Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Deal or No Deal...

It’s been a long, very long past two weeks or more. The trip took a lot out of me. Long hours in the save the world conference drained the mind. The mind which was already on slow snail tortoise like speed due to the cold weather. It was very very cold. Temperatures in the capital of Legoland were below zero at times. Had multiple layers of clothing on. Add to that gloves, long johns and a silly hat. Silly it was but good to keep the ears warm. It was snowing too. Well after many years not seeing snow, some of us were so sakai about it. Took pictures in the middle of the night with some of the locals looking amused at our antics. They must be thinking who are these sakai lot.

Saving the world is not easy task. Even when the world agrees we are facing catastrophic future if we continue our lives business as usual. With 192 countries involved, all with differing agendas and priorities, it was very difficult, almost impossible to come to an agreement. So there we were, 192 countries; more than 110 heads of states or governments in attendance from various background, culture, style of government. Hearing them, one by one from small island nations to major powers. Some inspirational, some brought tears to the eyes and some brought disappointment. But as in many things in this world, the strong dictates the weak. Here is no exception. The major powers tried to dictate. Fortunately, we are under the United Nations where one country has one vote. Not so simple for them to steamroll their wishes. In the end, after marathon sessions, they came up with an agreement where only few countries signed up. The rest just took note. Was it a good deal? It seemed to bring all, everyone, to agree to a deal was impossible. Even more so if each country put their self interests first, which is understandable.

But all is not lost. We, the ordinary people can contribute. We can reduce our carbon footprint in our everyday lives. Little by little, here and there, maybe we can help reduce our carbon emission and save the world.

Picture this: on the radio, quiz session, the DJ asking the question, the caller supposes to answer. Then at the start, the DJ asked the caller 'are you ready WITH the question?'. I didn’t know the format is the caller is asking the question. Very creative indeed. Or maybe they want to make it into a hilarious show. Funny indeed. Listening to the supposed to be number one radio station always brought surprises and unearths gems like this.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cold & Expansive......

It’s cold. Legoland is definitely cold. It even snowed as we walked out of the airport’s door. Excited to see the snow, acted like ‘orang sakai’. Well, it’s been years since I had my last encounter with snow. The cold breeze made me regretted not taking my ‘Made in Brunei Darussalam’ baju sajuk. Ah! Baju sajuk. What a contradictory term. Isn’t it suppose to be baju panas? To keep you warm?

Not surprising. We are living in a world full of contradictions. Take this Climate Change Conference we are in now. Almost everyone, every countries represented, agreed the earth is warming, heating up to a disastrous future. Warming due to human’s actions. Yet, a big number especially the major countries, the ones with their agendas and interests, is acting as if it is not so. Some people, especially from the world’s civil society who represents the public, the ordinary people, say we are playing politics with our future, our survival, our existence.

Here we are. Thousands and thousands representing the humanity. Sitting down, discussing, negotiating, trying to save the world from the predicted disastrous future courtesy of our own actions, the global warming. The civil societies from all over the world doing their bits. Lobbying to save the world in their own ways. Singing, demonstrating, dramatising. Some are so moving you can’t help having tears in your eyes. Even more so in seeing their honest convictions.

Pressure is building up here. Time is running out to come up with a meaningful outcome. An outcome that is “Fair, Ambitious, Binding and Comprehensive” that is demanded by ordinary people. As set out eloquently by a few speakers at the opening ceremony last night, “We can negotiate about the climate, but we cannot negotiate with the climate. We cannot ask the climate for more time...” Despite a lot of the pundits are not hopeful of a successful outcome, let’s hope by the end of the week a miracle will happen. After all we must have hope. Without hope, there is no point in being here.

It is so cold. We will do anything to keep warm even having silly hats on! It’s also so expansive here. A packet of mentos which cost not even a dollar back home, caused three times more expansive!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

10 signs .....

Tomorrow, 7 December, the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference will kick off. Brunei, as a party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol will be among over 190 countries at the table. Each country with their own agenda, concerns, worries, positions, negotiating to achieve an historic agreement which many pundits say the biggest, most historic agreement mankind has ever seen to date. It is definitely a monumental task. Some people dare not think what failure will mean to humankind.

