27 January 2009

My first Mozart experience

First assignment - Similar to the world war II bunker, I spent four weeks in this small underground dungeon, shying away from any civilization that may exist outside. Luckily I didn't come back looking like a zombie.


Having just finished a long marathon of university exams, the only thing that struck my mind was to quickly find a job. Any job would do as long as it doesn't require me to just sit down in front of the workstation and the only buddy you can talk to was a 386 computer. With no MP3, no CD ROM and the only games that you can play were tetris and pac man that time. If it was not the germs, the claustrophobia will kill me. The year was 1992.

When I first started my career in a local semi-government organization, little did I realize how much fun and sometimes wacky it would be. Having to work in the dark labyrinth of laboratories and handling microscopic organisms that could rot your arm with gangrenous flesh was one thing, but dealing with a bunch of weirdos in a white coat was even more nauseating for me. The rewards however, could be really a mind boggling. The sheer satisfaction was like the after feeling of eating raw wasabi.

My first assignment was the one which actually saved me from being a marauding moonlighter and a deciding factor for me to stick to my gun that this place will be my primary playing ground. Less than a month after I reported for duty, I was asked to go to Seefeld, Austria. A remote place in a foreign country that if not pronounced properly will be mistaken for a country down under. That was what happened to me. I faced several technical glitches with the ticketing department initially and even the appointed travel agent didn't quite sure where the place was.

Being for the first time abroad and alone could be a very intimidating experience. During that time, Singapore was the only country I've visited so far, that if we can consider it as a foreign land. To cut the long story short, I finally arrived at Vienna after a long hauled flight via Dubai. Still excited and intoxicated with so many glasses of orange juice to keep me awoke, I didn't really know where to start my journey really. Luckily I met this lovely young Austrian gal who was in the same flight with me and from then she was my unofficial tourist guide. But to my utterly surprise, she then told me that it will take another six-long-hours from Vienna to Seefeld by train. Nobody told me that earlier. I thought that was it. If it was not because of my eagerness and my will not to surrender to this odd circumstances I would have asked her to help me finding me a cheap hotel and retire for the day. But I didn't. I was young and full of spirit.

Since my new friend was heading to Salzburg which was in the same line, we took the train off the Westbahnhof station and headed west. Before embarking the train I bought two sandwiches since my tummy has started to alert me with that familiar tune. The last time I've had my meal was a good 6 hours ago in the flight. By then I started to miss 'nasi lemak' and 'roti canai' already. But something really troubling me and keep bugging my mind while hungrily consuming the sandwich. I guess your mind just could not think properly if you tummy was empty. Then it struck me. I just could not simply buy any food and anywhere. Not in this new territory. Oh no...! I felt like I want to vomit there and then. Having to cope up with the language was one thing, and now I got my food crisis to deal with. The word famine became so real!

We passed through the musical city of Salzburg where my unofficial guide disembarked, leaving me to spent the remaining journey wondering what to expect next. By the time the train reached its final destination Innsbruck, it was almost dark. Still I have to hop on another tram for a short commuting to my final destination Seefeld, a small village in the valley of the Tyrolean province. The next four weeks, instant noodle and load of Brahims have saved me from my insanity.

There were lessons to be learned :
  1. Never trust your travel agent! Find as much information as possible beforehand. Ask Uncle Goodle if you have to.
  2. Think first then eat, not the other way around.
  3. Travel alone can be very boring and loneliness kills. Make lot and lot of friends.
  4. If you think you can elude the tight security at the airport, bring anything that is edible.
  5. Seefeld is a nice place for my next honeymoon trip!

Seefeld has two mountain areas along the Alps, very famous for walking during the summer and skiing during the winter. This one is known as Roßhütte. There was a large restaurant half way up with a view of the whole village down the valley. Unprepared to this challenging activity, I borrowed a windbreaker from the host and conquered the peak with my newly bought Alain Delon, of which became the topic over dinner table during the whole course.

