Wednesday, December 29, 2010

For last year's words belong to last year's language...

...and next year's words await another voice ~ T.S. Eliot

I recently attended a meeting and then had lunch with some fine old gentlemen. People who have done much, and achieved much. To put it into context, some of them have contributed so much to nation-building that I cannot imagine doing the same in 7 lifetimes.

And to put it into further context – all that they have done can be jeopardised by a few idiots pointing laser lights onto the faces of our opponents on the football field.


Some serious matters were discussed at the meeting and over lunch, but along the way, some morsels of wisdom – to me at least, to them it’s probably coffee talk - were shared by these mostly mid to late seventies statesmen. It reminded me that nothing beats experience.

On going up the corporate ladder
“There are many ways to go up...”

and looking me directly in the eye…

“… but not all are ethical.”

“My boss set very high standards - even if it was a small amount like 3 ringgit, he would make sure he paid it back if the spending was of a personal nature – because it was the people’s money. But it’s not like that today.”

On local football
When I asked if they had followed the Asean Football Federation Cup final between Malaysia and Indonesia, among the first things said was “It’s painful to hear people talk about us and say ‘don’t behave like them’…”

On coffeehouse chains
“I don’t understand the young people these days, they’re willing to spend RM15 on a mug of coffee. What’s wrong with the RM1.50 ones?”

To which another said, “They’re not being sold coffee; they’re being sold a life-style.”

On recent developments
“I started having this allergy recently. About 20 years ago.”

On youth
“You pamper the young too much. Give them responsibilities!”
(ironically, that was directed at me!)

On Myanmar
“We were brave enough to take risks back then.”

I had strong views against certain things they said, but more of the time I was listening and making mental notes.

A man's age is something impressive, it sums up his life: maturity reached slowly and against many obstacles, illnesses cured, griefs and despairs overcome, and unconscious risks taken; maturity formed through so many desires, hopes, regrets, forgotten things, loves. A man's age represents a fine cargo of experiences and memories. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. So, may you remember and be given the strength to not repeat what you should not.

Happy 2011!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Let our voice be heard!

Dear Friends,

Thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to stand for the Student Voice and represent this class!


If you vote for me I will help you to achieve all your goals and we will do it in a fun and orderly way.


I will include all of you as a team and we will achieve our goals together!


I will make the whole process a wonderful and enjoyable experience for all of us!


I will do my best to make us study hard and have fun at the same time!

My Fifth reason is………

I will also include some sporting activities to keep us fit and healthy!

My Sixth reason is …

I will help you to become confident and creative in your work!

My Seventh reason is …

If you vote for me WE will make this class the best class in the whole school!!!!!

If I am elected…..

I will know you all better and become close to all of you !

I wish all the candidates…

All the BEST!!!!!!!!!!

I am very lucky…

To have such wonderful friends and an amazing teacher!

Yours Dearly.


Campaign speech of an eight year old standing for a class election.

She has my vote :-)


I want her to be my speech-writer!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Some mistakes are too much fun...

to only make once.

One evening, while waiting to get into an auditorium to watch a theatre performance with some friends, I got a call from a colleague who was to join us. I could barely hear her, as there was an alarm blaring at the background. She sounded that bit frantic.

You see, there is a car park behind our office building. While pretty safe in the day, it gets dark and creepy at night. As she was making her way across the car park to get to her car, she saw some men hanging around the area, so she hurried. In fiddling for her car keys, she accidently set the alarm off and inexplicably lost the remote. So there she was, getting late for the show, alone in a car that wouldn’t start with its alarms blaring, in a creepy car park with men hanging around nearby, wondering if I could help.

Together with another friend, I rushed to the scene in my car. It was easy to locate her car as the car park was almost empty. We went over and she emerged. She had found the remote and had shut off the alarm, but the car refused to start. I got the keys from her and tried to fiddle around, seeing if I could somehow get it to start, but it couldn’t work.

“We’ll sort this out later I guess. You can follow us; we can still be there before the show starts”.

“Err… there’s someone else coming,” she says.

I looked at her, puzzled. “What for? We’re here.”

“Well, I called him as well.”

“Ok, you can tell him not to come. We got to catch the show. Don’t want to miss the start!”

She makes a call, and then comes back to us.

