Malaysian Faces

The Faces of Bangsa Baru

Interesting article in The Star today (read link above). I was hoping to see the face of one of my favourite babes, Marsha Milan Londoh (the others being Sarimah, Maya Karin, Paula Malai Ali, Asha Gill…and the list goes on and on and on).

Coming back to reality, it has been 48 years since Malaya gained independence from the Brits, and almost 42 years since the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. We are still differentiating ourselves…malays, indians, chinese etc, etc. In fact, we tend to look at each other with some peculiarity. If I have a chinese girlfriend, people will cringe. And when I say people, I mean both malay and chinese people. I used to have a chinese girlfriend (coming to think of it, most of my ex-girlfriends are chinese). Her mother was totally opposed to the idea…especially so that I was a serving officer of the air force (somehow the stigma of the daughter marrying a military or police officer is still there). Oh well, Yoke Choo. At least you looked beautiful in that blue baju kurung at my Commissioning Ball.

Five years ago, when I was instructing parachuting students in Ipoh, my buddy Aziz, and I, used to walk into this chinese vegetarian restaurant at Green Town..and guess what…the moment we walked into that restaurant, everyine stopped eating and turned their head to look at us.

Now,as for the malays, I think this funny behaviour is also reciprocal. People used to ask me if there isn’t enough malay girls around in this country. Hey, my sister was married to a chinese. She is now remarried.. to an indian. My paternal aunt has been married to a very nice chinese man for the past 45 years at least. Last night, a very good chinese friend of mine told me that a relative would think of her as a prostitute if she were to go out with a malay man.What is wrong with mixed marriages?

After the race riots of May 1969, my father, who then became the Chief Police Officer of Malacca state, sent me to a chinese kindergarten. If I remember correctly, I was the only non-chinese kid there…five years old and spoke none of the chinese dialects. I know now why my father sent me there, less than a year after the May 1969 tragedy…for me to learn and understand other races better. I have not turned back since.

If things were better than they are now, my children would probably be of mixed parentage.

An old song…

As I was driving to work today, I fumbled with the CDs in my glove compartment. Then I saw one particular CD that I have not played for some time…at least a year and a half. The album is actually a compilation of songs by LoSo, a Thai rock group. If I may quote the last two verses in MY version of romanised Thai, and I’ll translate the verses as best as I can:

Khae yak dai roo wa ter yoo nai
Jod cham wai chan yang huang ter
Ja yang khong rak rak ter seme
Ter kheu hua jai

Hak khae dai phob dai jeur iik thii
Hak wan nii dai mii sit phood pai
Yak hai ter roo khwam jing nai jai
Chan yang rak ter

Yak bork wa roo wa chan sia jai
Chan yang rak ter

Translation:

If possible I would like to know where you are
Remembering my concern for you
I still love, always love you
You are my heart

If it’s possible to meet one more time
If it’s right to say it today
I would like you to know the true feelings in my heart
I still love you

I’d like to tell you I’m sorry
I still love you

Heartbreaking, isn’t it?

AstroNUT Crashed and Burned

Last Saturday, a colleague of mine, Robert Lee, went for the Astronauts’ Run – one of the early processes to eliminate applicants who are not up to mark. Around 10am that day, I received an SMS fro him saying that he failed to complete the given distance within the given time.

You should take up scuba diving, Robert, and become an AQUANUT like me.

Ouch!!!

Back to diving now.

Bent UK scuba diver back home with $37,000 souvenir

Now this is painful.

May I relate this to what a friend had experienced just a couple of weeks ago. He is an instructor. He recently applied for a life policy but was turned down simply because he is a scuba diver. If he wishes to have a policy, he will be subjected to extra “loading.” In fact I’ve faced the same condition when I skydived. But as an instructor, he doesn’t earn much.

Now, to say he or I would be better off without a policy would be plain stupid. But what choice do we have?

Some years ago..

Love is a funny thing. It makes people laugh, cry, happy, hurt. When two people share and love each other, they hope to die loving. In that, love can be dangerous.

My maternal grandfather passed away when I was preparing for my North Pole expedition back in 1998. My grandmother was totally devastated. Imagine spending the last three decades alone together, with the kids all away, building their own families. She was healthy. Then three months after the former’s passing, my grandmother fell ill and was diagnosed with colon cancer. I saw her…wasting away. The night before she passed, I held her hand. She smiled and told me that she could see my grandfather standing in front of her, smiling at her.

How she must have pined for him.

Then five years ago, my late friend, Siva, and I were with a recently-qualified freefall student, in a Cessna 172K, 8,000 feet above sea level at Mersing. Earlier that day, this former student from Australia had done something weird..out of the normal, like asking the drop zone manager to keep his belongings under lock etc., etc. So above the drop zone, he jumped, followed by late Siva, then I. This former student was supposed to deploy his main chute at 4,000 feet. He did not. Siva and I continued to watch him as we had 20 seconds before impacting the ground if we did not open our chutes. At 3,000 feet (15 seconds to impact), Siva hurriedly deployed his chute. This former student and I were still freefalling. I signaled for him to open his chute. He nodded but remained still. At 1,500 feet (7 seconds to impact), I opened my chute, and saw this former student zoom past me. To my relief, the CYPRESS automatic opening device activated and deployed his reseve chute at 700 feet (3 seconds from impact) above sea level. He landed safely at sea.

I learnt later that his wife was terminally ill with cancer in Australia, and he did not wish to live longer than necessary.

Love is beautiful….and dangerous.

Jupiter, Venus and the Moon

Babak A. Tafreshi

I received an SMS from my father at 5.34am today telling me to look at the heavens and see Jupiter and Venus so close together. The last time he told me to look at the stars was 31 years ago as I sat on his lap, just before he became the “property of the Government of Malaysia as the Inspector-General of Police.

I saw this phenomenon last Sunday, and pointed the planets out to my 3 year-old son. I never realised the two heavenly bodies have come closer to each other since then. If you look out there, Venus is the brighter than the other. If you look to the left of Jupiter, you’d be able to see Spica, the brightest star in the constellation of Virgo. However, it is being outclassed by the two planets for now.

After last night, the two planets are now traveling apart. However, come September 6th, the slender crescent moon will join these two in making your sunset spellbinding.

I hope the new hotspots the Department of Environment spotted both in Malaysia and Indonesia will not spoil this show.