About Me

I have done a lot of things in my life and have also worked in many different jobs to make a living and to experience life. This blog is just some of my musings, sometimes funny, sometimes inspirational, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes simple but all the time, it's just me.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Queens Night and Queens Day

There is a big party going on in Netherlands, it started last night and continues to go on throughout the day.

It is Queens Day. Basically, it is to celebrate the Queens birthday, and boy do they celebrate.

Queens day is originally the birthday of Queen Juliana rather than Queen Beatrix, the current monarch but Queen Beatrix has continued the tradition to have it on 30 April.

Last night we went to The Hague for the night celebration and were out until 1 am and had quite a bit of fun looking at people clad in orange and listening to different music setup throughout the city playing different types of music.

The big party on the day will be in Amsterdam but we are avoiding it and going to Kinderdijk instead to see the windmills.

But we got up a little late and had a late breakfast and a late shower etc etc, so, I hope we get to see the windmills as they close at 5:30pm.

While writing this, I am watching the celebrations with the royal family in Appledoorn and I am amazed at how friendly and relaxed they are. They are laughing, mixing with the crowd, taking pictures, playing the games etc.

I have never seen any royalty this friendly - especially not the Malaysian royalty nor the British royalty.

Anyway, off we go, soon to Kinderdijk, windmills, Dutch cheese and farmers. I will post some pictures sometime soon.

Tomorrow, we check out and off to see Kuikenhof and the tulip fields.

Take care and be well.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Life and How to Survive It

Datuk YAB forwarded me this speech supposedly a convocation speech by Adrian Tan, a Singapore lawyer. I have not had a chance to verify if this is true but the speech below is certainly interesting.

The message : Don't work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.

The speech:

I must say thank you to the faculty and staff of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information for inviting me to give your convocation address. It’s a wonderful honour and a privilege for me to speak here for ten minutes without fear of contradiction, defamation or retaliation. I say this as a Singaporean and more so as a husband.

My wife is a wonderful person and perfect in every way except one. She is the editor of a magazine. She corrects people for a living. She has honed her expert skills over a quarter of a century, mostly by practising at home during conversations between her and me.

On the other hand, I am a litigator. Essentially, I spend my day telling people how wrong they are. I make my living being disagreeable.

Nevertheless, there is perfect harmony in our matrimonial home. That is because when an editor and a litigator have an argument, the one who triumphs is always the wife.

And so I want to start by giving one piece of advice to the men: when you’ve already won her heart, you don’t need to win every argument.

Marriage is considered one milestone of life. Some of you may already be married. Some of you may never be married. Some of you will be married. Some of you will enjoy the experience so much, you will be married many, many times. Good for you.

The next big milestone in your life is today: your graduation. The end of education. You’re done learning.

You’ve probably been told the big lie that “Learning is a lifelong process” and that therefore you will continue studying and taking masters’ degrees and doctorates and professorships and so on. You know the sort of people who tell you that? Teachers. Don’t you think there is some measure of conflict of interest? They are in the business of learning, after all. Where would they be without you? They need you to be repeat customers.

The good news is that they’re wrong.

The bad news is that you don’t need further education because your entire life is over. It is gone. That may come as a shock to some of you. You’re in your teens or early twenties. People may tell you that you will live to be 70, 80, 90 years old. That is your life expectancy.

I love that term: life expectancy. We all understand the term to mean
the average life span of a group of people. But I’m here to talk about a bigger idea, which is what you expect from your life.

You may be very happy to know that Singapore is currently ranked as the country with the third highest life expectancy. We are behind Andorra and Japan, and tied with San Marino. It seems quite clear why people in those countries, and ours, live so long. We share one thing in common: our football teams are all hopeless. There’s very little danger of any of our citizens having their pulses raised by watching us play in the World Cup. Spectators are more likely to be lulled into a gentle and
restful nap.

Singaporeans have a life expectancy of 81.8 years. Singapore men live to an average of 79.21 years, while Singapore women live more than five years longer, probably to take into account the additional time they need to spend in the bathroom.

So here you are, in your twenties, thinking that you’ll have another 40 years to go. Four decades in which to live long and prosper.

Bad news. Read the papers. There are people dropping dead when they’re 50, 40, 30 years old. Or quite possibly just after finishing their convocation. They would be very disappointed that they didn’t meet their life expectancy.

I’m here to tell you this. Forget about your life expectancy.

After all, it’s calculated based on an average. And you never, ever want to expect being average.

Revisit those expectations. You might be looking forward to working, falling in love, marrying, raising a family. You are told that, as graduates, you should expect to find a job paying so much, where your hours are so much, where your responsibilities are so much.

That is what is expected of you. And if you live up to it, it will be an awful waste.

If you expect that, you will be limiting yourself. You will be living your life according to boundaries set by average people. I have nothing against average people. But no one should aspire to be them. And you don’t need years of education by the best minds in Singapore to prepare you to be average.

What you should prepare for is mess. Life’s a mess. You are not entitled to expect anything from it. Life is not fair. Everything does not balance out in the end. Life happens, and you have no control over it. Good and bad things happen to you day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment. Your degree is a poor armour against fate.

Don’t expect anything. Erase all life expectancies. Just live. Your life is over as of today. At this point in time, you have grown as tall as you will ever be, you are physically the fittest you will ever be in your entire life and you are probably looking the best that you will ever look. This is as good as it gets. It is all downhill from here. Or up. No one knows.

What does this mean for you? It is good that your life is over.

Since your life is over, you are free. Let me tell you the many wonderful things that you can do when you are free.

The most important is this: do not work.

Work is anything that you are compelled to do. By its very nature, it is undesirable.

Work kills. The Japanese have a term “Karoshi”, which means death from overwork. That's the most dramatic form of how work can kill. But it can also kill you in more subtle ways. If you work, then day by day, bit by bit, your soul is chipped away, disintegrating until there’s nothing left. A rock has been ground into sand and dust.

There's a common misconception that work is necessary. You will meet people working at miserable jobs. They tell you they are “making a living”. No, they’re not. They’re dying, frittering away their fast-extinguishing lives doing things which are, at best, meaningless and, at worst, harmful.