“He was on the way to Malacca, but turned around when he found out I was stuck… so he’s going to come here anyway.”

Hmm… this sounded fishy. Probably a stalker I thought. I’ll handle him. So we waited.

Soon enough, another car comes into the car park, and a gentleman alights.

‘Looks decent’, I thought. But then again, so do all men. After some introductions, at which I did pretty well to keep my suspicions under wraps, the discussion was on what to do next.

He offered to drop her home. I was having none of it.

“She’s coming with us, we’ve got a show to catch. You can go back to Malacca. Nice meeting you.”

I had spoken and that was it.

As we reached the theatre, another friend who was waiting for us asked what happened.

“I’ll tell you later, but thank god we reached there when we did!”


To find out three weeks later that those two just started going out was…

The good thing is they had a good laugh about it that night itself (and till today, still do). They even asked me to speak at their wedding.

What are the odds of something of a similar genre happening to me again?

Well, once every 7 years it seems!

A few months ago, another guy told me that he was going out with someone, and to find that those two just started going out was…

He told me yesterday that they are going to get engaged to be married.

I’m not at liberty to share the details of the story, but suffice to say, one sequel is more than enough for me!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

One small step for a bachelor...

one giant leap for a married man.

One of the biggest adjustments I had to make in my life after taking my matrimonial vows was converting my bachelor's pad into a couple's room.

Let me put things in perspective...


This happened a few years ago.

I had to renew my car's road tax. For this, you needed the car's registration card, which in Malaysia, is pink in colour.

I looked for it around my room, and couldn't find it. I looked for it around my office and couldn't find it.

A few days on, after many hours of searching, when I was already driving with an expired road tax, I still couldn't locate that pink card!!

One afternoon soon after, I told my mum I was going to the police station to make a police report.


"I lost my car registration card..."

"How did you lose it?"

"I don't know, I just can't find it in the room."

"Oh... trying checking under the bed."


I ran up to my room, straddled the bed, heaved the planks off and I couldn't believe the sight that greeted my eyes...

More than half my stuff was under the bed! A short search later and I found that pink card.

I asked mum, "When did you move my stuff??"

"We cleaned your room about 3 months ago when you were away".


And I had no idea...!


Now that I've got a room-mate, everything is in place and of course so much neater - which means I've lost all bearings and can't find anything!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The day the earth trembled...

"We're used to earthquakes, two, three times every year. But this time it was different. Usually the ground moves sideways, causing no damage, or minimal damage. This time the ground moved up and down. The houses were lifted and then simply crumbled to the ground. It was like as if someone pulled the carpet from below our feet..."


We were on the 17th floor and we felt the building tremble. And this was in Kuala Lumpur.

Exactly a year ago today, the devastating earthquake struck Padang in West Sumatera, Indonesia.

Two weeks later, I found myself in Padang, on a relief mission.

I was there for nearly a week, doing what we were sent there to do.

I would send a report back to headquarters every night. This would be followed by my daily... err... musings. Which included these:

Day 1
- Teh telor* oh my goodness it's like milkshake. A night drink they say it is before laughing...
- Satay Padang is delicious! Altho they don't call it Satay Padang here... that would be weird.
- We sleep 16 men in one house. 5 are on their way back from Pekan Baru, and some sleep in the garden. So house is relatively quiet now.
- We all share 1 bathroom. For this reason and the point preceding, this place not suitable for my ladies.
- I'm still wide awake. Teh telor memang power.

*teh telor means egg tea :-)

Day 2
Without the benefit of teh telor...
- Our house has no fan.
- To those who wondered why my haircut was as important as getting my vaccinations: with two strokes of my 80 cents plastic hair brush, I'm ready to face the world.
- We had a meeting tonight to plot the distribution of aid tomorrow. They were doin mental calculations on total weight and total litres and total items... I kept very quiet.

