Thursday, January 31, 2008

Happy birthday to you...

Today 53 years ago, you were brought into this world as the first child of the family.

You were loved and cared for by your parents, and they placed much hope in you.

25 years down the track, you decided to marry a beautiful young lady who lived about 5 hours away by bus. One of the best decisions ever made, I'd have to say.

3 years later, you had your first child. A girl. A year and 2 days later, you had your second, a son.

Like young seedlings, you nurtured these two rascals with your heart and soul. You may not have done so with much knowledge but you did your best. Trial-and-error works very well sometimes.

The frustration, the anger, the heartache and the 'I don't know la's...
The glow of pride, the sense of achievement, the fulfillment and the 'Yes, I did at least one thing right's...

You became their mentor. You also became their best friend.
You were their inspiration. You were their encouragement.

You showed them that the world is not all that bad a place to be in.

But most of all, you showed them the most important things in life - family, friends, simplicity, respect, honesty and individuality.

Today, I, on behalf of both the rascals, would like to let you know that we are proud to be your children. I hope we make you as proud of us.

Happy birthday, Father!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Home alone

Shaun left for home last Monday. It was a rainy day and I don't particularly enjoy driving in wet conditions. My emotions were very much like the weather. Sad. Gloomy.

But having the house all to myself is superb. I reign supreme! I get to clean the entire house without having anyone to mess it all up again in no time. I get to watch any video to my heart's content. I also get to sing whatever song I want at any time of the day and night. Muahahaha...

But not all is rosy. It does feel rather lonesome and awfully quiet. Doesn't help that we live in Epping where it's dark and silent in the dead of the night. The city is the opposite of where we are - bright from the neon lights of the billboards and surrounding high-rises, and noisy from the hustle and bustle of the people and traffic.

Being alone also makes me think more - way more than I normally do. I think about my family and friends. I think about my future and my present state. I think about what life would be like if I chose not to stay. I think about all sorts of nonsensical issues not worth thinking about.

At the end of the day, being home alone makes me appreciate life more. Makes me want to brush up on making use of my time more as well - you see, when you're alone and free to do whatever you want whenever you want to, time management is almost non-existent. Well, that's the bright side. On the down side, I miss the people I grew up with. I miss so many of you. I have my phone bill and e-mails to prove that I really do.

Oh well, I guess I'd just have to wait it out, eh?

The time now is 4:30p.m. Better start walking to the station - I'm off to being out with others - can't be home alone all the time now, can I?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Election musings

Perhaps it's the weather. Or maybe it's because the house is empty. Or it could be due to friends leaving for home to celebrate CNY with family. When I read this article, my chest felt heavy and my eyes were teary. Somehow, emotions were triggered. I think it most probably was because of the situation I'm in at the moment - waiting at the crossroads for the lights to change.

Election musings
Petra Gimbad

American writer Joan Didion once wrote, "Life changes in an instant. The ordinary instant."

Some time back, I granted an interview to a mass communications student regarding sexist parliamentarians. She was not able to see the need for our political leaders to respect women. I doubt that it will take anything less than a personal brush with sexual harassment for her to wake up to reality. We may all arrive at different points of realisations in our own time, but sometimes one wonders whether they come too late.

Sometimes, we never learn.

Election time, we hear, is coming.

Recently, a friend opined that Malaysia is headed for an economic downfall. I cannot confirm the truth of what he said.

Some believe that we should never speak of what we truly do not know. However, one hopes that humbly being aware of how little we know while asking questions fosters better understanding.

Anyway, if covering our own asses is all we care about, no wonder we are in the state we are in. A melancholy hangs over many friends and acquaintances, regardless of whether they have decided who to vote for or not.

Many do not bother to even register to vote, a right people have died for. The answer, apparently, lies in migration. They seem to forget that even successful migrations can take years to complete and not everyone has that option.

What if one has to wait a few years? What happens in the meantime?

What if one’s application does not succeed? What then? Is the only answer to amass more money?

What of the underprivileged who do not have that option?

Someone asked, "Why stay in Malaysia when things are so bad?" All I could reply was, it all depends on your personal calling.

We honour those who perform compassionate work in war zones, and humiliate those who choose to stay, under less extenuating circumstances, for the same motivations.

