Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Glimpse Of What I Was Like As A 16-Year Old

I made an entry about my oldest memorabilia here.  Just a few days ago I had another encounter with a trip down memory lane...... this time after discovering a journal I had completely forgotten about, until recently when my brother stumbled upon it presumably as he was rummaging through the stuff around his apartment when he shifted to a new place to call home.  The journal comprises my daily thoughts and observations as a 16-year old in 1987 during a training stint for a month at the Outward Bound School (OBS) Lumut (Sekolah Latihan Semangat Outward Bound, Lumut).  I was initially astounded, as well as intrigued by this discovery.  What was I like back then before being exposed to the experience of living in the US, UK and France?  What was I like when my conversation was mostly in Malay?  What was I like as a teenager?  I certainly discover certain things about my own self that I never knew existed as a teenager.

 We normally have certain “images” in our mind of what we were like before, but are they really accurate?  Do we block certain elements especially the painful ones and amplify those we are fond of?  We obviously can’t remember everything, and therefore I think through “selective” inclusion and omission we somehow generalise or even distort some of these images.  Therefore, reading through this journal was a bit of self-discovery for me.......with all the uhhhs and ahhhhs along the way and smiles throughout looking at how I survived a month long thrill at the OBS.  There are just too much to mention that I don’t think a short blog entry like this will do justice to describe all the experiences. I did repelling and rock climbing and the journal illustrated my agility as well as fear when I scaled down or climbed up a rocky vertical while putting my faith in the safety line and in the belaying buddy holding the rope.  I also met strangers-turned-friends who were mostly older than me but ended up leading them as we struggled our way up the three hills in Pangkor (my experience in compass marching as a student of Royal Military College was the obvious reason for this).  Spending the night in the forest with no water and only dry Maggie mee for dinner, having to create a stretcher from branches and a military “poncho” to carry an injured teammate, and the countless caked blood stains on my calf from leeches bites were the highlights of this particular expedition.  Similarly, a 30+km mini-marathon was a test of teamwork and perseverance as none of us had previously run or walked that far in a single go.  And finally, doing a solo camping for 2 nights equipped with a box of matches and three candles out in the haunted forest near Teluk Rubiah was unbelievable......trying to make fire to cook rice, counting the 100+ mosquitoes I killed throughout the sleepless night and guessing the time as we were not allowed to wear watches were some of challenges I encountered. 

How did a 16-year old like me, fit and energetic, cope within a team (my team was called “Irau”) made of much older guys and gals mostly bankers and teachers?  It is an amazing rediscovery to read about it almost 25 years later.  But none more gratifying than reading my own thoughts back then.  I was competitive no a young boy from RMC who played sports like rugby, football and participated in athletics I was adrenaline-charged and bound to be competitive.  But it was also pleasant to read that I was very helpful as well, never failed to carry out my duty as a sentry at 2 or 3 am when some of my partners might just “curi tulang” and got along with almost everybody in the team.  I was naive as well, and did not see some of my own values, strengths and weaknesses. I am sure when I wrote those entries in the journal I never thought it would eventually reflect some of my traits as a youngster but when I re-read it now I am actually quite glad to see who I was back then.  Flawed, yes but also I can see how those elements, good and bad, have formed part of the jigsaw that made me who I am today. 

My masters programme is finally over, hence this as an entry to announce my return from a long hiatus. Everything that we do constitutes a part of the puzzle that makes us.  We always have a choice to make.  I like the analogy made by an author, Felix Siauw, about the choices we make in life.  We always have to make them.  When we choose one, we can’t choose other options (at that particular time).  The condition of being able to choose only one option and in doing so deciding not to opt for others will obviously accumulate (exponentially I believe) and who we are today is a result of the many choices we made throughout our lives.  Looking back, one single different decision along the way could actually lead us to a different path altogether.  Hence, reading through the journal I am glad for the choices I made during the one month at OBS.  I also understood better that some of the traits I see in myself were already there in 1987 without consciously knowing them.  As I realign my thoughts away from my “India’s non-alignment foreign policy” thesis, the OBS journal has been a God-given reminder and blessing to help me plan for my next challenge.  Alhamdulillah.

