Friday, December 20, 2013

Online Identity Questions

""No synthesizers, no satisfaction" Sirens by They Will Kill Us All.

So I got a questionnaire from some people the other day, and I thought I'd post it here. It's about online identity and whatnot. I had a good time answering it, and I hope you enjoy reading it as well.

1.       What do you want your online profile/self to tell others about you? Please elaborate.

I guess I want people to see me as a normal everyday person that is no different from themselves. I tweet regular stuff, write about regular things, speak about regular topics. I don’t want people setting up psychological barriers between me and them.

2.       Do you feel that you need to project a more socially ‘desirable’ online self? Why? Why not?

Good question. What I have tried to do is portray someone who I’d like to follow/subscribe/befriend myself. So what/who I portray must be desirable to me first, everyone else second. I need to be comfortable with myself, because I've been with myself for as long as I can remember and I’ll probably be with myself for the rest of my days. I’m not sure if this is socially desirable or not.

3.       Do you feel that you are always promoting /selling yourself or see yourself as a ‘brand’? In what ways?

I don’t think I sell myself very much, if at all. I don’t set out to brand myself, because what I do most (if not all) of the time is be the most comfortable with myself at any given time and place. Different contexts call for different actions, and I adjust accordingly so that I’m comfortable.

4.       Which language do you prefer to use when you update your online statuses (page profiles, tweets, etc)?

English and Malay. It’s really not constant, because I usually just use what language I’m using in my head at the time to express myself. But I do write a lot more English than Malay. My blog is almost completely in English.

5.       Do you make a conscious decision to use certain languages when it comes to updating your online statuses? Why? Why not?

If the situation calls for me to make a conscious decision, then yes. Such conscious decisions would come in situations when I only want to reach a certain community, or the message makes more sense in one language and not the other. I go for effective communication. Whichever language is best for what I want to get across determines which language I use. I may even use both the languages at my disposal if the situation calls for it.

6.       When you use certain languages online, do you portray a certain aspect of your real life self? How?

I think whichever language I use, it’s a depiction of my real life self. I only change the language I use if the situation calls for it (for example, if the person I’m communicating with isn’t very proficient in English and prefers to communicate in Malay, I use Malay.) both in real life and in social media.

7.       Is it important for other social media personalities be aware of their online selves that they project to others? Why? Why not?

I think it is. I think more people need to be more conscious of who they are and what they are comfortable with. I hate to see people sacrifice their own principles just because they think that that’s what the audience wants. I’d hate myself if I ever do it.

8.       In future, do you plan to project a new ‘online self’ to others? Why? Why not?

I don’t know yet. Maybe would be my answer. I would if I want to gain a different kind of audience; that is if I’m not comfortable with the audience that I have now. I wouldn't if it would make me uncomfortable.

May peace be upon you.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013


"I wrote this record while 30,000 feet in the air," Hol' Up by Kendrick Lamar.

So at this point I have just finished reading Khaled Hosseini's And The Mountains Echoed after lugging the book around for almost two weeks. As usual, I updated my GoodReads account, wrote a review on the book and thought "update pi lah blog pun", but not to review the book lah of course.

You see, one of my not-so-recent ambitions is to write fiction. Short stories, novels, doesn't really matter. I just want to be able to tell stories through writing. I marvel at and envy people who are able to do this well, Khaled Hosseini being one of them. He became a doctor before actually publishing his first book when he was 38. It took him some time, but in the end he pulled through and ended up being super-successful too. But I digress.

I follow a few writer-help-twitter-accounts on twitter and one of them tweeted something that sounded like this: "There's no such thing as an aspiring writer. You either write or you don't." And it hit me quite hard in my brain's figurative nuts. I am merely a wannabe-but-never-gonna-be.

I've always had this thought that one day, I'm going to be a writer. One day, I'll publish books. One day, one day. But I never actually wrote anything. I barely write on my blog as it is. I write assignments out of sheer force. Heck, I barely even write shopping lists.

And I have the gall to say that I'm going to be a writer? You may laugh that off immediately.

Macklemore says in his song Ten Thousand Hours "the greats weren't great because at birth they could paint, the greats were great because they painted a lot." I can't depend on this inner-feeling that I have that says that I'll be a writer someday. Why can't that someday be today? Why can't I be a writer now?

I give myself a lot of excuses as to why I can't write right now. Because I don't have a great idea yet. Because I haven't read enough books yet. Because I'm too busy, too tired, too occupied with other things to write. 

I have a friend who writes lots. He's a law students. He says he doesn't really read that many books. Not fictional ones anyway. He takes the attitude of "I write what I want to write. Whether you like it or not is not my problem". He also shared a quote on twitter the other day that goes "a writer is not judged by how well he writes; only by how badly he wants to write". And in that sense, I suppose I don't really have enough desire to write, judging from the multiple excuses I give myself to run away from actually writing. Because I'm afraid that I'll suck?

I shouldn't be afraid of sucking because I most definitely AM going to suck. No doubt about it. I most definitely AM going to produce shit-quality material. But that's irrelevant. The reality is 1 shit piece of writing is one step ahead and above no piece of writing at all. And, anakpakman, you're only kidding yourself when you say that you'll only be able to produce the same quality material for the rest of your life. You're only kidding yourself when you say that you won't improve after writing 100 shit-stories. You're only kidding yourself when you say you can't do it.

The fact of the matter is, you'll become a better writer as you write. So write, anakpakman, write now. Not tomorrow. Now.

May peace be upon you.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Only Myself To Blame

"It's too cold for you here and now," Sweater Weather by The Neighbourhood.

So my hands are trembling, I feel very tired but my eyes are wide open and my leg won't stop shaking. Plus, I feel like throwing up and my focus is nowhere to be found, so much so that I can't even read right. Let's just say that sleep deprivation and me don't mix too well.

It's my fault too. Stayed up until 4am tadi editing a video, and of course got up at 6.30am for subuh and ran some errands afterwards. If I had started it earlier as scheduled and not have procrastinated so much, I would have been able to get it done and still get a good 5 hours of sleep in. Why you do this to yourself, anakpakman, I will never know. And by this time, the word "procrastination" is my most resented word in the whole wide world at the moment. Too much of a big word can do things to ya, I tells ya. Here's the video, by the way:


Shameless, shameless plugging of self. But hey, it's my blog so I'll be narcissistic if I want to. Deal with it, Anwar.