Most, if not all scientists, says it is unequivocal the climate change and the warming of the earth is the direct result of human activities. This is despite the stories going around now about the leaked emails from some scientists purportedly exaggerating the effects of the greenhouse gases and the climate change. We, the so called layman, the non scientist, have to rely on what the scientists say. But there must be some things we have experienced, we heard, we watched, we read that points to effects of climate change. The Straits Times in its 5 December2009 edition listed 10 signs of Climate Change:

  1. Rising Temperatures: average global temperatures forecast to rise by an additional 1.1 to 6.4 deg C this century affecting weather patterns, the environment and human life.
  2. Rising Sea Levels: sea levels up to 15 – 20 cm in the last century. The pace is quickening and by 2100 sea levels may rise by as much as 2 metres threatening coastal communities and low lying islands.
  3. Melting Ice: Glaciers are retreating at unprecedented rates. Together, Antarctica and Greenland has lost 2.5 trillion tonnes of ice since 2002. The meltdown contributes to rising sea level. Loss of Arctic Ice also frees methane – a greenhouse gas – from seas and soils, worsening global warming.
  4. Dying Seas: the seas absorb CO2 emissions but increasing output is turning the waters more acidic, threatening marine life. Warm water also contributes to death of about a quarter of the world’s coral reefs.
  5. Severe storms: the frequency of downpours as well as the power of hurricanes have increased dramatically that “100 year storms” are striking some areas once every 15 years.
  6. Parched Earth: more intense heatwaves in the past 50 years. El Nino weather pattern associated with droughts appearing in shorter intervals.
  7. Smaller Harvests: this year farmers in India, Indonesia and the Philippines are reporting harvest up to 50 percent less than the usual yield due to extreme weather of dry spells punctuated by downpours. It would only take a metre of rise in sea level to cover half of the rice fields in Bangladesh, inundate much of the Mekong Delta, and submerge parts of Asia’s rice growing deltas.
  8. Earlier Springs: Japan’s cheery blossom came five days early this year and a week earlier than the average for the past three decades. Changes in the onset of seasons could lead to animals dying because the food they depend on is no longer appearing at the expected time.
  9. Spread of Diseases: diseases and their carriers are travelling to new pastures because of warmer temperatures.
  10. Endangered Species: the most high profile victim of global warming may yet be the polar bear. The US Geological Survey predicts if the Arctic sea ice keeps melting, two thirds of the 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears would be gone by mid century. Countless other creatures and plants worldwide are under threat.

I am sure we have experienced some of these signs. The unpredictable weather especially and not forgetting the flash flooding it brings. And off course the El-Nino effect we hear year in and year out.

Hope by 18 December2009, the end of the Copenhagen Conference, the world will see an historic agreement to save the earth and eventually humankind....

What can we do? Apparently agriculture and food industry is one of the major contributors of greenhouse gas. Some experts say production of red meat especially is extremely intensive in emitting greenhouse gases. May be it is about time we listen to our doctors and dieticians. Go on a diet. Eat less red meat. Not only we will be healthier, our doctors happier, wallets thicker, we will also be helping to save the earth.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Being Responsible .....

In general, as a country, when it comes to our kids, we are very protective, very responsible. The practice of sending and picking the kids up from schools especially primary and pre-school levels is a good indicator how responsible we are. Most parents will only trust themselves to send and pick up their kids. Obviously safety is the main consideration. Safety when transporting them, safety from them being picked up by unwanted and dangerous strangers with criminal intent.

Often we see some, quite a high number actually, of government staff arriving late to work or goes off from work early especially lunch time. 745am in the morning, car parks at the government office complexes are not even a quarter full. The normal excuse given is sending their kids to school. Despite being late to work can be seen as a form of indiscipline, thankfully being late due to sending the kids are tolerated. In fact, there are some bosses who are so kind and thoughtful, they even go to the extent of telling their staff to leave meetings if they have kids to be picked up from schools.

Now that school holidays are here, it is only fair to expect the scenes at the carparks and arrival time to office to be different. Carpark full by 745am. A high percentage arriving to work on time. Yet, the scenario remains the same, school holidays or not. Carparks still empty, arrival time still beyond the expected time, empty work stations.

