Macam Bayi

Ini Bhai...bukan Bayi - The Star Multimedia

Yang kat atas tu bukannya Bayi! Itu Bhai!

Semalam aku dengan Wifey pergi ke Giant sebab nak beli barang sikit. Seperti biasa, benda yang nak dibeli tak dibeli, yang tak nak dibeli yang dibeli.

Masa tengah beratur, ada la bayi ni yang didukung mak dia tengah tengok aku. Aku pun buat la muka kelakar kat dia. Senyum pun tak. Bertuah punya budak. Memang tak bersivik. Tak ada etiquette dengan orang tua-tua. Aku buat lagi muka kelakar. Dia buat bodoh aje. Dia tengok kepala aku, lepas tu tengok muka aku. Aku gerenti dia mesti fikir macam mana aku yang rambut lebih kurang dia, boleh nampak tua. Lepas tu dia tengok kaki aku, lepas tu tengok balik muka aku. Mesti dia fikir macam mana aku, yang sebaya dengan dia, dah boleh berdiri. Aku cuba kali terakhir nak buat dia senyum. Terus dia pandang ke tempat lain.

Cipan punya budak, ni mesti mak bapak tak ajar sivik kat dia.

Saja aku complain…nak sedapkan hati sebab gagal nak buat budak senyum.

Supernaturally KL

Yes, some would have thought my next posting would be of my experience of going back to working 9-5 after more than two years of freelancing.

No. This time I would like to touch on the supernatural and KL’s share of it. I have posted some months back of my experiences with the supernatural when I was little, especially of the house I lived in in Melaka, which has been turned into an arts activities center. There was always this apparition of an old lady inside the house…and it was not limited to night time only.

Where I lived in Melaka
Where I lived in Melaka back in 1970-1971

I went to a famous missionary school here in KL for primary education (among my classmates from Standards 4 Merah through 6 Merah were Harith Iskandar Musa, a famous local stand-up comedian; Andri Aidham Badri, a well-known lawyer and partner of Kadir, Andri & Partners; and Mizan Yahaya who is now married to one of the Sultan of Johor’s daughters, and an immediate senior was Ronald Chiew, MD of Protemp Group of Companies). I remember an episode where one junior of ours was scared shitless when he saw something evil at the backstage of the hall where we normally have our daily afternoon assemblies. After that, I think it was Andri, another classmate of ours called Zamri Ridzwan, and I, went to the backstage to look for the apparition.

My father’s official residence at the Lake Gardens (it is now part of the Memorial Tun Razak complex) had its own share of stories. I remember when we first moved in, there was this huge tree in our backyard – and from it, this white apparition would swoop down and hover outside the window of our bedrooms. When I was 16, during one of the school holidays, I had my bed shook ala The Exorcist. I would hear voices inside the walls of my room, and even inside the door cavity. The verandah overlooking Lake Gardens had its own inhabitant – a woman in white, much like the one seen in The Ring or Ju-On.

Our guardpost on the hillslope going down was always abandoned come sunset. Several guards have been spooked by what they say was a pontianak. Those days there were lots of sightings of this type of apparition in that area especially at night, although I never saw one despite jogging there every night from 11pm onwards for months preparing for my military basic training. But at that back road from the National Mosque going towards Bukit Aman, I remember two guys on a motorcycle seeking refuge at our guardhouse after being chased by a pontianak on that road.

Pontianak in Tampines - can you see it mid photo?
Pontianak in Tampines – can you see it?

But I remember one incident back in December 1978, the night Malaysia was to have full colour television transmission. I followed Haris Hussein (now Datuk Haris Hussein, son of former PM, the late Tun Hussein Onn) and his father to Angkasapuri for the switching ceremony and we travelled in the escort car. The police radio blared about this guy in Setapak shouting for help as he was being hounded by a pontianak near where Danau Kota is now (that area was filled with trees and abandoned mining pools then).

