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.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Good Ol' Days

The Party Shoppe, Sri Hartamas
July 2007

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fantasy No. 302231-D

I become Prime Minister of Malaysia in sometime in 2017 creating history by winning an election with a land slide with my newly formed party which campaigned on the back of only three issues as follows won the election beating the entire BN front by a landslide victory: (1) A three and a half day work week (2) declaring open season on kapchai motorcyclists and licensing their hides (3) Allowance of porn into the country. Within 5 years, I will consolidate my power (by sacking almost all the politicians and government servants and rehiring everybody anew, and becoming a virtual king in Malaysia, because all citizens are just trembling with fervency to do my bidding. Most bumiputera contractors are sacked from most government projects and a majority of the Singaporean governmental staff will be lured away to basically recreate what they did down there over here. After creating a heaven on earth in Malaysia, I will then adopt the name of Kinky Khan and conquer the world on horseback leading shock troop of well muscled men skilled in battle and will try to conquer the world by sword, tiny capes and many disposal leopard skin printed underwear. I will then die a glorious death which will be glorified in a 3 minute pop song by the latest pop boy group of the year. The song about me will rule the charts for 10 weeks consecutively and rule the charts before fading forever into the abyss of time.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Of Smoking (Part 2)

Second time. I think I was in second year uni by then. It was sometime during the start of term because I remember it being cold. We were at this club. One of those parties organized by the Malaysian Singaporean Student Association. A few of us went out for some air. We, comprising of myself and this Singaporean chap named Terence, a fellow student in my faculty, were sitting in a doorway of a shop probably next to the entrance of the club. I remember the biting wind, those frosty blasts of wind that seem to hiss by you venomously as it swept through. The loud thumping beats were faintly audible from where we sat. Michael, my other Singaporean friend, who was the acknowledged Party Man was standing around in front of us looking about and doing little jog on the spots.
When I turned to look at Terence he had a cigarette out and in his mouth. That was fast, I thought. He was about to light up when I asked him for one. The usual 'I didn't know you smoked' routine played itself out. One minute later I have a stick in my mouth and his telling me to inhale it. The strange thing about it this time for me was that it went down nice and smooth. I don't remember why it was different but I still remember the surprise with which I took that first drag. Inhaling it was not a problem and so was blowing it out. I didn't feel like a rack of hot coals had been raked across my throat and tongue. That fragile bit of warmth that it gave me was uselessly delightful. I enjoyed the moment and indulged in the feeling of knowing how to smoke. The cigarette still did not quite feel so comfortable in my big clumsy hands just yet, it felt strangely foreign, like an intruder almost.
Ever since then, it came rather naturally. I'm not quite sure how it happened either. Maybe the cool air made it easier. that night. But even though I had the satisfaction of smoking one properly that night, I didn't immediately go out and get a pack of cigarettes. I just didn't feel particularly compelled to do so. I had two or three at the time. Because anything more than that would make me sick and want to throw up. Hilarious. That too cleared up after a few more tries, and now I don't have a problem with it unless I smoke cloved cigarettes. That stuff just makes me sick.
All this time, I understood of course that smoking was and is bad for my health, yet continued to do so every now and again. Funnily enough, I read a piece of trivia in Malcolm Gladwell's book 'The Tipping Point'. It said something like if a person smoked something like nine sticks a day for 2 weeks consecutively then that statistic would be like the tipping point to that person becoming a regular smoker. Keeping that in mind, I have always kept under that limit and take a break from it every once in a while.
So the good thing about it now is that I get to enjoy it but don't have the powerful need for it.
And there's one thing about having a smoke. It's a very social thing. It's easy to strike up a conversation with someone who smokes because there'll always be someone standing outside having one. Even with at least two people, there's potential for common ground simply because they smoke. They are immediately and irrevocably categorized into a group: 'Smokers'. These people also tend to be sociable and generous. They are always happy to share their stash with you and only too helpful with the lighter to boot and ready for conversation. That's the nice thing about lighting up too. The moment you do, you light up a whole new social world. Like an underworld beneath the non-smoking world that is slowly and surely conquering the world.
Getting a gift for a smoker is also very easy. One carton or a pack. Viola. I mean what else can you give as casually, as simply and as affordable as that. Non-smokers have to contend with flowers, or some cute but useless gifts that you will probably never use for the rest of your life or chocolate (Box of Ferre Roche).
Naturally there's a price to be paid to join this exclusive though widespread group. A shortening of one's life, the damaging of one's health and the usually strong smoky breath that tends to be a major turn off (unless perhaps both are smokers). I fool myself by telling myself that I keep my intake below the tipping point but that doesn't change that fact that I'm still smoking no matter how few. That however is a choice I make and that I am willing to live with. Though truth be told, I have no choice in the matter anyway.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Vibrating Median