But really, procrastination has been THE main problem for these last few years in my life, and I have no one to blame but myself.

It may have hit my video-making pretty hard, but let me tell you that I suffered the most academically through this shameful self-inflicted disease of mine. I can identify so much with waitbutwhy in their passage:

"In college, the sudden unbridled personal freedom was a disaster for me—I did nothing, ever, for any reason. The one exception was that I had to hand in papers from time to time. I would do those the night before, until I realized I could just do them through the night, and I did that until I realized I could actually start them in the early morning on the day they were due."

University life was crippling to me mostly because of the freedom I enjoyed. Nobody pushed me to get anything done (except probably pay the rent), and growing up my whole life having people push me to get stuff done (11 years of school and 2 and half years of Malaysian teacher training institute), this sudden lack of push made me stop in my tracks, always expecting some push but never getting any. 

I have now finished my B. Ed. TESOL degree studies, and although I've passed (alhamdulillah), I'm not proud of how I did. I just know that I could have done sooo much better if it not were for me and my waiting for the Panic Monster to come kicking down my door. I took on any excuse for not getting work done (part-time job, being tired and needing a nap, needing to go hang out with friends because I've only hung out with them five times this week, etc.).

There was this one assignment where we had to work in groups, and I loved that one so much and did quite well because there were other people around to push me to get things done. Any individual work (and there were a LOT of them) and I'd be floating around not getting anything done. Often I'd find myself helping other people out with the assignment when I haven't even started on mine yet. Anything to avoid doing actual work. It's shameful, really.

I'm exposing this to you dear reader because 1. sleep deprivation, and 2. so that you may take away a lesson from my experience. Damn here I am pretending to be all wise and shtuff. But really, I wish upon no one what I have inflicted upon myself. Please do what you can to be the best person you can be. It's never too late for anyone to take a turn for the better, least of all a 23-year-old male almost-graduate. 

Let's do this. If not fly, run. If not run, walk. You get the idea. Crawl.

May peace be upon you.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Blind Ferry

"I let my mind wander far beyond Mars," Budding Ornithologists Are Weary of Tired Analogies by Milo.

He stepped onto the ferry as he once did so often a few years ago. It hasn’t changed much. Just the seating orientation was different from how he remembered. It used to be rows lined up as if the passengers were all there to watch a movie or a staging that was supposed to happen at the front of the vessel. Now it’s just two pairs of columns of chairs lining up almost all the way back and all the way to the front of the top floor of the ferry, each set of chairs in the pair facing the other. A lot more standing space, a lot less seats.

He made his way right up to the front of the ferry. There was a slight breeze, but not strong enough to blow his fedora off his head. He still held it in place while pacing to the bow though, for lack of anything to do with his hands more than anything. He led the congregation of strangers making their way back to the island of the orient. Or was it the pearl or something? Ah, he couldn’t be bothered. It’s not like it was his hometown or anything. He just studied there.

Right up to the front side on the right wall of the vessel was what looked like a bench that wouldn’t be out of place in a garden of a bungalow somewhere. He rested his weary backside on the far right side of the bench, placing his black Country Road duffel bag to his left so that no one gets too close. His eyes roam the mixture of people before him. Mostly tired-looking people, most probably on their way back home after a long days’ work. He checked his watch. 8:02 p.m. Yeah, they’re definitely from their work places.

Before his eyes could have another go over the light crowd, two men approached him from his blind spot. He only noticed them after one of them said “Duduk sini ya?” He wore a uniform. One of those corporate button up shirts. Must be a ferry worker.

While taking his seat, the other man replied, “Terima kasih.” to which the man in the corporate shirt gave a slight smile, turned on his heels and walked back in the direction he came from.

The other man was blind. He held a walking stick and was glancing all over the place without really seeming to look at anything, even with his eyes wide open. Damn, thought fedora man. Did I just sit on a disabled-people seat? He searched the wall behind him for any signage that would confirm that he was being a douchebag, but besides the wording “Pulau Angsa”, no sign of a logo denoting that it was a “special area” was to be seen. Phew.

The ferry embarked on its 20-minute journey to the island soon afterwards.

He shifted his eyes to the man beside him. Slim. Shirt and jeans; his kind of guy. Looks around his age too, maybe a little older. Besides his walking stick, he had a plastic bag in his hand. Fedora peeked into his plastic bag to find what looked like some Tiger cookies, kuih kacang tumbuk (if that was what they were called) and some other thing he couldn’t quite figure out.

Suddenly the blind man put his hand in his pocket to pull out a phone, one of those old Nokias that had polyphonic ringtones. He unlocked the phone and put it up to his ear, the screen facing outwards. Fedora observed him doing this in suppressed fascination. 

He could see that the blind man was on the message page. Rows of texts from “Sayang” could be read when he entered his inbox. Fedora briefly raised his eyebrows. This dude’s blind and he has a girlfriend? God I’m such a loser.

The blind man clicked on his texts and seemed to be listening to them. Fedora did try to eavesdrop on the phone, but he couldn’t get his ear close enough to the phone without seeming creepy, so he sat back. He never knew that phones had a “read text messages for me” feature. Even his iPhone couldn’t do that, as far as he knew.

The blind man continued listening to his text messages for a few minutes before putting it away in his pocket. He then felt around in his plastic bag of snacks and took out the packet of Tiger cookies and sniffed it. Fedora, again, fascinated, wondered if he should offer a helping hand at opening the packet. I want to help the dude, but I don’t want to insult him. He could very well do it on his own, seeing that he’s an adult. Would I be insulted if someone offered to do something I had been doing myself for a long time? I probably would.

While he mulled over the idea, the blind man put back the packet in the plastic bag and took out the packet of kuih kacang tumbuk and sniffed it. After a couple of good long sniffs, he felt around with his fingers the tip of the packet and bit down on the plastic. He tore it open with his mouth, ever so ungracefully, but effectively nonetheless. After a few bites and spits later, his finger went into the small opening he made for himself and opened the hole a little more. He took out one kuih, unwrapped it and ate the thing in two successive bites. While chewing on the kuih, he put the packet back into the plastic bag.

