Saturday, January 31, 2015

Amir Meludah

Have any of you heard of Amir Meludah? He’s a rapper that raps in Malay. Homeboy goes hard. You can check his songs out here:

Anyway, he’s also come up with a couple of other initiatives to mempertengahkan dan memperkasakan Malay rap, which I respect and admire him for. They are as follows:

Yup, he made a whole website dedicated to helping users get their dose of Malay raps all in one URL. People who want to listen to other rappers that are rapping in Malay but aren’t getting played on the radio can pop into this website and gain a picture of how Malay rap is doing at the moment.

2. Pelatih Kata

Pelatih Kata is another website that intends to help wordsmiths in their pursuit of that right word to put at the end of a line. It’s a rhyme-dictionary for the Malay language, a much-needed one at that, because (to my knowledge, anyway) there isn’t anything like it out there in existence for the Malay language. This website has been very very useful to me in my rap-endeavour so far, and I encourage anyone who intends to write sajaks or puisis to go to


Amirmeludah is a man on a mission. And the work that he’s put in so far has been such amazing things that it’s hard not to admire the guy. Most people talk a big game but don’t really do anything about anything (points to self), but this dude is putting the work in to see his goal achieved, inspiring people, least of all me, to up their game and make a difference in the world that we live in, to become the change we wish to see.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Nak Tuleh Tapi Tak Pun

Yesterday, I wanted to write something, anything down for the blog as early as the minute I got back to the apartment from school, because I had plans for the night that would prevent me from doing much before I had to get to sleep, but I ended up spending three hours watching radio interviews of rappers as well as half of a hip-hop documentary. Before I knew it, I had to go out for dinner and by the time I got back from doing what I had to do, it was already late and the only things my could do were to close up and let my consciousness slip away.

Even as of writing this, I knew that in order for me to have enough time to think about what to write and compose something, I had to immediately, upon arriving home from school, get on the empty word document and start typing, but instead I spent a good 45 minutes watching prank videos and chat roulette recordings on Youtube. They weren’t even all that funny.

This is my procrastination. It’s with me and it’s here to stay. But to get around it, or at least this is what I tell myself, I have to be able to get into that headspace that’s focused and strong-willed to plough my way through any obstacles and reach my goals. 

And sometimes that means making some sacrifices. Am I willing to make those sacrifices in order to reach those goals? Are those goals worth it? Will those sacrifices bite my backside in the future or will I be happy that I made those sacrifices? These are just some of the questions that one faces on the daily, and I’m no different.

The procrastination video that’s on my Youtube channel was made because I wanted to remind myself of what I need to do to curb the habit, but by no means does it mean that I’ve mastered productivity. Far from it. As I said in the video, non-procrastinators don’t really understand what procrastinators go through, and I think that because I am a procrastinator myself, I have a right to talk about the struggles of a person who procrastinates regularly.

I need to remember to focus, just say no to IRIF and hurt his feelings while I’m at it. I keep forgetting that.

p/s - if you aren’t reading already, do yourselves a favour and subscribe to it. Eet ees amazeballs.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


A couple of days ago, Joe Flizzow dropped the video for the song “Baek”, the latest single off his album released in 2013, Havoc. You may check the video out here:

My first reaction to the song (because I haven’t heard it up until that point) was “ugh” because of the lyrics. I have a thing against lyrics that sound like they were written secara malas, and this was especially true for Baek. One of the rhymes in the song go “Aku nak pergi kedai nak beli Jordan / Dia nak pergi cuti dekat Amman, Jordan”. Absolute cringe.

Thing about it is, even after all that cringing, I still found myself returning to the song to listen to it again and again. Maybe the hook was just too good. Maybe the song as a whole was just so bad, it was good. Maybe Joe had entered the illuminati and that song had elements of mind-control in them. Or maybe I’m just that confused by how a veteran in the rap-scene could release such a mediocrely-written piece of work.

I went back to Joe’s old pieces. The raps that he wrote for the songs while he was in Too Phat, like Alhamdulillah, If I Die Tonight and even Wanna Battle, and anybody can see that Mr Flizzow is capable of writing some quality raps. It’s just the case that he chooses not to, in the lead single Havoc, as well as the single I’m discussing right here.

Of course, the fact that I’m even talking about the single right now is a triumph for him, regardless of whether or not I’m talking about it in a positive light. No publicity is bad publicity, as the saying goes. But I had to get that off my chest anyway.

We could assume all we want. Assume that if he did try to put more effort into writing more intelligent-sounding songs, he wouldn’t be getting as much attention as he is getting. Assume that this is him demonstrating just how influential he is to the Malaysian public, to the point that he can release half-assed bars and still get people to listen to the songs (on repeat). Assume that at the end of the day, music is about making money, and because Joe seems to be doing very well for himself through his music, we can say that he’s super-successful.

But, I don’t know man, with as much influence (and talent) that he has, I don’t get why he doesn’t try to put in more effort to make positive social change. His apparent refusal to do this, through his songs especially, is what kinda gets at me. 

I’m probably just hoping too much from one person. He is only human, and I can’t expect everyone to think like I do. But I just wish he’d listen to his brother Malique’s words of advice in the song Alhamdulillah “Bakat dikurnia jangan disalah guna / jangan kufur nikmat yang diberi percuma / guna kelebihan untuk hikmah bersama”.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Projek Kalsom 20 Experience

So last weekend I went on a programme called the Kalsom Movement, which was conducted by MASCA (Malaysian Students’ Council of Australia). The Kalsom Movement was established in 1994, and it is a programme that aims to help educate and motivate secondary school students in rural areas of Malaysia who have the potential but need that extra push to help them fulfil their potentials. You can read more about The Kalsom Movement at

I participated in the capacity of a facilitator. The programme was brought to my attention by the Deputy Director of the programme, and I found it intriguing and wanted to be involved as well. Alhamdulillah, I was able to attend and be part of a wonderful experience.

