November 2004 Archives


A strong partnership gets stronger in the face of adversity.

A weak partnership crumbles the moment the going gets tough.

Some universal truths for a humble monday morning.


Today is my last day as a PETRONAS employee. Its time to move on to something new, and i'm very excited about the challenges that await me in the days ahead.

To everyone i've worked with these past 4 years, please accept my sincere apologies for any mistakes or harsh words i may have made or used. Its been a great run, and you are all wonderful, talented people. Good luck, PETRONAS, God bless!

War is a shitty business

It is with great horror that i read of the Fallujah incident where a Marine shot and killed an unarmed man in a mosque. The news is full of it now, but i think Kevin Sites' account, the journalist who actually captured the act on video (view the unedited video here), is the most revealing. Why so?

I took a moment to look through Kevin's blog and found a lot of humanity there; the humanity of the people, the soldiers, the men and women who were actually fighting this war. Try to forget for a moment whether this war is right or wrong and you will see something startling: the people engaged in battle are just normal human beings, people like you and me, no more, no less.

They have our fears, our stregnths, our hopes, our dreams, our worries, oue weaknesses -- i made a hypothesis a while ago that people all over the world are basically the same. The only difference is that they are there and we are here. It frightens me that war can do this to people; strip us of all that is good of our humanity, and leave us with nothing.

The man in the mosque is very dead, the bullet from a high=powered carbine from close range made sure of that. The Marine who killed that man is in custody, and will surely be judged for what he did. Really, all of this isn't important, not really. What we should worry about is what war does to us. We are all the same, remember? It could easily have been me on that cold mosque floor, dead. It could easily have been me pulling the trigger. After all, anger and fear are human traits, aren't they?

Blogs in Harvard

I just tickles me pink each time i think about it: blogs have arrived at Harvard. The "useless rantings" of adolescent teens, the "unsubstantiated, biased drivel" of "unknown journalists" -- terms which have been associated to blogs in the past -- have reached a level of significance of impressive proportions. The "fifth estate"? Well, maybe not quite yet THAT impressive. But, surely, the world can no longer ignore what blogs have to say.

The power of blogs is not in the technology, or even the news and views bloggers write about. Its not about the Internet, or even the who, the what, the why, the how. The power of blogs is in its power to unshackle the individual persona from him/herself. Blogs have become the 21st Century soap box with a difference -- we are not confined to the boundaries of a park or Speaker's Corner. The Internet is our "park" and as a tool of information dissemination, its reach, width and depth are simply unparalled. Human beings have always been inclined to expression, and blogs make it impossibly easy to connect that expression from Point A (me) to Point B (you).

What's surprising is not that blogs have arrived in Harvard but that its taken this long to get there. Not bad for a "soap box", eh?

Eulogy for Kitty

During the Raya holidays i found out that Kitty, my beloved cat, had passed away a few months ago. I loved this cat, very, very much, but was forced to give him away to relatives when my family left for Australia last year. He wasn't an old cat, they say he died from a broken heart. We found him as a kitten by the road; we took pity on him, and gave him a home, fed him, groomed him, and he grew up to be the most beautiful pariah cat you ever saw. Playful, kind and a wee bit of a coward, he was in many ways the cat that everyone couldn't help but love.

Kitty was his name

Kitty, i miss you. Be good in Heaven. InsyaAllah, you'll hang out on my knee again one day.


Newton's 1st Law (The Law of Inertia): "Unless acted upon, a body at rest stays at rest, and a body in motion stays in motion." -- the famous physicist is a lot wiser than even he realized, i reckon. His law is a perfect explanation why its so difficult to get up and go to work after a long holiday. :)


It never ceases to amaze me how much people and times can change, but the feelings and emotions still remain the same. Its difficult to understand, or explain. Perhaps, i shouldn't try.

Ringgit re-energised!

Our current PM might be a weak in addressing pressing international affairs such as Fallujah or Southern Thailand, but he's doing something awfully right with Malaysia's economy. A feather is his cap, a mark of success will be the removal of the ringgit peg to the US dollar. It won't be long now, ladies and gents. If you're thinking about buying that high-tech American-made gizmo (e.g. iPod) or going for an overseas holiday, it may be prudent to be patient and wait for a few more months before doing either.