Prof. Sitte (the host who was sitting next to me), was really trying hard to make me felling at home. However for the first time traveler, I found it quite a daunting task in trying to explain why i still couldn't even eat a fish in a soup that was previously taken out from another meat soup which was prepared earlier (the fish was prepared specially for me).

Scientists can be very funny too. The host finally revealed the secret of preparing strawberry icecream using left over liquid nitrogen (the person next to Prof Sitte holding the liquid nitrogen tank was the one who invented this signature icecream). The taste was as good as Haagen Daaz if you ask me.

I got an opportunity to witness a traditional summer festival with colourful procession like this in the middle of the village. The folks here even though hardly conversed in English, they were very friendly. Guten morgen...Guten taag!

Innsbruck is only 17km away from Seefeld. The older pedestrian district of Innsbruck like this one, where Goldenes Dachl (Golden roof) a landmark to this place supposedly located. But I somehow missed the spot and wandering cluelessly in the oblivion, admiring the unfamiliar atmosphere surrounded me.

23 January 2009

Can't cook, won't cook

Apart from having many skills my significant half are gifted with (among others are shopping, shopping and shopping :), her cooking skill is the best none to other. The skill is so natural, she can prepare a good dish with just anything that is edible thrown into a cooking pot. Presumably she inherited this skill from her late mother, who was also very good at pleasing anybody's taste bud.

One good thing about having a good cook in your house is that you don't have to worry about what dishes to put on your dinner table day in and day out. In fact I don't even have to think about the food at all. I just go back home and succumbed to my hungry appetite and consumed everything that was prepared on the table. As I am not a very fussy type-of-person when it comes into what to tuck into my tummy, any simple dish will do.

On the other hand, it can be a daunted task though in deciding what menu-of-the-day would be. That was the downside of it when you are presented with so many gastronomic choices to choose from. If from time to time you got a call from your significant half, asking what to have for lunch or dinner, sometime it can got on your nerves as well. A hungry man is an angry man the wise man says.

wife : "Hello darling, what do you fancy for dinner tonight?"
hubby : "Anything dear."
wife : "Nasi beriani with Moroccan-style chicken or Nasi Bukhari with mutton cooked Iranian-style ?"
hubby : Anything will do dear.
wife : Or do you fancy a chicken masallah with shish kebab?
hubby: "Better get you hot pan(t) ready or I will have you for dinner instead!"

With such a good cook she is, who am I to complain?

Ever since my last intimate liaison with the "Bujang Club" long time ago, I seldom make myself busy in the kitchen anymore. At the same time, I lost all my skill in handling all the kitchen paraphernalia, thus my cooking skill as well. Skill needs to be practiced, and since the kitchen is not my domain anymore, I can hardly remember now how to make my famous "mee goreng berangan", which has earned me a name among the members of my former club. Fancy that recipe anyone?

Going abroad was the only time I can reclaim my excellent cooking skill. Thanks to Abang Brahim, cooking beef rendang was as easy as finding your way through London undergrounds. If you look close enough you will notice that I have not forgotten my past time delicacy, even thousand miles separate me from Losong Dato' Amar. (my wife laughed at me when she saw the sorry state of that 'khepok' - apparently the oil was not hot enough!)

This is not my secret recipe that I've mentioned earlier. You won't be left to surrender yourself to starvation in the far land if there were Malaysians around and you knew how to make friends along the way

20 January 2009

Aisey man...brader Jon!

Pertama : Secara ikhlasnya aku ingin mengucapkan terimakasih kepada brader Jon. Sahabat yang jika dikira umur perkenalan, cuma seusia anak yang baru bertatih, bersusah payah dan bersungguh-sungguh untuk belanja aku makan. Walaupun hari lahir ku sudah berlalu agak lama dan kek yang disimpan didalam peti sejuk tempoh hari pun hanya meniggalkan baunya sahaja, namun beliau tetap beria-beria juga. Mulanya aku yang mengajak dan mahu belanja dia makan. Tapi lain jadinya. Terimakasih brader Jon! Terimakasih daun keladi. Aku ingat kamu.