The programme runs a full week, but I was only able to attend the first two days of it (last Saturday and Sunday) because I have a job to go to on the weekdays. The first day was about preparing for the programme that would be run the next day at the school that we were going to, SMK Dato Syed Ahmad. We reviewed the modules and activities that were going to be conducted and rehearsed them to make sure that we were ready for what was going to happen the next day. The prep-day was great, since I got to make new friends and be in an environment where everyone was very passionate about being there and helping out, since they were all volunteers too. Added to the fact that most of them are or were, in one capacity or another, part of MASCA, which represents pretty much the best of the best Malaysian students studying in Australia, and you get a really inspiring bunch of people.

The second day, we had to wake up super early in the morning to get to the school in Kuala Nerang before the students arrived in school and set up the hall in which we were going to conduct the programme. Then when the students arrived, we conducted what we had planned the previous day. We did three subjects with the students, namely History, Mathematics and English. Needless to say, I was most useless during the Math-section, but I got to contribute my share during the History and English parts, so that was good.

All the facilitators got to groups of 4-5 SPM candidates to help out throughout the day, and I got a group of 4 students that were very shy-types. It was tough for my facilitating partner and I to even get two sentences from them at any one time. But I think by the end of the day, we got them to come out of their shells ever so slightly, since we had to do some activities that required acting and performing and presenting things, so that helped in getting them to be more comfortable with speaking up. At the end of the day, our group even won the most points from all the competitions and became the best group of the programme (admittedly, even we were astonished by this turn of events). The programme adjourned at around 5.30pm and by the end of it, we were all so pooped, but all of us had smiles on our faces, saying that the exhaustion was well worth it.

I really liked being in that environment, around all the facilitators, where I felt that everyone was so competent and passionate about what they were doing. Not only that, they were a fun-loving bunch of people as well, so while getting things done, we were always up for a laugh about something or other. I don’t think it’s very common that you find yourself in a situation where you’re in a group of people that you can instantly be productive while still have good fun with. Thankfully, I get that feeling when I’m school too, so I am very grateful that that’s the case.

A question that was asked to me and continued to hang over me throughout the programme was “why are you volunteering to teach, while you are already a teacher?” I already teach as a job, why did I choose to do the same thing in my free time? I’m not entirely sure. Maybe it was because it was an opportunity to work with MASCA, an organisation I have always liked because of the programmes that they run and the people that run them. Maybe it was because it was an opportunity to give back to the community, and I am enthusiastic about doing that in whichever way I can, even if it was something I was already doing as a day job. Or maybe it was because teaching is still my passion, and when presented with an opportunity to teach, it’s hard for me to say no because so much of me wants to say yes. But then again, it could also be a combination of those reasons, and maybe even more.

I was glad I participated. It was an amazing experience, with great people and wonderful students as well. I encourage anyone and everyone to participate in such activities should they come your way. It really is an awesome experience and you learn so much while giving back to the community.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Getting Feedback

I like feedback. It’s like the thing that drives me forward in whatever things I do. It helps me to achieve my objective by pointing out what I should do more of, and what I should probably do less of. But of course, the feedback goes through my own mental filter which includes the question “how does this help me achieve my goal?” and other such silly questions.

Within this week, I’ve received a couple of interesting pieces of feedback regarding two different things. The first is feedback about my last blogpost, where I expressed my views about polygamy. Some friends of mine from school said that the view I hold isn’t a very common view to hold. One even said that it was the first time they had ever heard that point of view coming from anyone they knew personally.

I knew that my view wasn’t the majority stance on the matter, but I didn’t know that it was that rare to find someone who shared my way of seeing the matter. It may be the majority of men are very confident about their ability to be just and fair, and are perfectly capable of allowing their spouses to feel the way they do when they tell them that they’ll be taking in another wife.

This of course led to further discussions, and I like to participate in that kind of discourse, where we dissect and unravel a certain topic to get to the crux of the matter as well as expand the discussion further to make us think about the matter more critically as well as within a context, while at the same time getting to see the matter from a different point of view. I treasure these discussions very much.

The second piece of feedback I received was from a student that I taught last year. I asked him what class he was in this year, and he said “G”. (The school that I teach in streams its classes according to the students’ academic performance, just so you know) The student was in the “D” class last year, two classes above the “G” class, so I asked him how he slipped down to where he was. It went something like:

Me : Kamu dok kelas mana lani?
Student : Saya dok kelas G.
Me : La, camana bleh jadi camtu?
Student : Dah BI saya dapat rendah.
Me : Oh. Awat? Saya ajar teruk ka?
Student : Dak aih, mister ajar elok. Saya ja yang tak dengar cakap.
Me : …

The way I was trained, it is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure that her/his students learn, and a student’s failure to learn only reflects the teacher’s failure to teach. So when I found out that the student had moved down two classes, I felt gutted. Like I failed the student. It’s not a very good feeling, to say the least.

I guess that’s why I asked the student if I was to blame (saya ajar teruk ka?). Because I immediately felt a certain guilt within myself. The kid is a nice kid, and maybe he didn’t say I was a bad teacher because he was too nice for that, letting himself take the fall instead.

But yeah, I can’t shake off the feeling that I didn’t do enough to help that particular student in class last year. I did a lot, and I really tried, but I guess it wasn’t enough.

The feedback from the student was much appreciated. It allowed to reflect upon my own teaching practices and really ask myself the question of whether or not I’m doing enough for my students.

I want every success in the world for my students, but if I can’t even teach them to construct full sentences, I shouldn’t expect too much. Indeed, one would question if I am even qualified to be a teacher.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Earlier today, I listened to not one, but two stories about men having second wives. The stories came from women, so of course they had their slant on it, but, as I imagine it would be the case for most Muslim men here in Malaysia, they’re somewhat alright with it. The women that told me those stories even theorised that the number of men taking second wives have been on the rise.

