Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I felt like drowning.

Left and right, all around, were 42 other 17-year olds. Girls and boys. As each one spoke, I dreaded when it would be my turn to do so. Each spoke eloquently, and some of them used words I'd never heard of. One guy looked familiar, I figured out later that I had seen him on TV. They had opinions on worldly matters... and I was just concerned about how my favourite local football team would fare in the league. What can I say to impress this lot?

One said his ambition was to be the prime minister - that was my que to regret having decided to come for this boot camp. I lived about 45 minutes away from this hostel, and could arrange a quick gateaway. Either that, or spend the next 10 days with this bunch of ambitious, over-achieving, well-spoken, confident, boarding-schooled and weird individuals.

That was December 1995. The Tun Razak Leadership Programme. It was supposed to bring together outstanding student leaders from all over Malaysia, and...


...no, I didn't abandon the programme in the end.

I didn't bring a camera either, but the memories of the programme remain etched in my mind.

I'll never forget the absolute darkness and deafening silence in the depths of Batu Caves. Where one can be lost forever even though only minutes away from civilisation. Or the thousands of cockroaches scurrying just a few feet above our heads before we were plunged into the darkness.

Or the night I spent with a leech stuck on my back, only to discover it when I was showering the next day. It probably died of an overdose of my toxic blood, but even in death, its jaw was still embedded onto my flesh...

We learnt a lot from those who came to speak to us, from the many visits we made but mostly from each other. I was enlightened. I learnt not to underestimate what I can learn from the experiences of others, regardless of their background (and having gone back to the programme numerous times after that - regardless of age). And equally, I learnt not to underestimate what others can learn from me.

Larry King once said, "I never learn a thing when I open my mouth". I became a much better listener after the programme (PKTR, not Larry King Live).

Well, I may have missed the latest instalment of the programme, but I should be back next year. To do what I do best with a new bunch of ambitious, over-achieving, well-spoken, confident, boarding-schooled and wierd individuals.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Son, your ego is writing cheques...

your body can't cash.

I was tagged by Miss Diana K. So, 8 random facts about me:

1. It's been 13 years since I last lost my temper. As in totally lost it. It needed to happen. I've been nice ever since :-)

2. There was a phase in my life when I would say words backwards. First in the mind, and then I could actually speak backwards, fluently. I don't know what triggered it, but ti saw etiuq gnizama.

3. When I was about 10, a girl passed me her autograph book. I was quite shaken, went home and showed it to my mom, and the next day gave it back to the girl, unautographed.

4. My ultimate fear: singing in public.

5. I believe one day I will become the victim of a big time practical joke. I've been doing it to many people, and I believe there are some who are out to get their revenge. Until then, my 'Chantelle the French horse carer' and 'Mike from the job agency' days will continue.

6. Enid Blyton is still my favourite author.

7. The greatest football match I've ever watched: KL versus Selangor, 2nd leg of the Malaysian FA Cup quarterfinals at Stadium Merdeka (1993 I think).
KL had lost the first leg 2-0. At half time of this 2nd leg, they were down 2-0, so 4-0 down on aggregate. In an amazing second half, KL scored four goals -a T. Gopinath Naidu hat-trick and another by Zoran Nikolic. It was an amazing night for die-hard KL supporters like me. We may have been outnumbered 42,000 to 3,000, but that night, we stood tall at the very hallowed grounds of our nation's independence. KL qualified for the semis when they won the replay 1-0. Magical!

8. I actually shed a tear when Jack Dawson died in Titanic.