And by the way, I am reading Felix Y. Siauw’s “Beyond the Inspiration” and Peter Mayle’s “Encore Provence” with the latter about the author’s take on the uniqueness of the Provence, the place that I called home for 2 years from 2002-2004.  It has brought back some memories about my living in Southern France, such a light and stress-free reading compared to the scholarly books and journals about India.  Alhamdulillah,  life is good!!!!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hello to you all......and to me as well!!!

My Non-alignment Foreign Policy of India has been keeping me misaligned from other things....oh well

Despite my lengthy hiatus, my blog is still alive as far as I’m concerned.  Just wayyyyy too busy to jot anything in.  So today’s entry is just simply to tell the cyber world that this space is still active.  It’s also a reminder to me that this space still belongs to me.  So to the 9000+ visitors from 109 countries who have visited my page so far, thank you!!!

So much to say but just don’t think I can spare the time to let my mind wander away from my thesis paper.!!!!  Need all the energy and momentum to arrive at the finishing line......safely.

The world continues to move on despite my hibernation.  Ghadaffi is dead.  Now that he is dead, we are hearing both sides of him, the monstrous image of a dictator versus a rather philanthropic more obscured side of him.  Are they really true?  Will the flood in Thailand bring down the cost of Toyota and Honda cars in our country?  Hahaha.....“Dried-up” cars anybody?  How about the audit report of leakages in government spending? How to answer that?  Very difficult!!!  Extension of retirement age to 60, good or bad?  Good as government can save money by delaying paying for pension by 2 more years for each person, that’s lotsa money.  But bad for those at lower hierarchy whose promotions are set back by 2 more years?  Win-win solution, really?  The All Blacks outplayed but still won the RWC final.  Referee too liberal, France was jinx, Blacks were hampered not having Dan Carter and had to resort to a 4th string Fly-half?

I don’t know the answer to any of those questions, and I’m not that interested to know now.  My life is “get up, read, think, write, sleep”, period!  So for now, this abysmal entry will just have to do.  So long people and I’ll be back soon enough I hope.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chaotic Brain Activity

Just a little whining on my part.  Been glued to my computer for over two weeks now, spending literally every available seconds to tap on the keyboard with the hope that credible and meaningful sentences will appear on the screen.  Countless number of books about India scattered on the desk and on the bed, with hundreds more journals being opened, read, cited and closed again, repeatedly for God knows how long.   Thesis oh thesis.......Today has been the longest marathon by far.  Since 10am this morning till 2am, with just short intervals for things that I needed to keep me human ie eating, drinking, praying, going to the loo, taking a shower, calling my family etc.  My back is killing me. In fact today (no....yesterday technically since it’s 2.12am now) I actually had to juggle between thesis and group fun!!!

Sleeping has been a luxury I can’t really afford.  But I need the sleep. Going to bed between 1-2am every day and waking up at about 6.40am.  No afternoon nap.  The result; fully charged and eager to type and type without feeling sleepy.  Conclusion: That what stress and anxiety do to you.  I must’ve been thinking even when I’m asleep.

I keep praying to God to keep me healthy, to keep my mind sharp and hope his blessing will guide me through successfully through this self-inflicted ordeal.  I am thankful that I have a wife who supports me fully, and two adorable angels whose sweet little voice, indistinguishable over the phone, to keep me determined to stretch my endurance beyond imagination.

Been monitoring my BP, it's just a little high now.  Hope it will be okay when I wake up tomorrow.

Not complaining......just expanding what’s left of my brain activity before I head to bed.  Another joyful day tomorrow.....expecting another adrenaline-charged effort on my part to meet my Thesis Chapter deadline on Thursday.  Please makbulkan doa ku Ya Allah.  Amin.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Many Lessons From Death

When death occurred, there is no more lesson to be learned by the deceased.  By that time it could only be either regrets and despair, or joy and jubilation.  It all depends on the deeds while the person was alive.  When the scale tilt, where does it lead the person to...... to the pleasures of heaven, or to the deep suffering of hell, Nauzubillah.