Of course, a lot of those men legitimise having more than one spouse at a time with this verse from the Quran:

“And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].” 
An-Nisa’ [4:3]

My own personal stance on the matter is that I am not for polygamy for myself. It’s not that I am doubting the Quranic decree or anything. I just doubt my own ability to be just between my spouses. Indeed, I don’t even know if I’ll be capable of keeping one wife happy, let alone several.

I’ve heard the view of some women on the matter, and for the most part, they are never happy about it, not it coming from other people’s husbands, let alone their own. Should I have the assumption that my future-wife will hold different views from them on this matter? I highly doubt it. Most women who are in a polygamous relationship seem to barely tolerate it, rather than embrace it.

I can’t imagine putting my future wife through that. We’ll have enough troubles of our own, enough things to fight about without having to worry about another woman in the mix. Some men have it in themselves to put their wives through that. I just don’t.

Again, my main reason for not being a proponent of polygamy is that I am not confident that I will be equal and fair towards my spouses. Even the Quran says that:

And you will never be able to be equal [in feeling] between wives, even if you should strive [to do so]. So do not incline completely [toward one] and leave another hanging. And if you amend [your affairs] and fear Allah - then indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.”
– An-Nisa’ [4:129]

I’m really just happy to have even one person, a partner to go through the ups and downs of life with man. And I hope that she’ll be happy to have me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

"How To Write A Great Essay About Anything"

Yesterday, while I was perusing the twitters, I came across an article that was retweeted by a teacher friend of mine. The article is entitled “How To Write A Great Essay About Anything”. 

The writer outlines what a well-structured essay looks like. He uses the analogy of the Spartan fighters who used a square battle formation, putting their reader and their main point in the middle of the square, and protecting the centre from all sides. It makes much more sense when you go read his explanation than my poor excuse for a summary, so if you’re intrigued, you can go read it here:

It reminded me of another academic writing tip that I received from one of my favourite lecturers while I was in teacher training college. She introduced us to the formula PREP, which stands for Point, Reason, Evidence, Paraphrase.

So basically, a good paragraph consists of these four essential ingredients, in that order. Firstly, your paragraph needs to have a point. What are you trying to say or argue through that paragraph?  (e.g. - Teaching is fun.) Then, give a reason for your point. (e.g. - This is because a lot of activities can be done in the classroom that are both interesting and rewarding.) After that, you give evidence to support your claim. (e.g. - In teaching English, we can use language games, songs and even movies to help convey the content that we want to get across to the students.) Lastly, you paraphrase your point. (e.g. - There is indeed fun to be had in the classroom.)

Those four ingredients make up the bare bones of your paragraph, and if you are able to get your points in order, those points become the bare bones of your essay. The final thing to do is just execute. PREP has helped me and numerous other classmates get through writing assignments throughout our studies, and to that particular lecturer, we say thank you very much.

When I look back at how I write my blog pieces though, I don’t write in that format. Indeed, I don’t even know that I have a format when writing a blog piece. What I basically try to do in my blog posts is to get down in writing what is going through my mind, and how I think up of the points and words are usually how they end up on the page.

So my blogposts are not really essays per se, since they’re not trying to sell you anything. I’m not trying to put forth an argument and getting you to believe me. Most of the times, I’m just trying to tell you what’s been on my mind, and if it comes off argumentative-like, then it wasn’t by intention. That’s merely how it ended up sounding like.

So in that sense, it is closer to creative writing than academic writing, since I’m just writing to express. And if that makes my writing not great, then I’m alright with it.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thinking About Death

If you ever bothered to read the short-stories that I wrote between June and July last year, you’d notice that I quite a few of the pieces incorporated death in them. Somebody died, or was implied to be dead or something like that.

Personally, I have never lost a loved one yet. There are the loss of distant relatives here and there, but no one I truly was close to and had an active relationship with. Which should bring about a bit of head-scratching when thinking about why I felt the need to write about death so often.

After having a think about it, maybe it’s for the very reason that I haven’t experienced the loss of a loved one yet that I explore the phenomenon through my writing. Writing about it allows me to delve into the characters’ feelings and take on their perspective of the events.

Most people who know me in real life would vouch for me when I say that I am an emotional creature, in the sense that tears come to my eyes rather easily, be it from songs, stories or sand. Okay bad joke.

But on a serious note, I can’t stand the thought of losing even one of the people that I hold dear to me. My lips would shake and I’d struggle to disguise my teary eyes as the consequence of a yawn. Even imagining not having them around makes me shudder.

But death is inevitable. It’s as natural as growing up. No one can stop it. Even if one had the capacity to, I don’t think they’d want to stay that way very long. Steve Jobs once said that death is not the end of life. It is part of it. Thus embracing death is the only logical thing to do. Understanding that we will, one day, go into our graves never to breath again is crucial for our own emotional and spiritual balance.

I like how the Malay language puts death. Sure, there’s the word “mati”, but that can also be applied for electrical appliances or car engines. The term used specifically for living organisms is “meninggal dunia”, which translates to “leaving this world”. It’s beautiful in that it does not portray death as an end of one’s journey, but rather the continuation of one’s journey, into another world we are yet to be familiar with.

It’s like that saying that says that a human on the Earth is like a horseman resting in the shade of a tree in the middle of the dessert, from which, after being rested, shall move onwards with his journey to his destination.

I try really hard to see death as just as essential as life, but I know that when the time comes when someone is taken away from me, I’ll be incredibly affected by it and be an emotional bag of tears for a very long time.

But hey, tomorrow is promised to no one, and is certainly not promised to me. Who knows, I might actually leave before I can experience people leaving me. It is all in The Almighty’s hands, and to Him we put our trust.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Of Feedback and Persistence

So a couple of days back, I announced on my personal facebook page that I was writing rap songs and posting them on soundcloud, and provided a link to my soundcloud page ( ) and asked for a “congrates”, being sarcastic to myself more than anything.

