Monday, December 31, 2007


2008 resolutions

oh my, today is the last day of 2007. taking everything as a whole, i can't complain too much. it has been a fairly good year for me personally on most fronts as all the other previous several years have been. some expected results met and also there are some unmet needs (as they say in my company speak). i'll give it a 6 on a scale of 10. this sounds like a rather bad rating considering i really can't complain very much at all...i mean compared to those unfortunate people in pakistan or iraq or elsewhere i should rate myself at 9 perhaps or 8 at least ... but human beings are real bastards, they can never get enough and be grateful of what they have, and i count myself as one of those afflicted with this terrible disease....

i'm not going to review what 2007 meant to me , but for the first time in my life i'm going to put in writing what i expect to achieve in 2008 (well, some parts of it)..

1) Books

i know i'll go and buy more books in 2008 as i mean to build up my library to around 4000 books by 2010 and i will go on to read a few of these. but i need to specifically set this little target:-

i must read Hikayat Abdullah and Hikayat Hang Tuah
i have this old copy of Hikayat Abdullah Jilid 1 published by Pustaka Antara (1963- my version is 6th reprint in 1974)) in original old style bahasa melayu which i find very pleasing. i bought a paperback copy for 1 ringgit.

As for Hikayat Hang Tuah, mine is Kassim Ahmad’s magnum opus edition of the Hikayat Hang Tuah, painstaking and lovingly edited and compiled in 1962 and published by our very own Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka? This is the definitive version of the full Hikayat, in two volumes, running a total of 523 pages. (as described by farish noor here...) again, in very pleasing old bahasa melayu...

2) olympic games

to go and watch 2008 olympic games in Beijing (track and field) in august.
if i can still get a ticket for at least one day of track and field events, I'll definitely attend this.
ideally what i'd love to do is take a flight to kunming and then travel by train all the way up to beijing...

3) Travels.

i know i'll be travelling to all sorts of places due to the nature of my work as usual but apart from this, i'm going to do at least one of these:-

a) go and do catch and realease fishing in alaska.
I have this good american friend who has done this and i might tag along if i really feel like it on his next fishing trip. (possible but probably not going to happen)

or b) go catch lobsters with my old boss in queensland and revisit great barrier reef (very possible but 50% likelihood)

or c) take a train journey in south america. (trans andes/trans patagonoia) and visit a friend in beunos aires -possible but low likelihood

or d) visit Mrauk U, in Burma.

this is the most likely to be met as i'll be going to myanma again in march 2008.

4) to be happy

fuck. this one is impossible.....

Saturday, December 29, 2007


i grieve

on december 27, 2007 as we all know benazir bhutto was assassinated. if i were to be truthful but at the risk of sounding impolite and callous , i'd say that she had it coming. everybody who follows pakistani politics at even cursory glance knows this. she had too many enemies and worst of all in my eyes she was seen as another western (read bush's) stooge. she was the hope of western world for paskistan, in truth not so much for democracy and all that but in reality as a tool to fight the west's real enemies, the so called muslim extremists and she had been very clear in all her campaigns and statements that sorting out this muslim extremist issue was one of her main agenda. and she paid the ultimate price for it.

but i had to say this. as much as i feel sad about this atrocity , if i were a pakistani, i DEFINITELY would not vote for her if she were still alive and not too unhappy that she is now out of the pakistan's political scene. Like some of you, i spent a considerable time switching from aljazeera to bbc to cnn back and forth transfixed by the scene and the unfolding event on the 27 Dec night (our malaysian time). and i can understand and feel the anger and sadness of her sympathizers .

so, i grieve for this sad death, the same as i also grieve even for the terrible way saddam was hanged (even though i despised him ). every death is a tragedy and by way of saying my condolence i'll end with this ....


I grieve

By Peter Gabriel

It was only one hour ago
It was all so different then
Theres nothing yet has really sunk in
Looks like it always did
This flesh and bone
Its just the way that you would tied in
Now theres no-one home

I grieve for you
You leave me
so hard to move on
Still loving whats gone
They say life carries on
Carries on and on and on and on

The news that truly shocks is the empty empty page
While the final rattle rocks its empty empty cage
And I cant handle this

I grieve for you
You leave me
Let it out and move on
Missing whats gone
They say life carries on
They say life carries on and on and on

Life carries on
In the people I meet
In everyone thats out on the street
In all the dogs and cats
In the flies and rats
In the rot and the rust
In the ashes and the dust
Life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on

Its just the car that we ride in
A home we reside in
The face that we hide in
The way we are tied in
And life carries on and on and on and on
Life carries on and on and on

Did I dream this belief?
Or did I believe this dream?
Now I can find relief
I grieve

Tuesday, December 25, 2007



One day in the spring of 1998, Bluma Lennon bought a secondhand copy of Emily Dickinson's poems in a bookshop in Soho, and as she reached the second poem on the first street corner, she was knocked down by a car.