See? Thought fedora. He is perfectly capable of feeding himself. He withheld a chuckle before his eyes again ventured around the not too crowded ferry area.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Degree of Certainty

"You live what you've learned," Points of Authority by Linkin Park.

So I have officially ended my days as a B. Ed. TESOL undergrad. Not a graduate yet though. Without the scroll (which will be awarded in April-ish), I am still as good as a secondary school leaver. 

Having said that, I have spent a very significant part of my life (5 years and a half, to be clear) being around 60 other people who are known as the B. Ed. TESOL IPGKPP-Macquarie University students, and finishing my degree studies also marks the end of my official association with those people in the course.

I have grown from a scrawny, arrogant young punk to a less scrawny, more grateful young man (I can never get used to calling myself a man, man). And those 60-odd people have played a big part in making that happen, some bigger than others, but a role they have played nonetheless.

I never was any good with goodbyes.

I would like to thank all of these people for helping me become the person I am today. Some have helped me in times of trouble, being living proof that genuinely good people are out there. Some have shared my struggles, allowed me into their lives and together build each others' understanding of the world. We've laughed, we've cried, we've fought, made up, talked and talked, or sometimes just enjoyed each others' silent company. 

The road is a long one still for each and every one of us. It is unfortunate that we have to part ways and from now on grow separately, but what is meeting without parting? It is why our brief encounters with each other become ever so valuable.

We shall cross paths again in the future, I am certain of that. Although maybe not in the totality of our studying days, but meet again we shall, inshaAllah. Until then, I wish each and every one of you the best in your future endeavours.

For better or for worse; for good.

May peace be upon you.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Side Projects

"Right thoughts, right words," Right Action by Franz Ferdinand.

So side projects. I have come to discover that having side projects is the most important thing in the world. Okay, not the most important thing in the world. But it's pretty damn important in order for one to stay productive.

You can't really just focus all your efforts doing just one thing forever. You'll get bored. And if you don't have any side projects going on, you'll be wasting your time being bored and not doing anything about it. And that ain't coooool, innit?

Thing is, I sometimes feel like I like doing so many distinct things, and the interest in each thing comes and goes in phases. And this sort of confuses me. It makes me wonder "what am I actually supposed to be doing?" and now I've come to realise that the answer is "all of them".

We all have passions, and some of us (me included) have more than one. A mistake people usually make (me included) is to just choose one passion and discard the rest. I now realise that doing that is a mistake. I can't discard any of my passions, because they are what make me, me. I don;t have to choose between my passions because those choices have already been made. I like doing certain things (writing, music, rugby) and dislike doing certain things (playing football, eating petai, playing football) and that's perfectly fine. All that's left for me to do is to do something with my inclinations. I can't worry about unity from passion to passion, inclination to inclination, piece to piece - because what unifies all of it is the fact they all come from inside me (and from above lah ofkos). I have to trust that one day when I look back upon all of this, it'll all make sense.

Let's look at a couple of my peers. MatLuthfi, his main thing (currently) is getting his Masters degree. And he's definitely an awesome enough graduate, he could even get his PhD before he's 30. His side projects are his videos. And they're mind-blowingly good. I'm sure he has some other side-projects going on too. And they should be mind-blowingly good too.

Aiman Azlan. God, he's such a hardworking guy. He makes videos regularly. He's in the process of writing a book (which a lot of us are waiting for in full anticipation). He writes regularly for as well as for his own blog. He shares so many useful stuff on his FB page and twitter (@aimanazlan90). I'm sure when he comes back to Malaysia, he'll be going around the country sharing uber-useful and inspirational thoughts with anyone and everyone.

Having multiple projects going on at once is definitely helpful because we can bounce between them. Once we get sick of one project, we can always move on to the other one, then when we get sick of that one, go back to the first one. This way, we'll keep ourselves occupied and interested.

This post was inspired by the book "Steal Like An Artist" by Austin Kleon. He says things a lot more eloquently and concisely than I do, so i recommend the book to everyone who wants to be more creative and productive in their work, whatever their work may be.

(Re-reading this post, all I can say is "berteraboq!")

May peace be upon you.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

USM ConvEx 2013

"Somebody comes and hits you with an ooh la la la la," Mad Sounds by Arctic Monkeys.

So this weekend I'll be at USM's (main campus) Convocation Expo. It's an annual thing. Always very lively and draws quite a crowd. If you're a Penangite and you've never made it to a USM Convocation Expo, you're missing out, like seriously. Here are the event's deets:

Thing: 48th USM Convocation Expo (ConvEx'13) / Ekspo Konvokesyen USM ke-48.
Dates: 18th - 22nd of September 2013.
Theme: Volunteerism as a Lifestyle / Kesukarelawanan Sebagai Gaya Hidup.

Here's the logo:

awww yeaaaaa

On the 22nd of September in particular, I'll be talking about some stuff. Here's a poster of that:

I know what you're thinking. "That picture again?? Doesn't he have any other selfies??"

Sorry, but that's the only semi-proper self portrait I have of myself. All the others are of me duckfacing. It's turned into a natural reflex now upon seeing any camera lens. Again, my apologies.

If you would like to listen to me talk about volunteerism and my involvement in it (which is, let's be honest, minimal) then head on over. If you'd like to buy me a drink afterwards, then you are most welcome. Be warned: I take plain water, mostly.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Man Purse

"I'm just a crosshair," Take Me Out by Franz Ferdinand.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Characters portrayed here tiada kaitan dengan yang hidup atau yang mati. Meows.

