Monday, December 24, 2007

In Defence of the Tailgater

I used to hate tailgaters. Their weaving from side to side used to annoy me; their flashing sometimes distracted me; their insistent presence and need to impress me of the urgency of their travel by arranging their front bumper to be as close as possible to my rear bumper at high speeds was, though an impressive display of driving skill, pissed me off all the same. And if that did not irk me enough, these people tended to drive cars that I will never be able to afford - you know, the ones you see in the magazine which talks about all its mouth watering and underwear wetting features without any discussion about the price. That's the one.

That hatred has gone with the introduction of a more intimate understanding of the tailgater and even now sees me celebrating the culture of tailgating. That's right, I now intend to justify the bastardly acts of some of the tailgating community and demonstrate that how they are necessary if not vital for the smooth running of the motor vehicle community.

Tailgaters are generally people who have an affinity for order. This is not just any order but an order that is reflective of your personality and lifestyle and how ones internal personal preference should be properly ordered in a communal space. For those who don't understand what I just wrote it basically means this: If you drive like a slow fuck, stay on the left lane and don't you dare spend even thirty seconds on the overtaking lane 'cos your ass is flashed. Tailgaters therefore are like antibodies of the fast lane that viciously and mercilessly expel those slow and ignorant drivers from the right lane. Another proposition can therefore be brought forth from this meditation: On the road, to be fast is to be right. You cannot be slow and right. If you are slow and on the right, you are wrong and deserve all the honking, flashing and disgusted filthy glances of the tailgater.

Tailgaters therefore render a service not just for the police in ensuring that the right lanes are used but also to the economy itself. Since time is money and driving slow is the loss of potential revenue, tailgaters in truth, ensuring that the wheels of economy keep turning at a faster rate. One would note that countries with no reported tailgaters tend to be failing economies (they also tend not to have cars, but thats beside the point).

Tailgaters also weed out the lazy drivers who stick to the right lane and drive below the speed limit because they are too lazy to switch lanes. Yes, despite the high degree of automation in driving a car, there are vile people who are too lazy to make the smallest of turns to the left to switch lanes. These are spawns of the ancient automotive vehicle god, Caroth, who have been sent to plague us. Though killing them does give one bonus points in heaven, I would not encourage that due to local laws - so please check your local listings (and let me know if your country doesn't have such a law, I plan to set up a second home there).

So dear tailgater - you are in the right. Feel no shame. Don't apologize. Now you have a written justification for it as well. Honk, flash and weave at will. Flash them that disgusted look, throw in a middle finger. The world depends on it. It's your right because you're fast. Only the fast and furious survive. Don't believe me? Check out the three movie franchises on the fast and furious. It's inevitable. So make the world a better place - tailgate.

Friday, December 21, 2007

dara #5

subuh tadi kau lagi bertandang
kau lagi tersimpuh tersenyum
harum bagai mawar sekuntum

kelmarin hanya titistitis tinta biru
dihelaian kertas rapuh kekuningan
saban hari duduktunduk menunggu
ungkapan kata bisik mesra dari jauh
senja perang warna diufuk barat
membawa sejuk dalam kelam malam
dalam sepi rindu menagih hadirmu
masa bagai lekat, waktu membeku

namun tinta bagai tak mampu melafaz
rasarasa dan rona biru dipenjuru dada
subuh dibutuhi, bagai sentuhan embun
dipucuk kekeringan sehelai daun
namun yang datang hanya kepanasan
dan sebuah gurun terdampar kegersangan
tiada nyanyi senda gelak tawa ria jeling manja

sekali sekala burung tiong bercerita
dari atas dahan rapuh pohon rimbun
nun di atas bulan tersenyum melihat kejora
unggasunggas malam bagai berpantun
namun dalam dada cuma hiba nestapa
sepi itu sebenarnya derita cuma
rindu itu biasanya suatu kehilangan
dalam kelammalam mencari harapan

aku masih tidak bisa akur
bahawa kita telah hancur lebur
kala subuh tadi kau bertandang
syair lama lagi berdendang.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Too busy

Tonight I am the almighty. I am he who does not sleep. he that is and ought.

he that was, is and will be.

But tonight only.

Then I become human again. flawed. decaying. mistaken.

Then my feet touch the earth. soiling. toiling. feeling the sharp unfriendly grains of earth. feel the sweat and sun. on my back. on my body.

The air. is heavy to breathe. thick. sleepy.

I forget. what I was. who I could be.

Too busy. struggling to breathe. too busy.

Always too busy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

a letter to the NST editor

Dear Editor,

I note in the past that your newspaper has been absolute in its support of the Prime Minister’s call for the acceptance and practice of Islam Hadhari as a way of life. Indeed your newspaper has been a staunch propagator of Islam Hadhari as it consists of principles “that have been devised to empower Muslims to face the global challenges of today” (to cite the Prime Minister’s Office website).

Among others, the concept of Islam Hadhari, aims to achieve the followings:

· Faith and piety in Allah
· A free and independent People
· Mastery of knowledge
· A good quality of life
· Cultural and moral integrity

Your efforts in propagating Islam Hadhari must indeed be lauded. The Prime Minister has been wise to advocate this concept and I have no doubt that a civil society, progressive in its thoughts and ways of life, would be within our reach if Islam Hadhari is fully practiced. The above elements are the pillars of a good society. And I am glad that you have taken it upon yourself to promote and propagate the concept of Islam Hadhari for the betterment of all of us, Malaysians.

Thus it came as a great disappointment when I read your report titled “Illegal gathering causes traffic chaos in city” appearing in your edition on 11.11.2007.

Your report started with a thoroughly incomplete statement that “a crowd of about 4000” gathered for an illegal march close to Dataran Merdeka. It ended with a rather innocuous sounding statement that “many of the protesters, who wore yellow T-shirts and bandannas, later gathered outside Istana Negara and some opposition leaders handed over a memorandum to palace officials.”

If you maintain that the said report is accurate, I would accuse you of not being diligent! A cursory look at various websites on the internet and viewing visual reports by Aljazeera and the BBC reveal an obvious flaw in your reporting, which borders on deceit and misrepresentation of facts, in your said report. There were, as reported by alternative and foreign medias, between 30000-40000 people who took part in the so called illegal march. Photographs depicting the true number of people participating in this illegal gathering are splashed on the internet and could be seen by the whole world. I am just shocked at the lack of journalistic etiquette displayed by you concerning the report.

If the purpose of your report was to belittle the resolve of those who took part in the gathering by downplaying the size of the gathering and in the same breath hoodwinking the Malaysian public through your misrepresentation of facts and clever (not so clever, actually) painting of events, then I must say your practice as such runs absolutely repugnant to the concept of Islam Hadhari which you had, to this date, so readily embraced and propagated. I urge you to read your report again and ask yourself:

· Where is the faith and piety in Allah?
· Is your report as such conducive for the establishment of a free and independent people?
· Can knowledge be mastered by the people if you continue with such practice in the future?
· Is good quality of life attainable without a truthful and responsible mass media?
· What cultural and moral integrity are you talking about or have you redefined

In fact, your action in shaping the thoughts and perceptions of the masses through your great spinning machines is an obvious attempt to create a one dimensional society as opposed to a progressive and lively society aimed by the concept of Islam Hadhari. It has come to a stage where the mainstream views, such as yours, are the only views that matter and which are correct. Opposite views are non-mainstream and are therefore not correct and are to be disbelieved and ignored, if not despised and banished. Was it not Marcuse, in his work “One Dimensional Man”, who so correctly lamented that under the conditions of a mass society, “the multi-dimensional dynamic by which the individual attained and maintained his own balance between autonomy and heteronomy, freedom and repression, pleasure and pain, has given way to a one-dimensional static identification of the individual with the others and with the administered reality principle”? Tell me, are you trying to do that which Marcuse had foreseen? Are you propagating a just and progressive society or a society where every member of that society must identify himself with the views of others and with the administered reality?
The world is now borderless. And it is watching your folly!

Yours sincerely,
Navel Gazer

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

a festive wish from art.