Why? May be a number of the staff is on leave. Or maybe the parents are having their well deserved break from waking up early, from their normal day in day out torturing routine stuck in endless traffic jams. May be they are taking in the scenery that would normally be missed in rushing here and there. May be they are enjoying the pleasure of driving smoothly on roads almost with no traffic jams. May be some are busy attending to the kids at home, having breakfast with them at home for a change instead of in cars. May be......

Talking about being responsible, there is an interesting article on Climate Change by REHMAN RASHID titled “2 degrees of separation from disaster” which appeared in the New Straits Times on 29 November 2009. Here are some excerpts from the article:

“....On the two key facts underlying all this, the scientific consensus is in. Firstly, global warming is clear, present and "locked in" (even if all fossil-fuel burning stops today, what's already out there is going to keep raising temperatures for years to come). Secondly, we are to blame. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change holds that post-industrial human activities are "90 per cent likely" responsible for global warming, due both to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from commerce and industry, and the deforestation that has shrunk the planet's "carbon sinks" for soaking up carbon dioxide and turning it into something we can breathe. Before the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century, the concentration of GHG in the planet's atmosphere was a stable 280 parts per million, most of it from vulcanism, bio-metabolism and other natural processes. It is now 387ppm..... That would hardly mean a lovely Edenic world for humanity; we might only hope that climatic catastrophes won't get much worse than they are now. But it would still be a tremendous achievement for mankind; greater, indeed, than anything we've ever done. The builders of the Pyramids and Angkor Wat couldn't pre-empt climate change. But that's what this generation of planetary citizens is going to do, or roast, drown or starve trying.... On the baseline of a century ago, our present +0.7 degrees and the +2 degrees we do not wish to reach are on a scale where +6 degrees would extinguish life on Earth as we know it.....”

In short, global warming is real and here to stay and WE , humans, are to be blamed. So, let’s do something about it. Let’s be responsible ......

Dr Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, Chairman of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said “We do not have to go back to living in caves, but we do have to reduce, re-use and recycle.”

Monday, November 30, 2009

350 & 2 deg C ...

Every news programme you watched and listened to, newspapers you read lately is full of Climate Change and the coming Copenhagen Conference. But do we really understand what is going on? To make something of it we must remember two numbers: 350 and 2 deg C. Why are these numbers significant? Here is what Goh Sui Noi wrote in the Straits Times on 24 November 2009 (I can’t put it any better):

“LAST month on Oct 24, United Nations Day, people around the world had the number '350' thrown at them. Activists - from skateboarders in Australia to farmers in Bangladesh, and from divers in the Maldives to herders on the Mongolian steppes - formed the number with their bodies or held placards and banners bearing it. In Singapore, more than 300 volunteers formed the number for an aerial photograph. They wanted to etch the number deep in the minds of as many human beings as possible. They wanted citizens to push their leaders to negotiate a strong treaty next month in Copenhagen to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and thereby prevent irreversible climate change.

This number - 350 - refers to the concentration of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere by volume: 350 parts per million (ppm). It is the low end of a range of 350 ppm to 550 ppm that scientists believe will trigger irreversible climate change. We are now at 387 ppm, and the last time we saw 350 ppm was in 1987. The figure of 350 ppm is what scientists believe is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.

Another figure to remember is 2 deg C. This is a European Union target - to limit the increase in global temperature to a maximum of 2 deg C over pre-industrial levels (or 1.2 deg C over today's level). A rise above 2 deg C is likely to trigger dangerous irreversible climate change.

To achieve this target would require the world to stabilise carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere at about 400 ppm and greenhouse gas concentrations - carbon dioxide plus other greenhouse gases - at about 445-490 ppm. Based on the current growth trajectory, greenhouse gas levels could hit 550-700 ppm in 2050.

So what do we do with the knowledge of the possible danger we and our children face? Take the bus or cycle to work or school, use reusable shopping bags, remember to switch off lights not in use, buy fewer clothes, recycle our waste? For how long? A week? A month?

