Monday, August 31, 2009

Language Woes

And probably in the wrong time...

I made a sudden decision some time ago to register with an online job search service in order to look for some freelance and part time writing gigs. It was a tough process determining what category to put myself into - should I look for something technical, or try out editing, etc, but I made it as wide ranged as possible, because at the end of the day, it would be me who filters through the vacancies to choose what to apply for.

I got the first ever job notification a few hours ago - and they're apparently looking for an assistant editor (hardly looks freelance or part time to me), but here's the catch... It's for the Chinese Language Edition of the Magazine. And I don't even speak the language. Oh well, I'm sure others will surface soon enough

:)

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Country in Mid-Life Crisis

In just three days, the nation will be celebrating the 52nd Independence day from the British after they (the British) seemed to have lost interest in the Asian nations for several reasons that I can't really recall but which I could recite without any problem about 12 years ago when I used to be 'ahem' book smart ;)

In the old days, we looked at Independence day with awe, at home and at school. I remember getting up early as a child to watch the parades on TV (I should ask my mom why she made it a point to wake us up to watch it, though - on a public holiday of all things!), and I even used to be able to sing along to the particular year's chosen song. I drew the flag, even if I never got the 14 points of the star symmetrical enough and put it in front of the house because we didn't have a cloth flag back then. Independence day or Merdeka (as we call it) used to be something to really look forward to.

These days, other than it being a public holiday (long weekend this week, yay!) there's nothing much else to look forward to. There's a flag somewhere in the house, but no one is hanging it up... I have no idea which song was picked, or how it sounds (although there was an ad that asks you to select which 1Malaysia song you want, but I am not sure if the 1Malaysia song will be used for the Merdeka celebrations. I like the one that has that upbeat, rock-ish tune) or even what is the motto for this year's celebration. So, I wonder... what is it about being an adult that makes you feel that the Independence Day celebration is just a show, and not something that genuinely makes you happy?

Upon dwelling on this point on this quiet Friday afternoon, it occurred to me that just like last year, the current situation in the country (be it social or politics, increasingly insane rules, people arrested for doing certain stuff, etc) could be a contributing factor to the lackadaisical attitude of the people towards what is one of the great turning points in the history of our nation. With the blooming field of alternative media, all the rose tinted glasses we once wore seems to have been crushed under very strong heels... irreparable. There are so many other problems that have surfaced that it looks like the 52 years of attempted nation building could crumble any minute with even the slightest jolt.

The only thing that makes me smile is this ad by Petronas for Merdeka...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Looking for the Missing Groove

So, it's been 5 days since I took an unofficial, unannounced break from blogging, which when you come to think of it, wasn't that much of a break seeing that I had actually written about 2 unpublished posts (because I never completed them) and that I kept visiting to stalk other blogs, as well as to reply to comments. The only way I would totally disappear from this world which I have become so dependent on for the sake of my sanity is if I were totally disconnected from the internet like I was somewhere around this time last year. I had some sort of minor withdrawal symptom back then.

Anyway, just to get back into the groove (this is all for the added drama effect, but then since I had missed out on 5 days events - not that my life is eventful in any way, in fact it is so dead boring that I am sometimes amazed at the fact that I can spew out so many things here on the blog... some that I'm okay with, and some that I regret putting up a few days later...) I thought that I'd highlight several things I thought worth mentioning...

Firstly, I kind of found out yesterday that we will be left without a real boss in the very near future, instead we will have two kind-of-temporary-but-also-kind-of-permanent bosses (the story is lengthy and complicated), and one of them is a friend of mine on FB. Just my luck... now I have to be careful about what I say there or be very, very cryptic. At least I still have this place, though I really should figure out how to get a new URL (without any indication of my actual name) just to be safe. Actually, I already know how to do it, but it involves transferring files and informing the few dear readers I have of the said transfer, etc... We'll see.

