. I'm happy to leave it as a mystery.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

The other unseen occupants

Two weeks ago, my 14-year old son went for a 3-day field trip to Kuala Lumpur organised by his school. When he handed me the consent form for me to sign, I read through the itinerary and noted that the students would be staying at The Heritage Station Hotel.

Since the trip was fully sponsored, it is understandable that the school would book a budget hotel. But I felt that putting up the kids in an` old' building is not without some risks. The Heritage Station Hotel is located within the old KTM train station. Photos in the hotel's website show reasonably well-furnished interiors but the hotel's unique selling point is its historical attachment.

On the second day of the trip, my wife called up my son to check how he was getting along. Generally okay, my son said, except that one student experienced `disturbances' during the night. "Gangguan mahluk halus", were his exact Malay words. My son himself did not see any ghosts or spirits or whatever... but my wife advised him to be careful just the same. `Jangan lupa sembahyang' was the standard reminder of mothers to sons.

I couldn't help but smile when I overheard the conversation. In my course of work, I have stayed at numerous hotels in many parts of the country and also overseas. Most times alone. The types of accomodation range from the very basic to the very plush. So far, I have been fortunate enough not to encounter any spirits or other beings `not of our world', except for this one incident at a hotel in Cameron Highlands, around 5 years back.

I can't remember the name of the hotel but it is a fairly big one and built more than 10 years ago. I was in Cameron Highlands to visit one of our projects and stayed alone at the hotel that night. Initially, I had difficulty in falling asleep but the tiredness of the day's work and traveling finally took over and I drifted off. Sometime in the middle of the night, I felt difficult to breathe.... as if a heavy load was resting on my chest. I struggled to push the load away but my arms felt liked they were pinned down. I opened my mouth to scream but nothing came out. It was suffocating, my heart was pounding... and I was in real fear.

And then I started to recite the relevant holy verses of the Quran that I have in memory, as taught by my elders. Initially my recitation was gibberish... like my mouth not following the instructions of my brain. I tried and tried... until I can actually hear the words come out right. And slowly, the heavy load on my chest lifted, my breathing returned to normal and I drifted off to sleep.

I woke up at early dawn and quickly switched on the lights and looked around the room. I could see nothing out of the ordinary. Did an unseen being sit on my chest last night or was it all just a bad dream? Hard to say...

Another hotel that is in the heritage category is the impressive Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang. The hotel has undergone extensive refurbishment over the recent years.

I stayed there once, three years ago, despite having heard a first-hand account of encounters with other unseen occupants. But that's a story to tell for another day.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Dan Sebenarnya...

Gosh, it has been a terribly busy week on the work front... to the extent that this blog becoming a bit stagnant.

Before I post the next story, here's a still video of local singer Yuna performing her self-composed song called Dan Sebenarnya.

I heard HotFM deejay Faisal Ismail interviewing this young lady early yesterday morning while on the drive to KL and decided to do a quick search on Youtube once I get back. On the drive home just now, I was thinking about this particular post. As I turned the last traffic-light junction towards my house, this song played on the radio. How's that for a good example of synchronicity.

Hope you enjoy the song. Not bad for a debut indie effort.

Youtube video from antumotor

Dan Sebenarnya - Yuna

Oh bulan, enggan melayan diriku lagi
Pabila… air mata membasahi pipi
Dan lagu2 di radio seolah2 memerli aku
Pabila… kau bersama yang lain

Adakah perasaan benci ini sebenarnya cinta
Yang masih bersemadi untukmu
Dan sebenarnya ku mengharapkan
Di sebalik senyuman mu itu
Kau juga merindui aku

Ku enggan berpura pura ku bahagia
Ku enggan melihat kau bersama si dia
Oh ku akui cemburu
Mula menular dalam diri
Pabila… kau bersama yang lain

Adakah perasaaan benci ini sebenarnya cinta
Yang masih bersemadi untukmu
Dan sebenarnya ku mengharapkan
Di sebalik senyuman mu itu
Kau juga merindui aku

Pabila kau merenung matanya
Ku rebah, jatuh ke bumi.....
Di saat kau benar-benar mahu pergi
Seperti ku bernafas dalam air

Adakah perasaaan benci ini sebenarnya cinta
Yang masih bersemadi untukmu
Dan sebenarnya ku mengharapkan
Di sebalik senyuman mu itu
Kau juga merindui aku… Oh

Dan sebenarnya...
Dan sebenarnya...
Aku rindu......
Dan sebenarnya....
Dan sebenarnya....
Aku tak mampu...

Saturday, 14 March 2009

A fragrant bloom called bread flower

In my garden there is this vine-like shrub which I planted more than five years ago. It was given to me by my cousin who told me that the plant's flowers are very sweet-smelling. She mentioned the name of the plant but it was too odd-sounding for it to be registered in my memory at that time.