We have:

a Pm who struggles to keep awake at work; who just got married and seems to be honeymooning all the bloody time; who shouts Islam Hadhari at every occassion and everywhere as if Malaysia is a the best-est most Islamic country in the whole nebula; who sits all the time on a moral highground ("we must be fair, we will be fair, we must this and that fair"); who, when confronted with an issue would say "I don't know" or "I need a report on that" or "I am establishing a 367-member committee to look into that matter"; who, after the whatever committee has finished their report and make recommendation, will refuse to follow the recommendation; who watches helplessly a damning evidence of our judiciary being desecrated without doing the right thing; a former PM who is still alive and will, hopefully live for another 100 years to see the destruction of every single fabric of our society; a Chief Justice who is so thick that he can't understand what the Common Law is so much so that he wants it to be replaced with Syariah Law; who denies that any of his judges has delayed in writing judgement when a MP shows that his fellow judge has not written judgment in 36 cases right under his (the CJ's) nose; who had to go to the scandinavian countries just to get an idea on how to buy and install some pentium 3 computers in Courts; who says it is sinful not to speak BM in courts; who doesn't even know how to deny a very serious allegation against him in public; a de-facto law minister who is so arrogant and full of shit so mush so that he made an offer of immunity to witnesses under a law which does not exist and blamed his press secretary for his mistake; bloodshed on the roads every festive season; buses and lorries plunging into ravines killing hundreds every now and then and the PM is still waiting for reports; landslide in the most modern city called Putrajaya; police force which do not have any credibility and lacking in any kind of respect from the public at large; a child being kidnapped and abused and tortured and murdered; parents who are so irresponsible and who do not appear to have an inkling on how to take care of their kids and are oblivious to the fact that they are trustees of their kids and have a duty for their safety and well beings; prices of whatever going up and up; public utilities company who announce profits in the billions but then apply to increase the price of whatever utility they are supplying; having to pay taxes while at the same time paying for whatever ameneties which are supposed to be provided by the government by virtue of the very taxes which we are paying; a society which is so obsessed with celebrities weddings and the likes, with Datukship and Tan Sri ship and Tunship; a national football teams which is run by clowns and play like clowns on crack!; a "bolehnaut" who is blasted to te space at a price of 30million USD which is equivalent to about 105 million RM which could buy about 35000 computers for the schools at 3000 RM apiece or 1310 dialysis machines at 80000 apiece or whatever; a government who is cheated to pay 30 million bucks a year for a huge ferris wheel; race and religion inter-relation which is getting worse and worse and which is threatening the very basic foundation of our multi cultural society with the government having not a clue on how to solve it; mega projects worth billions just to show that we could and have the money to buy in tonees of bricks and steel and assemble them into burlesque monuments of nothingness without having the foresight, nor the intelligence to realise that it is our values which stay stagnant and is in dire need of improvement as opposed to the physical appearance of our nation and at the end of the day a country's success is evaluated and dependent upon the ascension of its people to intellectual empowerment, freedom and emancipation; a transport system which is not working; haze all year round without any kind of effective measures taken; children as young as 12 year old running away from homes with the government and parents having absolutely no clue as to the reason let alone as to finding the proper solution; schools full of nutty teachers; universities whose election is filled with government proxies fighting against opposition proxies; people in Mercedes cars jumping ques, throwing rubbish on the roads and hogging the road; stupid malay singers who can't sing for nuts singing in public; useless and senseless reality tv shows; graduates who can;t speak English let alone having the ability to communicate properly; Islamic authorities who gate crash parties and other people's homes and rooms; so called RELA members harassing foreigners including diplomat's wife!; high profile murder cases which are investigated by idiots, prosecuted by idiots, adjudged by idiots, defended by idiots, of course reported by idiots and read by idiots!; discriminatory laws and policies which actually amount to legalised apartheids eschewing egalitarianism and so on and so forth.... in other words friends, we have no hope left!

the only bright spark in an otherwise wholly stupid year is the success of the double heart transplants of that really lovely bright and strong willed chinese girl, Tee Hui Yi by a team of malay specialists (led by a dear friend of mine, Ezani), utilising at first, a heart donated by a malay boy which almost brought some tears to my eyes. God bless you Hui Yi. May you grow up well learnt and live happily.



Friday, September 28, 2007

talkin buat M

tanah ini kontang pecah merekah
alir air dari hulu sejuk menusuk
segala rasa memakan segala bisa
kini hanya membawa dosa durja
hampas nafsu kuasa yang terleka
lekat bagai nanah kering di bawah
hangat mentari

dirampok dikoyak tanah ini rabak
anakanak bangsa berbagai rasa
dalam kancah tidak menentu
nun dipuncak menara berdiri segak
tergelak berpeluk tubuh bagai berhala suasa
mata buta dalam fikiran buntu
membawa sesat

terbaring bagai murahan
dikatil perawan rakus diterkam
diramas ganas mata terpejam
tak mampu kau menerjang
jalang yang menyerang

siapa Tuhanmu
kuasa ketuaku
siapa penghulumu
ketamakan panduanku
apa kitabmu
hati kujunjung

semadi lah kau
nesan hitam


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chapati Moments: Maya and the Fire of Love

Letchoomi and Maya are having a slight difference of opinion. The girls are at Uncle Veloo's house.
"What's wrong with Kylie Minogue? I think she is a great singer." Letchoomi insists.
"Great singer?? Great singer is someone like Placido Domingo, not some skinny runt with a silicon padded arse. Kylie is the face of Aussie culture at its naffest if at all you can say that Australia has any culture." Maya retorts.
"What about the kangaroos, koala bears and aborigines?" Letchoomi is defiant.
"Granted that kangaroos and koala bears are animals unique to Australia but this does not form part of their culture! As for their aborigines, they've exterminated most of them except for a token few whom they ensure are kept perpetually drunk to prevent them from claiming their rights." says Maya.
"I see its Anti Australia day ..." drawls Sosya as she strolls in to join her friends who are sprawled out in Auntie Roopah's sitting room. "So what has brought on this sudden hostility towards Australia? Could it have something to do with the Italian chef?"
"He has an Aussie wife" mutters Maya into her cuppa Massala tea.
"Ooh .... the bell ringeth... so what does this cow look like?" Letchoomi asks.

"Like any Holstein Friesian. Oh no, more like a Holstein/Jersey cross" says Maya.

"So what would you like us to do? Chop her up and serve her as a vindaloo dish?" asks Sosya trying to be helpful.

"God no! We'd be having vindaloo Fresian/Jersey for the next 5 years!" exclaims Maya.

"I take it she is a trifle rotund?" enquired Sosya.

"She has a sizeable rump and is not terribly prepossessing. Lets just say she has seen better days" says Maya uncharitably.

"Ohoo! The cat is really out to play here ... meowww Maya! Don't forget that you're not exactly unattached yourself." Sosya states the obvious.

"Androo is hardly an impediment." Maya retorts.

"So how is the Fresian cow an impediment?" asks the practical Soysa.

"She's here for a visit and she might stay on. And they are Catholics." Maya explains.

"He is Italian dahling ... of course he is Catholic. What has his religion got to do with anything? I thought the cross he wore, dangling from his neck, resting on his bed of hairy chest clearly advertised his religion to all and sundry. Why is this now a problem?" asked the worldly wise Sosya, the author of 'How to Fuck a Man and Forget him After he Pays'.

Maya remained silent, struggling with her emotions. Letchoomi, the diehard Kylie fan, has a stroke of genius "Ah, I see someone has fallen in love!"

Maya glares at her whilst Sosya pats Letchoomi on the head "Really dahling.... who?" She then turns her Sophia Loren act on Maya "Dahling ... love them and leave them - don't fall in love with them! At least not for free anyway... You are such a pathetic excuse for a mistress. Here is a rich Italian chef and you don't get even a bracelet for your troubles."

Letchoomi chips in "I think she gets free fettucini from him." Maya is indignant "I pay for my own food! I have my own money. I don't need any money from him."

" Dahling...." Sosya drawls in her afffected Hollywood movie star accent "women don't take money from men because they need it - they take money from men because they deserve it. If they need money, they would get a job." Letchoomi and Maya ponder on this pearl of wisdom for a few seconds. Letchoomi in her little girl naivety breaks the contemplative mood with an irreverent remark "At least she gets to taste his Italian salami." Sosya looks exasperated "There is no point tasting something which you don't get to chew on and digest!"

"Ahhh you girls!" Auntie Roopah bursts in "always talking about food - I wonder how you stay so slim when you are so obsessed with food. Why don't you go hang out at your Uncle Veloo's restaurant. There is plenty of food there." Auntie Roopah wants the girls out of the way so that she can be alone with her very own Mandingo - her manservant from Chagos Island.