Kedua : Eh..kenapa tulis dalam bahasa ibunda pula? Selama ini menulis dalam bahasa mat saleh? Rasionalnya begini. Aku ada menerima e-mail dari rakan yang malu-malu kucing untuk turut serta di blog ini, tetapi mushkil dan mungkin mashgul. Soalan cepu emas beliau : kenapa mesti menulis dalam bahasa penjajah sedangkan yang komen di dalam blog ini hampir kesemua faham Bahasa Malaysia? Ada juga kebenarannya. Namun aku ada sebab dan musababnya tersendiri. Baiklah, buat pertama kalinya dan tidak ingin menghampakan permintaan. Bagaimanapun, aku akan terus menulis di dalam bahasa Mat Saleh mengikut sebab musabab awal. Encik malu-kucing, jika mahukan penjelasan yang terperinci kita boleh berjumpa di sesi 'mengeteh' seterusnya.

Ketiga : Aku dan bukan saya. Teringat ketika di sekolah pertanyaan sama aku utarakan kepada muallim yang sentiasa membahasakan dirinya aku, walaupun ketika mengajar didalam kelas. Limaza ya sheikh? Jawapan ringkas muallim - bahasa itu bahasa munajat, bahasa merendah diri, hormat, tawadduk dan insaf kepadaNYA. Cuma kekadang itu, sebagai ibubapa moden aku pun terbawa-bawa dengan bahasa anggun masa kini dan selalu menegur anak-anak. Tidak sopan kata aku. "cakap saya" :)

Terimakasih sekali lagi brader Jon!

18 January 2009

United cartoons of Enteloz

When I was in my early education stage up to the primary schools (four primary schools altogether), I have only one small bag to carry everyday. I called that bag a "bag kotak". It was actually a box with a safety latch on top of it.

I walked to school everyday. Almost all my friends walked to school as well. It was fun. On one of the bad days though, while walking to the school, the latch will just snapped open, throwing everything inside the bag onto the open road for everyone to see your precious treasure. And it contained just about everything from my exercise books, the stationary, my favorite comics (among other were Bujal and Wak segan) and also my lunch pack. If it was raining a day earlier, everything that fell into the puddle will look more or less like bubur asyura.

Nowadays, our kids have so many bags to carry to their schools. One for their primary school, one for their religious school and one or two more bags for their tuition classes. The bag weigh many kilos too, by the time they reach their puberty, their back will look similar to the hunchback of Notre Dame. If you have many kids, then I am not surprised to see their study room will resemble a store full of bags.

With so many bags around, you'll never know what to expect or find if you peek into one of those bags. Once in a while the parent should do just that. Have a peek into their bags. I just found out recently that in one of my kids' bag there were several scrap books and they were full with sketches similar to these ones. I found some interesting but yet peculiar sketches in one of my second son's bag. It was very interesting to note that my second son has started to show sketching skills since he was about four or five and this was evidence on the walls of my house. Never mind about that, since I don't have to pay a single cent and yet the interior designing has been taken care off by my second son. What more interesting was, he managed to sell few of his collection to his peers. What a good combination. Creativity plus entrepeneurship skill.

I must confess at this point , when I was at their age, If I wasn't playing with friends, I will spend almost every evening watching cartoons. Especially the English one. I realized later on, apart from reading comics and books (of which sharpened my writing skill) my command of English getting better and better the more I indulged myself with this obsession. It was hard those days when almost all of your keropok-lekor peers who did not converse in English and you want to practice that language at the same time. It became more difficult because I did not attend ordinary school, but Arabic school (in my hometown, sekolah arab = sekolah agama) which did not emphasize much on English subject. I attended Arabic school and then the Arabic college until I was seventeen. Why didn't I became an Ustaz then? That was another interesting story though :)

Even today I am not ashamed to admit that I still fancy watching the many cartoon shows on TV, especially the Japanese anime. As for now, I am trying to learn and pick up the Japanese language as my other foreign language. Just for fun. We'll see.

