Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Don't Bluff Lah!

A true blue businessman doesn't spend half a day surfing the net looking for recipes, or write a blog or two in between. He or she is too busy cutting deals making phone calls to be bothered with little culinary questions such as which is better, balsamic vinegar or rice wine vinegar?

I am not a true blue businessman. That's why I spend half a day surfing the net looking for recipes, and write a blog or two in between. I don't know how to cut deals and I don't know anyone to be making important phone calls. And yes, I bother myself with little questions like carbon steel knife is better than stainless steel ones. And I argue this issue in my head on end as if the fate of the world's culinary future depends on my coming to somekind of decision sooner or later.

The debate in my head could go on and on for days had it not been interrupted by a guy who said a big hello to shake my hand as if I was his uncle who had gotten lost in the 2004 Asian tsunami. I was sitting by myself at a table of an el-fresco restaurant minding my own business drinking my coffee like a law-abiding citizen that I am when this dude of a guy in a shirt that didn't match his tie, neither his pants nor his shoes appeared out of nowhere only to arrest my attention with, you, sir, look like a kinda guy who could make it big in life, success, fame, you name it, you've got what it takes to make it big.

(Haiya, don't bluff lah!)

Since I am not a true blue businessman, I figured it wouldn't kill me if I sit ramrod like a statue and let this guy pitch his sale. I just wanted to see how far he could go with that kind of opening statement. So I put on a face, you know, that surprised look as if you've just discovered you had a nose.

Yes, sir, you have the look. I see only straight away I know you are the one.

Okay, I am the lucky one. Make make feel lucky or better still, you can give me all the money you got, plus whatever savings you have in your bank.

Ha ha ha you are not only lucky but you are also funny. Very good very good. May I sit down, sir?

Eh, you don't know ah! I am not a 'sir' you know. I am a Tan Sri. Just pretending only to be a nobody. Actually I am a somebody, you know.

Is itttt?

Yes, aaa?

So why you say I'm lucky?

You see, sir...

Haiya, there you go again, call me Tan Sri! Tan Sri! Tan Sri! You don't know aaa? I'm a real Tan Sri, you know. You never before met a Tan Sri aaah? I am the real one lah. The rest all fakes one. You don't know aaa? Huh huh huh!

Okay, sir, I go first. Thank you.

Moral of the story:
The best way to deal with crazy people is to act crazier than even the craziest people. And you'd better pray to god you don't end up crazy for real.

Better still, don't bluff people lah.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Angry Middle-Age Man.

It could take me months to figure where it came from but my buddies with whom I used to work on the rig have turned into angry middle-age men. Must have been the food they've been eating or something in the water because as far as I can I remember they weren't like this before and you can bet your left ear that they would be the last people on earth to complain about anything no matter how rough the going is.

At 40 something I don't think it is a good idea to be angry with anything. It's bad for the heart and it doesn't take no doctor to know this. Of course it's different if you are a 20 year old, or 30 something max. In fact I am inclined to believe that it is a good idea to be angry with the world if you are at that age. You may not understand much about what's going on with politics or economy or whatever because being at that age gives you the right to be angry. That way you can be in a rock n' roll band and sing your lungs out protesting about something like oppression, war, famine, corruption, sewage system, bus routes, ugly people, fat people, thin people, cars. You can even sing to complain about the color of the national flag. But at 40 something you had better think about being angry because who knows your heart could just pop without a warning.

Maybe it is part of ageing. You get angrier with the world as you get older. Or you have more things to complain about when you hit 40 something. You start to find fault with everything.

Traffic jam - because the city made such a big blunder planning the routes and putting on traffic lights at places where there should be a flyover.

Rude personnel manning a service counter - because they weren't taught the basics of Rukunnegara.

Mat rempit - because the education system doesn't prepare them to harness their passion for speed in a proper way, or because it is easier to buy a motorcycle than to get a kilo of sugar.

Weather - the world is coming to an end. Too much sins.

Economy - who knows better about this than those politicians in the parliament?

Politicians - a bunch of clowns no better than circus monkey in expensive suits.

