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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In paris, you could get a lot of free stuff if you know where to look. And fortunately for me, free stuff found me instead of the other way round. :))

1st of all, if you're a student and you happen to bring along a passport, the Mona Lisa and all the treasures of the Louvre can be admired for 0 euros.

And its also free to enter Notre Dame, although you won't see Quasimodo anywhere. Maybe you have to pay to see him.

And of course, the French aren't so greedy as to charge you for taking pictures of the Eiffel tower and the Arc du Triomphe. Although at le tour eiffel there are lots and lots of souvenir sellers, keychains dangling from their whole arm. Tip: if they don't give you a good price, run away. They'll be selling stuff for peanuts.

So that constitutes the whole of my 2nd day in Paris, and covers pretty much all of the famous attractions. Check.

transport?

That can also be free. I got a metro pass for zones 1-3, so the marginal cost of 1 more journey is? Yes, 0. But don't fret if you lost your ticket or you didn't buy any, the Paris train system is perfect for people like you, and I meant that in a good way :) 1stly, there is nobody guarding the ticket gates. 2ndly, you only need a ticket to go in,while the exit is just a door you push, unlike the cheat-proof london underground. What we did when one of us damaged his ticket was:

- leaving the ticket behind for the next person, after you pass thru the gates.
- pushing the exit door open so that person can come through

We're naughty naughty children.

And lastly, eurostar gives out tonnes of free stuff, and that's like winning the lottery. But that's a story for later ;)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

fuhh

Its good to be back in London, home of the English-speaking population.

But its even better to be back after everything that happened.

But we'll get to that later.

Right now i just need some sleep.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Gotta hate the white stuff

The second day in Paris was a somewhat memorable one. We woke up, looked out the door, and woooosh, it was snowing! Snow, that beautiful, fluffy, slushy, wet,slippery, horrible white stuff. Sure, when you've never seen snow you're all yahoo!s. But once it becomes the daily weather, -.-

But let's jump to the happy parts first. We travelled to Paris and visited Musee du Louvre, as seen in the Da Vince Code. As is normal for teenagers (young adults, alright alright) the ultimate reason for visiting places like these is to take photos and say 'I've been to the Louvre, and I have photos!' regardless of how priceless your art collection is.

And then we had snowball fights, my first ever. How cool is that? Other people might say 'The first time i played snowballs was in my backyard', i'll say 'the first time i played snowballs, i was at the foot of la pyramide inversee, flanked by priceless art collections and a Mona Lisa'. Apart from being my first snowball arena, the Louvre is a massive museum with all sorts of amazing antiquities which makes your mouth go wide, and your cameras go click. And there's the Mona Lisa, which i until now am still unable to appreciate its value, but since its so famous now i can say 'i've seen the Mona Lisa upfront'.

And then we went to the Notre Dame cathedral, home of Quasimodo. I tried looking everywhere, but couldn't find him. Now I don't believe in Disney movies anymore.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Parlevous Anglais??

Why don't the French speak bloody English??

I didn't understand a bloody word when we got off the Eurostar train at Gare du Nord. And we just depended on Ms. Fatine Nabile to get the Metro passes, l'hotel, blablabla.

As it turned out, our package (115 euros) was like this:
- Metro 3 day pass for zones 1 to 3
- Hotel in zone 4

Hahahaha. Fell for it. But it isn't that bad though. Except for the fact that the red line going to Boissy Saint Leger is on strike. Perfect timing messieurs *swear* so we had to take a different train to Creteil Prefecture, and another 20 minutes bus ride to Boissy. But the bus was like 30 minutes away, and the cold was biting into the bones, so we decided to take a taxi, even those of us who normally eat 40p Tesco breads everyday. The things we do when desperate :P

And then searching for a taxi, we stumbled upon a Carrefour (waaaaa..macam Malaysia) and bought some foodstuff. And then i lined up and paid. As soon as i showed the cashier a Euro note, did i realise the line was supposed to be for paying by card. And the cashier was babbling at me in French. And i didn't understand a bloody word. I was gaping, eyes wide. Even if she was saying the worst swear word in the world, i would just stand there and say 'Pardon? Pardon?' Coz that's the word they use when barging into people on the Metro train. Lesson no.1 : Learn some French.

And then we asked some people where to find the taxi. One of them said 'zero section' which we took to be the ground floor. Urgghhh. In the end we got a cab, but that was the worst part.

The taxi started its rate at 11 euros. Shite. And it was a timed meter, which means it goes up every few seconds (or every few milliseconds if u ask me). That's right. Just like your blood pressure. So i covered my eyes with my bag, because the taxi driver was literally holding a knife to our throats. Ok, lesson no.2: Don't ride cabs. Darn those workers on strike.

But at night, after a much needed sleep, we searched around on Google maps (so tomorrow we'll know where the bus is) and found a KFC!!! wooohooo!!! Someone told me that KFCs in France are halal, so we walked 15 minutes to the place. Believe me, it was so cold your nose might fall off if you jentikked it.

KFC never tasted so gooooood. You don't have to speak English, having a halal KFC is good enough :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy birthday

Happy 1st birthday mynameisikmal.blogspot.com!! :DDDDD

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Just a dose of awesomeness

Today i taught my American friend, Nick how to cook Malaysian food.

He said it was awesome :) As for me, it almost felt like home-cooking :)

I couldn't believe how fast you can learn to cook when you're left to fend for yourself. No more lauk magically appearing under the tudung saji. No more self-cooking rice. It's when you're all alone you realise then someone actually works hard to prepare your meals. Really hard.

