Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Akademi Belia Book Club First Meeting

So last weekend was the very first Akademi Belia Book Club meeting. Alhamdulillah, it went well.

We discussed Aiman Azlan and Ameen Misran’s jointly written book, The Other Side of the Coin. It’s basically a book discussing five main themes: identity, love, self-worth, education and religion. 

In total, 14 people were in attendance, including Aiman Azlan, six people from Akademi Belia (which includes myself) and seven other people who cleared their schedule to join us in our discussion. I thank everyone who attended the session.

What was interesting about the meeting was that besides Aiman Azlan and me, everyone who came didn’t read the book prior to coming to the Book Club meeting, and I actually thought that that’d be the worst thing to happen ever, but it turned out to be a fruitful session anyway. Credit to Aiman Azlan for being able to carry the discussion forward even under those circumstances.

It actually got off to a somewhat of a slow start, with the attendees asking questions to Aiman Azlan so they could get Aiman’s perspective on matters that they wanted to hear about. It was basically shaping up much like a Q&A session with Aiman Azlan, which wasn’t a bad thing at all.

But in my view, the meeting picked up pace when people started interjecting with their own perspectives on those matters and started sharing their experience concerning the question that was asked. I admittedly did a lot of that myself, chipping in with my opinions and sharing my experience about what was being talked about. My brothers and sisters from Akademi Belia also chipped in with interesting points of views, and because a teacher friend of mine was also in attendance, her views on education were also sought after.

I like those kinds of free-flowing discussions, where people chip in and share their views and experiences in the what of the moment, open and civil discussions that move on naturally from topic to topic and explore issues that expose all the attendees to many different ways of looking at any issue. I love listening to them and contributing to the discussion when I can.

We ended up overshooting the discussion by an hour (apologies to Aiman Azlan and wife for taking up their time) since we got carried away with the things that we were talking about that evening. Conversations that make you lose track of time are the best though, aren’t they?

I hope to conduct another session next month in or around Kuala Lumpur pulak, and hopefully it’ll be just as enjoyable and thought-provoking.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Of School Prefects and Rugby Players

Today at school, the new head student was appointed. The ceremony reminded me of my own experience being a prefect back in my schooling days. I had a think about why prefects were appointed in the first place. There might be several reasons, but the most obvious one (to me at least) would be to develop the selected students’ leadership abilities. 

I was a prefect for four years of my schooling life (Form 2 — Form 5), but I feel that besides for the annual “leadership camps” that we were required to go for, the experience of being a prefect developed little of my leadership ability. A lot of the time, I just felt like I was put in those long sleeves, white pants and black shoes just because being a prefect would look good on my pre-university resumé, and for some reasons that only the said teachers can disclose, they wanted my resumé to look nice. 

Being a teacher’s son probably had something to do with it, but I know for a fact that my father would never approve of any of his children getting special treatment just because their father was teaching there. Maybe it was because I spoke so little in school, that some teachers felt that I was “well-behaved” enough to be a prefect. Honestly speaking, that was just plain-old introverted-ness on my part.

Moving on to why I don't think that being a prefect helped develop my understanding of leadership nor leadership ability that much, I had for the most part of my perfecting days been negligent of my own incompetence. I didn’t even know what I didn’t know, what more to know anything at all about leadership. I learned how to be a good student in the sense that I knew to not speak too much when a teacher’s in class teaching, and I knew that I had to keep good scores in my exams because that was basically my self-worth as a student, but I could have learned all of that by being just a regular non-prefect student, kan?

As a prefect, I got “duties” that I had to attend to. Depending on what the prefect duty-roster looked like, I either had to make sure that students lined up outside of their classes in the mornings to listen to the morning announcements, or stand at my designated post at various places throughout the school compound, or stand at the school entrance to “catch” latecomers and write down their names to give to the discipline teacher. My least favourite thing to do is to make sure that my fellow students kept quiet during the weekly school assembly. That terrified me to bits, and I always envied the prefects that were also part of the band, because they had to play their music instruments up in the balcony of the hall, and were thus always excused from floor duty.

What I learned from all of that experience was probably that I had to be aware of my responsibilities as a prefect to be at certain places at certain times to do certain jobs. But, again, I can argue that non-prefects learn that too, through the class duty-rosters where people were expected to swipe the floor, take out the trash and wipe the whiteboard when their turn came. Ours was just an extension of that, I believe, both in setting (outside of class instead of inside it) and subject (fellow students instead of rubbish on the floor). If it taught me anything, it taught me to follow orders without asking any questions, and that it was more noble to rat out my fellow friends to the authorities than to be a loyal friend and look for win-win solutions to problems that arose. Was this the brand of leadership that they wanted?

I learned more about leadership through playing rugby, to be frank. Teamwork and loyalty were of utmost importance. Integrity was at the heart of the game. Sportsmanship was the only accepted culture on the field and off it. And by manoeuvring the game, we learned how to manoeuvre life. 

We learned that life was tough, so we had to be tougher. We learned that there was no room for fear and that we had to wear our hearts on our sleeves in every play. We learned that respect had to be given in order to be gained. We learned that every move was done for a bigger purpose. We learned that if we focussed on our performance, the results would come. We learned that we didn’t need to win to be successful. We learned to take defeat in our stride and to take victory as a challenge. We learned that communication was the key to everything.