Lepak at Starbucks pada hari yang panas lagi haze. Heh, tak sangka aku dah boleh actually beli sesuatu sambil lepak sini. Siap ada smartphone lagi. Tapi aku bukan reti pakai sangat, benda baru sebulan beli. Plus, takdak siapa yang nak ajaq aku macam mana nak guna benda tu, except brader yang juai kat aku tu lah bagi tutorial sikit-sikit. Dia tu Melayu, tapi taktaw pasepa nak kena cakap accent Cina ngan aku. Nak kata aku muka Cina, dak pun. Siap muka ala hero Hindustan pun ada. Aku cakap pun bukan ada pelat Cina ka apa, cakap Penang camni ajalah. So, fon mahai-mahai simpan dalam beg LV Petaling Street ni ajalah. Kat Malaysia ni takleh nak tayang sangat, nanti ada mata yang berkenan satgi, buat naya aku ja. Beg ni pun aku dok tengok ramai dok pakai lani. Aku taktaw la sama ada orang pakai untuk fashion atau function. Nak kata fashion, huduh ja aku tengok. Function la kot. Ya la, masing-masing dah ada smartphone la, tablet la apa la, tak muat dah nak letak dalam poket semua benda tu. Aku pun pakai untuk function la jugak. Boleh letak benda lain sama selain gadget-gadget ni.

Hm, 4.15pm. Banyak lagi masa.

Kalau pikiaq balik, dulu mana ada aku nak boleh lepak-lepak tempat macam ni. Kalau lepak pun, tak beli apa-apa lah. Just lepak semata-mata, sampai ada waiter halau pasai tak beli apa-apa. Time jadi student dulu pun, mana ada duit nak beli air secawan nak dekat dua puluh ringgit ni. Duit pinjaman dapat berapa langsung. Tambah pula aku bukan jenis berniaga or anything. Aku takdak masa dan takdak kerajinan. Jadi aku dok lah lepak sorang-sorang mana-mana yang sesuai dengan keadaan diri aku yang macam dulu tu. Lani pun still lepak sorang-sorang gak. Cuma lani atas urusan kerja. Bukan macam dulu, lepak nak lari dari belajaq.

Buat masscomm kat universiti takbes mana pun. Ya la ada kawan sana sini, tapi tak pernah plak ada bespren ka apa. Jarang ada orang ajak lepak kat luaq. Kalau ada pun pasai nak pau rokok aku la kot. Girlfren pun pernah ada sorang ja dulu, tapi tak sampai dua minggu pun lepaih tu dapat taw kata dia dok keluaq ngan orang len sama. Pasaipa dia nak kapel ngan aku in the first place pun aku taktaw. Bila tanya dia, bukan dia nak habaq. Hadoih.

Aku buat masscomm bukan nak jadi artis. Ya la, ramai member sekelaih, bila tanya pasaipa amek masscomm, yang tu lah jawapan dia, walaupun depa tak guna wording yang tu sejibik, tapi it doesn’t take a genius to deduce that their ultimate goal is to be rich and famous. The rich part tu tak tentu lah, tapi femes tu sudah pasti depa nak. Depa ingatkot bila femes tu kekayaan mai sekali kot. Haih. 

Aku buat masscomm pun pasai takdak opsyen lain dah. Tu ja tawaran UPU had aku dapat. Kalau bukan diploma masscomm, memang menganggur lah aku, and aku tak bersedia untuk kehidupan bekerja lagi time lepaih SPM dulu. Bukan macam aku ada tanggungjawab nak kena pikul ka apa, parents aku buat macam aku dah takdak ja, sejak sekolah lagi. Aku taw depa sibuk cari duit, tapi sampai abaikan anak depa sendiri, aku rasa tak patut ah. Jadi aku amek keputusan sambung belajaq supaya aku bleh keluaq rumah, dok hostel, amek PTPTN, setel hidup aku tiga tahun. Aku balik rumah pun bila ja? Bila cuti lama and depa tak bagi dok hostel. Time raya ngan cuti sem. Aku balik rumah pun bukan buat apa. Dok main DotA sorang2 dalam bilik. Bukan main online pun. Just main lawan ngan AI. Main ngan manusia lain menyusahkan ja. Dengan lag la dengan abbreviation yang aku tak paham la. Bek aku men sorang. Takdak sapa kacau, aku pun tak kacau orang. Senang hidup.

Lani dah habeh belajaq, aku tak sangka aku nak masuk bidang ni. Agak rare la kat Malaysia ni sebenaqnya. Ya lah, Malaysia ni bukannya Amereka ka apa ka, susah nak jumpak orang yang cari makan guna cara ni ja. Femes tu memang femes, duit pun dah ada dah lani, tapi orang tak kenailah aku ni sapadia. Tu bleh lepak Starbucks buat rilek ja. Syok. Duit pun masuk, reputasi pun ada, tapi masih lagi dapat kekalkan identiti diri di khalayak. It doesn’t get much better than this. Maybe lepaih ni aku boleh up-kan lagi harga servis aku kot. Ya la seribu ringgit per pax tu cukup makan dah bagi aku yang sederhana ni, tapi maybe lepaih ni aku mintak lebih, boleh la aku lepak Starbucks ni kerap-kerap sikit. Ayaq dia tadi tu pun sedap. Nama apa pun aku dah lupa dah. Ice-blended apa ntah?

Eh, dah habeh pun office hour. Time to get to work. Amek helmet full-face aku, naik LC135 kaler biru aku ni. Plate baru tukaq ja from last time, tapi paint job aku tak bothered nak tukaq. Common kot design template dia ni. Kalau aku pi boh custom paint job, tak ka lagi senang orang nak recognize? Agak pendek akai la orang had pi cat balik dia punya moto bila dalam bidang ni. Manusia ni stai tak pikiaq, tu yang payah tu.

Ha, tu dia BMW had aku dok cari. Macam biasa lah. Ikut sampai lebam. Tapi tak lebam pun selalunya. Jam kat KL ni sumpah dependable punya. Cuma tunggu dia ni masuk stesen minyak ja. Cepat la, dah merah dah tu meter. Rumah hang bukannya dekat. Ha, masuk pun. Aku agak bangga la ngan diri sendiri come up dengan idea untuk buang minyak dalam kereta dia masa dia still kat opis tu, memaksa dia untuk pi isi minyak as soon as possible. Mana aku dapat akai camni pun aku taktaw. Modai kena keluaq la sikit nak beli fuel cap tu, tapi berapa ringgit ja. Lagipun aku claim ja kat client aku. Small is the matter. Asalkan senang sikit kerja aku paihtu.