So we made ayam masak halia and stir-fried braised vegetables. It was actually the first time i had vegetables here. Maybe chickens have all the essential nutrients, just maybe.

So that took a full 2 hours, cooking and eating and washing. The implicit cost of cheap food is a full 2 hours of not doing any readings. Or maybe it would have been 2 hours of facebook. Just maybe.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

things that talk

Its really really cold, even as im writing wrapped in my duvet. Now i know what it feels like to be a Good Day chocolate milk *refer to previous post*. If they feel anything, that is. We humans have a tendency to give character to animals/plants/inanimate objects. I learnt that in anthropology. Its called to 'antropomorphize'. Just look at cartoons. The most popular ones are talking animals.

Sewer mice on the tracks of Holborn station? Gross. Talking mouse wearing red pants and white gloves? Nice.

Dressing mirror? Dull. Talking mirror praising your fairness? I'd want that.

And it goes on and on and on.

Which brings me to the Good Day example. Taken to the extreme, you could feel pity for the milk carton, forced to stay in 4 C like, all the time. Then you'd start to fight for the rights of the milk. You'd ban fridges, which would yield unintended consequences like now you've got nowhere to store your milk so you won't buy milk so farmers won't produce milk and so no Good Day.

Now imagine instead of a milk carton, its an actual 'innocent-looking' guinea pig. Awwwwww. Environmentalists use this appeal so that you'd want to fight for the rights of the guinea pig to live in wherever they live, so no cutting down trees. So no more 2B pencils. This is vital so we can conserve animal species so we can do research on them so we know where we come from. Bullcrap. We don't come from mouse. Not even glove-wearing ones.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Title Seems Incoherent with the Text, But Thats just OK

Hate the KY internet. Eventhough we (i say we, i mean Bank Negara, sorry) pay more per year compared to locals studying at LSE (RM 30000 per year compared to just 3000 pounds=RM 17400 +/-), connection is frustrating.

I know this because......you don't really need to know why :)

4 C in London. That's like being in a refrigerator. I know this because of Good Day chocolate milk cartons. 'Store beneath 4C'. So i deduce that fridges must have that kind of temperature.

And Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics beamed and said 'thanks a lot' when I said 'that was a brilliant lecture'. I know this because i actually said it, and i got Professor Levitt's autograph on my book too.

I suddenly realised the potency of blog posts to keep people updated, if you're interested lah. Otherwise if people just read for enjoyment and say 'that was a brilliant post' i'll beam and say 'thanks a lot'. But its mainly to post updates. I know this because connection is frustrating.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I should learn to eat more slowly

Had a painful stomach this morning. Must me the tikka @ lamb @ aloo gobi i had last night. Definitely not the scrumptious samosa @ kofta kebab @ chapati i had at mr mehmood's house.

You know you have a stomachache when you start having repetitive dreams which are really really weird. So i woke up. 4.30. Wasn't even subuh yet.

Good thing i brought along chik kit teck aun pills. I used to hear their ads on the radio, and i thought it was kinda funny sounding. 'Pil Chik Kit Teck Aun, melegakan perut anda!'

So i took a sachet, and there were like 20 pills inside. ????? you actually have to down the whole thing. It doesn't taste bad though, as far as traditional chinese herbal medicines go.

And then i couldn't sleep, it was like New Year's party in my stomach. So i skyped a certain someone *ehem* and after 2 hours finally slept. Woke up at 12 and the New Year party people had either slept or exited. Alhamdulillah :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Walking in London

Today our topic is straightforward and factual. Because walking in london makes you so tired you lose creativity.

And i say that because i walk to school. its 40 minutes to get from butlers wharf to LSE. And now you're thinking 'wow..he walks 40 minutes everyday to get to school..so brave lah'.

But no, i don't walk everyday...i've done it only once :P And its not as far or as tiring as it sounds. For one, the weather's dry, so you don't sweat. Try doing that in KL, and you're left with a shirt sticking to your back and armpits. And its very windy too, in addition to the cold, so its like in Antartica. *kidding* :)

see, this post is short and uncreative. maybe because my hands went blue from too much walking.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hello London, my name is Ikmal

(To be read along with the previous post)

The flight, surprisingly, felt short. We touched down at Heathrow at 0505 hours (wow, nice number, haven't noticed it until now. And you know those scary stories people tell about UK immigration, like how they'd rip your guts open and eat your heart alive if you didn't bring X-rays,etc.? They're not true. For me at least. They just took a look at my passport and letter and stamped, *BOOM*. In fact, if it wasn't for the accent the officers spoke with, i'd have thought that i was in Malaysia.

So then i waited for baggage, which i thought was a soooooooo unique because it was bright red. But then there was a lot of other red bags T_T But the biggest surprise was seeing a senior waiting as soon as i went out of the arrival terminal. WOW. :)

They picked us up in a 15-seater van, which they drove by themselves. If you're wondering why im putting 'they' instead of their names, its to give them an air of mystery and authority, hahah.

It was like 4 C outside, so when i breathed it was like a dragon breathing out smoke, you see. Except it wasn't smoke, it was condensed water vapour. And they drove us to Finsbury Park, home of The Seniors. Its also the home of Arsenal, which is a football club less significant compared to The Seniors. And we had a breakfast of fried rice in tray (nasi goreng dalam dulang) which was delicious as we were all pretty *grumbling tummy*, and that explains everything. We just got here, but they were already treating us like brothers, which really made me feel 'waaaaaaa'...