I would have cherished my prefect-ship if it meant more to me. Alas, I still don’t see it as more than just a pretty thing that was put on my resumé.

Disclosure: I am only talking about my own experience being a prefect at my own school back when I was still in school. It does not and should not apply to anyone else’s experience.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Favourite Places

Because I've been spending these last couple of days in my hometown, in this post I'll list down the places that I hold dear to me. This is not an exhaustive list, mind you, because yours truly is exhausted.

1. Alor Setar
This town (I never really could see it as a city) will always have a special place in my heart because this was where I spent most of my childhood and teenage years. I went to primary and secondary school here (SK Iskandar and Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid respectively) and made friends that I am still close to even today. I did a lot of learning and growing up here, from being a snot-nosed child to a snot-nosed adolescent, played most of my rugby here and have relatives still living here. This is where I learned how to pray and read the Quran (Tok Mami's house), tried and failed to organize a prefect dinner, looked at girls in my pubescent years, all that growing up stuff. I still have love for it now because its where I get to meet and catch up with my childhood friends, find good food and good coffee, and just be in a chill environment. It'll always be where I call home.

2. Pulau Pinang
Penang has burnt itself a permanent inside of me by being the place I grew out of my teenage years and started using my brain more. This is mostly due to my wonderful lecturers who taught me during my time in Penang's Teacher Training Institute. It's also the place I learned to get good behind the wheel of a car. Learning to drive in Penang can definitely be considered being thrown into the deep end of the pool. I survived, somehow, and I personally think anyone who can drive in Penang can drive easily anywhere in Malaysia. It remains relevant to me today because I work there now, and good food is around (only if you know where to go), and the beaches are always good getaway spots (again, only if you know where to go).

3. Sydney
I credit this foreign land down under for turning me into somewhat of an adult. Over there I had to survive without the help of my parents and without grownups telling me what to do at every turn. It was the place that I first tasted what freedom to make choices felt like, from choosing where I stayed, to where I ate, to what I wanted to study as an elective for whole semesters at a time. It was a weird thing for me, since all my life until then, most of everything I did was following instructions. Then I got to this place and the instructions weren't there anymore. Or at least they weren't as obvious as before. It was both liberating and scary at the same time. In Sydney I learned what it meant to take control of my life and understood how my choices affected (or didn't affect) others around me. I also met some amazing people there, some friends i hope to remain friends with for a very very long time. Over there, I also learned that my biggest weakness was my inability to face my problems head on. I learned that at every chance I got, I ran away from my problems, and that isn't healthy at all. The first step to solving any problem is to acknowledge that you have one, and that first step was made in Sydney. I am still struggling with it today, but I am grateful that I identified it then rather than later.

4. Twelve Apostles
This is a spot in Australia too, in the state of Victoria. I went there with a couple of friends of mine, and it was the first time I ever had the sensation of breathlessness because of the sheer beauty of a spot in nature. I literally forgot to breathe for a good thirty seconds or so because I was so mezmerized by the amazing view that was in front of me. It has now become my favourite spot in the world, and I would go there at the drop of a hat, if only my circumstances would allow it.

So those are a few places that mean a lot to me. There are some others, but maybe I'll write about them some other time.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Boring People

My brother once said "only boring people get bored". He has a point there.

Let's examine why a person gets bored in the first place. I'm sure it happens to all of us at one point or another.

We get bored when we have time on our hands and we don't know what to do with it. Like if I were to have an hour before I have to go to class, but I've already planned out my lessons for the day, and even for tomorrow, and I've already marked all my books and got my school paperwork in order. I have nothing else to do for that hour before I go into class, thus I'm bored.

We get bored when we're fed up with doing a certain thing and we'd rather be doing something else. Like when I'm marking my students' activity books and halfway through them I get tired of seeing the answers to the same questions over and over again, I'd rather be doing something else, but I don't know what, thus I'm bored.

Those are two situations in which one could be considered bored, but both of them stem from us wishing that we were doing something else. The first one was us wishing that we were not doing nothing, and the second one was us wishing we were not doing what we were doing at that moment in time.

What does one do when faced with these situations? Does one exhale and say "I'm bored!" in a complaining tone of voice? Or does one actually do something about it?

If we're part of the former, then we're in all actuality boring people. Because non-boring people wouldn't allow themselves to get bored. They'd detect that feeling that they'd rather be doing something else, and because they realise that they are in control of their own bodies, they get up and go do something else that excites them more, gains more of their attention, is more enjoyable and meaningful to themselves.

Boring people don't seem to be aware of this fact. Boring people think that something has to happen to them to suck them out of the vortex of boredom they've found themselves in. Boring people don't seem to realise that being boted is a choice. You choose to remain bored, and that has made all the difference.

Stop being a boring person, Anwar.

Kenduri Di Perlis

ISo the last couple of days have been a hoot. 

"What's a hoot Anwar?"

It's uhm.. aaa.. It's like.. ahh..

Moving on. I went to Perlis for a friend's brother-in-law's wedding ceremony. It was held in one of those homes that were situated in the middle of paddy fields, so the view was great.

I went there with a group of teacher friends and their families. They brought along their children too, so that added to the joy. Being able to carry and play with fellow 8-month-olds is always fun. They get me.