Sports training centre in London - might as well build a rig style training centre in the middle of North Sea. Better exposure to extreme weather.

Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka - I thought it has been turned into a museum?

Lina Joy - not my problem.

Article 11 - They should pay more money to roughnecks like us. Yea, yea yea.

I can't write down all the complaints in here otherwise you'd think I am an angry middle-age man too. I am not. I am a laidback 40 something with no complaint whatsover and I am not angry with the world. I am just sitting here watching the clouds passing by enjoying my Sumatran coffee.

Life is good, ain't it?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Turning Christian.

Maybe it is just a trend that will outlive its day but more and more Malay men and women from good Muslim homes are turning Christian at the rate of 1,000 a month (according to a website dedicated to Malay Murtad). There is no way to validate this figure but let's put numbers aside and try to come up with answers as to why Christianity has such a special place among Malay men and women who have been brought up to become pious Muslim but instead, somewhere along his or her life, renounces the religion and opts for jingle bell jingle bell jingle all the way and a patridge in a pear tree.

Let's not talk about Article 11 or Lina Joy or Natrah or whoever because this will only cloud the issue. Let me remind you that this entry is not an open invitation to express your views about issues you feel strongly about, or values you hold sacred. This is not about something that has any connection with the planned gathering organized by Muslim NGOs at Masjid Wilayah this Sunday. This is also not an invitation for you to come in and impress everyone with quotes from the Qur'an or hadith.

Maybe you have never met a murtad in your life. Or talk to one. Let me tell you this. A murtad is just like you and me. He or she could be your neighbor. Or uncle. Or your son. Or daughter. He or she lives in your house. Prays five times a day. Fast during Ramadhan. He or she can even be a graduate of Al-Azhar University with a degree in Usuluddin. He or she doesn't show any untoward sign so you can detect early that he or she is going to crossover. She's got the tudung on almost 24 hours a day. He or she doesn't even have any questions about Islam, especially questions concerning the existence of god. As a Muslim, he or she performs everything that a Muslim is supposed to perform. But you notice something.

You notice that he or she is attracted to the brand of Christianity as depicted on TV. At Christmas time especially, when the TV is filled with Christmas programmes that has snow in it, chestnuts on open fire, sleigh, rudolf the red-nosed thing, santa claus, presents, all-round peace, nice warm houses in the snow field. You too are equally encouraged by these images that without realising it, your innocent child starts to form pleasant images of Christianity in the head. Of course he or she doesn't know that people in the Philippines and the people deep in the jungle of Sarawak or Sabah celebrate their version of Christmas in their own special way and there's no snow involved whatsover. But these images aren't being played out on TV. So your child grows up with this Hollywood version of Christianity thinking 'What a nice religion this Christianity is.' There's snow, chestnuts and all the images he or she grows up with from the day he or she can zip the channels on the remote commander. Even the colors have been streamlined to make the mind think about Christmas and Christianity almost unconsciously. Red and Green. Red and Green. Very nice. Very warm. Very orang putih. And therefore, ada standard.

Maybe my friend who has crossed over to the other side could shed some light as to why she took the road that I should have tried harder to stop her from making that big leap.

Brought up in a strict Muslim family, this friend of mine came to the city with the intention of doing exactly the reverse of what she had been taught to uphold. I don't want to go into the details how long it took her to make that 180 degrees turn but it was fairly quick. Next thing I know she proudly announced that she is now a Christian. And so I said, I am not going to argue with that but just tell me one thing...why?

The truth is, she doesn't know either because it is not the truth that she is concerned with. Neither it is about someone she is in love with. It's not about which is better. It's not about can't-you-see-the-glaring-truth? It's not about One versus trinity. It's not about who took care of the universe if god died for three days on the cross. It's not about Catholic or Protestant or Jehovah Witness or one of those churches you find on the second floor of a shopoffice in your neighborhood. It's not Christianity per se. For cryin' out loud, it's not even about the singing or the midnite mass. She doesn't know. I don't either. Do you?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Three Women And A Man.

Three women are coming to my apartment for lunch this weekend. I am no eunuch so I might as well confess that the very idea of three women coming for lunch is enough to make me all excited inside.