Also, when you're Malaysian, you're supposed to know at least some of the culture (especially food, because Malaysians are known to love food and if you ask any Malaysian their favourite thing about Malaysia, they will most definitely say it's the food) of some of the types of people you see everyday. Now, I don't know everything but I know some, and I thought it was hilarious that the owner of the small stall where we had Indian lunch today offered me rasam in one of those adorably cute metal cups but referred to it as soup. Of course rasam is soupy in texture and can be called soup, but if you're eating in an Indian stall, I think it was an insult that the owner would think I didn't know what rasam is.

The scariest ever odour that can greet you when you open the kitchen door is the smell of escaped gas from the gas cylinder.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Everybody Hurts


If life were a sitcom, then yesterday would have been the season's special episode for physical comedy.

Falling down or hurting myself in a comedic way has been a part of my life since I can remember, the worst of the lot being the time when my left heel gave way on a stationary escalator and I literally tumbled down it, scaring all the people who were there, destroying my sister's pants and scraping the skin off my shins which took forever to heal. This happened way back in 2004, but the scars are still visible, albeit slightly. I must also hold the record for being the one and only person to have sprained my ankle before entering a jungle for some training, or to have dropped a box set of books on someone's head (she shouldn't have been sneaking a read under the shelf of the bookstore, though - so maybe I was just the channel karma used to hit the person), and I'm also capable of making any ballerina turn green with envy at my ability to do a pirouette in a cramped space before falling in a heap as an after effect of attempting to close my car door in that cramped space. Don't ask.

Anyway, back to yesterday... I first hit my right knee on the leg of a marble table due to my strange habit of needing to be really close to the table during meetings. Perhaps it's a subconscious way of me feeling protected by the table... plus, it gives a more dramatic effect if I had to suddenly push myself behind to stand up and give an opinion! That hit on the knee made me have to rest my head on the table for a bit. It hurt so much, but surprisingly it looks as though there is no internal injury.

The second incident happened later that night after I came back from the gym, at about almost 10 pm. Now, my parents house was built in the late 70's where cars were not a very necessary item yet, and therefore the porch is a bit small, so there's a 'knack' when it comes to parking the car. For my car, I have to reverse park it at a right angle with the right side of the gate outside, and the left side of the gate inside. And although I have my own keys, dad came out to open the gate for me and he did it wrongly. So I just got out of the car to help him when I noticed Ketsbaia moving slowly towards the house at the corner in it's own time. In horror, I ran towards the car, but was not strong enough to stop it. In the end, and in sheer panic, I used my right shin to somehow do something to the car (I was in panic, in fear and dreadfully tired after a long day so I can't remember what was it I did) while I yanked the hand break up. At least now I know if I suddenly decide to change fields, I could try being a stunt woman!

The shin hurt a bit, but didn't show any signs of injury until I came out of the shower. There was a big swell which seemed to be getting bigger by the minute. And now I have a bad ass bandage on my right shin.

Note: Title borrowed from R.E.M

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Of Conquering The World and Crime Solving

It was hardly expected the first time around that a certain game that goes around by the name Risk could twirl me round it's fingers (if it had any, that is) so easily because I was never one for large group games - once again being a loner of sorts. It took just one game over the bed in one of the rooms during the trip to Kuching to get me and a few other first timers hooked. Now, a game like Risk is the kind of game that gets better the more players there are, and for that very reason, when JV suggested that we reunite to play again, I jumped with joy (not literally, of course) at the idea.

Our little game started at JV's house, and there were only 5 of us, including JV's cousin who was playing for the first time. So naturally, she had 1 seasoned veteran teaching her, and 3 other wannabe veterans attempting to teach her the game amidst laughter and chips! She got hooked as well! Of course JV aced the game quietly and stealthily while the rest of us looked on in horror as she literally conquered the world out of nowhere while obliterating the grey pieces. Obliterating the grey pieces was my mission, so she had helped me solve my mission unknowingly as well! Ha!