16 January 2009

I met a headhunter.....head to head!

Sixteen years ago. My first official trip to the Tyrolean alps.


Today is another historic day for me. It was sixteen years ago, I walked through that big colonial door in my office and began my life as a working class citizen. I can still remember vividly, riding my trusty "kapcai" from Bangi to Jln. Ampang. Even though my appearance might look like one of the members from local rock bands at that time, when it comes to handling my kapcai on the road, by the current standard, any "minah rempit" would have laughed like mad at me.

I was just finishing my final year exam and did not even officially receive my holy scroll from the Chancellor. Frankly speaking, I just wanted to get some experience attending interviews, as many as possible, and get used to answering tricky and silly questions that may have caught me off guard during the 'real' interview. The next thing I knew, I received an offer letter a week later . Great.

Since the post was actually some 40 km away from Jl. Ampang, and I was quite new to Kay El, the prospect of wandering into uncharted territories and probably a place for "jin bertendang" had almost put me off. Kota Damansara was still in a blue print at PKNS office that time. But as a young and adventurous kampung boy, I ventured into the street and just follow the instinct. I sidetrack somewhere at Jinjang and got lost in Selayang. By the time I reached the office it was already late in the evening. I was so knackered but still managed to drag my feet to see the boss. Luckily he was quite a supporting guy, a veteran in the scientific community. (Later I found out that my boss was a very punctual guy. Everything must be on the dot. I survived until his retirement day though.) And that was the first day I reported for duty for my first and current job.

A few days ago I attended another job interview. This time from a headhunting company. A lady from that company persistently called me to arrange for a meeting. At first I just wanted to straight away decline the offer and lay on my bed watching Naruto (that time I was still bed-ridden). But then my adventurous instinct started to kick in again. As if the lady knew that chocolate banana cake is my favorite cake, she suggested that we meet at The Secret Recipe, D' curve Mutiara Damansara. It was quite close to my place too. (Even when I write this, my saliva is dripping.)

Since my mind has long being conditioned to respect the time by my first boss , I arrived 20 minutes earlier than her. She turned out to be a 29 years-old-philipino beauty. She introduced herself as Carla. To cut a long story short, she was actually commissioned by one rival company to find a suitable candidate to fill a post, a directorate post. To be frank, being interviewed in a restaurant is one thing, but I did not expect to be interviewed by somebody that was considered quite young , especially for that kind of job position. The interview went out smoothly though, until I mentioned my expected salary should be no less than twice my current salary. I sensed some hesitation in her voice from then on. And the whole package didn't turned out to be very attractive enough to drag me out from my comfort zone. No M5, No flying in a first class, No unlimited spending on platinum credit card and most importantly no quality time left at all for my family. Am I asking too much?

Looking back at what that company has to offer, I have to agree with my colleagues that my current job place is still the best sanctuary on earth. My colleagues call it a heaven . No wonder people do not want to retire and keep extending their services, year after year.

Festive seasons may bring load of colorful atmosphere. I met the headhunter here.
Sorry no picture of Carla as I forgot to ask her to sign a model release form. Publishing a photograph of a person/persons without a written consent may result in civil liability you know :)

Later that evening, I spent some good time with my significant half. Over a cup of camomile tea we had a chat and good laugh. I have to accept the fact that apart from happiness, money can't buy me my precious time, especially with the loved ones.

More scones sir! Nope, I am happy with what I am having now.

12 January 2009

I hate you because of what you do.

If possible I try not to write something that can disturb or at least spoil the mood, my mood. But the more I resist, the more it disturb me. Writing my statement here and sharing it probably can reduce this burden hopefully.