The first night we came, we helped pack the doorgifts that were meant for the guests that were to arrive the next day. A teacher friend made a good point that filling bags up with water bottles, pulut and peanuts production-line-style was a job that required little thinking, which was a breathe of fresh air from our full-time jobs (teaching), which required us to think on the constant, both while in and out of class. We had fun doing it, goofing off while getting the job done.

On the actual day of the kenduri, we had little to do since most of the hard work was being done by the hired catering company. I made a (bad) joke that I couldn't tweet earlier because the phone was dead. It goes:

"What cat feeds you the most?"


Cue crickets. Aaand moving on.

After eating what was prepared at the feast, I went back home. 

I am very fortunate to have the group of teacher friends that I have now. They're a fun and kind group of people, who can get work done while having a laugh about it. I am grateful to be able to call them friends.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015


A couple of days back, I walking from a class in school and while being left hanging from fist bumps by little schoolchildren, it suddenly hit me that by the time these kids grow up to be old enough to be considered a fellow adult (whoa, I’m an adult??), they’d have turned into completely different people from how they are right now, and that gave me a vertigo-like sensation for a moment. Terasa gayat tiba-tiba.

It’s crazy to think that we were once that age too, with similar views of the world, similar naivety, similar mudah-terhibur-ness and similar curiosity about the world around them. By the time I reached the ripe age of 18, I’d already built a somewhat concrete view of the world and applied it to myself. Luckily, I was able to break that view and reshape the way I saw the world by the time I was 19, and again when I was 20, and again when I was 21, and so on and so forth.

I’m 25 now, and thinking back to 9 year-old Anwar, the kid who had no friends at school, who struggled to even talk to anybody else because he was in Alor Setar, Kedah and the only Malay he could speak was Kelantanese, who spent most of his time envying those kids that were playing galah panjang (or as Northeners call it: toi) during recess while he ate his packed lunch all by himself, who always wished that he had one of those pullable backpacks with the wheels, who was ashamed of the Noor in his name because it was a girl’s name, it seems almost impossible that things turned out the way they did and formed the person typing on this laptop right now.

And upon reflection, this is true for the 9 year-olds in school right now. They might seem a certain way today, but give them 15 years to grow, and grow they shall. One hopes that they’ll have life-changing experiences (more than once, hopefully), fall in love, have their heart broken, learn the meaning of true friendship, find God in their lives, and it is the wish of this teacher and a lot of others too that they fulfil their potential. One prays that they find their passions and chase their dreams and never give up, because life is about making decisions and trying and failing and failing and failing until you finally succeed. Life isn’t easy, but easy things are for the weak, and they aren’t weak. Far from it. They are God-blessed with strength and tenacity, and if they could tap into that, God-willing, they’ll become great.

But for now, they’re just kids. 9 year-old kids with 9 year-old thoughts and 9 year-old concerns. And it’s so beautiful to be able to witness.


Earlier today I witnessed someone litter from their car while driving. Few things can get me so angry so quickly, but littering from your car, that does it pretty well. It made me think about why a lot of people seem to be very lax about their attitudes towards public cleanliness. I don’t really know why, to be honest.

Ever since I was little, I was taught to throw rubbish where it was meant to go, i.e. the rubbish bin. Teachers told me that all the time, and most grownups said the same. I remember a secondary school teacher of ours giving a lecture on stage during one of our weekly assemblies, criticising us school kids of our inability to throw rubbish where it was supposed to go. That teacher compared us to a rival school of ours (SMK Sultanah Asma). Legend has it that over there, there wasn’t a rubbish bin anywhere on the school compound, so any rubbish that you had had to be put in your pocket and be thrown away when you went home. So disciplined were the students of Asma that no rubbish was ever to be found on the floors of the place. The teacher’s point was that if the students of Asma could keep their rubbish in their pockets until they got home, we could certainly hold on to our candy-wrappers and scrap pieces of paper until we found a nearby rubbish bin.

But what really got me to start hating littering happened a lot earlier than that. During primary school, I attended a jamboree for the scouts. I think I was in standard four or something like that. During one of the nights, a speaker was doing his thing, talking to all us kids about stuff and things, most of which escaped my mind that very same night. 

But one story stuck to my mind. The grownup started talking about not throwing rubbish merata tempat and told a story about the experience he had that made him stop littering and start picking up litter on the street. He was having a walk in a public park one day, and not too far in front of him was a tourist, a foreigner just walking on his own enjoying nature. While they were walking on the track, the tourist stopped in his tracks, bent down and picked up a candy wrapper that was sitting on the ground, held on to it for a few steps and discharged the piece of rubbish into the nearby rubbish bin.

This made the brother ashamed of himself because he felt like this foreigner dude loves this country more than he did because of his action of picking up rubbish and putting it into its rightful place. He reflected that he had never done such a thing, even after all these years of living here and admitting to loving this country as a citizen. From that day onwards, he would pick up any rubbish that he saw on the floor wherever he was near and throw it into a rubbish bin.