And then in the afternoon i had lunch at Harput Kebab, which so far seems to be the best kebab joint on earth. I couldn't finish it, and i'm like Cookie Monster at home, which shows just how generous the Harput man is. And then in the evening i went to Butlers Wharf to register for accommodation. If you happen to come by Tower Bridge, and I'm sure you'll do if you're a tourist, be sure to visit me yeah :) Its a really nice place, nearby the River Thames and all, plus its victorianly dodgy and yet modern at the same time (victorianly dodgy at the halls, modern on the other side of the river).

If i have the mood i'll post some pictures and talk some more about London. I love it here, for now :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Its a darn cold plane

This blog post is brought to you from aboard flight MH002 heading for Heathrow Airport. Em, not really, but at least i wrote this posting on the plane =)

So now i’m freezing and my nose is running like a broken water tap. My lips are cracked from the dry air. every hour im going to the toilet to take huge bundles of toilet towels so that i won’t have to smear snot all over my seat. This allergy is killing me. You wanna know the real reason i’m switching on this laptop? So i could warm some parties up.

But hey, riding on a plane is not all snotty and stuff. We have like 60+ channels on the in-flight TV. And chicken kurma. And free-flowing guava juice. Blast this air-cond.

But one thing intrigues me. Before take-off, they have this short film on the TV, what to do under emergency situations. Everyone in that clip was smiling and happy. Who the hell just sits calmly and smiles when the plane is diving into water???? People wont be saying ‘Son, please sit still while mummy puts on this lifejacket for you.’ They’d be like ‘Wear this on la!!!! Bising2, mak tampar karang!’ But of course, its an instructional video, so i shouldn’t be emotional bout it.

p/s : Thank you family and friends who sent me off at the airport. Really appreciate it =)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

if only we could see who views our profile

Beware ye olde Facebook.

Its turning me into a stalker. Admit it, its turning you into a stalker too.

But its not really my fault, honest. If FB throws every little update and wall and quiz and Black Sheep at your home page, you have to be ridiculously innocent not to at least follow one 'see wall-to-wall' and stalk. And the fact that almost EVERYONE shouts out every little thing/feeling they do/feel is an almost open invitation, isn't it?

I don't know about you, but I feel a little jump of joy every time someone likes my status. I'd be on the moon if someone comments. I'm knocked unconscious if lots of people like it.

So yeah, that means that you actually want that attention. Following Isa's train of thought, if you say you aren't that means you're a hypocrite. Hahah, i seem to love this simple logic, where everyone is vain. That's why people adore facebook in the first place, it allows them to be known. (or is it to make friends?) Judging by the amount of self-explanatory and intimately revealing quizzes on FB ( like what does your underwear say about you), i'd bet on the former.

Which brings us to the initial question. I'm not really stalking if facebookers actually crave people like me. tee hee. Or maybe it is considered stalking, and facebook is teaching us that its alright to stalk as long as someone implicitly allows it. Brrrr.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

McFiasco

Yay! McCurry won against McDonald's, which is a triumph for curries and vindaloos and dhals everywhere. Or a triumph for restaurants with no Scottish lineages planning to use Mc in their name (Maybe that Indian guy is half Scottish, you never know these days) Or maybe its not. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, kindly point your mousies here.

Why they wanted to use Mc in the first place, beats me. It would have saved a lot of legal costs for McDonald's, who could use the money to improve.....okay, maybe they should have wasted the money on legal costs.

The Federal Court ruling means that other businesses can use Mc too, as long as they distinguish their product from McD's. So maybe now we'll see new restaurants.. McKandar..McCanai.. Restoran MaMac.. McLemak..wheeehee, the possibilities are endless :)

What if we put Mc names for Malaysians? Would there be a horde of Scots comin doon here to shove bagpipes oop yer arse? If not, that would be a cool thing. Just imagine. Mohamad McAli. McMoorthy. McChong. Now im starting to think that name originated in Malaysia.

Enough of my rambling. It's 11 already and if you're hungry go to McD or your nearest McMamak. Shooh shooh.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

UP

So maybe if i posted this movie review in other countries i would be the most 'kuno' person on the planet. I'm talking about Disney/Pixar's 'Up', which premiered in Malaysia just under 2 weeks ago.


Appropriately, i watched this family movie with (who else?) my family. But first, a lesson in smuggling food which is more value-for-money than popcorn and diabetes-inducing Coke:

1) Go to Cold Storage (or any other grocery store) and buy some snacks and drinks
2) Once you have paid, insert food into every available pocket. Yes, if you're out of pockets you can put it in your pants. Sheesh
3) Just walk by Mr.Ticket Man with suave
4) Enter the cinema hall
5) Unload

Or alternatively, you could queue and buy popcorn.

Yes yes, i'm getting to the movie already. At first sight, the main character couldn't be more unattractive: Carl Fredricksen, a cranky balloon salesman in his 80s, with only his house for company. But things weren't always grim for Carl. As a child, his dream was to follow in the footsteps of his hero, explorer Charles Muntz. By some fortunate twist of fate, he meets a girl named Ellie, who shares his passion for adventure and later, becomes his wife.