The world needs a more concerted effort than what we as individuals can do on our own - although individual actions are important - to cut emissions to meet the 2deg C target. Emissions must peak by 2020 and then be more than halved by 2050 relative to 1990 levels for global warming to fall below the 2 deg C limit. Developed countries will have to cut their emissions by 25 per cent to 40per cent and developing countries, which emit far less carbon dioxide per capita than rich nations, will have to slow their emissions growth.

A powerful mechanism for reducing emissions would be establishing a carbon price - that is, impose a cost on carbon emissions. Having to pay a price for spewing carbon into the atmosphere would motivate countries, businesses and individuals to reduce their carbon emissions. It would discourage the use of fossil fuels and encourage the development of renewable sources of energy and low-carbon emission, energy-efficient consumer technologies.

'We need more energy, less carbon and price signals to unleash the energy to take us forward,' said Mr Jeremy Benthem, vice-president of Shell Global Business Environment, at a recent conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Two ways to price carbon have been proposed: an outright tax on fossil fuels and a cap-and-trade system. In the latter instance, caps on emissions would be set and power generators, industries and other emitters of carbon would have to purchase permits to emit more carbon than their mandated limits. A market would be established for the trading of permits.

The carbon tax is favoured by some, such as former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo. It would be simpler to implement and less open to corruption than cap-and-trade. It would also set a clear price, something that would be easier for industries to plan around than the fluctuating price that a cap-and-trade system would entail. A tax would also raise a clear amount of revenue, which could be used for the research and development of renewable energy sources or as rebates to the public - for example, to offset higher energy prices.

Proponents of cap-and-trade argue that it has a clear advantage over a carbon tax in that a cap would effectively place a legally binding limit on emissions which a tax would not. While a tax would penalise all indiscriminately, a cap-and-trade system would penalise those who failed to keep within their caps but would reward those who did and who would thus be able to sell their permits in the market. A cap-and-trade system would encourage growth in new green sectors.

The cap-and-trade system was first used successfully in the United States in the 1980s to eliminate the use of leaded petrol in cars. A cap was placed on the production of leaded fuels, and refiners were allowed to buy and sell permits among themselves. Refiners producing unleaded fuels could sell their unused permits to leaded fuel producers. The latter, in order to compete in the market, were incentivised to turn to producing unleaded fuel. Within five years, nearly all leaded petrol was eliminated.

The Kyoto Protocol, the global climate pact now in force, provides for a cap-and-trade system in which 37 developed countries agreed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2per cent from 1990 levels. These countries could trade emission reduction credits among themselves, as well as offset their emissions by financing projects that reduce emissions in developing countries.

However, the Kyoto Protocol will end in 2012 and the world is in the midst of negotiating a new treaty. As the time for sealing a deal nears - set for next month at the 15th annual United Nations conference on climate change - several countries are beginning to warm to the idea of a carbon tax or a combination of a tax and emissions trading.

Whichever path is adopted, the emissions cuts must be deep enough to ensure that the 2 deg C limit is maintained. There is no sign yet that the nations of the world are close to agreeing on cuts that will meet that target.”

Remember these figures. Please also remember Brunei despite so insignificant in terms of absolute carbon dioxide emission (total), due to our small population, we have one of the highest per capita (i.e. per person) emission in the world. Something we should not be proud off.

Do our part. Save the Earth from being fried.....

I wonder what is the carbon footprint of all the frying done at the Pasar Malam. Lucky I have cut down on fried chicken wings from there. At least it will help in reducing our emission level, though insignificant in the big picture. But as the saying goes, “Sikit-sikit, lama-lama jadi bukit”.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Korban & Climate Change....

Selamat Hari Raya Haji everyone....

Hari Raya Korban to some of us. In some places it is also known as Hari Raya Aidil Adha. In Brunei, it is the lesser celebrated of the two Hari Rayas. Less in many sense. Less baju raya, less new furniture, less spending, less visiting, less food intake, less greetings, cards and even text messages and many more “lesses”. The only things that is more is more buffaloes, cows, goats, sheep and even camels losing their heads. Even the holiday is less, just a day of public holiday compare to two days for Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. Fortunately this year it falls on Saturday for us in Brunei. We have a long weekend. Add to that it is the end of the school term in fact the end of the school year for school kids. The more reason for us to celebrate yet waking up this morning, it did not feel like hari raya at all.