Day 3
- I was awakened at 3am last night, by a cat at my feet. No privacy I tell you.
- And the resident cockerel woke me up at the crack of dawn. Nothing romantic at all about that.
- School is back in session. They hold classes in tents. It feels like a sauna tho. When I reached there, they were on a break. In the teachers room, where the wall had collapsed, the kids were playing with a mannequin. They wrapped it in a batik cloth, and then carried the mannequin while chanting religious chants, as if it were a dead body.
- We had lunch today at a restaurant that had major cracks on its walls, had its windows shattered and floors cracked as well.
- For the first time in ages, I eat for energy. I can feel each morsel of food burn during the day. And we reach meal times famished. And we whack the meal like there's no tomorrow.
- The names of the places here will give lawyers like some of us nightmares. One place is called 2 x 11 Enam Lingkung. You actually call it that!
- I nearly fainted today. At dinner. The cendol in a glass. It was so sweet I nearly belched it out.

Day 4
- The cat woke me up at 2.58am
- The most bizzare incident so far - the cook cooking his Indo-mee with ... coffee.


In his defence, it was dark.


Day 5
No musings on Day 5 as things got a little complicated. We were about half-an-hour from our base late that night, after a long day out, when we were stopped by police. We were told that a few hundred metres down the road, a landslide had occured a few minutes prior, burying some passing cars. We had to take a 4 hour detour.

A couple of weeks later, when everyone involved in the mission got together, one of my team members 'credited' me with saving all our lifes.

"Thank god he insisted on eating good Padang fish head curry that night. It took us a while to locate one that had fish head curry, but we finally did. The time it took us all to finish the meal probably delayed us long enough."



I haven't been back to Padang since, but having seen the devastation caused by that one afternoon of terror, the people of Padang have a long way to go, years perhaps, before life returns to some semblence of normalcy.

One elderly gentleman I met there said that he welcomed all aid, but he knew that the aid would eventually stop and that he needed to start rebuilding his life with his own hands, brick by brick.

And he meant it literally.

God bless the people of Padang.

Monday, September 20, 2010

About Young, The Restless...

I've been with a particular four-letter acronymed NGO since its formation 10 years ago. I've been through a lot with it.

And I have garnered an incredible amount of lessons from it.

Today, as I was doing some work related to this NGO, I recalled some of those lessons... :-)


The first one involves a close friend, someone who has been with me in the NGO from early on.

At a meeting, we disagreed on how to proceed with a project. The disagreement got quite uncomfortable. We exchanged views, each time with the tone raising a few decibles. The rest of the meeting was watching in stunned silence. One pleaded for us to stop arguing. The verbal sparring got ugly.

As we were getting nowhere, we decided to stop and simply disagreed.

After which we had coffee and cakes prepared by his wife.

It's not easy, these things, as professional discourse that gets nasty may be construed or unavoidably degenerate into a personal attack.

I've seen it numerous times: people saying 'don't take things personally' before going on a personal rampage; or after going on a personal rampage, they say 'don't take it personally'. You've got to be careful, as not all relationships can take it, what more if the personal and professional nature of the relationship is intertwined.

But if your intentions are right, and you are fighting for what you truly believe in, and you have others who fight for things with a similar conviction, than those could survive such violent clashes.

Yep, and you can help plaster each other's verbal wounds over a hot drink, glad that the relationship is still solid despite.


It was at our annual meeting, seven years into our formation. We're a small NGO, still slowly finding our way, doing little things, and sometimes we get delirously happy with the little successes that come our way.

At the meeting, a member gets up and demands change in the leadership. Demands that the younger members be given the opportunity to lead. Feels that it is time for fresh ideas to be injected into the society. That the leadership has been at the helm for too long.

Up to that point, I've only read about these moments in the papers, or hear them over the news. Here, it was happening real time!

He had a point. Leaders must not overstay their welcome. And yes, fresh ideas are needed, as someone who's been running the show for too long may hold the organisation back from progressing.

Change is good, sometimes change is needed, but change for the sake of change because it feels like it's time for change - may not always work!


This one is a little convoluted, but is one of my favourite lessons, which I have shared at numerous occasions with different people.

A small debt was incurred by one of two new members in one of our programmes.

The first one denied it, saying it was probably the second one. The second one also denied it, and was in tears as the other had said it could be her.

Some investigate work later... and we found out that it was the first one.

My big boss, a retired police officer, was furious. He called the first one, and over her continued denials (possibly she was too embarrassed to retract her denial), ripped into her.

He then turned to me and said that she must be expelled from our NGO and never be allowed to return. I was taken aback, as the amount of money in question was not that much at all (not enough to even buy a small meal at your favourite fast food joint).