People will tell you that work ennobles you, that work lends you a certain dignity. Work makes you free. The slogan "Arbeit macht frei" was placed at the entrances to a number of Nazi concentration camps. Utter nonsense.

Do not waste the vast majority of your life doing something you hate so that you can spend the small remainder sliver of your life in modest comfort. You may never reach that end anyway.

Resist the temptation to get a job. Instead, play. Find something you enjoy doing. Do it. Over and over again. You will become good at it for two reasons: you like it, and you do it often. Soon, that will have value in itself.

I like arguing, and I love language. So, I became a litigator. I enjoy it and I would do it for free. If I didn't do that, I would've been in some other type of work that still involved writing fiction – probably a sports journalist.

So what should you do? You will find your own niche. I don’t imagine you will need to look very hard. By this time in your life, you will have a very good idea of what you will want to do. In fact, I’ll go further and say the ideal situation would be that you will not be able to stop yourself pursuing your passions. By this time you should know what your obsessions are. If you enjoy showing off your knowledge and feeling superior, you might become a teacher.

Find that pursuit that will energise you, consume you, become an obsession. Each day, you must rise with a restless enthusiasm. If you don’t, you are working.

Most of you will end up in activities which involve communication. To those of you I have a second message: be wary of the truth.

I’m not asking you to speak it, or write it, for there are times when it is dangerous or impossible to do those things. The truth has a great capacity to offend and injure, and you will find that the closer you are to someone, the more care you must take to disguise or even conceal the truth. Often, there is great virtue in being evasive, or equivocating. There is also great skill. Any child can blurt out the truth, without thought to the consequences. It takes great maturity to appreciate the value of silence.

In order to be wary of the truth, you must first know it. That requires great frankness to yourself. Never fool the person in the mirror.

I have told you that your life is over, that you should not work, and that you should avoid telling the truth. I now say this to you: be hated.

It's not as easy as it sounds. Do you know anyone who hates you? Yet every great figure who has contributed to the human race has been hated, not just by one person, but often by a great many.

That hatred is so strong it has caused those great figures to be shunned, abused, murdered and in one famous instance, nailed to a cross.

One does not have to be evil to be hated. In fact, it’s often the case that one is hated precisely because one is trying to do right by one’s own convictions. It is far too easy to be liked, one merely has to be accommodating and hold no strong convictions. Then one will gravitate towards the centre and settle into the average. That cannot be your role. There are a great many bad people in the world, and if you are not offending them, you must be bad yourself. Popularity is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong.

The other side of the coin is this: fall in love.

I didn't say “be loved”. That requires too much compromise. If one changes one's looks, personality and values, one can be loved by anyone.

Rather, I exhort you to love another human being. It may seem odd for me to tell you this. You may expect it to happen naturally, without deliberation. That is false. Modern society is anti-love. We’ve taken a microscope to everyone to bring out their flaws and shortcomings. It far easier to find a reason not to love someone, than otherwise. Rejection requires only one reason. Love requires complete acceptance. It is hard work – the only kind of work that I find palatable.

Loving someone has great benefits. There is admiration, learning, attraction and something which, for the want of a better word, we call happiness. In loving someone, we become inspired to better ourselves in every way. We learn the truth worthlessness of material things. We celebrate being human. Loving is good for the soul.

Loving someone is therefore very important, and it is also important to choose the right person. Despite popular culture, love doesn’t happen by chance, at first sight, across a crowded dance floor. It grows slowly, sinking roots first before branching and blossoming. It is not a silly weed, but a mighty tree that weathers every storm.

You will find, that when you have someone to love, that the face is less important than the brain, and the body is less important than the heart. You will also find that it is no great tragedy if your love is not reciprocated. You are not doing it to be loved back. Its value is to inspire you.

Finally, you will find that there is no half-measure when it comes to loving someone. You either don't, or you do with every cell in your body, completely and utterly, without reservation or apology. It consumes you, and you are reborn, all the better for it.

Don't work. Avoid telling the truth. Be hated. Love someone.

You're going to have a busy life. Thank goodness there's no life expectancy.

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Farewell Dinner on a Mythical Bird

Today evening there is a farewell dinner for me. Well for me as well as Petri who is cross posted to my neighbouring country in Brunei and a welcome dinner for SM who is hailing from there.

Anyway, a Chinese restaurant was initially chosen and that was changed to Garoeda, an expensive Indonesian restaurant.

Garoeda as it is spelled here or Garuda is of course a Sanskrit word although many people relate it to Indonesian.

Garuda is a large mythical bird or bird-like creature that appears in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Garuda is the Hindu name for the constellation Aquila and the Brahminy kite is considered to be the contemporary representation of Garuda.

The story of Garuda's birth and deeds is told in the first book of the great epic Mahabharata.

Anyway, wifey spent her day going about The Hague - weather was horrible today.

Again the office was nearly as cold as outside and this time a few of my colleagues worked from a neighbouring building.

While the usual work environment was physically cold, the new environment I am in is just cold and quiet - it seems like I was attending a funeral. It was so quiet and lacked energy, you could hear a pin drop, but nobody would even drop a pin.

In the evening, Batman's sidekick took me to The Hague where wifey met us and we went for a drink before dinner. After that, we went to dinner at Garoeda which was surprisingly very good.

I was presented with a really nice and heavy picture book on The Netherlands - must weigh at least 2-3 kilo's but it is a really nice book.

After dinner, went to O'Caseys with a Scot and a Brit for a few drinks and see an interesting football match with a boring result. A couple of Guinness and a tram 17 ride back to the hotel and time to knock off.

Tomorrow is another day of work, final day. Then a nice holiday.

Take care and be well.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Another home cooked meal

I went to work in frigid cold conditions - not outside but in the office. The weather outside is about 15 degrees but raining. But inside the office, it is 16 degrees and cold. The heater is turned off and the air conditioning is some how turned on.

Most people including myself were wearing our jackets while working and when most of us could not bear it any longer, we went home (in my case the hotel) and worked from the hotel.

Wifey had gone to Rotterdam to see the Maritime museum as well as the Cube houses and did some shopping.

In the evening, another lovely dinner at Van Veller's home with Peter, Anne and Queen Tessa.