There was this one friend of mine (and yes, I do regard him a friend) that commended me on my lyrics, but added to the comment that it would be better if I let someone who was used to rapping do the rapping bit. In other words, he thought that it would be better if “real” rappers did my rapping for me.

Now I welcome feedback very much, and I appreciate honesty too, so I am thankful that I have a friend who isn’t afraid to give me his honest opinion on my work. But as much as I appreciate the comment he gave me, I am inclined to not accept his piece of advice regarding letting other more experienced rappers do my rapping for me. Let me tell you why.

Any “real” or experienced rapper went through a phase of being a beginner and sucking at what she or he did (I am of the opinion that this rings true for any endeavour in life). Nobody started out “real” or “experienced”. They gained that experience by firstly deciding to do it in the first place, and continue doing it, even when they didn’t sound all that good. They persisted, doing it for years and years, until it became part of their identity, and no one could say that they weren’t “real” or “experienced”.

I realise that what I’m going through right now is a sucky phase. I am not going to sound good. Even if I sound good to myself or some other people, I am still not going to appeal to many people, simply because I haven’t been doing it long enough, entailing that I haven’t gained any “realness” to incorporate my identity with what I’m just starting out to do.Thus it feels out of place, my voice in a rap setting. It needs time to settle, and for me to find a way of using my voice which is both true to myself, yet sounds just right. That takes time, so I’m not giving up anytime soon.

And if I were to quit now (like, stop rapping, just write for other people), when will I ever gain that experience? When will I ever get to be “real”? When will I ever get good enough to do what I want to do? The answer is most likely, never. And I can’t have that.

I got into doing it because I wanted to, because it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I feel that I am able to one day bring goodness to the world by doing it, even if just a tiny bit. I like that friend of mine, he’s a good guy. But when you’re shooting for something, you have to believe in yourself enough to go through with it, no matter what anyone else says. Persistence yo. <—nok horip dah start yo yo dah Anwat poyo giler dowh der siaaa.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Comfort Zones

Wahai orang-orang yang beriman! Mengapa bila dikatakan kepada kamu ‘berangkatlah (untuk berperang) di jalan Allah,’ kamu berasa berat dan ingin tinggal di tempatmu? Apakah kamu lebih menyenangi kehidupan di dunia daripada kehidupan di akhirat? Padahal kenikmatan hidup di dunia ini (dibandingkan dengan kehidupan) di akhirat hanyalah sedikit.” 
— Surah at-Taubah [9:38]

I came across the above verse just now, and besides the quite literal meaning of urging the believer to go to war for the sake of Allah, it also made me think about comfort zones.

A comfort zone is basically that place or situation in your life that feels the most like pillows and blankets on a rainy day. You just want to stay there forever and ever because you don’t really have to do anything to feel awesome. No pressure, no stress, just remaining in one spot and being comfortably comfortable there.

It may come in the form of a job. You’ve reached a certain point in your career where you’re on cruise mode. You just go to work, do what you’re already adept at doing, come back and repeat the whole thing again tomorrow.

It could come in the form of personal relationships. You’ve got your group of friends that you’ve basically known for years and years and that hasn’t changed much. You know them and they know you, and you’re don’t really like the idea of talking to anyone else outside of your established circle, since that would entail shaking things up too much and you might risk the established order of things you’ve made for yourself within your own life.

It could also come in the form of your spirituality. You decide that what you’re doing right now is pretty a-ok, you pray five times a day, what you miss you ganti balik, you go for Friday prayers, you derma to people in need whenever anything bad happens. You’re doing great.

But the ayat up above sort of questions our attitude towards our comfort zones. It begs the question “are you alright with all of this, when something (way) better is out there for you, if only you would get off your ass?” To me, it forces us to shift our views of our comfort zones and is asking us to adopt a healthy aversion towards it.

Being in a comfort zone is, of course, comfortable. One doesn’t really have to exert much force to get things done and keep the wheels of life turning. But we have to ask ourselves, what good is being in this zone for us? Are we growing, in our professional, personal and spiritual lives by being in our comfort zones? How are we helping ourselves?

Don’t get me wrong here, bukan aku nak mintak kita jadi manusia tak bersyukur. Being able to have a comfort zone should be reason to be hugely thankful. Some people can’t afford to live as comfortably as we do.

But knowing that, are we just going to sit there and say ‘alhamdulillah’ that we’re not in war-ridden Palestine and go about our daily lives? Are we just going to look at a homeless person and say ‘at least aku ada rumah nak tidur malam ni,’ and be happy that you reminded yourself of a blessing that was given to you?

Our are you going to do something about it? Something that won’t necessarily make you feel comfortable, that will have you sacrifice some of that comfort in order to do your part to restore some semblance of order in the bigger scheme of things?

I don’t know man. Every time I find myself in a comfort zone, strangely enough, I find myself being uncomfortable with it. It’s like, there are so many things to do out there, and I’m just chillin’ over here doing pretty much nothing? I feel like I’m squandering the life that’s been given to me, the opportunities that have been dikurniakan to me. It’s like I’m saying ‘no’ to life. 

And on the End Of Days, I’ll be questioned about how I spent the days in my life. What am I going to say? ‘Oh, I had all this time and I spent it binge-watching Suits from the very first season to the latest episodes’? As scary a thought that might be, I still find myself doing it. And it’s unhealthy, to say the least.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


So I was just sitting around in a coffee shop, half-reading a friend of mine’s manuscript (he was kind enough to let me read it before it is getting published), half listening to Joey Bada$$’s album (or is it a mix tape?) Summer Knights and admiring his lyricism.

Joey is really really good at putting words that rhyme together in a way that makes so much sense, yet boggles your mind because you end up wondering how he was capable of putting those words in the order that he does. I’ll recommend you one song of his that demonstrates my point: Hillary $wank. Go Youtube that if you want to know what I’m talking about.