Keep it loose
Keep it loose
Keep it loose
That's how it's gotta be
But with a
Tug of tightness
Keep it loose
If you think it that's
How it will be
Erupt with Love
Keep it loose
If it smothers your pain
With angel feathers
From broken wings
Keep it loose
Keep it loose

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

50 Years of Merdeka?

You have probably been bombarded about it since the beginning of this year, had it pounded into your skull with the promotions, features, specials and cheap petty commercial exploitation of trinkets that bear our country's flag or colours: This is our 50th anniversary as a Malaysian (not quite but we'll go with that for now) nation. Now don't get me wrong, I am enjoying the wealth of information in the blast back to the past as done nicely in the New Straits Times, those old sepia toned or black and white photographs of people attired in the fashion of the times and the reminiscing about those embryonic days. I have always thought of the past, not as a decree to which we are slavishly bound to abide by but a place from which lessons are to be drawn and relationships understood.

The only real problem I have with this whole 50th anniversary thing is that 31st August 2007 is not the 50th anniversary of our nation. It would be something like the 43rd anniversary because Malaysia was finally formed on 16 September 1963 when the Federation of Malaya linked up with Sarawak, Sabah and Singapore. And if you want to be really anal about it then we should count it from the time Singapore left the country which is 9 August 1965. I therefore prefer this date because that is the Malaysia we are left with today. That means by my count we've already missed our anniversary and we are only at our 42nd anniversary. Yawn.

The intensity of these celebrations are no doubt isolating our fellow Sarawakian and Sabahan countrymen. There they are. Known as being part of Malaysia yet being excluded from many commercial and governmental developmental projects, exploited for its natural resources and tourism, and the date of celebration as a nation is not when they joined but when the Federation of Malaya obtained independence from British rule. I am told that they generally don't like us Peninsular folk. (Would be happy to stand corrected!) Can you blame them?

Reinforcing this 31st August 1957 date as being the celebration as a nation as it is found now is a denial of historical fact. It is a denial of our formation as a Malaysian nation. But it is not a fantasy, but a wish, a hope like a prayer, a doa - for a return to simpler and more honest times. A certain innocence so to speak. But we will not just get there by merely longing for it. We have to work at it. And we can start by acknowledging our true date of celebration as a nation: 9 August 1965.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday Girl

She was beautiful like a lit up Friday
And her kisses were like dreamy Sunday
Her eyes were a moody Tuesday
And her hair was a midnight Thursday

We met on a stormy Saturday
Fell in love on a crazy Wednesday
And I lived for her night and day
And I love you was all I could say

Ahhh Ahhh Ahhh
But my baby's always stuck on Monday
And I don't know what to do or say

So I showered her with red roses
Shaved my head, ran with some spotted horses
Danced naked to ward off those damned curses
I prayed and hoped that I could save us

Ahhh Ahhh Ahhh
But my baby's always stuck on Monday
And I don't know what to do or say

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Keeping the Darkness at Bay

April 2004
Koh Samui, Thailand

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Frying the Rice

A story oft repeated for family, friends and acquaintances that may or may not have heard it.