That story affected me a lot and to this day I feel the same way the scout brother felt whenever I see any manageable piece of rubbish lying around. My understanding of the situation has also somewhat evolved throughout the years too. I now take the view that the tourist didn’t pick up the rubbish out of love towards this country. He did it out of love towards general cleanliness, out of loving this planet as a natural ecosystem, out of plain human decency. You don’t have to be patriotic to like cleanliness and dislike litter. You just have to be a decent human being. That way, you’ll take care not to litter anywhere you went, not just within the confines of your own country’s borders. Wherever you go, goodness goes, and that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

It always baffled me that so many people (even grownups, mind you) are still so very lax about their attitudes towards littering when that’s all they’ve ever been taught in school, if anything: to throw rubbish in the rubbish bin. A lecture about cleanliness is bound to come up during the weekly assemblies at least once a month, and kids are always always always told to stick to their jadual tugas in the class and clean up the class on their designated days. Yet, the very value of cleanliness manages to escape them and they live life being okay with throwing plastic into the drain, because apparently that ain’t their problem to deal with.

Maybe a new approach to teaching cleanliness is in order. Because at this rate, people who do value general cleanliness and are able to pick up rubbish on the ground while they’re strolling around in the mall are the exception rather than the rule. People who see rubbish on the sidewalk five steps away from a rubbish as an opportunity to do good in the world rather than just another thing the cleaner has to deal with are few and far between. And this fact saddens me.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


A thing I (and probably some other people too) go through as a person who tries to write as much as he can is that sometimes, I’d get an idea to write about something. The thought would cross my mind and I’d say in my inner-voice “ha, that’s a good thing to write about!” and I’d ‘save’ it in my ‘idea-bank’ in my mind. 

Thing about my mind is that it’s a very crappy idea-bank. Things spill all the time, it’s not even funny. So when I say to myself that I’ll ‘save’ an idea there, it’s more often the case that I’m in all actuality deleting the idea from my system altogether.

And sometimes I’d get these thoughts that make me go (internally) “ah, this idea’s so good and relevant to me that there’s no WAY I’m going to forget this one!” and three hours later when I get in front of the laptop to write it down, all I’m left with is “I KNOW I have something to write about, but WHAT?” and I’ll just sit there in front of the laptop being angry with myself for forgetting that really good idea, for trusting the never-to-be-trusted idea-bank of Anwar Hadi’s mind.

But I am taking some steps in improving myself in this regard. Sometimes I’ll come across something funny in class or while listening to grown-ups talk that I could tweet about, and I’d quickly look for a pen and write that thing down on the back of my hand. I wouldn’t wipe what I wrote there until I have tweeted that thing. It’s worked so far, and I am able to make some people’s days better by giving them something to smile about online.

But that’s only for tweets. I still haven’t gotten down the habit of writing down ideas for the blog yet, I guess since I figured I can’t really write 500 words on the back of my hand and still be able to read it.

A thing I heard Mike Falzone (who makes two videos a week on Youtube without fail) say in one of his interviews is that he’d write his ideas down on anything he can put his hands on, such as on the back of receipts, used paper napkins, even toilet paper (he wrote on these things because he didn’t have his phone with him at the time, I guess). he does this because he KNOWS that he won’t be able to remember them a couple of hours later, or even a couple of minutes later for that matter, so he makes the thoughts concrete before he even has a chance to forget it.

I should do that more often. Write what I want to blog about down on something. It doesn’t have to be five hundred words, just a topic, or maybe even a mind map or something (whoa, teacher sangat nak guna ithink maps). And I shouldn’t limit myself to just one idea down a day. If I have multiple ideas a day, I should write all of them down somewhere before I forget. Then I can create a real idea-bank that is concrete, using a shoebox or a folder on the computer or something.

So yeah, concrete idea-bank, please, Anwar.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Muslim Minority Experience

I was reminded today of the atmosphere of being a Muslim back in Sydney. The Muslim minority experience is definitely different from the Muslim majority one, and both come with their sets of pros and cons, but I’m going to rehash one of the good things I remember about my experience trying to stay true to my chosen religion in a foreign country.

I liked how all the Muslims there were very generous with their salaam-giving every time we met another Muslim brother. Upon making eye-contact with a fellow Muslim brother, especially when in the musolla, a smile would flash across their faces and a salaam was given almost immediately. At first, this weirded me out, since back in Malaysia, to even get a smile from a fellow Muslim at the masjid was uncommon, what more a full-blown “assalamualaikum brother!” from a complete stranger. I guess I never really got used to it, being the introvert that I am, but I did come to expect it more readily whenever I went to the musolla.

One supposes that they take the concept of Muslim brotherhood to heart, and no matter who you are or where you’re from, salaam is always given, and “how are you?” is always asked. If there’s time, small-talk was had, and maybe it’s just me, but it didn’t feel like small talk. It felt like they were genuinely interested in what we studied and where we came from. The concept of Muslim brotherhood, mixed with the warm Australian personality makes for a very friendly group of people.

Being a minority also helps foster this “togetherness” that they had over there. Since we were a relatively small group of people, we had to look out for each other and make sure that we had each others’ backs, which made us want to bond more tightly together as a group. It’s not that we were paranoid that the “enemies of Islam” were “out to get us”, but I guess we subconsciously told ourselves that we needed to be each others’ support systems so that when one of us falls, as we humans tend to do, we won’t get hurt too badly, since we would have people around us to give us support and help in times of need, as we would also want that same help and support if we were ever to find ourselves in times of trouble.

I couldn’t help but wish that that generosity with their salaams would take place in Malaysia too, since I found that it only worked to foster love between people, and provide for the givers and takers of the salaam a brief sense of connecting to one another. I think that if we could feel that connection with each other more often, across political and ideological understandings, there would be more peace around. Or maybe that’s just me and my crazy-talk.