Spent a lovely evening with friends, the last few days in Rijswijk and at work.

The meal was fabulous, chapati, biryani rice, vegetable curry, chick peas, scrambled eggs with onions and spices, tandoori fish, raita and to top it off in the end with nice chai.

Come back from dinner around midnight and only went to bed around 1am, another day past by and another 2 days at work.

Tomorrow, there is a farewell dinner at Garoeda - from what I hear, an expensive Indonesian restaurant where we will likely spend RM200 for a plate of mixed rice - thankfully not on my account. Phew!

Take care and be well.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Weekend with wifey

I got my rental car on Saturday from Avis, they give a good rate for people in Shell.

Wifey went to the Mauritshaus museum while I collected the car and drove for the 1st time in 20 years on the other side of the road in narrow Hague streets. It was not easy to say the least but more about my driving adventures after my whole trip. On top of that, I got a manual car which I need to get used to as well. And a reverse gear that is on top of the 1st gear and requires a trick to put on reverse.

We spent quite some time in Mauritshaus and then went to M.C. Esher house which Sarah enjoyed.

Then drove the car back to Rijswijk and took a train to Delft to spend the evening there.

On Sunday, got up a little late and drove to Amsterdam. Spent pretty much the whole day in Amsterdam. Actually arrived quite late in Amsterdam and then walked a bit, went shopping and then to Anne Frank's house.

After Anne Frank's house, we met up with some friends we made on Friday for some snacks and drinks at the Niuew Markt area in Amsterdam and showed wifey the red light district with the window displays and Hash shops and museums.

We came back rather early from Amsterdam mainly because I wanted to drive in daylight. And then we took a train to Rotterdam but most things were obviously closed. So, we walked a little, then ate a pizza and came back to Rijswijk.

A nice long tiring weekend where the weather got colder and started raining on Sunday.

A few more days of work, then I would be on leave.

Until then....

Take care and be well.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wifey's here

Wifey arrived on Thursday morning - a little jet lagged and tired and having her bags opened and checked but safe and well.

I had bought a bunch of red tulips from the airport shop and arrived at Schipol at 6:47am from the 1st train out of Rijswijk at 5:51am.

Also, my reliable ex-cop driver Frans also had shown up to pick wifey and send us back to The Grand Winston.

After arrival in hotel, I packed some breakfast and wifey ate somethings and then decided to take a nap as she only slept 3 hours and had a bit of jey lag.

In the afternoon, she went to In de Boogard - the Rijswijk shopping mall.

And as Thursday is late shopping day, we then went to The Hague in the evening and walked around the shopping area and then had a nice Indonesian food.

As the sun stays out till about 9:30pm, you don;t even realise how fast the time flies.

Anyway, slept around 11:30pm and slept like a log, both of us in general.

On Friday, had breakie with wifey and showed her how to get to Amsterdam. She went on her own to the Van Gogh museum and I then went there after work.

The museum is open until 10pm today and it gave me the opportunity to visit the Van Gogh by night additional exhibit that I missed the last time.

Also, after my previous post, I had to re-look at poverty and among my favorite Van Gogh paintings, the Potato Eaters. It is about peasants eating potatoes and drinking black coffee. The painting seems sometimes like Van Gogh actually used mud rather than oil colors to paint it.

The Potato Eaters is a painting by the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh that he painted in April 1885 while in Nuenen, Netherlands. It is housed in the Van Gogh Museum of Amsterdam.


During March and the beginning of April 1885 he sketched studies for the painting, and corresponded with his brother, who was not impressed with his current work or the sketches van Gogh sent him.

He worked on the painting from April 13 until the beginning of May, when it was mostly done except for minor changes which he made with a small brush later the same year.

Van Gogh said he wanted to depict peasants as they really were. He deliberately chose coarse and ugly models, thinking that they would be natural and unspoiled in his finished work.

Van Gogh deliberately chose a composition which would challenge his growing prowess as a painter. And like the French master Jean-François Millet, Van Gogh wanted to be a true 'peasant painter.'

"I wanted to convey the idea that the people eating potatoes by the light of an oil lamp used the same hands with which they take food from the plate to work the land, that they have toiled with their hands—that they have earned their food by honest means."

This meant Van Gogh tried to paint his subjects with deep feeling, but without sentimentality. He spoke of them leading "a way of life completely different from ours, from that of civilized people."

He strove to paint the faces, "the color of a good, dusty potato, unpeeled naturally," and to convey the idea that these people had "used the same hands with which they now take food from the plate to dig the earth […] and had thus earned their meal honestly."

Van Gogh thought this piece was a failure.

I guess some people are never happy, and as such, they cut their ears or shoot themselves and bleed to death over a two day period.

I am happy, because I choose too and of course wifey is here too.

Take care and be well.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chicken A-la-Carte

I know I have emailed quite a number of people to watch this movie but maybe not enough, so if you happen to read my blogs, you need to watch this short movie.

Please take sometime (6 minutes) to watch this Berlin International Film Festival winner for Best Short Story.

This film is about the hunger and poverty brought about by Globalization. There are 10,000 people dying everyday due to hunger and malnutrition.

This short film shows a forgotten portion of the society.

The people who live on the refuse of men to survive.

What is inspiring is the hope and spirituality that never left this people.

A friend emailed me this and she wrote:
"We live in our own little world of abundance and excess, where we can afford to spend thousands of dollars on designer shoes and handbags, where we can afford to entice our egos and fill our wants to our hearts content at shopping malls and michelin-star restaurants. at buffet tables our egos (and not our tummies) become insatiable, piling our plates like there's no tomorrow. and if we or our children don't want anymore, that's fine because we're paying for it, we can afford it, we can do whatever we want. and so we waste...
when we sleep at night, do we thank our blessings? or do we go to bed feeling as though we could never have enough, coveting that new benzo or that new pair of louboutins?"


You will be humbled.


Watch it, take 6 minutes of your time.

Take care and be well.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

75 Kilograms

No that is not how much my bags weigh although my bags do weigh a reverse of that, 57kgs.

I weigh 75kgs. Not that it matters, but I now have reached my ideal weight. When I left Miri, I was about 68kgs - so in 3 months in The Netherlands, I have put on 7kgs.