But what I noticed from listening to the 17-track compilation was that each song didn’t really have anything to do with the rest of the album. It’s just that, a compilation of 17 individual songs. It made me think about Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid MAAD City, which was 12 songs that formed one whole story. That, to me, was mind-blowing. Kendrick demonstrated to his listeners how it was possible to write a whole album, instead of just writing individual songs. This album was what made me want to write rap songs, since not only was he a rapper and singer here, he was a story-teller. And a brilliant one at that.

I’m sure that he wasn’t the first one to do what he did in this album. I’m sure he copied that concept from those that came before him, but I listened to this one, so Good Kid MAAD City will always have a special place in me. 


Listening to whole albums isn’t exactly the “mainstream” way of consuming music. A lot of people choose to listen to single songs only. Even back in the day before iTunes was around, it wasn’t uncommon for people to buy whole albums in the form of vinyl records, cassettes or CDs just to listen to one or two songs while neglecting the other ten.

I used to do that as well. I mean, listen to individual songs only. I didn’t buy any albums just to listen to single songs over and over, of course, since I wasn’t earning any money at that point. I was introduced to the concept of listening to whole albums by a friend of mine who gave me Sum 41’s Chuck. Every song in that album sounded fantastic to me, and I started appreciating the band for being able to make so many good songs in a row.

The album after that was My Chemical Romance’s Black Parade. At one point, I wanted to learn all the guitar to all the songs on the album, so infatuated was I by the album from start to finish. I think I ended up purchasing one copy of the album. I don’t remember how I got the money to do that, but I listened to that album so much in the car, I memorised the words to all the songs on the album, even the bonus track.

The next album that I memorised from start to finish was Panic! At The Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out. Such good songs on there, and the lyrics were so different to anything I was listening to at the moment, I couldn't get enough.

I think listening to artists’ whole albums gives us the listeners a clearer picture of how good (or bad) a band is at what they do. Really good artists are able to produce good songs to fill a whole album. And if we’re able to see that, we are able to appreciate the artists’ craft better.

It does definitely take some amount of patience to get through whole albums, but more often than not, it’s worth it, because you get to know the artist better, and in a way, get more intimate with them, since you gain a picture of what concerns them and how they do that as well as getting to delve into why they feel strongly about what they decided to write about. I’m really glad I’m able to listen to whole albums for those very reasons, and maybe even more.

My favourite albums published in 2014 include Run The Jewels’ Run The Jewels 2 and Taylor Swift’s 1989. If you don’t mind sharing with me, what were yours?

But I'm Not A Rapper

As I have stated in a previous blogpost entitled “Monthly Resolutions”, I aspire to write songs every two to three days. More specifically, I’ll be writing rap songs. So in this post, I’ll write about how I grew to liking and finally dabbling into rap music.

I guess it started in primary school, when my friends introduced me to Linkin Park. I particularly liked what Mike Shinoda was doing, even if he did it for brief lengths of time (such as in the song “Crawling”). We got really into it, and at one point, were even writing out the lyrics to their songs, just for the fun of it. We got into collective trouble for that though. Ah, memories.

Then came Too Phat. They were getting radio airplay at the time, and my friend Shaheir was quite the listener, even back then, so he brought the rap-duo to my attention, always urging me to check out their mega-hit at the time, “Anak Ayam”. (The story so far sounds so basic, kan?)

Then came Slim Shady, Marshall Mathers aka Eminem. His song “The Real Slim Shady” at the time had so good hook, beat and video that 11 year old me just couldn’t peel himself away from MTV every time the song came on. Then came Stan, and I became really hooked, because of the ingenious story and storytelling in that particular song. I couldn’t resist singing along every time the hook came along. 

I went into an Eminem phase, where I memorised whole songs that came out after that, such as “Without Me”, “Cleanin’ Out My Closet”, “Lose Yourself” (ugh, such a good song), “Just Lose It”, “Mockingbird”, and “When I’m Gone”.

I remember one time, when we had just discovered WinPopup on the computers in the computer lab at my secondary school, I typed out the hook of “Mockingbird” into the chat program, and a teacher found out that some people were playing with that instead of doing the work that had been set and called out who was the one who typed “baby baby semua ni”. Nobody stirred, not even me, because, since I was so intimidated by the shouting teacher, I didn’t remember typing the lyrics in until after the class. I was just as clueless as everyone else when the teacher asked everyone that. Taktaw camana boleh terlupa. @.@

I also remember liking Gorillaz’s songs, “Clint Eastwood” and “Feel Good Inc.”, as well as Black Eyed Peas’ numbers such as “Where Is The Love” and “Don’t Funk With My Heart”.

But then came an indie-rock, emocore phase in my life where I started listening to bands such as Arctic Monkeys, Hawthorne Heights, The Used, and My Chemical Romance, and I left hip-hop music for a while, instead focusing on learning to play the guitar and being able to play 30 Seconds To Mars’ “The Kill”. 

I jumped back into listening to rap songs when an ipod given by my aunt contained the Black Eyed Peas’ (fantastic) album “Monkey Business” and was blown away by how good the verses in the song “Like That” were.

Then there were also your MTV hits from the rap artists that were getting heavy rotation such as Kanye West, Eminem and Outkast. 

I wrote and recorded my first rap when I covered the song “Heart Hides” from Jitra’s very own Bourjuis. I replaced their second verse (which was a repetition of the first verse) with a verse of my own. I also started listening to Altimet and Malique’s solo work during those years. I even remember singing along to one of Altimet’s songs with one of my my housemates while cooking in the kitchen. Fun times.

Then, nothing for a long time. I always had the intention to write and record more raps, but I never did. Put it down to procrastination, or just me not really wanting to do it hard enough.

Then came Kendrick Lamar. My brother introduced his brilliant album “Good Kid MAAD City” to me, and although it took me three months, I ended up loving it and it made me feel inspired to want to rap for realsies too.

I entered the final year of my degree studies telling myself to write enough material for an album by the end of the year. But of course, me being me, I ended up writing none at all. Fantastic kan?