Lives of Service

Today Malaysia mourned the deaths of two of the nation’s stalwarts in their own field, Tuan Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat and Datuk Haji Hasbullah Awang. The former was a spiritual as well as political leader, while the latter was a sports presenter. They will both be missed throughout the country.

What I can draw from both these great men’s lives is that each of them lived a life of service. Tuan Guru Nik Aziz, true to the title that people have given him, spent the most part of his life as a teacher and leader of the people, gracing people’s lives with his wisdom and knowledge (and he had a LOT of knowledge) while also being an example of moderation in practice. What it means to not let power or wealth get to one’s head and live humbly and sincerely for God and for the people. 

Datuk Haji Hasbullah Awang spent most of his life in the field of sports journalism, and has become to be known as the par excellence in his area of expertise. He lent his knowledge and interest in sports to the people of Malaysia, which is a service to the people as well. A lot of people benefited from his sharing sessions either through the radio or on the television screen, and I’m sure many go into the field holding him as one of their heroes. Much respect to the man.

And the impact that both of them had on the people across the whole country is hard to match. They are icons in their own right, and through their service to the people, have become as influential as they are regarded today. Their lives serve as an example of what one should strive towards: a life of service to the people, sharing your thoughts and your knowledge to improve the quality of the lives of the people around you, influencing them in a positive light.

If one can achieve a life like that, one shall be respected without asking for it. And that is how authentic respect is gained. By living a life doing things that make the world a better place. May we all look back at both these amazing men’s lives and be inspired to work towards positive social change, and be unrelenting while pursuing it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Welcome To Our Podcast

As I’m typing this post, I am listening to Episode 46 of Welcome To Our Podcast ( ) hosted by Mike Falzone. The show is usually joined by the co-host of the show, who is also the girlfriend of Mike: Zoja. But this particular episode was recorded away from their house in Los Angeles, so only Mike is hosting it.

What the show usually consists of is about twenty minutes of them talking about whatever interesting things happened to them throughout the week, and about another twenty minutes of them answering questions that people ask them through Twitter. Sometimes they have guests on the show and they talk about things that are related to the the guests of the day (like on the one I’m listening to right now, they’re Tessa Violet and Rusty Clanton, who are youtubers and musicians). 

I hadn’t listened to podcasts before I tried listening to Welcome To Our Podcast (WOTP), and after I’ve been listening to the show for several months now, I still haven’t listened to any other podcast as consistently as I listen to WOTP. It’s a great show, sure. It’s funny, insightful and has a good vibe to it with the back and forth that Mike and Zoja have, and listening to them having these conversations, it’s like I’ve become, however briefly, a friend of theirs who are right there with them in their apartment, listening to them tell me interesting stories and making funny jokes. It’s that feeling of being an insider to the setting that keeps me in, I guess is another way to put it.

The thing about podcasts is that it’s a lot like radio shows, just without the songs and numerous ads in between. But I rarely get the same feeling I do from listening to WOTP when I listen to anything on the radio. It’s that feeling of intimacy and closeness that you get through listening to two people having conversations regularly that you are able to understand and appreciate their dynamic and get their inside jokes, because you’ve been put on the inside part of it too.

It’s a really great way to start your day, at least I think so. And I hope to make a podcast with my significant other as well one day, so that we may spread that cheer and just that great feeling of listening to people having great conversations.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Just Another Day At School

So today was a rather busy day for me. Right off the bat, I was assigned to select and train the school’s track and field team. My highest achievement in olahraga was getting third place in the school’s 800m inter-house race back when I was in Form 5 (a good 8 years ago), and even that was a chance win. I had never been the fastest of runners, I admit that readily. So track and field was never one of my interests, but a teacher’s gotta do what a teacher’s gotta do, right?

It went alright, since we got a few names down and crossed some off the list too. The boys were so enthusiastic about it, right afterwards they asked if they could train again in the evening, to which I had to say yes, since it’s really tough to say no when kids are jumping around when they’re asking to do something. Also, because it was my job to supervise any training sessions. I took their 100m times, and, at eleven and twelve years old, most of them are actually faster than I ever was (even when I was 17). I’ll leave it at that.

Right after class, a couple of standard 5 students came to see me to make songs. How I met these particular kids (they’re different ones from the track and field ones) was last year, they performed as the percussionists for a nasyid performance during a school assembly. I asked them to teach me how to play percussions, since I’ve always seen them as cool instruments to play, so they invited me over to the music room after school and they taught me a few rudiments. It turned out, they didn’t know much more than the rudiments, and so I got bored quickly after I learned the basics.

I whipped out my book where I write most of my rhymes and started flowing over their beats. They found it cool, so they asked me how I did that. I then taught them the concept of rhyming words and, after some examples, they started writing some rhymes of their own. We made a chorus together last year, but it’s been lost in my old laptop.

Today was the first time this year that they came to see me, them being busy school students and all. We started writing again, but I had to reteach them the concept of rhymes, since they were rusty. Not practicing can do that to people. When I gave them a beat and asked them to write some lyrics, they ended up writing the lyrics to Altimet’s Kalau Aku Kaya. They were already one verse in when I caught them and asked why they were writing someone else’s words. I told them “pasaipa nak ada lagu sendiri tapi guna perkataan orang lain?” I encouraged them to write their own words, but since the day was ending and I had to go to attend to the track and field kids after that, I wrote a verse for them and asked them to go home and write two more verses. I’m looking forward to what they come up with.

