Monday, 30 November 2009
In the mean time, life is business as usual for many of us. We are having the double celebrations, the Eid al-Adha and 38th UAE National Day on the 2nd December. The cinemas are visited by the New Moon fanatics, the parks are packed with families, the beaches are littered with half-naked people and the mosques are patronized by believers.
Friday, 27 November 2009
I called home. My wife was in Hong Kong for a week. My kids was counting days for their mother to return home. I asked why they were not counting days for me to return home. My son said 'susah, nanti salah kira', admitting that he would lose count and his numbering skill is still poor. They also complained that it rained everyday. The rain has made them deprived of their outdoor playtime in the evening at the playground nearby.
It was in the news today, the rain claimed 83 lives in Saudi Arabia, our giant and holy neighbour. It was an unusual heavy downpour. Jeddah was showered with 7cm of rain last Wednesday, which was more than it would normally get in an entire year. Rain or no rain, there is nothing going to stop the massive flow of those faithful pilgrims, determined to complete the fifth pillar of their faith.
As I watched AlJazeera Live to witness the sea of pilgrims climbing up the Mountain of Mercy at Arafat and praying for forgiveness, I couldn't help wondering, would I ever get the call to savour the spiritual high point of the pilgrimage before the rain or anything else claim the life of mine?
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Monday, 9 November 2009
To commemorate this special day, I have united a pair of mollies, one black and the other white, in square jar filled with an exotic plant that I bought last weekend. They are such a lovely couple. I feel love radiated from the jar each time I look at it.
Home Of The Mollies
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
It took a greater courage to let go off my old way of running. I have been running and believing in 'Just do it, just run'. I have had my inspiring moments by just running, feeling free and connecting with my inner self in the old way of running. Now I have turned to the new nano way of running in order to get better results. In this new way of running, I have to program the run, stay focussed on maintaining the consistent pace, keep track of the distance and review the performance.
The new wonder
My new running shoes are the white Nike Lunarglide with Nike iPod sensor receiver. I had my first run with them last Saturday. It was a 13km run. I could feel a better foot grip. The new shoes felt heavier but I guess after a couple of runs I will get used to them. There is a pocket under the insole of the left shoe where I have placed a sensor before I started the run. The run started and ended with a click on the iPod which I carried along in the run. Throughout the run, I was constantly checking on my pace on the iPod screen. There are also options to set the running music and voice feedback which I have yet tried during the last run. The details about the run were uploaded to nikeplus.com in which I have opened an account to track my running progress on-line. It was a fun running experience and I am really looking forward for the next run......
The running report
The satellite view of the running track around my neighbourhood, Discovery Gardens-Ibn Battuta-The Gardens
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
It has been a while since I did my last posting in this blog. Since then I had gone home twice. It was great to see my wife receiving her scroll in her graduation day in August. The last time in Tasmania, she had no one waiting for her outside as she marched out of the convocation hall. This time around, she had bouquets of flowers, hugs and kisses from me, the kids, the parents, her brother and sisters. It was one of her happy days. She has now decided to further her neurology studies. She is considering to make another big decision whether to pursue that in France or Australia in a couple of years to come. At the same time, she knows that I am hoping that she would live with me and work in Dubai. Well, there will be a time we will have to talk about it, but not now.
"Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin - ingatan tulus ikhlas dari kami sekeluarga"
On the 6th Syawal, the day we returned from Johor Bahru, we discovered that a desperado had broken into our house in Klang and taken tit bits like Astro decoder, DVD player, digital camera, 14kg cooking gas cylinder (I'm not kidding!) and some other insignificant things. We are lucky that we carried all our cash money and jewelleries with us during the holidays. But we are not lucky that the burglar got hold of our house spare keys and my wife's bank account books. So I was busy making police report and fixing things up, before I got into the plane back to Dubai. I told my wife that in Dubai, I sometimes left my car unlocked in the parking lot, my balcony door is left ajar for fresh air and there is no need to have a great grilled door equipped with super-security locks and she can walk in Dubai streets with a sparkling bling-bling Gucci hand bag without worries of being victimized by the street snatcher..........