When I was set free in England, aside from mastering the fine art of boiling water, knowing how to cook the Maggie Mee precisely how I liked it (noodles al dente and the gravy thick) and being somewhat competent at cutting and peeling the garlic and onions, I did not have a shred of cooking sense. So there I found myself one inevitable evening. Alone. Hungry. The canteen closed a while ago. I think it was one of the days when the Hall kitchen closed early.
It was still early in the term and I had yet to be comfortable with any of my hall mates. I also hadn't started to hang or meet with anybody nearby either. My buddy from the 'old days' (he was with me since secondary school and he came over to stay a few times), Daniel, was too damned far away. The lucky bastard had gotten a nice room smack in the centre of the academic heart of our University. It was an old, creaky wooden building which was extensively renovated to accommodate more than it was originally envisaged. It was such a maze that in my early visits there I would wander around lost in there for up to a few minutes, at times even wondering whether it was possible to die of hunger and thirst in the building for being, unable to get out. Luckily, there were other students walking in and out that would very helpfully (and no doubt amused) show me out. Crazy Asian! So anyway, he was out of the question. I just wanted to have something nice and warm. Then eat it in with my legs snugly tucked in under the covers of my bed.
I no doubt sighed and rummaged through the box my mom had packed for me. That was gastronomic umbilical chord to home. Familiar food. Fond memories. Of home. There it was. A five pack of Chicken and Curry Maggie Mee and Indomie Goreng. Easiest to eat, both were done with just boiling the noodles to soften and then open the packets for seasoning. So damn easy, even I could do it. Digging further, there was my favourite kicap sauce, almost the entire Brahims range of tasty ready-to-eat chicken and beef. They had flavours like rendang and what not. Bloody good when you are starved of home food and stuck in a foreign land where it is not easily obtainable. But it sucks when you eat it back home. And there just tucked right at the bottom, almost going unnoticed, were a whole bunch of slim almost flat package. It was the Brahims mixture for frying rice.
I recalled that before mom and dad had gone back, they had done a little shopping for me. The bought me a bit of food to store in the fridge. Like I think a small pack of long grain rice. And I had thrown in a pack of prawns into the shopping basket too. I thought then and there that I wanted to eat fried rice. My mouth immediately responded as I could feel the side of my cheeks tighten just a little and my tongue snake out to lick my lips. That's it, I thought. I'm having fried rice. Easy like peasy.
My mom also had the foresight to buy me a little tefal stainless steeled non-stick pot which was pretty damn versatile, I found out later. So I went to the common kitchen down the hall and got out the prawns which were frozen then went back to my room to pick up a pack of the fried rice flavouring, a big wooden spatula and the rice. I put the block of prawns under the sink and poured warm water over it a little to warm it up. Doubled back to the room because I forgot the oil and saw that the block had broken into half. I cut up the pack and put one half in the fridge.
The prawns still hadn't fully frozen.
So I waited and read a bit.
I think it was about twenty minutes.
Luckily I had a book.
After I found it soft enough, I fired up the stove. The blue flames snuck out of their holes and hissed away. Still small. Warmed up the pot with oil. After it was nice and warm, I threw in some of the prawns. Pushed it around a bit and then threw in the rice. After stirring it around, I bumped up the flame and squeezed the entire sachet contents into the pot until it was satisfactorily cackling away. I stirred it around and took particular pleasure in smelling the fumes arising from the pot. Ah! Not quite, but close enough. The smell of home cooking. After pushing it around some more to ensure an even cooking, I dumped it all on a plate and left the pot to cool down.
Pleased, I padded down the entire length of the hall again because my room was on one end and the kitchenette in the other, plate in hand. Mmm mmm. Cooking one's food does give some measure of satisfaction, I thought to myself. I sat down at the table with my plate of fried rice the moment I got in. And dug in.
It was hard digging though. The prawns were alright and tasted okay. The problem was the rice was so bloody hard. It was tough to chew and refused to yield beneath my chewing. I managed to get half spoonful down my throat and thought that something was seriously wrong. Checked the time. It would be around noon or thereabouts back home. So I went down the hall past the kitchenette to the public phone in the stairwell. I made a reverse charge call to, who else, but mom. She was always pleased to hear from me and ran through her usual course of questions about how I was taking care of myself, keeping warm, staying safe, etc. before I could finally get to what I wanted to ask her.
I told her about my problem.. There was a brief silence before my mom asked me, 'Did you cook the rice before you fried it?'And I think I said something like, 'What do you mean cook the rice?' Her disbelief quickly warped into laughter. After she had recovered somewhat she told me that I had to boil the rice first before I fried it.
So that's what it was.
Why didn't I think of that?
Been much better since then.
It's best to use rice cooked and kept overnight to fry. See. See.
Super damn best favouritest: Corn beef fried rice with fried egg and Habhal kicap manis.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Short and Concise Non-Clinical Study of the Behavioural Nature and Inclination of a Select Citizenry of a Slaughter House