The couples' life journey is then encapsulated in a montage without dialogue, the sweetest, most touching montage you'll ever see. I almost cried watching it. Carl becomes a balloon salesman at a zoo, Ellie the zoo ranger. They save money for an adventurous trip to Paradise Falls. Real life happens and they lose money to repairs. Finally, Ellie passes away, and they never have their trip. It makes you think of your own dreams, which may never come to fruition.

Their house, post-Ellie, is situated in the middle of a construction site, with Carl's house the only obstacle for development. But no, he doesn't want to bring it down, the house is the only link between him and Ellie. So he brings it up, attaching 10,000 balloons and flying off to Paradise Falls. But here we are introduced to Russell, an 8-year old scout who is the complete opposite of Carl: optimistic, bubbly and carefree. Where you see sadness in Carl's demeanour and square-jawed face, you feel happiness in hearing the innocent, childlike voice of Russell and his round 'mok mok' physique. Such is the detail Pixar puts into tugging our emotions.

Finally they reach Paradise Falls, and it is WOW-standard beautiful. What happens in Paradise Falls, you just have to see for yourself to appreciate the genius of Pixar's storytelling.

It was good, really good. Children will laugh at the physical comedy and cartoonish characters, adults will appreciate all that plus the detail, the dialogue, and the deep message : in the end, all that we love will be carried away.

My review doesn't do justice to Pixar's most heartfelt movie yet. Just go and see it. This is one movie where I'd want to buy an original VCD.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Masks are not stupid

The other day I was invited to a buka puasa somewhere in Keramat.

As I have not yet purchased a cheap car to drive around in, I was obliged to take the Flu Express a.k.a RapidKL LRT to Dato' Keramat. And I decided to wear a mask in public for the first time (Yeay!) But mine's not the normal round or rectangle-shaped mask. It looked more like Optimus Prime's mouthpiece (without the Optimus Prime lips lah).

So I got a few stares from people who either think i look cool or idiotic. As the train progressed, the train was so packed, there wasn't even room to breathe. Ok, that was pure exaggeration, but you get my point. And i noticed that a majority of the passengers do not wear masks, including nurses from Ampang Puteri. In a photo taken inside a Mexican public transport i saw, almost everyone wore masks. But that's ok. If Malaysians can stand durians, they can stand anything.

But i observed the not-so-publicized advantages of wearing a mask:

1) You could take on a mysterious persona, like a ninja. Because people only see your eyes, communication takes place only through glares, raising eyebrows, smiling eyes, etc. Super mysterious.

2) You could smile at everyone and they won't think you're completely nuts. Being forced to make a solemn face all the time in a train is depressing, trust me.

3) You could sing along to your favorite songs without shame :)

4) And finally, yeah, you could reduce the risk of getting influenza A (H1N1) piggy flu. Trying saying that 5 times in a row, hah.

And the downside of wearing masks:

1) In the LRT where its nice and cool, your breath fogs your spectacles, and outside where its hot your face sweats like a certain unpronouncable animal.

2) If you exhale through the mouth you could smell the contents of sahur. Urghh.

So since my advantages exceed my downsides, i recommend wearing masks. Weird logic, i know. But at least you could now smile at that hottie in the train ;))

Friday, August 7, 2009

MOC

I totally think that the MOC (Muslim Overseas Camp, if you don't know) is

1. More pre-departure than pre-departure camp.

2. More relevant than BTN..even counter BTN in some ways *beep*

The irony was, MOC was held at a BTN camp.

Politics aside, MOC was a sentiment-free, highly informative camp that I highly recommend attending, especially to my juniors (who also happen to be 1 year older than I am..another irony)

The goal, self-explained by the name, is to prepare muslim students for life overseas. And I must say, the facilitators did a good job at that.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Love BTN so much~

I have some things to say about BTN, but for fear of being labelled as a 'you naughty blogger' by certain quarters, i'll reserve my comments.

And that's a summary of some of the values instilled in that wonderful camp =)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Haha I Won at Bowling

yesterday i went to mid to meet up with some old friends.

i had mild flu, and a bit of a headache. in the train, i was trying to suppress my sneezing, for fear that a harmless bit of 'atchoo' would result in everyone on the train giving me the 'u dirty H1N1 boy' look. These days, everyone is a health hazard.

So i went to Guardian, but they were out of masks. Darn, now i can't be a ninja. I was having this fantasy of wearing a mask and then sneaking up on my friends and holding my hand, pistol-shaped, against their back, like a robber. Oh well.

So then we bowled, and watched a movie (that half-baked attempt at being funny, 'Night at the Museum 2') and then shouted a lot at the arcade. I only spent RM 30 on everything, including transport. How's that for cheap quality time? hehe

So then i went back by Komuter. Guess what? I met Isa at the train station. Fancy seeing him there, in his Marlboro t-shirt *cough2* And like me, he was on the way to being broke.

And in the train, god, i wished that i'd at least searched for a mask. My own breath was better compared to the odour of hundreds of people. *Rising nausea* Add that to the probability that 0.00033% of them might have piggy flu.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Charlie and the Mint Factory

In BNM's predeparture program (read '5-day luxury holiday retreat'), we were subjected to a motivational course for the first 3 days. Now you wouldn't want to know about BNM and all its values would you, you Sime Darby/Mara/PNB/YT/other sponsors people.

What is super-interesting is the 4th day, when we were brought to the Mint Factory in Shah Alam. I've lived a good 14/15 out of 18 years of my life in KL/Selangor, but this was the 1st time i knew we had a money-making factory in Shah Alam.