He says when someone lies, they will be a liar for life. Because to cover your lies, you must continue lying. So the mind is tuned to lying over and over again. And it becomes a habit. She may only be 17, and it may only have been a small amount, but because of what she chose to do, she will forever have to propagate this lie with us. Being expelled from the NGO after having been welcomed into it just a few hours before is a harsh, harsh lesson. If she stops her lying habit, then it would have been worth the harsh action. It she doesn't, then it would have been good riddance.

Some may disagree, but the principle here I still adhere to.


At the end of the day, it's the people that matter.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Over the oceans...

The past couple of days had been quite hectic, and stand out for my deprivation of sleep.

So getting onto the flight this morning was something I was looking forward to, as it meant I could get a few hours of very welcome sleep.

As I was settling in my seat, someone says. “Hey bro, how’re you doing?”

I look up and it’s the elder brother of a friend of mine (yep, the same guy who emceed that friend’s wedding that I wrote about in my previous posting).

“I’m ok! Where’re you heading to?”

“Err… to the same place you’re heading to … I guess…”

Well of course, we’re in a plane.

“I’ll catch you later yea…” he says as he moves down the aisle.

I must get out more often.


This reminded me of something I said a few years ago.

Guest: Hi, I don't think we've met.

Me: I don't think I've met you before either...

Monday, August 16, 2010

Beautiful warnings...

It's been a cacophony of weddings this past month!

The first two of three were interracial.

The second one was of a friend I've known since I was five (who also happens to be one of three friends I've known longest in my life). The trouble with having your elder brother emcee your wedding is having things like this said about you:

"My brother was not a particularly ugly baby, but my mum started having morning sickness after he was born."


A couple of Sunday's ago, I attended a third, very purple, wedding.

I was seated beside an elderly lady, whom I discovered was related to the groom.

From her eyes, I could sense she was one steely lady. Across the night she shared some lovely stories. How she had not even seen a picture of her husband, what more met him, before the day of their marriage. In fact, she had asked the equivalent of her bridesmaid to describe her husband to her on the day of the wedding itself, but when her mum found out, she was scolded.

"Why? You have someone else to compare him to, is it??"

She told me that the first words her husband uttered to her when he first saw her after the solemnisation of the marriage were words to the following effect:

"Please accept me as your husband. I want to live my whole life with you and die in your arms."

My goodness. What words.

God is great, and his words did come true, as he died in her arms when he suddenly passed away at their new home, two weeks after retiring and having just moved to KL from Penang.

The lady continued her stories and one thing struck me hard. She said she missed the old days when we were all much closer.

"Nowadays, we're so busy with everything; we've got no time for family."

"Whenever I see the younger ones, they always say 'How're you' and that's about it. Well, I say to hell with your 'how are yous'!

"If that's all you're going to say to me, better not say anything!"

I nodded in agreement with what she said. The younger generation is becoming like that.

Aunty, I don't know your name, but the next time I meet you, you are definitely getting more than a 'how are you' from me.

Ramadhan Mubarak. When Eid comes around and you meet your aunties and uncles, remember, something more than a 'how are you?' this year ok...

Monday, May 24, 2010

The appearance of a disease is swift as an arrow...

its disappearance slow, like a thread.

~ Chinese Proverb.

A friend once told me that in Britain, if someone says "how're you doing?", the correct reply should be a "how're you doing?" as well. At least to the elders...

I'm not too sure about that, but I practiced it for a while. I did it for a while here in Malaysia as well, but stopped because people didn't really get me.

Anyway, today I met colleague whom I hadn't met for about a month.

"How're you doing?" I ask.

"I just had a stroke," he mumbled with difficulty.

I was stunned.


"3 weeks ago."

He proceeds to show me how one side of his face is paralysed. He takes off his glasses and blinks, but only one eye blinks.

"How come you're back at work?"

"I can't sit still at home. I'm still undergoing treatment though."

He explains that one side of his body was slightly affected, and he can't carry stuff with that hand.

I've come across people I know who've suffered a stroke. But seeing this friend - it messed me up a bit.

Back home, I wikiepedia-ed stroke.