They are so unbelievably and incredibly stupid. In fact, it is an insult to the word “stupid” and to all the stupid people in the whole universe to call them stupid. It could therefore be incredibly stupid of me to call them stupid. Because their sheer stupidity calls for a redefinition of the word “stupid”. The Oxford people should come up with a new word to describe these people. Perhaps, the word could sound like “stumoronic”, which is a combination of “stupid” and “moronic”. Or “ninkompmoronpoop”. Something like that. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka also should come up with a new term. Because the word “bodoh” does not even begin to describe these people. “Mangkuk” is close to describing them. And with their inherent propensity to wank in public, “mangkuk hayun” would be apt.

Yes. I am talking about some of our so called pillars of society, our “yang berhormats” or in English, “parliamentarians”. Jeez, I fell so guilty now. It’s like I am guilty of the proverbial “pencemaran bahasa” or in common English, “verbal diarrhoea”. How could some of these, these, erm…these cretins be addressed as “YBs” is to me a source of endless wonderment and puzzlement, the extent of which is only exceeded when I consider the perennial mother of all puzzlement, namely, “what do women want”?

Our so-called YBs could generally be classified into two categories. The first one has a “stupidtronic” button on their chest. Let’s call this category as Group A. Group A is filled with people who are generally quite clever and make quite clever statements from time to time or when they are intelligently sober. So, when asked, for instance, what they think of America’s or the UK’s stand on global warming, Group A would go all starry eyed and grab the microphone and rattle data and statistics about how the carbon dioxide emissions from various industries in the USA and UK is hurting the world and turning the world into one huge sauna room. They would then launch a tirade of what seems to sound like intellectual diatribes and obvious politically induced statements against the two governments. No matter how self-serving their statements could or might sound. No matter what. But hey, we live in a free world and so we are free to say anything we like about other people. But of course, other people cannot say anything about us because other people don’t know us at all. Very clever. Very intellectual.

These very same people, in Group A, are very special people. They are special because their IQ can vary. Downward that is. They have this very special ability to downgrade their IQ to a single digit by pressing their respective stupidtronic button. The trigger point, at which this button will be called into service, is subject to such wide variables that it is beyond the scope of this humble thesis to explore and explain. Only loose examples could be given. When for instance, they are asked why are new government buildings or complexes full of defects, they would immediately press the stupidtronic button and say things like “the contractors did not do their job properly”. And when further asked why the superintending officer, namely the government servant entrusted to ensure that all jobs are properly done by the contractor before approving payment to the contractor, certify the contractor’s job as done when it is not done properly, they would again press their stupidtronic button and say, “ all buildings must have certain defects”. Get the idea? I betcha.

Stupidtronic button would also be called into action if they are asked why a woman, who is a Christian, and who does not want to be a Muslim, must be subject to mental torture and forced to live with her Muslim father and mother by some religious authorities. They would say, “because WE want her to repent and be a Muslim”. That kinda thing. I think you get the idea, right?