So naturally, i was pretty 'jakun'.

It was pretty much the feeling that Charlie had when he entered Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. XD There was the minting machine which mints 600 coins per minute, the counting machine, the packing machine, etc..but the sound of clanking coins was noisy, so the workers used headphones all the time, except probably the already deaf ones.

And then there was the thorough security process, where they frisked you with metal detectors. Though i doubt that anyone would be able to steal enough coins to become rich.

And then we went to a bigger chocolate factory: the facility where they process notes. There were bundles upon bundles of notes, all waiting for me to claim ownership. And it was the first time i lifted a bag worth RM1 million!! *dollar signs rolling inside eyes* And they even opened the money vault...Danny Ocean would get a fit if he saw that :) (wondering if i could cut off the thumb of the manager to enter the vault)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Last Mile

2 more papers to go.


After that i'm going to learn how to cook for 3 months and become Jamie Oliver or Anthony Bourdain.
And appear on TV shows..'The Domestic Godfather'.

Pfft..my far-fetched dreams.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Slam my physics goodbye

There seems to be a lot of slamming in the news lately.

Seen in the 'The Star' today:

-Groups slam PAS for its motion against SIS at assembly
-PETALING JAYA: Fomca has slammed the Bar Council..
-Chew slams PAS Youth

The word slam just makes you think of a giant hand coming from above to slap you. Or the manga 'Slam Dunk'. Or the Michael Jackson song. Or the 'rock' group. Whatever.

Slam sounds like a bullet word. No, not those dot bullets. Real bullets, the ones that George Bush loves to use on 'them terrorists'. SLAM! Hits you right in the face.

Why can't they use nicer words, like 'Chew politely criticizes Pas Youth', or 'Chew gives Pas Youth encouraging advice'?

That's the real cause of global warming, hot and spicy words.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Of People and Farts

It's fascinating how a simple whoosh of wind from a person's posterior can prove to be an antidote and a potent poison.



Imagine this scenario: You're trapped in an elevator at Sogo, Saturday afternoon. Everything's quiet and suddenly, a foul stench erupts. You gasp for air, your lungs constrict, and you nearly vomit. It's like a gas chamber, which makes you wonder if some Nazi invented the elevator. 
If Hitler knew about this poison, he would have saved a lot of money on Zyklon-B, and spent more on eggs and baked beans.

Now for the second scenario: The same Saturday morning. You woke up on the wrong side of bed, and nobody sent you any friend requests on Facebook (argghhhh! im unpopular) 
You go to Sogo and take the elevator. You stomach clenches all of a sudden, but you're afraid of becoming a threat to national security. So you let it out bit by bit, hoping no bass rumbles would give you away.

And you did it! Now you hide a wide grin and watch the 1/8th degree homicide unfolding in the lift. People around you give sharp stares (while gasping) and you stare straight at them, as if to say 'You did it, didnt you?' 
Finally the door opens at the perfume floor. Other people rush out like Japanese traingoers attacked by nerve gas. You laugh out loud at your success. It's better than perfume :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Save my Life Please

I have rm36 in my pocket.


After paying fees for the lifesaving test, I'll have rm6.

So I'm very nearly broke.
 
rm30=must pass, or else i'll go broke for nothing.

p/s: wish i had a camera that's not bonkers..then i can show you people how pretty the pool is at night.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This must be how Chong Wei felt after winning the Swiss Open

huhu..its been a loooooooooooooooooooong time since i last updated. (thank you trials!)

Anyways

Let's keep it short.

Yesterday the Sapphire Volleyball Team (yours truly included) won the Interhouse competition! *trumpets blaring and confetti falling* It was a best out of 5 match. We won the first two sets. and maybe due to overconfidence, lost the next two.

But during the final set, the Original Team came in and beat Dia**nd fair and square, 15-3..or maybe it was 15-4, thereabouts. Congratulations team!

I was so tired after the match, i missed two classes this morning.

Monday, March 23, 2009

18 years ago i came out on a saturday

First and foremost, i'd like to thank the people who:


-Remembered and showed that they remember im turning 18
-Remembered im turning 18

The End XD

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Finally, happy cheers

Chong Wei won.

Liverpool trashed Man U
.

This is a good time to be their fans :)

P is for..

They say third time's a charm. Whoever said that, i'd like to give them an award. 'Ikmal's Award for Best Quote in a Real-life Situation'.

Anyways, if you have time to peer through my un-updated archives, you'll see that there were two times before this that i blogged with frustration about failing the JPJ driving test. Frustration no longer. :)

I was really nervous this time round. You must be nervous if you're having dreams about balancing the clutch. I was scared shitless.

And to top it off, i never got as far as the real road. You see, there's a DAUNTING hill right before the main road, and twice i slid down that hill. Twice i failed, or twice the hill failed me, depending on your kind of logic.

So yesterday (16 March 2009) i took the test again. Images of potential failure swam in my head. Stalled engine. Sliding backwards. Shaky legs. No-mercy JPJ. And the look of disbelief on people's faces (you failed three times? aisey..)

In conclusion, got-to-pass this time.

Lucky me, i got a male JPJ officer. Not so nervous now. As i went up The Hill, adrenaline swept through my whole system. I stopped at the top. I balanced. I didn't slide. I wanted to pump my fists and shout 'Yeahhhh!!!!', but i kept my composure.