Then, sometime last year, my brother and I finally got down to writing and recording a song together, and it was called Pengakuan. You can catch it at

My brother’s verse was so good in that song that I actually rewrote my verse for the song, but after rereading it, the lyrics didn’t really masuk with the beat, so I ended up keeping the original verse on the song. The rewritten lyrics did end up getting recorded not too long afterwards, with a different beat. The song was called Salah Dua.

At this point, I was listening to the albums of Altimet, Earl Sweatshirt, Run The Jewels and Vince Staples. Newly discovered local talents such as Amir Meludah, Batcave and Lawalah Familia also challenged me to get back into writing lyrics.

Now, in January, I’ve made it a point to write and record consistently. I’ve uploaded three songs so far, and I’ll keep at it. I want to get better at it, so I’ll practice as hard as I am able to. 

That’s basically my story with rap music so far. I’m sure there are parts that I have skipped, but I can’t remember what those parts are. My bad.

I’m certainly hopeful that this story will only grow longer for here on out. But I need to remind myself to keep my expectations low, because bak kata pepatah: expectations are root of all disappointment.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015


I’m feeling as sleepy as that baby in the video that went viral several years ago that shifts between falling asleep and waking up seeing her mother and smiling the cutest little smile. Except I’m no baby. And I is no cute liddat.

But I had to get this down. This as in this blogpost. It’s part of what I really want to do within this month, which is to write every day. 

Now you might be asking, “awat had gigih sangat ni Anwad? Bukan ada sapa kisah pun kalau hang update blog hang ka dak. Over ja lebih.” And hey, you have a right to do so. Or you might not be asking that, since you’ve already closed this tab. And hey, you have every right to do that as well.

But the answer to that question is because I want to. I want to become a better writer. And how does one get better at anything? One practices. And by writing in this space, I practice. I put my thoughts into words and put those words into reality by typing them into the world.

There’s this piece of advice by some person that says, “the only time you’re improving yourself as a writer is when you’re writing,” or something like that. And I want to be persistent in this one.

One of my friends tweeted this quite a while back: Writers don’t write because they want to write. They write because they need to write.

And I need to write. Because I need to become a better writer. And writing is the only way in which I’m going to achieve that goal. If I am ever going to make the world a better place through my writing, I have to become a better writer. So me needs to persist.

Istiqamah is the “Islamic” term for it. And it’s highly valued in the Islamic world. It’s pretty obvious why. So persist, Anwar. Istiqamah.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

First Day of School

So today was the first day of the 2015 school year. I’m still teaching 3 Standard 3 classes, but this years brings with it the new experience of being able to teach a so-called “A” class. That was an experience I was looking forward to. Because they’re considered the most academically competent children among their peers in the school, I was expecting a certain degree of English proficiency from them. I was looking forward to not having to think about translating words and phrases for full lesson lengths anymore.

I was also intrigued by how it would feel to teach a class from the very beginning of the schooling year. Up until now, I had only taken over other people’s classes, so that was another new experience in school that I was anticipating.

Getting to enter the “A” class just now, I realised how misplaced my expectations were. Sure, the children understood me for the most part, but when I required them to speak (it was a listening & speaking activity), most of them couldn’t speak in complete sentences, with a few not even bothering to speak in English at all. And even when they did speak in full English sentences, some even got the pronouns wrong, calling Zarif that you find at the beginning of the textbook a “she”. This isn’t to say that the students are bad or anything, but it certainly made me rethink my approach to the class and at what level I should pitch my lessons to the students.

As for the second thing I was looking forward to, the feel is somewhat the same from previous experiences of entering classes for the first time. The students are still in their shy-shy phase, seemingly very well behaved, good listeners, on-task for the most part. But even I know by now that this is just a honeymoon phase. Once the year really kicks in, then the real challenges start emerging. When the students start exploring what they can and cannot do while the teacher is in class, what they can and cannot get away with, when conflicts between classmates start to form and escalate, that’s where the real teaching is at.

For now, I can only try my best to let the students understand what I expect from them, and be very specific about it. I don’t like being serious a lot, which is why I like goofing about in class, but if the situation calls for it, being firm is something that has to be done and I need to convey to the students well enough so that they understand what I’m saying and why I’m saying it.

I guess at the end of the day it’s about being able to adapt. Good teachers are good at adapting to the situation at hand. Of course they come in with a lesson plan at hand, but when the circumstances call for it, they need to think on their feet and improvise with what they have to deliver what they need to and ensure that the students come away from that class having learned something.

I’m in that business now, and I can admit that it’s not easy. In fact, it’s far from easy. But nobody said it would be. And at the end of the day, it is definitely worth it.

Monday, January 12, 2015


One of the most common questions to ask kids, no matter what the setting is, is “what is your ambition?” and it was a pretty big deal back then. There were your typical answers such as “doctor” or “engineer” or even “pilot” (that was me). Nothing wrong with wanting to be those things, but as a teacher, when you go around the class and ask them their ambitions, and the same answers come up again and again and again, it gets kinda boring (which is why you gotta spice things up a little bit in the classroom when up against “boring” activities).

There were also your less than typical responses. Some of those responses that I’ve gotten throughout my short career so far are “national archer”, “comedian” and “fashion designer”. The children that gave those responses certainly got me intrigued and led me to ask even further question about how that particular ambition came about, but that’s for another post.

Like I said, it was quite a big deal to have an ambition. Everyone had to want to be something, to do something, that one thing, for the rest of their lives. My usual reply to the question was “pilot” up until 14. I always liked the idea of getting to travel the world. But then I didn’t like the idea so much anymore, since I discovered that being a pilot entailed having to frequently leave your family behind for long periods of time, and I just wasn’t raised that way. Then I floated around, not really knowing what to be anymore for a couple of years. Luckily, no teacher asked that question to us 15-year-olds anymore. 

