Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I wish I could fix me.

I wish I could fix me.

I'd fix it so that I no longer procrastinate.

I'd fix my tendency to be late.

I'd fix my fear of almost everything.

I'd fix my confidence, my competence.

I'd fix my ability to remember, all the things I always forget.

I'd fix my love for slumber yet not feel upset.

I'd fix my ability to smile so people don't feel distant.

I wish I could fix it all this very instant.

So my I could be better. I just want to be better.

I would fix my communication skills with my Mom,

So that I'll make her feel happier instead of angrier.

I would fix my inability to drive so I never have to depend on anyone to go anywhere,

so I could do everything that I need and want to do.

I would fix my attention span so I could focus and get things done,

instead of wandering away inside my head when I just refuse to face reality.

I'd fix my job so I could earn more and help my family.

I would fix my dreams so they don't interfere when I am awake.

I would fix my clock so its still fine for me to have kids.

I would fix my mind, my body, my soul,

like the way a modeller customizes toys

to make me all better, inside and out.

But I wish I didn't feel that I need fixing,

because that just means that I'm damaged,

but I'm not.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Travels inside my head.

On the boardwalk by the sea. The sun's sprinkled sparkles on the gray seas, the light slowly fading in the horizon. Just sliver bits of peach thrown in with yellow tails. Giving my white dress a warm tint to it. A gush of wind brushed my face, sometimes cool, sometimes hot.

Train's Marry Me playing in the background. They had just started to turn on the colorful round paper lanterns that were lulling in the evening breeze. Getting ready for tonight, they were arranging the chairs and making the table cloths look like hot air balloons as they toss it in the air to set them on the tables.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa (Official English Trailer)

In Defence of Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa - The film by KRU Studios.

I thought the movie was awesome.

Why this entry then? Well, I have been hearing heavy criticism on the movie on so many issues, but the worst has to be this, criticism by those who DID NOT EVEN WATCH IT. They condemned the movie, yet they have not even seen it. This can only happen in my country. Sedihnya.

The first thing I did after watching the movie was to look up Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa on the internet. I wanted to know how the movie adaptation was different from the original manuscripts. Sadly then, it had only a short brief entry on the Wikipedia which wasn't helpful, I was frustrated, no one who had knowledge of this manuscript which is under the Akta Warisan Negara had shared any of its contents or discussions online. But this was during the early release of the film.

But yesterday after a heated debate on the film, I felt 'tak puas hati' and decided to look it up again. As of today, there is a new entry in Wikipedia and citing many other resources for information on the original manuscripts. Alhamdulillah, praise be to the person who was willing to share their knowledge with those who seek it.

Now, I urge those who condemn the movie on the basis of its storyline and research, please DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. Before mouthing words of 'criticism' on other people's hardwork and research, I would suggest you do your own reading on the timeline, adaptation and discussions of the Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa manuscripts and even the Roman Empire timeline if you so wish to dispute.

In praise of KRU Studios whom I think are doing an excellent job, they got the people to wonder at the existence of these stories. Before the film came out, I bet most of us won't even bat an eyelash at the Hikayat. Most of us do not know of our own stories, stories of our people and that is what is so sad. We are more familiar with fairytales and superheroes in the mold of what the WEST have portrayed. We teach our children Nursery Rhymes and quiz them on the history of the Egyptians. But what about OUR story? Our history?

There are so many stories of our great lands of our great people that can be an inspiration for our future generations. And as stories often are, they are meant to be appreciated, adapted, enjoyed and even teach us a few things. Cerita Tauladan. Orang Asli Animal tales. We are so hungry for ideas yet we have plenty of untapped resources right in front of our eyes. It is whether we choose to seek those knowledge and embrace them or push them aside and choose the easy way, believe every word Google tells you.

They did not claim to be historically accurate in the movie. But then, tell me, what movie IS? And yet we enjoy them and even worship the grandeur of 300, Clash of the Titans and Alexander by the pure entertainment value that films often are. Heck, we even believe that Giant Robots will invade Earth. But adapt the Garuda into a menacing group of pirates instead of a giant talking bird? "Mana boleh tukar cerita hikayat!", came the response. Even historical documents were written by someone through his/her point of view, so whos to say they were telling us the truth?