Again, I am not complaining but quite happy about it - now just to ensure I can healthily maintain the weight. I guess it is also true that you start to put on weight after 40.

Now, why was I weighing myself?

You see, I wanted to weigh my bags, I knew they were heavy and I have been packing up, so just wanted to know how much stuff I should ship instead.

And of course in The Netherlands, a 4 star Grand Winston Hotel would not have a weighing scale available, why should they?

So, I have to seek some support from literally my support colleague who gladly lend me his scales.

Thank you Mr B.B.

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Income Tax - money down the drain; give me water

Yes, it is time for the year again.

The Internal Revenue Department does not give a care in the world if you are away for business or work somewhere and find it difficult to get your taxes done - sorry, no deferment.

So, with a scanned EA form, some information for charity, books and sports equipment - I have to get my taxes done.

Every year, a big chunk of money goes to the bunch of jokers in the government and all they want to do with it is build more monuments like the crooked bridge etc.

Every year, the IRD promises to give you a refund automatically within 2 months if you have overpaid but every year I do not get a refund.

This year, I want to go do something about it, maybe in July or August - go back to my file in Kuala Lumpur and get them to give me a date for the refund.

I sometimes wish that in election, we had a choice of what and where we want the government to spend additional efforts or money in the next 5 years or so.

For example, I would not want money to be spent on crooked bridges and hydroelectric dams that destroy half of the rain forests.

How about some better health care, education.

And for crying out loud, how about clean drinking water.

Most developed countries provide clean drinking water, no need of rocket filters, or UV filters or anything like that. You open the tap, and pour water and drink it.

In Europe, I could drink water from the tap of most countries I visited including Poland, Austria, Netherlands, UK, Germany, Belgium. In USA, I could drink water from any state.

In Malaysia, you open your tap and you still get brown water.

Vision 2020 is getting very blurry, must be all the haze or maybe we are being blinded by all the white elephants being build.

Where is the social and mental development of people. People still talk about races and supremacy of a certain race - sounds more like Nazi Germany to me - but well, then again, Hitler also thought that Nazi Germany was a developed country. They did wage 2 World Wars.

Hmm, maybe that is the direction Malaysia wants to go, I wonder?

Oh well, this is unfortunately currently the only home I have, so, I guess I will just have to be positive about it and hope for the best.

Take care and be well.

Monday, April 20, 2009

My new kite

This is the new Peter Lynn Twister II 4 line 4.1 meter kite that I bought and the person said you could lift and jump up to 4 meters and it can drag you through the beach.


This is in the air, a nice beast of a kite.

I was trying it for the first time, so it was not easy. I also need to think of getting a bar so that it is easier to control. Nevertheless, go fly kite has a new meaning altogether, it is a sport requiring a lot of energy. Also, the kite was twisting quite a bit, but then again it is called Twister, what should I expect.

To check out more about power foil kites, check out the Peter Lynn site.


Take care and be well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Turaluraluralu

A spring cleaning weekend but for some reason not feeling extremely well.

The weather has been good and went out to the beach to try out my new kite but today just spent doing 3 loads of laundry and then clearing the room. When you have been here for 3 months, a lot of things are collected and placed around the room and that needs to be packed up as well.

While doing all this, of course I was listening to some music and the latest CD being The best of Trio which includes Da Da Da and another song which is originally an Irish lullaby Turaluraluralu. I am not sleeping too well, so maybe I need to listen to some lullaby.

Of course, this is Trio, so they change the lyrics in originally sing it in German.

In the English version, they sing Tooralooralooraloo, is it old & is it new.

But in the German version, they sing Turaluraluralu, I go boo boo, what do you?

I think this is funnier.

English lyrics below
Long ago and far away
do I miss you I can’t say
far away and long ago
do I miss you I don’t know
uuh I loved it there and then
but would it be like there again
Tooralooralooraloo
is it old & is it new

Tooralooralooraloo
Tooralooralooraloo
Tooralooralooraloo
is it old & is it new

Long ago and far away
do I miss you I can’t say
I remember your green eyes
and I won’t forget you smile
still I don’t know what to do
maybe dreaming dreams of you
Tooralooralooraloo
is it old and is it new



Take care and be well.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Siem De Jong and Locus Publicus

Went to Delft to look for kites. So went to this place called Siem De Jong (note Jong is pronounced Yong).

This place is huge and sells all outdoor sports stuff including windsurfing sails, snowboards, skis, kayaks, Frisbee's, kayaks etc etc.

It also had this huge black hairy shaggy dog with its eyes covered but friendly and a bit lazy called Tuuushe. I did not have my camera with me this time but I played with him for a while and it was fun, reminded me of how much I miss Al E.

Bought a 4 meter 4 line kite with 2 handles and something which can lift me maybe 4 meters in the air.

Then went to Locus Publicus. The famous local pub that serves many many many beers, maybe 200 beers or so. I had 5 different ones, starting with a Guinness and ending with a sweet and lite bio fruit beer.

In between, I had a sandwich at the pub and later a piece of bread. The off to the train station back to Rijswijk.

Friday night in Delft.

Simple, nice and busier than Rijswijk.

Saturday was supposed to do laundry but instead went to the beach to try out the new kite that I have bought. Boy it is strong and fun but I need to get used to it, it twisted too many times that it became a little difficult to manage.

Then had late lunch, a wrong tram ride and finally back to Rijswijk where I went to "tapau" some mixed rice from the Indonesian restaurant and relax off for the evening by clearing up the place.

So, generally, unlike previous weeks, I had a relatively quiet week this weekend. However, next weekend wifey will be here and it will be active again.

Take care and be well.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring is in the air

Spring is in the air.

The weather is getting warmer.

The birds and seagulls are all frolicking and also shitting everywhere. You need to have one eye on the sky and one eye on the ground to avoid the shit - so you become cockeyed ;P

The flowers are blooming everywhere including weeds.

Rijswijk is beginning to smell like a farm - honestly. They either use cow manure in the gardens or the Dutch farmers secretly take their cows and horses out for a walk at night through the town.

Of course the April showers have started, it has been raining everyday - if they call this rain, the should see some of the rain we get in Malaysia.

