Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Bloggers, Books and a Bird's-eye View

It was quite a fun weekend for me the past two days. After working four straight weekends without a rest, I decided I'd better give myself a break. My operating system was near crashing point and was about to hang any moment. The problems at the worksite can sort themselves out.

I forgot about work for a while and went out to town to do simple but interesting stuff. To tell you about them, I have grouped the stories into three headings.

1. Bloggers

When I first started to write this blog three years ago, I wasn't sure if other bloggers would find it interesting enough for them to link me. I registered with the Blog Malaysia directory and started to read some of the other blogs to find ideas on how I could improve mine.

One of the earliest blogs I discovered in that directory belongs to the self-taught illustrator Emila Yusof. I am impressed with her artwork and became a regular commenter. Pretty soon, we linked our blogs and later became friends on FB as well. Emila's creativity comes in many forms. She produces her own greeting cards, handicraft items and also does blog headers for customers. She has now published her own picture-book for young readers. Her style of drawing is unique and distinctive and her popularity improved over the years, to the extent other people have `ciplak' her creations. Copyright infringement is never a good thing, but the fact that it has happened, shows some measure of her success.

When I was at MPH the previous Saturday for Awang Goneng's book signing, I took the chance to pick up a copy of Emila's book called My Mother's Garden. Since I have bought one book written by a blogger, why not get one written by another blogger, I thought. Emila's book would make a great present for my grandniece.

A few days later, Emila posted in her blog of a Picture Book event at Silverfish Books in Bangsar. Her book is part of the promotion ; purchase her book there and buyers would get a free set of flashcards. I commented that I have already bought a copy. She replied that if I turn up, she would give me the free cards anyway.

And so, two days ago I made the trip to Bangsar and met Emila for the first time in person. I asked her to sign the book for my grandniece who I'm sure will be thrilled to read the handwritten message by the book's author. Emila also graciously gave me a few notepads and greeting cards which feature her own drawings. Thank you my friend, for those gifts.

For two consecutive weeks, I had the good fortune of meeting blogger-friends in real-life. It is my hope that I can meet more such friends soon.

The picture book, flashcards, notepad and greeting cards
The author's message and signature

2. Books

Every year, when it comes to filing my tax returns at the end of April, I always regret that I have not purchased enough books to make use of the full deduction allowed by the taxman. The following month, I would go on a shopping binge to buy a few books to make full use of the allowance, but then I tend to forget about it towards the end of the year.

As I mentioned above, I bought Awang Goneng's and Emila's book at MPH. While I was browsing at Silverfish Books on Saturday, I picked up a few more. Over two weekends, I have purchased 6 books, enough reading material to last me the next two months.

Silverfish is a small privately-owned bookstore that sells a limited selection, especially titles seldom seen in the larger shops. But it has a reasonable section of books written by local authors. One of those that I bought is a book written by Brian Gomez called Devil's Place. I have never heard of the book or its author before but I decided to buy it after randomly opening a page and reading a few passages. It was a correct decision.

Devil's Place is, or more exactly was, a thrilling read. Yes, I have finished reading it (in two sittings). It is a fiction novel about terrorism, crime and conspiracy set entirely in Kuala Lumpur, but you'd be surprised how the author has included international elements to spice things up. But what makes the book terribly exciting is Gomez's use of local settings and cultural colour to tell his story. His style of writing is crisp and snappy. The text is gross and vulgar but exceedingly funny in most parts. Sometimes you are left wondering if the events he wrote about can actually happen here in Malaysia... but upon pondering about it a bit more, you'll think... heck, kenapa tak boleh?

I had initially thought of writing a book review about it but later changed my mind. Suffice to give you a brief summary, I guess. Makes a refreshing change from reading all those western-based crime thrillers.

First-time effort by Brian Gomez

3. Bird's-eye View

I was actually at Borders bookstore at The Gardens Mid-Valley on Sunday to meet up again with Awang Goneng. The purpose this time was to have the author sign another copy of AMoT specially for blogger-friend Pak Zawi, who lives in Kelantan. Pak Zawi plans to come down to KL later this month but by that time Pak Awang would've returned back to London. I thought I could do Pak Zawi a favour by getting the book signed first and handing it over to him later. It gives me good reason to be able to meet another blogosphere friend in person.