Enter the Chagossian lad with pail and mop in hand. He is wearing a white tshirt which seems a tad too small for him - stretched to its maximum capacity across his chest and biceps. So tight you could see the outline of his nipples. The tshirt stops short above his waist revealing his taut washboard stomach. The apparel covering his lower half is equally tantalising. He is wearing track bottoms which is disconcertingly too small for him. It rides up and tucks itself snugly into the crack of his bum as he carries out his chores, oblivious to the effect he is having on the four women in the room. The women stare at his deletable taut derriere. "That's the choicest rump I've ever set eyes on ..." whispers Letchoomi to Sosya.

The young lad turns around to ask Auntie Roopah something about the Dettol. The women let out a gasp in unison. The clingy material seems glued onto his lower half, leaving nothing to the imagination. Auntie Roopah felt her throat go dry and dashed out of the room before she passed out. Uncatholic thoughts floating through her mind. She felt as though she has struck a gold mine. The other 3 women remain rooted to their seats, not daring to blink in case they missed something - anything. Sosya hands a hankie over to Letchoomi "You are frothing at the mouth, dahling. Best clean it up before he thinks you have mad cow disease."

"I think those are Androo's old clothes he is wearing" whispers Maya.

"Androo should give all his clothes to this fella. It looks much better on him" Letchoomi whispers, gasping for breath. Sosya asks him where he's from. But no one is looking at his face when he answers. They are mesmerised by the cluster of dark curly wurly hair gathered just above the elastic band holding up his track bottoms. Sweat is trickling down his dark torso, past his belly button, getting trapped in the little cluster of hair but persisting on, disappearing underneath the elastic band ... heading for his crotch ... they imagine. A sigh escapes all 3 of them. Maya's obsession with the Italian is momentarily forgotten as she asks him "Where is Chagos Islands?" "It is near Mauritius" he answers.

Sosya asks him what its like there - is it like, Hawaii? The girls are just shooting questions at him, feigning a sudden interest in geography to prevent him from turning around to continue with his chores. Not that his rear view is less stimulating but full frontal is certainly a sight to behold. Men who have been confronted by a formidable pair of boobs will be able to understand how these 3 women feel at the moment. "Perhaps we can go there for a holiday" Letchoomi says hopefully. If all their men look like this, she's taking the next flight there.

"You cannot go to Chagos Islands for a holiday, the Americans have taken over our homeland. It is now called Diego Garcia. They have set up a military airbase there. Our people have been cruelly ousted from our beloved homeland."

[the American Airbase in Diego Garcia]

"Oh these Americans!" says Letchoomi in a fit of disgust" they are always destroying other people's homeland and ruining their lives..." Sosya and Maya listen with interest at Letchoomi's virginal foray into political discourse until she continues with "just the other week they opened a MacDonald's next to Uncle Veloo's restaurant and the smell of fried beef is making us feel sick ....."

The Chagossian lad nods his head in sympathy though not quite grasping the similarity between being tossed out of one's homeland and having a MacDonald's open up next door to one's restaurant. One can only appreciate her comments if one lived or worked next door to a MacDonald's joint. I have to call it a joint for lack of a better word. It is definitely not a restaurant. In fact, to call any place an "American restaurant" would be an abuse of the word "restaurant". An American joint is more appropriate. It is not difficult to spot an American joint. All the dishes on the menu are served with potato chips or fries, as they call it. They are the only people who get their verbs and nouns mixed up. Google is now a verb.

The girls' choice rump steak is called away by Auntie Roopah who urgently needs him to clean the bathroom upstairs. Sigh.

The girls continue with their earlier discussion on Maya's plight. Maya opens up to her friends on her feelings towards the Italian. What started as intense physical chemistry between them has turned into something much deeper than Maya felt capable of experiencing. What does one do when one realises that one has found one's soulmate and neither has the freedom to indulge in each other's company as and when they please? Fleeting meetings for a sexual tryst is all very exciting if and only if the relationship is purely physical in nature. But when one has fallen deeply in love, the sexual aspects of the relationship takes second place to the simple act of basking in each other's company, enjoying an intimacy which may not even entail sexual activity.

The heart has a mind of its own, independent of one's thought processes. The Sufis say that what you feel in your heart is God's way of communicating with you.

The heart is where man's connection with the Divine lies. When man ignores his soul's desires and he lives solely through his head, his intellect and his physical being, he does not truly live. Because to ignore one's soul is to ignore one's very reason for being. But there are many who live this way. Many who think that intellectual superiority is an achievement. That a life dedicated to intellectual enlightenment is much better than a path dedicated to spiritual elevation. Oh what folly. Humans fall for the trap they set themselves. Whether they bask in intellectual glory or swim in an abundance of spiritual enlightenment, they have fallen into a deep hole filled with self glorification. A hole which they have dug up themselves.

For life, my friends, is quite difficult for most of us, too complex for the complex mind but yet it is so extremely simple it defies reason. Love is the key to everything. I know the word Love has been much abused, maligned beyond recognition, commercialised to the extreme, bandied about by careless utterances of "I love you" by people who have no idea what "to love" means. Only one love is true - that is unconditional love. That is the love that God shows us. There are many who argue that God loves us with conditions:-

* that we are faithful to Him;

*that we pray 5 times a day;

*fast during Ramadan;

*go to Church regularly;

*slaughter cows;

*don't slaughter cows; etc.

Why do we place these human thoughts onto God and attribute human feelings onto Him? Is it because we cannot understand Him, grasp even the concept of God, unless he is similar to us? Human. Should it not be us who should strive to be more like Him? And that is why I say that the closest thing you can experience with the Divine is through unconditional love.

Unconditional love does not mean self sacrificing, abuse-me-all-you-want kind of love. It is a strong love. A brave and courageous love which says:

I love you - as you are. You don't have to love me back. And I love you enough not to let you abuse me.

You are only capable of achieving this kind of love if you love yourself. So that is why we love falling in love. That feeling of euphoria, the breathlessness, the whole magical experience that makes one feel special. But then suddenly you find yourself tortured, all your insecurities raise their ugly heads, surfacing at this inconvenient time, exposing your flaws to your loved one. Will he still love me once he sees me like this? Once he knows me as the person I really am? Warts et al.

Do we show our ugly side just to test the other's love or does it surface in order to allow the love you feel for each other to heal them? It is a mixture of both. The love you feel makes you more confident to allow the "ugly" side of you to surface as you trust the other person to love you no matter what. Unfortunately this is the time and part where it gets too hard for both parties to continue on. The euphoria is gone. There is an element of unpleasantness. Hard issues to deal with. All is not honky dory. It feels like hard work. Those afraid to carry on are afraid of deeper feelings. Its too scary for them. Uncharted territory. Dare they venture into the dark beyond? Where will it lead them? Are they strong enough to survive this journey? Together? Will they still be together at the end of the journey?

Well let me tell you this. Your soul made you fall in love. You, the physical and thinking side of you, enjoy these feelings up to a point. Its like a drug that makes you happy - until... it starts making you miserable and you decide to amputate your feelings like a gangrenous limb and cut the source out of your life. And this is where you fail to listen to your soul... You go on seeking the initial euphoria of falling in love, not understanding that the feeling will not last - it is whimsical and fleeting, its purpose is just to attract you and lead you to real love - the love which will lead you to Divine Being. That, one day you will wake up and realise you cannot even remember the name of the person you so obsessed over when you realise whom your soul was really seaching for. A return to Divine Being.

So do not be fooled by this intoxicating spell of being in love. It is God's way of attracting your attention, lulling you with the ebbs and flow of the tides of Love, then thrashing you against the rocks till your bones have splintered to many thousand pieces and your flesh has smashed to pulp ... and all that remains is your stubborn heart, still beating, lying on the rocks, unrestrained by the complicated web of your thoughts and unshackled from the chains of your intellect.

That, my friends, is how you will feel, at the end of this journey. You, the physical self, would have died, before the hour of your death is due, and all that remains is your soul, shining in its true beauty. By then it does not matter if your are still together with the initial object of your desires, of your love. You understand that what is most important is the Journey. And that you fell in love with Love in the first place.

So our dear Maya, finds herself now, in the first throes of passion, staring at love. Paralysed by her fears. The fear of darkness. And how can you understand light, if your haven't journeyed through darkness? All your preconceived values, morals come into play. Adultery, fornication, how can such a union be blessed? How can something impure lead to the pure? Marriage is sacred - so how can breaking your marital vows lead to Divine Revelation?