Throughout the years, the shrub grew healthily with the vines spreading long and wide, to the extent that trimming need to be done. But it never bloomed... until a few weeks ago, that is. The plant has produced bunches of small white flowers that emit a fragrant smell. If I were to hazard a guess, I put the cause of the blooming to the very hot and dry weather spell that Johor Bahru experienced at the beginning of the year.

The Malay name for this flower is bunga sikudangan, at least that's what it is called in Johor. I have just learnt that is called by other names in other parts of Malaysia : bunga kesidang, bunga kerak nasi and bunga tikam seladang, among others. For the fancy and peculiar names it has in Malay, the English name is a plain-sounding `bread flower'. Scientifically it is known as vallaris glabra.

A single flower is only about 15mm wide and is made up of five petals. For such a small flower, the scent it releases is quite intense.... very close to that of pandan leaves. As such, it makes a perfect complement in bunga rampai, the shredded pandan potpourri normally found at Malay weddings.

I picked some of the flowers early this morning and placed them in a small ceramic basket (actually a bekas bunga telur) to create a mini bouquet. It is placed next to my work desk at home and I'm enjoying the aroma as I type this post.

Hmmm... sure smells nice.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

A red rose... and poetry

In a recent post, Kak Teh of the hugely popular Choc-a-Bloc Blog, wrote about a performance by the pop band Alleycats in London which she had managed to capture on video.

Like many others, I grew up listening and singing to the many hits from Alleycats. If I am forced to sing karaoke (as would normally happen at family wedding receptions), I would choose to sing 'Sekuntum Mawar Merah Sebuah Puisi'. In my comment at Kak Teh's blog, I mentioned that this song has a special meaning to me because of something that happened years ago while I was a student in the UK. I thought that I could share the story here.

It was 1983. I shared a flat with two other Malay friends at a place called Holberry Close in Sheffield. Two other Malay students rented the flat below us. One of them was seeing this English girl who was studying medicine at the University of Sheffield. The girl's name is Kathy, but she wanted us to call her by her nickname of Coot. She hails from the town of Birkenhead on the Merseyside. Being a Liverpool FC fan, I immediately knew where that was.

One evening, my friend brought Coot over to our house for dinner... sort of wanting to introduce the Minah Salleh to our Malay cuisine, I guess. The meal was enjoyable and Coot did not seem too much troubled by the spicy taste.

After dinner, we sat around chatting about anything and everything. My friend then picked up his guitar and began to strum and sing some Malay songs. When he started to sing Sekuntum Mawar Merah, I told him to hold on a bit. For Coot's benefit, I would translate the lyrics of the song into English line by line as he sang the song.

And so began an impromptu session of song translation, delivered in the manner of a guy reading poetry to woo the heart of an English maiden.

I was doing the translation on-the-fly as it were, without prior preparation. While the exact words used were probably not the accurate translations, I believe they were close enough. I did not falter in my delivery and the overall romantic context was maintained. S Amin Shahab, the original writer of the lyrics would not have been too displeased with my effort.

At the end of our joint singing/translating performance, I could see the blushes on Coot's cheeks.

I'm including below a youtube video of the song as sung by Alleycats together with the original Malay lyrics. Sorry, I can't exactly recall the unrehearsed English translation that I did that night. Looking back, I realised that it was quite a tough thing to do... especially the line, `Berlagu dalam irama nan syahdu.'

Youtube video by BalsemGosok

Sekuntum Mawar Merah Sebuah Puisi

Penyanyi : Alleycats
Pengarang Lagu : M. Nasir
Penulis Lirik : S. Amin Shahab

Sekuntum mawar merah sebuah puisi
Untuk gadis pilihan oh.. di bulan Februari
Mulanya cinta bersemi dan kehadiran
Ribuan mimpi-mimpi oh.. di bulan Februari

Kemesraanmu dan cintaku
Berlagu dalam irama nan syahdu
Tapi mengapa hanya sementara
Cinta yang menyala padam tiba-tiba


Terkenang kembali lagu cinta lama
Kisah mawar merah berduri
Menusuk di hati...
Haruskah ku ulangi

Apakah dosaku dan apakah salahku
Sering gagal dalam bercinta
Mengapa cinta hanya sementara
Api yang menyala padam tiba-tiba

( ulang dari 1 )

Sekuntum mawar merah sebuah puisi
Di bulan Februari

I am also including a photo taken during our small Aidilfitri makan-makan in 1983 which Coot also attended. Yours truly is the thin guy on the rightmost of the pic.