A stroke (sometimes called a cerebrovascular accident (CVA)) is the rapidly developing loss of brain function(s) due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain, caused by a blocked or burst blood vessel. This can be due to ischemia (lack of blood flow) caused by thrombosis or arterial embolism or due to a hemorrhage. As a result, the affected area of the brain is unable to function, leading to inability to move one or more limbs on one side of the body, inability to understand or formulate speech, or inability to see one side of the visual field.

A stroke is a medical emergency and can cause permanent neurological damage, complications, and death. It is the leading cause of adult disability in the United States and Europe. It is the number two cause of death worldwide and may soon become the leading cause of death worldwide. Risk factors for stroke include advanced age, hypertension (high blood pressure), previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA), diabetes, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking and atrial fibrillation. High blood pressure is the most important modifiable risk factor of stroke.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'll be ready...

never you fear.

When I wrote in my last post about the tree incident that happened a few weeks ago, it reminded me of this incident that happened a few years ago :-)


"It's the block of offices after Baywatch..."

This was not sun-drenched Miami, or wherever it was that the Baywatch we all know was supposed to have been set, but rain-drenched Kelana Jaya.

"Did you just say Baywatch??"

Apparently, this Baywatch is a food court. I was going to meet a friend at his office one evening after work and that was the landmark.


I was walking back to my car that was parked along the road outside the block. As I was walking, I saw that a minor accident had happened. I figured out from the scene that the BMW was waiting to make a u-turn, and the souped up 20-year old Mitsubishi clipped the BMW when the driver tried to overtake the BMW at the u-turn.

Very stupid.

The passengers from both cars were already outside and there was a shouting match going on, but it was mostly in Mandarin. The BMW driver was a 30-something guy, and he seemed to have a 58-year old uncle as his passenger. The Mitsubishi had four boys, all in their late-teens. I walked past the commotion towards my car.

I got into my car (Proton Satria 1.3GLS, manual tranmission, manual windows as well). Swung it around, and would have to pass the accident scene before I reached the junction to the main road.

As I drove past the scene, I was bloody shocked to see what was going on...

Uncle was holding one of the young boys, the driver presumably, by his throat! The boy's feet were nearly off the ground... and his friends seemed rooted by fear where they were. The BMW driver was screaming at uncle to stop (or egging him on, not sure)... but uncle was beating up the boy.

This called for some intervention! I ground my car to a halt, just outside Baywatch, and jumped out. The screaming that was going-on attracted some of the Baywatch life-guards... eh I mean waiters, to come out and see what was going on.

"Come-on!!!" I screamed at them before running to intervene.

As we got closer and closer, I was thinking what we should do... we can't simply barge in and starting beating up uncle, can we?

The best is just get in between uncle and the poor boy who was still being held by his neck.

"Hoi!!!" I screamed while still running, to get uncle's attention. "Stop! Hoi! Stop!"

Ok better tell the others that there's no turning back and we should just jump in ....

Turned to face the Baywatch dudes just behind me...

... and I saw nothing...

... not a single person ...

... oh wait, I can make them out, there they are... still just outside Baywatch eagerly waiting to see what I would do.

Turned to the front again, and there was uncle, having let go of the boy, looking at me.

He moved forward. I began to retreat.

Then uncle gave a couple of flying kicks to the Mitsubishi (could have been my face).

Then he cursed at the boys, before getting into the BMW. The driver got in as well, and they drove off.

The four boys looked very relieved that uncle had gone away... last I remember they were looking for a lost slipper.

I went back to my car, ignoring the Baywatch onlookers. As I drove back, I was thinking.

It's not easy being a David Hasselhoff.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it...

does it make a sound?


The torrential rain in KL has been really something to speak about. The roads turn into rivers. Sometimes you wonder what the city would be like if drains didn’t exist.

I was driving one day about 3pm with a colleague, to a hotel for a meeting, when we got caught in a traffic crawl. This was within earshot of my employer’s headquarters mind you (as if this fact was a sign of anything…). The rain was so heavy that the view from my windscreen was a blur despite the valiant efforts of my 15 year old wipers at full speed to remove the raindrops away. The road I was on is usually completely shaded by the 50 to 60 foot lush trees. One of those cosy roads that you love to drive on. Now the lashing rain made the trees sway madly.

The SUV in front of my car moves, and I move my car too. Suddenly, I see a 20 feet long branch snap off and come crashing down on the SUV. The SUV shudders to a stop, and so do I.