Ha, minyak dah isi, lani cuma tunggu lampu merah. Uish, lambat skit nak jumpak merah ni pun, aduhai. Ha, berhenti pun. Go time.

The motorcyclist tapped onto the window of the the blue BMW using a fuel cap and waved it to the driver. The driver was startled at first, being previously busy on his bluetooth-hooked phone discussing God knows what, then gave a puzzled look to the motorcyclist. Did I leave the fuel-cap behind? He nevertheless rolled down his window. Just as he was about to hold-out his hand to receive the fuel-cap, the motorcyclist put his hand into his faux LV man-purse, wrapped his fingers around the silenced hand-gun and pointed the bag in the driver’s direction. With a squeeze of the trigger and a bullet through the  bottom of his man-purse as well as the BMW driver’s forehead, he went ahead to the front of the traffic jam and waited five seconds for the traffic light to turn green before speeding off into the hazy street.

Damn, aku dok pegang lagi fuel cap neh. Buat qeja tak ikut procedure plak aku. Tudiala, seronok sangat first time dapat headshot, sampai lupa abeh nak bagi hadiah. Oh well. Next time, maybe.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fork Through Dog

"In the deepest ocean, the bottom of the sea," Weird Fishes by Radiohead.

So I got the Whitbread Award winning book "The Curious Incident Of The Dog At The Night Time" as a birthday present a few days ago. I already read it a few years ago, but then I noticed that the book got missing when I tried looking for it to have a reread, and I told this to a friend of mine nonchalantly, and whadayaknow, two months later the friend gives me a copy as a gift. I am very grateful.

Fun fact: I do not reread books. I'm lazy like that, I suppose. Plus, I have a lot of books remaining on my yet-to-read shelf, so it discourages me from reading stuff I've already read. Thus, know that since I wanted to reread this one, it is a very, very good read.

I got through the book in a little over 24 hours. Sure the book isn't very thick (221 pages), but again that is very rare for me. Even Catcher in The Rye took me 3 days to finish. So yeah, this book is a big deal. To me, at least. It made me laugh throughout, and cry towards the end. "Heartbreakingly endearing" was the phrase I used to describe it in GoodReads.

Now for the bit with spoilers. If you haven't read the book yet (and you want to before reading what I have to say about it), you should probably get back to this post after reading it. 

If you already have (or you don't want to), then let's go.

One of the most striking things about the book to me was the depiction of how a family copes with having a child with autism. The parents are obviously very stressed with what Christopher has and how he is. It finally ruins their marriage with the mother having an affair with their neighbour (who later on proved to be a douchebag. HAMEKAU!) and moving out of the house, leaving his father to take care of Christopher by himself. 

The parents' relationship with each other is very interesting (and, if I may add, depressing) to observe since it depicts how having a child with autism can make a marriage take a turn for the worst. But I don't think it was Haddon's (the author) intent to make this the case. What he might have wanted to show was what goes on in the mind of a boy with autism when his parents aren't able to manage themselves well enough to be stable emotionally for the sake of their child. They took out their anger on each other and did not communicate very well (every time they got within sight of each other, all they seemed to do was shout) and this led to their marriage falling apart. The main reason the mother gave for cheating on the father was that they stopped talking to each other, and this shows how immensely important open and honest communication is in making a relationship work, moreover when you have a child with autism to take care of. They failed to do so, leading to the deterioration of their relationship with each other, and, in effect, with Christopher too.

Having said that, it is evident that both the parents love Christopher very much. His father, I could say, loves him to pieces. A particularly gut-wrenching part of the story was when Christopher locked himself up in his room and his father knocks on his door and tries to talk to him to no avail, and he just sits in front of Christopher's door for a very long time. That was tragic. Try imagining yourself trying to talk to someone you love very much but they don't want to, and they run away from you. You would just feel helpless and hapless and all you can do is just sit there and cry and regret what you've done and wish you could turn back time to undo what you did. That brought me to tears, imagining myself in his position and being so powerless.

I've met a person with autism before. He was 13, almost Christopher's age. He wasn't as high-functioning as Christopher was, but I got the general idea of how having autism looked like. And I gained a picture of the screaming and the retaliations that entails being in contact with a person with autism. I don't know if I would be able to cope. But of course, I need to understand that no test given to me would be given if I wasn't strong enough to get through it. I need to remember to keep calm and communicate.

It's a very powerful book. If you want a better understanding of what goes on inside a person with autism's head, then this is the best example I can give you.

May peace be upon you.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Practically Teachers

"But it never seems to be there when you want it," Black Treacle by Arctic Monkeys.

So I'm undergoing my prac right now. Three weeks in and I would say that I'm adjusting well to the teaching life.

The class that I got is great. They are on-task most (if not all) of the time. Misbehaviour among the students is rare. And in this I am very fortunate to have received a very well-behaved classroom.

Hearing stories from friends who got other schools (especially all-boy-schools. Not to be sexist, but yeah) and the trials they have to go through every time they enter class can truly shake you.

An example would be the situation in one class where, whenever she turns her back on the class to write on the board, a fist fight would almost certainly break out. What would you do and how would you continue the lesson?

Friends have admitted to wanting to quit teaching altogether because of the challenges they go through when entering classes. But these friends, it's not that they feel like the students cannot be helped. Not at all. It's just that they feel that they aren't doing a good enough job to be seriously considered in the profession. One friend expressed that she feels bad for the students for getting her as their teacher, since she doesn't feel that she is what the students deserve. The students deserve better. The students deserve the best. And she didn't feel that she was anywhere near good enough.

And to be honest, I sort of feel the same way too. The students in my class are good. They're great, even. They would go on to achieve great things in the future, I'm sure of it. But will I be a teacher who pushes them to their limits and help them achieve things they never thought they could? Or will I be just some other teacher who they'd forget the name of as soon as I/they leave the school? And if I look in the mirror and see the latter, then I may as well not be in this profession altogether. Let someone better suited to become the former lead the way.

But realistically, as our lecturers are quick to point out, it's still early days for us. Three weeks into the job is nowhere near a long-enough period to determine whether or not you'll be a good teacher in the future. They tell us to give it a few years. And as long as we pass this prac duration, we'll have a chance to prove ourselves to ourselves. That we'll be better teachers than we thought we would be, and still want to improve, for the sake of our students.

It is within my hopes that in a few years I will be able to be that teacher who inspires my students to greatness, to bring them to the thresholds of their own minds, to invite them to challenge their notions of what is right and wrong and develop their confidence to speak their minds, but not before honing those minds to understand that the world works in mysterious ways and that asking questions and looking for the answers is more important than the answers themselves.

I'm asking a lot of myself. Whether it's too much, we'll see.

May peace be upon you.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Alchemist

"Hello mister, pleased to meet ya," Big Jet Plane by Angus & Julia Stone.

So I finished reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho the other day (yeah, I is slowpoke, I know). Basically what the author intended for the reader to get out of reading the story is that one must be bold enough to pursue their dreams and be confident that the universe will conspire to make your dream a reality, as long as you keep pursuing it. A very "The Secret" kind of concept, if you will.

I found it inspirational and it was a kick in the backside for the little-old-me who is too lazy to get off bed and do anything outside my comfort zone. The story is definitely capable of being life-changing, but I guess I'm too deeply set in my recliner that its effect on me wasn't to that extent.

As mentioned in the previous post, I'm on GoodReads, so I entered this book in my "read" shelf. I made my way to the "reviews" section of the book and I was surprised to find as many negative reviews as it did. This is one example:

"I'm not sure that I can capture my utter disdain for this book in words, but I'll give it a shot. I read this book about three years ago and just had to re-read it for book club. It was a steaming pile of crap then and, guess what? it's a steaming pile of crap now."

Then a thought struck my mind. Mr Coelho, he wrote a book about pursuing your dreams and he did exactly that: he wrote lots of books. And now look at him; an incredibly successful author whose books fly off shelves worldwide.

Now we take a look at these negative reviewers. They spit out bitterness and criticize the book for not being good enough for them, and where are they now? A commenter on GoodReads. I'm sure they are the envy of the world.

What I'm getting at is it doesn't matter whether or not Mr Coelho actually does produce steaming piles of crap in written form. What matters is that he was/is audacious enough to pursue his dream and persist with it to the end. He is now one of the most successful modern authors alive. 

Those reviewers, they read the book. Sure it's definitely within their rights to dislike the book. They can dislike any book if that makes them feel better about themselves. But the thing is, they didn't get what the book was trying to say. The book asked them to get off their perch and actually start doing something. Something that would occupy their time so much it would leave them no time to post negative comments on a book-sharing social media site. 

They didn't get that. And they put in the time, thought and energy to post something so resentful and bitter that only revealed more about themselves than the book they were reviewing. I feel sorry for them. They could be so much more if they took the effort to do something about it. But Paulo Coelho is still up there being a best-selling author, last time I checked; and any credible author out there right now certainly does not post such reviews on an app called GoodReads, so they can't be very successful authors who publish books any better than the book they bashed, could they?

I'm not saying that I am successful by any measure. If anything, I am still struggling to find my own personal legend. But I try not to be bitter about people who are successful. Even if I am, I certainly don't post it online, because that would only reveal how pathetic I really am. 

Even if you do feel pathetic, you don't need to reveal to the whole world that. It serves no purpose. None at all.

Main point, you can dislike any book/music/person/thing you want. But if that thing has something beneficial, take it. Use it to propel yourself to become better and hopefully more successful. Don't, at any cost, just sit there being bitter without doing anything about it. I'm telling this to myself more than anyone else, really.

May peace be upon you.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Read Good

"The secrets of the government are keeping you dumb," The End Has No End by The Strokes.

So I was thinking about writing a story tonight, but since it's going to be a longer than usual one and my eyelids are giving up on me, I'll write about reading. Yes, you are about to read about reading. Compelling stuff, I know.

So I have been trying to read consistently throughout the year and I am proud to say that I have read quite extensively, given my lack of reading in the past years. The latest book that I've read is Tuhan, Aku Kembali by Sham Kamikaze and Ainuddin Kamaruddin. It was given to me as a gift, and I finished it in a day. It was a very readable book, not very thick, contains the life story of Mr Sham Kamikaze thus far and how he ditched his earrings for a spot in the da'wah scene.

Right before reading that one, I read the novel Paper Towns by John Green. I won't spoil too much of the story for you, but I will tell you that the hero of the story, Q really gets absorbed into reading a long poem by a poet named Whitman. His understanding of the poem is key in developing his character and the way I see it, shows us how literature, when read carefully and thoughtfully, can not only help us in appreciating the piece of work, but also everything around us. 

When we really think about what a piece of writing means, it can have a profound effect on us, and I believe that these effects are what one looks for in any piece of literature. A piece of writing can only be appreciated when we have a connection with its message or its beauty or its essence. And that piece of literature may live on inside the reader, breathing it life even after its demise from the bookshelves, because those effects in the heart of man will affect the way a person views the the things around him or her and alter, however significantly, their decisions in the future, having a real effect on the world.

And that, to me, is the power of literature. It doesn't have to be brilliant and written with bombastic words and too intricate wordplay. It just has to have that necessary message that it wants to carry and convey it effectively to have an effect in the real world. 

I am who I am today mostly because of what I have read, either from books, subtitles, song lyrics, articles on the internet, tweets, etc. Imam Hassan al-Banna was quoted for saying something along the lines of "To know a person, look at what he reads". I have definitely misquoted him, but you get the idea, right?

What you read defines you. But what happens when you don't read? Well that's a discussion I'll have to pick up some other time (if ever). Until then,

May peace be upon you.


p/s - I'm on a mobile app called GoodReads. If you have a tablet or a smartphone, try installing it. It's like a Facebook for book-readers where you update what you're reading at the moment, what you have already read and what you intend to read in the future. You can check out your friends' updates and get ideas on what to read next. You can rate and review books too. Super fun stuff. Em, I should probably clarify that this is not a paid post. None of my posts are, for that matter. So yeah.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fictional Character 1.2

"Lelaki, tak guuuuuuuna," Lelaki by Yuna.

He had a love interest. He knew that it was love, not just another crush. He's had hundreds of crushes. Crushes come and go. They're a fantasy, he says. An impossibly perfect version of what the person in question might be, without one ever getting to know the person. And by the simple logic of "if it's not this, then it must be that other thing," he has deduced it to be true, bona fide, pure love. 

She wasn't supermodel material, he knew that, but she was still the most beautiful person he has ever set eyes on. Many of his friends and even his family disagree, but he's pretty adamant on this. Ever since she came into his life, it's like girls the world over conspired against him to turn themselves ten times less attractive. But it's not just that she was beautiful to his eyes. She was one of the people whom he felt most in-sync with. She would complete his sentences and he hers, and he would think about a question and she would answer him without him ever asking out loud. They had similar (enough) interests. If they weren't already interested in the same thing, it would take very little effort for him to like what she liked and vice versa. They completed each other. He  hated waking up early, she loves it. She needs to get to bed early, he does whatever he can to avoid early bedtimes. Their existence in each others' lives helps them lead healthy lives. He had a feeling that they were made for each other. No other person could make him feel as miserable or as happy as her. She was the highlight of his day. Highlight of his life. It had to be love.

But (there's always a but, isn't there?) he couldn't help but feel that she's too good for him. There he was, as average and plain as a human being can be, with no particular talents, of average attractiveness, introverted and passive. And there she was, the most talented person he had ever met, beautiful, like, crazy beautiful, outspoken, intelligent, kind-hearted, lovable, all that good stuff. How could he ever hope to keep her to himself? How could someone ten times more attractive, smart, funny and talented not be able to spot a gem that was her and take her away from him? He knew that he was no contest to any actually worthy guys out there. He was a loser. Nothing. She was destined for greatness. Not nothing.

And so everyday he lives his life being miserably happy. Happy that he has the treasure that is her. Miserable that he knows, KNOWS that he won't be able to keep her. Not when there's a Joseph Gordon-Levitt or a Redza Minhat out there to pry her away from him with ease.  He's just too pathetic to compete. He is unworthy. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Astro Kasih - Reef Rescuers

"The future, yeah it stays true," Honolulu by The Last Dinosaurs.

So recently - from 6th – 13th April 2013, the Astro Kasih team organised a GUINNESS WORLD RECORD™ attempt for the longest underwater clean up, held at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park off the shores of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. The initiative was started to create greater awareness on marine conservation - with the help of 134 volunteer divers from Malaysia and across the world, working at 14 dives sites around the park, in an epic, non-stop 168-hour, seven-day underwater clean-up mission.

Divers surfacing after a round of cleaning up underwater.

The activity is part of Astro Kasih’s Beautiful Malaysia programme - one of Astro’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives under its environmental pillar, to raise awareness on preserving the environment with community engagement for environmental activities. If you’ve not heard of them, Astro Kasih is a volunteer initiative undertaken by Astro employees for the betterment and advancement of the community that we live in. You’ll be glad to know that they welcome ideas on the Astro Kasih Facebook page at 

Just to get you thinking, other cool stuff carried out under Astro Kasih Beautiful Malaysia includes a coral transplanting project in 2011 at Ribbon Reef in Tun Sakaran Marine Park, Sabah – an effort that achieved certification by the Malaysia Book of Records with 777 corals transplanted. To learn more, just surf over to In addition, the Astro Kasih initiative has also helped many underprivileged villages and children in Sabah since 2009. Their activities include building and repairing amenities and infrastructure and contributing to the improvement of educational resources for the kids.

So, since not all of us may have followed the record-breaking attempt, Astro has very kindly worked with Discovery Network to produce Reef Rescuers, a 30-minute television special showing an insider perspective of what it takes to plan and execute such a huge marine conservation project. But watching the programme is not all we can do to get into the Beautiful Malaysia spirit! Thanks to Astro, we can all participate in a special quiz to celebrate the upcoming premiere of Reef Rescuers – airing on Discovery Channel (Astro Ch 551) and Discovery HD World (Astro Ch 571) on Thursday 30th May at 7pm.         

Volunteer divers posing with their haul.

You’ll be excited to know that Astro Kasih is giving away 1 GoPro camera every day over the next 7 days via the Astro Kasih Reef Rescuers ‘7 Days of Sharing’ Facebook quiz! If you don’t already know, this awesome camera is called the world’s most versatile camera. Check it out here  To participate, just go to the Astro Kasih Facebook Page. Starting on 24 May 2013, the quiz runs until 30 May 2013 – a total of 7 days or 168 hours – the same length as the clean-up. Every morning, you will be given a multiple choice question that you must answer by 7pm on the same day. Last but not least, you’re needed to spread the word on the Reef Rescuers programme and quiz. Just post a Facebook status update that says “I just took the Reef Rescuers quiz about the world’s longest underwater clean-up in Sabah, Malaysia. Take the quiz today and win a GoPro! Catch the 30-minute documentary on Discovery Channel (Astro Ch 551) and Discovery HD World (Astro Ch 571), premieres 30 May, Thursday, 7pm.” After that, check back on the Astro Kasih Facebook page after 10am the next day to know if you’ll be getting your hands on a GoPro camera courtesy of Astro Kasih. But why stop there – make a date with your family and friends to watch Reef Rescuers – you can even organise a viewing party, simply link everyone up at the Reef Rescuers Facebook Events page at Remember to use the Red Button on your Astro remote control during viewing – you can get more info, chat on Twitter, see an info feed, or check out their other giveaways. 

After you surf over to join the quiz, you can also look around for ways to keep Malaysia green or engage in sustainable living. If you prefer to check out the best places for scuba diving or cool places to travel to, have a look at the conversations on the Discovery Southeast Asia Facebook page at 

May peace and blessings be upon you.


Sunday, May 19, 2013


"We will meet your goals!" Jimmy Lovine by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis feat. Ab-Soul.

So earlier today I attended an English Parliamentary Debate between the two top schools in Kedah. I was never a debater, but debates have always intrigued me. How people argue their cases to get to the truth, that's always cool. However, in competitive debates, it's not really about getting to the truth as much as claiming to be right and saying that your opponent is wrong, whatever the case may be.