And as usual, it is time for spring cleaning. Even for me.

For the past 3 months, I have live somewhat as a relatively clean bachelor in my tiny little room in the Grand Winston.

But over this weekend, I have to do some spring cleaning. Start to pack up and throw away things that are to be discarded.

Time to clear up the area and create some space in the room.

I have about 10 more days left in the room but more so because wifey is coming to visit come towards the end of April, in about a week or so.

So, the spring cleaning has started and surprisingly, I have collected a lot of things over the 3 months. I read a lot, so magazines and books. These I will be sending via mail to Malaysia to reduce weight.

Music CD's, clothes, books, magazines, tickets, postcards, memories etc etc.

Spring is in the air,
some things to be packed,
some to be thrown,
some to be remembered,
some to be discarded,
some to be mailed,
some to be flown.

Spring is in the air,
one eye up and one eye down,
avoid the bird shit but smell the cow,
smell the flowers and walk on the grass,
see a squirming worm and a swarm of flies,
tulips blooms and tulips die.

See the Dutch on the bicycles,
zooming here and zooming there,
iPods in their ears and a mobile in their hand,
without a care in the world or any other man,
millions of cycles lay waiting, some forever;
these is where the old cycles came,
away from their extinction in China
into a new life in The Netherlands,
where the land is below the sea,
but oh no, it's no Atlantis.

Spring is in the air.

Take care and be well.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

My stupid right foot

I was sent this email a while back.

I tried it a few times, and realised how smart the brain is and how stupid my right foot is.

I tried it a few times, in different environments and same disappointing results. The email as follows:-

You have to try this please, it takes 2 seconds.

I could not believe this!!!It is from an orthopaedic surgeon............This will boggle your mind and you will keep you trying over and over again to see if you can outsmart your foot, but, you can't.

It's pre-programmed in your brain!

1. Without anyone watching you (they will think you are GOOFY) and while sitting at your desk in front of your computer, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number '6' in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction.

I told you so!!!

And there's nothing you can do about it!

You and I both know how stupid it is, but before the day is done you are going to try it again, if you've not already done so.


Take care and be well.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Alice in Cancerland

The following article is taken from Malaysiakini and written by Keruah Usit. I have copied the article en-bloc because I feel it is a story to be heard. It is not a entirely happy story, but sometimes these stories need to be told.

Keruah Usit is a human rights activist - anak Sarawak, bangsa Malaysia. His ‘The Antidote’ column, which will appear in Malaysiakini every Wednesday, is an attempt to allow the voices of marginalised people to be heard all over Malaysia. The writer can be contacted at keruah_usit@yahoo.com. Here is the story:

Alice was already a young mother when she discovered she had cancer of the nose. She was in her mid-20s, the target age of trashy magazines and ‘natural-looking cosmetics’. She had a shy smile and dimples in her cheeks, and she had passed on her traits to her two daughters.

Alice’s husband Abel, a hunter and farmer, loved her, and, unlike many other husbands, listened to her. Her small children hung on to her every word.

Alice lived by a river in rural Sarawak, 300km (as the helicopter flies) from the nearest hospital. She had noticed a swelling growing around her left eye for six months, but she could not afford the RM200 trip to Miri Hospital.

After all, Alice was a young Penan mother with no cash income to speak of. Her parents had been born in the rainforest. Her grey and stooped father still went out hunting, carrying a blowpipe and a machete, with a surprising spring in his step.

Alice loved her Penan community; they were close-knit, ready to share, and they looked after their neighbours’ children as a matter of course. Alice, one of 15,000 Penan forest-dwellers - like many other indigenous people in Sabah and Sarawak, and the Orang Asli in the Peninsular - depended on the rainforest, not for eco-tourism and adventure, but for life itself.

Alice had never come across a RM50 banknote, but she had led a good life, until she grew a tumour the size of an egg around her eye, and suffered continually from a blocked nose. She was alarmed. She walked an hour to the closest rural clinic, a standard government-issue, ancient, wooden house on stilts.

‘We can’t pay you to go to Miri’

The nurse there, a girl her own age, advised her to go to Miri Hospital.

“We have no budget allocation to pay for you to travel to Miri,” she told Alice. The nurse repeated the same mantra, week after week, to all her patients needing hospital care.

Alice knew that patients were only flown to Miri by helicopter in emergencies, such as obstructed labour. Even then, the helicopter service was unreliable – it had even ceased altogether, for an entire year, without any explanation offered to the nurses or the villagers.

When the health minister at the time, Dr Chua Soi Lek, was asked why the Sarawak helicopter ‘medical evacuation’ service had been disrupted, he was quoted by several newspapers as saying the contract had been awarded by the Finance Ministry, not his own ministry, to a company that owned no aircraft. The well-connected owners of the helicopter company, as nimble as a dodo, were still paid handsomely as stipulated in the contract.

Eventually, six months after the onset of the swelling, Alice met four visiting doctors from Kuching’s Sarawak General Hospital. The doctors had taken leave and had raised their own funds to visit several remote villages, including Alice’s.

A kind doctor from Kuala Lumpur, in her 20s like Alice, had diagnosed that the young Penan mother was suffering from nasopharyngeal carcinoma. She accompanied Alice and her husband, Abel, on the long journey to Miri.

Alice had never been to the loud, alienating oil town of Miri. She was terrified. In Miri Hospital, the ear, nose and throat doctor took a biopsy from her nose. She waited almost a month for a CT scan appointment.

The scan results were disheartening: the cancer had already eaten its way into the base of her skull. Alice was subsequently sent to Kuching for radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

She was, once again, in a strange place, but at least Abel was with her. Abel spent his nights sleeping on a hard armchair in the visitors’ room near the cancer ward. Alice shared her trays of food with him.

When a kind nurse was on duty, Abel would receive his own portion of food. Alice and Abel preferred their own harvested sago pith, or na’o, to the clods of grey rice served up on grey plastic trays, but they persevered with the treatment.

After six weeks of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, and unpalatable food, the swelling around Alice’s eye vanished. She started to eat almost normally.

