Monday, February 25, 2008

Too Much Excitement Can Blind You Off.

Three friends from the days best left unwritten bought me an expensive dinner to discuss their latest venture into the exciting world of business. It wasn't the right kinda time to be talking about business when Barisan Nasional was falling apart like a deck of cards but I could put up a nice friendly face to listen to the things they had got to say on account of one thing; that I didn't have to pay for this expensive dinner. And so I ordered and ordered, ate and ate, listened and listened, agreed and agreed, yes this and yes that to everything. I wasn't too worried about if they could see me through. Every fool could see that I was completely uninterested with the things they gotta say but I knew these three screw heads the way I knew my way around a kitchen. Lemme explain.
They drank quite a bit of wine and when that happened, they got pretty tipsy in the head. And when that happened they could see nothing. Add this up with their excitement of venturing into business, and calculating how much money they would be making just by looking at the projected cash-flow, you've got yourself three stooges who would buy you the most expensive dinner in the house as long as you don't disagree with the things they say. And that's what I did. Which I thought was about the smartest thing I could do under the circumstances. Now you tell me if that wasn't the smartest thing a guy like me could have done.
They talked on and on that it finally hit me that they went about the long winded way through dinner to get me into the partnership because hey, we go back a long way, right buddy? All I've gotta do is put in a bit of money and the whole thing would snowball into a huge profit bigger than Bukit Jalil Stadium. According to the projected cash-flow, I would be a new millionaire in town latest by November 2008. Now you tell me if this isn't an interesting proposition. But I'm not the kind who let excitement get the better of me.
Time to play hardball. Time to dig up the things they knew but somehow weren't ready to tell me about it. Time to take at least a five-minute pause before answering. Time to look them in the eye and say nothing. Time to see if they avoid looking at you in the eye to say something you've gotta know. Time to say let's adjourn to some place else for coffee. (I gotta make sure they pay for the expensive dinner and so I say - I'm going to the gent. Meet me in the lobby.) Time to get out of there and let them take care of the check. I ain't paying nothing.
In the lobby we were joined by two interesting characters in clothes too skimpy for comfort not to mention a pair of shoes too high for their frame. Like I've said, I knew these screw heads the way I know my way around the kitchen. With these two women around, these stooges are gonna talk as if they owned the city.
By the time I was half way through coffee, the projected cash-flow, from a decent hundred thousand dollars became millions. I looked at the women to see if they knew how many zeros there are in a thousand.
In the end I said what I've gotta say. After all, I consider them friends and as their friend, I gotta tell them the truth. I said something like this;

'I gotta go watch the news.'

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


You may think you know a lot of things but you can bet both your ears that there's always a guy who seems to know more than you do about things you never thought an ordinary guy could ever come to know like for example; why this YB or that YB has been dropped from contesting this coming election.

The-guy-who-knows-more-than-I-do could be an ordinary guy. He could be a guy who drives a cab. Or someone who doesn't have a day-time job but he is not too worried about it because for a guy who never had a steady job in his life, he's doing all right. You see him driving around in a second-hand Mercedes, talking on the cellphone with important people. He puts down the phone and says; that was YB this or YB that, he wants me to find a couple of guys to do this or that. He'll tell you this YB or that YB has a mistress in this town or that town. He'll tell you this YB or that YB made his money this way or that way. He'll tell you he and this YB or that YB go back a long way together, as matter of fact they are from the same kampong, went to the same school, ate from the same plate, slept on the same pillow. He'll tell you he and this YB and that YB went to Umrah the year this YB or that YB's son went to a university in the U.S or the U.K.

Who needs newspapers or 24-hour news channel when you have the-guy-who-knows-more-than-I-do to up-date me with intimate news about this YB or that YB? Or this cabinet minister or that cabinet minister. He'll tell you that this cabinet minister or that cabinet minister went to this country or that country to meet this guy or that guy to cut a deal on this aircraft or that submarine. He'll that you that this cabinet minister or that cabinet minister has got this much money in this bank or that bank in this country or that country.