Primer: Floating and Fixed Exchange Rates

Why silence?

A fine example of a stupid Mat Salleh:

(Jack) Straw (UK Foreign Secretary) blamed military and civilian casualties in Iraq directly on the action of insurgents.

"If the terrorists and insurgents gave up their campaign, the violence in Iraq would cease," he said.

He also rejected The Lancet's suggestion that the occupying forces in Iraq are obliged to keep a count of civilian casualties under the Geneva Conventions.

A fine example of a smart Frenchman:

On the eve of a visit to Britain, President Jacques Chirac said Wednesday that the world was more dangerous because of the American-led invasion of Iraq.

Ensuring that his country's relations with the United States and Britain will remain cool, he said, "There is no doubt" that terrorism around the world has increased because of the war in Iraq.

An example of a gutless Prime Minister:


(that is the sound we hear from PM Abdullah Badawi as a response of the US' latest offensive in Fallujah, which according to Al-Jazeera has claimed thousands of Muslim lives, many of whom were non-combatants)

Sometimes, i long for Tun Mahathir's voice. He would have verbally blasted the US and Britain by now over Fallujah. I know it probably won't make much of a difference, but i think part of leadership is to speak for the people you represent. Muslims in Malaysia, just like Muslims everywhere in the world, are very upset about what is happening in Fallujah -- PM Badawi has a responsibility to convey that message in the strongest language possible.

Ramadhan Epilogue: Days upon Days

The last 4 days were spent at home, mostly in peaceful solitude. KL was nearly empty by last Friday night, Saturday it was more akin to a dead city. Tall, ghostly mechas of concrete and steel, long winding asphalt roads snaking into the distance, and traffic lights that seemed to wink at me in devilish grey. An almost surreal experience it was, driving through the deserted landscape.

What was i doing on the streets, alone, aimless? Well, they say that home is where the heart is, and mine wasn't here. As i fell in a heap on the bed Saturday night, it took a long moment to fall asleep. This tends to happen when the soul and the body are disconnected.

Sunday morning was a good time. Eid Mubarak. The mosque was half-full for morning Eid prayers, and half the people left after the prayers, the other half stayed for the khutbah (sermon). We were reminded that Ramadhan was a time of humility and reflection: now that it was over, we should remember any lessons we've learned this past month. A row of beggars lined the street near the gate of the mosque. I took a moment to do what i could for each. Then it was back home for some more time alone.

I smoked more cigars that day than i care to remember. TV. Cigar. TV. Eat. Bath. Cigar. TV. Sleep. Eat. Cigar. Ad nauseum.

Its Wednesday now, and as i stare out the window this fine morning, i watched the small ants buzzing about in the suddenly busy streets of KL. Things were getting back to normal. But perhaps, maybe more than perhaps, they never really would again. Not really.

This is the end of the Ramadhan Series. I thank everyone for your attention and comments; you've enriched me and others by visiting, reading and sharing your thoughts.

Ramadhan Day 29

Selamat Hari Raya Eidulfitri, Maaf Zahir Batin to all. On the first day of Raya, its a beautiful sunny day. May Allah bless all of us, and grant us with many more such days.

Ramadhan Day 27

The final Friday before the end of Ramadhan and Eidulfitri. Alhamdulillah, this month has passed by safely for me, and those who matter to me. It has certainly been a month to remember.

Ramadhan Day 26

There is a special night during Ramadhan called the Lailatul al-Qadr, the Night of Power.

Among the nights of Ramadhan is one special night, which is better than a thousand months (HQ, 97:3). Good deeds performed on that single night are equal to those performed over a thousand months. It is the Night of Power (Laylatul Qadr), when the Qur'an was revealed. Some commentators believe it was the night when the Qur'an was brought down from Baytul M`amur (Heavenly abode), for Jibrael to reveal in parts to the Prophet (s). Others say it was the night when the Prophet received the entire Qur'an, but was asked to transmit it as and when the occasion demanded.