If we continue with this attitude of ours to criticize and condemn the effort of our people in trying to do something different, something better, then we will never be able to go beyond expectations. If the government in Japan had told the animators of Gundam that they could not publish such a story because it is impossible to have that technology, than what else can we dream for? There are many ways in which fiction affects technology. A man had dreamed that one day we could go to space, I'm sure many thought he was crazy. Scientists, philosophers and thinkers dare to dream, dare to think of the impossible. It all starts with the imagination.

Movies, films are stories meant to entertain, give pleasure, inspire and move us. The film Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa did just that for me. Maybe it would for you too, or it wouldn't. But you should watch it first and judge it for yourself don't you think?

Here are the links that I would suggest you look into if you are interested in the story of Merong Mahawangsa.

1) http://books.google.com/books?id=WXMEAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

2) http://ms.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikayat_Merong_Mahawangsa

3) http://sasterarakyat-kedah.com/?cat=5

4) http://www.mykedah2.com/10heritage/111_2.html

5) http://mymanuskrip.fsktm.um.edu.my/Greenstone/cgi-bin/library.exe

6) http://themalaypress.blogspot.com/2009/07/manuskrip-hikayat-merong-mahawangsa.html

p/s: And for those yang tak tahu... the KRU film actually followed quite close to the original Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa manuscripts. Yes, it was partly a story of an expedition from Rome to China to marry their prince and princess and Merong led the expedition until they were attacked by Garuda, to which they landed where Merong was made King and named the kerajaan Langkasuka which later on grew to Patani, Siam, Kedah and Perak. And this was a time before the coming of Islam which was 10 generations after that. The movie was set in 107 AD.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

A Picture

What I would give, to be lost inside a picture.

To move through colors,

to disappear inside captured moments,

of another pair of eyes.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Our Trip To Singapore : The Tale of Desire, Will and Patience. Part 3.

30th April 2011, 10am-8pm, Universal Studios Singapore.

After helping ourselves to the free breakfast at our hostel and checking out, we took a cab to Universal Studios. At first the cab driver was kind of rude to me, he asked for the address to Universal Studios? What? You are the cab driver lah! So I called my mom, 'the Diplomat'. She did her magic and he agreed to take us there. I know the MRT is efficient, but I just don't want Mak to tire/hurt her legs from walking too much. At first he said that he has to charge extra 6 dollars but Mak addressed him nicely as Mr Lee and made small talk, (How did she know that? -Me . It was on the screen la - Nani) then he somehow 'managed' to find the way to Universal Studios without an address and with no extra 6 dollar charge. Huh? Whatever, we're here already!

While I queued up for the tickets, Nani queued up at the entrance. Nani told Mak to stay with me just in case the cash wasn't enough but then when Mak came to me, I told her to sit somewhere and wait. Thing is, when I reached the counter, the girl said that if I paid using Visa or Mastercard, I could get a 30% discount. Haha funny. How am I supposed to get my mother now? Nevermind, I'll just pay cash. That will be $216 for 3 adults, thank you.

After stuffing our stuffs in a locker, we proceeded to start our adventure. 1st and foremost, get a map. Universal Studios is basically a circle with 7 themed sections. We sat down while Nani ticked the rides she wanted to go. our strategy was to go right because the crowds seem to start on the left. On the New York strip, we watched the Monsters Rock Musical at the Pantages theater, basically a rock concert featuring Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, Mummy and some other monsters. The buildings were all made to look like the facade of Hollywood and New York which was cool, we even took a picture in front of a door that looked like HIMYM set.

Next we went in Steven Spielberg's Light Camera Action, which we were brought into an indoor platform made to look like we're inside a New York harbour. We got to experience how it would be like if we were hit by a level 5 hurricane. Gile best, the platform shook, the water was berombak, the winds got stronger, things started falling, things caught fire, the water was on fire, then the windows came off one by one and we could see the Manhattan skyline with the waves getting higher, a crane came through the roof, by now we were blasted with gale and the heat from the fire was burning, just when I thought it was over, suddenly a big ship blasted right through the wall and headed straight towards us. Gak. It was scary awesome.

Then we went to the Battlestar Galactica section where the two Roller Coasters - Human and Cylon. I don't do rides. I did before, not my kind of thing, so me and Mak waited while Nani rode the Cylon. Nani gila.

Next was The Lost World (Jurassic Park) where we queued up for a ride for almost 2 hours, yet the ride lasted less than a minute, haha. But it was fun, At one point even scary. The brochure said the ride was to enjoy the panoramic scenery so I thought it was a slow ride to ENJOY the scenery. Silly me, it's basically a short hanging roller coaster. Okay. Thank you misleading brochure.