And the rest, as they say, is history. :D

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Ye olde Camera

This blog's photos were proudly brought to you by:
This light Panasonic SV-AV30 camera, which looks high-tech and was even promoted by the film Tomb Raider.

When i take this camera out, everybody makes awestruck faces and says 'dude..that's a cool camera' while i make the best attempt at hiding a smile.

Nevertheless, it only has one zoom, and one type of flash, and one picture setting. Let's just say it's not going to win you any photography competitions.

And during dikir barat the other day the screen suddenly turned to black-and-white. New camera perhaps?

In tradition of the great explorers

Now that my blisters have healed, my mind has healed too, and i can finally blog again *scoff*

"What blisters?" you ask? The blisters were a souvenir from the Duke of Edinburgh expedition, a 2-day, 25-km walk. And that is the topic for today.

For an expedition you'll need:

1. A group of smiling, cheery friends

2. Sunblock, so you won't be mistaken for Chris Brown when you get back
3. Insect repellent (it's like mosquito heaven inside plantations)
4. Ye olde trusty tent
5. Lots of food and water
6. Anything deemed necessary to survive. This may include camera, baby wipes, etc.

With our rucksacks all packed, at 2.45 last Saturday we took off on the Adventurous Journey, ahead of us nothing but the eerie silence and emptiness of Lembah Beringin.
The first few kilometers were on tarmac, and we saw the extent of the failed development in Beringin Valley. The only 'civilisation' was the the college, the golf course and a few inhabited houses. I pity those people who bought houses here (those were the days when there was an ad on TV, with a soundtrack playing 'Lembah Beringin...what a wonderful world..') heh. Wonderful world indeed. The rest were abandoned houses and shoplots.

If a Malaysian director decided to direct something like 'I am Legend' or '28 weeks later' (please,not zombi kampung pisang), this would be a nice place to shoot it. It wasn't even 5 kilometres yet, and my shoulders were crying for mercy (hey, i carried one of the tents, kay). Everybody's shoulders were.

After that, no more tarmac. Just open plains

And mosquito-infested plantations

Trying to fight the urge to swat those bloody insects away

I love group photos. They make everything look so happy. But then, when you're walking with a heavy backpack,trying to navigate in heat and sweat, taking photos are the last thing on your mind. So no 'in-route' pictures.

We were lucky enough to get cloud cover, so heat wasn't a problem. The problem was to keep walking. I wonder how army guys manage it. Must have balls of steel.

Our route was generally rough path-and-tarmac, except for one detour path to cross an overflowing river. It was pure mud, and it gave my white shoes a sad time. By the time we completed that section, our shoes looked like it was covered in s**t, although if it was covered in shit i would have walked barefoot from that point on.

And then there was the revelation. We had actually bought sausages to eat at camp, but someone forgot to pack the sausages along. I gave him the name 'mat sosej', but that sounds kinda wrong, doesn't it? Anyways, we weren't really bothered by absence of sausages, and after a 3 and 1/2-hour walk, we made it to the football field. I really don't get why anyone would turn a field with wild grass and mushy ground into a football field.

That's when i thought about my full bladder. With no toilets in sight, i sprayed the nearby palm trees and grass with fertiliser. No tap water, either. We were given a container with more that 20-litres of water, and that's for evrything. Wudhu', cooking, drinking, cebok. When i drank, i was a wee bit afraid it might be the same bottle used for cebok.

That night we had rice (pre-packed from the dining hall) and canned gravy. It was all mixed together, and in the darkness mutton, chicken and beef tasted the same. When a smell of cooking meat wafted in the air, i dearly wished we had brought the sausages. =) Afterwards, with no internet and no TV we were confined to gossiping.

And looking at the night sky. Lying in the a vast field, it brought a deep sense of peace and awe, and exhausted as i was, it was a welcome solace.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

With Great Power

Comes great responsibility. That's what Spiderman says anyway. 

Does great responsibility come with great scores? Maybe. I once heard from a friend that 'life is like a spinning wheel. Sometimes you're on top, sometimes you're on the bottom.' And the wheel may spin slowly enough that you get delusions of grandeur, believing that the good things are sticking. 

But i believe we all have our tops and bottoms, and the difference is in how you react to them. Some people hide their sadness that they always seem to be problem-less. Some people are depressed all the time. Some just don't care.

Enjoy the view from the top, but don't lose your head. :)

I got a surprising 9.0 for IELTS last week.

Now people are asking me to do club reports. Great responsibility.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Race for House-Captainship

Its house-election time. For my house, the system is as follows: 4 guys and 4 girls are nominated. You can nominate your friends or, if you are ambitious enough, you can nominate yourself. And tonight the votes commence. 2 guys and 2 girls with the highest votes are then crowned as the new captain and vice house-captain.

And there's another part to it. The ones who nominated must also campaign for their friend.

For me, it is a fairer process because:
1. In this simple college world, the format was only revealed yesterday. Thus, captain wannabees would have imperfect knowledge and would not dare risk bribing for nominations because, simply put, they don't know how nominations would happen anyway.