Earlier tonight, after dinner, I finished up writing the script for my school’s choral speaking team. It’s about English and how we use it. It’ll be interesting to see how the kids perform the piece.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Warisannya Apa

So, latest song in my rap endeavour has been put up. I actually put a proper hook in this one, but it only appears once. 

Because I'm in no state to write very much, I'll leave you with the lyrics and a bit of explanation about what it's about.

Warisannya Apa 
(listen at )

bina satu lagi montaj populis
bunyi-bunyi dikerat
aku urut pelipis
cuba lahir dari faraj minda altruis
pastikan isi tak berat
minimakan analisis
tabur kata-kata manis
pastikan ia divarnis
maksud sedalam epidermis
dapatkan hatian jurnalis
tunjukkan hidup elitis
peragakan riak dramatis
lirik tak perlu gramatis
asalkan puas hedonis
dah cukup
kalau hendak meletup
badan tak boleh tutup
orang suruh kau angguk
kiri kanan ditiup
bila perlu kau celup
ini lumrahnya hidup
seni jadi periuk
jadi janganlah tutup
kertas kau kena kuncup
apa lensa suruh kau kena sanggup
tanam-tanamlah tepi bibir
tak perlu fikir, jangan difikir
apa kebaikan yang aku berikan pada dunia?
apakah akhiran yang telah dituliskan selesainya nyawa?
umurku dah nak mencecah enam puluh tiga
tiada siapa jawab bila ditanya "warisannya apa?"
keluar pergi dinner dengan datin-datin?
waktu umur muda waktu jilat lubang cincin?
waktu umur tua cuba usaha untuk kekal relevan?
untuk kekal kaya buat apa saja, biar jadi musyrikin?

The song's about this one character that appears in Kedai Kopi by Malique feat. Salam Musik. I guess you could say this song could be what he wrote in his diary, if he chose to have one.
Kedai Hopi is a mad good song. I can only hope to get that good one day, years and years into the future.

Where There Is Hope, There Is Hope

I had very little knowledge of the mental illness called depression, until I came across a book called “Kill The Damn Dog”, by Sally Brampton at a Big Bad Wolf book sale a couple of years back. The book recounts the author’s ongoing battle with depression, how she went about learning about the illness that she had, what she learned from all her reading and conversations with doctors, the treatments she went through to get better, the bad days and the worse days that she had to go through, her attempts at suicide, and pretty much anything else you could think about when you think about depression.

One of the first things she was quick to point out to the readers was that depression was indeed a sickness, and one cannot just “cut it out” and “stop being sad”. It would be about as ridiculous as telling someone who has AIDS to just “get better”. Main point being: depression is not to be taken lightly. I highly recommend the book if you want to learn about depression.

Reading about depression is, well, depressing. You get to read the unfiltered thoughts of a depressed person and what that person had to go through because of a disease. I guess reading about any life-threatening disease would do that to you. But then again, I haven’t really read too many books about life-threatening diseases, have I?

It’s especially depressing when you identify with what the author has to say. You find yourself nodding and just knowing what it feels like to go through what the author went through, although not to that extreme, but it’s within the same ballpark, and that’s scary stuff. It took me close to two months to get through that book, simply because I couldn’t stand to read it for more than a few pages at a time without being too scared to carry on reading and feeling that it was just too much to take in all at once.

Sally Brampton made it through, and even got to write a book about it. She does stress that it doesn’t really go away at all. It’s just that some days are not as bad as some other days, and she just has to take it one day at a time. 

A childhood hero of mine, Robin Williams, didn’t make it. It got too much for him, he went over the threshold and displayed the final symptom of the disease: suicide. I remember feeling so much of a loss in the world when that news got to me, I was paralysed by sadness for a few moments and couldn’t even move.

One cannot hope to triumph over the disease, yet, hope is the only thing that keeps one together in the head. And so long as hope prevails against despair, there is still hope.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wisdom and Courage

When you reach a certain age, the people around you expect you to have a sense of wisdom about you. You’ve gone through the grind of life and have made mistakes along the way, hopefully learning from those mistakes. That learning is where you gain that wisdom. But when you fail to display that wisdom, you turn out disappointing a lot of people. People who look up to you, especially.

But of course, no one is free from making mistakes. They do not escape you, no matter at what point in life you are at. Wisdom (and maturity) would dictate that, upon realising that one has made a mistake, one  should express remorse towards one's actions and try to make up for it.

But of course, that is contingent upon one realising that they have made a mistake and are brave enough to own up to it in the first place. May all of us be blessed with people who remind us of common decency and also be given the courage to do what’s right, even when it’s difficult to do.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

First English Language Society Meet

Earlier today, I attended my first English Language Society (ELS) meeting as a teacher. I had always been an ELS teacher since I entered the school, but this was the first time my school schedule was shaped in a way that allowed me to attend a meeting. Before this, I always had a class to teach while the clubs were in session. It was a new experience, but in a sense, it wasn’t, either. I’ll explain that a bit later.