For what seemed an eternity, I sat there, thinking what a close call that was. Then it dawned on me that the driver of the SUV may be squished! I got out of my car, jinked to the back to get my umbrella - before realising that I can’t do a rescue mission holding an umbrella! I was already drenched hand, foot and mouth in that short time. I ran over to the SUV, expecting to pull out a bloodied and wailing driver at best… but as I got to the driver’s side, he opens the door and gets out, stunned. He was in uniform, and he looked to me like an auxiliary policeman. No blood, so that was a relief. I ask if he’s ok, and he asks if I can help remove the branch.

I thought he was nuts. I looked back, and traffic was already backed up as far as the eye can see. I give the branch a nudge to see how heavy the behemoth was. It was very heavy. Carrying it would be impossible for the two of us, but should be possible with the many KLites who would in a few moments stream along to help.

In the meantime, leveraging on the position of the branch across the bonnet of the SUV, the two of us attempted to force the branch over the vehicle. Just as we were about to roll it over, I realised that the branch had snagged a cable on its way down. Not wanting to first get electrocuted and second cause a blackout in KL, I screamed at the dude to stop. At this point I realise that there’s actually another guy in the passenger seat, still stunned that a tree had fallen on his vehicle. We manage to convince him to get real, get onto the driver’s side and reverse the SUV a little.

The two of us then heaved and pushed the branch off the SUV and launched it over the safety railings on the other side of the road, taking advantage of the momentum of the heavy branch to pull off this manoeuvre… pulling down the cable a little further, but not wrenching it down. But my deltoid muscles…

I was soaked to the bone.

Throughout the 2 minutes it took for all this to take place, a lot of people stopped to look, but not a single person came forward to help.

Not surprising though. Who would want to get wet on a working day?

By this time, my colleague had used her blackberry to e-mail her next appointment saying she won’t make it because a tree fell in front of her ride.

As I got back into the car, she remarked that I had to get changed because I was dripping wet. Not a single thread was dry.

She had a closer look, and saw streaks of dirt across my shirt.

“Eww, what’s that?”

I looked at my shirt, and said “Must be from the tree…”

“Oh… the tree is quite dirty.”

“Yea…” I replied… disappointed that my shirt now had dirt stains.

As we drove on in the driving rain… very soon we realized the utter obnoxiousness of the statements we made. These are the type of things you won’t be able to live down if anyone knew you said it…

My colleague made it on time for her appointment.

As I drove back home early through the rivers of KL that evening, I recalled fondly two other incidents, one a close call, and the other involving ‘water' … :-)


It’s not the sound it makes when it falls, it’s the silence it leaves when it’s gone.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Class of 2009

My brothers and sisters of the class of 2009,

Be humble

You reap what you sow

In a new place
Remember where you come from
Remember you come in what form

Get familiar with the people
You never know who can help you put up a great show
You never know who can help your dreams grow

It’s a jungle
So create an identity
That you can take pride in


Be prepared to meet all sorts of people
In all sorts of places

Learn from the experiences of others
Especially when they are willing to share

(but not too much)

It may be nature’s call
For you to give back to others
Even when you only have 30 seconds to decide

Surround yourself with inspiring characters
They may just inspire you

(but don’t forget how much)


Take a stand
But don't be afraid to stand corrected
Get your voice heard
But don't forget to listen

Even to those who can’t see you
Even to those who can’t hear you


Plan and prepare
But be prepared to change and adapt
But still create wealth


Fight for your rights
Fight for what you believe is right
You can't make everyone happy
But try understand what's it like being in their shoes

Remember the masks people wear
Remember the masks you wear

Appreciate the value of others
and the value of yourself


Partake in the simple joys of others
It may make you smile too

Carry babies from the cot
And notice the hornbills on tree-tops

Go outside sometimes
And do battle with the elements

Let the natives dance
And then join them


Like what you do
I say it again
Like what you do

Practice, many more times

Have fun with acronyms
But find out why things are named so weird

like it really matters

Be prepared
along the way

It may turn out to be the best

Embrace your results
But promise yourself
You will move on quick

Don't underestimate
what you can learn from others
Don't underestimate
what others can learn from you

It's not too long
It's not too short
a time
It's what you do with time

As time goes by

But always

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday...

but never remembers her age.

