Monday, February 29, 2016

Book Review: The Other Malaysia by Farish A. Noor

(The video can be watched here: )

Assalamualaikum wbt and greetings.

So in this video I shall be giving my opinions on this book right here.

[what is this book about?]

This is Farish A Noor’s The Other Malaysia: Writings On Malaysia’s Subaltern History, published by SilverFish Books.

First released in late 2002, it has 303 pages and is almost 100% in English. There are bits of Malay here and there, but they’re mostly excerpt of other pieces of writing which he refers to.

This book is basically a collection of articles which the author had previously written periodically for

They are mostly articles about local history, Malay culture, Islam in the region as well as local politics.

A lot of them were writings that were triggered by events that made the press in 2002, 

so a little bit of general knowledge about political events that were popular during that time would help the reader understand the pieces a lot more.

There are also a handful of book reviews in this book, so if you want to know how a proper book review is done, definitely have a read of the few included in this one.

[What did I like about this book?]

I liked that this book opened my eyes to a lot of historical events that I didn’t previously know.

I consider myself a fan of stories and there are quite a number of factual and historical stories provided in this book.

For example, in the few opening chapters of the book, we are introduced to the extraordinary life of sultan abu bakar of johor.

We discover how he struggled to keep the land of Johor free from English residents, trying as best he can to maintain the sovereignty of the land under his rule.

We are introduced to a few historical figures that weren’t given a lot of emphasis during our schooling days.

Such influential figures such as Dr Burhanuddin alHelmy and Ibrahim Yaakob, whose stories were very interesting and had they been able to achieve their goals at their time, the Malaysia we know could have been a very different Malaysia today.

So I guess that’s the thing that I appreciate the most about this book.

It’s that it allowed me to see a different, alternative Malaysia than the one we have today. 

And to know that all of this is grounded in fact and things that actually happened makes it all the more compelling, I think.

Here are some quotes from the book:

“We have sacrificed our ideals and dreams at the altar of political expediency. Shame on us all.” (page 155)

“We need not fear our past and the unknown. We would be able to face the future with much greater confidence if we could admit our own internal heterogeneity and complexity, rather than continually trying to deny the past and to homogenise the present into one flat, monolithic discourse of sameness.” page 202

“After all these so-called Islamic reform programmes and Islamisation measures, are we any closer to creating an Islamic society? Do we, as modern Malay-Muslims, have better manners, drive safer, pollute less and consume in a more discriminate manner?” Are we more immune to the evils of consumerism, corruption, money politics, or neo-feudal cults of leadership? Have we overcome our baser instincts that manifest themselves in the form of racism and prejudice?” Page 218

[What were my least favourite parts in the book?]

The way the author wrote about some things felt really partial. 

The language that the author used to describe certain people and institutions made it really obvious what the author felt about them, and seldom were they in a positive light.

One would expect a certain impartiality from academic works, but of course these are after all articles for an online news portal, 

so I guess you can’t expect full on academic language from the writer, since the target audience was not academics alone.

Besides that, a small handful of articles felt like fillers, in a sense that they sort of felt out of place in the book.

Articles such as Humpty Dumpty Politics felt like they didn’t add in helping the reader understand an Other Malaysia, but rather just explained the current 2002 Malaysia.

But of course, those articles were very few, and the overwhelming majority of the book was a real good read.

[Who would I recommend the book to?]

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes history, especially local history and who would like to know more about the multitudes of layers that form our Malaysian history.

I would also recommend this book to anyone who feels a little dissatisfied with the current situation of the country of Malaysia, especially Malay Muslims, I think.

A lot of things for us to think about in this book.

I have to admit that I am a fan of Farish A Noor’s writings, so I may well be biased in my review of the book.

If you have read the book, feel free to comment down below, especially if you disagree with me, because I would love to read your input on the matter.

Or you could tweet me @inianwarhadi and of course email me at iniunutkakusahaja@gmail,com

Next month we’ll be taking a look at Terima Kasih Si Babi Hutan by Ismail Arifin aka Lepat

That’s all for this video, until the next one, may peace be upon you!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Ring On His Finger

He adjusts the two-month old ring on his ring finger. Even though it’s been a couple of months since he’s worn it, he still isn’t used to having a piece of metal hugging his finger, especially since all his life he’s avoided wearing rings of any kind. And even though a lot have said that it’s “sunnah” to do so, he’d never liked the idea of wearing rings. It seemed unnecessary, a trinket put on your body for little purpose other than to showoff that one has the means to put some silver or gold near one’s knuckles. 