You can argue with me till your face turns blue. And I will say to you - the only union that is sacred is your union with God. You belong to no one and no one belongs to you. The only unfaithfulness is your unfaithfulness to God. And your only binding vows are to Him, your Creator. There are no conditions attached to His Love for you. There are no obligations attached to Divine Love. We have created all this to measure our worthiness and yet God measures not our love. God loves us is the only true statement. We love Him may not be a true statement as we may not have the capacity nor have we evolved enough to have the true knowledge and understanding of how to love Him. Those who say they love God have made an untrue and arrogant claim. Only God knows, who truly loves Him. It is in His Mercy that He allows us to experience this state of being. The state of being in love with each other. The state of loving each other.

And so, our Maya is caught in a dilemma many of us have been through. The thrill of falling in love, the anguish of loving a person you cannot have, the pain of acknowledging to yourself that you love this person and the fear that you may never feel this way about another person again ... that one day, because of this fear, you will settle for something less. Something and someone who will not make you feel like you are being thrashed mercilessly by powerful, angry waves of love against jagged rocks. One day you will settle for less. Maybe that is why people call it "settling down". What they mean is that you have settled for less.

And Maya is awakened to this fact. As she speaks to her friends she is realising the folly of her life and her present existence. Blighted by her bad choice of husband. Granted that Androo was her parents' choice but she allowed it to become her choice too by not raising any strong objections. Today she realises that her life is tainted by self deceit - a heinous crime we all commit unto ourselves, and that she must choose between a shattering admission of failure or a lifetime spent in self deceit, staying married for the tawdry sake of keeping up appearances. Our choices are normally made on what is most convenient for us. That is why we prefer to coninue living our desperate lives in self deceit, fearing the unknown, afraid to follow our treacherous heart which refuses to be tamed into quiet submission. We would rather walk around like the living dead than face the ensuing cacophony of making a decision based on the heart. That is why we say "rational thought" and describe feelings of the heart as "irrational". We have conditioned ourselves to trust our intellect over our heart. Following our heart gets us hurt, listening to our thoughts keeps us safe.

So how would you want me to continue with Maya's tale? Maya is a woman .. so... of course, she is irrational and follows her heart! Ahh, another stereotype. But Maya is not like other women. And neither is Sosya. Sosya operates mainly on her survival instincts. Her heart has long been ignored and silenced. The door to her heart locked but the keys may not necessarily have been thrown away. But another day on Sosya.

**Author's note: For those expecting the usual concoction of sex, violence, perversion and political angst, I am sorry to disappoint you. This is the holy month of Ramadan. This is my way of fasting. Note, the first few paragraphs on the Chagossian lad were written before Ramadan. Then I was rudely interrupted by a lot of work and continued the story much later on. By the way, anyone who has read this and think I am encouraging people to commit adultery or to disrespect the sanctity of marriage, has really missed the point. The fact that you have to use your willpower to remain faithful to your life chosen partner shows that you have lost it ie the sacredness of your union. Salaams, Shalom, Peace, Namaste my friends.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Shine On, You Crazy Diamond

Johnny died one night, died in his bed
Bottle of whiskey sleeping tablets by his head
Johnny's life passed him by like a warm summer's day
If you listen to the wind you can hear him play
Don't you know, don't you know

Dont ya know
Dont ya know that you are a shooting star

Shooting Star: Bad Company

Rock and roll’s folklores are filled with tales of fame, fortune, excesses of life and the attendant self indulgent, which ultimately would culminate in self-destruction to those unlucky few, the “shooting stars”. “Johnny” was, and indeed, is a common name. Nobody knows exactly who “Johnny” was in the above song. But Jimmy Hendrix was born Johnny Allan Hendrix, and he did die in his sleep after taking alcohol with sleeping pills called Vesperax (or was it Asperax? – I am not too sure) causing him to choke on his own vomit. The period within which the song was written by Paul Rodgers also coincides with the death of Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Paul Kossoff (Paul Rodger’s guitarist in the group “Free”), Jim Morrison (The Doors) and John Bonham (Led Zeppelin). The song could thus be about rock and roll’s “shooting stars” generally. Those stars which would shine so bright, lit the night with such illuminating colours and lights, which would later dive into self destruction accompanied by a blazing trail of fire leaving behind a world awestruck by their genius and musical passion. Yes. Rock and roll’s folklores are filled with their tales.

Non however, would be sadder, more dramatic and more tragic than that of the “Crazy Diamond”.

“Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there's a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
You were caught on the cross fire of childhood and stardom,
blown on the steel breeze.
Come on you target for faraway laughter, come on you stranger,
you legend, you martyr, and shine!

You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Threatened by shadows at night, and exposed in the light.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Well you wore out your welcome with random precision,
rode on the steel breeze.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter,
you piper, you prisoner, and shine!”

Shine On You Crazy Diamond(part 1): Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd was a little band with an identity crisis – having changed its name 5 times in one year – when Syd Barett joined them in 1965. Barett himself was born Roger Keith Barett and had adopted the name “Syd” after a local Cambridge drummer, Sid Barett. It was therefore only natural that the Cambridge University art student would change the name of the band he joined, “The Tea Set”, to “The Pink Floyd Sound”, by marrying the first name of two obscure bluesmen , Pink Anderson and Floyd Council. The band would later ditch the long version of their name for the now famous “Pink Floyd”. (And thank God for the name changes as I could not imagine an album as great as “The Wall” or “Dark Side Of The Moon” being released by a band called “The Tea Set”! – for that matter alone, I am indebted to Syd Barett!).

Nothing was amiss during his childhood as his pathologist (some say his father was a zoologist) father, Arthur Max Barett and his mother, Winifred, encouraged the young Roger to be active in music. He took up instruments such as a banjo, later played bass and ultimately settled for a guitar while delving into old blues and jazz. At the age of 14, he opted for the name “Syd” and from then on, rock and roll history book was to be written with a chapter named after Syd Barett with a cross reference to Pink Floyd.

Pink Floyd was a little band but by no means it was a struggling one. It was already playing numerous gigs or live performances with a cultish followings of its brand of psychedelic rock and the then underground progressive rock. Incorporated in its set would be psychedelic light shows and a long improvised version of songs such as “Interstellar Overdrive” which apparently would go on for half an hour in an LSD-fuelled jams. Pink Floyd’s place in the swinging London era was then well carved. The only thing that was wanting was an album.

The arrival of Syd Barett as lead guitarist, partnering his old pal, Roger Waters, the bassist, together with Nick Mason on drums and keyboardist Rick Wright ensured that a place in rock and roll super stardom would be reserved for Pink Floyd. Coinciding with his arrival, Pink Floyd would a little later engage a reliable management team consisting of Andrew King and Peter Jenner, who in turn befriended Joe Boyd, an American who was building a name in the British music scene for himself. Boyd produced a recording for Pink Floyd in January 1967 during which session Syd Barett’s “Arnold Layne” was recorded as a demo single. This single was later released and peaked at number 20 on the chart. Consider the lyrical simplicity and spontaneity of Barett’s lyric:

“Arnold Layne had a strange hobby
Collecting clothes
Moonshine washing line
They suit him fine

On the wall hung a tall mirror
Distorted view, see through baby blue
He dug it
Oh, Arnold Layne
It's not the same, takes two to know
Two to know, two to know, two to know
Why can't you see?

Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne

Now he's caught - a nasty sort of person.
They gave him time
Doors bang - chain gang - he hates it

Oh, Arnold Layne
It's not the same, takes two to know
two to know, two to know, two to know,
Why can't you see?

Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne, Arnold Layne
Don't do it again”

Arnold Layne: Syd Barett/Pink Floyd

Apparently, Arnold Layne was about a guy who used to steal underwear from Waters’ mom’s clotheslines. BBC would, upon its release, ban the song for its cross-dressing and transvestism themes. Be that as it may, Barett’s psychedelic work caught the attention of the fickle British music fans who was then accustomed to The Beattles, The Yardbirds et al. Pink Floyd’s music was driven by Barett’s improvised and free style guitar techniques coupled with a tight, and yet to a certain extent, indulgent, rhythm section anchored by Mason’s drumming and Water’s mastery of the bass. Rick Wright, on the other hand, would give an extra dimension to the band’s work on the keyboard.

Barett was an instant hit. He was technically gifted and added to that, he was an experimentalist. He loved exploring the sonic capabilities and possibilities of his guitar. One of his trademark was of course his mirror covered Telecaster Esquire, wired to a distortion and echo box, played by Barett by sliding his Zippo lighter on the fret board creating a rather mysterious and chilling out-of-this-world sound. He was, not unlike Jimmy Hendrix, a showman, ever ready to take centre stage in term of stage performances or creative inputs that one wonders what would have happened between him and the mega-egoistical Roger Waters had he not left, or rather been dumped from Pink Floyd. History would later show that Waters single-handedly destroy the balance of the band by demanding control of creative inputs and directions culminating in an acrimonious break-up.