Books change people's destinies. Some have read The Tiger of Malaysia and become professors of literature in remote universities.

that was the start of the paper house (also called the house of paper in some editions ), a very thin novel (103 pages including some nice illustrations) by carlos maria dominguez - the most memorable book that i read this year.(you can read an excerpt from the first chapter here). last year's was ali and nino by the way.

i've never heard of the tiger of malaysia and it made me curious but when i googled the title and tried amazon no such title apparently exists. the closest is sandokan:the tiger of malaysia. but that's not the reason why it's memorable to me . the main reason is , although i'm nowhere near as nutty and addicted to books (i think) as the main character of this little jewel of a book who was also named carlos, i can easily identify with many of his obsession and feelings . but i'm not likely to go troppo as he did - i think and hope.

but some days i do feel well, booked ( as in templed out when you had too much of looking at angkor wat for the day , say) and feel like well, put a match to the whole thing.... but this thankfully is just a fleeting feeling.

i read purely for pleasure and as such i have no specific timelines or deadlines to start or finish any book. i try to discipline myself to be indisciplined. which is very easy for me to do as i'm a hopelessly indesciplined person by nature and inclination. and i don't care for the latest 'must read' authors, or winners of literary prizes or try to be patriotic and read or support local authors and books. i don't care very much for book recommendations either and i never care to recommend any books to anybody either.

all the same you can still feel jaded even when you have too much of a good thing. and now i feel rather tired at mere mention of literary fiction...or booker winners... these new writers, sometimes they can be rather tedious... i think i'll get back to good old story tellings with real stories in it...stories by nikolai gogol for example... then perhaps i won't feel like puting a match to my library....

currently actively reading :

robertson davies- the cunning man
russel banks -the rule of the bone
Anthony burgess - little wilson and big god (autobiography)
in siberia - colin thubron (travel)

Sunday, December 16, 2007



the best things in life are free, but you can give them to the birds and bees, i want money.... so goes an old song by the beattles which was hilariously covered by the flying lizards called money....

i first heard it such a long time ago, seemed like a hundred years ago ...but the lyrics still ring very true...even truer today. everyone wants money...but the the song goes on to don't get everything it's true....all the same we all want money... because money can buy happiness...more or less...

but is that true? human kind has been grappling with what happiness means since the beginning of time... all those philosophers have thought about it and written very eloquently on what happiness is all about but nobody really has the faintest clue what it really is, hence until this day nobody can agree what it actually is and how to attain it...all religions lay claim that it's particular brand is the only way to true happiness...but this too don't get people to achieve happiness.

and so, we all want that we can buy things that will make us happy...and we go to extremes in trying to get as much money as we can... but as we know that don't prevent people with lots of money living deeply unhappy lives...

but still, money perhaps is the closest thing one can use to achieve happiness...the world moves around because of money that's for sure. and human kind have devised all sorts of creative ways to make or illegal. and there are so many books out there telling you how to make to get rich... and there are so many good books telling stories related to money...and i've been dying to watch a movie based on cormac mcCarthy's novel by my favorite film makers the coen brothers called no country for old men which involved ill gotten money... is a great movie by all accounts...and there are many songs that also deal with money ...and here's an example from my all time favorite band the pink floyd. it's called, what vid clip isn't original though)

but most of us are very realistic... we don't aim for the unattainable...some people simply opt for a highly simplified form of mate thinks he'd be happy if he can bonk a young girl once in a while...damned pervert...

Thursday, December 13, 2007



i was having dinner with a couple of friends in this rather crappy restaurant which is supposed to be quite famous on top of a hill overlooking davao city mindanao several weeks back when this british friend out of the blue mentioned that his wife ran away with someone. this came as a surprise to me as he is quite a decent looking guy and very successful in his career. one time we were having a massage- no , not the naughty one but the normal traditional oil massage and when we changed he just simply dropped his pants and i glanced down there and what i saw was a real whopper dangling between his legs , so i assume his wife ran away not on account of that department.

he had gotten over it now but in the early days he was terribly pissed off (understandably) and on a whim went to buy himself one of those fancy mercedes 300 series CASH and brought his two lovely kids on a holiday in a fancy resort in the bahamas or somewhere -not that it did him any good with regards to getting back his wife of course. he said he was lucky to have good and real friends that supported him during those black days. i mentioned that in this part of the world if a man finds his wife doing the hanky panky with another man, some real men will just kill the bitch. i told him that sometimes i remind my lady that if i ever find another man bonking her during one of my travels i'll cut off her head and put in a fridge. what a romantic relationship you have ! he exclaimed. and i told him as much as we would like to believe other wise the best relationship or friendship is often not based on equality and mutual respect.

i notice the best relationship is always a form of a master and slave. traditional asian family structure is based on this . man the master and woman the slave. it sounds terrible but in fact not really. these days unfortunately modern asians think the same way as the western people i told him and now we are seeing more and more divorce because asian men can't really get used to being made mere equal to their women. asian men are not used to cooking or changing diapers. you're damned crazy he said. you treat women like carpet. i said , no, like slave. but we love our slaves. more than you really love your women .

and same thing goes with friendship i said. i always find friendship a disappointment.a big let down. i said that he's lucky to have real friends. i said i only have real friends and lots of them too but only during my childhood days. after i'm past teen age years i told him i always find friends disappointing. of course i expect people to find me a disappointment too. and so we see that we have mostly casual friends. people we won't die for. do you have friends that you'd die for? i asked him. do you? he asked. no, i said. but come to think of it the only person i'd die for is probably osama ben laden. but that's not for friendship but idealism. you're fucking out of your mind he said. i said, may be, but i'm trying to say the truth. i can rationalize it. but some other times perhaps.

and i said, do you know why dogs are so popular as pets in the western world? it's because men (and women) are lonely. they crave real friendship. and only dogs can satisfy this need. or at least the nearest human can get. relationship between man and dog is the most honest and beautiful friendship ever. many people are willing to die for their dogs. and their relationship is not based on equality. it's master and slave kind of relationship. am i correct ? i asked him.

and that's why so many buddy movies are so popular. and some of the best movies ever made are in this genre. papilon, midnight cowboy, the big liebowski , just to name a few. oh you're one fucked up philosopher , he said. and we finished the dinner and went down the hill.....

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