Now, I am back in my safe but lonely den in Dubai, looking forward for my family to come and visit me in December. Being alone now after being surrounded by the loved ones just a week before, is really depressive. I am hoping the transition can be geared up quickly so that I can move on. Thank God, summer has come to an end. We are now blessed with days of pleasant weather. We are seeing more and more blue sky. I am hoping to fill up the vacuum from now until December with some happy thoughts of things to do. I am hoping for the peaceful moment by the beach, reading some good books with the sound of the waves and the blue horizon to zoom out the tiring eyes. I am hoping to meet up with Malaysian friends over dinner and talk in Malay with coffee taste in the mouth that waters down the hot and spicy Asian meals. I am hoping to hit the gym to shred the excess accumulated from the raya treat. I am hoping to run, run and run to prepare my feet for the next marathon. I am hoping to do more at work to meet the year end with a style and satisfaction. Thank God, there are plenty of hopes to drag me out of the depression. So excuse me, I need to get myself out there......
Thursday, 30 July 2009
These Emiratis are humble. Compared to the other kinds of Arab, they are less agitated and more liberal in their thinking yet they hold on dearly to their values and national identity. They are overly concerned about their look though they dress conservatively. They are peaceful and united. They respect their leaders and they are blessed with good visionary leaders to ensure their well-being and protected future. They are the lucky lots. Looking back, who would have thought that these once nomadic people who relied on camels for milk, falcon to find their meat and lungful of air to dive for pearl, could pin superlative achievements in today's map.
Monday, 27 July 2009
Sunday, 19 July 2009
I came to know about his death when I last called my mother. This was what she said.
"Pagi tu bila dia tak boleh nak bangun, dia orang bawak dia pergi hospital. Tapi belum sempat sampai kat hospital, dia dah takde dah. Orang kampung pun buat pengumuman, orang yang paling tua kat kampung dah meninggal. Murah betul rezeki arwah Atuk Yang (Moyang) kau, penuh masjid orang datang sembahyang jenazah untuk dia..."
And my mother would not let me go without saying, "kau tu sembahyang jangan tinggal....."
We are all blessed with the seed of faith as newborns. As we grow and age, some of us are blessed with the strength to hold the faith above anything else. Some of us have just enough strength to juggle faith with everything else in life. Some of us have diminishing faith that can be fit in our pocket as we play and concentrate on other cards that seem to matter more in life. Faith may get greater or smaller; but it will not be lost, I think. Some of us may have misplaced the faith, as it may have been getting small and forgotten for a while.
It never occurs to me that the death of a simple old man who I hardly knew, as told by my nagging mother over the phone in a short long distance call, open my stubborn and dark heart to regain the faith.
Al Fathihah. Alhamdullillah.
Friday, 10 July 2009
Over a decade later, I was under the shade of cherry trees in Nagano. I had been better then. I paid to enter the cherry farm. I plucked the red cherries from the trees and feasted on them. They were fresh and juicy, but they were not as great as the stolen rambutans.
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Now that I have mentioned 'apple', I was having one for breakfast. I was thinking, if life in a year is like the red juicy apple, I have had the better half now and I'm looking at the other remaining half, which is turning brown so quickly. It's just a thought that crosses my mind, 'eat your apple quick or else it'll be badly brown, aged and wasted'. From now to year end, it's like a race against time to get things done and more things done. In between the bites of the half apple, I wish I will remember how sweet it is from the skin all the way to the core.
And by the way, I have booked my ticket home in the August. Indeed, I am busy pushing and being pushed at work during this high chocolate season, crunching my ab at the gym to shape out the 6-pack, running to get the engine started for the next marathon (how I wish I could be there running in the recent SC KL Marathon), yet I never miss counting the days to get home. Exactly, 32 days to go....
Saturday, 4 July 2009
x x x x x x
In my new space
I waited for days
For the cable guy to come and get me connected
Now I have had the Internet and the cable TV
So the new drama begins.....
Sunday, 14 June 2009
The man : "Hi there! I'm YOU when you're old. How are you?"
The boy : "Good. But I'm expecting a better look of a man when I'm old. You're just too plain and ordinary."
The man : "Listen boy. Let me give you a few lessons in life. First, you're not going to be any supermodel, that's for sure. So let's just face it from now, physically you're going to be plain and ordinary. So start working out other ways to make the difference. It starts with the head. The head up here. At school, wake up and ask a lot of questions. That's the fast way to get smarter. Don't simply memorize what is written and regurgitate it in the exams. It's OK if you don't get all the right answers and you don't score an A, so long you understand the principles of the subject and able to think, to defend what you believe in and to challenge the doubt. And stay away from that plump boy who brings porn stuff to school. Porn is a hazard to intelligence. Get it?
The boy : "It's a little too late. He'd shown me stuff already..."
The man : "Never mind. A little porn won't kill. So what do you think you want to become when you're old?"
The boy : "A doctor"
The man : "Forget it, boy. You'll never become one and that's a good thing. Life as a doctor sucks, you get stuck with sick people for the rest of your hospitalized life. Someone special has told me that. You'd better believe her. Engineering is a better option to explore. But you need to pay more attention in your Physics and Chemistry classes later in your secondary school. Do your homework. You must be strong, fundamentally. Life is a journey, boy. Enjoy yourself and have fun every single day. Don't take yourself too seriously. For every single thing that makes you upset and frustrated, learn from it. Believe me, it happens for your own good. God has been very kind to you all the way long. Keep the faith and never keep Him out of your mind."
Friday, 5 June 2009
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
I called home to wish my wife the 8th wedding anniversary wish. Believe it or not, she didn't even think of the anniversary until I called her. Her excuse was she had a busy day with a list of thing to do on a Monday morning and also she hadn't fully recovered from the weekend trip to Genting with my kids and my relatives from Singapore. I told her that I just woke up at noon and had cereals for lunch with lots of milk. She urged me to treat myself a fancy meal for dinner.
We talked again in the evening. She just had a juicy seafood platter at Manhattan Fish Market with my kids. Then they had a chocolate cake with 8 candles.
A few hours later, on the other side of the world, I walked into Burger King to pack my favourite fish sandwich and onion rings.
It was a tasteless anniversary, missing out the right ingredients. But looking at the big picture, a good marriage is not all about counting and celebrating the milestones. Though it is nice to do, the heart of the matter is about re-visiting the pledge, fulfilling it and maintaining the connection between the two souls. The soul doesn't recognise border and physical distance but it needs the on-going connection. Before the end of the day, I wish that I will be faithful to my marital pledge and my soul has a lifetime connection to my soul mate. With the will of God, as long as I am able to keep the flame, I don't mind the solitary anniversary dinner of fish sandwich and onion rings, this year, next year and the years to come.
Thursday, 28 May 2009
It's a little too early to announce officially the arrival of summer for this year. But it's summer anyway. What else can it be when you're out there in the day, the temperature is as high as 49 degrees Celsius? A friend told me that it could be higher; but they would never highlight it as above 50 degrees or else they have to declare a holiday. Outdoor workers have started their siesta from 12:30 to 15:00 or else their employer will be fined up to Dh30,000 and banned from getting the permit to work. The sky is totally bare and blue. The clouds have gone away. Humidity is still bearable now but it is said that the monsoon in Mumbai will bring moisture that will push humidity to the uncomfortable zone in Dubai soon.
The AC runs the ultra-marathon daily. Thank God it's a centralised AC in my building. For summer's sake, it's not Haier.
Drinking water business should reach its peak as people are advised to drink more regularly. But it is the ice-cream that has been the popular craving.
Thin and skimpy clothes are popular summer wear. Some people really dress for it.
As the skirts get shorter, the days get longer. The sun is up as early as 05:30 and set as late as 19:00. Thank God, it's not a fasting month just yet.
Night time is a short retreat. Parks are merrier after sunset with families and friends having dinner picnic during weekend.
Runners like me, eat early dinner to have the night running, sometimes midnight running too.
And by the way, I have a pimple up there at the centre of my forehead. A pimple at the age of 36?? Strange. I thought of blame it on the weather. But on second thought, I like to believe that the summer makes me feel young again, like a beach boy of 17, carefree and footloose.
For all those staring at the sun at about the same angle from where I see it, have a happy summer....
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
The simple celebration
She's not into any kind of dolls because they're not alive. Instead she loves animals.
We're in our little hut seeing the rain
Indeed we had seen enough of the rain and when it stopped, we're thankful.
The girl and her father, messing with the sand.
At the floating edge feeling the wind and the waves
x x x x x x x x x
In one hot and humid afternoon, I dropped by at my son's school to see him in his Tae Kwando class. He was very happy to see me. He is a new kid in the arena. He just joined the class a couple of months back and has a white belt wrapped around his waist. In that class I can tell that in my presence, he has done his level best to show off all he's got. On our way home we had a little chat.
Me : Why is it so important that you must have the yellow belt, Dif Dif?