Kenny Hills is quite a haunted place. While Spooky Corner reported on a ghost riding a motorcycle frequenting that area, I remember a friend who was involved in shooting a drama there telling me about how they had to leave all their equipment that night when a white apparition was seen flying around above them before sitting on a branch of a huge tree. If you want to know the exact location of this spot, up Kenny Hills is a lonely road that has a TNB sub-station at a junction with an abandoned bungalow next to it. Across the bungalow is a huge tree on the hill slope. That’s the tree. Well, I will personally vouch for how true this story is because I went there several times back in 2002 and saw it.


My daughter, Hana, has seen this type of ghost at least twice. Once outside of our house in Bukit Rahman Putra – it flew outside her window, and the second time was when the 4×4 she was travelling in during one of the 4×4 outings she went to broke down after sunset. The thing was standing outside the car door next to her. This was in Hulu Yam somewhere.

If you travel down Jalan Damansara towards KL, after the exit to Jalan Duta heading towards the Parliament, before the junction to Duta Vista (The Duke) motorists used to be spooked by a “woman” – and this was back in the 1980s.

There are three hospitals in KL that are haunted. Well, I know one very famous hospital where, if you enter a lift (elevator to some) at night and just peek out, a head would be peeking back at you from the other elevator shaft. That, I have personally seen. While next to this hospital is a famous specialist center, and this was related to me by a friend last night. His father is virtually a permanent resident of this specialist center. One night, he wanted to go down for a smoke after his father was already asleep. He entered the lift and saw a little girl looking up at him. He never thought anything of it but noticed the girl had this poke mark on her throat, and wondered why was this girl still up and about at 3am.


A private hospital across this specialist center, has a hotel next to it. Guests do not dare to open their curtains as something would almost always be seen hovering outside.

Even amidst the hustle and bustle of Chow Kit, around a decade ago, several people were reported in the papers to have been chased by a huge black supernatural figure. However, if you go there now, you would almost always get chased by huge black figures, especially if you are a woman – especially at night, although not limited to night-time only. Go figure that one out.

But whatever it is, KL, as colourful as it is, may be bathed in lights. But in the dark spots and grey areas, sinister beings lurk.

Getting Rid Of All The Rust

“If I tell you I’m good, you would probably think I’m boasting. If I tell you I’m no good, you know I’m lying.”

That was a quote from the late Bruce Lee that I used as my tagline in a dive forum. But whether it applies to my daily life from 17th November 2008 remains to be seen.

After 2 years and 7 months of freelancing (another nice term for being ‘technically jobless’), I am back to the life of a nine-to-fiver. That’s 8.30am through 5.30pm daily, and 8.30pm through 12.30pm on Saturdays from now on. Although life as a freelancer is much more fun, two reasons have driven me back into long-sleeved shirts, taking orders, wringing my brain for ideas, and lots of paperworks; namely:

1) at 42, being a freelancer could make others mistake you for a bummer. And with Wifey the wife now, it sounds odd everytime people ask her what I do for a living. Especially from her aunts and uncles, and,

2) in view of this global economic crisis, it would be more difficult to market my services as a freelancer – couple that with my health drawbacks too.

After leaving the telecommunications industry, and the corporate world, I tried to go into events management; helping out my father’s friend to lobby for events projects with state governments. But doing it for virtually no-pay was not my idea of a job. Travel cost money, parking cost money, petrol cost money, food cost money, and so on. My personal savings was wasted on a lot of things but I never got paid. In the end, I left, after the company looked the other way when I was involved in an accident on my way back from a meeting in Terengganu (having had very little sleep the previous three nights prior to the accident – and all because of the preparations made for the presentation in Terengganu). Of course my father was angry and started telling people I would rather dive and have fun, than work 9-5.