The lessons of death are for the living.  It’s not an easy topic to write about, honestly.  I’m still pondering on the lessons of the recent experience of hearing about the death of a few people I know.  A colleague and a friend passed away a few days ago after a short battle with the unexpected disease of malaria upon returning from a foreign mission.  He was my senior in high school, and a colleague at my work place.  Though we were not particularly close, I’d known him for more than half of my life.  I had a long chat with him before he left for the mission a year ago, and that was the last time I saw him.  He was definitely a wonderful person and I’m sure he will be dearly missed by his family.  What lessons could be drawn upon by his wife who not only had to deal with his passing, but shortly after, the passing of her own father.  Subhanallah.  My sincerest sympathy to the family of Cdr Husaini and I hope Allah Almighty will bestow upon them strength and rahmah as they deal with this difficult situation.  And I pray that he will be placed under the grace of Allah and be rewarded with the pleasure of heaven for his good deeds, InsyaAllah.  Alfatihah.

I also heard about the death of a person I knew from a few years ago whose passing came at the hand of unscrupulous criminals in a neighbouring country.  A loss of life over a petty issue, at the hand of somebody who viewed life so lightly?  How do you draw lessons from such tragedy?  A Frenchman so full of energy and potentials, but his life journey had come to an abrupt stop.  My sincerest sympathy to his grieving family, and I do hope the responsible criminal will be brought to justice.

And just today, my course mate from Thailand, Anuchit Peerathamrongkul, had to learn of his father’s passing just a few days after returning from visiting him.  I could see sorrow in his eyes, I knew it as I had experienced it myself when Abah passed away two years ago.  As Anuchit made his way back to his homeland in Thailand, I pray that he and his family will have the strength while dealing with their losses.

The nation is also mourning the death of a Bernama journalist who was killed by a stray bullet in Somalia.  Noramfaizul Mohd Nor, who was part of a humanitarian mission to famine-stricken Somalia was 200m away from arriving at a place where he was being put up when the stragedy struck.  What lessons do we draw from this?  Definitely not those being echoed by the politicians at the moment.  I also pray that his mother who was especially distraught by the incident, the wife and the rest of his family will be bestowed with grace by Allah as they deal with this tragedy.

As I visited my father’s grave during hari raya, I also pondered on what lessons that I must draw upon from his passing.  It’s been two years but I still see the glimpse of his faces almost every day.  Subhanallah.  Alfatihah for Abah and I pray that he is doing okay in the afterlife.

So let’s draw lessons from the death we see, let’s draw lessons while we still can.  Let’s draw lessons that we can use to benefit us when the time comes when our own death will become the lesson for others.  I am still pondering, I am still learning my lessons, I think we all must.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Neo-Experience of Ramadhan

My semester break begins today and hari raya is just about a week away.  But I’m still here at my apartment, swarmed with books on Nehru and India’s nonalignment foreign policy with the hope that by the end of the week I’ll be able to translate my thoughts on the subject into written thesis material worth submitting to my Supervisor.  Hopefully when it’s all done (one chapter of many that is), I’ll be just in time to celebrate hari raya and the birthday of my “cekodok penyek” (term I used for my girls......and that is a definition I must elaborate one day I guess).

The latest re-printed copy of the book on Nehru's thoughts.  I am reading selected parts of the book but my copy is much earlier, a 1964 re-printed version of the original one