This past few weeks were quite distressing for me actually. Not because I was bed-ridden for my self-inflicted injury. That did not bother me very much, even though I have very limited choice of activities to do. In fact during my 2 weeks of hibernation period, I have very ample time to think and ponder on a lot of thing, (and doze off, along the way adding more inches to my belly laterally), of which I hardly do lately because I was too engrossed hitting balls in the driving range.

The thing that bother me the most was, how life has little meaning to some *&^%hole out there. You see, I seldom use that kind of harsh language. Not to anyone. Not when my mood is cool. But this barbaric act and utmost atrocity has really pissed me off. I am sure many share the same feeling too. It make me really sick.

We don't simply hate people because of their race, their religion, their language, their color complexion, their hairdo or even they way you dress up. It's what you do that matter most. God creates human equally. That is what I believe. So naturally we should treat each other the same as you expect others to treat you. I think Jews (laknatullah) don't think that way. Only animal will do such inhuman brutality. That makes them in the same league as hyena.

It has been 18 days now. Let's pray to God that our brothers and sisters who are now fighting for their life and trying to preserve any self-dignity and honor that they may have left, to be strong and have absolute faith in God.

During my hibernation, a thought has crossed my mind, if God give me some super-power, I will make them sterile, so sterile that when the earth close its chapter, no one will ever remember their names anymore.

11 January 2009

Thank you sir!

I received this brotherhood badge from Sir Nik. It is always good to have new friends. Friend to share our good time and bad time. As I value all my friendships, I will do the same to you sir. Hope our friendship will last and we can meet up and have a nice chat one day. Thank you sir!

I like this quote:

"If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair."- Samuel Johnson (1709 - 1784) British lexiographer.

08 January 2009

Hey guys...today is my best day!

I love you all
(p/s: my eldest is missing here, yours is coming soon my dear)


I woke up this morning and found an envelope under my pillow. Somehow I can sensed that something must be special and before I hastily open the envelope I realized that today is my special day. I am not that type of person who remembers dates or even numbers very well. My right brain seems to be more dominant over the left one. Luckily I passed my arithmetic test and can still remember my I.C. number quite well.

Today I am 41 years younger. Meaning, I have been shaped and fashioned by my surrounding, people around me, my so many jihads, globetrotting now and then and watching TV and cartoons over those years. While at the same time being corrupted by the people who once made me believe that if you pay your income tax then you don't have to pay your zakat anymore. That was a joke however. And of course I am so grateful to both my parents, without both I won't be what I am today.

Looking back I have no regret in my life. I have achieved what I wanted in my life so far. Not to say that i am contented with what I have now. I can't complain much. I do realize there are many more less fortunate than us out there. Those who live in a war zone. Those who left behind their families for the jihad. Those affected by natural disasters and those families that have been torn apart by divorce and death.

So I have walked this far. Hopefully I have many more wonderful miles to go. I pray to God. Thank you God and thank you world for making my journey a colorful one.


We live because we have hope and the loved ones for you to care for.

Wish I can share this joy and wonderful moment with you all. Will keep some in my fridge for the lucky ones. Who knows...

05 January 2009

I found the best scone at St. Ives

...while I am hibernating and the mode is still quite somber, perhaps reminiscing over the old days and sharing with you, my beloved bloggers, could uplift my spirit a bit...

I figured out my jihad in the far land wouldn't be completed if I didn't conquer both ends of the British mainland. I have been to John O' Groats, the most northerly settlement of the mainland Great Britain. Okay, I lied a bit actually, I was almost there if not for my journey being hampered by my lack of understanding on the weather forecast and my fascination on searching for the elusive Loch Ness monsters, thus by the time we packed up our camping gears and want to travel up north, thick highland fog smoldering the road, making the journey a hazardous one. I was just short by a few miles away from that glorious achievement. The most northerly point I've ever traveled so far in that mainland was Inverness, a small town with its inhabitant so friendly they treated us as if we were their mythical Gods. With a bit of frustration, I have to turn back and got stuck in Loch Lomond for another camping adventure.