Local volunteers drove her around town, urging her to try kolok mee, Kuching’s famed noodle dish. Alice ate noodles for the first time in her young life – and liked it almost as much as na’o. Her winning smile returned.

She had never seen the sea

A doctor took her to Santubong beach as Alice had never seen the sea. Alice was delighted, feeling the sand beneath her bare feet, laughing and skipping away from the water as the waves swept in, almost dancing on the shoreline.

Alice and Abel walked among the trees near the beach. They murmured to each other, pointing out plants, those familiar and those less so, to each other. They wandered hand in hand along the concrete path beneath the quiet canopy, longing for their own forest, the forest they knew so well, far away.

Soon afterwards, the young Penan couple were sent back to Miri for Alice to have five more cycles of chemotherapy, one dose a month.

The doctors did not offer Alice and Abel contraceptives – an awful oversight, you might say, and less rare than you might think. Alice became pregnant. The doctor advised Alice to have an abortion. She recovered from the procedure, but her chemotherapy was delayed for several weeks as a result.

Alice and Abel were allowed to visit their small children on two or three occasions – you can imagine the joy of those embraces, and the meals of na’o and wild game shared.

But Alice dreaded each return to the urban hospital. There was the occasional encounter with a vicious nurse or accounts clerk, berating her and Abel for not paying their hospital bills. She would explain, head bowed, quietly and patiently, that she could not afford the bills.

Most Malaysians know little of the lives of indigenous people. This has not been helped by the government hype surrounding announcements of Internet access in rural communities: ‘e-jekitan’, ‘e-bario’ and the like. One might be led to imagine the Penan carrying iPhones through the forest, tracking wild boar using GPS.

There was also hardship for Alice, when she had to endure nausea, caused by the inexperience of her doctors in the use of potent medicines such as platinum. Her doctors were unaware, and a few doctors were perhaps unperturbed, that Alice’s retching could have been prevented easily by giving her one of the newer anti-histamines.

Alice never complained about her difficulties, and her doctors never learned to ask her about her symptoms – in Penan, or any other language.

Home at last

Yet Alice and Abel stayed the course. Alice’s cancer was in remission, and she was able to go home at last. She returned happily to caring for her daughters (right), and began sending her older daughter to school, walking an hour to school with the little girl, and walking an hour back home after classes.

But the cancer returned two years ago. Alice was offered chemotherapy again, for palliation, but she declined politely. She preferred to stay at home with her children. She talked it through with Abel. To Abel’s credit, he supported her.

Alice took to covering the swelling around her eye and in her neck, with a towel. Towards the end of her life, she found it painful to swallow. A volunteer doctor visiting her village gave her pain relief, and some comfort.

Alice understood she did not have much time left, and she lived with dignity. She remained in her small house with Abel, her parents and her children. She cooked for her family and weaved baskets by daylight and under the timid light of a kerosene lamp at night.

She died at home a year ago. Abel, with the support of Alice’s parents, is bringing up the young ones.


These are Alice daughters, two young girls now without their mother because of lack of health care in Malaysia. Are we going towards development and being a developed country in 2020 or are we really stuck in reverse gear. Does our people develop or we just keep building infrastructure after infrastructure.

Alice’s story, of deprivation of basic healthcare, is echoed all over Sarawak, Sabah and parts of Peninsular Malaysia. Alice never had the benefit of a quick diagnosis. Early treatment of nose cancer often leads to complete cure.

Our national healthcare system, flawed though it is, does reach out to many women like Alice, but access to basic healthcare remains desperately unequal, and under-funding is painfully obvious.

Alice and Abel never had the opportunity to have their voices heard. The rural poor, Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu in Sarawak, Kadazan, Dusun, Murut in Sabah, plantation workers and Orang Asli in the Peninsular suffer the same enforced silence.

Urban Malaysian voters, on the other hand, have finally found their voice, and have become increasingly vocal in the last 12 months. Our political institutions have had no choice but to respond, albeit in a distorted and confused way. But will the voices of our dispossessed rural population ever be heard?

May Alice rest in peace!

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vienna - 4th book of a trilogy

This was my 4th trip to Vienna, and each time as enjoyable as ever.

First trip was 2002, 4 years after we met our friends during their honeymoon in Redang.

Then they surprisingly visited again in 2000.

Then we visited them in 2002.

Then, on the way to our Italy trip in 2006, we dropped by to Vienna before Rome and after Rome - so 2 trips in 2006.

Finally, Easter 2009, my visit - this time without wifey but another girl sure kept me company - you can see her pics in the previous post ;)

So, book 4 of my trilogy of Vienna.

Sini picked me up at the airport and we went immediately to Pension Schonbrunn, my cheap little hotel near the palace where I was greeted by a familiar face from 2006.

The guy at the hotel, which closes it's doors at 11pm for check-in even was willing to wait for me beyond 11pm in case of any delays of flight. However, I made it in time.

Then with key in hand and bags in room, went to a bar for a night cap and then back to bed.

On Friday, Saturday and Sunday I spent quite a bit of time with Sini. Not so much sightseeing but mostly walking a little, drinking, eating and talking.

We also went to Easter eve dinner at Sini's sister's house and Easter lunch at Martina's house. I took Sini and Martina out for dinner once. Most of the other times was me and Sini - we went to my favorite bar, which is Bar Fly twice, we went to a heurigan, we went on top of a hill to see Vienna from the top and we went to the city district 1 as well. Also went to T-Systems where Sini works and even had a meal in the canteen on Friday.

Coming to Vienna was always my plan for the long weekend of Easter mainly because I would be with some friends, especially since I am away from my family. So, while I have thoroughly enjoyed visiting new places like Antwerp, Berlin, Krakow and London as well as all the places in The Netherlands, the best trip is my visit to Vienna. Not because Vienna is the best place or the most active but mainly because of the two friends.

On Monday, usual routine, pack bags, check-out of hotel. Went to a cafe for some tea and then went to my friends flat to spend the rest of the day until my trip to the airport around 3:30pm which Sini generously dropped me off again. Flight at 6:25pm to Frankfurt, then another flight to Amsterdam, then the train, then the tram, then the walk and back to hotel at 11:50pm. 8 hours and 20 minutes, and I thought flights were the fastest mode of transport.