 My Cekodok Penyek will be seven this weekend

Ramadhan has also been moving fairly quickly for me this year and as I write this, we are already into its last quarter.  Fasting this year has been another new experience for me.  Being away from family during the week in Ramadhan has given me time to be much more disciplined with my diet.  My breaking fast menu normally is either pasta or bubur lambuk (special rice porridge found abundant during Ramadhan).  Bubur lambuk has only been the one made by mother in law (better than any other bumbur lambuk that I’ve tried including the famous Kg Baru’s), and sauce for my pasta was made by my lovely wife, both frozen to perfection to last me for the entire month.  Just add sambal ikan bilis or sambal kerang (spicy fried anchovies or cockles) and voila, I have just the meal I need for my breaking fast.   As a result of my ‘modesty’ in the food I consume, I’ve been able to shed almost 3 kg so far, bringing my weight further down to the weight when I was a bachelor.  And the total for this year weight loss record......6kg!!!!  No worry, I’m still human.  My breaking fast menu with the family during weekends constitutes much wider spread, complete with noodles and kuih as appetiser, and a full course of rice and the lauk.  And I’m sure I’ll gain some weight back during hari raya.  Honestly, based on my experience so far, the ‘modest’ meal I consume has been more than enough and my sahur (early morning meal) has been a mug of quarker oat with 3 spoonful of Anlene milk.  I also consume plenty of plain water throughout the night to rehydrate my body.  As a result of this whole moderate approach, I’ve been healthy throughout Ramadhan Alhamdulillah, and I’ve been able to perform Tarawih without feeling sleepy (nap in the afternoon contributes as well) and still have a little bit of drive left to do my assignments till late at night.

The Tarawih prayers at the mosque I go to has been ideal in my opinion.  A short tazkirah (not more than 10 minutes) preceding the prayers and Tarawih of only 8 rakaat.  An ideal combination as far as I’m concerned and kudos to the mosque for coming up with such ingenuity.  The pace is good, no rushing, and done in the comfort of air-conditioned hall.  The best!!!!  I have gained some invaluable knowledge as well during the tazkirah, the fact that it is short and sharp makes it easier for me to capture and remember the salient points.  I wonder if such a short tazkirah has better impact on the jamaah compared to certain long-winded ones that get you neither here nor there.

Shah Alam mosque -  one of the mosques I go to for Tarawih prayers

Ramadhan this year is also coloured with a little family challenge.  My wife was admitted for four days at the hospital after suffering cycles of fever for a week.  It turned out that she had dengue fever.  She was just discharged on Monday, and after going through 7 bottles of IV fluids, I’m glad to see that the worst is over.  She is still recuperating at home and hopefully she’ll be alright by the time hari raya comes.  Me....shuttling between KL and Shah Alam, looking after my twins and our little sanctuary we called home, while juggling my fast approaching assignment deadlines have been a good reminder how challenges can just crop up when you least expected.  However, if you redha (accept your fate), you’ll be in a much better state of mind to deal with the situation and the fact that all these occurred during the holy month of Ramadhan has made it easier for me to deal with them.  Alhamdulillah.

As with the previous few years, I’m still sticking to my pledge of not going to Ramadhan bazaar.  I went once actually when I visited my best friend in Lumut for breaking fast.  I bought kuih talam from the usual trader we frequented, murtabak and the famous Pyan Popiah (this dubbed the best popiah in Sitiawan area can be found behind Billion shopping complex in Manjung) as buah tangan for our host.  And after reading that there were more than 500 people suffering from food poisoning during the first half of Ramadhan and a study revealed that 30-40% of food at certain bazaars were contaminated, I think we must be careful with the food we buy.  I suggest just buy from your known stalls and if you must try something new, the safe bet is to get something that is cooked on the spot like murtabak.  Even certain cook-on-the-spot food like ayam percik or otak-otak could be recycled (hypothetically, not accusing anybody) so just take the necessary precaution.  And we must recognise that majority of the operators are not 'seasoned' players in food business and only ply their trades once a year, so we must understand the potential shortcomings in the first place.  I’m not against buying food from Ramadhan bazaar as I know there is definitely a need for it especially for those who work.  And for me actually, the main reason for my pledged absentee is to refrain from over-indulgence, and the statistics I read in the paper just strengthen my belief in the issue.

 The famous Pyan Popiah

Piping hot murtabak

 Iftar menu at my best friend's house - Gulai rebung, lala, ikan bakar, daging masak kicap etc.

So as we try to heighten our tempo of amalan during this “dijauhkan dari api neraka” third phase of Ramadhan, and as we get nearer to hari raya, and as my marathon thesis writing begins to move at full force.......let me just take this opportunity to say Salam Aidil Fitri and Maaf Zahir Batin, and may the end of Ramadhan be blessed with rahmat as we continue our efforts to be closer to God, InsyaAllah. 