In the debate that I watched earlier, there was an obvious winner. The team of three consisted of three guys. They had solid arguments and presented them in a convincing manner. The other team, on the other hand was not very convincing. I'm not trying to be misogynistic, but the team did consist of three girls. Their performance made me wonder how they got to the final in the first place. This judgement is based purely on their debating ability and the arguments they put forward. By the end of the debate, I had very little doubt in my mind who were going to win, and I was pretty confident that everyone else on the floor shared my thoughts on this. At the end of the debate, both teams handled themselves professionally, the guys going over to the girls, smiled and bowed to which the girls smiled and bowed back (they didn't shake hands because cooties, duh).

However, when the results were announced, the less convincing team won. You could see that the guys were pretty devastated, from the actual debaters to the reserve team members as well as their coaches. I myself was speechless by the announcement. To me, they were head and shoulders above the other team. How they lost remains a mystery to me. 

When the dust had settled, one of the teachers expressed her disappointment with the results to the guys. She mentioned that she might even protest the results by filing an appeal. But then one of the students said "Can we not make a big deal out of this?" and that struck me as being very mature in the face of defeat. 

You see, when entering any sort of competition, it should always be your goal to do your best, and when you have done your best, you have reached your goal, regardless of the result. "You don't have to win to be successful" is one of my father's sayings as a coach, and it definitely rings true to anyone who has ever been in competition before. This maxim will make one a humble winner as well an honourable loser. Because at the end of the day you know that you are only responsible for your performance, as the results are out of your hands. They are in God's.

The boys definitely gave it their all on stage. They proved that they were the better team, regardless of the result. They didn't need to win to be better. They had already succeeded, and no scoresheet was going to disprove that.

May peace and blessings be upon you.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fiction Character 1.1

"I can't change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to," Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis feat. Mary Lambert.

He wanders. He wonders. About many a thing at a time. So many things, in fact, that he loses track and in effect gets distracted rather easily. Too easily. He could be in the middle of contemplating Khalil Gibran, for all he could, and a passing motorbike would make all those thoughts join the carbon monoxide to come up in smoke.

His focus is weak. He can’t pay attention to anything for more than ten minutes. He opens the Pages document on his computer to write something up and is scrolling through his Facebook home in less than two minutes. It not that he wants to lose focus. He just does.

At least that’s what he says to himself. Comforting is the thought of not having control of yourself. You are no longer responsible for your actions when you aren’t in control of yourself, and that’s the way he likes it. Not taking responsibility for himself. For his own development. For the feelings of the people around him. For his relationship with God. 

It’s not under his control. If it was, he would be the best human being ever. He would be able to do so many things. He would read a lot more. He would learn how to play every sport that he can. He would pray on time all the time. He would be helpful at every opportunity he can. He would work on his assignments as soon as he receives them and wouldn’t stop until they’re finished. He would proofread his work, thrice, making improvements every time. He would get high distinctions. He would get a first-class degree.

But it’s not under his control. He’s tired all the time, so he sleeps way too much and works too little. He’s too slow a reader, so he puts his books aside. He’s way too busy, so he postpones any actual work until the very last minute. He’s not fit enough, so he doesn’t go down to the field to play any kind of sport. He was always a one-sport-guy anyway. He oversleeps, so he misses prayers. He doesn’t like proofreading his own work, so his first drafts are his final drafts. His EQ is low, so he hurts the people who love him.

Ah, not being in control is the best thing that could ever happen to a person. After all, how can God judge a person for how He has made His creation? These flaws aren’t mine, he says to himself. They were given to me. I did not choose to be this way. If I was born hardworking, then things would be different. But I wasn’t. So I’m not. 

And that’s perfectly fine.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Fiction Character 1.0

"I want to sail away from here," Otherside by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

As he sits there typing on his MacBook Pro, his head is frantically looking for something to say, something meaningful, something truthful, something inspiring. But he isn’t feeling very inspired himself. He asks himself, “why do I want to write?” and the answer slaps him in the face: he doesn’t know.

He likes the idea of writing. Of people being able to get a glimpse of what is going on in his head. For what purpose, he’s not fully aware. It might be that he feels that writing could relieve his stress. He’s been feeling emotionally unstable of late. That is, if the past year can qualify for “of late”. It might also be that  he feels that letting other people read his thoughts would inspire other people to greatness. He admits that he is by no means great,but people seem to think that he is worth watching and listening to, thus he would like to reveal to people that any Muhammad or Atiqah could be twice as successful as he is, if what he is can be considered a success.

Or maybe it’s just for the ego trip that he gets when he receives feedback from people. He’s fully aware that his English is head and shoulders above the majority of those who use it as a second language and people tweet that his English is so fluent, they want to be like him, they want him to teach them how to be like him. Maybe that’s it.

But it’s not.

He hates the notion of people trying to be him. He knows himself. He sucks. As a teacher. As a writer. As a friend. As a family member. As a human being. He sucks.

And he is always intrigued by the idea that people actually think highly of him. Or maybe it’s disgust. Paralyzing disgust. Disgust in himself that he is still able to sleep at night and smile when he is awake and allow people to sing his praise. It’s disgusting how much he allows people to be deluded into thinking that he is a righteous person with very little flaws to show. And him? A role model? Please.

If people were actually like him, there would be a lot more cynical people in the world. Fake smiles would be plastered onto their faces while sarcastic remarks form in their heads. People would be sad all of the time, without really knowing why. People would be tired, and hate having to live through another day. People would be emotional. People would be judgmental. Most of all, people would be insincere. 

But they won’t do good deeds for money. No, much too “surface” for this type of human. That would be way too easy to judge, and he’s not anything if he’s not afraid of judgement. Or rather, negative judgement. He has to be seen as a flawless human being, a model citizen. The example for Muslims, or even human beings in general. Because he’s full of himself like that. Because he needs to be seen as a superior person.

So he puts on a mask for everyone to see. What he thinks everyone should see. The bright side. The smiles. The happiness. The righteousness. The motivation. The optimism. And right behind that mask rots the depression. The downright cynicism. The bitterness. The pessimism. The hypocrisy.

So he doesn’t want people to be like him. Because that’s too messed up. Even for him. I suffer alone is his mantra. Other people are too good for him. 

He still likes the idea of writing though. But why, he can never really say.