He will also tell you that if you toe the line, or join the network of people close to the inner circle, you could be a big businessman making millions of dollars in a blink of an eye. He'll tell you he can fix an appointment with this YB or that YB anytime of the day as long as you play the game people play.

You may think highly of the-guy-who-knows-more-than-I-do. I wouldn't think that way if I were you because I know better that there are thousands like him out there. Especially in times like these when a lot of people are fired up to pledge their undivided loyalty to politicians who could help them obtain lucrative contracts. This is a defining moment for a lot of people like him. Choose the right politican, join the right camp, you may have an easy life the next five years. Choose a wrong guy, you might as well look for a regular job and forget about getting any kind of contract at all, not even potong rumput contracts.

For local news, I depend on mainstream media to know a thing or two about what's going on. I know this is not a good thing because people believe mainstream media are nothing but government propaganda machines, churning out pro-government news. Maybe there's a lot of lies in there but I reckon it's better than listening to the-guy-who-knows-more-than-I-do because I know better that most of the things he says are the by-product of his imagination, or someone somewhere has asked him to say the things he's gotta say.

I don't remember how things got to be this way, people telling lies on top of lies that it is almost impossible to know any better what is the truth anymore. I got a feeling the next generation are gonna be even bigger liars than what we've got now. In the end, you could be shot for telling the truth. It's a runaway train going downhill at full speed. No one can stop it.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Things They're Gonna Say.

Not that you haven't heard it all before but you can be sure as the sun that they're gonna say it one more time to remind you that long time ago they said the same thing but since you've forgotten about it, they've figured it's about time they say it again now that it's the right time of the year to say it the way they've always said it time and again over the last decades or so.

They're gonna say they can make things better for you. Haven't you had it good the last decades or so? Don't you ever ever forget that. And who made that happen if not this government who has fought ever so hard for your rights to better things in life like good highways, jobs, safe neighborhood, peace, stability, free education for your children, bright future, good life, and all round well-being as a lucky citizen of this lucky nation. So be rational. Vote right. And you know who to vote for. Just in case you don't know, or have forgotten, this is the logo you should vote for. The magical logo that sysmbolizes all the good things in life; fairness, justice and prosperity. This is as good as it gets. It doesn't get any better than this. No one can give this to you.

They're gonna say different thing to different people. They're gonna say we're gonna give you millions in aid to help build more schools for your community. We're gonna give you more money to help fund the programmes to eradicate poverty that has plagued your community since the last time we said something like this. They're gonna say we're gonna work ever so hard to Islamize everything in the country. As a matter of fact, we're having a big seminar on how to do this right now. We've got big guys from Al-Azhar to discuss this. We're working on it, unlike some people who only talk about it but look at the state they are in. We're different. As a matter of fact we've built replicas of the great mosques at a theme park where you can all go visit with your family. We're working on it. And you know we work very hard.

As a matter of fact, if you remember, this is the only time you see them busy working on something as if they've got a plan. As if they've got it all figured out how to develop this country. If you remember, the last five years or so, they've been busy swindling and conniving, stealing and abusing, lying and sucking the country dry. But you know they're not gonna talk about the judiciary system that has been brought down en masse single handedly by a guy who doesn't even recognize himself if he looks him in the mirror. They're not gonna talk about the billions that evaporated into thin air because they say don't worry about it, investors are coming in by the plane loads to flush their petro-dinar right where the free trade zone is gonna be. We've got it all figured out.

And so the citizens are gonna forget what they said five years ago and listen to the things they're saying today. And so the citizens are gonna vote the way they've always voted the last decades or so because the citizens don't remember things too well who said what about anything at all. And so the ciitizens listen to the promises and live to see another five years of abuse. For the next five years the citizens are gonna complain and get mad on things they consider not right. That's what the citizens like to do. They vote and then they complain about the very people they voted in the first place. It goes on and on. And it goes on and on.

Maybe this time it's gonna stop. Who knows? But they're very good at pulling things at the last minute to make things go the way they want to go.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

No Wonder Everyone In Town Is A Broker.