And please, please, please.....take extra precaution on the road as we make our way back to our kampung.  Be mindful that during raya period many drivers who are not experienced in highway driving or driving in heavy traffic will be out there behind the wheels (including many who have not fully comprehended the handling of their newly purchased vehicles specifically acquired to show off to their orang kampung:)).  Please drive defensively and anticipate these additional challenges on the road.  Let’s be extra cautious out there and if you don’t drive, please remind those who do (including your buddy, spouse, relative or even your bus drivers!!).

Have a great hari raya every one!

Monday, July 18, 2011

A little Intrusion Anyone?

Pleasant looking? Chirpy and friendly? The answer is still.....NO!!!!

Pernah tak kita terfikir dalam kehidupan sehari-hari berapa kerap privacy kita kena ‘invade’ tanpa kebenaran, samada dalam sedar atau tak? Tah kenapa ari ni I was really irked bila some dude called me to offer pakej insurans. Yang pertama......hellooo! Where did you get my number? Nasib baik dia polite in the conversation but how about the usual attempt at small talk......."Apa khabar? .......oooo abang sambung belajar? Bagus tu", then followed by some probing questions..... "Umur berapa yer bang? Anak berapa? Gaji berapa?"....... then finally we came to the very reason why he called me…."Kita ada pakej insurans ni….pre-approved…bla..bla..bla. Abang cuma perlu setuju dan kita akan buat semuanya". Anyway, this was not the worst of them all obviously. Nasib baik dia cakap baik2, ada tu dengar kita tak interested terus hang-up.....bengkek betul!!!!

Kita tak ada pilihan kekadang tu, nak marah tak sampai hati…….tapi bila orang dah kata tak berminat dia tak faham2 lagi. Yes, I’m a little soft-hearted when it comes to dealing with these strangers telemarketing people so I normally try not to be rude and just say that I’m not interested. Camna nak interested dengar ceramah pasal “penternakan ikan Arowana yang ditaja oleh kementerian so and so......yang diadakan di Teluk Intan......or was it Taiping” when I am actually in KL and has no intention to leave the government any time soon. These Arowana farming folks have called me at least 5 times already. So if any of you Arowana gang read this......STOP CALLING ME OK!!!!

Dan yang satu lagi ni keep calling me to offer a special package since I’ve been such a loyal customer of Visa or Mastercard or whatever. Ok..... So since I’m such a good customer how come you need to verify the name of the bank that issued me the cards and had the cheek to ask me for the 16-digit number on those cards. I guess I’m not such a great customer after all. Bugger off and......STOP CALLING ME OK!!!!

How about the emails, FB messages and sms saying that I’ve won a zillion dollars and just begging me to simply reply in order to confirm my prize. Then I guess I must also thank my lucky star bila ada heir of some super rich folk who died recently yang tersangat desperate nak transfer duit berzillion dollars masuk my account sebab tak nak kena re-possessed by whoever. Wow......kena panggil 007 ni utk selesaikan nih. For you guys who have sent me such messages......get a life and STOP BOTHERING ME OK!!!!

Then there’s the flyers in the mailbox, promosi yang diselitkan dalam newspaper........Nak ubat kuat? Nak buat loan tapi blacklist? How about........kehidupan saya susah dahulu tapi setelah berjumpa so and so......di lokasi so and so..... kehidupan saya terus berubah menjadi kaya raya!!!!!! Yeah, I wish it were that easy.......dan boleh pula mintak tolong sebarkan. Tolong ler….LET’S SAVE THE PLANET AND USE THE PAPER FOR BETTER THINGS SHALL WE???