But the one he’s wearing right now makes sense to him. It is, if nothing else, a reminder. It reminds him of the promise that he’s made to the person that he most cherishes in the world and is both figuratively and literally the only family family member that he has chosen to spend the rest of his days with. It reminds him to take care of the things he loves, and to not be reckless and negligent in going through life. It reminds him that at times, things can get uncomfortable sometimes, but life would feel incomplete without it. He remembers the time last week that he had to play rugby, and so he had to take off the ring. The whole time he had the ring off, it felt like something was missing from his finger, like it wasn’t complete. It missed the ring. It has now come to the point where the ring and his finger are one and cannot be separated for too long, or else it’ll get even more uncomfortable.

So he’ll keep adjusting his ring often, fidget with it, spin it around his finger, take it off and put it back on again, sometimes play with it absent-mindedly while doing other things. But he’ll keep it because he now needs it to feel complete.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


“Hi there, how may I help you?” she said to a prospective customer with a smile. It was only her second day on the job, so of course she put up a cheerful front. She was determined to show how these older employees how to do the job properly. Don’t they read the bad rep shop attendants in Malaysia get from other Malaysians on social media? We have to step up our game, she thought to herself, and she’d be the one leading the way towards better customer service in her country, being the beacon of best practices.

After going through all those thoughts in her head and still not getting a response from the prospective customer, she cleared her throat and repeated her question to the hooded person with a cap on. “Hello, are you looking for anything in particular?”

A brief pause passed before the guy responded in a low and raspy voice, “snow globes.”

“I’m sorry sir, but did you just say ‘snow globes’?” Always apologise before admitting that you didn’t quite hear what the customer just said. Basic common courtesy things like this, why can’t more Malaysian retailers get it?

After another little pause came the same response, only this time a little bit louder, “snow globes.”

“We’re terribly sorry sir, but we here at Studio don’t sell snow globes. Would you be interested in some Nike shoes? They’re on offer at the moment, 40% off for—”

“ARE YOU DEAF OR SOMETHING?? I SAID, SNOW GLOBES!!” the hooded man suddenly bellowed on the top of his lungs while still facing the wall.

The girl covered her ears with her hands, but the sheer volume of the guys voice seemed to rattle her skull. Her knees got weak and she fell to the floor immediately. She noticed that most of the merchandise on the walls had fallen from the vibration his voice was causing. Shattering glass could be heard from the shop’s entrance.

The hooded man turned to the girl on the floor, revealing that his non-existent face. It was just a pit of blackness that seemed to go deeper and deeper the more you looked at it. 

“WHERE! ARE! THE! SNOWGLOBES!??” the man’s voice now so piercing that the girl felt a wet and warm sensation running through her fingers that were cover her ears. She thinks her ears may be bleeding, but she’s too afraid to remove her hands from her ears. She closes her eyes before the hooded thing — it was certainly not a man anymore — screamed again to finish her off.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


So I recently watched one of the new WheezyWaiter videos (I haven’t watched WheezyWaiter videos for a couple of years now), and it was him talking about having set himself the goal of writing some short stories for a project he initiated, but never got around to writing anything.

He explained that the biggest factor contributing his failure to get that project off the ground was his tendency to be a perfectionist. Because he wants the stuff he makes to be perfect, the prospect of producing something that is imperfect hindered himself from ever starting. He figured that if he wasn’t sure if the thing would turn out perfect or not, he would have the tendency to just not do it altogether. He thought “daripada buat benda tak elok, baik tak payah buat apa-apa langsung!” And so he let the project slip his mind, rather intentionally, I might add.

He explained in the video to the audience (and to himself, one feels) that that kind of thinking was toxic for a creative person, since firstly, there’s no such thing as perfection so there’s really no point in striving for it, and secondly, it stopped him from making stuff. Sure if he made something and it turned out bad, it would suck, but that first suckiness forms the basis for better things. One has to start at a sucky level and then polish that turd into something more and more presentable.

