Sun sea sand

Sun sea sand

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lost in Happiness

I hide my sorrow with a laugh,
A smile belies a truthful frown,
You seem happy, the people say,
Yet, deep inside I'm feeling down

I can't negate this dark despair,
Nor easily cast this mood away,
And more, the sadness doubles when,
You say "you should not feel this way".

I can't erase the things I feel,
As words deleted on the page,
How can I ask birds not to fly,
Or tell the storm to stop its rage.

The only thing that I can do,
It works quite well, I can attest,
Is just to smile and let them think,
The sad is lost in happiness.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Boot's on the Back Foot

The moon is still up as I arrive at Padang Astaka on a cool Tuesday morning. Haven't seen the moon in a while, certainly not at this time after I wake - it's usually been while I haven't slept yet.

The moonlight barely lights up the crowd gathered for the first session of Original Bootcamp this November day. Some are seniors from previous months and some, like me, are the new recruits. Remember that word - recruits - as this is a distillation of military training and we're bound by certain disciplinary rules akin to that field.

Okay, so I thought I wanted to be in the army at one time, but being undersized saved me from that. No size restrictions here, though. Discipline aside, the programme (so says the website) takes the best of military training for civilian use in its exercises and drills.

How shall I fare, then, being super unfit, small and suffering from a bum knee? Well, there's only one way to find out.

Warmups jogs, and I'm already out of breath. Then comes the assessment. We have to run a 400m loop and then do 10 push-ups, 10 grunts (pushup position into a jump and back) and 15 sit-ups. Three times.

I'm okay with the body work, but slow right down in the run with a stitch. Finish in the slow-poke section.

Then it's a 1.6km (1 mile) run, eight laps of the marked course. By lap two my knee is hurting, so I walk it. I end up in the bottom quartile, but I'm not too bummed, as I am seriously unfit.

After the session, I head to A&W for a heavy breakfast... yummm.

Day 2, Thursday. Body aches haven't been too severe, so I'm all set. Little did I know...

In groups of three, we attack five activities in one loop, 40 seconds for each manoeuvre and 20 seconds to move to the next station:
1. Deep squats with bags of sand at chest height
2. Squat and jump
3. Squat and lift (bag of sand)
4. Push-ups
5. Jackknife with heavy pipes in lieu of "rifles".
When we finish one loop, we just go on and start another. It's almost never-ending, and I'm seriously out of breath after a short while. Time is added on for everyone owing to recruits' dawdling, not running fast enough or chucking the bags of sand and pipes.

We cheer as a break is called, but we're not done yet. Back to the stations for more loops, this time of 30-second manoeuvres, with the last 10 supposed to be of higher intensity, and 15 seconds to get to the next station. People are wheezing and decidedly whiffy, but we soldier on.

When time is called, we can't just fall about on the ground, though. A jog to cool down, and some stretches, and then we're let off the hook... until Saturday.
Day 3, it's the weekend! And I'm here at the field at 5.30am! I'm starting to think this isn't such a good idea, as I only finished work about four hours ago. I thought it would be easier not to sleep after work, attend the 5.45am session and be done by 7am, rather than try to sleep and trying even worse to get up for a 7am start. Will have to see how this pans out in the weeks ahead.

Today we do more loops. Several cones mark the stops, where we drop down to do push-ups, lie down to do sit-ups and try our best not to cheat in lunges. And run between the stops! I'm panting in a few short minutes, pretending to jog after a while and just wondering when the pain will stop...

Then it's over to the next loop for more running, jumping squats, running ladders and holding the plank position (braced on elbows and lower arm and toes, with abs off the ground).

Funny thing is, when the sessions are over, we are not completely shattered. We can walk around laughing, or skip about (me, usually), and even go off for breakfast and chat. So, obviously, the sessions do not tax us beyond our abilities. It's just that our ability to do the manoeuvres, at a certain pace and of a certain number, is being pushed (sometimes seeming mercilessly). The muscle pain is a testament to that, sure, but I'm surprised that I'm even considering continuing with a jog right after the session.