Ni apa kes? Cantik ke? Ada korang yg buat keja ni kisah ke?  I guess not:(

Some even hired amateur actors menyamar jadi students ke, budak praktikal ke kekonon buat survey......then dengan muka terkejut teramat sangat......."Abang, woo you suda menang ini satu kereta...... saya amat terkejut kerana saya sindri tida pena melihat sesiapa memenangi-nye” Then he called his “supervisor”......dan kata “supervisor saya juga amat terkejut kerana dia sindri tida pena melihat sesiapa memenangi-nye”. Come on!!!! I then said, let’s do it this way. How about saya sedekah pada awak kereta tu sebab saya tak perlu pergi ke so and so tempat untuk jumpa supervisor awak. “Abang, you jangan mara sama saya maa......tadi orang ruma belakang suda mau hantam sama saya” and guess what......”Abang bole kasi saya ayir ke, mau minum suda penat jalan jauh ooo”. Ini macam pun ada ke? LEAVE ME ALONE OK!!!!

Tapi yang kekadang hati saya jadi lembut ialah bila ada mereka yang datang minta derma di stesen minyak ke, jual keropok dari rumah ke rumah ke, kutip derma di shopping kompleks ke dan macam2 lagi. Saya tau kekadang tu ada kemungkinan mereka ni ada sindiket yang berselindung di sebalik kaedah “minta derma” ni tapi bagaimana pula kalau memang betul2 mereka memerlukan? So rasanya yang penting niat kita ikhlas untuk bersedekah, dan kalau yang menerima tu buat tak betul itu biar mereka jawab dengan Tuhan. Amalan kitapun masih banyak kepincangannya hopefully dengan bersedekah secara ikhlas dapat jugak kita tingkatkan pahala.  So bila rasa ikhlas saya bagi, tapi kalau terdetik macam rasa sangsi dan curiga......saya just cakap "tak pe, terima kasih.....atau it's okay, no thank you" berulang kali sampai the person goes away.

Anyway, I know yang saya akan berterusan kena approach dengan pelbagai kaedah untuk jual barang ke, minta derma ke, minta sedekah ke, atau untuk diperdaya. Harap2 the last one tu dijauhkan Tuhan.

Sebenarnya just mumbling away coz saya sedang mengalami “mental block” untuk menyiapkan assignment yang saya dah tau apa yang nak ditulis, bagaimana nak menulis cuma tak dapat transform them into words yang sesuai untuk short essay of 2500 words.  Tengah2 tension tu pulak guessed it, a telemarketer called...lagi ler tension.:)

Anyway, I just wish essays boleh campur bahasa rojak like I just did for this entry.  Sonang kojo den.  U faham apa yang saya explain kan, so what's the problem kalau my essay if of mixed language? Hahahaha..... Kepada those fanatic advocates of Malay language or even English language for that matter......sorry kerana tak guna proper bahasa to communicate.  Hahahaha, just gimme a break ok. Tolong jangan ganggu saya, atau cuba2 call me........GO BOTHER SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE OKAY!!!! (pun intended).

Monday, July 4, 2011

Causes for an ‘Absolutely Normal’ BP Reading

My latest BP reading post-Solat
I encountered a little health scare recently.  During my encounter with the back pain incident a few weeks ago (link to the entry here), I also discovered during the admission check at the military clinic that my Blood Pressure (BP) was high.  The staff said that it was probably due to my being in pain and the anxiety I felt from my ordeal.  The Doctor who took my case also observed the high BP but she said in order to be sure I must conduct BP monitoring routine for at least two weeks.

And I did just that.  My father-in-law has a portable BP kit at home so I borrowed his.  So for the past two weeks I’ve been taking my BP at a three times a day interval.  Alhamdulillah, although some of the BP readings were fairly high the first few days during my recovery from the back pain, they have pretty much returned to normal trend now and have consistently remained there.  I have also rejuvenated my enthusiasm to lose weight and exercise more often following the ‘gentle’ reminder about this potential health risk.  With my late father’s long history of having high BP and my mother currently under medication for the same problem, I must consider myself being in a high risk category due to hereditary reason at least.  So less food intake, less fatty and oily food, more vegetables and fruit.  I am also adding a new routine of taking apple cider twice a day to add to my already established habit of taking Quaker oat in the morning.  Good stuff this apple cider I tell you….. if you can stand the smell and taste that is.