Hadiff : Neshan has a green belt. Kak Aimi has yellow. So I want to get the yellow and green belt too.
Me : I can see that you did great in there but did you do that because of your friend, your sister or me?
Hadiff : I told you that I want that yellow and green belt. My teacher says I 'm good.
Me : Of course you are. Then let's agree on something now. You want to get the yellow belt, then green and all the way to the black because you want to improve yourself, not because of your friend or Aimi or your teacher or me...
Hadiff : Papa, what's 'improve'?
Me : To do better la. And get better and better than who and what you're now. Your friend might go to a different school. Kak Aimi might find other interest. I might not be there to see all the great things you do. But if you do it because you want to improve yourself for the good reasons, then you'll always find yourself feeling good doing it. Got it?
Hadiff : Got it.
I am not sure how much of the idea of self-drive to self-improvement has really sunk in his head. I am not sure how much he has understood the depth of our little conversation. My point is that I will not be there to motivate him in all his future undertakings. I wish he is aware that within himself, there is a source of inspiration and motivation and this will make him mentally strong to survive even when he is alone in the barren desert. He did not say ' fifty, fifty ' this time. I'm sure one day he will get it.
x x x x x x x x x x
My wife has finally made her decision to sub-specialize in neurology, despite her initial intention to be a cardiologist. This has a lot to do with me being away and the kids' well being. Being a neurologist, she can spend more time with the kids since there will be less time in the hospital doing the on-calls and etcetera. I respect her decision which is purely a mother's sacrifice. She has put aside her own interest. Her decision has somehow disappointed her boss and the team in cardiology. Anyhow, she will be graduating with masters in internal medicine in August. Insyallah, I will be there to see her walk the stage to receive her masters. I still feel bad for not attending her graduation in Tasmania, years back.
It is going to be a while for me before my next home trip in August. This beautiful image of home is a magnetized milestone that keeps pulling me back.
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
I was with Gordon in the office last night. We had a long trouble shooting and adjustment work at ML1. The cooling tunnel got stuck very frequently of late. There were mechanical misalignments at many critical points. Each time it happened, the chocolate got too cold due to the long storage and formed cracked lines. We had big time downtime to remove all the chocolate and to rework it. Gordon was our man to lead the corrective work. He has done all the precise alignments and new settings adjustment of the cooling tunnel. So we had this little talk in the office at 11PM last night.
Gordon : I'm leaving after 11PM. Since 7PM we don't have any carriage jam.
Myself : Tell me what you've done today.
My tone was a little sarcastic since I have heard the same assurance since few weeks but the problem kept coming back. He sensed that I was not convinced. So he took the trouble to take a piece of fresh paper and illustrate all his work today. In order not to discourage him, I was patiently listening to his explanation. It seemed endless, then I cut him.
Myself : Hey Gordon, we bought KFCs for the contractors working extra hours today. There are a few packs extra. Grab one before you go home, will you?
Gordon smiled at my thoughtfulness. He ended his explanation and headed to the cafeteria.
I was minding my own affair in the office. The server has been down. My work has been slowed. After about half an hour, Gordon came back with a happy full stomach. I signed off his late night transport arrangement.
Myself : Thank you for tonight. But stay tuned. I might call you up if we face a problem again.
Gordon : Ok.
He left the factory close to midnight. I left hours later. The next morning I woke up late. When I woke up my phone battery was low. So I charged it by my bedside. I left my apartment to pay some bills and did a little shopping at the Mall of Emirates. I'm flying home this Friday and I haven't bought anything to pack along. I spent hours there without carrying my mobile phone. When I got home, I had 7 missed calls. I noticed one of the numbers was my wife's. So I dialled.
My son Hadiff fell down from bed this morning. He has bruises on his cheek. He is in paediatric ward for further monitoring after he vomitted twice. My wife said there is nothing to worry. It's just a formality in paediatric practice just to be certain. It is a huge relief but the thought of my little boy sleeping in the hospital gives me some kind of uneasiness. Next, I dialled the other missed call. It was my counterpart, Harry's. Harry answered my call.
Harry : Man, we called you many many times. Have you heard?
Myself : What's wrong?
Harry : Gordon passed away.
It was hard for me to swallow. The man was with me last night. He was very much alive - no sign of dying, not at all.
