Monday, 26 April 2010

Faster than CNN

In an earlier post in late February this year, I wrote about the updates posted by my nieces who are connected to me in Facebook, and about how I try to keep such news as private as possible. Even to the extent of feigning surprise when my wife tells me something that I'd already read online, as if I am the last person to know.

Well, today I reversed the process... and the effect is exactly as what I expected.

It is one of my niece's birthday today (Sunday 25 April 2010) and I dropped by her FB profile to post a birthday message on her wall. While there, I spotted an exchange of messages between my niece and some of her friends (or possibly, staff) about the rumour of a job transfer to Sabah. I later mentioned to my wife that it is the niece's special day today, and that she may want to send a congratulatory sms to the birthday girl. I also casually mentioned that the young lady may be re-posted to Sabah.

My wife was surprised and immediately texted the girl's mother. The girl's mother was doubly surprised when she texted back that she didn't know anything about this. My wife shot a look at me and asked how I know something even the girl's mother doesn't know. Well, maybe daughters don't tell their mothers everything, I said.

No... can't be! Not this niece, says the wife, with a firm shake of the head. So, go ask the young lady herself, I said.

A quick flurry of sms exchanges took place between aunt, niece and niece's mother. Finally the young lady clarified that the news of the job transfer is just office gossip... I can almost hear the sigh of relief from the mother (apparently she doesn't want the daughter to work too far away).

To my lovely niece Aliah... sorry if this old uncle of yours caused you a bit of bother by forwarding a piece of unconfirmed news. But if you do actually get that transfer, don't decline... grab the chance for a new working experience. At least then, we can find a strong reason to travel to Sabah, a place that we've been longing to go to.

By the way, Happy Birthday (yang ke berapa, ek?). May today and the next 364 days be filled with joy and good tidings.

 Birthday girl is the one on the left. This pic taken eons ago and lifted from someone's FB album.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Pirates of the carribean

Two nights ago, I had dinner with my son at Mali's Corner in Setapak, the place that serves tasty char kuey teow. While having our meal, we were repeatedly bothered by salesmen peddling pirated DVDs. Even after declining one salesman, another guy would come by a few minutes later, pushing the same stuff. I have noticed that this a normal sales tactic at most other popular makan places in KL, especially the open-air 24-hours mamak restaurants. You don't find such DVD peddlars in JB.

Out of curiosity, I asked how much a DVD cost. The reply : Biasa la boss, RM8 saje...

Heck, that's double of what I can get in JB... yes, pirated DVDs retail for only RM4 in Johor Bahru. KL folks don't seem to mind the higher price, because judging from the way these peddlars are thriving, there must be a good market for the discs.

And this has got me wondering about a business opportunity... if I buy some of these movie discs in JB for RM4 each, bring them to KL and sell them at RM6, I can undercut the sellers here by RM2 and still make the same amount in profit. That's a 50% profit, my friend! I don't have to worry about the overhead costs because I travel to and fro KL-JB every week anyway. What I do have to worry about is probably getting beaten up by the syndicates running these operations in KL.

Well... just a thought.

Talking about movies, I went out to watch one at a cineplex last night because the boredom at a lonely bachelor's pad was killing me. I had read a posting from blogger matahari the day before and decided to see Kick Ass. She gave a 5-star rating for this movie and after watching it yesterday, I must say I concur.

The movie has violence (torture, guns, knives, swords and even a bazooka) and vulgarity (cursing and swearing). Exactly the type of film you wouldn't want to bring your daughter to see... and yet the heroine in this picture is a gun-toting, knife-throwing sweet young girl who I'd love to have as my daughter.

And another thing... when do you actually get to see Nicholas Cage act in a gun-blazing movie but yet not get the top billing? Bizzare.

Kick Ass is a good movie to watch if you are pissed off about problems at work, pissed off at someone or generally in a pissed-off mood. Forget about logic and reality for a while... watch this movie about unlikely superheroes and enjoy.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Four brothers

It has really been quite hectic the past week, to the extent that I have not been able to blog for quite a while. Early last week, I was in Taiping to visit a project site. The very same evening, I drove straight down to Johor Bahru because I had a meeting scheduled in Singapore the following morning. Utterly back-breaking drive... but what to do? Better this than being idle.

Anyway, just a simple post to update my readers that I am still around. A bit tired from all that travelling, maybe... but generally not doing too bad.

I was in Singapore again on Saturday to meet up with my youngest brother at our mom's place. This brother currently works and stays in London and is en route to a business trip in Beijing. He made a stop-over in Singapore before flying back to the UK later this week, that is if the Icelandic volcano ash is no longer disrupting the European airspace.

The occasion gave the chance for mom to cook her special briyani dish for all her four sons to savour. Somehow, it just happened that none of our spouses were present and it was just the four brothers and some of mom's grandchildren. And when the ladies are not around, the guys are free to talk about anything and everything...