2. In 1 day, there is slim possibility a nominee would get to play money politics to garner enough votes to win. And in any case, because it's decided by 'highest vote', not 'majority vote', there is uncertainty about the number of votes needed. Plus, everyone gets to vote not one, but 2 guys and 2 girls.
What if your rivals are not that popular? Then the 'highest vote' will be relatively low. Similarly you'll need lots and lots if your opponents are Dr.Mahathirs. Maybe you can bribe everyone, but again the '1-day grace period' makes this almost impossible. Bribe-free nomination, bribe-free voting. Hey, maybe a 'United Malays' party can learn something from house elections *bleep*

Of course, i'm making a lot of assumptions, and this fair-er situation is possible in our carefree college world, where on-the-spot voting systems could be created, and if everyone votes, it doesn't pose a logistical nightmare (there are approximately 100 people in each house, compared to the millions in a certain 'United Malays' party). Votes belong to the people, and one way or another the people should decide, not a few elite delegates *wink*

p/s: Vote for Abdul Haq =)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I think that integrity is a word seldom heard anymore

Take an organization. Any organization. And it will probably look like this:


imgres.jpg


A pyramid. And this is true for almost any organization. There are a few elites on top, and there are substantial numbers of subordinates/foot soldiers who make up the base, all aiming for the highest peak. Let's call today's particular pyramid 'Politics'.

Analogy: If you pour a liquid on top of the pyramid, eventually it will flow, or trickle, to the bottom. Pure logic. How fast it trickles depends on how thick the liquid is. If it's clear, like water, it will quickly flow. If it's a dense, viscous substance like crude oil, the flow is much, much slower. But eventually, everything reaches the bottom.

The liquid permeating our pyramid is a deadly toxin called 'Corruption'. It begins at the top, the result of a twisted little game of 'Quotas and Delegates', and slowly, but surely, the toxins are trickling down. Like the saying goes, 'Monkey see monkey do'. 

It does not need to be that way if the levels of the pyramid are segmented. Then the lower levels could just chop the top off and prevent the flow. But if it was an inseparable, single-minded piece of block, just count the days until the base is corrupted. Then the whole pyramid cracks, and crumbles. 


Monday, February 9, 2009

Barber Shop: A Recession-proof Business

A visit to the barber shop this morning triggered a chain of thoughts in my mind. Are barber shops recession-proof? There's a strong likelihood that they are.

Otherwise, everytime there's a recession we would see loads of people looking like hippies. Most of us rational people keep our hair neat.

A barber may not earn a lot, but at least it's enough to buy him the things he needs. And he gets a steady flow of customers through good and hard times. Unless his customers start looking like Kim Jong-Il.

I like going to a barber who knows his trade. It sometimes feels so good, you just want to doze off. And at the end of it, you get a nice 'head spin' and you feel your neck cracking. And you walk away feeling awesome.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lights, Smoke, Music, Action!

More than a week since i updated this thing, thanks to THE BIGGEST event in kyuem, 'Bangsawan' (literally translated as Noblemen), a form of Malay theater characterised by olden-days Malay language, arrogant Sultans, a dance number, fighting scenes worthy of a Bollywood movie and most importantly, huge amounts of stress levels.

How big is big, you ask? To get a clearer picture, these are the sub-groups involved in each production (from a uniquely Sapphirean perspective ;)):

1. Directors' circle


-From conception to completion, The Directors were always present, working their asses off to make this whole thing work, coming to practises long before anyone and only going to bed after everyone is in deep sleep. If i were in their shoes, i'd faint. Respect giler ar. =)


The Directors. Sounds like a group of trained assassins.

2. Actors' and extras circle


-Of course, a theater wouldn't be a theater without acting. Featuring 'mantop' performances by last year's Best Supporting Actor and an equally credible cast *ehem2*, the actors had to endure constant constuctive criticism in an effort to match Istana Budaya performances. Not to mention enduring a 'psychotherapy' session that was...enlightening ;)

p/s: don't worry Herman, we know you were supposed to receive the Best Actor award this year...the judge couldn't tell a supporting actor from a main one.

3. Dancers' circle
-Dancers must be superhuman beings. I mean, how could you dance while balancing bowls on both hands? The answer is shrouded in mystery (and a thing called 'finger supports held by super glue'), but needless to say, its the dancing that counts. And their dancing was fantastic and flawless.

Proof?

They won 'Best Choreography', together with the fighting scene guys. No further explanation needed.


The author, once a part of the team before acting duty called


4. Prop circle

-Recreating a scene from the 60s (1760s, i mean) is no small feat, and with two large backdrops to paint, plus a ship and a palace to build, the prop people got their hands full, like, most of the time. After my short scene finished, i joined the audience and overheard somebody say 'weyh, laju gila Sapphire tukar props'...Nice work guys =)


5. Costume and make-up circle




-It may not be so clear in this picture, but that costume was like old Malay 'bling-bling'. You could see it from a kilometre away on a moonlit night. Ok, maybe i exaggerated, but it was really shiny, and the costume people did an elaborate job of finding something to make everyone look good..=) If you look closely in the picture, you can see the cursed version of Tenggang, looking like a rock star.

In the opening scene, the sultan, his daughter and his son-in-law all wore blue..so Sapphire-ish.


6. Technical circle


-What's a good story without winning technicals (lighting, OST, etc.)?

Yeah..brag all about it ;)

And the secret weapon for Sapphire:


7. 'Pit-Stop' crew


- Between scenes 1 & 2, i had to change into different clothes. So i hid behind the curtains and..stripped, while 3 or 4 people put me into 4 pieces of clothing. It was done in more or less 1 minute. I feel like a race car. Thank you 'pit stop' crew! B)


And there you have it. 7 wonders of the world that make up a thing called 'Bangsawan'. And we won only one prize less than the champion. Good job everyone.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, look to the right-hand side

And you'll see a counter. You know, that box that shows how many people actually read the stuff i write about. Or they may not even read, they might just take a look and surf somewhere else for all i know. Anyway, the counter is the topic of today.