No one knows for sure which of the 30 nights is the Night of Power, and perhaps it even changes every Ramadhan. It could be tonight, it could have already passed, or it might be tomorrow or the day after. In the future, one day, when the ravages of a young life no longer demand divisions of my time, i will pray terawih and qiyamulail (prayers that last the whole night) all 30 nights of Ramadhan. That is the only sure way not to miss it.

Ramadhan Day 25

Its always a fun thing discovering new things. For me, this ramadhan has truly been a month of discovery, and last night allowed me yet another discover, albeit one of a totally unexpected nature: i found the most incredible coffee "hut" imaginable. Never before have i been to a place that sells all types of coffee from all over Malaysia. The owner, En Alias, assures me that each has its own distinct character: coffee from every state, sometimes from towns famous for their coffee such as Ipoh. What a wonderful way to end the day. A freshly brewed coffee, a roti bakar with kaya (burned over an actual charcoal burner!), a cigar and the company of the lovely Baizura and some friends.

Earlier in the day, i passed by a place that was selling food hampers -- the kind that you buy for friends, relatives or business associates. Some of these hampers were incredibly expensive, and yet they looked like they were selling very well. At the office, my department has received some expensive looking hampers from vendors. A lot of these hampers going about, by the looks of it.

I think about the gift giving nature of the celebration of the end of ramadhan, Eidulfitri. What are we celebrating, really? Personally i have no idea. The end of the fasting month is cause for celebration? Or does the 1st day of Shawal have some celebratory purpose? Did the Prophet s.a.w. celebrate the end of ramadhan the way we do? Perhaps he sent each of his Companions a camel and goat as a "hamper"?

The celebration of Eid. It all just makes me wonder.

Ramadhan Day 24

Less than a week to go, and the fasting month for this year will be over. I'm happy i started writing the Ramadhan Series on the VOI. Its a special time, everyday of it (for more reasons than i can say on this blog), and i'm glad that having written all of it down, i won't forget it. Looks like the Ramadhan Series might turn into an annual affair, perhaps.

I was walking in Megamall over the weekend and i was very pleased to stand and watch a musical group perform raya songs in the Centre Court lobby. The place was done up very nicely; real-looking wood kampung-style huts, the band using one of the huts as their stage, a huge mat in front of the hut intended for people to sit cross-legged on the floor. Simple, beautiful.

Then the group began dishing out Hindu favourites, to celebrate Deepavali which is just around the corner as well, coinciding with Hari Raya Eidulfitri. This year, you could say, is a Deepa Raya year.

I found this performance extremely tasteful, not only because the music and singing was good, but because of the appreciation it gives that Malaysia is celebrating two very socio-culturally significant events at the same time. A Malay band, singing a combination of songs to celebrate the peaceful diversity of the country. Nice, nice. The embodiment of Malaysia Majmuk, indeed. I stood there for a moment, soaking it all in, smiling.

Ramadhan Day 21

I really, really hate to waste food. Being brought up in a family where every single last grain of rice, every scrap of meat or veges had to be consumed before mum would let us leave the table, its a habit, i suppose. But a very good habit to have. To my greatest dismay, i wasted some food last night during iftar. Not sure what happened, but my normally roaring appetite deserted me, and half my food left untouched. I struggled at least to finish the protein on my plate, if that's some consolation. Its not that i bought more food than usual last night, i just couldn't finish it. Sigh.

The news these last few days has been disappointing, terribly so. Ramadhan is the month of peace, forgiveness and mercy. Its very ironic that, when the history books are written, events happening in this ramadhan month will be blamed for the coming years of death, violence and bloodshed.

George W. Bush was re-elected President of the United States yesterday. His return to office signals no end to the hostilities in Iraq; violence will continue, and "collateral damage" will once again not be called what it really is -- the death and destruction of innocent civilian Iraqis. Perhaps Bush will take his re-election as a mandate for further, more aggressive force -- will Iran and North Korea be next?

Yasser Arafat was announced brain dead today as he lay in a French hospital; in an "irreversible coma" is the diagnosis, kept alive by machines -- his passing signals the end of an era, one that was so full of hope and peace with the Oslo Accords in 1992, but has recently degenerated into more violence still. His death will do little to slow either side. More suicide bombers will blow themselves up, more "rubber bullets" will kill young Palestinian boys.