Barett followed up the success of Arnold Layne with another single, “See Emily Play” which peaked at number 6 on the chart. Barret initially claimed that Emily was a girl he saw when he was hallucinating after a drug binge but he later admitted that he made up that story as a publicity stunt. Be that as it may, he might as well have written the song for himself, considering the theme of the song:

“Emily tries but misunderstands, ah ooh
She often inclined to borrow somebody's dreams till tomorrow
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play

Soon after dark Emily cries, ah ooh
Gazing through trees in sorrow hardly a sound till tomorrow

There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play

Put on a gown that touches the ground, ah ooh
Float on a river forever and ever, Emily
There is no other day
Let's try it another way
You'll lose your mind and play
Free games for may
See Emily play”

See Emily Play : Syd Barett

It was reflective, to a certain extent. God knows whether Barett was feeling the pressure of rock stardom at the time the song was written. But the theme of a girl, who tried so hard to understand the world while being isolated, depressed and sad was, in retrospect, resonant of a lonely and hard life, despite fame and fortune. Put on a gown that touches the ground/float on a river forever and ever…how hopeless can one be?

The single Apple and Oranges followed soon after, also with a degree of success. Pink Floyd was by then a force to be reckoned with. It was perhaps inevitable that a full debut album was to be released, with Barett as a creative pillar behind it. The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was recorded between January-July 1967 at Abbey Road with Barett penning 9 of the songs and co-writing another 2 out of the 11 songs in it. It was an instant hit with the album hitting number 6 on the UK chart although a much limited success was achieved in the US. Nevertheless, Pink Floyd was by now developing a large following and was deeply entrenched in the psychedelic and progressive rock world. And the pressure was just building up for Barett.

In fact Barett was already displaying a certain degree of, what was then thought as, eccentricity while The Piper was being recorded. Barett was then known to be heavily on dope, acid , Mandax (or Mandies, as known to junkies those days, a hypnotic tranquillisers) and of course psychedelic drugs such as LSDs coupled with alcohol. There were in fact allegations that he was being “fed” with drugs although David Gilmour, who would later replace him in Pink Floyd, said that Barett would not need any encouraging if drugs were available to him. Sue Kingsford, Barett’s one time one-night stand once said, “We were all feeding it (drugs) to each other. It was a crazy time”.

David Gilmour would later recount how he had met Barett while “Emily” was being recorded. Syd didn't seem to recognise me and he just stared back,' he says. 'He was a different person from the one I'd last seen in October.' Was he on drugs, though? 'I'd done plenty of acid and dope - often with Syd - and that was different from how he had become.'

Whatever it was that Barett was taking, or suffering, the effects were soon beginning to manifest itself on and off stage. Barett would increasingly hate to perform “Emily” and “Arnold” as he did not want to be stuck with the standard 3 minute something “pop” song. During live performances, he would, in a middle of a set or song, suddenly detune his guitar until the strings were flapping and he then hit a note and held that note all night with the echo-machine at full steam! He would, some other time, just stand on stage with his hands by his side, the guitar hanging from his neck, staring blankly at nothing while his band mates played on. Perhaps he was exploring his artistic boundaries. The crowd loved his antics. Or perhaps he was sick. Plain sick.

After the release of “The Piper” in August 1967, Pink Floyd was on a mini US tour in November. And things could not get any worse. The band was not really prepared for the US tour in the sense that it was expecting things to be the same with England. They found out that they had to play at big venues supporting bands such as Holding Company (led by non other than Janis Joplin). They found out that Americans were not really into feedbacks or English psychedelia. Barett would still hit just one note per night or just standing without doing anything at all. When he played, it would be a different tune altogether.

Back in the studio, Barett would turn up one day with a nice new composition titled “Have You Got It, Yet?” for the band to practise. According to Waters, the band thought the composition was quite nice and they set to practise it only for Barett to change the arrangement in the middle of the practice. While practising the newly altered version, Barett would again arbitrarily change the arrangement again and he would the same repeatedly while asking the band “have you got it, yet?” It was only then the band realised that Barett was being cute and stopped practising the song!

It was in the US that the famous Brylcream incident happened. Apparently, Barett had had his hair permed at Vidal Sassoon. And badly too. He hated it. He thought that the “punk” style he had been experimenting with suited him better. And so, he poured a whole tin of Brylcream onto his head in the dressing room. He then crushed a handful of Mandrax and put it onto his hair. David Gilmour however suggested that Barett would not have wasted any “Mandies” but apparently the Mandax addition was confirmed by a lighting man. He then rushed onto the stage and under the heat of all the lightings, the Brylcream melted and ran down his face, making him look like a “gutted candle”! Looking at him as if he was decomposing on stage, with the crowd screaming, apparently enjoying his antics, some of the band and crew apparently abandoned the place for drinks. Later, arriving from San Francisco at Las Vegas, Barett would forget to bring his guitars, fall into a swimming pool and left his wet clothes behind.

Coming back to England, the band was supposed to play with the likes of Hendrix for 3 weeks. Barett could not perform and he had to be stopped from running away on a train. The band struggled along with a borrowed guitarist from another band. It was at this time that Messrs Waters, Mason and Wright hatched a plan. They were to ask Gilmour, a long time pal of Waters and Barett, all form Cambridge, to stand in for Barett. Gilmour was known to be an excellent guitarist and being broke and was driving a van for a living, he accepted a try out. On stage, Gilmour would play and Barett would just walked around or pretended to play. There was no input whatsoever from Barett. On the way to their gig one night, they decided not to pick Barett up. And Gilmour had, on that night, effectively replaced Barett. Barett’s days, as a co-founder of Pink Floyd, and the creative pillars behind the band, were effectively, though not officially, ended that night.

Gilmour thereafter replaced Barett as lead guitarist of Pink Floyd. Barett was obviously hurt by this turn of event. He would turn out at the band’s gigs and sat in front while staring at Gilmour. The band later recorded a second album titled A Saucerful of Secrets in 1968 which included Barett’s Jugband Blues. During the recording, Barett would sometime wait outside the studio to be invited to play. He however was resigned to the fact that he was no longer wanted. In Jugband Blues, he wrote, "It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here/And I'm most obliged to you for making it clear/that I'm not here", as the song opens.

In March 1968, it was officially announced that Barett was no longer a member of Pink Floyd.

By autumn of 1968, homeless and probably broke too, Barett would sometime go back to his mother’s house in Cambridge. When in London, he would crash at his friends’ flat, sometimes with disastrous result. After leaving, or was left out of Pink Floyd, Barett recorded 2 solo albums, “The Madcap Laughs” and “Barett”. He did perform live once with David Gilomour, among others, accompanying him on the bass. It was in 1970 at Olympia Exhibition Hall where they played 4 songs. Due to poor mixing, the vocals were inaudible and at the end of the 4th song, Barett politely put down his guitar and walked off stage.

He later formed a band called “Stars” but it was short-lived. He went back to Win’s house in Cambridge in 1981 and his mother managed to persuade some of her wealthy friends to take Barett as a gardener. He did become a gardener but during a thunderstorm, he threw down his tools and quit. He came back to London briefly before going back (walking all the way to Cambridge!) to Win’s house in 1982 where he led a reclusive life and was almost not seen again, ever again, by the public. His sister, Rosemary, became his only contact with the outside world. That year too, he reverted to his original name “Roger” and would refuse to “talk about Syd”.

The heart wrenching drama of Syd Barett however unfolded in 1975, when Pink Floyd was recording the album “Wish You Were Here” which contains among others, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (part 1 and 2). Shine On you Crazy Diamond was a tribute to Syd Barett by the band, which had never managed to banish its memory of Barett’s contributions and influences to the band. While recording the song, a plump bald man walked into the studio and sat down. Nobody knew who he was. He had shaven all his hair off, including his eyebrows and he would jump up and down of the sofa while brushing his teeth all the time. When the band members found that the guy was actually Barett, Waters shed some tears. It was as if by design, that Barett would appear in that state while the band was recording “Shine On You Crazy Diamond”, a tribute to him. Years later, in 1986, when Pink Floyd released a movie version of the album “The Wall”, there would be a scene where Pink, the lead character in that movie (played by Bob Geldof) was shown completely shaven, including his eyebrows. That scene was inspired by Syd Barett’s visit to the studio in 1975.