I've got the menu planned out. It will be a perfect lunch date. Everyone will have a good time. To keep it interesting I've even figured out some interesting topics for us to talk about at least for hours on end. I've compiled a list of interesting jokes to keep the afternoon as lively as possible. At the moment I am seriously thinking of learning up a few acrobatic tricks so I can keep them amused even more. Maybe later in the day I'll Google some magic tricks that I can learn up and practise so I can impress them with my skills. I know this will work like a charm among the women. They'll go 'Ohhh you're so clever, do that again.' And I'll do the trick all over again feeling like a circus monkey.

For starters we'll have some rojak, and spring rolls. I think I'll cook tomyam soup. We can have this with udon mee. And some rice. I'll steam a medium-sized fish with ginger, serai, garlic, chili, coriander leave, mint, and some herbs. This will go very well with sayur campur with huge cubes of beancurd and a generous sprinkle of ikan masin. I can lace this with egg. For dessert we'll have sagu with gula Melaka. I need to make sure this is served in nice cute bowls so the colour of the gula Melaka and santan will look very interesting.

I've got it all figured out.

The problem is I need to go pick them up, feed them and then send them back, after my magic trick performance, that is. Oh well, it's worth doing it for Aunt Su and her friends, Aunty Koh and Aunty Chea.

I told you I've got three women coming for lunch at the apartment this weekend. I am excited at the thought of cooking for them and hearing them laugh and puji-puji me with their 'Ooh manyak pandai, manyak baik, apa pasal beloom kawiiiin?'

(Maybe I'm a eunuch afterall.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My First Song.


You've gotta be that kinda people
to see the things I do
You've gotta be that kinda people
to do the things I like to do

Oh yea yea yea
You've gotta be that kinda people

Don't ask me questions I can't answer
I'm a genius in my own special way
you should know better
that a genius like me don't answer questions

Oh yea yea yea
You've gotta be that kinda people

Maybe you and I
we're that kinda people
made for each other
to do the things people don't normally do
like walk in the rain when we've got money for a cab
or have lunch in the park when we don't have money for burgers

Oh yea yea yea
You've gotta be that kinda people

(will continue after this sandwich that tastes like clorox.)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I Was So Bored I Wrote A Song.

How I got this bored is just beyond me. I did everything right to start off a day on a good track. Got out of bed feeling like a teddy bear fresh out of the dryer, all fluffy and ready to go smelling like a box of detergent. Flipped a couple of pancakes. Did a single and a double flip like I was born to do nothing else except to flip pancakes so people can be mildly entertained by my dextrity of adjusting the flame while doin' the flippin' and flappin'.

Did a bit of laundry to create some domestic noise in the apartment just to feel good about having something to clean, and the thought of folding each and every piece of the laundry and stacking them in a neat pile. Not all that many to fold but enough to make me happy. Wish I could fold laundry all day today but I wouldn't want to make the trip to the old folks' home just to get high doing it. I'm addicted to folding the laundry alright, I admit, but I can still control it. For now, that is.

I don't go for the TV when I'm as bored as this because I know that would only make it worse. At times like these, I wish I had something to fix like a broken toaster or a smashed up table so I can mend it using all the tools I've got in the store-room. How long has it been since I last used those tools? Maybe ages ago. I miss the sound of a power-drill, or the grinder, or the electric knife sharpener. I've got to find something to fix. That's the problem with living in an apartment like this where everything is perfect, well almost. It's like being in a hotel where you can't find something to fix. Anything, like a loose nut on the hinges of a bathroom door, or a sliding door of a wardrobe that doesn't open and close smooth because the rollers have been crookedly set against the rail.

In the end I went down to the parking basement to meddle with the engine of a 1990 Volvo but it was kinda dark there, and hot and stuffy that I went back up to the apartment to try out a grand recipe that I had been meaning to do. Halfway reading the recipe I decided Briyani Gam was too much of a hassle to go through just to cook a meal for one. Besides I couldn't think of anyone who I could call over for lunch. I could call up a few blogger friends but I reckon they were busy and Briyani Gam cooked by an inexperienced guy like me would be the last thing they want to take a chance on. In the end I had a couple of sandwiches that tasted more like clorox. Kinda made me wonder what did I put in there to make an innocent sandwich to taste this brutal.