Well, thankfully that only lasted until I got near the car, as then some of us recruits got to talking, and decided to go have breakfast.

As I reach home replete with the third breakfast in a week, more than I ever get in two months, I consider the past three sessions. It's been okay, I guess. Not too great on my shoes, though, the pair that I've decided to sacrifice for the benefit of Ezanor-kind looking decidedly shabby, and just look at the state of the T-shirt! But, this is good for me, I tell myself. I vow to carry on... and we'll see how the coming weeks treat us.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm A Lamborghini Murcielago

Cute test says:
"You're not subtle, but you don't want to be. Fast, loud, and dramatic, you want people to notice you, and then get out of the way. In a world full of sheep, you're a raging bull."

Quite apt. And I certainly like the yellow Murc.

Which Sports Car Are You? Take the quiz and find out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

This Little Stiggy Went to Market

So the Internet and newspaper world is abuzz that Michael Schumacher was unveiled as the Stig on the opening episode of Top Gear's Season 13.
He's not the Stig. For various reasons, and as qualified by certain news reports -- especially if the writer actually watched the whole episode, not just heard about it from someone who had seen a snippet of the show.

This is part of my current disgust with the world of citizen journalism -- exactly this: quoting without context. This is a long diatribe, so in short: Where impressionable people read someone's self-aggrandizement "column" -- which has for starters been written without regard to basic rules of reporting (my rules are: get it right, get both sides of the story, be unbiased) -- believe what they read and then, to make things worse, perpetuate the repetition of certain bits over the Net. Bits that probably have no base.
A misquote.

Despite politicians' overuse of the word, misquoting people is one of the things completely detrimental to the faith of journalism, but is the easiest for a reporter to do, either deliberately or otherwise. And we make as if it's not a big deal anymore. It's just like using scripture only for your purposes, quote one line and leave the context out -- it validates your point but could be completely off base from your religion. Ah well, I guess I see where the nonchalance is coming from, else The Bard wouldn't have written "The devil can quote scripture for his purpose". I really despair at how people will believe the first thing they hear. How stupid can humanity get?

Okay, I'll save the diatribe for later. Anyway, here's cutie-pie Schumi Bear. Wish I had a Stiggy Bear! A note to Top Gear, then -- moneymaker!! Stiggy Bear, white racing suit and all.

Here are some good reports on the Stig/Schumi issue, from The Telegraph, The Times (coincidentally also the papers James May and Jeremy Clarkson write for, respectively). And just go and watch the show, especially that last bit. I have.

As for my own conclusions: It's a Top Gear stunt, maybe because Stig's identity was already revealed earlier and they didn't want to kill him off, like they did Black Stig. Hey, come on, white Stig is really smart-looking and is mayhaps even more telegenic than his predecessor. Besides, if they kill him off, they can't really bring back Black Stig, and then, what? Pink Stig? Red Stig? Chartreuse? He'll be harder to match with the cars they're testing.
Besides, Schumi's body language was nothing like the Stig's. And, even I was silly enough to earlier believe that it's all one man inside the suit. I mean, where is it easiest to hide? Behind a mask.
Evey: Who are you?
V: Who? Who is but the form following the function of what, and what I am is a man in a mask.
Evey: Well, I can see that.
V: Of course you can. I'm not questioning your powers of observation, I'm merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.
V for Vendetta

So, live on Stiggy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Channelling French Chic

From black cat to a feline of a different nature, I'm trying to channel the classy dame that is Carla Bruni. Well, not the pose-naked-and-show-the-world side of her, but the one with what people say is a Parisian's natural flair for flinging on some "simple old thing" and still looking tres chic.

Aside from the megabucks brands the French First Lady wears, it also takes a good sense of style to pass as a successful first lady, something I'm not convinced Michelle Obama has much of. The US First Lady is more hit-or-miss, plus look at the way she's sitting, at an official function, at that! Even I know that ladies and princesses don't cross their legs while sitting in public. (This is something I'm trying to channel too, but urggh it's so hard not to fidget.)

I have to get a fashion consultant! Anyone up for the job? Shopping is easy, but creating a style that looks good while also being suitable for your figure is very hard.
Also, in Paulo Coelho's book of short stories, his discourse on elegance elevates it beyond a mere affectation to something that enriches the soul. I agree, but we don't happen to come across examples of elegance too easily. (Although, there are some women in my office who are extremely well-put-together on an everyday basis and whom I try to surreptitiously eye.)
When I was in London, I tried to keep a lookout for those fabled fashionable London girls, but it was so cold that everyone was wearing huge coats. However, I did fall in love with this one girl's bright red trench coat in Edinburgh. Can I get away with wearing a trench in Kuala Lumpur, I wonder?

Friday, June 12, 2009

What Kitty Did

When is a cat not just a cat? No, this is not a Sphinx-like riddle. The answer is pretty common nowadays, with the proliferation of Internet-based social networking sites. Cat websites? Pah, old news and litter box liner. Doggy blogs? Been there, sniffed that.
But a cat is not just a cat when it tweets on twitter with a stream of consciousness that is humorous. Not the boring "meow, meow, feed me" but comments that go to the root of a cat's character.

Having been described as a 21st century Garfield, Sockington's owner is a really funny dude, because he can take what we accept as normal cat behaviour and make it seem like the cat's consciously doing them.

Some stories about Sockington are here, a video here, and a radio interview here.

Cool. And I think those people who diss him are just jealous. It's humour, people! If it doesn't hurt anyone, people should let others be. It also lets people like me live vicariously through another cat owner without needing to have cat hair all over the place.

Of course, I haven't actually looked at tweets by other animals, but I might if they are as funny as Sockington's.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Goosebumps: Final Destination revisited?

Look at this news item and tell me that you're not a little bit spooked: "Woman who missed Flight 447 is killed in car crash", relating to the Air France flight that disappeared over the Atlantic. The woman, who was a tourist to Brazil, had missed the flight out of Rio de Janeiro on May 31 and got a later one. She was killed in a car crash in Austria. Read the story here.
Coincidence, for sure, but also spooky, as most coincidences are.

Oh yeah NOTE: Her husband was with her both times, and he survived the car crash, though injured. That was not played up by the report. I guess he's super duper lucky... or...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Life in Shades of Brown

The sky is more azure, the sea a deeper hue of blues. The pink bougainvillae shines a bright fuchsia. The sun sets in vibrant reds and oranges.
You don't need rose-tinted glasses; brown will do for a vibrant focus of God's colour palette.
The new shades I bought myself for my birthday were great, and the wraparound offered uninterrupted vistas of Tioman Island, where I went to celebrate. It was all good for five seconds, until I dropped them on the floor. And then twice more. I now have "slightly interrupted" vistas due to the scratches. Sigh.

Monday, May 25, 2009

What I Did On My Holidays

Since it takes me forever to update my blog with funny, insouciant takes on life, including such things as my recent UK holiday, here's a quick recap of how things went.

May 3, Sunday: Take off at 5pm in Malaysia, arrive at 11.55pm local time, Stansted Airport. Having not been to many really busy airports in the past oh, seven years, I'd forgotten how crap waiting can be. Rush out of the plane, only to have to wait for the rail shuttle to the main terminal. A small two-carriage shuttle means a long wait for the packed commuters on our AirAsia X flight not to mention other planes arriving at around the same time. Another wait to clear Immigration – look at the lines for UK passengers! And a snaking queue for non-UK and non-Euro visitors, luckily I was a ways way up front. Hi there, I'm here for a holiday, not to overstay, yes here's my ticket home, thank you! Bag's waiting for me on the carousel, cool, and I exit to find Carl (right) waiting for me. Easy enough to spot him, he's not changed at all in 11 years, and he says neither have I.
Exit airport into the cold – 7 degrees Celsius it says: a warm welcome by the British weather – and Carl faffs about a bit looking for his car. I guess he could do with a pedestrian satnav. We find his Aston, get in and the car satnav says getting to his house will take one and a half hours, which doesn't take into account some diverted roads, a few U-turns and a stop at a kebab shop because the little one is a bit peckish. We get to his house on Abbey Road near 3am, he gives me a little tour of the place, we polish off the kebabs, decide who gets which bed (I take the guest bed in the second-bedroom-cum-dining room) and go to sleep.

