Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Please, Sir, Could You Slaughter This Chicken For Us?

1ST DRAFT - World Without Men.

How am I supposed to tell Aunt that Bilal Rahim (not his real name) won't slaughter our chicken today and how am I supposed to enjoy chicken curry if this chicken is not slaughtered first before Aunt can boil it to remove the feathers, cutting this poor bird into bite size so she can work on it cooking it in a pot so we can all have a nice chicken curry for lunch and knowing Aunt, she'd fry the drumstick for me, the same kind of drumstick you see people in the movies eat on a grand table watching fire-eaters and magicians perform their tricks for the kings and queens.
Take your chicken back to your house of sins and don't ever come back to ask me to slaughter your chicken ever again, you hear? So you are not going to slaughter this chicken for us today? Don't you understand, stupid boy! No! Go home, before I chase you with this parang!
I am walking home holding the chicken by the legs with its head dangling a few inches from the ground. I am thinking while trying to remember everything about the things Bilal Rahim has just said about our house being the place of sins and I'm thinking what it all means and how to tell Aunt the same way it was said by Bilal Rahim complete with the part he'd chase me with the parang if I stayed a minute longer holding the chicken, standing by the steps of his house hoping that he'd slaughter the chicken for us since he's done it for us countless of times that I forget how many of our chickens have died in his hand. One thing I know for sure that Aunt won't be happy with me and she'll probably start on me with being stupid in the head to come home with the chicken alive and healthy and how is she going to cook this stupid chicken if it is alive and healthy because you can only cook chicken if it is dead and all dressed and cleaned.
I can let this chicken go and tell Aunt that it got away and I've tried to chase it but there's no way I could get to it because it is the fastest chicken in the village and it might take someone who can run faster than me to catch it back in. Knowing Aunt, she'd say, you are coming with me to help me catch it back in. And she'd put on her selendang panjang, to cover her face with it in a half coil to expose only the part just above her nose, eyes and forehead. And we'd walk every inch of the village looking for this chicken and everyone in the village will say, look at those two, looking for the chicken as if they've lost a pot of gold. And my friends may start to tease me the next day calling me, chicken chicken chicken, or something like that.
I am walking...

Monday, January 29, 2007

It's Gotta Be Written.

This story has gotta be written.
It's a story about Aunt.
About me.
Growing up with her.
A single mother who gave me food, clothes and shelter.
And love.
In this story, there's Grandma and Cousin too.
Three women who raised me
In a house I was the only man.
A child.
Pretending to be man.
To punch the nose of grown men who made fun of her pulut panggang, nissang pulut, coklat nissang, and nekbat.
To walk with her, peddling kain batek Jawa.
And gold.
I called her Mommy all my life
not knowing that she was Aunt
until someone told me one day that she wasn't my real Mommy
but in my heart she was more than a mother.
The best mother I could dream of.
This is my story,
dedicated to all the single mothers in the world.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Different Kinda Blogger.