After that, I was invited by an acquaintance to do diving services, and I spent the rest of my money getting the right tools and experience for the job. It was good while it lasted. But diving in claustrophobia-inducing and extremely dark inlet/outlet valves of power stations, or doing inspection works and search and recovery works in strong currents and zero visibility is hardly fun as my father had assumed. Nor is the task of guiding inexperienced divers, or teaching divers from government agencies in hazardous conditions anymore fun than jumping off a building without a parachute. But it was good money – all until my health prevents me from doing anymore without exposing myself to unnecessary risks.

This new outfit I am in is an Oil and Gas company, and I have 13 job scopes to attend to. On the first day of work, I was to make an assessment on a proposal to acquire a vessel worth USD 13 million versus constructing a new one at USD 3 million less, but will not be operable immediately. I wrote my report immediately based on the technical specs that were given to me and made my recommendations to the board. I was told the board had decided to accept my findings and go with my recommendations. That was day one.

On day two, that was yesterday, I was told to prepare a study on the construction of marine spreads of offshore support vessels based on volumes of datas dumped onto my table on the global oil exploration, and take the current downward spiral of crude oil prices, and study the viability of the project, and prepare a paper for it. I am to wake up in less than 3 hours, but here I am updating my blog because my brain is working overtime and I have just e-mailed the study to my boss. I was also given the task to prepare an executive summary to be submitted to a petroleum giant. That requires more time but I will have to submit that by the end of today.

Were those the only tasks given to me on the second day? No. The boss came at around 5pm and gave me one whole bunch of resumes for the Assistant HSE Manager’s post and had asked me to go through them, and conduct an interview soonest.

Before he left my workstation, he slapped his forehead and asked, “You have not been confirmed yet, right? And I’ve given you the task to conduct job interviews as well.”

“It is my second day here,” I reminded him.

“Oh well, you seem to have a good grasp of the industry on your first day. I think you’re more than fit to conduct job interviews as well,” he laughed as he walked back to his office.

Gosh. Did I oversell myself during my interview session?

Anyway, Wifey returned to her former workplace on the same day I started work. So the routine now is leave home, send her to office, then drive to my office. But it feels so good going to work with her. We SMS each other often telling each other how much we love and miss one another. And at the end of the day, it is always soothing to see her smile as she gets into the car, and kiss me. Yes, I do miss the freedom of being able to hug her during the day, and do things at our own time. But it is good as she is less cranky now as compared to when she was a freelancer as I was.

Gosh, I have a little over two hours to sleep now.

Have a good rest of the week, people!

And, oh! One more thing. My description on the dive forum also states the following:

Cranky when not diving!


Surrendering Freedom

The last time I don office clothes and left home to go to office was on the 21st April 2006 – a day after coming back from deploying artificial reefs in Tioman for DHL. I went in to pack my things, and so did 5 others. All of them returned to working in an office within the year whereas I chose to remain as a freelance, spending most of my time underwater, among other things.

Come Monday, I am returning to an office – working in the oil and gas sector. On that day, Wifey will also be going back to office, having been unemployed since 3rd September this year.

I am 42 going on 43. Working underwater has really made me feel my age, and healthwise I am no longer fit to spend long hours underwater at such depths. About a month after the divorce more than a year ago, I have contracted two other illnesses – namely Asthma and Hypertension (brought about by the stressful conditions of my previous marriage), the latter discovered only 3 weeks after I was given a clean bill of health after my biannual full medical check-up.

Yesterday, Wifey and I went out to hunt for office clothes for me. I had thrown or gave away almost all my office clothes back in 2006, keeping only 4 pairs of suits: the two pairs I made in Bangkok, a pair I had made in KL (emergency measures) and a pair of Zegna.