May 4, Bank Holiday Monday: Despite not sleeping on the plane in the 13-hour flight, I'm up by 6am. Go back to sleep, up again at 7, then again at 8ish and 9ish. Go bug Carl by jumping on his bed, but he wants to sleep some more, so I make myself some breakfast by toasting crumpets in the oven and smoking out his kitchen. Tea and telly, then a shower and some Internet surfing until Carl feels ready enough to face me and the world. Luckily he doesn't have to work, so we go out walking in London, even though it’s a bit cold and rainy.
Tube to Bond Street, then hours and hours of walking, stopping for pictures, food, coffee and hot chocolate (and ice cream) in a meandering route – past the shopping areas, Carnaby Street, Soho, Chinatown, Piccadilly Circus, (he points out Trafalgar Square but we give it a miss as I’ve been there, and there are no more pigeons to feed) the Mall, St James’s Park, Buckingham Palace (above), Westminster Abbey and South Bank. Take pictures of the London Eye but don’t bother to go up, cuz it takes forever, walk along South Bank where there are many unemployed people playing at being statues and artists trying to make a living, have a cotton candy, end up at the Tate Modern, where we had tea but no cultural revelations as the place was closing.
Cross the river and walk aimlessly some more, decide not to try to go back to his place before the start of the evening’s Jack the Ripper Walk, so sit in a coffee shop (more hot chocolate for me and a choc au pain) and then walk to Tower of London, which is closed, for the start of the London Walking tour outside the nearby Tube station at 7.30pm. Walk hosted by Donald Rumbelow takes us from the original City of London to the East End, ending at Spitalfields (formerly a hospital, then a market, now a high-end market-y place). Little Devil sees a Routemaster, has to clamber onto Routemaster (of course) then we go home, discover I’ve had my pocket picked (crummy!), Carl goes out for a bit and brings home fish and chips for supper.

May 5, Tuesday: Carl has to go out of London for work, so I have to entertain myself. Meet up with my friend Az’s youngest sister Azyan Syahira, who’s studying at LSE. Meet at Baker Street Station, she’s worried that she won’t recognise me, but it’s okay, I recognise her as she’s also friends with my youngest brother Emirin and I had seen a picture of them with some other friends on holiday in Austria. Deliver her goods (Maggi mee and three-in-one Milo) and have brunch. She has revision class as she’s taking her final exams, so I’m off after a chat.
End up on the shopping street again – Selfridge’s! My calling! – but I’m too skint to buy anything. Wipe up drool and head out again, go to cheap store Primark but don’t find anything I fancy, end up with a hot chocolate and decide to go to Notting Hill to look for the house with the blue door in the movie or the famed Portobello Road Market.
Wander around – I’m not lost, the market is that way, or is it this way? – until my feet ache and find the road nonetheless. Not that many sellers on a week day, but it’s okay. Look in the window of some shops, then end up at a shop selling Malaysian food – samosa and karipap, but the teh tarik is a bit sweet. End up buying shoes.
Then it’s back to Piccadilly Circus to have a bit of cultural adventure… what shall I watch in my first theatre experience? Too many to choose from, gah! So I go for the safe Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Such a cool performance, from the stage-set point of view. I’ve only been to one theatre performance in Malaysia, at the Istana Budaya, and I’m afraid we still have a long way to go. It ends near 10pm and walking out of the theatre, into the crowd of other theatre-goers, gives me a weird feeling of culturalness. Tsk tsk. Cheap thrills. Back to Carl’s place to pack for my journey to Bristol to see cousin Rozi.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Going to X-tremes