To me the best part of Hari Raya Haji apart from the many majlis korbans and bountiful supply of free meat is hearing the takbir hari raya for four days. Many people, including me, feel sad and sayu hearing takbir hari raya for many reasons. Tears flowing, nose blocked up. For Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, we can only hear it and betakbir during malam pukol, the night before hari raya, until before sembahyang hari raya. Not enough.

May be it is not fair for me to say we do not celebrate Hari Raya Haji. Some people do. In fact the number of invitations increasing every year indicating more and more feeling of celebration. May be one day, we will celebrate Hari Raya Haji as meriah as or as alive as we celebrate Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.

Whatever we do, in this climate of economic downturn, in whatever climate for that matter, more celebration does not mean increase in spending which may lead to increase in wastage. In moderation, that’s the name of the game.

Talking about climate, the Climate Change Forum in Copenhagen is just two weeks to away. Most, if not all pundits, expected it to end in a stalemate. The develop countries with their stand. The developing countries with theirs. Whatever their stand, the world, as the scientists had said countless times is heading to a disaster if we go on living like we are now. Spewing carbon and other toxic chemicals. The earth is warming. Any more warmer than the 2 centigrade increase in earth's temperature, we will be on an irreversible path with disastrous consequences. Throughout the world we have already seen the effect of climate change. Unseasonal droughts, rain, typhoons, floodings. 2012 movie coming to the mind. Yet the countries are still divided on emission cuts and who to finance the efforts amongst other things.

Some reports are saying ordinary people are doing more then what their governments are doing towards alleviating the climate change. Noticeably in Brunei, this issue is less discussed among the public apart from once in a while some event or talk is organised. May be we have other more pressing matters to focus on. But we have to remember we live in one world, one earth. Whatever happened in the other parts of the world will have an impact on us. May be we, the public, should give more attention to this thing the whole world is worried about, the Climate Change.

Let’s hope and pray they will come to the desired conclusion in Copenhagen. I suppose we, the whole world, have to ‘berkorban’ or make sacrifices if we want to have a world for the future generations to live on.

“Berkorban apa saja, harta atau pun nyawa.....” P. Ramlee sang ......

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Simplicity .....

In my line of work and having a “brainy” boss, reading and listening to stories, which almost all are fascinating, is part of my daily work routine. One of the stories I heard a few times over but never quite catch the whole story, being a forgetful person and not a story teller, was about the space race of 1960s between the Americans and the Russians. Today I came across the story in one of the papers I read. The story goes ...

“During the space race of 1960s, NASA was faced with a major problem. The astronaut needed a pen that would write in the vacuum of space. So they went to work. After spending US$1.5 million, they came up with a pen that would write in zero gravity, upside down, underwater, over wet and greasy paper and in extreme temperature ranges. It was an engineering marvel. The Russians? They just used pencils.”

This story shows how in our daily lives, we tend to complicate things. We put great effort, time, money and creativity to solve a problem when all it needs is a simple solution. A lot of the time the solution is obvious, right in front of our eyes.

Keep things SIMPLE!

Today is Government Payday, tomorrow is Paybill Day......

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Going Bananas....

I love bananas. Especially the cucur kind. There was a time everyday for breakfast will be cucur pisang. Lately, I have gone bananas, literally crazy. Crazy about bananas, the fruit not just the cucur type. Bananas are good for you. Just look at these facts: no fat, sodium or cholesterol, rich in vitamin B6 and they are a good source of fibre, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium.

To be honest I do not know much about bananas before. All I know is monkeys love them, the cucur is delicious especially from the places we frequented. I will not name the places. Not paid any advertising fees. I gave bananas serious thought only recently when told to change my eating habits. Well, it is a nice way of saying I have been told to go on a diet.