Like PC and Mac, BMW and Mercedes, Burger King and McDonald, the blog sphere is also made up of two different worlds. On one hand you've got bloggers who write about serious issues like politics, economy, socio-political (I've just learned this up) and stuff that shake and move the world. These are bloggers who'd get easily excited if you disagree with them, calling you names and things people usually say to each other before punches start flying, or before you stick a knife deep into their chest right below the plexus.
On the other hand, you've got bloggers like me, ordinary folks writing about things people like me get excited about. You know, small stuff like onions, garlics, pots and pans, or how to best cook your bee-hoon if you don't have the fish sauce made in Thailand. Or can I use the Gurkha kukri to slaughter a cattle, will it cut as well as the slaughter knife I bought from a butcher in Sydney.
I've learned during the last couple of days that bloggers from one corner of the blog sphere don't mix with those from the other corner. Their worlds are poles apart, and they don't laugh at the same thing. And you can bet your middle finger that they don't cry over the same thing either. Bloggers like me are not so concerned about this so-called freedom to express oneself because as far as we are concerned, we can very much say anything about onions or garlics without offending anyone especially the government. Name me one government in the world who gets easily offended if its citizen talk about onions and garlics and I'll show a very insecure government ready to go down anytime in a frying pan. We can also say anything we like about how to fry bee-hoon, or what to put it in, including honey if you want to, and you can bet your whole head that no one will be offended by this unculinary course of action, except maybe Chef Wan or Nigella. I bet both my toes that these TV chefs don't have time to read the kinda blogs I've got here and this, my friend, is as good a permit as my driver's licence to say anything I like about anything I can think of.
Of course I've gotta be responsible and accountable for things I say and be ready to be dragged to court if things I say in here can be construed as defamatory or whatever big words they've got in a law book.
Of course bloggers from the other corner of the blog sphere don't see things the way I do since they are from a different world, writing with different objectives, conforming to different values. They don't even use the same words I do. Their sentence structures are more sophisticated and refined. And most of them are university graduates, with law background, or journalists. People who read a lot of books and are still reading a lot more books to make themselves so clever you can't talk to them unless you read the same books they read. They talk in concept but I talk in things you can touch like how to sharpen your 12' chef knife, or a slicer, or what type of whetstone you should use if you want to sharpen your Japanese ceramic sushi knives.
I come from a different world but I made a mistake of stepping into their world for a brief moment because I thought I wanted to understand what was going on. It was a mistake because I realise bloggers from that corner of the blog sphere are short-tempered and they are quick to go after you with impolite words if you disagree with them. I hope we won't meet in the real world because I am not much of a guy who can talk very well and this could only make them more angry. After all people who have nothing nice to say about the government are usually hot headed and they get angry very quickly. I guess they don't call themselves radical hotheads for nothing.
Okay, I'm going back to my onions, garlics, pots and pans, and mountain bike.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

How Far Are You Willing To Walk Down This Road?

Fear comes from thinking too much about what's gonna happen if you do this, or do that, or don't do this, or don't do that. A fearless street fighter doesn't think about all this when he suddenly got the urge to knock your teeth out because you happen to look at him longer than a few seconds. He's gonna go straight to your table to deal with you before he leaves town.

If you're smart, or an experienced bar-room brawler, you'd know right away that when a guy is heading straight to your table looking as if he's got a serious case of indigestion there's a big chance that he is not coming to see you to sell insurance policy or water filter. This is the time to be at your most alert and you'd better put your stronger feet on the legs of the table, ready to push it like a projectile to slam against his thighs, or his hips. If you're lucky the table will slam hard enough to cause serious damage to both his thighs to momentarily paralyze him before you lift the table from your end to smash his body with it, sending him flat on the floor while you push your entire weight on him to crush his rib cage.

Of course the fight could go another way. He may have the first chance to push the table against your chest since you took your own sweet time to get up. The table may slam against your chest to leave you breathless for a couple of seconds. While you double over to catch some air, he's already on top of you to hammer with the back of his fist a spot a few inches down your neck behind your head. This blow never fails to black anyone out cold. If he's good, he'd drive a chopping kick straight down your back along the spine to finish you off. All because you stared him in the eye a few seconds longer, and all because you happen to be at the wrong bar at the wrong time with the wrong friends. It's a foolish reason to get into a fight like this but men have been known to brawl over issues more foolish than this like, my woman is prettier than yours, or why did you stare at my woman that way? Or I've got more marbles than you, or tok mung, ayoh mung, mok mung. When a fight is about to go down, you don't want to end up with wrong friends.