In this setup I will be joining on Monday, I will be handling 13 job scopes including things like providing technical expertise on all operational, oil and gas and marine issues, managing a fleet of work barges and other offshore support vessels for the oil and gas industry. The fact that a subsidiary is also involved in the construction of oil platforms, barges, work barges and support vessels – meaning they also work on Saturdays, means I will also have to work on Saturdays, limiting my dive weekends to only Tioman. Other places including Perhentian and Redang can only be accessed during long weekends: meaning I will only fly to those places as I hate to drive during long weekends. That also means having to stay dry for 24 hours after my last dive before catching a flight home.

This job will be a challenging one, nevertheless, but at 42, telling people that you freelance is not exactly cool. And having a 9-5 job means I no longer have that pressure of having to market myself although I will only be paid the equivalent of a full Admiral of the Royal Malaysian Navy’s starting pay.

Let’s hope my brain can still do office wonders…

Palin In The Ass – A Malaysian Context

Watching all the Sarah Palin videos released from embargo after the US Presidential Elections rang some alarm bells as to how the world was close to getting a…I don’t know if naive is the politically-correct term…but you know what I mean…person in-charge of a whole array of nuclear weapons. Everytime she opens her mouth, she would utter stupidity superfluously. It was unbelievable how the Republicans could have passed her through the vetting process and allowed her to stand as a candidate.

Although one may argue that John McCain’s campaign was doomed from the start due to several reasons including campaign funding (capped at $85 million versus Obama’s $650 million), that he might find it difficult to distance himself from the most unpopular US President in history; the Republican’s choice of putting Sarah Palin as his running-mate was probably the final nail in the coffin, or so to speak. The more she spoke, and given McCain’s age, people must have freaked out that one day, this woman could become their President. Well, she can’t even name a newspaper that she reads everyday, let alone know the difference between a continent and a country (Africa is, to her as it was to George W Bush, a country). And having trade missions flying to and fro across the Bering Sea certainly does not qualify one to claim to posess great grasp on foreign policy issues. If it does, I would like to run for the President of the US of A itself in 2012. I’d make dive equipments production tax-free and subsidise all dive trips, even for divers from outside the US just to display how great a nation the US of A is.

I think Sarah Palin would have had more knowledge even by reading the National Enquirer. Even if she didn’t make it as the VP, she could have joined the Men In Black‘s hunt for aliens.

Sarah Palin Can’t Name A Newspaper She Reads

Which brings me back to Malaysia.

As with other countries, there are noteworthy politicians who are somewhat (and can be very) learned; then there are those who are, in simple terms, imbeciles who, despite countless warnings from the Speaker of the House, continue with their imbecilic behaviour, or utter rubbish. And I mean this for both sides of the political fence. Yes, you and you.

But in the Palin context, there is one who fits the bill. Although she has not been heard of lately (no news from her means more newsworthy stuff for the people), she utters nonsense (nonsensical stuff) like Palin does or did. I can name several blogs that have covered her nonsensical utterances like Malaysian Unplug, Shanghai Stephen, Gempur Serkam Darat, Nuraina A Samad, and of course, my dearest wife‘s own blog.

My personal run-in with Noraini goes back to the days when Puteri UMNO was headed by a pro-tem committee back in 2001 under Azalina (even before I met my crazy ex). It was a different organisation then – dynamic, forward-looking, always on the go. Several people on the Exco list I thought were good to replace Azalina when the time came – but Noraini Ahmad, who was then the Assistant Secretary for Puteri UMNO Malaysia did not even make my list. In a soldier’s world, she might just make it as a Private in the Volunteer Reserves. Don’t even talk about promotion. My civilian Junior General Helper (Pembantu Am Rendah) was more knowledgable than Noraini is. He wasn’t even a clerk. Suffice to know, when Noraini made it as the movement’s head (with a lot of backstage diplomacy), I knew the movement was heading down the drains. During a program I was involved in (in 2005), she insisted on giving a speech although it was a local do involving the local state assemblyman, she became the fourth person to give a speech, and spent more than half an hour struggling with this poem in Malay, when there were exchange students from Japan, South Korea, and some European countries.