Talking about diets, all these while I thought my body weight had gone down significantly from many months ago. There I was feeling happy about it until one day I decided to get a new weighing scale. I had a big shock when I stood on top of it. Around six kilos difference between the old and new scale. Must get back to serious change of eating habits. According to Ministry of Health, we should not exceed 1200 calories intake every day. They even come up with a weekly menu which on certain days looks delicious on other days boring. To know more, go and see your dietician at your local clinics.

Back to the bananas. Surprise, surprise, an article in a newspaper I read categorised bananas as “Happy Food”. Bananas help produce the happy hormone, serotonin. Apparently, having bananas and other happy foods early in the morning can set us on happy mood, banishing the blues. There are ways to produce serotonin to get us “high” throughout the day, legally off course, such as having Mediterranean style diet, concentrating on protein at lunch time, evening meal rich in carbohydrates (good news for those against “no carbs in the evening” advice). Rich carbo meal with no protein will stimulate serotonin production. Chocolates, the dark type will also make us high. Some people say it is an aphrodisiac. Another good mood enhancer are nuts. But gout sufferers beware!

Off course a healthy diet will always include lots and lots of water. Maintain our hydration. Reduction in our hydration levels can make us grumpy. At least eight glasses.

I wonder if we encourage the offices to serve these happy foods throughout the day especially in meetings, with everyone high and in a happy mood, will decisions and compromises be reached easily? Just may be.

Let’s start our day with happy food, the easier one to get hold of is off course the banana. We all will be on happy mood, no grumpy morning faces, everybody smiling, courteous. But not too much though. People may end up being saying you had gone bananas.....

I am neither a diet expert nor a dietician he he he.........

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Read an interesting guide on style for formal occassions in a paper recently:

• About 1.5 cm or ¾ inch of collar and cuff should emerge from under a jacket;
• How do you know which collars suit you? Apparently, the fuller the face, the wider the collar; the slimmer the face, the straighter the collar. Long, think neck means high collar stands; short, thick neck means collars lie flat;
• And off course NO WHITE SOCKS!

How many of us, men, has broken these rules? Over the years, learned some things about style despite admittedly I am not a stylish person. No white socks is definitely one of them. The one that I always keep in mind is the length of jacket or shirt. It should not go below the level of the fingers when you are standing up. Anything more I will look even more vertically challenged.

Why is this important? Why image is important? According to some PR agencies, 80% of everything we do is PR, public relation. Image, visual image, goes a long way to help you sell your views and products. If you want to be taken seriously, look after your image. If we do not take the effort, we run the risk of losing the attention or the sell. First impressions, looks are important despite in this politically correct environment most will not admit to it. It is human nature. Especially, even more so when dealing with strangers. To be seen as professional, you must portray the professional image. How you dress is definitely very important.

According to Les Giblin in his bestselling book “Skill With People”, we learn and buy 83% through sight, 11% through hearing. The rest through smell, touch and taste. Image is definitely important.

There are people no matter what they put on, they will always look stylish even in simple clothing. There are people with their very own sense of style. Then there are people, no matter how hard they try, no matter what they put on, even the most expansive clothings, somehow, always ending up a disaster. Some prefers to keep things simple in keeping with the mantra SIMPLE IS BEAUTIFUL. Some prefers lighthing things up with bright colorful patterned shirts. Some with blings blings enough to dazzle even to blind us especially on a bright sunny day.

Of course there are instances image and how you look does not matter. An example of this is your parents, no matter how they look, how they dress, be it in kain pelikat and baju cap buaya or butterfly batik bajus, you always take them seriously. As you grow to know someone, how they look will not matter so much. The emotion, the love, the respect will override how they look.

True, look is not everything, but it definitely brings you a long long way .....

Les Giblin also says “People are more interested in themselves, not in you.... Man’s actions are governed by self thought, self interest”. A friend recently said "Love people, use things NOT love things use people." Two opposing ends to ponder....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cut & Paste & Toilets ....

Yesterday we had the World Town Planning Day Celebration. As the name says, the emphasis is on planning. Planning is an important step in doing everything, anything in fact. Not to plan is planning to fail, some says. So everyone plans but sometimes we don’t too. Sometimes we followed our gut feeling, our instinct. Then again this can also be planning. Planning to follow our guts. Big guts in some instances.