I say wrong friends because if you are with friends who are bar-room brawlers themselves there's a big chance that you can leave all the fighting to them, and stand guard to watch out and stop the onlookers who may feel excited to join the fray. Usually a fight like this will last between 30 seconds to a full minute. Of course in cowboy movies something like this can last half a day, and you can bet your ear that women who wait table in the bar, in their frill skirts and flowers in the hair, to join in the brawl to smash the head of an unlucky guy with a whisky bottle. But this is not a movie and you'd better listen to a guy who has been through this all his life when he tells you to leave the place the fastest you can before the bouncers start on you, or before patrol cars with blue lights blazing and siren blasting start to flock the place as if a party has just started and everyone is invited.
Maybe you have been in a lot of fights as a kid at school, or during your teen age years growing up in a boarding school or some place I've never been like a university. I don't mean to get you all excited to go look for someone to start a fight with but if you ever find yourself in a tight situation, you'd better stop to think for a few seconds what's gonna happen if you decide to fight, or walk away. You may wanna risk being called a coward if you decide to walk away from trouble but in my book it's better to be called a coward than to end up dead somewhere in the gutter behind an alley. You see, a street fight doesn't end like the last page of a book. In fact a fight doesn't end at all. It will get bigger, with the guy you knocked out coming after you with his friends armed with iron rods, parangs, knives and other weapons which they can easily buy from a hardware store like Brazilian machete. Or heavy duty Cold Steel ax that can split open a skull in several pieces. I am no scholar but I believe this is how men get all excited and motivated to spend hours and good money to develop bigger and bigger weapons that can annihilate everyone from the face of the earth. A fight may start with fists flying in all direction, and then it gets bigger with knives, parangs, ax, guns, bombs, C4, tanks, fighter planes, aircraft carriers, nuclear bombs and what have you.
If you happen to know a guy who's into martial art and he's all hot inside to start a fight over simple issues you can bet your index finger that he's just joined a martial class to learn a few basic things like horse riding stance, single punch, inner block or high section block. Most grand masters are people who refuse to get into a fight unless it is a matter of honor such as to defend the modesty of his woman, or religion or things he holds sacred like his head, or his nose.
I believe war is started by a guy who doesn't want to stop to think because he has to win, or because he thinks winning is everything. When it comes to a fight I always ask myself, how far do I want to walk down this road? Being called a coward doesn't hurt me none because it is always better to be a lion inside and a lamb on the outside, than to be a lion on the outside but a lamb inside. Whatever that means. You know how it is, grand masters are famous for being a poet or a philosopher but you can bet your left ear that they are as blur as you with things that sound good on the outside but mean nothing on the inside.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Macho Talkin'

When it comes to macho talkin', mumblin' the words in Italian New York accent, twistin' your mouth sideways, and gettin' even with the bad guys big time, you wanna bet both your ears on Rambo. How can you not put your faith in Rambo when he's got the knife he's famous for. The knife that fired the imagination of every guy who grew up watching all the Rambo movies that he had to get himself one so he can survive anything the world has got going for him, including nuclear aftermath.
It's a knife with a mean looking blade that you can unscrew the butt of the handle to keep in the cylinder, a fish hook, a small knife, a nail clipper, maybe a cologne, or after shave, a couple of tooth picks and cotton buds, a lip gloss, and a needle and thread just in case you need to sew up a deep gash of flesh wound all by yourself in the middle of a tropical jungle somewhere in Vietnam or El Salvador. The knife also comes with a compass that glows in the dark.
Now that you've got the knife you'd also need a wristwatch, a mean looking watch to match your kick-ass knife. What you'd need is a Commando wristwatch. The kind Arnold wears in the movie where he hops on a moving plane taking off on a tarmac, holding on to the landing gear making the whole thing look like a walk in the park, or as if he's having a ball of a time on a swing attached to a tree, or riding a pony in a carousel.
You'd also need a pair of cargo pants, the kind Vin Diesel looks good wearing. Now that you've got all the stuff that tough guys are made of, all you've gotta do is shave your head. Tough guys don't need hair. They are so tough even hair won't grow on them. Of course, you'd need an excellent, round, US Marine kinda head to look good in a clean shaven head. Most Asians don't have a perfect head like this therefore you may want to flat-top your head. This is okay in the 80s but in 2007 people might think you're so tough that you're behind time. Way behind.
Of course the guys who go and get himself all these macho things don't usually have the body to go with the gadgets movie tough guys carry around the way they carry their chest, wrapping it in a white t-shirt two sizes smaller, or a black tank top. But being skinny as a stick is not an excuse not to go ahead and act tough especially when you've got a knife, a wristwatch, cargo pants and a clean shaven head. Never mind if you are as skinny as Wahid Satay.
As tough guys you also need to use a lot of F words to give the impression that you are not afraid for your action and that you can knock every guy in the room with your nose, or your knife, just in case the fight gets out of hand. Of course this all in the movies.
Tough guys in the real world can be quite unassuming. Like my friend who I shall call Kasim Ikan Kering. One look at him is enough to give you the impression that you can knock this guy out flat in 3 seconds with your left hook, or a tight slap. He doesn't have the Rambo knife. He wears a Seiko 5 watch which is about 15 years old. He puts on a pair of crumpled pants he bought from a bundle shop in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. And the shirt he's got on his back is usually a free t-shirt like, Pesta Bunga Kuala Lipis 2001, or Larian Kota Star 1999, or Pasaraya Bintang. Between you and I, he's a Black Beetle champion in Muay Thai and a grand master of Buah Pukul, or you may call it Lian Yunan, or Lian Padukan, or Gerak Lian or Buah Pukul Mersing. I've seen him knocked 3 guys cold with his knees and a swift swing from his elbows to the temple to very nearly dislodge the eyes from the sockets. No, he doesn't speak with Italian New York accent but he's got a twist a little bit in his mouth, a reminder of a powerful back thrust by a navy he fought in Labuan. The navy became his master. That's how he got his black belt in Taekwondo. Now he's into Kali Pekiti Tersia. I'll tell you what it is in another entry.
No, he doesn't use F words. He's very polite and very civil.