We got some cheesy nachos at one of the stalls. and made our way through the the Egyptian section, we just took some pictures and went through it because by this time we were really hungry so we ate at the 50s style Diner called Mel's near the entrance, so I could show my husband I ate at a diner, heh. The brochure had signs to where the Halal food was which was great, thank you. Meanwhile we left Mak at the diner to rest while we went to watch the street performances. My camera's battery had ran out by this time and the customer service wont let me tumpang their power point even for a while. Sedih.

Next was Waterworld, we sat in the soak zone hoping to get wet, but we didn't get wet. But the stunts were entertaining and the actors interaction with the audience was fun.

After we fed and re-energized, the next stop? FAR FAR AWAY KINGDOM!! woohooo! I love anything to do with Shrek so yeah, ME HAPPY. There was the 4D theatre where we got Donkey's phlegm on our faces, rode in a bumpy carriage with Shrek, had spiders on our legs and water sprayed into our faces. Sweet! Then we watched the live interactive show with Donkey. Interesting technology. Then we went in the souvenir shop, to get our 'potion bottles' juice from the Fairy Godmother potion shop.

We had Ben and Jerrys after, then Mak and Nani went to look for a prayer room while I queued for the Junior Roller Coaster. Keyword JUNIOR. I thought it was a slow ride, you know, for juniors. MISTAKE yet again. The only thing junior about it is, it is short. The sari clad elderly lady beside me was swearing in Hindustani, I think.

They found the prayer room. Well it was a room. A small one used by both male and female, where you take ablution at the restroom elsewhere. So Mak waited while Nani went on the second roller coaster - Human. I waited for Nani. The lines were shorter and she didn't have to queue at all because it was already late evening. When she came out, she wasn't walking properly, she was wobbling. Apparently the sitting roller coaster is scarier that the hanging one. We took a walk by the lake where Nani saw a plug point. "Kak Ina, plug!". We gingerly walked over, pretending to enjoy the scenery while I charge my camera in my bag. Well I asked nicely and I wasn't given just a few minutes, so I had to do it illegally la. I guess they were afraid I might short circuit the whole park and that would be disastrous for those on the roller coasters kan?

It was nightfall, we were tired and I'm sure my mom even more. She was cool enough to tahan for 10 hours in the park and went on all the rides and performances with us save for the roller coasters. Mak, you are SO COOL. Tired, but happy and satisfied, we got some souvenirs and headed out.

We took a $23 cab ride to Kranji where there was a city bus to Johore which we took and when we reached Johore, my eldest brother Abang Win picked us up at JB Sentral, took us to dinner in Stulang Laut then to Aunty Hasnah's house in Kota Tinggi where we stayed for the night. Slept, ate, showered, we slept almost the whole day the next day until after Maghrib, and we went back to KL with my cousin Lydia (Although Nani drove half of the way while she, the co driver, slept through. ) We left Mak with Aunty Hasnah, she was too tired and her 'Malaysian legs' were back on, so she was just starting to feel the pain. She will continue her adventures with Aunty Hasnah and Uncle Yasin to watch the Dilloyd and Ahmad Jais concert at Istana Buday this Friday then she will travel with Abang Erwin to Tioman Island.

I asked for an adventurous experience. I got what I asked for. With $500 Singapore dollars, we survived, all 3 of us on our adventure. I got to spend time with my mother and sister and experience some wonderful times with them and in the process bring us all closer together. I am so blessed. Thank you Mak, you are A.W.E.S.O.M.E, it was crazy but best kan?? Nani, you're a wonderful sister and a great travel companion, you know how much I love you.

Love you both so much for this unforgettable experience. Alhamdulillah, Allahu Akbar.

Amacam, would you want to do it again??

Our Trip To Singapore : The Tale of Desire, Will and Patience. Part 2.

29th April 2011, 7am-12 noon, Tambak Johor - Beach Road - Arab Street.

As we were about to enter Singapore, we saw the KTM train that we were supposed to take slowly chugging by pass us through the bus window.

Anyway the bus ride was smooth and we realized mid way when we were trying to position ourselves to sleep, and accidentally pressed a button, that the chairs were actually massage chairs. Pretty cool stuff. And the staff were very helpful. But the bus smells of cigarette smoke though. But we're in Singapore so everything is jolly well fine.

The Starmart Massage chair seats.