Brokering is a national pastime in a country called Malaysia. Everyone does it. From down and out small time businessmen right up to big time high-ranking officers in the government. Who knows even the prime minister himself does it on the side to make a quick buck or two. For crying out loud, someone could have brokered him into that position he is currently enjoying thinking he's some kinda king with a new queen going around the country as if people really do love him. Afterall people even brokered chief justice so what's stopping anyone from brokering their own mother to run a Texas whore house for politicians?
All of a sudden, now that the parliament has been dissolved, everyone in town is a broker and you wanna be careful who you talk to these days because you won't know for sure who he is brokering for. Let's take a good look at a broker who goes about town, always on the cellphone, talking and dealing, dealing and talking for hot items like t-shirts, caps, buttons, hand-held fans, banners, buntings, flags, posters and printed materials that you see all over the place in the next couple of days.
This broker will never see a single piece of the items he is brokering because someone else is manufacturing them, printing them, and holding the stock in some place secret, and someone else will do the delivering. All this doesn't come free, or cheap. You hold the stock for two days, you charge by the hour, and that's 48 hours. If you've got the contract to deliver these items, you charge by the kilometer and you drive round about way to optimise distance and you charge accordingly. Don't worry about it, you're not dealing with a corporate organization here. There's no hard-nosed accountant to question your invoice. You're dealing with a political party with a lot of cash and there's no invoice to speak of in the first place because everything is done cash up-front. And where does this cash come from? It's from you. And me. So these people can just spend it like nobody's business because they're not accountable who they pay or how much.
Figure this. T-shirts cost about 50 sen apiece, complete with printed logo if you got it made in mainland China. By the time it got to Mydin, it's Rm7.90. And that's Mydin price, the cheapest in town. Go figure how much people pay for it so they can give the t-shirt away free. And the people really think they got it for free when it is their money that has been misused to pay for the knitting, cutting, stitching, sewing, assembling, printing, labeling, packaging, transporting, distributing. By the time it gets to you, the t-shirt has been sold four or five times over by brokers with connections to this exclusive network of low-life vermins. No wonder everyone in town is a broker.
Campaigning, Malaysian style is a dubious business. You don't raise campaign fund the way Obama had to do it. In Malaysia you won't know for sure where the campaign money come from. Maybe it comes from big corporate organizations but there's more to this than meets the eye. You don't see party banners, buntings and billboards inundating a town in the U.S. But look at what they've done to a short bridge in Paka, Dungun. The bloody bridge is camouflaged with flags that you wonder where the bridge starts or ends. Figure this, one flag = RM5.00. 4 million flags. You go figure. No wonder everyone in town is a broker.
Election time spins one of the greatest retail moments in Malaysia's economic calendar. No wonder everyone in town is a broker.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Are We On The Same Channel?

You may look at the moon and wonder if someone you used to know long time ago is looking at the same moon and thinking about the same thing you might be thinking of like what in the world are you doing in the middle of a night looking up the sky as if your real home is somewhere out there in the celestial domain, forgetting for a second or two that your real home is right here in the terrestial precinct where you've gotta pay your cukai pintu or else they're gonna seal up your house for good and you won't have a place to stay to cook a decent meal like the New England Clam Chowder the way Chef Micheal is teaching you how to do it on Asian Food Channel.

I'm watching Asian Food Channel and thinking if my friend in Kuching is tuning in to the same programme because I know for certain that when she has the remote commander in her hand, you can bet all the properties you own that she won't let anyone watches any other channel. Not even when aliens have landed right behind her house to have a look at the herb garden she has so they can steal a few leaves of daun kesom to take it back where they came from so they can experiment with something like Asam Pedas Melaka, or Assam Laksa.

My friend in Kuching is a talented cook. I know she won't like it that I call her 'my friend in Kuching' because she'd rather have me call her Priscilla, and so I'd better behave and do the thing she says or she's gonna call me 'my friend in KL' instead of Bergen. And that won't make either one of us to feel good about it because it's rather funny to call someone by a phrase that runs almost into a full sentence.

Prissy learns to cook from a very young age, experimenting from Australian Women Weekly magazine. I wrote about this magazine in my first blog (which has been deleted). I also wrote about Punjabi Women Weekly, and how it got the cook, and the men in the rig I used to work all fired up. I'll publish it again later.