From L to R : Shahrin (No 4, London), Fadhil aka Oldstock (No.1, Kuala Lumpur), Zulkiflie (No.2, Singapore) and Azhar (No.3, Singapore)

Monday, 12 April 2010

Jungle trekking at FRIM

My previous stint working and living in Kuala Lumpur was from early 2004 to 2007. At that time, I moved the whole family from JB to KL. We managed to obtain a transfer of my eldest son from his boarding school (Sekolah Menengah Agama) in Bandar Penawar, Johor to the equivalent school in Kuala Lumpur which was SMAKL. This school is located in Bandar Menjalara in Kepong and not really that far from where we were staying at the time in Taman Melawati.

It was quite a straightforward journey from Melawati to Kepong on the MRR2. Every time I visited my son, I would pass by the junction that leads off to the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia, or better known as FRIM. I told myself that I should visit FRIM one of these days. Of course over the three years, I never did.

A few days after my transferring to the present stint here, one of my staff told me that she's organizing a jungle trekking outing to FRIM and wanted to know if I'd like to come along. I immediately said yes. It is a bit ironic that after all this time, it needed another person to give me the push to do something that I had wanted to do many years ago.

And so, yesterday morning, a group of us headed out to Kepong to enjoy the natural beauty of the rainforest right at our doorstep. The heavy thunderstorm the day before and the early morning drizzle did not deter us. In fact, the muddy trail made it all the more interesting. We had arranged for a guide from FRIM to lead us in the trekking activity. En. Nizam the guide, took us trekking along a well-marked trail and made occasional stops at different locations to give us useful and interesting commentary. For example, I now know that the research station was established by British guy named Foxworthy. And that the merbau tree yields a dark brown timber that is highly-sought for the making of musical instruments. The valuable wood means that merbau is among the favourite target of illegal loggers.

The guide told us many more stuff about the jungle but most of the time I was concentrating on recovering my breath to remember what was said. The trail took us up and down steep slopes. Being the oldest guy in the group, I had trouble keeping up but tried my best not to show it... I seriously need to exercise more often. I am still feeling the aches in my leg muscles as I type this.

The highlight of the trek is of course, the canopy walk. Walking on the suspended walkways across the top of the trees is something really worth experiencing. The view from the top is simply breathtaking.

After completing the canopy walk, we trudged downhill back to the FRIM information centre. There are other attractions available but we were too tired to continue. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful way to spend Saturday morning. Looking forward to go there again soon.

 The `about to get dirty' dozen

This view of the forest reminded me of the movie `Predator'

Canopy of kapur trees. Close, but not touching

Downhill trek

Canopy walk

Not quite the vines that Tarzan uses

Can't escape donating blood to some suckers

Thursday, 8 April 2010


For such a simple phrase, the title of this post has deep connotations, because it is often used in a negative sense. Consider the following statement : "Minggu lepas, saya ada ternampak En. Oldstock makan berdua-duaan dengan seorang wanita di sebuah restoran di AEON Jusco Setiawangsa."

Without the benefit of additional information, a seemingly simple statement can lead to serious complications. What more if the statement can actually be true? This is the case where the `implied' has more effect than the `explicit'. (My legally-trained blogger friends Versedanggerik and Snakebite can probably confirm this). If we are to take away the words `berdua-duaan' from the sentence, it would still carry a suspicious tone but the impact is somewhat lesser.

Anyway, what has that got to do with what I want to post about today? Well, nothing really. It is just my twisted way of telling you that this blog is two-years old today.

Thank you to all readers, followers and commenters who have made it such an interesting two years. Hope to have the drive and energy to continue writing for more years to come.

(Pic of two birds is a painting by Hsi-Mei Yates and borrowed from

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

All that's left are the memories

I am a bit unsure on how to start this post. Perhaps I should first apologise for the brief absence from blogosphere. It has taken me a while to get things organized with the shift to a new working environment. Something happened today that has caused me to think about things and put my thoughts in a blog post. But I'll get back to that shortly...

Early this year in January, I posted a story about Two Birthdays. The second birthday in that story is about a close friend of mine named Badique whom I re-connected via Facebook, after losing touch for more than 24 years. We had talked for nearly two hours, mostly re-living the stories of our past when we were studying in the UK... the wild and adventurous years. The visit to my friend's house that day was on the eve of his 48th birthday.

I ended that story with a wish for my friend to recover from his illness and the hope that I would be able to meet up with him again for his next birthday.

That hope is now no longer a possibility... my friend succumbed to his illness and passed away at around 11.15pm last night. This morning, I headed out to Shah Alam to attend the burial. The large number of friends and well-wishers who turned up to pay their last respects is clear evidence that Badique was well-liked as a person. Those who came range from old school-mates, university friends and ex-colleagues.

Throughout the early part of today, my mind is mostly in recall mode... remembering the times we went through together. I revisited Badique's FB profile just now and lifted a photograph from one of his albums to be included in this post.

Four young men in London circa 1980. Badique is the guy on the right with yours truly on the left.

Farewell my friend. I have fond memories of you. May The Almighty place you among the soliheen. Amin.