The most enlightening discovery from doing this BP monitoring has been on how my BP can actually dip to the ‘absolutely normal’ zone due to two activities.  We are talking 108/68 here folks with my record lowest being 104/64.  That’s my systolic/diastolic readings, just Google it to find out what they mean. 

Predictably, one occasion when my BP regularly drops is after an exercise.  I usually take my reading a little over an hour after coming back from an exercise.  That’s done normally after completing my warm-down routine, a short 10 minute session of putting ice pack on my knees to reduce pain and swelling (I’m a PCL surgery survivor and experiencing early ‘osteoarthritis’ so swelling and pain are my loyal companion now), followed by shower and light dinner.  So far, although my heart beat is still between 80-95, the BP reading has been a nice one to look at.  Yeah!!!

The most surprising discovery however is how both my BP and heart beat can go down to the ‘absolutely normal’ zone shortly after..........performing solat.  Initially I thought it was a coincidence but it has happened quite a few times now (those few times that solat didn’t have the same effects were probably due to my own less than khusyuk state while doing it).  My yet again another encounter with absolutely normal BP reading post-solat just now has convinced me that praying to the Almighty has led to this incredible effect.  I know I don’t have the scientific proof to show it (must do it in a controlled environment, must also have means to rule out the other probable influencing elements ie food, rest, pressure, must get it published and verified etc. etc.) but I’m absolutely convinced nonetheless.

There are new things to be learned every day.  And for that I am thankful.  Alhamdulillah.

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Wife’s Great Accomplishment

 The proud moment

Congratulations to my beloved wife.  After 4 long years full of challenges and sacrifice, she has successfully completed her degree in Human Resource Management from the Open University Malaysia (OUM).  When we decided to embark on this journey, we knew it was going to be hard.  Her driving to Ipoh in the early morning on Sunday every 2 weeks, me having to look after our little daughters, her struggle with health on a few occasions that forced her to skip classes, postpone some papers and a couple of final exams, and her many sleepless nights trying to complete papers and assignments are just some examples of the hardship we had to endure during this period.  We even had to face some critiques questioning her rational of pursuing a degree, or the few skeptics who dismissed the credibility of getting an OUM degree.  Well, as the saying goes....."that which does not kill you only make you stronger".  I am glad we did not pay much attention to those naysayers and just kept on going.

  The fruit of her labour....well done Azlin Abd Aziz

Why did she take up the challenge?  Of course I can’t answer on her behalf.  She has her own reasons.  But I did believe from the beginning that the whole journey of acquiring a degree would broaden her horizon and perspective on things.  I always believe the undergraduate experience helps a person to develop a more structured thought process, it helps to develop his/her analytical skill and ultimately enable him/her to approach a problem in a more systematic manner.  I think my wife has shown some of those potentials already.  We did not even think about her getting a job upon completion either.  We decided then to just do it and not worry about whether or not she would seek employment eventually.  I am glad she took up the challenge, and I am pleased to see the much wiser and stronger individual that she has become.

 I hope my little angels are inspired by their Mama's accomplishment

Of course looking back, there are just so many memories.  I acquired some basic cooking skills along the way, only reserved for my family consumption obviously......hahahaha.  The kids loved it, really!  I learned a few valuable knowledge about economy for instance......aggregate demand and aggregate supply, what subsidy does to the shift of is subsidy good? Now I can form my own opinion, that’s for sure.  She was also so critical about the “appearance” of her paper (I think it was due to her previous experience as a secretary).  The quality of paper, the type of cover, the colour of the ring binder, the spacing of paragraphs, you name it.  She was very meticulous.  Oh, and I think Gardenia has made millions by now from her faithful consumption of Bun Ikan Bilis and the likes during the long lectures at OUM.  Gardenia, I think you should give her a medal for that, serious!!!!  And above all, she has proven to herself especially, that she is capabled of accomplishing great things if she puts her mind to it...... although during some difficult periods she did doubt herself but fortunately at the end she persevered.  And the fact that she managed to conquer her own self-doubt has made her a much stronger person now.