Although my birthday celebrations tend to be more muted than the average Joe, I've had a few that will stay with me for a few more birthdays to come.


There was one when I turned 10 I think, where I got many M.A.S.K. toys... Thunderhawk, Condor, Raven, Switchblade, Iguana…


In high school, there were three of us in my class who had the same birthdates. What are the odds of that??

(seriously, what are the odds of that?)


Surprise birthday parties can go horribly wrong. This one year, there were about 30 people crammed into a house in Nottingham waiting to surprise me. What no one realised was I had wanted to spend the night quietly, and had other plans. The guys who were to bring me to the house only managed to convince me to follow them after a considerable amount of time... and by the time I made my entry, I had to face quite a number of pissed people!


This one five years ago takes the cake!

I got a bouquet of flowers sent to me at the office, signed off “secret admirer”. I immediately thought it was my colleagues, as they were the ones who would tend to remember these dates, but their denials revealed it wasn’t. The handwriting on the card though, looked familiar. I had my suspicions.

I went home and dug through some old papers at the bottom drawer of the cupboard, and finally found some evidence! I looked at the handwriting on the card that came with the bouquet, and compared it with the one on the note written by a friend 10 years earlier. The similarities were obvious! Add to the fact that this friend's birthday was a day before mine - she would definitely remember! The first thing I did was to inform my colleagues how I solved the mystery of the "secret admirer" so quickly.

I also figured it must have been a double act, and so messaged this friend and another who I was certain was involved as well.

They feigned knowledge at first.

And still feigned knowledge a few phone calls later.

They denied and denied... and continued denying... till the end of the day.

The next day, late afternoon, I finally found out it was indeed my colleagues. They were apparently splitting slides the whole evening before as I updated them the progress of my forensics...

The next year, those two friends sent me a bouquet on my birthday, and in the card they wrote, “we’re sorry we forgot your birthday last year, but this time it’s really us!”


Two years ago, and this time back in Nottingham, 4 big guys (Florian, Chris, Bilal, Wira) waylaid me and bundled me into a cab to an all-you-can-eat buffet. These guys were really hungry. My birthday was just an excuse.


This year, it was the first with the wife. Very memorable! Thanks dear.

Now if only birthdays came every month… :-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If one had but a single glance to give the world...

one should gaze on Istanbul.

I wish I was travelling with Alphonse de Lamartine, but back in my uni-days, I used to go travelling with my friends, and we landed in what was once upon a time Byzantium and Constantinople. Visitors take their photographs and have their own stories to tell - well so do I. My pictures are in a photo album somewhere, my stories in my head.

I still remember vividly two conversations we had in the centre of Istanbul, in the vicinity of the stunning Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.


“Sirs, you looking for a place to stay?”

Not wanting to sound too eager, my friend gave a nonchalant “Yes we are”.

“You should stay at our place. Price is good, and we serve seven items for breakfast.”

A few minutes later, all in, it sounded like a reasonable deal. Food too was an important consideration, considering we were nearly on a shoe-string budget. And so we stayed at the motel recommended by this guy.

The next morning, we were extremely upset. We didn’t have the seven items for breakfast as promised by the guy.

We tracked him down somewhere near the motel, as he was looking for more tourists to stay at his ‘we serve seven items for breakfast’ place.

“You promised seven items, there was only bread!”

The guy looked genuinely concerned.

“No seven items?? No coffee, tea, jam, butter, marmalade and milk??”


We managed to convince him to buy us some papaya for breakfast the next morning.


“Have you visited Haleh?”

We looked at each other. Among the five of us, we had done enough research to know every corner of Istanbul, but none of us has read about Haleh.

“You haven’t heard of Haleh?”


“Ah, but no visit to Istanbul is complete if you haven’t visited Haleh.”

To say that this guy had our attention was an understatement. How could we have missed out on visiting a gem of a place in this historical city? Maybe we were too caught up reading our travel guides that we failed to connect with the locals like this kind gentleman?

“What’s Haleh?”

“Like I said, you must visit Haleh if you come to Istanbul. Please, please follow me.”

“What’s Haleh??”

“Haleh is my carpet shop…”


I have visited so many places I just wish I had more time to write about the amusing people I’ve met, the crazy things people have made me do (and done to me), and the unforgettable experiences that colour my trips.