The students that made up the members of the ELS were standard 4, 5 and 6 students from all levels of proficiency. Some were well-versed in English, while most were at a below average to low level of proficiency. These students didn’t choose to be in this particular club. They were assigned with clubs, so it is the responsibility of the teachers to do the best with what we had to help increase the students’ level of interest towards the language. A daunting task, if I may say so myself.

For this first activity, we decided to go with a game of charades, with most of the items that the students having to act out being movies that were perceived to be popular among kids their age. Conducting the activity felt familiar to me, since I’ve conducted such activities before during my teacher training days. We had ELS there too, and we had to come up with and conduct our own activities, our lecturers playing the role of observer and provider of guidance. I had also done language-game-programmes with school children in the past, so I drew on that experience to conduct this one as a full-time teacher.

What I could observe from conducting the game was that, while most of the students understood the premise of the game, not all of them knew all of the movies that were presented to them. Some kids would come up to the front to act out a movie, but upon reading what they had to convey to their friends, they had no idea what movie was written on the paper (one didn’t even know Harry Potter). This caused the game to go through hiccups and lulls, since some would have no idea what to do in front, and resorted to just standing in front of the rest of the society until the time ran out.

This made me think about how we sometimes take it for granted that other people share our own interests and, in this case, have watched the movies we have watched, when in reality, it is far removed from the truth. We got to get through eight turns during the game earlier, and only three were answered correctly by the students. That’s a low percentage of success, showing that the students really have not watched most of the movies that we thought everyone would have watched within the past three years (such as Batman, Harry Potter and Guardians of the Galaxy).

There are several reasons to explain the lack of proficiency in the majority of students in my school, and one of the main ones is the lack of exposure. They simply have not been exposed enough to material in English, things that were my main sources of learning such as TV shows, movies and songs. I am of the opinion that if they were to be shown more such English language materials, their proficiency would shoot up significantly, but only if that exposure was consistent and interesting to them.

I tried showing Frozen to one of my standard 3 classes last year, and a group of students walked away from the show five minutes into the movie. When asked why they didn’t want to watch, they said that they found the movie boring.

An approach that worked for us and some other people not necessarily means it’ll work for others. That is the challenge of the English as a second language (ESL) teacher. To find something that works for all students, and to keep it engaging so that interest in learning doesn’t diminish along the way.


So today was a bit of a weird day. Just a bit, though. I published the latest song in my rap endeavour on SoundCloud, Propagandis (you can listen to it here: ). I discuss a number of things in this song such as depression, societal ills and the struggle against our inner demons.

This song was a little different than what I’ve done previously in a couple of ways. Firstly, I actually wrote the lyrics to this song first, before making a beat for it. I just established a tempo for myself and freehanded the verses without having any idea what sounds would go in the background. Because of this, there are obvious parts in the song where the lyrics don’t fit into the beat very well. In rapper-speak, you’d say that the flow wasn’t much on point. To make it better suit the beat, I could have rewrote those parts of the lyrics, but being the pemalas that I am, I stuck with them the way they were.

This song was also longer than any of my previous tracks. I usually aim for 16 bars of rap for one song, but for this one, I made 32 bars (that’s twice as long). Actual rappers produce 32 bars of rap on the regular, often twice in one song excluding the hook/chorus, so it isn’t really any mean feat by me, but it is progress in the sense that I have proven to myself that I am capable of writing more. I’ve set a new bar for myself in the length of work that I have to put in, so let’s hope I can reach this new bar regularly in the songs that are written from this point on. Baby steps, man. Baby steps.

Having said that, I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from this one track so far from people on twitter. I am very grateful that people are willing to listen to my stuff, let alone say that they like what they are hearing. I am humbled.

I know that I haven’t produced any really significant work yet, since I have yet to have haters in the song-writing arena. I am actually of the belief that if you have haters, then you’re doing something meaningful, because people hate seeing other people doing meaningful work. But this isn't to say that having haters is the only marker of success. People shouldn’t strive to gain haters. That’s just plain ridiculous. 

Here’s how I see it. You need to keep an eye on your liker:hater ratio. If your haters form the minority of your feedback base, then you’re doing good and should continue doing whatever you’re doing. But if your haters actually form the majority of the pack, then you should take a step back and re-examine what you’re doing, whether you actually believe in the work you’re doing or if it’s bringing any good to the world. Have another look at your minority of likers, and try to understand why they like you anyway, even though a lot more people are haters. Do they have something to gain from liking your stuff? Do they give their honest opinions on your work? Are they still reasonable in their actions and defence of their taste? Once you’ve observed and found the answers to these questions, and if you’re honest with yourself, then you can decide whether or not to continue on the path that you’ve chosen or modify your approach.

At least that’s how I see it.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Of Youtube Videos and Going Far

So I’ve just spent (read: wasted) a whole buncha time watching episode after episode of The Fine Brothers’ Youtubers React. There was just something about seeing people watch weird things and reacting to them that just draws you in and makes you want to watch more and more.

I also liked it because I got to watch some of my Youtube heroes (Phillip DeFranco, Shane Dawson, Nigahiga, Hank Green, SourceFed) talk about not only viral videos, but also insert some social commentary and share their views on how the internet has changed us and the society that we live in, about why people are attracted to certain kinds of content and why people are the way they are. We don’t get to see that side of the Youtubers much, so it’s refreshing to see them not play a character and just be chill and talk like they usually would out in real life on issues that they have valid opinions on.