I remember listening to that lecture in one of my first days on campus in university, the polishing the turd into something okay. The lecturer blatantly said that the first draft is always always always going to be shit. But without the shit, there won’t be gold. The job of the writer is to take that piece of shit that s/he produced and polish it, cut it up, put it back together, trim it down to something in its core that is pure gold, and that is the magic that the writer can do, to turn poop into gold.

One of the most common writer tips that I find in and around the internet is this saying: writing is re-writing. One screenplay-writing twitter account even said once that you would have to rewrite something 20-30 times for it to actually be finished, so it definitely believes that the first few drafts are exactly that, drafts, and drafts aren’t meant to be published. They are meant to be worked on, improved upon and made better.

One of the writing prompts that a twitter user I follow (@morsmode) tweeted about reminded me of this. The prompt was the word “avalanche”, and it made me think about how the writing process is supposed to be, at least in the beginning. It’s not supposed to be a quality controlled screening process from the get-go, where every word needs to be carefully measured for perfection before being placed upon the plain page. It’s supposed to be an avalanche of ideas, words and feelings. We needn’t worry if it makes sense or not, since it’s not yet time for that. It’s just time to write, not time to rewrite, so the writer just has to write until s/he can no longer write. Knock some sense into it when we go back to it later and edit it to make sure it makes sense and is worded better, and this will take a long time. But for the beginning, just let the avalanche happen and bury ourselves in the mountain of words.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Of Elliott Morgan and Comfort Zones

So yesterday I revisited some videos of an old Youtube favourite of mine, Elliott Morgan who was one of the original hosts for the Youtube news site, SourceFed, and is now doing stand-up comedy in and around the United States. 

I used to watch SourceFed religiously. They were so informative, concise and funny and I felt like I didn’t get that kind of quality content anywhere else. It even came to a point where I tried to put together a local SourceFed for Malaysians, but of course I don’t have that kind of money, expertise or kerajinan to do something as big as that.

Anyway, I stopped watching SourceFed when Elliott suddenly decided to leave the team in 2014. It was sad to see him go, and as a person who had been watching from the start in 2012, I didn’t feel like I had the heart to watch the show that was one short of its original cast members. I suppose I was invested more in the people on the screen than in the show itself, which goes to show just how strong their characters were, at least to me it did.

While clicking away my time, I chanced across a video he made on his personal Youtube channel explaining in brief his decision to leave SourceFed. He said something to the effect of “SourceFed had become a comfort zone, and sometimes comfort zones can be good, but sometimes can be bad.” 

One could understand why SourceFed was seen as a comfort zone by him. SourceFed had a big and loyal following, him writing for and hosting the show was one of the daily routines, he had a steady stream of income by doing what he did on the show, there was no way SourceFed could fire him because he was one of the best at doing what he did, and some other things I’m not privy to, I imagine.

And even though comfort zones are great to rest at for a while, it can also cause one to stagnate and stop growing. One stops getting challenged by what one does every day, and the challenge (if one could even call it that) becomes a challenge of how to not get bored, since it has come to a point where it has become SO easy for one to get bored at their job. You’re not taking up new challenges, mainly because of a lack of opportunities to seek out new challenges as well as the lack of motivation in yourself to seek out new adventures since being where you are and doing what you have always done has become so much of a sure thing that ruffling the feathers really doesn’t seem appealing at all to you.

And so an appealing option for one to take is to exit their comfort zone to seek out new challenges and to have that thrill of being unsure again and to force yourself to learn new things in order to adapt and survive and hopefully come out of the process becoming an improved version of yourself, a version of yourself you could never have come to if you had decided to stay in your comfort zone. And I guess that’s what Elliott did, and I respect him very much for that.

And I suppose, with myself, school has become very much a comfort zone. And it’s great in that it gives me something to do everyday that I know how to do well (although this does change, sometimes I feel I’m alright and sometimes I feel I’m the worst teacher in the school), and new things to do arise every now and again for me to learn stuff (mostly in relation to filing and documenting purposes, but hey),  and I get to see kids that I love almost every day, and on top of all of that, I have financial stability in the form of a monthly wage.