The Little Devil is going to the XTerra off-road triathlon in Kuantan this June. To watch, of course. But, who knows, I might be next in line to join up!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A Passing: "Apai Star"

Just to remark on the death of Star newsman Rapaee Kawi, known to the world press as Apai Star. Known to me as Apai, too, though we had only met twice – at the Kapit rafting assignment in April of 2008 and the Miri Jazz Festival a month later. Here is a picture of Apai (rightmost) in Kapit with me and Johnson Yong, a reporter based in Sibu.
No details so far on what exactly happened, just one posting found here.
Sad day. Sad day indeed.

UPDATE
: Read some more words about this very nice man: Goodbye to The Star's Veteran adventurer and in the Samosaurus Chronicles here which also has a nice picture of Apai as a young paratrooper.
Apparently, Apai died while having his blood pressure checked, after complaining about feeling unwell.

More notes on a good man found on the Internet, and hopefully they offer a balm to Apai's grieving family.

I did not know him too well, having only met Apai twice. But, honestly, I thought he was nice. Yes, he talked a lot, as mentioned on the Net by one his friends, and as mentioned by a few people after I first met him in Kapit. In the picture above, Sarawak Tourism Board's Gustino has an early story-telling session with Apai at the hotel before we set out.
And Apai had the tendency to tell the same story over and over no matter how many times he had told it... to the same person. But I never got the impression – and this was important to me – that he was ever mean-spirited. And you know what, never had he mentioned what would have been the crowning glory of his career – the Everest assignment – unlike some people who would have sneaked that fact into a conversation five minutes into meeting someone new.

And, above all, what struck me about Apai was that he seemed to love his job. Yes, he was complaining a bit about doing two jobs while being paid for one, as he was doing both still photography (and writing) and videography for his employers. Nevertheless, he was still toting both still and video cameras around, and wanting to do a good job. The Kapit assignment where we met was not his first raft race (I was a captive audience for stories about his past assignments in the six-hour boat ride to the longhouse), but he still did it when others without that drive for news would have passed. And for a jaded newsman going on the same assignment he had been on before? "Been there, done that, wake me if something interesting happens" would most likely be the mantra – certainly not as seen in the above picture of a hatted Apai in probably his most usual pose: With a camera to his face.

I suspect he loved news gathering, and would have loved being defined by his dedication to it and being remembered fondly for it. It's something we can all aspire to.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sinusitis in Spring: We Need Plasticine Flowers

As hay fever or allergic rhinitis is associated with runny noses, sneezing and itchy nose or eyes, I think I was suffering from sinusitis, though I have no idea what prompted the flareup (could be a virus). The swelling (it's the swelling of the sinus membranes, apparently) later moved to the bridge of my nose and the pain sort of ebbed and flowed. It was worse on the plane back to Malaysia, maybe because the air was dry or the infection was getting worse. As soon as I got off the plane, the pain lessened, and after taking one antihistamine pill, the swelling is all gone. Yes, there is much to be said about going to a proper doctor for antibiotics, but from my last experience and some Internet reading, doctors can't really tell what causes such infections anyway. Might as well self-medicate.

Apparently sinusitis can be caused by other things and not stuff floating around in the Spring air, but hay fever is definitely caused by Spring. Anyway, this brings us neatly to the plasticine garden mooted and created by Top Gear's James May (helped by many, many others) which opened at the Chelsea Flower Show today. It didn't win any gold medals (apart from a gold one made of plasticine, which I'm not sure was ironic or a thumb to the nose to his idea). Nonetheless, it's pretty cute (it's part of another TV show on toys), and obviously the Royal Horticultural Society thought their gardens needed a bit of stirring when they approved his idea. Of course, that hasn't stopped people sniffing in disdain (and not due to hay fever) as the garden has no live plants. You can see his interview with The Guardian below.