Small Time Blog Writer Writing About Big Issues.

Everyone who has been to my blog knows that I'm a small time blog writer who writes about petty stuff because I don't have the brain to tackle big issues involving the government, politics, economy or why the world leaders are so fond of wars and more wars that kill thousands of people not connected with whatever it is that the soldiers are fighting for. I am not ashamed to admit that I have never been to a university to learn a thing or two about anything that people go there to learn; reading books, attending lectures, seminars, discussions, spending years and years poring over big books to research about a lost tribe behind their backyard. And so you ask, what am I trying to do writing about big issues that I know nothing of?
I reckon it won't kill me to talk about big stuff people around me are discussing among themselves, agreeing and disagreeing that very nearly bring them to a fist fight. Quite frankly it would be a great idea to start a brawl when all the talking is done since I'm not all that hot about arguing and defending a point with words. A couple of punches won't kill a guy. In fact it'll do him good. It'll get him all excited, pushing his BP a little bit, making him all hot in the head to forget about being afraid for a second or two, and fight like a man that he is. But none of that is going to happen here at this respectable restaurant since everyone is so civil, defending and arguing their point on an issue as if this whole thing is being taped live on national TV. I don't follow what they are saying because most of the time they use big words that I've never heard of and I don't have the dictionary on hand to go look the words up to find out the meaning. And so I pretend to agree or disagree whenever necessary, trying to look interested as if I know what they are talking about, how an issue can affect their bank account or the way they flush their toilet or something to that effect.
They are talking about bloggers being sued by some big time newspaper company. About freedom and about rights, and more rights and about standing up to your rights like a man. I don't know if you have ever been in a street brawl but if you have like I've been, you'd know better never to trust those who say they'd stand right behind you when the fight is going down because experience taught me that they are the people who run off like a rabbit the minute punches start flying and bottles start breaking.
I learnt enough to know that when it comes to a fight, you are all alone and you've got only yourself to defend. What do you expect from a guy who used to work his way up from a roughneck to a guy responsible to put out the fire when it happens at a rig.
What was the big issue I tried to write about?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Part II - Blogs By Women In Their 40s (Or 30s)