But then Form 4 came and we were asked to really consider what we wanted to do in the future, so that we could either be separated into the technical sciences or the pure sciences (?), or whether or not we wanted to take up accounting as a subject. This pressed me to really hunker down and have a think about what I wanted to do, and I ended up with “teacher”. The thinking behind this was that I observed that I was only good at two things, rugby (but I couldn’t make a lasting career out of it since I wasn’t THAT good) and English. So I chose the latter. Plus, being a teacher also meant that I could spend time with my family, so that was definitely a factor as well.

I ended up signing up for the class in which most of my friends agreed to go, since any stream I chose wouldn’t really affect my ambitions. All of the classes had English as a subject, and that was all that mattered to my ambitions. Later on though, because of some reason, my group of friends was split up anyway, so we could only hang out as a group during recess. Boohoo.

I stayed with the same ambition for quite a while. Throughout college, I maintained that being a teacher was the right thing for me. That is, up until my final year. Then things started to go awry. Well, maybe awry’s not the right word. It was more like, things didn’t go according to plan.

I went for practicum and started doubting my intention of being a teacher. It’s not like I didn’t like the children or my fellow teachers. I loved them. But I just felt like I wanted to do something else too. Up to that point, I wanted to write, I wanted to sing, I wanted to make videos and stuff.

There was a piece of advice that I gave a bunch of people when we were discussing this topic a couple of years back. I told them not to put something concrete as their ambitions. Because then when you achieve your ambitions, whether it be “doctor”, “engineer” or “teacher”, then when you finally get there, you will be prone to get into a comfort zone and say to yourself “I’ve achieved what I want out of life. Now what?” It puts one in a bit of a pickle, so I advised them to pick something that can never be achieved, and I gave them my newly-formed ambition at the time: I want to make the world a better place. Then there can never be a “now what?” because there are so many things that can be done to make the world a better place, I wouldn’t run out of things to do, thus keeping my distance from the dreaded comfort zone.

And right now, I don’t want to limit myself to just teaching in order to achieve that ambition of mine. I want to do more. I want to write, regularly, and get people to read and respond to my writing. I want to write songs, regularly, so as to get people to listen to what I have to say and bring them an experience they’re not getting through listening to other songs. I want to act, and help scriptwriters and directors to materialise their visions. 

I just want to do a lot more stuff, but my biggest enemy in being able to do all that stuff is myself. My own lazy, unproductive, untalented, unmotivated self. I need to push myself to get things done, but pushing myself is one of the things that I’m least capable of.

Having said that, I am doing things right now. I am writing. I am making songs. I’m also teaching. I’m not really acting, but hey, can’t win them all, I guess? 

I suppose the big point is that I now have one psuedo-ambition that has led to me having several other traditional ambitions. And I think that’s just fine by me. 

And if any of my students say that they want to be more than one thing, I’d say more power to them.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sustainability and Spirituality

So I attended a talk about sustainability and spirituality earlier today. These are the notes that I were able to jot down during the whole talk:

- the planet is slowly but surely being pushed to its limits; some aspects have even already been exceeded such as biodiversity loss and the nitrogen cycle. (how was this measured? Who or what determines where that limit is? How is that limit determined?)

- Earth Overshoot Day 2014 – marks the day we’ve used up all the natural resources Earth can produce that year, and it was only August.

- Every 40 seconds, a species dies out (according to Bund).

- 29.8 million people are in slavery today (World Slavery Index).

- So many studies have been looking at climate change, yet where are the practical solutions?

- The paradigm of profit-making was never changed in sustainable development discourse. It’s always a discussion of “how do we still make money while impacting the environment less?”

- Encik Anwar Fazal –> awesome dude.

- Our ideology on/of growth is so proliferated, we have lost touch with the notion of limits, or the sense of “enough-ness”.

- Indigenous cultures have an understanding of limits/ They understand how much can be taken from the forests and the rivers, reinforcing a culture of sustainability.


After the talk, I had a discussion with another attendee about how the speaker outlined the relationship between sustainability and spirituality. He didn’t. This is probably due to him trying to sell his book, so if he gave the answers in the talk, people might not have to buy the book anymore to get to that discussion. Thus is the nature of profit-driven ecosystems.

So we went ahead and tried our hand at doing that ourselves. What we came up with was “the only way to lead a meaningful a way of life that is sustainable to the environment was to be able to tap into our spirituality, our sense of interconnectedness with the rest of the world and feel a certain association with the other living things on Earth, both in the now and in the future. When we manoeuvre life in such a fashion, it is hard not to be lead an environmentally sustainable life, for that sense of kinship and bond we have with the things around us do not allow us to treat them badly.”

That was probably what he was getting at. I don’t know.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Monthly Resolutions

You know that feeling you get whenever a new year arrives? That feeling of that you’re invigorated, motivated, ready to punch life in the face and say “world, I’m coming out to get you!”

And with that feeling, you start doing stuff. Those stuff may be things you’ve always wanted to do, or may have already been doing in the past but due to some reason or other, you slowly (or suddenly) stopped doing it. Then a new year comes along and you’re like “that’s it! I’m gonna get this done!” or something along those lines.

New years are typically when people reset their goals, saying things like “in 2015, I’m gonna read more books!” or “in 2015, I’ll shed 15 kilos!” These sayings or objectives go by the name of “new year’s resolutions”, and, for a lot of people it seems, these things are an annual ritual.

And people usually do start doing those things they said they’d do. We’d suddenly start picking up more books, make more of an effort to get in shape, start writing more, all that hoopla. It’s that magical sense of invigoration and motivation that I mentioned earlier that drives us to do more of those things because those goals and resolutions are still on the back of the mind, so we pick ourselves up and go.

But of course, very rarely do these resolutions stick or get achieved. Usually by February, one would be hard-pressed to retell another person what their new year’s resolution was. And then we go about our daily lives, doing things we’ve always been doing, and not doing things that we’ve always been ignoring. Things go back to normal, one would say.