Anyway, I wish I were still in the UK, as then I could go and see him (refer to past infatuated post James May, the lovey). I had intended to be in London and stalk him for a bit (or even Fusker, for that matter), but I ended up going shopping instead. The closest I got to stalking him was taking the tube on the Hammersmith line. Ah well, maybe next time.

Read some of the stories on the plasticine garden here:
Award; Gaining interest; Picture gallery; and of course, the links to car matters: his appeal for help using plasticine and the resulting plasticine Porsches (some are so cute, too).

Thursday, May 14, 2009

It's Spring in the UK: My Nose Says So

There have been some lovely sunshiny days here in the UK and flowers are in bloom. Aside from the obvious spectacle of colourful darling buds of May in well-designed flower beds and even sprouting from cracks in walls, I think the other hint that Spring is in the air is the fact that my sinuses are acting up.
I didn't realise this was happening earlier in the holiday as I gingerly touched the bridge of my nose and wondered what sized pimple could be causing this amount of pain. I didn't immediately think of sinuses or hay fever as I had no symptoms of sniffles, blocked nostrils or throbbing pain in any of the sinus regions. Just a slightly swollen nose, which was not even that obvious.
After a few days and no sign of a mega volcano pimple, I remembered that I had suffered a sinus blowup once before. That incident was – I think – accompanied by some other pain, which took me to the doctor. Thing is, I don't remember when this incident happened or what the weather conditions were like at the time (part of the adventures of a nomadic lifestyle, but that's another story), so I can't say with any authority that I am allergic to pollen. Just a bit funny that my sinuses are acting up at this time, unless I am allergic to the cold weather.
My family has intimate knowledge of hay fever, with the silence of the day punctuated by the (really) loud sneeze of a nose irritated by dust or changes in temperature. However, I had never noticed sensitivity to flowers on my part. Malaysia has no particular Spring season during which ad houses work overtime to attract allergy sufferers to their clients' products. In areas with four seasons, the time of frenetic bee activity and technicolour landscapes can be a complete misery to some.

I suppose the problem is so big that a kiddie story book on fairies my cousin Rozi bought for her daughter Aiesya even mentions one fairy school student who wants to be a flower fairy but can't because she suffers hay fever. (Happy ending though as the book's main character gives her fairy friend a hanky with a magic powder that clears up the hayfever. I wasn't reading the book... really. I was just looking at the pictures.)
Though there is no cure for hay fever, there are many suggested ways to reduce the symptoms, and I guess any kind of help is a godsend to people who dread the coming of Spring. Anyway, I didn't really give my nose much thought as the holiday proceeded as it wasn't bothering me that much, apart from hurting if I accidentally touched it. It wasn't even bad enough to seek medical treatment so I just enjoyed the wonderful colours of the English and Scottish countryside we drove through and sometimes stopped at to take pictures.

The pictures are: London's St James's Park (first four shots) where Carl and I walked through from The Mall to Buckingham Palace on our foot tour. Quite a nice park, though we did not really linger due it being a wet-ish, cold day and the fact that the little river/pond thing is being dredged or cleaned so there was not a lot of water for the ducks and other fowl to play in. Cute squirrels, though, one of which was just about friendly enough to come looking for food from an outstretched hand.

The two pictures below that are from the Pavilion Garden in Buxton, which is part of the Peak District (mostly of hills and caves, and where the Exeter Climbing Club went for a weekend of merriment and rock climbing all those years ago).