We forget that for a lot of us middle class English speakers, life is still pretty good. I admit I compare myself to a disabled couple who survive on less than RM500 a month in Kuala Lumpur and refugees who do not even have the legal documents to find work to feed their children; in a society that thinks migration is the answer and forgets that this makes us Malaysians refugees in other countries, too.

Forgetting that our ancestors were once migrants too – whether from China, India, Indonesia, the Middle East, Portugal – you name it. One of my favourite Yasmin Ahmad blog posts lists her crew’s ethnicities from one of her films, illustrating how many Malaysians have their roots placed in more than one country outside of Malaysia.

Is it wrong to make one’s life elsewhere? No. But lest we forget, our country was built on the backbones of our migrant ancestors. Once upon a time, they dreamed of giving their future generations a better life – that’s us. This is not so wrong.

I am not so learned to be able to state for sure whether we are at a tipping point concerning which way our country will turn judicially, politically or socio-economically. However, there seems to be a fear that peace may end.

But I do know that we need to move beyond the fears and beliefs that paralyse us from thinking and taking action. An understanding of how we arrived at where we are, which should include political analysis but also must go beyond political blame.

It is about politics and social science, but also bigger than these.

This understanding also includes our taking responsibility for our action or lack of in the past. To mourn for what no longer can be undone, to thrash with guilt, but also – to let what we know and our sense of justice move us forward, in steps.

I have met a rare few who are exempt from this melancholy. Those who express anguish, regardless of whether they declare their love or hate of this country with passion, are affected by Malaysia’s future.

Whether it is to vote, to read up in order to join initiatives, to write letters to the press or to create our own little solutions which contribute to the huge effort as a whole, we choose or do not choose what we do. We decide to do all we can or less.

We still are the stakeholders of this country.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy 2008!

The time was 12:40pm. The place was Sydney's Royal Botanical Gardens. The event was the biggest event of the year: the New Year countdown. There we were lining up to GET INTO the park with 22,000 other revelers. Xin Wen's reaction was: I cannot believe I am doing this again.

Just looking at the queue was enough to think: wah, so, how long will it take just to get in?

Some people were smart: they waited under trees while their not-so-smart friends or family members queued under the blazing hot sun.

Seriously, the line went on and on. It went from one end to the other end of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Round this tree, down that hill, past this statue. The Sydney city skyline overlooked us - St. Mary's Cathedral and Sydney Tower were the more outstanding ones.

Even queued right outside the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

By the time we managed to enter the gardens, there were already 8000 over other revelers there. There wasn't an inch of free space available on the grass nor the rocks. Under the trees were a definite no-go zone and even the sunniest and hottest of areas were taken. We had no choice but to walk back out to a spot I spotted earlier that had this view:

Our spot was shady and there was no one there when we arrived. Even after an hour, only a small crowd gathered:

Arif managed to find a spot inside, right under the trees and right at the waterfront. He came out to hang out with us twice because it was 'too cold' with the strong wind blowing. So, there were five of us on the mat: Xin Wen, Justin, Arif, Shaun and I.

For me, I've not seen the fireworks in real life so it was an experience for me. It was all fun, fun and fun for me as there were enough snacks to last me the entire day until midnight. There was also Monopoly to kill time and I brought my book along to read (under the umbrella). Justin preferred to rest while Xin Wen actually dozed off!

And because entrance was free, F&B were expensive - I bought a can of Redbull for $5!! Wah, simtia.

When it gradually became darker, a display of lights appeared. At first, we couldn't figure out what it was. It was when the 'drops of sand' fell that we figured that it was an hourglass, marking time ticking away towards the new year.

This first display was for the 9:00pm family fireworks, which did not have a display of fireworks from the bridge. It was still spectacular nonetheless. I apologise for the poor quality shots...

And it was back to waiting. By that time, boredom and tiredness were kicking in so we ended up taking candid shots of each other and playing with the camera's functions.

After queuing for 1.5 hours and waiting for 10 hours, we finally saw the new year fireworks. Check my YouTube account for more videos:

Ah, so worth the wait and the freaking SUNBURN.

Stay safe and have a blessed new year!