But having said that, it’s still a comfort zone. And I am wary of its dangers. And I have this undying urge to grow — as long as I can help it — on my own terms.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Why Arguments Are Necessary In A Relationship

So in the last video I made, I said that arguments are necessary in a relationship, because through arguments you learn about yourself, about your partner as well as about life. And although I still fully stand by that statement, I must concede that it was more of a general and, dare I say it,"safe" statement. 

Anyone could have come up with that statement, really, and it would have carried just as much weight, I would presume. It didn't necessarily sound like it came from a person who had been seasoned in relationships. Not to say that I am all that seasoned at all, it's just that I could have put some more thought into the question of why I think people in relationships can't really run away from getting into arguments with their significant others.

A couple of days ago I had a bit of a chat with one of my brother's friend. She asked an interesting leading question and it eventually got me talking about relationships again and how we can't run away from the fact that people are just so different from each other because of the differing environments in which they were raised.

And through talking about that, I got to a point where I said something to the effect of "often times, we find ourselves at two totally different points of understanding a situation. We desire different things, we put different things as more important than other things, we see things differently, through no fault of our own, of course. But we can't run away from the fact that two people are at two differing points from each other, and for the relationship to work (or continue working), those two points have to move closer and closer to each other until they reach a mutual point of understanding. It's like one person is way over to the left and the other is way over to the right. And for the relationship to work, they need to meet somewhere in the middle. That path to the middle point of convergence is more often than not an argument. The argument is the process that all people in a relationship has to go through to achieve a mutual understanding. It's a difficult path, and sometimes a long one, way longer than anyone would like, but if the people in the relationship want to make it work, they have to go through the process, that path, the argument. And by the end of the process, both parties will come out of it having grown a little bit more, having gone through that hardship together. I suppose both people just have to trust the process for it to continue working. If even one of the people in the relationship stop trusting in the process, then the relationship will be THAT much harder to maintain, since only one person is traversing the path, and the path gets lonely, and humans grow weary and tired. As long as the people in the relationship go through the path together, then it'll continue to work. Hard work, yes, but work it shall."

Now I sound as if I'm a know it all pulak. Baru kawen dua bulan dok sembang serupa pandai boleh Anwat ni. Ugh

But I am thankful to my brother's friend for allowing me to explore that question and arriving to the thoughts that I just typed above. I now have a clearer, more concrete picture of why arguments are necessary in a relationship.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Vlog Script: Advice For S And Myself

You may watch the video here

Assalamualaikum wbt dan salam sejahtera~

So kita ada soalan dalam bentuk emel yang dihantar oleh kawan yang bernama S (bukan nama sebenar). Ni emelnya:

Nama saya S and saya tgh buat degree. Saya ada minat kat sorang senior saya ni. Dulu kami study diploma sekali tapi sekarang degree tempat lain-lain. Saya kenal die sbb kami sama team tennis dulu. Rapat dr situ la. And kitorg tak couple but just really good friends since 2011.

Saya sebenarnya nk bg tau die for quite some time actually, tapi busy puny pasal, kena delay. Saya akan bagitaw dia soon, tapi I don’t know what to expect. Saya ingat nk mintak tolong die tunggu saya or at least maybe tunang dulu sementara nk habis degree. I've met her family tp gitu-gitu je la and setahu saya diorg ok je (base on what she's told me la).

In my head, if she says "yes", Alhamdulillah. If she says "no", x de rezeki. And even if she says "nak pikir dulu", saya nk bg space kat die utk pikir. Abg rasa saya punya preparation ni cukup ke? Any advice?

Firstly thank you for opening up to me. 

Habaq semua benda ni kepada seorang stranger kat internet memerlukan tahap keberanian yang tinggi, so kudos to you!

Daripada apa yang saya faham dalam emel ni, kamu dah pun buat keputusan nak bagitaw kat dia semua benda ni. 

Saya rasa amat terpuji la kemahuan S nak menjelaskan apa yang kamu rasa kepada kawan tu. 

One of the major keys to success: if you have something to say to someone, by all means say it, as long as you say it in an honest AND respectable way.

Having said that, kita kena ingat bahawa macam mana depa nak terima benda yang kita cakap is totally up to them. 

Kita takleh nak kawal orang lain punya actions and reactions, so tak wajar untuk kita nak risau yang pasai tu. 