Breakfast doesn't appear by magic, everything neatly arranged by leprechaun slipping through the window in the night to set up the table, to half-boil your eggs the way you like it. To brown your toasts to perfection and line them up in military precision on the toast rack. To cream and sugar your coffee the way you like it making sure that it is neither too hot nor too cold. Butter knife and jam knife set facing north, or south to coincide with your mood, and the folded napkin in the shape of a swan to match the color of your tie, or your handkerchief.
Maybe you have never worked in a professional kitchen in your entire life but this, my friend, is not an excuse to remain ignorant to the fact that breakfast is perhaps, one of the most tedious processes that one has no choice but to do it day in, day out, year in, year out. It's a simple but boring job but someone has got to do it to keep a family up and about since everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And who do you think is the most qualified person to do this job other than women in their 40s? Oh sure, you and the kids would wake up early on Mother's Day to prepare breakfast for her but that, my friend, is only a day of the 365 days in a year. Try doing it for the rest of 364 days and see whether you can still have that smile on your face while flipping a hash brown or a sausage. Between you and the stars above, you might want to suggest that the world should stop celebrating Mother's Day.
And she does breakfast without as much as a complaint in her smile. I've gotta hand it over to the women in their 40s that you, ma'am, have my utmost respect. Salute! Too bad I'm not married to you, otherwise I'd make love to you every time you make me breakfast.
It doesn't take a genius to guess that the person who gets up first in the morning is responsible to make sure that every one's belly is filled with honest-to-goodness, home-cooked, hearty breakfast. And who gets up first in the morning other than the woman in her 40s? (Presumably you don't have a maid that age, of course). Unlike her mother, the woman in her 40s doesn't have to boil water since every middle-class family comes fully equipped with the ubiquitous thermal pot, sandwich maker, bread maker, juice maker and other kitchen gadgets designed with her in mind by men in white lab coats. These items are meant to make the job of preparing breakfast more efficient for all the women in her 40s because every one's in a rush in the morning. You've got a meeting to run to, or an important person to meet, maybe a sales executive in a short skirt and a sleeveless top. The kids have gotta be in school on time. Either you rush things through or get caught in a jam for a good half an hour. She's all over the kitchen, giving orders to the kids, reminding them about a homework or a water bottle with the cap gone frayed, or a shoe lace that went missing in the night. She reminds you about a couple of bills still unpaid but you are too busy to listen, glancing through the sports section of the morning paper.
No, my friend. Breakfast doesn't just happen by magic. It takes planning the night before, the night she finally comes to bed from the kitchen long after everyone in the house is half way dreaming about kings and queens, dragons and castles. And you wonder what on earth she does all day to forget about small things like ironing your shirt or keep the house spic and span. And you say to yourself, women in the 40s are so lazy that they've got nothing better to do other than write blogs.
I didn't say it. You did. I just put the dialogue bubbles and the rest is up to you.
Sorry, Amy, I don't have the experience in flood water rescue. Maybe some aspects of the rescue are the same in terms of equipment and procedures but I don't think I can join the team. Good luck and stay safe, folks.
To be continued...
(668 words.)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Blogs By Women In Their 40s - Part 1

They write about things men in expensive designer suit talking on the phone in a downtown office don't want to read. Things high profile politicians, full-time suckers and hangers-on don't want to think about. They write about domestic things, about their children and dishes they cook on Sunday. Recipes and cakes. About a washing machine that has broken down, or the new fridge just delivered by Courts Mammoth. They don't write about issues those clowns in the parliament in their ill-fitting suits shouting themselves hoarse in the throat debating about things they know next to nothing of. In fact they are not bothered by things like the price of crude oil. They don't write about big issues. They touch on issues men consider remeh temeh. Stuff that don't count as far as the world is concerned. Stuff they do, day in, day out. Year in, year out. You've gotta be half crazy to be able to do this all your life until you are worn out, used up, wrinkled down to the bones, becoming no longer desirable, and therefore as good a reason as it gets for a divorce. I've never been a woman in my entire life to know a thing or two about the kinda stuff women in their 40s write in their blogs. Reading their blogs, however, is like being invited into their house to see for myself what they do, and to delve into their thoughts to know any better about what they do on sunny days, what they like to do on rainy days, or cloudy days, bad hair days, or why they don't want to speak to anyone on days when they are not themselves.
She could be a professional with a degree in Nuclear Science, a Magna Cum Laude, a high ranking senior officer with hundreds of men under her command, running around at the drop of a hat, ready to fulfil her every wish to earn her favorable appraisal for a promotion at the end of the year. She is a powerful person in the office with a mighty fountain pen that can determine the future of a company. You may even see her picture on the cover of a business magazine, being interviewed for her insights into the inner mechanism of a revolutionary marketing concept that can change the way a product gets into the top shelf of a hypermarket.
Or she could be a middle-level management officer with enough power, making good money to afford a holiday abroad for the family, or a foreign-made Multi Purpose Vehicle to ferry the kids to school, tuition classes, Taekwondo, ballet, swimming, piano and Qur'an classes.
Or she could be a secretary taking orders from a fussy pot who calls himself boss. An event manager, a sales promoter. An account executive at an international advertising agency. A dentist. Or a clerk in a shipping office. An army officer, a police constable, or an architect, an engineer, a teacher, a lecturer in a community college, a doctor, or a full-time housewife who has been retrenched because the company she used to work for decided to re-locate to some place cheaper. I read them daily. Keeping track of the up-dates.
(To be continued...)
534 words.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Blogs By Males In Their 40s