Then there is the second category. This should be referred to as Group B. This is simple. They have no button on their chest. So, you would think that they are always clever and they don’t have the special ability to downgrade their IQ like those in Group A, right? Wrong! They have no button on their chest because they don’t need one. They don’t need one because the people in this group are perpetually stupid. Their whole life is dedicated towards making stupid statements and being stupid. Their greatest achievement in their entire stupid and miserable life is being able to spell their name correctly and to use capital letters at the beginning of their name and their father’s name. Heck, they can’t even fuck properly, these people, I think. You would notice that I had not used the F word in the preceding paragraphs but when describing Group B, you would have no choice but to speak a bit of French. And that is not to say that the French are stupid. No. Not at all. I mean, if the French are stupid, they would not have invented the guillotine right? (not many people notice, but the guillotine is actually based on a kacip! – bloody copycat, these French!). Well, sorry, I digress. This seems to be my common problem whenever I write about serious things. Sorry again. Back to Group B. Yes. They justify their whole existence on this Earth by making normal people like me and you laugh till we are sick in the stomach every time they open their mouth and start talking. Sometime I ask myself, from which hovel did they all come from? Was there a nuclear reactor somewhere in our country which went kaboom about 60-70 years ago and had covered a part of our country with radioactive and were these people born in that area? Or was there a secret, really secret, operation by the English administration after the world war where lobotomy was performed on thousands of Malayans in order to find out the secret behind MCPAJA (the Malyan Chinese People Anti-Japanese Army, which later became MCP, the Malayan Communist Party) which went awfully wrong? Because they seem to be blessed with such supreme stupidity and unsurpassed ability to undertake moroniculous activities (if talking shit could be regarded as an activity) that they could only be mutants caused by some nuclear reactor gone awry or some lobotomy gone wrong. I mean, some mothers do, actually, have ‘em? OMG!

Whatever it is, the people from Group B, and the people from Group A, as and when they press their stupidtronic button, share some common traits which are not hard to notice. Firstly, they have very limited vocab when they argue against each other in the Parliament. “Bodoh!”, shouts one of them. “Kurang ajar”, screams another one. “Awak diam”, implore another. “Celaka, awak makan babi”, says one of them. Okay. I made up the last one. But you get the idea. They are not only super morons, they also seem to be educated at John McEnroe’s School Of Manners. In their past time, they all read Salman Rushdie’s, er, sorry, Sir Salman’s “Vitriolic Verses”. Fuck him! There you go. Another French word.

Secondly, the men in both group seem to be preoccupied with the opposite sex. “We are not preoccupied with the opposite sex!!!”, denies one of them. “We are only obsessed with women”, explains him. Yes, you idiot. I get it. Anything and everything to do with women, and these guys would suddenly be enwrapped by such intellectual vigour that they would spring up like a used Eibach springs and open their mouth to vomit some sickening opinions which to the rest of the civil world sounds really trivial, if not for the sickening side of it. Two days after the Japanese GT race was held in Sepang, they stood up to ask why the Japanese race queens were scantily clad. Orait brader. Good work! You have earned your allowance for this month. Fuck you! I don’t fucking pay you to talk about race queens in the Parliament. You good for nothing morons! Then, two or three days later they would ask why our female artists and singers are wearing tight pants and dresses and short skirts. Wonderful. Excellent. And yes, stupid. They are also preoccupied with pan Asian look. “Our advertisement should not be acted by pan Asian looking women and men”, they scream. Quite what the fuck is pan Asian look, only they are blessed with the gift to know and define.

Thirdly, they can be sexist, and sometime even racist. Discussing the leak at the Parliament house’s roof, one of them say to a lady Parliamentarian, “but you also leak once a month!”. Yeah. And you leak from your ass every now and then. Later, they would issue the standard apology which is, actually, for all intent and purpose, not an apology at all. “If we are wrong, we are sorry”, they said. Which means to say, we don’t think we are wrong, but if you think we are, we are sorry then. Are they then sorry for being wrong or are they sorry for us thinking they are wrong? I really don’t know. Actually, this apology is quite clever, really. Annoying. But clever. Very!

Fourthly, they all wear, or love to wear navy blue double-breasted jacket with brass buttons. Yes. Everywhere and for every occasion. Coffee at Austin Chase at Bangsar Shopping Complex at 5? Yes. I will turn up in a navy blue double-breasted jacket with brass buttons. Opening ceremony of the most technologically advanced toilet in the whole fucking nebula? Yes. Navy blue double-breasted jacket with brass buttons I shall wear. Cabinet meeting? Ditto. Parliament? Ditto. Dinner at Shang? Yes, ditto. They think they look so cool in that jacket. And they call that jacket a coat. Everything is a coat to them. A sports jacket is a coat to them. So is a business suit. In fact, even a tuxedo is a coat to these peeps. What to do? Simple mind!