Kalau kita nak habiskan masa memikirkan sesuatu perkara, lagi baik kita pikiaq pasai benda yang kita boleh kawai, macam tindakan dan keputusan yang kita sendiri buat. 

It saves you a lot of unnecessary worrying.

I guess if I do have any advice, it would be to keep in mind that to love is not to own. Mencinta tak bermaksud memiliki, gituuu. 

I think it's always a good idea to ask yourself whether or not you need this person to love you back for it to be real. 

If you still are able to love that person, even when that person doesn't love you back, then that's the kind of love that I find admirable. 

I find it admirable when a person only wants what is best for the other person, no matter if he is with that other person or not. 

As long as that other person is happy, he is happy. I find it real nice.

Selain itu, saya akan bagi peringatan kepada kamu S, dan juga diri saya sendiri yang hubungan ni bukanlah sesuatu yang mudah. Bukan mudah menyusun tangga ke angkasa uuuyeah. 

Kita kena faham bahawa dalam relationships, it’s not always going to be rainbows and butterflies, macam lagu Maroon Five tu, it’s compromise that moves us along.

Akan ada masa yang dua orang dalam sesuatu hubungan akan benci antara satu sama lain. 

Belum pernah saya jumpa hubungan yang immune kepada perselisihan faham dan pergaduhan.

Kita kena terima yang akan ada time-time yang susah dalam relationship. 

Pada pandangan saya, time-time susah ni necessary, pasai daripada situ kita belajar. 

Belajar tentang orang tu, belajar tentang diri kita sendiri, belajar tentang life. 

Selagi mana kita boleh terima each other, even at your lowest, lowest points, selagi tu lah hubungan tu akan berkekalan. 

Alright, tu ja kot saya nak share. Saya harap itu sedikit sebanyak menjawab soalan kamu wahai S, all the best. 

Kalau ada apa-apa soalan, boleh tweet saya di @inianwarhadi atau emel saya di

Baiklah, that’s it for this video, may peace be upon you!

Friday, February 12, 2016

First Time Going To A Comedy Club

So earlier today I went to my first standup comedy show. It was a show that featured the top 8 finalists for the second season of the TV show called Komediri. I had more laughs than I was expecting to, so all is well. The show was at Crackhouse Comedy Club in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, and they have shows every other day, so if you’re interested in spending a night in laughter, then I would suggest you check the place out.

I suppose in this post would also be a good place to share my latest obsessions: comedy podcasts. I say latest as if I just found out about them yesterday, when in reality I’ve been listening to them for a few months now.

My two main destinations for comedy in the form of podcasts are the shows Improv4humans as well as Comedy Bang Bang. Both of them may be found in SoundCloud, and they’re a delight to listen to whether on their own or on long bus trips or when you’re doing some busywork that doesn’t require much of your attention.

Having listened to quite a few episodes of the podcasts now, I’ve come to better understand the art of comedy. I’m far from being an insider to the comedic circle, but I’ve learned so much about comedy and how it works from listening to these people being funny and talking about being funny. As a lot of comedians would admit, one never truly understands the art inside out, but there are some tricks and best practices that one can almost always depend on to coming up with funny material, and that’s a field I would love to explore in more detail, especially in the form of improv.

Improv is the act of coming up with a scene and dialogue on the spot without prior planning, and it’s no easy feat, but these comedians do it so smoothly and so funnily that it’s hard not to fall in love with the art form. It has sparked within me a desire to involve myself in improv and try to come up with scenes with other people, but of course improv is a very little known thing in Penang, or even in Malaysia, so finding other people with this same particular interest isn’t very easy.

But the thought of being able to do it with other people is certainly a fun idea. Hopefully I get to turn other people on to the art form and gradually widen the circle of interest. Soon enough, some people waaay funnier than I could ever be might take up improv, and then I get to see them perform and have a real good time being entertained by such talent. That’s the dream, anyway.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Easiest Way To Make Me Cry

So earlier today we went to listen to a talk about one of the daughters of the Prophet SAW, Saidatina Fatimah RA, and I won't relay here what was said because saya tak bertauliah, but I would like to share one thing.