Gordon has been with the company for a good 10 years. He died today of heart failure at the age close to 40. Life is short. Death seizes us without warning. I was one of those who occasionally pushed him to get results. He tried hard to prove himself. It might as well be that damn f***ing old machine and it's stupid design that stressed him up and killed him. It is a depressive thought that I was also playing a part when I was thinking of the possibilities of factors that push him to his early exit, leaving his wife alone in this world to raise his three young daughters. What a misery.
Thursday, 16 April 2009
My tenancy contract is expiring this June. It's the time of the year to check various sites in the net in search for a spot to live in from hundreds of options available. It makes no sense for me to continue renting in my current apartment when there are better and cheaper options available in abundance now. It's kind of nomadic when I really come to think about it. There is no permanence and no sense of belonging. I found myself checking out from one apartment to another, to see if I can fit in. One day I found this nice place in Dubai Marina, affordable (since the rental rate has gone down now and my accommodation allowance has been increased by 40%) but relatively pricey and deadly tempting. It's got a view to die for, from the balcony on the 9th floor. It was really a boastful view of the chic Marina Walk with the nicely moored yachts and the tamed green waterways which narrowly open to the Arabian Sea. A yearly rent for this apartment is equivalent to the full ownership of a single storey terrace house in Malaysia. Luckily, I'm 36, old enough to resist the temptations that are so rife in Dubai.
The view from an apartment that I almost signed an annual deal
The view from the apartment that I finally signed an ownership deal
The bedroom window which I plan to fix a built-in settee for the daylight reading
The empty living room of my new apartment.
Joining the Club
My running has caused me to loose a lot of essential muscles. It freaks me out thinking that my mother, my mother-in-law, my grandma, my aunties and all, would nag me the next time they meet me. They would say repeatedly either " kau tak makan ke apa? " or " kau sakit ke? ". So I join this fitness club. They have assigned me a personal trainer to look into my needs, make a plan and assist me in the execution. My trainer is called Ren. He has trained many marathoners in Dubai. In our first session, Ren asked me, "So what do you want to achieve?". Really, I like this question as I am a dreamer and it has led me to endless happy dreams. But I only remembered telling Ren, "I want to clock in below 4 hours 30 minutes in my next marathon. In doing so, I want to maintain my ideal weight. I want overall good muscle tone with good flexibility. Mind you, I am 36 now. And I want that six packs too on my ab". Ren said, "Well, considered done". After that happy scoping session, life has been really tough for me. I am working out with Ren 3 times a week and he has really worked me out. It's regimental and dreadful. There are days when I wake up and can't have my limbs straightened. But it makes me feel good. No pain, no gain.
Back to the Desert
Amer, an extreme sport enthusiast and my other office mates had organized a marvellous desert trip for our team building and bonding last weekend. This has been my second outing in the desert. The desert setting was somewhat different from what I remembered in my first trip. We were there after series of rain that hit Dubai lately. The sand was moist and hard as our 4x4 traversed through it. It was not as barren as before. The rain has brought about patches of vegetation in the desert landscape. We had fun. The weirdest thing we did was taking turn to drive on the 4x4 blind-folded, while others gave direction. But kids, don't try it on your own.
The lost people in the desert and the green patches that grow after the frequent rain
Coco Cola tastes better in the desert
I have booked my ticket home on the 24th April to spend time with my daughter on her birthday. She is a Taurean, a really hard type to figure out. I am pondering on ways to reach her core in the nick of time. Another tough task that I'm also strategizing at the back of my mind. Lately my wife has informed that my daughter has displayed an early sign of unpleasant negativity, which worries me. In order to leave the chocolate factory for 11 days, I found myself soaked in my work trying to get things done well in advance.
So there you have them. My excuses for not blogging for the past 2 weeks.
Monday, 30 March 2009
Sunday, 29 March 2009
Preparation before the Earth Hour - The big words 'EARTH HOUR' being laid on the beach
The sitting arrangement for some important earthlings during the Earth Hour
The sitting arrangement for the little earthlings who would be doing the colouring work
Voila! The big words 'EARTH HOUR' glow in the dark for aliens to see
Moments before the Earth Hour at The Walk
During the Earth Hour at The Walk - can you see the aliens living above us? Ha ha ha
Before the Earth Hour at Dubai Marina
During the Earth Hour at Dubai Marina - Any difference? You tell me...
The Emaratis sing in the dark
Others eat with and without the lights
It's better to be hopeful rather than be hopelessly ignorant, I think.
They don't give free things in Dubai that often but tonight I get free T-shirt and refreshments too.