This is the end of my solo trips around Europe. Next trips would be driving trips at the end of the month.

Take care and be well.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Helllloooooo Tina

Many pictures of 2 year old Tina, daughter of my friends in Vienna, Austria.

A really smart 2 year old and in her dad's own words, a little person that was born with her own personaility.

Loves to play, loves to eat and talks like an adult at times. Hello Tina, from Nil.





Take care and be well.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter

Wishing everyone a Happy Easter.

I am working form the hotel room the second half of today because having some health problems which I don't really care to share.

Will be taking the train later in the afternoon to Schipol airport to go to Vienna where my good friend Sini would pick me up.

Also managed to talk to another good friend Darrel in South Africa for quite a bit today.

The cold Dutch rain has started and the weather has been gloomy, wet and cold - totally unpleasant.

I may or may not carry my computer to Vienna and therefore my blogging may only be when I return.

It will be wonderful to see Sini and Martina again and of course their cute little daughter Laurentina whom I will meet for the first time. It also happens to be her birthday on Easter.

So, while Jesus was reincarnated some 1980 years ago , Laurentina was born 2 years ago.



Take care and be well.

London, London Episode 2 - The Pictures

Saturday April 4


Sunday April 5


Monday April 6


Take care and be well.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Arsenal, Man Utd, Jos and I met in a Irish Bar....

No this is not a start of a dirty joke or a bad joke or a football joke or an Irish joke, it's the truth.

Jos and I could not meet in London, and Jos was in The Hague, so we met up in an Irish bar to catch up on old times and to watch the Champions league matches of Arsenal and Manchester United in a Irish bar named O'Casey's.

We gossiped like two adult man always do. :P

We had a nice dinner at a Indian restaurant in Den Haag central called Maharani.

And we watched Man Utd draw 2-2 with Porto and Arsenal draw 1-1 with Villareal.

For all who know Jos and reading this, he sends his regards. To all who do not read this, well, too bad.

All fun and well.

Take care and be well.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

London, London Episode 1 - The Story

Well, not quite rhyming with New York, New York but London is a fascinating city nevertheless.

Saturday 4 April
Staying on Cromwell Road in Cromwell Crown Hotel in Earls Court. Not a great hotel but cheap and it will do for an expensive city. It is also close to the Piccadilly and District Line underground station of Gloucester Road.

Got up a little late but went to Piccadilly Circus area and did a little walkabout. Had a really good breakfast at Balan's - no, I did not have any idly, thosai. I had a full English breakfast. After which, I walked to the Hard Rock Cafe passing Green Park. Spend sometime to buy some t-shirts and have a drink right where Eric Clapton used to in this 1st Hard Rock Cafe.

I then went to get my tickets to the Les Miserables matinee show and went to a typical English Pub before the show for a drink and some potato chips with salt and vinegar. (Chips are fries)

Then went for the musical which was wonderful. I have always liked Victor Hugo's Les Miserables and was looking forward to this and had really great seats on the 3rd row. For plays like this, sitting in front is a privilege. It got a standing ovation. I like the storyline so I could forgive that it was a little over the top in terms of a musical. Even their speaking was singing, they did not have a dialog, they sang their dialog.

The show lasted 3 hours and finished at 5:30pm. By this time, I have had 4 beers already :P Oh well, on holidays. Surprisingly, I am enjoying drinking the Guinness draft over here - nice smooth creamy and extra cold. Nai chap Guinness Stout, Unga lakea nale da.

I then went back to the hotel to drop off all the things I had bought and then went to Hammersmith for my Jason Mraz concert in the HMV Apollo theatre. As I was early, went to another nice English pub to watch some football on the tele and yes, had another Guinness. I then bought some falafel burger at a Turkish shop and waiting in line for the concert.

There were 2 performers, a US female and a UK band that performed before Jason came on to do his gig at around 10. They were good but I cannot remember their names right now, I would have to check on the Internet. The concert ended around 11:30pm and was quite good. Not great but quite good nevertheless.

After the concert, I went back on the underground and had an early night i.e. 12:30am so that I could get up and do a London walkabout on Sunday.

Sunday 5 April
Got up early and had the lousy free breakfast in the hotel. After which, I took the train to Green Park and went to Buckingham Palace for tea with the Queen. After spending sometime in Green Park and the Palace, I walked to Westminster Cathedral and actually went for the Palm Sunday mass. Not to be mixed up with the Westminster Abbey which is a few streets away which I also walked to. I then went over to the Parliament and Big Ben. Then crossed the Thames river over the Westminster bridge and did a nice long walk down the south of Thames.

There is a lot to see, street performers etc. The weather was nice. The Shell House is located very near the London Eye - fantastic location with fantastic view (bosses - can I transfer to Shell UK - hehehehehehe).

Along the walk, I went to Salvador Dali exhibit and nearly bought a Dali painting for about 900 pounds.

After that I continued walking towards London Bridge. Guess what? Despite what we have been told since we were young, London Bridge is not falling down.

I crossed London Bridge and had a nice view and look at Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast. Tower Bridge is beautiful. I went to the London Tower where I went to a few places within the London Tower compound including Bloody Tower, Wakefield Tower and the vault where they keep the crown - obviously from jewels stolen from Africa and India.

After the London Tower, I crossed the Tower Bridge for the heck of it. And then took a taxi to Greenwich because the underground line was closed and the DLR was closed too.

Greenwich is a nice small town. After Greenwich, I headed back towards the hotel and took a quick nap to rest my legs for about 20 minutes. This was then close to 10pm.

I then decided to go to The Ministry of Sound, unfortunately, after a long trip there, the place was closed.

And after going to the underground, that was closed too. SO I had a tough time figuring out the bus service to try to get back to the hotel.

Managed by taking a bus and a taxi again and reached home close to 1am.

Monday 6 April
Got up early and had to pack most of the things and left my bag at the hotel. Then left the hotel around 9:15am to go to the worlds greatest store, Harrods.

Arrived early, so, had breakfast in another nice English restaurant across the road from Harrods. A really nice hearty breakfast too.