Fifthly, ant this is the really stupid one. All of them think that all of us are similar to them. Confidently at that. Amazing. This is what my kampung folks call “sombong bodo”! We are not the same with you, idiots! Get real. And get a proper shag, will you please? If you know how, that is.

Two days ago, they slaughtered cows and goats at the Parliament House’s compound to celebrate the PM’s wedding. HUahahAHahahAhahHAAhahAHAHhaHAH… Sorry, I am wiping my tears now. The Speaker of the house, when asked, said that “it is normal to do so”. ‘Scuse me? Normal? It is normal to slaughter cows and goat in the compound of the Parliament House? Yes, it is apparently. Erm, what if next week some MCA or DAP members want to kill some pigs to celebrate their leader’s wedding? Boleh ka? Or some MIC members want to do a kavadi procession for whatever reason? Normal eh? Erm, while we are at it, why don’t we pop some Don Perignon and some bottles of Pinnot Noir and a barrel or two of Kilkenny’s? Boleh yer? Normal what? After all, that’s how we celebrate a wedding.

Oh Captain, my Captain. In Malaysia however, it’s “oh Idiot, my Idiot”!

PS This is part of a thesis submitted by the writer to his local university for his Doctorate in "Animal Husbandry". Surprisingly, to the writer, he failed.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Maxim 2

Life is Death's Fantasy.

Business speak

If I could buy one (politician), why must I be one?

Said by a businessman.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Kon Low Mee (or Dry Wan Tan Mee)

Awww yeah. Check that out. One of my top favourite foods in the world ever. I know it as the Kon Low Mee but you regularly find it in menus here as 'Dry Wan Tan Mee' or sometimes more horrendously, 'Mushroom Noodle Soup (Dry)'. I fucking hate that '(Dry)' thing especially when the dish is a soup. I mean. Be honest about it the damn dish is what I say. This is what my grandmother used to cook every time we went back to Kuantan for Chinese New Year. Fat little shit that I was, I was always asking her to cook it for me. I could eat it whether it was morning, noon or night. And managed to score that once or twice over a week.
The best ones are found at those really Chinese areas where everybody speaks Cantonese. Where the waiter after taking your order bellows it out to his stall at the other end of the room. The ease with which they attain such vocal volume levels was frighteningly impressive. Imagine how loud he would be if he really wanted to be loud! Now it should come out something like what I have shown up there. The noodles must be bundled up in the middle and not mixed too much. The noodles also much be stringy but firm. The bottom of the plate must have lots of sauce. Enough to wet and blacken the noodles too. Properly, we should be the ones to mix it so that we can get the consistency that we want in our noodles. I like mine as dark as can be. So I soak mine up as much as possible. Usually throwing some of the attendant soup also keeps a ready pool of sauce going.
I usually take mine with a portion of steamed chicken with it. Occasionally I go with the duck. Not because I don't like duck but because the ducks we have here are too scrawny to be tasty - unlike those Chinese Restaurants in London like Four Seasons Restaurant that are fat, succulent and immensely satisfying and always worth several encores.
There is something simply sublime in that combination of noodles and the sauces with that slight bit of witness that wets your lips as you slurp it down or bite it off properly. And the soup is also important. Good soup can enhance the sauces on the plate and create more sauce as it mixes with the previous mixture. Naturally it would also be a good accompaniment to the noodles.
Then finally there is the won ton which are actually traditionally pork dumplings or these days they have chicken or prawn dumplings to go with the soup. For me. This is not terribly important. And I suppose it is a matter of conditioning since the joints where the noodles are that good would usually only have just pork balls only.
I am always on the look out for new joints. There is a good one at the hawker stall area near Hock Lees mini-market (it's a corner lot). That's a picture of theirs in fact up there - but with duck. There's also a pretty decent one near the old Paramount but those buggers only serve pork so you can cop some of the chicken from the chicken rice seller. Ingenious huh? (No, not really). Koon Kei used to be one of the best Kon Low Mee ever before sometime in the eighties. They were big. Had a whole shop lot to themselves in Damansara Utama (or what is now known as Uptown). Now they've scattered to one branch in Damansara Jaya, which is a real disappointment, and similarly near Petaling Street.
That is the Chinese Kon Low Mee. The Malays have understood that some of us dig that shit as well and went all halal on it. So now you have instead of the usual char siew (barbecued pork on it with its traditional white meat and faint pink colouring at the edges), you have the 'chicken char siew'. Which is pretty good too. And the Malay Kon Low Mee also is usually sweeter which is natural seeing as how Malays usually like their food with a bit of sweetness around the edges. They two therefore cannot be sensibly compared because they cater to different tastes. I enjoy both but naturally enjoy the original one better.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Not the Usual Date: At the Police Station (Part Five)

