Monday, February 27, 2006

John Khai - a tribute

early this morning, i received news of the passing of John Khai early Saturday morning. he passed away aged 17 years old, due to complications from a lymphoma that has spread to the stomach.

he was admitted to HUKM for treatment, but while waiting for his condition to stabilise and his infection and renal failure to clear up before they consider chemotherapy or surgery, he passed away after exhibiting symptoms of pain, vomiting of blood and progressive delirium, only for the last 1 month or so.

he was a Myanmarese who managed to escape the regime in Myanmar with his brother, and managed to make their way to Malaysia. they arrived only 2 months ago. in Myanmar, John saw both his parents and another brother shot by soldiers, presumably the junta's. to be honest, i don't know why, but i hardly think it's because they were counter-revolutionaries. maybe the stupid soldiers were hungry and decided to forcibly get food. lives have rarely turned on decisions and impulses smaller and baser than that.

to see both your parents murdered, to escape literal persecution and almost certain death, to attempt to make it to a better life somewhere else and being so nearly successful at it, and to have Death cheat you in the end - it's just plain cruel.

what remains of John is simple - his courage, indomitable as a human lion - will not go unnoticed. his life did not go unnoticed.

Brazil - the land of the single-name geniuses

everyone knows that Brazil is famous for a few things - the Amazon river and rainforest, the samba carnivals, Copacabana beach parties, gasohol, and of course, Pele, Ronaldinho, Robinho, Jairzinho, Socrates, Garrincha, Adriano, Dunga and whatnot.

those single-names are actually good things, instead of forcing us to remember that Pele's real name is Edson Arantes de Nascimento (or something, that's off the top of my balding head). that's the first stroke of genius - branding themselves as instantly recognisable names and trademarks, making it easy for us to remember (and worship) them.

the second stroke of genius took some time in coming, but somehow we know it was inevitable. instead of single names only, now it's single names with a purpose. there are, and i kid you not, in the French League, 2 Brazilian football players with appropriate names.

one of them is a striker, and his name is Strikao. another is a defender, and his name is Defendi. makes you wonder if somewhere in Brazil now there isn't a parent who's nicknaming his son Midfieldo or Goalieo - just to give him a head start.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

the role of the mamak culture in malaysia

in the west, when you've got a problem you usually head on down to the nearest watering hole and drown your sorrows, or commiserate with the bartender in some quiet classy-looking bar with few patrons and the bartender's consequent undivided attention.

the classic picture is this: the bartender is an old white dude in a white apron, polishing a glass that's already so shiny, full of pithy sayings about philosophy, life, marriage and its troubles, the role of alcohol in moderating one's outlook on life, workplace troubles and whatnot. the problematic dude is wearing a suit, just off a bad day at work, both elbows on the table with scattered shot glasses around his hands.

and boy do they talk. it's easy to unburden to a stranger, because he's not likely to judge you and he's not likely to use your problems against you and he's likely to offer pretty good advice because he's not bogged down by your past and your self.

so anyway... does anyone think that malaysia has an equivalent? maybe it's sitting right under our noses, but we're not noticing it. i just had dinner in a mamak stall, and there was a middle-aged chinese guy at the table next to me, and suddenly he began crying. and there was the mamak guy patting him on the shoulder, not one mind you - but THREE of them! that's 60% of the workforce all there for that guy, with tissue paper and genuine sympathetic noises.

of course there's a language gap, of course there wasn't much talking, of course there was no advice given at all. but does it matter when malaysians are generally quieter and more introspective, less likely to talk to a total stranger, even less likely to accept advice from a total stranger - it doesn't really matter when all we need sometimes is someone who will sympathise with us for a few minutes, let us be ourselves and hurt for a while, not judge us but simply spend some time with us... who needs bartenders, words and shiny polished glasses anyway?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

space cadets

malaysia bought some planes from Russia, MiG-29 Fulcrums, some time in the mid-to-late 90s. Northrop Grumman were bidding to sell their F/A-18 Hornets as well, and as it turns out, the russians won a slightly larger bid than the americans.

at a price actually - signing the deal meant that Russia will have to send 2 malaysians up to space as part of their cosmonaut program. the time has now come for russia to send the Malaysian space cadets into space, and malaysia is now looking for our two astronauts/cosmonauts/taikonauts or boleh-nauts.

inevitably, some of the questions that the media posed to the space cadets (all very uninspiring personalities if you ask me... where are the Air Force pilots, police officers and scientists?) are so boring, they don't even need a lack of oxygen to feel sleepy.

"why do you want to be an astronaut?" - my childhood dream, fly to the moon, see earth from up above.

here's my answer - i want to be an astronaut because i promised my girlfriend that i'll give her the stars and the moon, and now i'm going up there to get it for her.

by the way, i'm single, and despite the Valentine-itis hitting the world, i have never promised any girl any celestial objects.

Friday, February 10, 2006

31 days

i'm 31 days away from conceivably the toughest examination in my life - and i don't believe i'm kidding in any way. yesyes, people would say that the UPSRs and PMRs and O Levels and A Levels were the most difficult exams in our lives (up to that point)... but truly, in both relative and absolute ways, i am heading for The Big One.

i hope i'll pass - with a bit of grace, i hope i'll pass.

Monday, February 06, 2006

My 25th Birthday

i don't like celebrating my birthdays. i don't like cakes, parties, candles and people making a big fuss of you. i like having presents and having one wish that will come true - but then again, most people would like presents and wishes come true every day, and not just their birthdays.

i've never really celebrated birthdays with my family, at least in the traditional way of parties and friends come over. of course there used to be cakes and candles when i was really small, but i grew out of it quickly. it has got nothing to do with reminders of growing older, and nothing to do with the ordinary-ness of birthdays. i just don't like celebrating my birthdays. mom and dad and sis would always buy me something nice - one crazy year i got a can of Pringles, which when opened, revealed a nice pair of shorts, something i had needed/wanted!

i've already had a couple of invitations to go out for dinner this Wednesday. i've been treated to a dinner already as a birthday treat. i'm sure when school reopens i'll be asked out again. i'm sure when Wednesday rolls in i'll get emails and calls and texts to wish me a happy birthday. *smile* i have wonderful friends, and i am so very lucky to have them - they make me very happy.

but this year i'm afraid. i'm afraid that i'll feel empty and scared. i'm afraid that i'm turning 25 and i'm so very nearly an adult, but yet i need my father so much. yeahyeah i'm strong, yeahyeah i'll handle things one day at a time and all that - but i don't want to pass milestones without him. i don't want to achieve things and then not have him see it. it's such an awkward time to have a birthday, when the one thing that i want to wish for right now is the one thing that will not come true.

please don't think i'm bitter, or weak, or angry, or small, or childish, or immature, or raw, or tender, or anything negative at all.

all i want for my birthday this year is to celebrate it with my father. 25 more times, please.