These last pictures are of the grounds at Haddon Hall, a manor house in Derbyshire dating back to the 12th century (with additions over the years). Cool place to go and have a look at what life could have been like in those and Tudor times (with a documentary shown inside). The award-winning garden features tulips in various (and unexpected) colours and a romantic rose plant growing up to a window which reminded me of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (it just does, even though the story has no mention of roses). There are also many wildflower meadows (left alone aside from some needing to be furrowed to loosen up the earth), which gave Carl the idea that he needn't bother to tend to the garden at his house in Portsmouth, and just label it a wildflower meadow.

Cool, I'd do that too, in Malaysia, and call it a lalang (weed) meadow.

And though I have no pictures of daffodils, I'll include here Wordsworth's poem, I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud, because of the cheerful imagery of a fieldful of yellow flowers.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazedand gazedbut little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Little Devil in good ole Blighty

I'm flying to the UK on Sunday. Hopefully I'll be motivated enough to update my blog as interesting things happen, else the pictures I take will die the same death as the thousands I downloaded to my PC and forgot about.

Can't wait!

UPDATE May 4. Arrived at about 11.25pm last night local time, 5.25am in Malaysia.
Slightly groggy and lightheaded cuz I did not sleep throughout the 13-hour+ flight. Usually can't sleep on planes, trains or buses anyway, and decided to stay up so that I'd be tired on arrival and be able to sleep, thus reducing this jet lag business.
Flight was alright. Pre-booked meals means I got one nasi briyani just after take-off and a nasi lemak about 3 hours before landing, and two small bottles of water. Ended up ordering another bottle of water and a hot milo (it's a looong flight), and as it was dehydrating.
Also bought the entertainment package for another RM30, where you get a portable player with 6 movies, about 8 comedy/drama serials, music and games. Ended up watching four movies - Shopaholic, Bride Wars, Ice Age 2 (umpteenth time) and The Reader (OMG sooooo sad, I bawled my eyes out, and I didn't even cry for Titanic), some two hours of light TV and played some games, though the only thing I liked was Sudoku.
Not bad for RM30, but if you're stuck on the same flight plan in the same month, you might not be too keen to be entertained on the return flight. Titles on the player change every month, so if you're lucky you'd get something interesting. Too bad about the TV series plan, cuz you'll get random episodes of random shows - there was one Season Nine show of CSI, one Fawlty Towers, How I Met Your Mother, The Office (UK) and The Simpsons, among others.

To be continued. Going out to walk around London.

UPDATE May 6. Going to Bristol to visit my cousin Rozi. Just a short note on where I've been staying these past three nights. The flat belongs to my friend Carl, and it's absolutely darling. I especially adore the French door out into the garden only available to the two ground floor flats. Love it love it. Here are the pictures.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Channelling My Inner Cat

Meow. Or rather, wrooaaaarrrrr, with the accompanying swipe of the paws, as the little devil took time out to wiggle her butt (and tail) at the office dinner. The jungle-themed do was held at The Courtyard, a detached house turned business along Jalan Dungun (Damansara Heights), quite a nice place, though the food wasn't spectacular. What was spectacular was the effort some of the staff made to come in costume.
Look at the picture, don't I look like a real panther? Ok, maybe not that picture. This one, then, with the boss's driver who rented a gorilla costume (and won 1st prize).
First I thought I couldn't be bothered, then I thought I couldn't afford to buy anything to make a costume, and in the end, the night before the dinner, in the downtime at work while waiting for pages to be cleared, I printed a cat mask and stuck it on stiff paper. Purloined black ribbons threaded to make a tail, and Voila! with a black top, black tights and black boots: Panther Girl. Won third prize, too. Purr.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Beat Me, Leave Me

Would you, a guy, beat a girl? And would you, a girl, stay if you were beaten?
Following Rihanna's beating [allegedly] at the hands of her boyfriend Chris Brown - he was said to have slammed her head against the window of his car, beat her with his fists and locked her in a choke hold – and their subsequent reunion, a survey of 200 youngsters in Boston found that nearly half of them said she was responsible for the beating. Most of them said arguing was normal in a relationship and fighting was also acceptable. See here for the report.