Towards the end of the talk, the speaker shared how Saidatina Fatimah RA felt when her father SAW passed away. She was said to have said something to the effect of (and I'm paraphrasing, so please don't take my word for it) "If the darkness that descended upon me were to descend upon the daylight, surely there would no longer be any light during the day." She was also said to have asked the people who lowered Rasulullah SAW into his grave thus, "How was it? To be able to see my father's face for the last time before it got covered in dirt?"

I broke down and cried for a good five minutes. If there's anything that can get tears streaming out of my eyes in two seconds or less, it's a story about the Prophet's SAW death.

I remember reading about it in a book of Sirah written by Tariq Ramadhan. I read that book twice. I cried just as hard both times I reached the part where Rasulullah SAW passed away.

How odd it is to miss someone you've never met before this much.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Don't Like Repeating Myself

So I've noticed that some people are okay with talking about the same things over and over again. Not only that, the way in which it is discussed as well as the content of the discussion doesn't stray very far away from each other. It's almost as if they're repeating themselves again and again.

I don't feel comfortable with that. I think in a lot of my endeavours, I actively strive to write about different things, and even when I do end up talking about something I've already talked/written about before, I always have this urge to bring something new to the table, be it a new insight or a different perspective on the topic discussed. I get bored with repetition pretty easily, which becomes a huge weakness when I need to memorise my own songs, which requires lots and lots of repetition.

Besides that, this "cepat bosan" attitude makes it difficult for me to write consistently, since I don't always have new thoughts floating around in my head. More often than not, it's the same old thoughts, being thought about in the same old way. And because of this, I often feel like I have nothing to write about, when a more truthful statement would be that I have nothing new to write about.

One of the sayings that I try to stay true to is "make content you would watch/read/listen to yourself". And even though to this end, thus far I have been able to more or less toe that line, I feel like sooner rather than later, I'll make more and more boring stuff, since I'll eventually talk about something I've already talked about. Even though I'll strive to not let that happen, there's no guarantee that it won't, and I suppose that scares me a little (or even a lot).

I suppose in those instances, I'll have to remind myself even more that being creative is not about creating something out of thin air, but rather a compression of your own and other peoples' experiences put into writing/song/visuals. I'll have to try even harder to remember that my job isn't to create something out of nothing, because that is plainly beyond your power, but rather to put together a whole bunch of other things and turn all of that into a something.

So here's to not forgetting that we're mere mortals that aren't capable of creating something out of nothing, and that that's really just fine.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Just Three Words

So there's this one sentence that I say in the latest video I posted on Youtube (which you may watch here: ) which goes something like, "Do the smallest thing I can do to contribute towards achieving a set goal, even if it's just three words to post on the blog. No task is too small in working towards a goal."

And even though I do believe that, and in an ideal world, that's exactly what I do, we're not living in an ideal world, and more often than not I succumb to the parts of myself that just wants to not do stuff and waste time and sleep.

Some would describe these urges to be unproductive as "bisikan syaitan" so that there's something external that we can point towards and blame. But really, even if by that logic, the one that will be facing punishment for listening to said whispers will be ourselves, really. Them syaitans were just doing their job. And in listening and succumbing to their invitations, we put ourselves at fault.

Even with this blogpost that I'm writing right now, I almost didn't do it. I was telling myself "agh, aku nak tuleh tapi aku takdak topik apa pun nak tuleh. Otak takleh nak jalan malam ni. Tak payah tuleh la senang."

But then I was reminded of my own video, and told myself "just three words". And now I'm here, typing this out for anyone willing to read, and more importantly, for myself.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Living Alone In Prayer

So I’ve been going about my day to day life on my own for a while now. The wife has work over in the Klang Valley area and I have school here in Penang, so I’ve been by myself at the apartment for about a month now.

Living alone isn’t new to me. I’ve been living by myself for quite a while even before getting married, so I really am used to it. I was just reminded of how living alone can test your faith when you’re a self-proclaimed Muslim who tries to pray his five daily prayers.

It was when I went to study in Sydney when I first felt a sense of freedom when it came to the aspect of my faith and how I chose to practice it. Because there was no one to monitor my actions over there (as opposed to being at home with your parents or in a higher learning institute where Muslims were a huge majority), there was no one to tell me to pray my five daily prayers. Indeed, if I could have decided to skip all of them and invested all that extra time to watching more Youtube videos or something. There would be no one to question me, no one to pressure me into praying at all.