I was recently struck by this phenomenon. Why am I SO motivated to do things at the beginning of the year? And I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting a lot of stuff that I’ve always wanted to do done within these past couple of weeks. I’ve been writing more, reading more, even recorded a new song (you can catch that at ) because, as my argument stated earlier, there’s just this feeling that takes over me that makes it feel possible to do all these things.

And I’m actually scared. Scared that this feeling will fizzle out by the end of the month, and I’ll be plain old unmotivated, unproductive Anwar again and not do anything noteworthy for the rest of the year. Because, looking back, that’s what happens, every single year without fail. Why can’t that feeling be present at the beginning of every month, or even of every week, or even of every day?

Maybe it’s because we don’t have resolutions every day or every week or every month. We only have them every year, and we are jolted into remembering that time is passing by whenever the final number of the date changes. We forget that we get a month older every month, a week older every week, and a day older every passing day. Thus is the human, ever forgetful.

In an effort to solve this predicament, I propose that we do resolutions more often, like monthly resolutions. And we be specific about them. We say to ourselves “In January 2015, I’m going to write a piece for my blog every damn day!” and no matter how sucky or writer’s-blocked you feel about it, you get on the computer and you write some stuff up. Only for that month. Then move on to the next month and say “In February 2015, I’m going to write a piece for my blog every damn day!” again, so that you’ll always have something to prove, to yourself more than anyone.

Of course, I’m writing this for myself, mostly. I know that if I made weekly resolution, I’d be too lazy to think of that stuff up so often, apatah lagi kalau daily. I think this is going to be what works for me, and I’m going to try and roll with it.

So resolutions for January 2015:
- write a piece for the blog every damn day
- make music as often as you can, like, one song every two-three days
- read every damn day, and lift a quote from whatever you’re reading and post that on your Facebook page.

p/s - if you don’t have time for it, MAKE time for it.

Self-love > Self-esteem

I am currently doing a short-story project (that’s actually long overdue). If you had a chance to catch the tweet I made a couple of weeks ago, you’d know I asked for story suggestions from whoever was reading at the time. They could give me any story they wanted told and I would write it out for them. I tweeted that tweet because I had a sudden urge to write a short story, but I didn’t know what to write about. I initially only wanted to do one, since I wasn’t expecting more than one person to respond to the tweet. Fortunately, several people ended up tweeting me their story suggestions. I am grateful to all of them, so I screen-capped the suggestions and kept them on my desktop to remind myself of the stories that I can write about.

I ended up postponing the project because procrastination, and by the time I finally made time to choose one to get started on and get some words down, I came down with a fever. Then when I got better, again, procrastination.

Just a few minutes ago I tried picking up where I left off, but admittedly, I am finding it difficult to put words into writing at the moment. Classic human, I point the finger outwards, to a certain blog a friend of mine brought to my attention, . This blog is run by one of the most amazing local writers to put words on paper (or screen, whatever), and reading her stuff, I can’t help but feel like my own writing now seems a lot like the scribblings of some dude fresh out of school and is still only writing at SPM-level, like, cukup-cukup nak bagi dapat A dalam SPM level, whereas she on the other hand is like way up there (imagine me gesturing with my hand up above my head in a salute-like motion), the big leagues, the pros, where one has got to be to be considered worthy.

And I guess I’m second guessing myself, feeling like anything I write on that story sounds just, ugh, bad, and tasteless, and bland, and hollow, and just, ugh.

But, yeah, I came across a tweet the other day, from Miss @arlinabanana who, upon being told on that she “got high self-esteem”, said:

I don’t think I have high self esteem. I am my biggest critic. Like…literally big. Ha ha. Anyway, a great psychiatrist did a research on this and he said self-esteem is not important. In fact, it’s even better if you don’t have it. What matters most is self love. It’s not about whether you can do something or not but it’s more to, if you can’t do it, will you still love and accept yourself? This way you can always try and fail and try again without feeling like a sore loser. That’s how you become a winner love.

She captioned this screen-cap with “self-love > self-esteem”. She later joked that she should open an advice column one day. I wouldn’t mind if that actually came true.

The point she raised about being able to love yourself, even with the realisation that you suck at what you are doing, that totally hit me. It’s been on my mind now for several days (or maybe just two? I don’t remember when she first tweeted that) and I feel that it’s a very important part of staying positive; and that's being accepting of who you are.

A lot of times, we tell other people and ourselves to accept others the way they are, flaws and all. Love them anyway, and that can only lead to good/better things. But we rarely apply that when it comes to ourselves. At least I don’t. I’m super critical about myself and what I expect from myself. I have a certain standard for myself and the stuff I do, so when I’m not up to par, I can be very unforgiving of myself.

This inability to forgive myself, in the end, cripples me and prevents me from moving forward, since I think and tell myself “you suck anyway, why bother doing it if you’re gonna suck so hard at it?” After that I just sit there doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself, which in turn makes me feel guilty because I’m not doing anything productive, not doing anything I love doing, which makes me feel worse because I am aware that I am in no way improving the situation and am only turning myself into a suckier person than I previously was, and thus the vicious cycle goes.

Now I see that the key to breaking that unhealthy cycle is self-love. I need to have the willingness to love myself enough to say “Yeah, I know I suck. But what’s important is that I’m okay with it.”

Being able to be okay with yourself, even when you’ve admitted to sucking can only bring positive results, because then you won’t shy away from doing the thing anyway, and by doing the thing, over and over again, you will surely get better at it, and you’ll suck less, and even your inner-voice will start to notice this and start saying “hey, you’re not so bad after all.” That will encourage and motivate you to do even more, becoming even better as you practice it more and more.

To conclude, yes, I suck. I know. And it’s not wrong to admit it. But I have to be able to say, hey, I still love me, no matter how good or how bad I am. So go ahead, do what I want to do, I won’t love me any less just because I’m not good (yet) at something. Do what I love and I will love me anyway. As long as I do things that make me happy.

Okay that last part got a little weird, even for my standards.