I got it from a website called Pyzam. In the early days when this blog was fresh and i was spirited enough to update almost everyday, the counter looked like a cool idea to insert in a blog. *Having imaginary conversations in my head* 

"Hey, u have a blog right?"
"Yeah, i do..4000 visitors already"
"Cool"

Hence the Pyzam counter was born.

Do applications have attitudes? This one does. Take this situation for instance. I open the blog after 2 months in operation. '50 views'. Not wanting to believe that, i clicked 'refresh', and suddenly it shows '360 views'. The next day its 333 views. Mathematicians call it a random walk, where there are seemingly random occurrences in a given period. And i thought only farts were random.

If i treat the counter to lunch, will it function properly?
  

Monday, January 26, 2009

Paradox of Endowments

I just read half of 'The Undercover Economist', and i suddenly have an economic view (for a limited time only) of what my holiday is like. I call it the

Paradox of Endowments : The more resources you're given, the more you tend to waste it.

Resource #1: Time
-At home, the rational me should've used the extra time to keep up with A2 work. Instead, i waste it on keeping up with addictive mangas. The Undercover Economist's explanation? 'When there's more time, there's a bigger incentive for the rational consumer to maximise utility, i.e doing things that brings the most joy in life, hence ignoring things that are seemingly more productive'. Conclusion: i hate homework....

Resource #2: high-speed broadband
-Refer to the explanation on resource #1

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Priceless Year

General Statement: Happy Birthday Batch 10.5!

Specific Statement: Happy Birthday Batch 10.5 Bank Negara Scholars!


Time flies when you're having fun. What if you're having fun, occasional euphoria, sorrow, a little bit of annoyance and overwhelming bliss? How does time move then?

The exact answer is shrouded in mystery, but for me the past year has been swift. Feels like two days ago i got a call from bank negara saying i received a scholarship, and feels like only yesterday i entered kyuem, ready to greet the world with a smile =)

But in reality a year has passed, and we come to terms with the fact that we're a year older, and we now have juniors to organise a fantastic anniversary party..hahahaha..if everything had a price:

Food & Entertainment : RM 20


The Coke wasn't my idea

Ambience of an open-air candle-lit dinner : Probably somewhere in the region of 5 bucks

Candles arranged to form the numbers '10.5'..creative

Having supercool friends to make living in the middle of nowhere seem like the best experience ever: Priceless. =)))))) (the 'supercool friends' pictures are all in everybody else's camera)

Some things money can't buy. For everything else, there's your sponsor, your parents, your part-time salary, your occasional generous buddy..and Mastercard.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Happy Days

It's time for a little Q&A:

Q: Is it possible to create a winning nasyeed team in 3 days?
A: Yes, it is. =)

The awards ceremony yesterday saw a windfall for the house of Sapphire, as we took a juicy chunk of winnings in the Islamic Cultural & Arts Week.. during the Minggu Citra Budaya, we proclaimed ourselves the 'Most Cultural House'. 

Now? Some ideas pop into mind..'Most Islamic House'...'House With Most Faith'.. although both of them would be an extreme exaggeration. because surely winning competitions doesn't mean we're the most Islamic. So a safer option would be 'House that Won Most in ICAN', but that doesn't have a ring to it. One of us suggested another title, 'House of Heaven'.. err.. extremely hyperbole...

Now that the ICAN suspense is over, i was anxious about AS results, due at GMT 00:00 this morning.

I couldn't afford to miss Dr. Foord's class at GMT 00:15, so i asked my best friend, who happily had no classes, to check. 

And then the message came. I got a's for Maths and Econs! Yay. =D  And for some reason, this morning for the first time the sun beamed through the windows of the Dining Hall and shone on my face, like some special effects in a Japanese manga. I think it shone on my face, i couldn't be sure. 

The sun is shining today.. and i want to cherish every second.
  

Monday, January 19, 2009

How ironic?

Tension of opposites- Torn between two choices that are in two different directions.
Watching Juara Lagu yesterday night, i can't help but to notice a tension of opposites. 

1. In the beginning, everyone was asked to recite al-Fatihah for the Palestinians who were being oppressed by the Zionist regime. Sure, it's good to spare a thought and to grieve for our brothers and sisters there. But reciting al-Fatihah is not just humanitarian, its Islamic.

The opposite? Juara Lagu itself. Fans cheering and shouting, aurat open here and there, etc.. it's just plain inappropriate. After the 'spare-a-thought' moment it's back to cheering. They seem to be able to defy the laws of the universe and mix opposites together.  

2. In the opening of one of the songs, there was a backdrop of children in the Middle East, their suffering.. anyone seeing those children would melt, and those of us in the TV room probably thought 'this could turn out to be a decent song about humanity'. But on comes the dancers, women(with hair exposed) and men alike, and the singer in his richly exotic costume. 

As somebody who didn't live centuries ago and since i am not a scholar on Ancient Egypt, i can only give my unprofessional view. But it did look like something that came from the Pharaoh Era. Humanitarian crisis=pharaoh-like performance? Not.

I was not the only one. The others watching yesterday in the room were stunned by the above scenarios. Maybe the organisers felt no tension in mixing opposites, but we did. Curiouser and curiouser, the world is.