Anyway, the opportunity to visit the Cornwall district, where you can find Land's End and the scenic St. Ives came at last. I was posted to our sister office in North London after completing my study. In a way, having several offices scattered through out the globe has some rare advantages. If you are, for example one fine day submitting your report a bit late than usual, and you boss in Kay El wanted to have a word with you, a good excuse can always save you for the day.

Big boss : "Sam, come to my office please...Now please!"
Sam : "errr...sorry boss, I can't.
Big boss: "Why not?"
Sam: "I am moonlighting in our London office at the moment sir, and you are the one who send me here in the first place."

From this office in London to Cornwall, is about a full one day journey by car. Travelling in UK was a pleasant one. No intention to belittle our beloved country though, but their signage and road system were so driver's friendly. Even with an outdated map that I bought from a car boot sale for 10 pence and my untrained but trusted co-pilot on my side, I could drive with one of my eyes closed and yet I could still find TESCO parking lot in Penzane. But I would like also to give credit to our local councils who are really working hard in making our road an enjoyable experience. New roads and highway being built at the same rate they change their sim card on their handphones. Do you know that DUKE, the new expressway is one of the only two roads in Malaysia that used rubber scrap as part of their mixture?

Anyway, my trip to the district of Devon and Cornwall has been a memorable one. Along the way we passed the Stonehenge in Salisbury plain off the A344, a megalithic ruin worship by the pagan long time ago. As usual, being an amateur photographer and not to missed the opportunity, I just spent few hours shooting whatever that fancied my eyes. We spent a night at Dr. Shamsidar's house, a senior colleague who migrated to UK following his British husband, that time residing in Exeter. I continued my epic journey the next day after some heavy breakfast of our national delicacy, Nasi Lemak.

After stopping by at Penzane for stocking up fresh ration, we continued down south. Finally we reached Land's End, the most westerly tip of the Southern mainland. Frankly speaking, there was nothing much to do here. There was a tourist center and an old hotel. The only thing you can do here was to feel the cold Atlantic breeze on your face and to snap few photos for you album. That's it.

My significant half being an ardent fan of St. Ives perfume and talcum for several years, persuaded me to re-route our journey to another beautiful place in the Cornish land, St. Ives, since it was only a few miles up north from the Land's End. St. Ives turned out to be a much interesting and a more beautiful place to visit. It was hard to find nice sandy and golden beaches in the mainland. (No...I didn't mean those bunch of crazy bitches who flashed their thong and g-string at you after gatecrashing in few pubs on every Saturday night). St Ives was a fishing village with a nice coastal line and a town that can offer travellers so much adventure. And I found the best scone ever here.

p/s: Sorry guys. I don't have many picture of Land's End to share as most are in 35mm color slides. And I have sold my slide scanner :(

Our nomadic mode of traveling has introduced us very close to the nature. There were many camping sites like this one through out the UK. With a mere 3 pounds you can pitch up you tent and rumble from dusk to dawn.At last I found my Nessy. In the background was the mythical Loch Ness. Loch Ness monster was not so hard to find after all. As evidence in this picture.

St. Ives harbour with her scenic town. I wonder why the sea look so greenish in color. Probably my polariser filter has fooled my eye.A beautiful sandy beach near the harbour of St. Ives. Locals and tourist packed the beach and some even had a dip in the chilly water. Even though it was summer, but the subzero stream from the Atlantic can give you a hair-raising goosebumps.Many souvenir shops like this one lined the pedestrian along the coastal area. As usual I got my fridge magnet and some postcards for my collection.I was not sure whether those people who were admiring the scene and enjoying a breeze coming from the sea, were locals or tourist alike. But it seemed to me everybody was really engrossed with their surrounding, they didn't really bother whether you are an alien from another planet. For some, sign board is just an object of some rhetoric or ceremonial symbols. Just like a "no smoking" signboard in many restaurants which doesn't catch nobody attention. Even a cool guy like me, this utterly ignorance has really pissed me off. Tarak sekolah ka?
Small alleys like this has many surprises for uninitiated and seasoned travellers. I found a small cafe in this alley. And their scone was the best so far.