If i had one wish this ramadhan, i would ask just for one thing, really. Let the violence stop. Even if only for one day, let there not be a signal Muslim death from violence, and let there not be a single death caused by a Muslim. Just one day, Allah, the Most Merciful. Is that too much to ask for? Bismillah.

Ramadhan Day 20

I finally got tired of eating at home last night; while affordable and practical, pasar ramadhan food gets kinda bland day in, day out. While tasty and economical, home cooked meals are a chore to prepare and clean up afterwards. So, i went out for a good, good meal last night. It was wonderful, heavenly and my taste buds and tummy were very appreciative; not one of those commercial ramadhan buffets where the meals are mass prepared and mass consumed but at a favourite restaurant where attention to detail is still a prime consideration in every meal. It helps that i had lovely company as well; a cigar afterwards completed a superb evening.

One of the virtues of ramadhan is that it makes you appreciate special moments even more. To not have any food or drink throughout the day, then to be able to iftar with something simple like dates is a pleasure. How often do we look or even consider eating the humble date (kurma) besides during ramadhan? To be able to spend a quiet evening at home with the family, then make a trip together to the mosque for tarawih -- such a simple pleasure when you think about it, but so treasured during ramadhan. Even a meal at a favourite restaurant -- the experience is very different, and you appreciate every spoonful ever more.

Perhaps, ramadhan reminds us that the simple things in life are the best things in life. Let us not ever take them for granted, is the lesson.

Ramadhan Day 19

What started out as a quiet night with a friend and some cigars turned into a very long night of self-discovery, tears and a happy ending. Ramadhan is truly a month of revelations. Fortunately, its a month of peace and forgiveness as well.

Lessons learned: (1) Priorities, priorities, priorities. (2) Honesty, honesty, honesty.

Now that the end of ramadhan is barely 10 days away, i'm almost sad to see it end. Every day has been different somehow this month, with more twists and turns than the best mystery novel. Allahuakhbar, indeed.

Ramadhan Day 18

Its a wonderful thing to have someone special in your life that can cook up a storm in the kitchen. Iftar last night was a delightful cullinary extravaganza: basmati white rice (these taste damn good, no starch, individual grains -- but very expensive), pegedil (beef and potato pies), ikan bawal masam manis, ayam kampung goreng kunyit, tempir (fermented soya beans) goreng petai cili, sup sayur dengan fish balls. For dessert, moist chocolate cake (not too sweet, just the way i like it), and fresh rambutans. Cool, refreshing laici water for drinks. Oh goodness, yummy. Thanks, babe!

Besides my own home cooked exertions, last night was the first time this ramadhan i had the pleasure to enjoy a proper home cooked meal (my cooking doesn't count -- i just throw stuff together into the frying pan with no real idea what's going to happen). The meal reminded me of ramadhan meals i used to have with my family. My parents, my sisters, seated around the dinner table, impatient squabbles breaking out between the kids, mom fussing around the kitchen making sure everything was ready, dad quietly eyeing the blaring tv, waiting for the azan to sound. I miss those times. Those memories made last night's meal taste all the more better. Perhaps its time to start my own family.

Ramadhan Day 17

A weekend of complete rest, that's exactly what i needed. Couch potato, movie marathon, PC geek, chef extraodinaire, house cleaner -- i played all these roles to the hilt these past 48 hours. And i feel much better for it, happier even.

Although the lack of food and water does take a toll on the body, Muslims are encouraged not to change their daily routines. Do during the month of ramadhan as you would do any other day. Its a bit hard to do this, most times. The sleepy ache in the tummy as the end of the day draws near, the frayed nerves and bile-tasting mouth, the lack of energy, the usual sleeping hours, the lure of the pasar ramadhans, the usurious commercialization of the restaurants and hotels -- how can we be expected to act and think the same we would a normal day? The pressures, the temptations, the physiological differences are just too much.

Then i think about the less fortunate than i. For them, every day is hungry day, where bile rises in the dusty, dry throat, where even the simple gerai or mamak stall seems like a feast-in-waiting. What about them?

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2004 is the previous archive.

December 2004 is the next archive.

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