In doing our work we planned ahead, we have a system, an approach albeit it varies from one individual to another. My line of work involves preparing speeches for my boss. As with any speeches, be it major or minor, inputs or sometimes the full text will be provided by the relevant people. These inputs will then be transferred to a ready template. Technology, computers, make the work even simpler, faster. Highlight the text, right hand click, press cut then paste it to the template. Simple! Then the hard part. Going through the text. Making sense of it, adjustments, numbering, spelling checks, thorough info checks and all the normal stuff. Sounds straight forward. Job done bar last minute changes. Then came the time the speech delivered. The shock of my life. First para, the opening para was totally wrong. What a clanger! Had the wrong occasion typed on it. The cut & paste curse hits again. So much for the planning, the so called systematic approach, the use of technology. It is true when people say no matter how hi tec we go, if garbage goes in, garbage will come out. I put my hands up. I am the guilty one. No need to charge me. I admit.

The moment the boss said that now infamous sentence, I wished the earth just swallow me. Kick me on the backside, slap my head, clip my ears, tok ketampi Hj Bakhil style, all in one. All the planning, all the good work especially by the people giving the inputs went down the toilet!

Ah! Toilets! Today, 19 November is World Toilet Day. The day we remember toilets. As if we do not remember them enough as it is. We visit them every day, a few times a day. Our best friends in time of needs. We reminisce, we think, we read, we angan-angan, we sing, we call, we text, we facebook, we tweets, in fact we do all sort of things in them. But do we appreciate them? Some do, some do not. We must. Just look at these statistics: 2.5 billion people worldwide are without access to proper sanitation, which risks their health, strips their dignity, and kills 1.8 million people, mostly children a year; even the world's wealthiest people still have toilet problems - from unhygienic public toilets to sewage disposal that destroys our waterways. Let’s do something about it! Let’s commit to improving toilet and sanitation conditions. That scene in the Slumdog Millionaire comes to mind......

An anecdote my boss kept telling us is imagine if we are walking along in the row of shops in Kiulap or Gadong. Suddenly the tummy grumbles, just like the worst ribut you can think off. No rest bite. Grumble and grumble. Rumblings. The light is on amber and ready to turn green. But no toilets in sight. Not a single public toilet in the rows of shops. Only private toilets. You will end up going to one of the shop, buy whatever you can get your hands on. Then asked kindly but sure in grumblings voice, “Boleh pinjam jamban boss?”. Add to that no water, no tissue, nothing! That could be the worst day of your life, your worst nightmare, ever worse than the nightmares those kids have in the Nightmare on Elm Street Movies.

On this day, let’s show our appreciation to our toilets. Keep them clean. Improve them.

Read more about World Toilet Day here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Sharing is caring, some people say. Sharing is definitely one good value to hold dear. Here I am sharing what I read recently on values.....

“....Icelanders, still stunned by the collapse of their banks a year ago, chose “honesty” as their chief national value on Saturday at an experimental assembly of politicians and ordinary people to map the island’s future. Some 1,500 Icelanders, from ministers to fishermen, took part in the experiment, dubbed the National Assembly, in an attempt to define their basic values as the country of 320,000 continues to grapple with its worst-ever economic crisis...... Honesty topped the list of Icelandic values that resulted from their conversations, followed by respect, equality, justice, responsibility and compassion.....”

A point to note, Iceland is a country with some similarity to us. Put aside that we are in very different climate zones, Iceland a developed country, Brunei a developing country. In many terms we are in the same bracket as Iceland: population size, high literacy rate, population age structure, high percentage of urban population, life expectancy, similar GDP, the labour force numbers, annual budgets, high mobile and internet users, just to name a few.

Based on this, some people may say it is reasonable to argue, we may come up with similar values if we do the same exercise. But in reality, are we?

Let’s look at another piece of news from a neighbouring country with similar culture to us. This particular survey highlighted what the respondents felt most pressing issues are.

“......Corruption and abuse of power is the most important problem which needs to be solved, a new survey of voters in the country released today showed..... Notably, the kind of graft listed as most serious was petty corruption, with 42 per cent viewing it as “very serious.” This was followed by nepotism (41 per cent), fraud (37 per cent), corruption among politicians (34 per cent), grand corruption (30 per cent) and administrative corruption (24 per cent).....”