(scone = British bread of Scottish origin. Normally eaten with clotted cream and strawberry jam.)

03 January 2009

My honeymoon in the land of fish and chips

Since my movement is very limited now and my world is only confined within my house and the vicinity of my zen garden. My "uzlah" has given me ample time to muse over my yesteryears, especially during my jihad in the far land - the land of football and weather forecast is a popular chat line.

I spent several years in this small city, in the northern part of the UK, The city of Durham, Land of the Geordie and big castles. A small city off the M1, used to be a coal mining territory not so long ago. We can still smell the strong and hard stench of coal fuming out from the chimneys if we stray a bit further into the many remote and scenic villages scattered along the valley.

Whether I was too smart or it was just a pure luck, I actually got several calling from the Alma maters over there and across the continent. I didn't fancy to go to the cheese and tulip land simply because cheese is not my staple food and i was too worried that the Dutch soil will be submerged under the water in no time. Even though Durham was not in my dictionary at that time and I have to search the globe for it (mr google was not invented yet that time), it became my playing ground for four splendid years later on. And other Alma maters have really turned me off as the name of my supervisors-to-be didn't sound much like a British at all. No point going over there, spending 12 hours in a plane and what you got was merely immigrants who have just got his/her permanent resident status. Vepeenikee or Veyenthomou...what the heck. I think "karipap" sounds much better than that. hiiiii..hiiiii (with a devilish smile).

So I chosed Durham not because her university is the third oldest university after Oxford and Cambridge, but obviously because Prof. Nick Harris sound very much close to the fish and chip and he did mentioned earlier that his favourite movie were "Mind your language" and "The Benny Hill show". A true Englishman. Such a nice mentor and a good friend at the same time. He was very accommodating and I felt very honored to have that golden opportunity, spending many hours in laboratories which resembled much like a dark dungeon, trying to figure out why the cells in the plants didn't evolved into a human limb. We almost had a breakthrough if not for my sponsor sending a warning letter to cut my scholarship for having my honeymoon too long over there. Hey..how come I didn't have any photo of him. Bugger!

One thing I noticed over the years was how nice the locals treated us as a foreigner and at the same time respecting the difference in our belief. We made many friends along the way and whenever we did something or buy something "thank you love" or "thank you dear" is just a norm with a big and sincere smile in their faces. People will give ways to the elderly and parents with small children. This is something that I missed in our own society, so much so for a "masyarakat bersopan santun dan berbudi bahasa". And in that far land, Zebra crossing is not for a zebra to cross you big head!- for crying out loud.

p/s: this observation was however only apply in places where local (read = British) is the majority. And I hate big cities for that very obvious reason, London included. It sucks!

Durham medieval castle right in the middle of the city center, now home of Durham University College, one of the students collegiates since 1840. On the right is the Milburngate bridge that connects the old city center with an ultramodern shopping complexes.
Durham cathedral at night on the far right. This cathedral has been described as "one of the great architectural experience of Europe". It was built in 1093 and took 40 years to complete. The smell was however so pungent I could only spent no more that 30 minutes inside the building admiring the great architecture.

A popular hang out place for students as it was situated right opposite the main Durham University. The food was terrible, especially compared to other similar pub chains. The usual choice was the 'scream burger' which was lump of greasy meat sandwiched between a stale of bun along with some dry tasteless chips. obviously not one of my choice though. But its beer garden was a nice place for a chat during summer time.