Hot. Sweaty. Smelly. Bodies. Crushing. Pushing. Shoving. Shouting. Pounding. Shuffling. Children crying. Wives pleading. Lawyers demanding. Policemen barking. Bearded men. Turbaned men. Men in Jubah. Some shouting, 'Allahuakhbar.' Reporters asking. Photographers shooting.
And a stunningly beautiful girl is clinging to my arm for her beautiful life. Feel her soft warm body. Pressed against mine. Nice. We slice through the crowd. Resistance. Bumps. Pushing. Shoving. Slow. Sometimes she lets out a cry. Somebody pinches her. She’s fondled. Can’t see who. Suddenly. Feel. Pressure of her breasts. On my arm. Freaking arm. What a date.We reach the police station gate. 10 minutes. Later. After a lot of. Pushing. Shoving. Cursing.
About my mother; leave her out of this. Swearing. Pushing. Shoving. Until we are finally right in front of the gate. Doing. All I can. Keep the crowd. Mowing us. Down. Down. To the ground. We're pressed against the gate. Nobody giving an inch. Nobody asking. There. Behind the gate. Two young policemen man. Stand around. Ignoring everybody. Not giving a flying fuck. About anybody. Not you. Not me. To them. We could crush each other to death. For all they care. Get their heads. This way.
'Tuan,' I bellow. Soars above the din. Slightly startled. They turn. My way. Walk. This way.
'Apa masalah, Encik?' one asks. Short. Michelin Man. Joined the force. Dirty. Dirty face. Sly, darting eyes. Roaming. Soaring. Fantasizing. On Nadia. Her body. Her solid. Body. I can see. The possibilities erupting in his tiny mind.
'Saya kena masuk,’ I tell him.

'Apa urusan tuan?'

'Saya hendak jumpa adik saya yang kena tahan.'

'Sorry, sir. We’ve cannot not to allow any person into the police station,’ steps in the one next to Michelin Man. Taller. Thinner. Equally. Sleazy. Looking.

'I don't know. Those are our order.'

Nadia. Steps up. Heart stopping. And wishing. Eye demanding. Watch those. Heads and heels. Look of distress.

'Please, sir. We need to really see our brother. Our mother is very worried about him. I would be grateful if you could let us both in,' she says. As breathlessly. As she can. Big doe eyes. Melt your heart. Did mine. Probably gave them boners. At least.

Both of them look at her. Up. Down.

She's cool.

'Okay then. Only you.'


'Oh thank you, sir but I don't know my brother very well. He's my step brother. This brother of mine, Zack, he knows him much better. So it's important that he comes along as well. Please?'

Pour it in a cup and serve it for tea.

They talk it over. Slight disagreement. They're back.

'What else?' Okay. They're talking cash.

'Four hundred.'

I nod.


A crack in the gate. Suddenly. The ocean of people. Stirring. Moving. Pushing. Shoving. Shouting.
Screaming. Groping. Becomes a blur. Then. We are in. Both of us are in. Nadia. Glued to me. The crowd quickly becomes more restless and agitated. The shouting is louder. The crying stronger. The children's crying more high pitched.