But I didn’t. I felt that my five daily prayers mattered too much to me for me to just leave like that. I guess it was a testament to how well my mother had raised me to have me feel like prayer was an essential part of my identity. I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving prayer, since it made me feel like I had betrayed not only God or myself, but my mother too. I couldn’t do that to her.

Fast forward to today, and that thought hovered around my mind again as I sat alone in my rented apartment. I could just as easily not pray and literally no human being would ever know. But I don’t. I can’t. It’s become too important a thing for me. If I still want to call myself a Muslim, pray I must. And a Muslim I am.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Failing For The Greater Good

So here’s a story.

There was this one dude who is super into the arts and inspiring other people’s artistic side. He decided to take up architecture as his degree, since it seemed like it was a course that allowed people to explore their artsy side. He studied hard and got a scholarship to study just that in a university of his choosing.

He finished his four year degree at a local university no problem. Once he graduated, he was immediately offered a job as a lecturer at a public higher learning institute to teach architecture, since that was part of his scholarship programme. There was really no escaping that, since if he decided to say no, he’d have to pay back his bond to the government, which was priced at about half a million ringgit.

He checked into his job, as was his duty, and quickly found that his heart wasn’t there. He felt that what he was doing everyday was banal and did not inspire anything within him to be creative nor encourage his students to be let out there creative side. He really wanted to, but the place clamped down on all of his efforts to give room to the students to explore their creativity. The institute insisted that he limited his actions to what was asked of him, and nothing more. He could do less if he wanted, but certainly nothing more.

He got really frustrated. This wasn’t what he wanted at all. But he didn’t have the wherewithal to opt out of the job, since he didn’t come from an affluent background. His family keep encouraging him to stay put because of the stability the job offered. It was a steady stream of money coming in every month, so why shouldn’t he be happy with that?

The daily monotony ate away at his soul. He wanted to do more things, different things, but the place wouldn’t allow for such a thing to happen. all he needed to do was go to class, read the slides on the screen and go back. There were meetings that needed to be attended every now and again, but besides that, nothing really much. And to be paid for just that, well, all the other lecturers there are pretty happy with the deal. So why wasn't he?

He didn’t know a lot of things for certain, but he did know that if he stayed there for much longer, his soul would be crushed and he would be just like all the other people there, happy to get their salaries every month while doing the bare minimum to achieve mediocre goals. He needed an out.

As it turned out, after a year of service, all new government servants were to go for an induction programme called “The Mind Transformation Programme”. It sounded eery, as if the sole purpose of the programme was to brainwash the participants into a cult belief of some sort, but it was compulsory. A whole week had to be spent listening to older wiser better people talking about how a civil servant was to conduct him/herself while working and also while not working.

During the briefing of the programme on the first day, the person on the microphone said something interesting. She said that at the end of the programme, all the participants will be issued an exam paper to gauge how much they’ve learned throughout the course. If any participant scored less that 10%, they would be considered as having failed the programme, and any failure of the programme was no longer fit to be a civil servant, and thus would be laid off.

This interested the guy to no end. He kept thinking about that clause in the exam throughout the course, to the point where he rarely thought about anything else. The more he thought about it, the more sure he was of the decision that he was about to make.

On the final day of the course, the participants were given the exam papers, as promised. They were given an hour to finish answering the paper. The guy almost laughed at how easy the questions were. One of them asked what was the appropriate attire for a male civil servant to wear at work, A) baju kurung; B) skirt paras lutut; C) t-shirt v-neck; D) kemeja berkolar lengan panjang. It really seemed as if they really didn’t want to give anyone the chance to fail at all. But our guy had made his decision. He circled all the wrong answers to his knowledge. The ones he was not certain about, he just skipped. He didn’t want to risk accidentally answering something right.

A week after the course, the results of the exam came to the office where he worked and he had to be laid off. He even asked his Director whether there were any strings attached. The reply was in the negative. He almost jumped for joy in the Director’s office. Luckily he was able to delay it until he got to the parking lot.