Mr. Urwin and Susanne with their beautiful flower from the Tyneside, are our family friend. He is a big fan of Bruce Lee.
Car boot sales were our past time activities especially during the weekends. An event that other families were also enjoying too. I think half of my scholarship was wisely spent here in getting good bargain for children's toys, antiquity, books etc. The toys were so good it last until today, passed down from my eldest son to the youngest one.
Angel of the North is the icon of Gateshead, a small city in the northern part of Durham. As the name suggest, it is a steel sculpture of an angel, 66 ft tall that was erected in 1998. This photo was taken during my experiment with my newly bought 16mm fisheye lense.Durham market square where the bronze Statue of the 3rd Marquess of Londonderr in the background. Every saturday morning this place becomes very lively with people selling their local produces.

02 January 2009

Now I am talking to myself

What a good start for this blissful new year. A visit to an orthopedic yesterday, has confirmed that I am having a prolapse disc. The back, hip and foot pain that i suffered for the past 3 weeks has becoming an intimate nightmare to me now. The specialist advised me to lay on bed most of the time. Time will heal. That was what he said. Now I am bedridden. Now I feel old.

Looking on the brighter side again, that will give me more time to look back and "muhasabah diri". At the same time I can squeeze my brain looking for some brighter idea for what to do and accomplish this year. I have accomplished some of my short and medium term goals. Some though, will still remain in my dream and some will be kept in the Pandora box- forever. Probably the goal are not so reachable after all. Not because it is not realistic or so hard to achieve, but because some hindrances and external factors such as some nickampooks who can't keep their big mouth shut and spread rumours about you. Even though that is part and parcel of our colourful life, some can really be a pain in the ass.

My long term goal however, looking at the current scenario, will be on its way, smoothly I hope . My golden year spent with my love ones is the one that I will make sure a dream comes true. As time move very fast and waits for no man, the year will come in no time. I just brace myself and get ready for whatever price it may cost. And I don't want to be caught in time again.

01 January 2009

Good bye yesterday

For some, this is a beginning of another year and this new year will hopefully bring some good fortune and prosperity. But for me everyday is a good day. Unit trust consultants will say the same thing except it sounds a bit different and more sweet, everyday is a good day to invest. That was until you find all you saving disappeared and maggie mee become you staple food and nasi lemak become a top priority in your wish list. New year comes and its keep happening again and again whether we are ready or not. Just like the menstrual cycle of a virgin, it will come accordingly and some times you have hiccups every now and then, of which they called it "sengugut". So does our life cycle. Everything that goes up will come down, except our age. Of which reminded me that my another cycle of life is just around the corner.

2009 is just a number. This number probably become very popular with 4-D punters today. Similarly, this number will keep changing as it would normally does. As I don't normally keep a diary and share my intimate moments with other, I tend to remember more of the good things than the bad things. I guess this is normal with others too. Who want to forget the day you received a good appraisal from your bosses and later got promoted (after years of "penantian dan menaruh harapan")?, or who want to keep remembering the day a reckless lady driver with a big "P" on the windshield banged into your newly painted car? Unless something so significant happened, than everyday is still the same day to me. In a way, I think that keep me cool as well. The secret of eternal youth.

I am not Nostradamus, but of late we heard a lot of people making scary prophecies. Suddenly we see shamans or "Nujum Pak Belalang" making revelations and prediction on the future of our coming days. This makes a lot of people, the nasi-lemak-nation become panic, restless, insecure and uncertain. A nasty feeling. But believe me, if we go back to the basic, live within our means and befriended frugality, then this year will become as sweet as the previous years. Yes, I am talking to myself.

Now I have to call my unit trust consultant to top up the unit. Good bye yesterday and welcome tomorrow.

These fridge magnets do not represent my wish-list, or a da Vinci code for you to decipher. It is just to fulfill a request by a blogger friend of mine, who doesn't believe a cool guy like me is having another freaking hoby like this. There you are my friend.

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