Unfortunately, one of our members had to dismiss herself to attend something family related, and finally there were only 3 of us. JV's cousin had to leave as well, while I had nothing better to do so I hung around with UM and JV. Although it was a small crowd, we decided to give Cluedo a chance. I must admit that I got hooked on this one as well! To think that I had existed for 29 long years in this world without knowing how fun these games are. After a few rounds of Cluedo - the games finished rather fast as there were only three of us and clues were much more easily obtained this way, we decided to go out and have a drink. And it turns out that we really had so many different topics of conversation to cover and didn't notice that time had passed - it was way past dinner time by the time we decided to head back.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Blubber and Tweak

In the middle of our small circle was a rectangular blue tank/pool filled with water, with things bobbing around it - flags on floats as path markers. We all had some small polystyrene hemispheres which had to be filled with the perfect combination of materials (which were provided) to enable the hemispheres to balance themselves and move along with with the current in the tank. However, this seemed much more challenging that it seemed, and after a few trials and errors, one of our team members had managed to get the right combination which he then proceeded to teach the rest of us who were there by accident as we were supposedly supposed to play a game of Risk!

On another day, I was very inconveniently informed that I was required to travel to another country at the very last minute. Grabbing my suitcase, I rushed with another person who seemed to be in the same boat as me. Somehow, without going through normal airport security, we managed to land in that other country with a whole bunch of people and I was terribly worried that I had not packed my passport with me. We were then ushered into this big van where a few of us in similar circumstances were placed. The vans had no seats to speak of and we were huddled in our own corners while being driven to an unknown destination. I noticed with a sense of doom that even our suitcases had been left behind.

Later on, I found myself having a book in my hand, a book where a photograph of an extremely rare turtle (I forgot the name) was taken by a ten year old girl who dabbled in photography. She shares name with one of my old friends from school, and it somehow seemed to be my destiny to go and look for her. While travelling around in that foreign country, I found the shop which her family owns and I spoke to a bespectacled old lady about the book, the photo and the girl. And then another not-so-old lady with hair cropped short spoke to me. They sadly lamented about how the camera and the original negatives of the photos were all now with the Sultan of (a very rich oil country in the island of Borneo) It could have been just my feeling, but it seems as though they referred to this 10 year old girl in the past tense. Could she be dead?

I can't begin to describe how relieved I was when I finally managed to wake up from this.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Fun In the Sun Part 3

Every year, towards the end of July or early August, about 200 people will be jumping with some excitement over the annual company event which either consists of a casual outing (usually to a water based theme park) or a dinner where people dress their best and eat boring sharks fin soup. I used to wonder what it is about shark fin's soup that leaves people in awe... it tastes pretty normal and each time they bring the dish to the table my thoughts go to the shark that lost it's fin, all bleeding and falling deep into the ocean floor as it can't swim. Then it dies.

But I digress...

This year, nobody really jumped. The trip to Tambun was looked on as an inconvenience as it involved a 2 to 2.5 hour drive one way, and us needing to stay there. Of course those who work in the company had everything sponsored except for travelling expenses, but parents had to pay for their kids - especially if they're above 90 cm. In the end, not that many people went. (Oh, they decided to reimburse us for petrol and toll today)

What I found exciting was the journey there... the radio played good music until I lost the reception as we headed away from the frequency which was then replaced with a bit of music from my mp3 and another friend's Japanese music. Driving was so much fun that I didn't feel all that tired or sleepy and the view from the highway was picturesque. I loved how the clouds hovered slowly at the tips of the limestone hills and it was all so green and beautiful.
The limestone hills

The Lost World of Tambun itself was pretty alright as far as theme parks go. I hung out with a bunch of people I don't usually hang out with (yes, I am a loner and therefore can gel with anyone for that matter) We hardly went back to our company tent especially after someone told us that the treasure hunt was for 'guys only' except for lunch, which was honestly a bit pathetic considering how water can make you extra ravenous. I just found out today that we were lied to. Our watery fun ended at about 2.00pm as it started to rain and we had also run out of things to do. The water also temporarily killed my camera which will explain the lack of photos here. Sorry.