Then went into Harrods and was flabbergasted. This is one store, not a mall, just one store like Isetan or Parkson. The amount of things they had in it and the size of it was just amazing. I would say it was a lot better than KLCC and Pavilion put together and likely carried more things than you can imagine. The have restaurants, barber, baby sitting, pet sitting, luxury bathrooms which would put KLCC Suria's to shame,pet kingdom and even a professional pet bakery with a professional Chef.

I could have spent the whole weekend in Harrods had I gone there on Saturday. Lucky, I came on Monday when I have time limitations. I spent about 4 hours in Harrods, just looking and taking pictures which they allow.

I think if wifey or Mack or Add were to come to Harrods, I would never see them again, it would be like Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium. I don;t really enjoy spending time shopping but Harrods is amazing.

I bought a few sweaters for my dad and some interesting stuff for Al E, check out his blog.

Inside Harrods, there is a Egyptian escalators which has a Dodi and Diana memorial with their pictures and the ring that Dodi was to give Diana.

Around another corner, there is Mr Al Fayed in wax (build by the same people as Madame Tussuad's). Apparently, Mr Al Fayed does come to Harrods and does his walkabout and greets people occasionally.

Nevertheless, every staff including the security are friendly, greet you, open doors, and guide you through this wonderful maze.

After Harrods, I quickly stopped by this shop that was selling affordable colorful jeans and bought a couple for myself, I had to indulge on my birthday.

And then back to the hotel to stuff all these things into the little bag I carried. I even had to buy a small bag at Harrods that was stuffed to the max.

After that, a underground tube ride, a train ride and a bus ride to the airport which took close to 100 minutes.

Luton airport was very busy and all the EasyJet lines were so bloody crowded, so another indulgence, I went to buy Speedy Boarding so that I could check in fast and sit in front of the plane.

Arrived Schipol Amsterdam at 9:05pm but by the time I reached Rijswijk after all the train ride and waiting, it was 10:30pm.

Another wonderful long weekend has passed. This coming long Easter weekend to Vienna to visit friends.

Take care and be well.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Being 40

I am 40 today.

I am in London, on the way back to Amsterdam this evening.

I have spent the weekend in London doing things which I should be doing with my loved ones like watching Jason Mraz concert and going to see Les Miserables musical in the theatre. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed London, definitely a place I will come again with wifey and maybe Al E even.

Thanks to all who remembered send me a message and having me in your thoughts.

Take care and be well.

PS. This post was pre-written and published on the date.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Simon Cowell is Dutch

After having spend sometime in London, I think Simon Cowell from American Idol is Dutch.

This is because I have generally found the Dutch behave more like Simon than the English who are surprisingly friendly.

Arrived late in London due to delay in flight and then had to take a bus from Luton airport to the Luton train station.

Then from the train station went to St Pancras International. Then walked to Kings Cross underground station. Then took the Piccadilly line in the wrong direction to Arsenal, got out of train and changed direction.

Finally reached Gloucester station, then walked in the wrong direction for a while and finally turned to the right direction after asking some help.

By the time I reached the hotel, it was close to 1am.

Ordered some pizza, ate and slept.

London has been an adventure so far. On Saturday, the plan is to go to Hard Rock Cafe, go watch Les Miserables and go watch Jason Mraz concert. On Sunday, will go know on No 10 and say hello to Gordon, have tea with the Queen in Buckingham and throw some of my money at Mr Al Fayed in Harrods.

Being in the Motherland has been interesting and people are friendly and the city reminds me of the familiarity of New York city which I love.

I will have more posts of my shows and adventures in following blogs. Until then...

Take care and be well.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Go fly kite

The weather is getting nicer and the sun is up until 8:30pm or 9pm.

The wind is blowing a little and it is perfect weather to go fly a kite.

So, when a colleague asked me let's go fly a kite in Scheveningen (which is the beach at The Hague), I said okay.

Seemed like a nice day to fly kites.

So, we went to the beach.

But you tell me, is it I go fly kite or Kite go fly me?

video


video

Matt teaching me the basics of kite flying over here.

Matt flying the kite.

Guess what time it is? It is 8pm. The days are getting longer.
Take care and be well.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Not in my groove

I have reached a stage in my stay in Netherlands where I am just bored, lethargic, unmotivated, lacking sleep, stressed and getting upset fast.

I am getting too unmotivated to even go out for dinner outside of Rijswijk. There was a time when I would be going to The Hague, Delft or Rotterdam just for dinner. And there is so limited choice in Rijswijk. Either way, I am just to tired, lazy and unmotivated to go further.

The Grand Winston hotel and their service is f..ked up and suddenly said there are extra charges for city tax which they did not charge the last 2 months. I gave them a piece of my mind. Next time, I'll stay in a hotel in The Hague or elsewhere.

Work has reached a stage where I feel that I could be doing a little more but maybe things in the project are not moving as fast as I would like them to move.

I am not getting enough sleep. Never really have since coming here but the last few days have been worst.

And due to the change in the time, it is nearly 8:30pm and it is just starting to get dark. I also lost an hour of my life due to the change in time. You see, countries in Europe have daylight savings time. Which means, in the fall, the fall back one hour and you actually gain an hour. In spring, they spring forward and you move your clocks an hour ahead and loose an hour. It is all fine and well if you are here the whole year, you gain one hour, then you loose one hour - no big deal. But I came in the middle of it, so I just loose one hour.

I want that hour back!!!!!!

I tend to get into this sort of groove every year around this time I think, hmmmmmmm.

I look forward to a few things still though.

Look forward to going to London and watching Les Miserables and Jason Mraz.

Look forward to going to Vienna to see Sini, Martina and Michelin baby.

Look forward to wifey visiting and taking a trip around the countries nearby.

Look forward to get back home to Malaysia, to family, to friends, even to work.

And last but not least, look so forward to going back to my boy Al E belly.

Take care and be well.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Krakow Pictures

I have some difficulties loading and editing the pics I took in Krakow because some person does not want their pictures on the blog and as such I have to respect her wishes.

Also, I have done a scrapblog which is easier to upload. I need to upload all the pics to Flickr one of these days and you guys could then view it on Flickr - but that is one day ... whenever that comes.

Until then, enjoy these censored and edited pics of my visit to Krakow.



Take care and be well.