After Borders, I drove to the airfield at Sungai Besi to meet up with an old friend and former classmate for a flight over Kuala Lumpur city in a Cessna airplane. My friend, Captain Norhisham Kassim, is a commercial airline pilot who occasionally flies small aircraft for leisure. He had previously offered to take me flying but the timing was always not right. This time around, I didn't want to miss the chance.

It was the experience of a lifetime. We flew over KL at around 1,500 feet, headed out towards the old Subang airport where he did a touch-n-go, and flew back to Sungai Besi. The view of the KL skyscrapers from way up there is indescribable. The weather was a bit hazy but I did manage to capture a few good shots with my camera.

Thanks Captain, for a wonderful afternoon yesterday.

The Cessna aircraft that we flew in
View of KL city centre from high up
The pilot and his passenger


Pak Zawi said...

Thanks a heap for getting me the signed copy. I owe you one my friend.
The chance to fly over KL in a small plane was a chance of a lifetime. To see KL from a bird's eye view is a rarity. Whatever we saw of KL while taking off or touching down in a commercial flight at KLIA is definitely incomparable to what you have experienced.

Wan Sharif said...

I thought I saw you at Border on Sunday.

Oldstock said...

Pak Zawi,

No problem, glad to help where I can. I thought it was important for you to get a signed copy because you're mentioned by AG in the introduction. Hope to meet up with you soon.

Oldstock said...

Ayoh Wang, sorry I couldn't recognise you at Borders, otherwise I would've said hello. Hopefully we will have the chance to meet again.

Emila Yusof said...

Abang Fadhil, thank you very much for taking the time to meet me at Silverfish. It was an honour to meet you finally. Thank you for buying my book. Hope the little one likes the book and the gifts. :)

Hope to catch up with you soon!

Justiffa said...

Wow thats one hell of a packed weekend.. and i have only one word to say, JELES (especially with the flying) ;p

Work hard must osso play hard.. its all about balance aite? theres more to life than that 9 to 5, lets live it :D

Oldstock said...

Emila, the pleasure's mine. Catch up with you again soon.

Oldstock said...

Justiffa, if you are really interested in flying over KL, the Royal Selangor Flying Club is organizing a fly for charity event this coming Sunday. Not sure how much is the contribution but I can ask. Cuma dua tiga hari ni cuaca berjerbu lah... jadi view mungkin tak berapa clear.

kak teh said...

Oldstock, thank you so much for the support. sorry I didnt have much time to talk to you - it was hectic and am back in London to rest. hehe! Thanks.

Al-Manar said...

..... and here I have been in the backwater of the country, not having a chance to enjoy what you have, including that bird's eye view; maybe am too old for that kind of adventure, with 'mata kelabu', aching joints and all.

Oldstock said...

Something's not right with blogspot for the past few days. Two comments from Al-manar and Kak Teh seems to be missing...

Oldstock said...

Since Blogger.com has swallowed the two comments, I'm reproducing them from my email notification :

Kak Teh said - Oldstock, thank you so much for the support. sorry I didnt have much time to talk to you - it was hectic and am back in London to rest. hehe! Thanks.

Al-manar said - ..... and here I have been in the backwater of the country, not having a chance to enjoy what you have, including that bird's eye view; maybe am too old for that kind of adventure, with 'mata kelabu', aching joints and all.

> Kak Teh, no prob. Memang I tahu you busy sangat time tu. Kalau nak sembang lama dgn you, I kena pergi London, hehehe....

> Pakcik Al-manar, I am just lucky to have that bird's eye view because of a good friend. It is friends like these who help make our lives colourful. Alhamdulillah..

LION GIRL said...

You know, I have also made many friends via blogging (I started in Oct 2009). Amazing, yet it happened. Some of them are even dearer than friends I knew for years!
Glad to see you are having fun making new friends too!
I always believe things happen for a reason. It is not coincidence that we bumped into each other via blogging...

3yearshousewife said...

That small an airplane, I must recite loads and loads of doa...
Beautiful view.

Oldstock said...

Lion Girl, my next step in getting to know my blogger friends is to meet them in person. To date, I have met four already.

Thanks for dropping by. Will pop over to your place soon.

Oldstock said...

As, memang plane kecik. Boleh muat dua passenger kat belakang, ngam-ngam. Doa tetap dibaca... but I have a lot of faith in my pilot friend.