Maybe some people can do it but I can't tell by the style of writing alone whether a blog is by a guy in his 40s, or a motherly lady who has a recipe for every dish in the world and the hereafter. When it comes to figuring out the gender of a blogger based on things he or she writes about, I usually rely on my unproven and far from being scientific method of arriving at the final analysis. You may have your own method and I'm sure it is as good as your nose. In fact I have a feeling your method is better than mine but since this is not about who's right or who's wrong I reckon we'd better not start a debate that might escalate into a full blown sectarian violence.
Give me a blog, any blog and I can tell you right away that the writer is male in his 40s and not a matronly housewife who knows how to fix the gear box of a truck. In fact I can even tell you quite a bit about the demographic and psychographic profiles of the male bloggers in their 40s. Like which school he went to. His favorite food. Which hypermarket he drives his missus for groceries. What time he goes to bed. Which side of the bed he prefers to sleep on. What kind of toothbrush he uses from Monday to Wednesday, and from Thursday to Sunday. Who he voted for in the last general election. In fact I can even tell you what he has just had for lunch. Gimme a few minutes I might even tell you his BP, cholesterol, sugar and stress levels.
I know a lot more than I think I know about him. In fact I am surprised myself that I know so much about males in their 40s who write blogs during office hours that I'm inclined to call their bosses to check on them so they can get back to doing what they are paid for.
I even know whether his missus pays the monthly bills on time. And where. Cash, check or card. In fact I may even know his cellphone number, what kind of phone he's using, where he bought it from, and how he paid for it. I know quite a lot about him really. Nothing to it actually if you know the principle I tentatively called, Grump. Now this concept is still in its infancy and I don't want to kelam kelibut so as to give people a chance to take advantage of this concept to call it their own since it is pure hard work and dedication on my part to develop it in a secret location somewhere in the dusty side of Damansara Perdana. Postcode unknown.
Lemme lead you on to an open secret about blogs written by males in their 40s. You can tell it too after you are done with this entry and I promise not to take too much of your precious time since we are all busy people with busy schedule, people to meet and blogs to read, and write.
I don't know whether it is genetic but males in their 40s seem to have more to complain about. Maybe it is work related or something in the water that made them this way but I figure it has something to do with being at the crossroad of entering middle age and looking at the 30s leaving and never coming back. You name it and they've got a complaint or two about anything. About the kind of music the youth listen to, or the clothes they wear. The way people drive their cars to work. The long lines at the check-out counter at the hypermarket. Why the missus is taking so much time to bring dinner to the table. Why the floors are dirty. Why the kids are noisy. How come the government isn't coming to help those who got retrenched? Where the taxpayer's money gone to? How come people are getting fat government contracts when they are completely at sea what the contract is all about other than it is worth a couple of million ringgit. How come there's so many potholes. It is tiresome for me to list them all down but I guess you know what I am talking about. And they also have a complaint or two about the way the missus puts on a dress, or does her hair, or the kind of perfume she's got on. And he also finds women other than his missus prettier, sexier and more desirable. You can also bet your left ear that he's got more female online friends than people he knows at the mosque.
And who they go to when they need someone to cover their tracks?
Who else, Bergen (phone number not included for safety reasons.)
814 words.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Blogs By Big Shot Ex-News Editors & Ex-Journalists.