Unbelievable? Truly.
I have always said that I would be strong enough to leave an abusive partner. I did dump a guy after he left bruises on my arm (long story made short: he was trying to stop me from exiting the car), but that could just have been the final straw that broke the camel's back in an otherwise dying relationship. And I hate liars, as that is another form of abuse - of my trust and of the relationship. But I have never been faced with a really abusive partner, either physically or mentally abusive, and I don't really know whether I would be as strong as I think I should be.

Hearing stories of friends and acquaintances facing some kind of abuse or other, also begs the question: Do I just see it differently? One girl was dragged (on her face) from a moving car, and she did not immediately leave, not to mention lodge a police report for causing hurt or attempted murder! And another's husband belittles her about her (non-existent) excess weight and so-called barely there boobs (she does so have boobs).
So is it not abuse, then? Are my perceptions so skewered that I'm mistaking love and caring for trying to kill someone - or their spirit?
Can we even call it kitty love - just like how a cat can cuddle you one second and scratch you the next - and say it's okay if people do the same? [Although this is the premise of Marley & Me, that no matter how terrible the dog was, he was loved anyway.]

So is it all about love and forgiveness?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Explore Me

Renowned anthropologist Helen Fisher, PhD, author of the new book Why Him? Why Her?, says people fall into four broad personality types — each influenced by a different brain chemical — the Explorer, Builder, Director and Negotiator.
Her traits on the Explorer sound exactly like me!

The Explorer:
You know the type: Explorers crave adventure and are willing to take risks. Highly curious, creative, energetic, spontaneous, they have many interests — from hiking and spelunking to theater and reading.
Famous examples: John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, Angelina Jolie.
Under the influence: The Explorer's behavior is largely affected by the brain chemical dopamine, which is a key player in our experience of pleasure and novelty.
Longs for: A playmate.
Bonds well with: Other Explorers.
If you are an Explorer: My advice is to go slowly. Because you're so impulsive, you can get romantically involved too fast. And because you hate confrontation, you risk bolting from a relationship that could prove fantastic. If you find someone you are genuinely interested in, check your inclination to go out with others, and focus your energy on him or her.
If you're dating one: Be prepared to live this romance one day at a time. Remain flexible, and know that for your partner, "dullness is a misdemeanor," as novelist Ethel Wilson astutely put it.

Other personality types are The Builder: Typically conventional, these women and men are honorable and loyal; cautious without being afraid; calm; social; popular; and good at managing people, networking, and building family and community. Drawn to schedules and rules, they are also detail oriented, thorough, conscientious, and dependable. Longs for a helpmate. The Director: Analytical and logical, straightforward, decisive, tough minded, focused, and good at rule-based and spatial skills like mechanics, math, and music. They also tend to be ambitious and competitive, as well as emotionally contained, even aloof. Yet these are the men and women who rush into a burning building to save a stranger. Longs for a mind mate. The Negotiator: Imaginative, intuitive, empathetic, and emotionally expressive, and have good verbal and social skills. Most strikingly, these people see the big picture with all the options. Longs for a soul mate.

So now that I know what personality type I am, I'm going exploring for my explorer mate!

As seen on Oprah at www.oprah.com/article/omagazine/200902_omag_love_match

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kata hatiku

Kadang terasa pelik... apa yang nak disampaikan tak terkeluar dengan kata-kata... lantas perantara digunakan untuk menyampaikan hasrat dihati... agaknya lebih selesa berbicara menggunakan perantara atau pengganti bicara.
Itulah yang diluahkan oleh seseorang pencipta lagu... disertakan dengan melodi indah dan merdu bagi menguatkan lagi erti lagu berkenaan... menjadikan lebih bermakna bila diluahkan atau dinyanyikan.

Kata-kata seorang pujangga. Benar firasatnya itu. Andainya aku tidak mampu merangkai kata yang lebih indah dari puisi di dalam lagu, harus ku utuskan sahaja lagu itu sebagai bicara hati.