After a quick shower, we headed to our hotel to check in. That process was a bit of a mess as the hotel people had not planned out the giving of the keys properly. A good and proper shower later, I found myself drifting off to sleep until I woke up with a slight headache at about 5:30. As time progressed, the migraine just got worse but I tried to ignore it for the dinner that night which was awesome in terms of entertainment. Despite the headache. An epiphany hit in the middle of the event... what if the hairdryer could save my camera? Turns out I was right. A few blasts of hot air made my camera work again. Sadly I missed out on almost all the reasons to take pictures :(
A view of an old house in Ipoh town


As much as it was not an event that I was anticipating for, I did have an enjoyable time and am at least 20 - 30% happier than I was in July. So all is good, I suppose

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Fun In the Sun

Re-post from the old blog: August 1st 2005
I wrote this about 4 years ago, after the very first company event I attended. The reason for this re-post is that I just very recently went for this year's event and haven't been able to post it up yet because everything is still scattered all over the place in what I'd call my brain.

The sun was shining brightly and everyone was happy…. that was last Saturday, when the company I work in had their first ever family day at Desa waterpark. (Actually it is the first ever Family Day I participated in - they might have had others before I joined)

I was a bit apprehensive at going at first due to the fact that I can’t swim and that I also have the buoyancy of a stone. Sucks huh? Anyway I went, because this was also the first ever company organised thing I was going for, and I figured, if there was nothing much I could do, there was always the alternative of observing people which would have been interesting… hehehe (the evil gears in the head are turning….)
It turned out to be quite an exciting day after all, despite the fact that my boss almost killed me by shoving my life saver (the tube which I was clinging on to for dear life) and me into some violent fake waves. (Yeah, we were riding some fake and violent waves in a man made pool. For me it was downright creepy, but I didn’t want to miss out on any of the fun… reckless….)
And I rode in all the different rides there was. The most exciting being the high speed, stomach turning and brain wrecking ride known as the thunderbolt. But when the ride is done, the feeling of euphoria is indescribable. Kind of gives you a kick… and you want more…:)
Somehow I think, that I’m going to look at water a bit more differently after this… I feel the fear slowly dissipating, although I don’t think I’ll try the open sea just yet.

Where Tear Gas and Street Protests Meet

Over the weekend, while certain people were busy being unintentionally ignorant of the going ons around them, the streets of KL were abuzz with a peaceful rally against the ISA. Now, the keyword here is peaceful, and although we know that things can turn from peaceful to nasty in a matter of seconds (for instance the lion which seems so docile but suddenly decides to attack it's trainer), the police actually started with roadblocks on Friday night itself.

On Saturday, apparently even more police personnel were deployed to various areas where the rally was supposed to take place and there was even backing up from the FRU. It's interesting to note that demonstrations/rallies/marches/protests are deemed illegal in this beloved nation of ours, and therefore despite the numerous press releases and the assurance that this one was going to be peaceful (after all, it is a large group of people marching to give a memorandum to the palace) it was still illegal, and therefore the people who took part in it had water cannons and tear gas thrown at them even before they got unruly. In the end over 400 people were arrested for peaceful marching.

As I was scanning through the many articles written on my favourite socio-political website - Malaysia Today, and one particular article caught my eye. It states that the Minister of the Federal Territory claims that the losses for that day, due to the rally costs RM 100 million to RM 200 million. Of course this claim was quietly but efficiently put down by RPK himself like a hired assassin doing an incredibly clean job.

Now, regardless if that is the exact quantity of losses or not, what crosses my mind is that if the police and/or FRU had not fired the water cannons and tear gas, the rally or march to the palace would have been peaceful and the memorandum would have been passed on to the palace without any skirmish or arrests. Even the people not involved in the march would have been brave enough to visit the area and go shopping at the shops that allegedly lost their income that Saturday. It's like how violence has to be met with violence. If the people in the rally had turned unruly then only the use of tear gas or the water cannons can be justified. Why make an unruly mob out of something that was not-really-a-mob in the first place? Just a thought to ponder upon...

Note: This post was written mostly yesterday afternoon and had to be put on hold while I did other things that took me far away from the internet. The continuation today seems a bit weird as I had actually forgotten what this post was really supposed to be about!