Lemme hand it to you straight down from the top; you wanna be careful with blogs by people who used to be a hotshot journalist or news editor in mainstream media. Listen to my advice, mate. You've gotta take what they write with a bit of salt, pepper, ketchup, chili sauce, Tabasco sauce, and maybe a dash of lemon juice before you wash it down with the strongest drink you can take without burning your lungs. They wrote great stuff for the government when they were on the payroll and the government loved them enough to recognize their talent with awards and stuff war heroes can only dream of. Now that they are out of the fold to join the blog sphere to sing the Blues in G minor, they write about things that you only talk about among your friends from the opposition party at a mamak stall in hush hush because you don't want to end up in jail for talking about the government behind their backs. And I bet your index finger that the government have a way of finding you out with their extensive SB networks. These guys don't sleep, they work around the clock to keep this fine country safe year in year out so that the tourists coming in for the VMY 2007 can have a good time, smiling from end to end, going around the country snapping pictures as if digital cameras are going out of style.
We've got a senior news editor who runs a blog to complain about everything that the government do or don't do. I used to read his weekly column when he was on the payroll and I taught he'd made senator in no time since he played to the tune of the day dragging Anwar Ibrahim's name through the mud pit. He's singing a different kinda blues now, and he's got nothing nice to say about his ex-master to whom he used to worship now that he got his senses hit by a runaway train head on. Oh well, money can do things to people and I am no exception except that's not how I make my money. I make my money with the smell of diesel, dust, crude oil, sweat and the threat of petroleum fire swallowing me whole into a charcoal.
And now we've got a couple of high-profile journalists coming in to join the blog sphere. It's nice to be able to finally connect with people I otherwise have no way of getting through since they are a different breed of high-class folks who mix around with the movers and the shakers of the society.
It's gonna be a good year for blogging. And I'm excited since there's so much to learn from these professionals that it's like walking right into a writing class and it's free.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I Got Blogged.

Gotta have me a strong cup of coffee to go figure how I got blogged on The Datin Diaries, and how it made me want to start my own blog and how I learnt hard how to write that after a year I finally got the courage to start Bergen Test hoping that no one will laugh at the way I construct my sentences and yes how my sentences can go on and on about a couple of miles without a comma to give middle age readers just enough space for a pause to catch their breath before coming to a full stop.
It took me a year to decide on what to write since I figured there was nothing interesting about my life worth reading and I didn't want to be arrested for keeping people bored to death with entries about a wild night out on a town with the guys, spending all the money on wine women and songs since this wasn't the kind a stuff people my age with a nice family living in the middle class neighbourhood would want to read. In the end I decided to write about the truth, the things I do. Afterall it is my blog and I deserve the right to tell the truth being very careful not to sound arrogant because there is no reason to be arrogant about the things I do since I do what I do and I don't bother no one and I don't owe anyone any money and I am not all that easy to be friend with unless we've gone through the bitter tests one after another.
And so I wrote about John Guling.
And Australian Women's Weekly.
And How To Be A Caregiver.
And things to write about just kept coming and I kept writing, sometimes three entries a day. In most cases I got the entries all lined up on stand-by to be published back to back. It was interesting. All of a sudden I found an outlet to express myself, writing, and telling in my own fashion an event that happened long time ago. And I took up sketching, again. Unfortunately sketching reminded me of my childhood. In restropect it wasn't a bad thing since sketching took me back and forth, journeying through my childhood, my senses fully alert to the vivid details, color, smell, sound and even the pain, and laughter. Names of people long ago forgotten came back. I saw them in my sleep. I saw them when I closed my eyes.
Writing can do wonders to unearth the memories. And if I found myself unable to write a sentence, I'd pick up my sketchbook to draw an object such as a pair of shoes, or a broken toy, a relic from the past, or the future so that I can understand what I am going through today.
I made friends. Fellow bloggers. I even met some of them in real life, something I never thought I'd do. And how glad I was to make that decision to meet them. They are nice people with a big heart. They made me feel good, good to have real people to connect with.
And then I wrote about Catherine.
And that made me lonely.
So lonely that I made Tesco almost my second home.
And then I met her.
And then we exchanged sms and called each other on the phone.
I thought I was in love.
Because I thought she was too.
But I was wrong.
But that's life.
You are not supposed to get what you want.
Life is about living with what you don't have.
And move on.
And write blogs.
And sketch.