And finally... to answer Kak Teh's query in response to my comment in her blog : The relationship did not end the way of the fairy tales :-)

Monday, 9 March 2009

A blog you can drink

I was shopping with the wife at Smart Market in Pandan yesterday. We came across a drink stall that sells blogs. They have coffee blog, smoothie blog, fresh fruit blog and even an oreo blog.

Out of curiosity, I bought a bandung blog. It turned out to be just a simple ice-blended sirap bandung. The poster pic showed the drink topped with some fruits but the drink that I purchased did not contain any. And the RM1.80 price applied to the tea drinks, not the blog. I was fooled.

Why would a drink vendor want to call their products `blog' anyway? Dah tak ada nama lain ke?

Now, you can write a blog and drink one too, literally.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Salesmen Vs Engineers (Part 3 of 3)

Okay... let's get this over with so that I can prepare myself for the return salvo from the marketing and sales people, heheheh.

Here's the 3rd and final part of the story about salespeople and engineers.


The third…

Once upon a time, three sales people were walking through the woods and suddenly they were standing in front of a huge, wide river. But they desperately had to get to the other side. But how, with such a raging torrent? The first sales guy knelt down and prayed to the Lord : “Lord, please give me the strength to cross this river!”


The Lord gave him long arms and strong legs. Now he could swim across the river. It took him about two hours and he almost drowned several times.

BUT : he was successful!

The second sales guy, who observed this, prayed to the Lord and said : “Lord, please give me the strength AND the necessary tools to cross this river!”


The Lord gave him a tub and he managed to cross the river despite the fact that the tub almost capsized a few times.

The third salesman who observed all this, kneeled down and prayed : “Lord, please give me the strength, the means AND the intelligence to cross this river!”


The Lord converted the salesman into an engineer. He took a quick glance on the map, walked a few metres upstream and crossed the bridge.

Send this to an intelligent engineer so that he/she has something to smile about;
And to the sales people if you think they can stomach the truth!

You guys have a great weekend!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Salesmen Vs Engineers (Part 2 of 3)

Here's the second instalment of the salespeople and engineers story.


The second...

A group of engineers and a group of sales people take a train to a conference. Each salesperson holds a ticket. But the entire group of engineers had bought only a single ticket. The sales people are just shaking their heads and are secretly pleased that the arrogant engineers will finally get what they deserve.

Suddenly one of the engineers calls out, “The conductor is coming!”. At once, all the engineers jump up and squeeze into one of the toilets. The conductor checks the tickets of the sales people. When he notices that the toilet is occupied, he knocks on the door and says, “Ticket, please!”. One of the engineers slides the ticket under the door and the conductor continues merrily on his round.

For the return trip, the sales people decide to use the same trick. They buy only one ticket for the entire group but they are baffled when they realize that the engineers didn’t buy any tickets at all.

After a while, one of the engineers announces again, “The conductor is coming!” Immediately all the sales people race into a toilet and lock themselves in. All the engineers leisurely walk to the other toilet. Before the last engineer enters the toilet, he knocks on the toilet occupied by the sales people and says, “Ticket please!”

And the moral of the story?

Sales people like to use the method of the engineers, but they don’t really understand them.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Salesmen Vs Engineers

Here's something from my `Forwarded e-mails' category. It was received back in 2002, originally as a Powerpoint presentation. I can't remember who sent it, but whenever the young engineers under my supervision get discouraged, I would show them this.


3 Real Life Stories (well, not quite real life...)

The First…

Eleven people were dangling below a helicopter on a rope. There were ten sales people and one engineer.

Since the rope was not strong enough to hold them all, they decided that one of them had to let go to save all the others.

They could not decide who should be the volunteer. Finally the engineer said that he would let go of the rope since engineers are used to do everything for the company. They forsake their family, don’t claim all of their expenses and do a lot of overtime without getting anything in return.

When he finished his moving speech, all the sales people began to clap…

Moral : Never underestimate the powers of the engineer.

The next 2 stories coming soon...

Monday, 2 March 2009

As quick as lightning

I was at my parent's place in Singapore over the weekend. On Saturday evening, the TV news on Channel News Asia reported that the Merlion, the iconic tourist attraction located at the mouth of Singapore River, was struck by lightning. There was some damage to the top of the statue.

Last night, before driving back to JB, I again watched the news on TV. This time, CNA showed pictures of the statue with scaffolding already erected all around it. Wow... that was fast. Someone in authority had obviously issued directives that the damage be repaired immediately. And over the weekend at that. They sure waste no time, don't they?

Pic 2 : From Channel News Asia

It got me wondering, if such an incident were to happen in Malaysia, say for instance the Tugu Negara was damaged by lightning... how quick would our authorities act to get the damage repaired? One week? One month? Your guess is as good as mine.

While some of us may be amused by the well-known `scared to lose' attitude of our southern neighbour, we must admit that we trail them by a long way when it comes to efficiency.