Barett continued to receive some royalties for his works with Pink Floyd which Dave Gilmour would ensure get to him. He later was diagnosed with ulcers and type 2 diabetes. He was in and out of hospitals for his ulcers. When Win died in 1991, he destroyed and burnt all his diaries and art books. He painted, collected coins and cooked. He died of pancreatic cancer and complications of diabetes on July 7th 2006 leaving an estate of 1.2 million pound will-ed to his 2 brothers and 2 sisters.

As it turned out, he suffered from schizophrenia. All the drugs and alcohol had just exacerbated his conditions leading to his apparent psychotic behaviour on and off the stage.

Roger Keith “Syd” Barett. The Crazy Diamond. Shine on. For your days passed you by like a warm summer’s day. And if we listen to the wind, we would still hear you play.

May God bless your soul. And may you rest in peace.

Note: The 1st photo is of a young Barett. Wonder whether the black Telecaster is the famous guitar which would later be covered with mirrors. The 2nd picture is the house in which Barett lived till his death in 2006. It was taken after his death. It was later sold for 120000 pound to a French couple who apparently did not have a clue of who Barett was and the significance of the house.

The Guardian
The Syd Barett Appreciation Society
and all the footnotes in the various articles published in the above sites.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bleary Dawn

July 2007
Towards Bukit Damansara Toll
North-South Highway

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Road Works

We were very happy when the Public Works Department decided to repair the main road that led to our kampung. It was a withered stretch of road frequently used by lorries, massive trailers carrying construction vehicles and tractors and many cars because one could avoid the North-South Highway without much penalty in terms of distance, time or cost. Some used it to bypass the North-South Highway when traffic got too heavy and when there was jam at the tolls. Some used it to save cost, especially the lorries and the trailers. And because there were still kampung houses on both sides of the road, it was not uncommon to see old men or young student girls riding bicycles on them sometiems even beneath the blazing afternoon sun.

Early Monday morning, a team of constructions workers cordoned off a stretch of one side of the road with an unbroken line of orange traffic cones with a white stripe that ringed the top part of the cone. They spent the day digging up the surface of the road, exposing the concrete foundation beneath, until the day grew dark. When night fell they tarred and steam rolled the road completing one side of the road.

Early the next day, they proceeded do the precisely the same thing they did the day before but for the other side of the road.

On Wednesday, both sides of the road were complete. The road looked so new, its black was almost lustrous like the deepest and darkest night made luminous by the fullness of the moon. The cars, lorries, motorcycles and bicycles looked almost happy to be treading the freshly tarred road. Next to the road was a white wooden board which read: 'Satu lagi projek pembangunan di bawah kerajaan Barisan Nasional bagi manfaat rakyat.' Though the day was bright and hot, there was a torrential downpour in the evening that lasted until the wee hours of

Thursday morning which saw the sides of the road starting to fray. Bits of loose tar had managed to break free and were stumbling their way down the sides. Some areas of the road had little indentations which made the rides more bumpy.

In the late morning of Friday, another team of constructions workers arrived at the stretch of road. They looked quite different from the ones that came on Monday and Tuesday. Nobody seemed to know quite who they were, but they brought many pipes. They started to dig up about 200 meters of one side of the road. After they had completed their trenching which was carried out in the middle, they proceeded to lay the pipes into the trench. They worked late into the night and until the early hours of the morning to re-tar the road they had dug up.

On Saturday morning, it was clear that the night had perhaps impeded their ability to resurface the road properly. A large keloid ran along the part of the road they had dug up. The passengers in the cars who went over the dug up portion of the road fast could be seen to be bouncing in their seats. The lorries and trailers rumbled more noisily and clumsily too. By the evening, one could see shallow holes appearing on both sides of the stretch of road.

It rained on Sunday morning which lasted until late in the afternoon. The holes that were shallow the night before grew deeper and fiercer with its jagged and crumbling edges. Its depths could not be told with the brown water filling them. The fraying edges of the road now reached a stage of deterioration where the sides now dipped at a severe angle. Vehicles now had to avoid certain portions of the road and hit the dirt shoulder tracks at the side.

When I went out to look at the road the next day, it looked not very different than how it did the week before. Only the tar looked a little darker than it did previously.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Road Block

Inspector Kareem stored the last of the orange traffic cones into the back of the pick-up truck which was entirely a deep pensive blue except for the white coloured insignia of the RMPF which sat squarely in the middle of the door on both sides.
Man (pronounced 'Ma'-n), he called out to his partner, Inspector Azmanin. What's the time?
It's seven sixteen, replied Man. How did we do?
Kareem turned to Man and gave him a broad smile. He made the 'good' sign with his right hand for emphasis.
Haha! That's good. Number Three will be happy. It should more than cover dinner, said Man then continued excitedly, which means we have extra left over for after dinner! So how much did we score?
About eighteen thousand.
Wow. That was pretty fast for four hours.
One of the best. It's like real estate. Location, location, location.
They both got in the car. Kareem took the wheel.
So where's dinner supposed to be anyway? asked Kareem as he started the car and pulled it away from the curb.
We're going to some fancy Thai restaurant in Puchong. I forgot the name of it. But I think I know where it is, replied Man. There's a pretty good karaoke joint in that area also. With this kind of haul, we'll sure go after dinner.
Just then a loud searing guitar riff tore through the car.
Your volume is so loud! shouted Kareem over the high wall of sound.
Man silenced it with a press and lifted the phone to his ear.
Dato'. We are on the way. Yes. We did quite well tonight. We... we. Eighteen. Thank you, Dato'. Thank you but it was a team effort Dato'. Yes. I know the way there. Yes, I do. Oh, of course Dato'. Yes, I have the number. Don't worry. I will sort it out, said Man finally before he put away his phone in the compartment in the dashboard of his car.
That was Number Three. I'm making the booking for the karaoke! Told you that would happen, said Man proudly.
One thing good about this Number Three is he is more generous. Especially compared to the last one. At least this one shares with all of us. Don't eat all for himself, Kareem replied.
Yup. Guess we're lucky for now, said Man.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Telekom can thank my arse

It was reported in the newspapers today that Menara TM was going to be transformed into an inspirational wall. We are told that in order to do this, Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) will use 28 large format projectors and beam images between 8pm and midnight. Those images will comprise of the country's 5 Prime Ministers, 'unsung heroes' and 'ordinary Malaysians'. As if all this were not enough, 'inspiring messages to people who have contributed to the nation' will also be shone onto the wall of inspiration. Datuk Abdul Wahid Omar, the TM Group Chief Executive, explained this complete and utter waste of money, 'This initiative is aimed at fostering a sense of nationhood as well as to show gratitude to all Malaysians who have helped to build a beautiful nation.' It is not quite clear what psychological, sociological or even economic study they relied on in coming to the conclusion that beaming images of those people would result in 'fostering a sense of nationhood' much less how spending obscene amounts of money in that manner would 'show gratitude to all Malaysians...' Tell you what Datuk Abdul Wahid, why don't you show your gratitude by making sure we get our money's worth for that sham broadband package called 'Streamyx' that TM is offering instead of spending all that money on advertising and initiatives like this?

But it's so exciting to hear that TM has kicked off 'TM Merdeka Millionaire', 'the reward programme where a lucky customer could walk away with RM 1 million in cash.' I mean celebrate our country's 50th year from the colonial yoke and you could win RM 1 million in cash. I'm not quite sure how this programme has any relation to Merdeka aside from the fact that the word Merdeka is used in this programme which reinforces the mentality here that to make your fortune is a matter of plain stupid luck, but like we like to say, 'Malaysia boleh!'

As if that were not enough, TM is also publishing a commemorative book reflecting its proud history of growth and achievements as a government linked company. Wow. Just what we needed (like a sodomy without the lube)! And the fun doesn't stop there. They're going to give away national flags at TM Points for free! It's so inspiring how TM values the symbol of the flag that they make cheap replicas and give them freely to anyone who wanted one. If that is not the symbol of corporate patriotism, I don't know what is (and to be honest, wouldn't want to know either).

All this is to fit into the theme for TM's Merdeka celebrations this year which is 'Thanking Malaysians.' And TM should not just be thanking us, they should be licking our arses. Check out these numbers from Datamonitor: "The group recorded revenues of MYR16,399.2 million (approximately $4,648.5 million) during the fiscal year ended December 2006, an increase of 17.6% over 2005. The operating profit of the group was MYR3,490.6 million (approximately $989.4 million) during fiscal year 2006, an increase of 97.3% over 2005. The net profit was MYR2,302.3 million (approximately $652.6 million) in fiscal year 2006, as compared to net profit of MYR855.5 (approximately $242.5 million) in 2005."