It also made me think about how together they are as a Youtube community and how everyone seems to know everyone or have at least met each other at some point or other. It may be because they live around the same are (Los Angeles), but it’s also because there’s an unmistakable sense of community in that ambiguous internet space that is called Youtube. 

It made me think back to a thing that I proposed a while back through one of my videos, which was AYAM (Angkatan Youtubers Anak Malaysia). Back when I made that video, I had a vision of maybe being part of that community as well, us all being Malaysians and making videos and uploading them on Youtube every now and again. Collaboration between content creators would be common and it would be exciting and we would love to work on each others’ projects.

I have been fortunate enough to have been able to work on videos with some fellow Malaysian video makers that I hold in high regard, such as Aiman Azlan, MatLuthfi, KyoPropaganda, and Mentol Pecah to name a few. Those were good times, really. The experience of making something with people you admire, really good feeling, that. And I had fun doing it, too.

I still remember Aiman Azlan calling me up and saying “hey, let’s make a video!” and coming to my house to tell me the idea he had, and we worked on our scripts (him making the English version and me making the Malay version) after we had a clear idea of how the video would go. It was really good, bouncing ideas off each other, suggesting this, improving on that, and finally just shooting it and having a hoot doing it. We were just two dudes, talking to a camera, running and jumping around, striking poses every now and again. Just a couple of typical 21 year olds having loads of fun. I think it came off well in the end products too. You can watch the video that we made together here:

Mentol Pecah tried to do something along the lines of the AYAM idea I had and made a video which collected footage from a host of Malaysian video makers and turned it into a nicely put video. You can watch that one here:

Having said that, a lot of Malaysians that made Youtube videos that I watch regularly the past few years have slowed down significantly (namely MatLuthfi, KyoPropaganda, Aiman Azlan) because, much like myself, they’ve got other things going on in their lives, and making Youtube videos just isn’t one of the main ones. 

I was kind of sort of hoping that there’d be new, good content (even better) content creators out there to make Youtube videos in their spare time, but I haven’t been able to see any evidence of that. That may be because I’m becoming and old geezer who has a full-time job and is no longer cool. There might be a host of quality content out there that I just don’t know of, since I’m out of the loop and have become irrelevant (well, become irrelevant tu dah lama dah sebenarnya).

Jumping back on the AYAM thing earlier, yeah, I still believe it would be a great thing to have. If not officially (y’know, with merchandise and secret handshakes and everything), then unofficially. Just a circle of friends that are also video-makers, who make videos regularly, push each other to make quality content and collaborate with each other to learn from each other and become not only better video-makers, but also better human beings, hopefully. But maybe that’s just the idealist in me talking. Maybe real is this: us going about our own ways, doing what we want to, whenever we want to, without bothering to see what our peers are doing. It brings about progress of some kind jugak, kan? It’s something.

I am reminded of the saying: if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. 

I guess I am a person who wants to go far.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Looking Back and Forward

So February’s here. Looking back at January, I did a few things, failed at a few things. Let’s scrutinise this in the following paragraphs.

Writing every damn day didn’t happen. I wrote on most days, yes, but not every damn day. On some days, I couldn’t because I was away from home for busy-ing reasons and couldn’t get time in front of the laptop to type out my thoughts, or couldn’t find any wifi around, so didn’t bother typing anything. There were there times when I simply didn’t have anything to write about, and after staring at a blank page for some time, fell asleep in front of the laptop to wake up the next day, having to rush to work. It all comes down to bad planning and bad time management.

But it ain’t all that bad, as much as I want to put myself down and see myself as a pathetic little piece of poop. Within the month of January in the year 2015, I have updated the blog the most times within a month throughout this blog’s existence (20 times), so that’s progress, right? All’s I got to do is be more focussed and determined in the next months to surpass even that within this next month.

It won’t be easy though. February will bring about a few things that shall make it difficult for me to get in front of the laptop to write regularly. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but there’ll be a couple of weekends that’ll be busy for me, namely the weekend in which one of my good friends will be getting married way out in Johor as well as the weekend when my book shall be published (28th of February!) at Kinokuniya, KLCC. I might also be attending Englishjer’s EJ Camp that same weekend, but we’ll see how that one goes. I sure hope I am able to make it though.

On the songwriting front, I uploaded 7 original songs onto my SoundCloud ( ) throughout the past month, averaging almost two tracks per week, which isn’t too bad. It falls short of my goal of one song every three days, admittedly, but I’m not too bummed out about it. I honestly felt that I would never be able to write songs as regularly as I have this past month, but look at me, writing songs anyway. I feel like I’m getting better at it now, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

However, my reading every damn day has taken a terrible fall. Terrible terrible terrible. I haven’t been reading as much as I should, on some days not at all, and this is absolutely bad. I must must get my head back together to sit down everyday and flip through those few pages that’ll open up my mind, make me think, make me learn and hopefully make me a better person. I’ve been on the same book for weeks now, and it’s about time I plough through it.


In February, the goals will be about the same as the last month, with the addition of making the Book Club idea happen. Looking over the calendar, it might just happen on the 21st or the 22nd of February. If it does happen, you can be sure that I’ll write about it. If you don’t know what the Book Club idea is, you may read about it here:

So, in February:
- read every damn day
- write every damn day
- upload two new songs every week
- make Book Club Idea happen

May you have a good month ahead!