No. I don't sleep when I'm bored because that would only make it worse when I wake up. It would only make me feel irritable with the world and that would be wrong because I've got nothing against the world. In fact I like the world as it is and I have no complaints whatsover with everything that's going on in the world. In fact I love everything that's going on in the world today including wars, earthquakes, fires, plane crashes in Siberia and Pakistan, traffic jam, hunger, corruption, political oppression, Bush, Guatanamo Bay or what have you. I love 'em all and I've got no problems whatsoever with whatever. That's the way with the world and there's nothing I can do about it so I might just as well learn to like it. I don't need something like Yoga or Zen to be at peace with the world. All I've gotta do is accept everything as they are and get on with it. Rude salespersons? They don't bother me none. We are the fourth or fifth rudest city in the world? That's okay by me too because I am not a rude person. I am friendly with everyone, even to the rudest guy in KL. Unless of course he, or she, is looking for trouble like giving me the kinda stare that could make me uneasy. But quite frankly, I'm done beating people, or get beaten. I don't wanna fight no more. I don't wanna throw punches no more. I'm done with it. I don't need to be a tough guy. I don't need to prove anything.

All I need is learn how to write a song. Or play the piano. Or strum a few chords on the guitar. Or blow a few notes on a saxaphone. Or a tuba. Or beat the drums. All I need to do is write a song that goes something like this...

Maybe you and I
we're that kinda people

....wait. Lemme work up a few more lines and then I'll work out the tune to sing it so the band can rock the house down.

Just gimme a minute. I'm gonna write this song if that's the last thing I'll do before I eat another sandwich that tastes like clorox.

Monday, July 10, 2006

It's Hardwork To Keep A Blog Up And Running.

Quite frankly, it's easier to work the rig than to maintain a blog eventhough there's no supervisor to tell you in the face that you'd better write something or he's gonna go see some pencil-shuffling college kids upstairs to have your salary deducted.

I'm beginning to have the impression that once you've started a blog, you'd better keep it going, coming up with something to write about and not leave an entry up there too long as if it is somekind of exhibit for a museum. This is easier said than done. I used to be able to come up with three entries a day, but that was BEFORE I got a day time job. Back then I could just sit in front of the PCs for hours, hopping from one blog to another, getting to know everyone, getting myself used to different styles of writing, and point of views, enlarging my perspective on things I otherwise didn't know existed. But it's different now.

It's hard to come up with something to write about on regular basis. I can't be writing about cleaning the kitchen every now and then unless I encounter something interesting to write about while looking under the sink to wipe out the dust. Something like an angel who got lost and found her way in my kitchen. Something like this won't happen in real life so the chances of something like this will ever get written in my blog is as good as my winning the heart of the only woman I've learned to love.

That's another thing I can't be writing about every now and then. No way I am going to talk about this elusive woman that I've written so much about. There's no more to tell about her unless of course she decides to have a sex change. Now that's big news but I don't think I'd be interested to write about it. Why would I? Why should I write about it when I've had several sex change myself that I've lost count how many times I've been male, female again, male again and female again and now on the road to being a cowboy once again so I can go meet 'em women with flowers in their hair, laughing and giggling on the steps leading up to a room upstairs.

I can't write about cowboy anymore. There's no more cowboy left in me to write about. Whatever's left has outgrown itself into a businessman wannabe. Someone doomed to plunge headfirst to his first failure.

No, I can't write about failure. Everyone loves a winner. We all want to know what does it take to make our first million. Or billion, or trillion since everyone thinks in big numbers these days. It must have something to do with the real value of a ringgit that made people think this way. Maybe the value of the ringgit is shrinking that we have no choice but to think in large numerical. Or could it be that the Indonesians in the country made us think this way about our currency? They talk in millions so in order to catch up, we just thought it convenient to do the same. It made us feel equal. It made us feel good. Feeling rich is more important than being rich.