Maybe I'll never be able to cook as well as Prissy, which is okay because in my book the real chef at home is this special friend from Kuching who can whip up great dishes that can knock your socks off. Or your toupee if you're wearing one. Or your dentures.

So while I watch Chef Micheal prepares New England Clam Chowder with dill, and home-made bread with dill, I'm looking at the moon outside and thinking, have I paid the cukai pintu?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

I'm So Angry.

You're gonna have to work very hard to make me angry because I've learnt how to contain the anger deep inside by jogging it off, swimming it off, cycling it off, kicking and punching the punch bag in a 45-minute work out until I'd be too weak to raise my arms. No one taught me how to deal with anger this way. It came to me in a dream one night and I've been like this ever since - believe me. Don't you think this statement looks and sounds just ike me?

No, I don't cook when I'm angry. The kitchen would be the last place I wanna be when I'm angry because I know there are things in there that can make me even more angry if I do that. Like glasses not arranged in a straight line, drops of water here and there, kitchen rags not folded in a shape of a swan, or a phoenix, or any other elegant animals like the Arabian horse. I know I'd get annoyed if the trash can is full to the brim, so I try not to look at it when I'm angry. And I'd be very annoyed if the spices are not arranged alphabetically so I'd keep away from the upper section of the cabinet in my kitchen when I'm angry. I'd also get very irritated if the cutlery isn't polished and kept in a neat order in their assigned containers which I've arranged according to size, make and the year they were bought.

So you see, kitchen isn't a good place to be when I'm angry. But a swimming pool, now that's a different kettle of fish all together. I find the water a good thing when you're angry. It soothes your body like nothing in the world can. I'd be swimming at least 20 laps to get my lungs worked out good. I'd be doing free-style, maybe 8 laps maximum, and the rest breast-stroke. I don't do back-stroke because I don't like to gaze at the sky when I'm swimming. This will only encourage me to imagine things I shouldn't be imagine which runs the risk of making me angry. So no back-stroke for me unless I purposely want to imagine something like what should I cook today now that I've ran out almost every thing there is to cook.

No, I don't usually get very angry. Not even when rude people treat me like dirt, or flash their lights when I'm on the right lane overtaking a car in the middle lane. I don't get angry when people jump que. I don't get angry when people talk dirty, or pepper their sentences with words I wouldn't want to repeat to a cockroach. It's gonna take a lot to get me angry because I've learnt a simple lesson; that it takes very little to make me happy. That way, I'm happy with every little thing in life more often than I get angry. It's a simple accounting.

Can't remember the last time I'm angry, which is why I write this entry. Just to remind myself what does it feel like to be angry. Does this make sense to you? Okay, next time I'll write about being senseless. Until then, I'm going into the kitchen, putting on the apron I got from Asian Food Channel.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Thank You RTM 1, Ustaz Ravi & Hafiz

Maybe I'll never be able to teach the Qur'an, which is a sad thing because according to Grandma, it has been a tradition in the family but now that she's dead and I've been pretty hopeless not to remember anything she taught me, I believe I should be shot in the head with a high-caliber bullet, and buried in an unmarked grave.
Which is why I love to tune in to RTM 1 every Saturday and Sunday 11.00 pm, to watch people calling in to read a surah live while Ustaz Ravi listens to you and comments on the mistakes you make like not pronouncing the Qalqolah correctly, or you've stayed too long in a phrase or, other simple Tajwid rules which revive all the memories of the moments I had to endure, reading a surah so Grandma could correct me.
I believe I've got a lot to catch up since I've forgotten a good chunk of the Tajwid rules. It's there somewhere in my head, all I've gotta do is dig it out, nurse it, water it and take care of it. Maybe Grandma wont' like it to know that I've forgetten almost everything she taught me. She was very proud when I khatam the Qur'an when I was hardly 1o years old. But all this is history. It's a new chapter for me now.
Thank you RTM1. You're the best.
I believe you can read the Qur'an correctly but it's a good thing to watch this. I believe it should be watched by the whole family. Maybe you should call in to read a surah live.