The bus stopped at Beach Road from where we took a cab with the intention of looking for a budget hotel, the driver was very helpful as he waited for us to ask for the available rooms from Hotel 81 (something like Seri Malaysia la) and the one next to it. All fully booked and beyond our budget. As Nani's tummy made a loud grumble in the taxi, we asked the taxi driver to send us somewhere we could eat. He was very kind as to bring us to Arab Street to a Halal restaurant.

Hungry and tired (I couldn't sleep on the bus, too excited I guess), we ate lontong with huge udang and sotong. Only then Nani started to speak like a normal human again and went out off her 'shut down' mode, then she told us she actually panicked since we were at KL Sentral so she 'shut down'. NOTE: In these situations, I'm the one who usually panics and my sister is sort of the level headed cool one. But according to her, at that time, I became the Alpha. Maybe because I was the only one with the money and it made me feel 'powerful' haha... entahla... She said maybe because everyone was sort of ok, she automatically assumed the role of the 'adik kecik and anak bongsu'.

Lontong with udang and sotong

My Mom's role is as the "Pengetua sekolah" so she chats up strangers and gets information from them, which is something I cannot do because of my 'face' that usually gives strangers a feeling like they want to slap me. So she got the restaurant owner to tell us about a budget hostel nearby. Along Jalan Kubor was the ABC backpackers hostel, we went in, enquired, the private rooms were all fully booked. All they had was mixed hostels. My Mum said no. I zikr in my heart, Oh God please help us. I was feeling sorry for my Mum having to walk around so much despite her saying she was okay, bak kata Nani, "Mak has put on her overseas legs".

Then the nice receptionist told us to sit for a while, while she checked whether there were people who canceled their bookings. Few minutes later she called us to tell that there was a dorm available for 4 persons but there was already a girl in the dorm. Syukur, we took our keys, towels and blankets after paying for the room which only costs us 26 Singapore dollar per person. All we needed was a place to rest and refresh before Lion King starts at 2pm. The room was small with 2 double decker beds and lockers with no windows. But it had air conditioning and it was clean and most importantly the toilets and bathrooms were squeaky clean too, it was good enough for us as we only planned to stay for 1 night.

Fed and refreshed, we took a cab to Marina Bay Sands to claim our tickets. It was in a shopping mall so we had time to walk around and shop a bit before the show starts. Mak swiped her Visa for Nani and I and got us new shoes. Hehe. We wanted to go up to the Skypark viewing deck but at 20 Sing dollars per person, we'd rather spend it on food.

LION KING, Marina Bay Sands Theatre, 2pm.

What can I say? The first 5 minutes was already mind blowing! The whole show was spectacular in every way, the songs, the music, the costume, the props... EVERYTHING was magnificent. It was indeed an experience of a lifetime. I have been to many musicals but this was a totally different one of a kind thing. My favorite scene was when Mufasa's 'ghost' came back to tell Simba to assume his title as King. Awesome!!! I can't describe it, I'll put a Youtube link for you to preview but it is not the same as experiencing it live. To watch The Lion King musical was on my bucket list of things to do before I die and it was worth it.


At times I almost fell asleep because of the tiredness and ordeal of the day before, but I was thinking Mak will surely scold me "Dah bayar mahal mahal pastu tido pulak!", so I forced my overdried contact lenses to stay awake. Turns out all 3 of us fell asleep a few times, termasuk Mak. I slept sungguh sungguh during the intermission.

The show ended around 5.30pm. We took a cab to Arab Street, to the Sultan Mosque for the evening prayers and had our dinner at Bushra Cafe along the same street where it is sort of like Jonker Street meets Central Market kinda feel, but the area has a lot of choices for Halal food. We shopped for textiles and shawls at the many textile shops along the street (somewhat like our Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman). Went back to the mosque for the night prayers and returned to the hostel to shower and sleep to get ready for the next day. Where to? Universal Studios!!

Our Trip To Singapore : The Tale of Desire, Will and Patience. Part 1.

27th March 2011, Dining Room, Rawang house.

Me: Nani, Kak Ina nak tgk Lion King!!!
Nani: Dierang taknak datang sini ke ah? Nani tgk yang Frenchnye version, best gile!
Me: Cube try carik on the internet, maybe dierang akan tour sini bila-bila...? I don't care, we are sooo going..

Few secs later...