Two weeks later, he opened a cafe in which art was the main focus. He was determined to make the cafe a place where creative people could gather and come up with and make stuff together. It’s a slow start, and he doesn’t think that they’ll break even for a long time coming, but he’s happy. He’s on the path that he wants to be on and will continue on this journey he set for himself, doing what he is passionate about and getting to see and meet people who are just as passionate about what they’re doing at his cafe. 

His family members have their doubts, but after explaining to them his plan for the next five years and showing them just how serious about what he was doing, they became okay with it. Still worried, as parents will be parents, but they couldn’t help but feel the joy beaming from their once dreary-eyed son, and that gave them a sense of happiness as well.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Review Script: Tuhan Bukan Manusia

So this is the script of the book review video that I made. You may watch it here:

Assalamualaikum wbt dan salam sejahtera

Video ni ialah review buku pertama di channel ni, and I want to start out by stating the obvious.

Saya bukanlah seorang yang mengaku pakar dalam bidang pembacaan atau pengkritikan sastera.

Saya cumalah budak bodo tepi jalan yang nak berkongsi pandangan dan pendapat tentang apa yang saya baca.

Ada benda yang kita boleh setuju, which is great, and ada benda yang kita tak setuju, which is even better.

Hampa boleh lah kongsi pandangan hampasama dalam ruang komen video ni

Video review ni akan dibahagikan kepada empat bahagian dimana saya cuba jawab empat soalan berikut:

What is this book about?
What did I like about this book?
What were my least favourite things about the book?
Who would I recommend this book to?

And now on to the review!

1. Buku ni bertajuk Tuhan Bukan Manusia, ditulis oleh Zharif Zainuddin dan diterbitkan oleh ilhambooks.

This 195-page book tells the story of a guy who finds himself in a foreign land and stays at the house of a much older person named Rumi.

He stays there for a little over a month.

Within that month, our hero falls in love with a prostitute/murderer, gets involved in a trial, witnesses how awesomely Rumi deals with people and situations, learns what he was born to do, and defends Rumi’s village from being attacked by the military forces of the government of the day.

It’s a story with quite a bit of philosophical bits, where the author explores at length the questions of justice, God, heaven, hell, love, the past, life, death, and so on and so forth.

It reminded me of the works of Paulo Coelho and some Kahlil Gibran, especially at the end there where the villagers asked Rumi a whole bunch of questions and Rumi answered them one by one, The Prophet style.

2. I like that this book strays from what one would expect from a Malay piece of work. 

It’ certainly isn’t another one of your Suamiku Suamimu Jua kind of book. 

It made me the reader think and question certain things about life and how I see the world. 

A part of the book that I particularly liked was when the author questions why we do good deeds. Penulis bagi kita soalan: kita buat benda baik ni untuk pahala ka untuk Tuhan? 

Ikhlas ka kita punya amalan kalau kita nak masuk syurga tu pasai disitu ada kemewahan, dan kita tak letak berjumpa dengan Tuhan sebagai sebab utama untuk kita nak masuk syurga? 

Interesting points to ponder like these are spread quite generously throughout the book.

3. There were a couple of things that I didn’t particularly love about the book.

Dia punya bahasa sangat skema dalam buku ni, sampai rasa macam tak natural cara penyampaian dia. Mungkin untuk orang yang suka tatabahasa yang sempurna akan lebih suka buku ni berbanding saya lah, pasai saya jenih tak kisah sangat bab tatabahasa.

Keduanya, ada satu scene cheesy gila dekat-dekat ngan belakang, antara hero dia ngan cinta hati dia. Ayat jiwang dia sirius disaluti keju yang amat tebal sekali, sampai aku skip teruih part tu. Aku tak boleh sangat dengan benda-benda cheesy ni.

4. Buku ni saya rekemen kat sesiapa yang fasih berbahasa Melayu, 

yang nak cari kelainan dalam novel bahasa melayu yang dibaca, 

kepada sesiapa yang tak takut untuk berfikir,

yang mahukan a quick but impactful read.

Bolehla try baca buku Tuhan Bukan Manusia, karangan Zharif Zainuddin.

And that’s about it, really.

What did you think of this book? Did you love it? Did you hate it? Leave a comment down below sharing your thoughts. Anwar Hadi. Tuhan Bukan Manusia. Selamanya!