One thing for sure, the whole journey has also strengthened the bond that we share.  I can also appreciate now that being Mama to my kids is not easy, and it has also been proven that I can handle my kids........with lots of guidance and reminders from my wife of course…hahaha.  These are the added bonus that we did not consider earlier on.  For that I am truly grateful. Alhamdulillah. 

 I am so proud of you

So Azlin Abd Aziz, cherish the joy of graduating as you have definitely earned it.  You truly deserve it.  I am so proud of you Sayang!!!  Congratulations!!!

 An incredible day for us all

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mike Flanagan’s 20th Anniversary as the United States Naval Academy Head Coach......Congratulations Mike!!!!!

Mike Flanagan the greatest coach ever

I’m writing this well overdue entry to honour my rugby coach Mike Flanagan. Mike was my coach for more than 3 years during my academy days. When he first arrived in 91, I had no idea who he was, didn’t know he was a legend at Towson State and wouldn’t have thought that he would transform my game beyond my imagination.

This is his team
(and mine too)

This year is Mike’s 20th anniversary as the Head Coach at the academy. He was such a colourful character back then, and I’m sure he still is. He was loud, he didn’t mince his words, four letter words were synonym with him, he really was in your face kind of a coach. But above all those, he was a great coach who was really passionate about the game, a person who made rugby his religion and brought the academy rugby to a soaring new height.

This is Mike's 2008 Team
(they beat Army that year...yeah!!!!)

I am truly blessed that our paths crossed, an encounter that changed my rugby game forever. Mike was the one coach who catapulted my game beyond my own expectation. He pushed me hard, well he pushed everybody hard. But I really felt at home under his watch. I have such wonderful memories playing under his tutelage; I created some miracles while playing for him, we beat Army 15-12 at their home turf in 1992, I scored an unexpected try against Towson in the dying second to secure us the win during my Second Class Year season, the beating we gave Towson State despite the hype of them giving us a good fight during my final year, the incredible first game of Eastern Championships against Dartmouth although we then suffered a heartbreaking loss to Harvard, the sweet victory in the Cherry Blossom Tournament against Loyola Marymount enroute to winning the tournament, securing the highest scoring game against Clemson, the many pushover tries we scored due to our immaculate technique and strength in the scrum etc. In fact sometimes I wasn’t sure whether I was playing for the academy or I was playing for Mike. On one occasion, I was using crutches after suffering an injury in the first game, only to play the next day albeit with a heavily strapped ankle and could only run at jogging pace the whole game.... Mike made me feel that I could be Superman!!!!! Hahahahaha.......and an ample dose of painkiller did help as well.

This is how Mike's team play

One thing I never understood though. Mike never once scolded or yelled at me. Everybody else had their fair share of Mike’s piece of mind either during training or during the games. But he excluded me from the receiving end of his wrath. Maybe he took pity of me thinking that I wouldn’t understand his !@#$%^* words anyway:0. But he never meant to harm anybody and we actually became accustomed to Mike’s way of doing thing....... it was simply Mike’s way. And his way has produced wonders, absolutely! Mike’s way was never the easy way, everybody knew that. He made us ran till we dropped (ahhh.....the killer hill next to the pitch, such wonderful memory), the front rows like Vinnie Johnson would develop cauliflower ears due to the endless scrums the forwards had to endure every day, I was given at least 25 rugby balls everyday to spin at with my scrumhalf partner Darren Platz so that we could develop killer speed and accuracy in our scrumhalf passes, we would have scrimmage every Tuesday to polish our game conditioning and tactics, the killer sprinting we did at the end of every practice and many more. Killer routines all around..... you bet. And above all, Mike was the most brilliant tactician. He knew where our strengths lied and let us exploited them. Mike’s style of rugby suited me very well and I had nothing but fun on the pitch.... I felt at home every time I stepped into a game. I’m sure the hundreds of players who have had the pleasure of playing for Mike felt the same way.

This is the kind of results that Mike produces

So Mike, I know they are planning some incredible programmes to celebrate your incredible achievement. Have a great time, as I know you will. This entry is just my small way of saying how much I appreciate all that you have done for me. Coach, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. You are the best coach one can ever ask for. Congratulations on achieving this incredible milestone in your illustrious career.