We go off to the side. I handshake them. The money. But they want. Her mobile number as well. She smiles. Flings. Some numbers at him.

‘I give you miss call, okay?’ says the thin one. Beaming. Like he. Won a million bucks.

‘I don’t have it with me now but I’ll check it when I get back.’

They're happy.

We're happy.

Way the world should be.

Damn. This chick. Fucking rocks.

Is it alright to fall for her right now?

They point us to the direction of the lock ups.

We walk.

'Oh man. I feel so dirty.'

'Thanks a lot for that Nadia.’

'Oh. It’s alright. I thought you needed a little help there,’ she says with a wink. With a wink. And then happily continues, ‘But they're so… so… sleazy and corrupt. It’s so disgusting.’

‘It gets worse. This is just the tip of the iceberg. This is the action. If you want to get out of here, now is actually a very good time.’

She’d be crazy. To want in.

She looks at me. Then smiles. A mischievous smile.

‘Would you think me crazy if I said yes?’

No way.

‘Fucking crazy.’

Her smile. Glows. With a sense of glee.

Be still my rapidly beating heart.

‘Then sign me up. Take me everywhere with you.’

We enter the building. It's quiet. One guard. Only. At the desk.

‘Hey, you two! How did you get in?’

His attention directed. Totally at Nadia. Even. As he talks. To me.

‘The guards at the gate let us in.’

'Oh? That's alright then. What are you looking for?'

His eyes. Cannot get. Enough of Nadia.

'For the prisoners that just got brought in.'

'Oh. Those guys. They're in the lock ups.'

'Which way is it?'

‘Uh... wait. Who are the two of you?’

‘We're lawyers for Tan Sri Kamil Aris.’

He takes it in.

‘The Defence Minister?’


'Oh! Why are you here?'

'See, one of the men you have arrested is his nephew. A troublesome piece of shit. He always gets into trouble. And when he does, Tan Sri, then sends me to come, you know, hush-hush and pick him up and take him home. He doesn't want the reporters out there to pick this up. I mean, it looks pretty bad, right?'

'Yah. True also.'

'So, if you can just show me the way to lock ups.'

'I see. If that's the case, can you just please sign your names here and then I'll take you there.'

'Ah. I would love to, tuan. The problem with signing our names is that it shows that we've been here. If anybody does an investigation they'll find out that we were here. This will lead back to Tan Sri. Remember what I said about being quiet? That means untraceable. There must be no record that we were here.'

'Ah. Okay. Okay. I understand.'

Peel off three hundred.

‘Tan Sri also reminded us to reward anybody who helps us out. So, since Raya is coming up soon
here's just a little something to help you along.’

Handshake. He throws in. A smile for. Nothing extra.

Down the stairs. Down. We go.

Suddenly. The officer turns around.

Looks at Nadia. Again.

'You look very familiar?'

'Me?' she asks. Don't panic. Don't panic.

'Yeah... are you some singer or actress?'

'Oh... no. People say I look like Zhang Zi Yi.'


'Hmmm... You are very pretty, you know? You can be a model?' Keep cool. Nadia. Keep cool.

Giggles. 'Oh, you are too kind, sir! Tuan, also can model since you are so good looking.' Grateful. She’s innocent looking. Sexy. Flirty. All at once.

She's good.

He's happy. Can see the smile from his ears. Little perk in his ass. When he walks. Now. Can’t believe. He’s buying this shit.

‘Nahlah... I'm not that good looking.’ Fishing! The cad!

'Oh, don't say that, Tuan. I'm sure all the policewomen here are crazy about you.'

'You're just saying that-lah.' He's still smiling.

'We're here. I'll go in first to explain.

Saturday, July 7, 2007


I can feel it.
Snaking through my veins. Infecting.
A vicious coldness with thin serrated edges.
Like Death. Like Death.
Feel each tear, each rip, each stinging stab of pain, like the beat of my heart.
Seizing my hands. Paralyzing them.
Like icicles destined to forever be a whisker away from.
Touching. Away from feeling.
The breatheasy flow of beautiful words.