Nani: Kak Ina! They're showing NOW in Singapore!
Me: What?! JOMMM!!! Book ticket skarang!
Nani: Mak, Mak, jom pegi Singapore tengok Lion King?
Mak: Oh ok.. use my credit card la...
Me & Nani: - YESSSSSSSS!!
Me: Kita nak duduk mane, balik bila, camna?
Mak&Nani: Alaah... kita pegi je dulu, balik tu nanti2la kite pikir, kite gi tgk show tu dulu and see how it goes...

Nani proceeds to purchase our ticket online for the show and the train tickets from KL Sentral to Singapore for 28th April 11pm (night train) so we could catch the Saturday, 29th April 2pm show.

28 April 2011, KTM train platform to Singapore, 11pm (few seconds before train departure)

Eh, why are these people on our beds? Excuse me, may we see your ticket? Because I think this are our bunks....

Stranger: No, these are ours... See? *showing tickets*

I scanned through the ticket, everything was the same except for one thing, THE DATE. Ours showed 29th March 2011. That was a month ago. OMG. My heart pounded. This was our error. Mak screamed to Nani and me, "Get off the train NOW!!!'

We saw the platform attendant, rushed to him, begged him to let us on the train. But the train was full to the brim. Nani went into 'shut down' mode. Mak was almost crying. My heart was gone. It was the last train tonight. We wouldn't make it in time.

The attendant suggested we could take a bus from Bandar Tasik Selatan. But that is so far away! Mak remembered there was a coach bus we could take that was nearer, at the KL KTM station, but we have no way of knowing whether there would be any tickets left. We took a chance, took a cab to KTM KL.

12 midnight. NICE EXPRESS Bus Counter, Old Railway Station, KL.

"Bang, ade tiket tak ke Singapore?"

Nice Staff : Ada, bas bertolak pukul 12.30 nanti, untuk berapa orang ye?

With relief in our hearts we answered "3 orang".

Nice Staff: Oh sorry, kite ade tempat untuk 2 orang je.

Our hearts stopped again. Nani was still in 'shut down' mode, not saying a word. Mak was literally crying this time. Me? I seriously don't know. We begged again for them to let us on the bus, it was the last one, we would share the seats, it didn't matter, as long as we get to Singapore before the show starts, that was it. But they wouldn't let us, it was against regulations. The Nice staff who was very nice suggested we go to Bandar Tasik Selatan. He even contacted the station for us but they didn't pick up.

We rushed down to get a cab to Bandar Tasik Selatan. In the mad rush, my mom tripped on the stairs and fell at the exit door. She fell hard on her knee. Her bad knees. I was stunned. But Mak got up quickly, "Mak ok! I'm ok! Go!". Thank God.

While waiting for a cab, we all stood in silence. Each one of us thinking of the same thing.

Mak to Nani: Why don't just the 2 of you go? Mak baliklah... (hmm.. I wonder how she plans to do that?)
Nani ~ Mak ngan Kak Ina je la pegi. Nani dah tengok dah Lion King... ~ (thinks in her head, still in shut down mode)
Me to Nani: Maybe you and Mak should go, maybe I'm not supposed to go on this trip. (Maybe Izham wasn't really ikhlas in letting me go?)

Then a cab came, we took it. We might not make it in time. There might not be any tickets. But it was worth a try.

12.20 am Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS)

Like a scene from Amazing Race, Nani and I ran up the escalator leaving Mak behind, hoping to catch the 12.30 train. (I got semput half of the way).  There was only one counter open. At the counter, some nice Malaysians who were buying tickets for future let us pass through. We got our tickets, the bus leaves at 1.30am. Newfound fact, at TBS, they have buses up to 3am.

Taking the lift to find the waiting area, Mak asked me, "What's the name of the bus company?".
I looked at the tickets "Starmart Express" I replied.
"Tak pernah dengar pun?," Mak said.
Suddenly the only other person in the lift turned around to my Mom and said, "Macam mana boleh tak penah dengar, kita ada lebih 60 buah bas dalam rangkaian kita..... " and he went on explaining about the company to my mom's shocked+amused face. Apparently the only other person with us in the lift works for StarMart, haha, ironic isn't it? But StarMart Express saved our lives and we are indebted to them.

We sat at the chairs, waiting,  contemplating what we just went through. Alhamdulillah.

When faced with difficulties, remember Allah, be patient, try our best to find solutions, exhaust all resources then Tawakkal. If we were meant to go, then we will. If we have tried everything and yet still fail, then it just wasn't meant to be.

We boarded the bus at 2am, we're on our way to Singapore!

At the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan