Thursday, 19 July 2012

Creativity takes courage

Among the members of my extended family, there are not many whom I can put into the creative category. These are the type of persons who have talent in the arts. Painting, craftwork, writing, music or even carpentry.

I have a few sisters-in-law who are quite good in handicraft and decorations, especially in the traditional Malay wedding gifts (gubahan hantaran). My own mother can draw quite well and I've always believed that she would have been a great painter had not the domestic demands of those early years taken priority.

I have previously introduced to readers, a niece of mine, Mazny MR, who is an author. Her first book is titled Lentera Cinta Albaicin. Today I am introducing another niece, whose creativity is in the field of art and sculpture. Just so happen that this up and coming artist is the younger sister to the other one. Her name is Maslin.

Last weekend, we were at Shah Alam to attend the aqiqah ceremony of Maslin's son. We took the opportunity to visit her studio. Maslin's speciality is working with wax. The following photographs show some of her creations.

I told the two sisters that I am proud to have two very brave and talented nieces. A writer and a painter. This old uncle of theirs can only write in blogs...

One corner of the studio
Childhood memories
My grandniece (who is a niece of my niece)
Do you see the overriding theme?

Sunday, 15 July 2012

I'm mad as a cow because I can't donate

Actually, there is no such idiom `as mad as a cow'... and I'm not really mad (as in angry, not insane). Just disappointed and a bit puzzled. But I'll explain what I mean shortly...

Yesterday and today, there is a nationwide blood donation drive being organised by the alumni association of MRSM, together with the assistance of AEON Jusco and the various hospitals. It is the 6th annual campaign and they hold it a few weeks before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadhan. I was at Jusco Tebrau City yesterday morning, with the intention of giving a pint of my blood. I am not a regular blood donor... the last time I did so was in 2007 during a similar campaign.

For those of you who have never donated blood before, the process of giving up a bit of that precious liquid is not just simply offering your arm to be pricked with a needle, see the red stuff flow down a tube and into a plastic bag. You would have to first fill up a form containing a zillion questions where you tick boxes to indicate `Yes' or `No'. A nurse would do a teenie-weenie jab on the tip of your middle finger to extract a drop of blood, from which she would determine your blood type.

You would take the form to the doctor on duty who then interviews you based on the answers you have given. The questions on the form are of course, to determine your level of health and suitability as a donor. Since lives would be at stake, you'd better answer all questions truthfully, no matter how embarrassing some of the questions might be. There was this question that asks whether you had paid for sex in the last 6 months... and if you had ticked the `Yes' box, then you better forget about donating. I guess the same would apply if you got paid for sex too.

There was also this question about whether you have visited or stayed in the United Kingdom for a least six months from 1979 to 1990. I ticked `Yes'. The young doctor asked me why I was there. I said I was a student for nearly 5 years. I queried back, what's the significance? He couldn't answer me but looked towards another senior doctor for help.

The senior doctor said that it has something to do with the Mad Cow Disease. Goodness me! That was so many years ago. The epidemic in the UK was in 1987... I had left the country a few years before that. Bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE), that's the official medical term. It's a bit strange that the health authorities believe that I may carry the infectious agent after all this time. I told the doctor that I had previously donated blood five years ago with no problems. She replied that the issue was not considered back then. Unfortunately today, they can't take my blood. Yeah, right...

So now I am no longer acceptable as a blood donor. As long as the Health Ministry believes that there is a threat of UK residents of that period carrying a risk of the BSE agent in their blood, until then I won't be able to donate my blood. Bummer.

Anyway, the day was not a total loss. The hospital representatives at the event were also promoting organ transplant pledges. I took the opportunity to pledge the donation of some of my organs in case of my demise. I offer my eyes (cornea) and kidneys to be shared with any person in need at some future time.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Queen is the most powerful

My father bought me my first chess set when I was in primary school. He taught me how to play the game and I was instantly hooked. I played against my school friends and soon became quite good at it. I even reached a stage where I could beat my father (although I still can never beat him in the other popular board game of draughts, or more well-known in Malay as dam haji... yang tu memang dia terrer).

As I entered secondary school, I became more engrossed in the game as I meet more challenging and skillful opponents. There was this one time during school holidays, my cousin and I stayed at our grandmother's kampung house to look after her. My grandmother did not have a television, so we spent the nights playing chess. Our skill level was almost equal so the games we played were never one-sided. I became so focused in playing chess to the extent that planning the possible moves and tactics made its way into my dreams. I asked my cousin if he also similar dreams and he said yes.

When I entered adulthood, I played against even stronger opponents... until I reached a point when the game no longer was fun. It was the instant when I realised that I could fairly predict what my regular opponent's next move would be. This feeling would extend beyond the game itself, i.e. to every day situations. Very eerie.

I concluded that if I could sort of read my friend's mind, then he could probably read mine too. This, I don't want to happen... so I stopped playing the game, at least against regular human opponents. To this day, the game of chess no longer interests me.

It has long puzzled me why the strongest piece on the chess board is the Queen. She can move in any direction and as many squares as she pleases. The King, on the other hand, can only move one square at a time. When my father was teaching me the game, I asked him why this is so. Don't know, he said. Maybe it reflects real-life situation. I didn't quite understand it at that time, but as the years passed, I guess there is some truth in that.

Which now allows me to close this post with a quote I read somewhere recently : Never trust a man who says he is the king of his household. He could be lying about other things too...

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Hitting the half-century mark

Around this time ten years ago, I was struggling to make a living in Kuala Lumpur. I was into my second month in a new job at a construction firm belonging to a friend. He had invited me to join his company with the objective of having me lead a new road project that he said he had secured. He even showed me the Letter of Intent issued by a certain government department indicating that the project was genuine.

Since I was out of work, I decided to accept his offer with a meagre allowance on the promise that a salary revision would be considered once the project gets under way. The first month passed by but no salary was in sight. As the first week of the following month elapsed without any news of the overdue pay, I decided that the place was not for me and approached my friend to tell him I was leaving. He immediately apologised for the salary delay and promised me that some funds would be available in the next few days and that I would get paid soon. But once I make up my mind, I seldom turn back. And so I left the firm with no money in my pockets and entered the jobless scene yet again.

I had just celebrated my 40th birthday... well, `celebrated' is an overstatement since I was alone and miserable in the capital city. Whoever coined the phrase that `life begins at 40', certainly had other things in mind.

From that point onwards, the next 10 years of my life has been a roller coaster ride, at least for the last few years anyway. But then, isn't a roller coaster ride meant to give you that thrill of adrenalin rush, that feeling of excitement? Indeed, such ups and downs gives life that colourful spread of variety that we call experience.

I reached my 50-year birthday two days ago. Nothing special happened, just a simple family dinner at a restaurant in town. But I am happy and grateful. I have my reasonably good health and my sons are doing well in school. We have a roof over our heads and our debts are manageable. I have a lot to be thankful for.

Now that I have reached this milestone, half-a-century doesn't seem to be long time at all. May the Almighty grant us all the life and good health to be meeting again in another blog post next year... insyaAllah.

My youngest son Imran and his grandfather (my father) at our simple dinner last night

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Apa dah jadi?

Apa dah jadi? Apa dah jadi?
Blog ini dah sunyi sepi...

It has never happened before that I failed to post anything in a whole month. June has passed by without a single peep. So what caused me to be postless in the previous month? Busy, bored or blurr.... take your pick.

Actually, it has been terribly busy on the work front for the past few months, and it looks to stretch out as such for the next few. So this quick entry is just to keep this blog alive. I am just posting a few pictures taken in Mersing the previous week when we made a quick weekend trip to my wife's hometown to attend a wedding.

Stay cool people...

Fishing Bay Resort
Old bridge at Teluk Sari
Sunset and low tide
The beach at the resort
Fisherman's jetty at Teluk Buih