That's philosophy there and I can't write about it since I am no philospher nor a poet. That's the last thing I want to be. A poet. Maybe it's a good idea to be like William Butler Yeats, so I can meet someone like Maude Gonne. Write a couple of stuff so people can say, 'That's deep stuff, man.' But I know for sure it's not even close to what they are trying to figure in my poem because the truth is, I've just written about something as trivial as how come there's not enough sugar in the country?

I am not an economist to write about something as big as that. I don't read that much to know any better why the country is short of sugar. The way I figure maybe someone somewhere is making money. That's about as far as I can understand about this so I had better not write about it.

The truth is, keeping a blog up and running takes a lot of hardwork.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Don't Go Spoil It All By Saying Something Stupid Like 'I Love You'

You are a nice girl with a nice name and a nice smile that can make me go crazy if you keep being so nice to me because I can't keep myself still having this dinner with a nice girl like you. So before I spoil it all by saying something stupid like 'I love you', lemme order another stiff drink to steady my nerve.

It's hard not to fall in love with a woman as nice as you. Looks like yours is enough to make any guy wanna give up everything he's got to be with you until the clouds turn to cotton candy and to chocolate twice over. I know I would, but the night doesn't last twice as long when you are being with a nice girl like you in a dress so nice that I can't help but think to myself, wouldn't it be nice if you were as mine as my nose so I could hold on to you for as long as I like it to last.

But you are too nice a girl for me to compare to my nose when I could have been a little more poetic to put you up there with someone who had stolen my heart and ran away with it that I can't figure where she is or whether she's thinking of me on a night when I want to be with her instead of sitting here with a nice girl like you talking but not listening, watching your lips moving about as busy as a bee can be but I can't hear a word you're saying.

You must be wondering how come I am being quiet all of a sudden as if a train full of ghosts just passed me by on its way to a carnival where you can go ride anything you want because the carnival is in your head and it will last until you shut it off to tell everyone to go home and come back tomorrow, or when you turn it on again. Afterall it's your carnival.

Let's just hurry through this because you are looking nicer and nicer every passing minute and I can't help but think wouldn't it be nice if the night could last forever so I can just sit here to watch you turn into something a girl as nice as you can be at this hour of the night but this is not my show, neither it is yours, and the guy running this joint has a business to take care of and he has to close for the night so we'd better pay up the check and leave this place to go drink some coffee.

For a nice girl like you lemme tell you this. You laugh loud. At this early hour of the morning it sounds even louder that I'm beginning to think you are not such a nice person afterall and so let's just say so long, good morning, good-bye, I'll call you.

Nice girl.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Terima Kasih, Puan R_ _ _ _ _ _

You may have had bad experience with government servants manning a counter dealing with members of the public like me who had no choice but to be there at Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara to pick up Aunt Su's MyKad.

It is a simple procedure. You go in, obtain a number and wait. But Puan R who must have been sent from up above saw us to figure right away that Aunt Su wasn't in her pink of health to go through the long wait before she got her MyKad. Out of her own intitiative, Puan R must have did something that made our number to come up ahead of others. This didn't please a lot of people but Puan R said the elderly should be given a special treatment. I waited for anyone to complain in my face but no one did. I guess because of the smile and the way I walked. It didn't take a Hollywood film director to see that I had put on a fully exaggerated humility that could have won me at least a nomination, back bent as if I've got 5 tons of weight on my shoulder. It must have been quite a performance that no one, I repeat, no one said anything about us receiving a special treatment.

I walked Aunt Su to the counter and this Puan R smiled and boy, she got the sweetest smile I had ever seen. She looked lovely in her baju kurung, which matched her tudung. She got the name tag on. That's how I know her name. I said, thank you, ma'am. She said, that's okay, your mother deserves this treatment. And that got Aunt Su to start her sales talk. Yes, he's a nice son, still unmarried you know. Haven't found the right one. Gosh, I was so embarassed because by this time, those who waited started to increase the size of their ears to find out every little bit about me.

On the way out Aunt Su said, why don't you marry her?
LOL, why? So you can have as many Mykad as you want?
We laughed so loud in the car that got us rather hungry.