In the end, the kampung folks left when the clock went past 10.00pm, and the main event had not even started. Not to mention her command of English was horrible, to say the least.

And what of Puteri UMNO now that Noraini’s curtains there are about to go down? It is also going down like the curtains. Puteri UMNO has been reduced from being an effective movement, into just a group of young adult women behaving like soldier ants – not much thinking required, just follow what’s written in black and white. Among the things Puteri UMNO has been limited to was described in her inaugural address delivered during the 2007 Puteri UMNO Annual General Meeting:

Malah banyak kerja bersama akar umbi sudah dilaksana dan terus dilaksana. Misalnya, kita telah menganjurkan Kursus Persiapan Jentera Pilihanraya, Kursus Pemantapan Jentera Pilihanraya, taklimat pemantapan biro penerangan, Bengkel Pemantapan Aktiviti Jom Baca!, Kursus Penulisan Siber, kursus ‘gallop poll’ dan pelbagai lagi.

(As a matter of fact, many tasks have been executed with the grassroot and will continue to be executed. For example, we have conducted Election Machinery Preparation courses, Election Machinery Enhancement courses, Information Bureau Enhancement briefings, Let’s Read! Activity Enhancement Workshops, Cyber-Writing Courses, ‘Gallop Poll’ courses and many more).

She obviously never attended any of these courses, especially the Let’s Read! one; and the only enhancement she’s done was to have a facelift (probably).

And it is Gallup, you twit! Not Gallop! You want to Gallop, go ride you own Ass!

And before they made her a Deputy Minister, they should have sent her to the same church Sarah Palin went to:

No, on second thoughts, maybe they should find a better one, and also cast out the demons of naïveté (I just love to spell it like this), stupidity, and arrogance. Otherwise, don’t let her run in 2012/13.

Circle Of Friends

I was whacking a 1901 hotdog the other day when I noticed something on the drink cup:

Who are your best friends?

Those who know your deepest, darkest secrets and have found your major flaws, but love you anyway.

How true.

I have seen those whom I regarded as friends who would be unctuous when with me, put up an amiable facade, just to score points, then storm away in a fit of apoplexy just because I disagree with some things they advocate, or do not listen to their advice; but those whom have stayed are those I regard as true friends, and they fall into different circles of friends.

I have an inner circle that is made of friends whom I have known for more almost three decades now. They number less than five. Although we hardly see each other because of our daily commitments, we remain as close as ever.

I have one I would term as my ‘family’ circle. Ironically, these are people who were just imaginary friends to me as we became online friends first, before finally meeting up. And through them, I made more ‘siblings’ from one of their circle of friends. One of them who was and still is my best friend is, of course, Wifey. This family circle is the one I spend most of my time with.

I have other circles of friends as well, like my General Diver Friends circle, then I have my Closed Diver Circle made of people I can trust my life with underwater, and have this intangible pre-agreed understanding with. We would know by heart when the other team member would run out of air without even having to look at his/her gauge.

No matter which circle of friends I am with, or spend more time with, each member of the respective circle would always regard me as a close friend. I have members of a circle who would be too busy most of the time to spend a few hours a month, or every quarter even, but is always regarded by other members of the circle as a member of that circle – one of whom is a cabin crew: she is always flying; at other times she spends more time with her colleagues than she would with us – as a matter of fact, we did not see her for four full months before finally being able to have supper with her, and never again since then. And that was two months ago. Yet, we would send her an invite whenever any of us were to hold a function at home or outside. We don’t condemn her just because she spends less time with us than she does with her colleagues. I would call myself a fiend and not friend if I were to do that to her. It is her right to make as many friends as possible.

Sometimes, sticking to just one circle makes you dumb. And the dumbest in this circle would be the ones who allow one dumb to become dominant and controlling, and utter ridiculous remarks like one dumb soon-to-be-former-president of a united apathetic country:

Either you are with us, or you are against us.

And you cannot get any dumber than that.