TM made an operating profit of almost RM 3.5 billion which is an increase of 97.3% over their operating profit for the year ending 2005. And you can bet your shitty streamyx connection that all those events are going to be organized by a bunch of cronies and people/companies with vested interests. If TM really wanted to thank Malaysians then (i) make less profit of us you bastards (ii) constantly improve and maintain your service and (iii) don't waste money like you are on these Merdeka celebrations because you are a corporate entity, not a goddamned individual and were not even around during Merdeka.

TM is not celebrating Merdeka. It's cheapened it by making it an excuse to pour astounding sums of money to no good purpose, meaning or significance.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Oh why were you born so beautiful.....?

Crap! Bloody and utter crap!

20 people died when an express bus dived into a ravine, the bus having no permit to ply the relevant route, being 20 years old, the driver having 13 traffic summonses and 2 warrant of arrest, the aged chassis was evident when the roof was wholly severed from the main chassis and what did our government do? The PM was quoted as saying something to this effect, " I am sorry to hear about the loss of lives and I hope something would be done to ensure that this will not happen again!" You are sorry Pak Lah? And you hope something will be done to ensure that it will not happen again? Excuse me! Haven't I heard that before? That's it? Nobody is fired? First of all, how about firing the Minister of Transport? Or at the bloody least, fuck him in public? Reprimand him for a job NOT fucking done! How many times have this happened? Tell me please. Because I have lost count. Drunken driver. Sleepy driver. Stoned driver. Old vehicle. Buses in bad shape. No permit.

Every time it happens, the authorities will come up with steps to improve things. Like "drivers will be asked to take refresher courses". And there must be 2 drivers. And one driver can only drive for not more than 8 hours. Now they want to make CEO of transport companies personally liable and guilty of an offence too. And suddenly, there must be some compliance with some European standard! Haven't we all fucking heard it before?

And what the blinking fuck was the police doing? And RIMV too? Busy catching people with tinted windows huh? 13 traffic summonses and 2 warrant of arrest and the driver was happily driving a bus loaded with university students, kids, pregnant women and what have you? Busy raiding houses of blog owners are we?

Dear Mr Prime Minister. Please la. Don't la you go around saying sorry and hope that things will be done to ensure that it will not happen again. Because IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN JUST AS THE FUCKING SUN RISES EVERY MORNING!!! Please la do something happening Mr Pak Lah. Read my lips...H.A.P.P.E.N.I.N.G. And by that I don't mean you should establish a 80 member committee to look into the problems or some shit like that. Because that is oh so 30 minutes ago my man.

When I was a freshie in the university, and when we lost a football match to another college, the seniors would line up the whole college to greet us with a song. It goes like this...

Oh why were you born so beautiful
Oh why were you born at all
You ain't of no use
You ain't of no use at all
Go back you fool
Go back you fool
Go back you bloody fools!

Uh, erm...take a wild guess why I suddenly remember that song...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Once upon a time, I used to have a circle of close friends. There were about six of us, including myself. We would go out for lunches and dinners at least two or three times a month. And we would go any and everywhere, because we enjoyed searching out some new restaurant, or dish, or menu to savour.

One day, it was my turn to propose our venue for lunch. As I was recently told about the delights of a beef ball noodle soup place that was located around Leboh Ampang, I proposed it by email to all of them in the morning. By noon, I had received confirmations of attendance from all but two of my friends. I remembered that day distinctly because it was the first time that any of us had replied after noon.

I admit that I was used to the customary enthusiastic and excited confirmations. Both their replies however came the next morning. Both were declines without reasons. This was the first time in fourteen years of knowing each other that such an invitation was declined without profuse apologies, heavy regrets and a reason. It was at this precise moment I think the perfect circle of our little group began to fracture and disintegrate.

When I called them up, after a great deal of avoidance, they confessed that they could not join us because the place was not halal. Their husbands forbade them from going. When they tried to insist their husbands spat a taalik at them. They would stand divorced if they stepped out of the house to eat at a non-halal restaurant. They wanted very much to join us for lunch but they did not want it tear their family apart. They said that now they could only eat at restaurants which was certified halal.

After I explained this to our other friends they sympathised. We resolved to stand by our friends and so agreed to only eat at halal places only. I managed to arrange a lunch at a suitable venue at the appointed time. We were all quite taken by surprise to see that both those friends had taken to the tudung. They seemed a little embarrassed at first especially since one of them had even proclaimed that she would never put it on. But after the conversation began, things were as before and we just about forgot about the latest turn of developments.

The next time we arranged lunch at a halal restaurant which was owned by a Chinese restaurant owner. I am not quite sure how they knew this but my friends said that they could not eat there, halal approved sticker notwithstanding. When I pressed them on this they mentioned that their husbands had told them that Chinese always ate pork and would have touched the utensils in the kitchen. That would make it not halal. So we did not go in and eventually ate at a place they deemed suitable.

They could not come the next time because they had to go for a ceramah held by someone, so the four of us had lunch together without them.

The next time they came with their own utensils and their own pre-packed halal food because there may be non-Muslim staff that cooked the food and even though the meat may be halal, the pots, pans and the air would not be. Conversation which used to flow stagnated to stutters of dialogue that soon dissolved into the tinkling of forks and spoons with the plates. They looked like they endured lunch more than they ate.

The last time we tried to arrange lunch ended in painful accusations. I think I accused them of being unreasonable and stupid about their religion. And they accused me with the others for not understanding and accommodating them. I think their parting shot was that we were all sinners destined for hell.

We have not heard from them since. Those angry words are still suspended in our email boxes and our hearts its poison still seeping even though it has been three years since.

Next year, my husband and I have finally booked our haj package. We have been meaning to do it for some time now and finally have the time and money.

I am still not sure whether I would be happy to bump into them.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Not the Usual Date: Bargains (Part Six)

The lock up. Badly lit. Buzzing. Flickering. Fluroscent light. Hanging from the ceiling. There's a table. A man. Tied to a chair. A black eye. Bleeding from the mouth. Nose. Head. Seven police officers. Two standing on either side of him. The one with knuckle dusters is standing in front of him. Both hands lowered. Though one had a sheen at the edge of his knuckles in the silhouette. Another stood over a bucket of water. Another two stood by the door next on either side of us, near the door. One more stood by the table at attention, eyes fixed on the seated man. The place stank. Of Fear. Hate. Tears. Blood. Piss. Shit. Spunk.
Behind the man in the chair, a cell sat shrouded in darkness. Except for a few dark coloured shafts reaching out of the darkness. You would have missed it.
Nadia lets out a sharp soft gasp when we step in.
Not sure at the sight. Or the smell. Both perhaps.
'Who the hell is that?' shouts Knuckleduster. He cannot see us. Wrapped in darkness.

Our good man salutes. 'Tuan, these are Tan Sri Kamil Aris' lawyers. They were sent here to pick up his nephew who was one of those rounded up at the Masjid just now.'