Monday, January 08, 2007


An experienced swimmer, when overcome by a sudden cramp in the leg, will stay calm as a corpse ready for a major make over. He will count his breathing sequence, being very careful not to suck in too much water. It is easy to describe this in technical terms when you are on dry land, sitting behind a desk typing away the words on a keyboard. But when your head is bobbing in the water with thundering waves heading your way like a barge, fear takes over everything to make you forget about breathing sequence and you begin to suck in water. And then you start to panic because you need a second or two to regain your breath. In the meantime the water may have found its way into your lungs. And so you flap your arms like a bird losing control of its life. Of course this will only make you lose faster whatever energy you've got left in you. And you suck in more water. Next thing you know your head is under water and everything around you moves in slow motion and the only sound you hear is a faint bubbles of your breath. If you are lucky, someone will fish you out of the water, holding you by the collar of your shirt or anything he can get his hand on, even your hair.
Otherwise you are dead.
I have never experienced being drown in a flood water but it doesn't take the man from the Atlantis to tell you that flood waters are murky and you can't see nothing within a feet in it and it flows much faster downstream.
Stay out of the water. Listen to the warning. Don't take chances with water. Just as you shouldn't take chances with electricity. Watch your kids. It's sad to see a lifeless body of a kid being pulled out of the water with mud all over him.
Stay safe.
How do I know a thing or two about drowning?
The beach behind sekolah China in Dungun wasn't a popular spot for a dip but the four of us got bored watching the big waves and so Mat Rani Tengkok Besi says, sapa berani gi berenang aku belanja makang kerepok. I say, why don't you go first if you are so brave. Mat Rani Tengkok Besi says, aku berenang doh semalang.
Lak dok ccaya.
Ccakak pelawok malaikat kerat lidoh mung buak kerepok keping.
I can't really recall the details of the whole conversation but it must have been one heck of a conversation that went back and forth between the four of us that at the end of it we decided among ourselves to scale the rock to go down to the beach, to take our clothes off, to stand stark naked before the monsoon waves at the mercy of the rain in December 1968. Four boys about to learn a lesson that you don't mess around with monsoon waves no matter how bored you are watching them for hours pounding the beach. You must learn to respect the waves, especially the monsoon waves. And you should learn to respect the water, never to go in naked. Put something on. Of course not kain ssahang but something more appropriate like a swimming trunk or seluor tarzang.
They got in first. I got in last. We were about a few feet from the water edge, staying close to the beach holding each other's hand. You can feel the down waves dragging your feet into the water but you stay firm to let your feet sink into the sand. You laugh. The water is up to your knee during the down run but when the waves come in, the water towers above you triple over. The tail end of the wave knocks you down into the water and you laugh some more. You get up your face towards the sekolah China. You turn around to have another go but you don't see nothing. The whole horizon has been blocked by a giant incoming wave, taller than a school bus. You've got no time to run. The head wave hits you, slamming you down into the water, your face against the sand, dragged for what seems like hours. You can't hear nothing. You don't hear your friends laughing anymore. All you hear is blup blup blup in your ears. You suck in water. You can't breathe. You fight for air but you are under water, there's no air under water. You suck in more water. You feel the waves carry you back and forth, swaying you under water. After a few minutes the waves are done with you to spit you out of the water and you lay almost lifeless on the beach half crying. Your friends are gone, screaming like madmen on the run, holding on to their shirt and trousers. You are stark naked almost deaf, almost dead, foaming in the mouth thinking of a lie to tell Aunt that it isn't my fault for being so mindless to jump into the water in the season known to every fisherman as, musim tutup kuala.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

One More Cup Of Coffee Before I Go.

Picture uploaded by Bergen.
Here we are at a kopitiam in Sungai Bakap, sitting at a table drinking a cup of coffee as if it means something to someone for me to be here at this time when I know for sure she's probably in the kitchen preparing brunch for the family not even aware that I've made a stop at her hometown because I miss her so much that I've gotta be here.

And so this white woman with nothing to wear asks, what on earth are we doing here? Drinking coffee, luv.

It is pretty obvious, isn't it?

Yup, nothing is more obvious than you and me drinking coffee in this town, luv.

We are not putting up a night in this town, are we?

No, we are not.

One more cup of coffee before I go. And please make the time stop so I can sit forever at the table in a kopitiam in her hometown to wait for her to pass by the street in her red car so she can see that I mean to love her with everything I've got so that she will know that she means everything to me and that I ain't gonna love no one else but her.

Let's get out of this town already, says the white lady with nothing to wear. And so we get into the car to leave behind a moment too brief to even keep as a memory that I was in her hometown...