Knuckleduster turns around.
'Tan Sri's lawyers, eh? Come forward so I can see you. What's your name?'
Stepping into the light. As soon as he sees me.
He smiles.
'Ah. If it isn't the great Zachary Kamaludin.'
Cannot help. But smile. Back.
'Good evening, Dato' Lee. You are very kind to take the trouble to remember me. '
'You are also very kind to call me Dato' even though I don't have one. But I have to say, Encik Zachary, you are quite rude. You have not introduced me to your companion.' Must. Becareful. With this one.
'I do apologize. Nadia, please meet Dato' Lee. Dato', this is Nadia.'
Nadia. A hint of nervousness. at the edge. Of her smiles.
Felt her hand. Suddenly grasping mine. A little harder. Did not even notice it. To be honest.
'Good evening my dear. What brings you down here with Encik Zachary?' he asks. As charmingly as one could be in a singlet drenched with sweat and fine blood splatters on his shirt, and one hand cased in a bloody knuckleduster.
'To be with him,' she said. Slightly shrugging at me.
Could feel his. Disappointment. Slight. Drop of his shoulders. His face. Hardening.
Damn. May backfire.
Turns to me.
'Tan Sri must have serious cash to burn seeing that he got you. And that you got this far. Who are you here for?'
'Saiful Azman.'
He turns around. Asks loudly. At the man by the table. Thin man. Dark. With a crater face. Thin slit eyes. He turned away. To look. What looked like a handwritten notes. In a long rectangular book. He nods.
'Looks like he is here,' he says. 'But he is wanted for questioning. We haven't even begun with him yet.'
'Ah. That is precisely what I'm here to ... assist you with. As he is my client, let me assure you of his cooperation. I can give you my mobile number. Whenever you want to meet him. Call me. Or we can arrange something more convenient.'
He pauses for a while.
'Everybody out, he said. Loud enough. Everybody shuffled out of the room.
Last shuffle. Disappears. With the closed door.
It's just three of us. But Nadia gets more nervous. Her hand. Cold and clammy. He tries hard. Not to look at her. He jerks his head. Up slightly. What about her?
'She's cool. Nothing leaves this room, except him and us.'
He pauses. He can. Live with it.
'Convenience is expensive.' He says. Cannot argue with fact.
'Who said it was free?' His face brightens. Somewhat.
Continue: 'Everything always costs something, no?'
A smile creeps. Into his face.
'I'm glad we understand each other.'
'What's the cost of convenience these days?'
'For something like this. I'm not sure. Perhaps ten large.'
''Then he's off records?'
'That's extra.'
'What isn't?'
'Off records?'
Fuck. I don't have fifteen. Large. Right now.
And with them. It's always cash.
'How about thirteen?'
'You want three for the price of two? Come on, Mr. Zachary. What's a hot shot like yourself bothering yourself haggling over a few cents? I'm sure that sum is not even ten percent of your usual retainer.'
'Sometimes what others see is not what is real. Tell you what. Let's make it ten and I'll do a case for you. Any case you want - yours or anybody else's. But just one. I'm not making anything out of this. I'm here as a favour tonight.'
'How can I trust that you will honour your promise?'
'Dato' Lee, my word is my bond. You can just about ask anybody. I don't often make promises because those that I make I keep. And I'm offering you a promise. I can assure you that my promise is going to be worth a great deal more than fifteen.'
He turns away and walks deliberately and slowly. A wide circular arc. Eyes steadily on the floor. His mind grinding. Suddenly, he stops. Turns to me.
'You have it now?'
'I've got about two now. I need to get the rest later.'
'I want it all. Now.'
Fuck. Fuck.
'Tomorrow morning. First thing. Or you tell me when and where. '
'Encik Zachary, you're making this very hard for me. If you take him now, I have nothing to hold you to.' Dammit. Instinctively, turn to my watch. It was very late. Wait. It's a Rolex. Bingo.
'Tell you what. I'll give you my watch to hold to show my sincerity. My grandfather gave it to me.' He comes forward. Unclasp the strap. Hold it up for him.
'It's real.' I tell him.
He smiles back. 'I would be disappointed if it was not.'
'And you're not keeping it because I want it back. You hold it until tomorrow. I pass you the balance, you return the watch.'
He is pensive. His right hand. Drifts to his chin. To stroke it.
'I'm going to go out on a limb here. You better not be full of shit Mr. Zachary.'
'Dato' Lee, I'm a lawyer. I'm full of shit. But sometimes my shit is gold. You're getting your gold tomorrow. My word. Now where and when?'
'Give me your mobile and I'll tell you tomorrow.'
Tell him. My number.
He turns to Nadia again. Glares. At her. In warning.
Then slowly. Walks past. The man in the chair. Unconscious. Blood still drips. From his wrist.
To the cells in the dim darkness. Jangling keys. Sound of metal brushing. Clank. The door groans its reluctance. Soon. Saiful's in front of me. Just a few bruises. Only. He hasn't been interrogated. Fully. Yet.
'So this is the Tan Sri's nephew. How did he get mixed up in this?'

'Oh you know, Dato'. Idealism of youth and all that crap.'

He grunts. In acknowledgment, as he walks to the door. Opens it. Barks. The men file back into the room behind him. Including our guide to the lockups. Dato' Lee orders him. To lead us to the service entrance. Behind the police station.
Saiful's quiet. Eyes on floor. Compliant. Tell him. Stay close. Don't speak.
We're led out. Several corridors. The buzz of the crowd. Faint. Like Mist.
Once at the back, our guide says, 'Dato' Lee has arranged for the squad car with tinted windows to take you out. Please tell the driver where you want to go.'
We thank him. Nadia. So happy to get out. Throws in. Kiss. On his cheek. Even as. Her hand. Firmly in mine.
He's on. Cloud nine.

It's three. In the morning.
It's Kajang. Far from the station. Dirty air. Bloodied floor. Official sleaze.
We're in.
Wan's stretched limo.
The air. Reeks of ganja.
Wan. Ida. Clothes. Unkempt.
She's snuggled up. Content. Against him.

Saiful. In a corner. Nadia. Sits. Next to me.
'You're fucking amazing man. Only you can pull of shit like that man,' Wan says. Again. He has repeated this. Four times already. Last ten minutes.
Nadia's still. Pumped. From the adrenaline.
'He was amazing!' Nadia chimed in.
'Nothing amazing about it. I still gotta get ten large over to him tomorrow morning for that shit. And I don't think I could have done it without Nadia. If it were not for her dishing out her phone numbers, we would not have gotten past the gate.'
She smiles. And leans. Lightly. On me. Nice. Nice. Nice.
'Oh my fucking god! You gave out your numbers?!' ejaculated Wan. Outraged almost.
'Nolah. I just made up those numbers.' Rather pleased. With herself. But Zack, the way you carried yourself and spoke with such conviction and confidence was just amazing. I thought we'd never make it out of there alive!'
'That's what lawyers do, my dear. Bullshit something out of nothing.'
'See Nadia, that's why I hang with Zack. That way I can get away with anything. Like this.' And he takes a long drag. On the joint. 'So what's next?'

We. Make it back. To the house. By about four.
Saiful mumbles his thanks. Salams us. But not the Nadia or Ida. Opens the door.
Cool fresh air. Rushes in. Ganja smoke escape.
Get out. Breathe. Nadia steps out. Too.
'Finally. Some fresh air.' I stretch. My arms up.
'Yes,' she says. As she rests her back. On the car. 'Are you staying over?'
'I think I'm going to have to.'
Suddenly, Saiful's next to us. Didn't notice him.
'Mama nak cakap ngan Zack,' he says. Waits for me to acknowledge. Then leaves.
'Well, there you go. Right on cue.' We both laugh. 'Anyway, I want to thank you for your help this evening and apologize for ruining the evening.'
'Oh no! I had a wonderful time this evening and it is I who should thank you.'
You’re thanking me? For what? For disrupting dinner? For barely getting you out of crowd that seemed bent on molesting you? For taking you to a police station where just about every guy practically undressed you with their eyes? Or for …’
She stops me. With her eyes. Light brown.
My heart. Triphammers.
‘For taking me along… and opening my eyes. You were brilliant. ’
I was? Witty reply. Witty reply. Think of something clever. Quick.

‘I… uh… thanks?’ Stupid. Stupid bastard. She smiles.

'So… I guess this is good night, then.’

'But not good bye, I hope.' Good save. Good save.
We stand. Just looking at each other.
I want to. Touch. Hold. Hug. Feel. Kiss. Smell. You. You.

‘I was…’ ‘Do you…’

Laughter. Nervous. Charged.

‘You go ahead.’

‘No please, you.’

‘Ladies, first.’

‘Okay. I hope I’m not too forward if I ask for your number. I would really like to meet up again. Without, you know, the drama.’

Wow. Forthright. Open. Ballsy.

Miss Malaysia asked for my number. Un-fucking believable.

I smile.

‘You know, I was going to ask you for your number but with all those guys asking for your numbers all night, I figured you’ve heard that question enough tonight.’
She laughs.
‘Oh Zack. You're so silly. You're the only one I've been dying to give my number too tonight.'
Thumpa. Thumpa. Pull out pen. Write numbers. On my hand.
'Say, these aren't the same numbers you gave those guys are they?' Teasingly.
Why don’t you give it a try and find out?’
'Guess, I’ll have to do that because I plan on asking you out for a date. So this number better work!'

'I’ll be looking forward to it.'
She smiles. Sparkle me silly.
'I'll shall endeavour to leave the drama out of it next time.'

'You need not do so on my account. I enjoyed myself immensely this evening.'
We stand. Smiling at each other.
'I know I'm supposed to say good bye, but I can't quiet bring myself to at the moment.'
'Me too,' she concurs.
'What should we do then?'
'I think we need a nice ending for tonight. Something we can both take home and savour.'
I'm just loving her already.
'I think you're right.'
Move in close. Lower and cock my head.
Press my lips to hers.
She does not resist.