Wonder what will be the result if the same survey is done here. Not wanting to speculate on the outcome, if we as a country hold dear to our values, it will not be surprising to see corruption and abuse of power comes well below in the list. May be, just maybe, social problems, welfare, crime and public safety will come higher. But looking at the current situation, I will not be surprised to see “financial woes” comes on top. If I am a betting man and into horses aka lumba kuda, this will be odds on favourite.........

Congratulations to my son ..... well done son...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Durian & Economics.....

Now is musim buah. In fact it has been musim buah for the last couple of months. By all accounts, this musim buah has been an excellent one. Fruits aplenty. Juicy delicious ones. Just look at durian. All sorts of durian especially durian kuning everywhere. “Bejurit” here and there. A friend who went all the way to Lamunin area to hunt for durian kuning even remarked there were too many durians, too many until it is the first time in his life he had to turn away the durians.

By supply and demand law, as the durian is so many, the price should be lower. It was and is still low. But it was even lower after the first and second week of hari raya. It remained so low until the last Sunday of October. Then it went up suddenly, some places by as much as 50%, almost. The supply was there, the eager people wanting to eat those lovely durians were there. What was lacking was the purchasing power. With almost a quarter of the over 180,000 workforce in Brunei in the Government service, that is a significant number of the population having their early payday before Hari Raya. By Hari Raya, almost, if not all of the income was spent or committed to the Hari Raya preparation. Not much left for the durians. With less purchasing power, durian aplenty, less buyers, the prices dropped just like the stock market prices on a bad bad day. Bear Market indeed for the durians.

Came Government Pay Day on Monday 24 October, not surprisingly, the price jumped up. Bull Market for the durians. Excellent example of supply and demand at work.

Do we as a nation overspent unnecessarily during Hari Raya? Do we as a country lives from pay cheque to another pay cheque? The answer may be obvious but as in many things, we may need a consultant to do a study and tell us. Why waste money on looking for obvious answers? Isn’t it better to focus on what to do about it?

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Today we celebrate Teachers’ Day. I am sure everybody has someone that has taught them something useful in life. Be it “official” teacher or just anybody with no teaching qualification. To these people, we wish them Happy Teachers Day. We show appreciation to them for what they taught us. We must be thankful to them. Show our respect to them for the rest of our lives we must.

Talking about teachers, reminded me of my school days. As with many others, we have our favourite teachers and our least favourite, or shall I say, hated teachers. Some students, be it boys or girls even were “infatuated” with the teachers. Looking back, how the teacher was affected and impacted on how we students like a certain subject and to the extend how what was taught stayed in our head, not just “masuk telinga kiri, keluar telinga kanan”.

Over the years, some teachers remained forever etched in the memory. One Indian teacher was so good; I owed to him my ability to solve mathematical questions and also my understanding of the chemistry world. Biology was one of my least favourite subject yet due to one moment of madness in class, where a few of us were thrown out of the class by one teacher, led to my obsession on Biology resulting in a surprising distinction. I owed it to him for kicking me out and stirred me to action. An English teacher who taught us maths, shared with us his passion for football and football pools. He called us his hooligans and he supported a “shit” team (forgive my language, that what I told him exactly), Middlesbrough. Through him, I started listening to the BBC World Service for the football results. Those days, with no internet, no satellite TV, we have to rely on the shortwave radio. There I was, every Saturday evening, radio to my ear trying to make out what is being said through the “hissing” of the shortwave transmission. To date, BBC World Service is still my source of information by choice, albeit now through the internet and satellite TV. Bye bye the shortwave radio.

If all the stories are to be written here, I am sure it will be a long entry. So long, I may end up running out of space in this blog. Enough to say, throughout our lives, not just our student days, we will meet people who will teach us something that will leave a significant mark for the rest of our lives. Like them, hate them, they are our teachers. We will forever be indebted to them. Happy teachers’ day everyone.....

Everyone is a teacher as well as a student. We learn, we teach every day. Keep an open mind. Open all communication channels to receive as well as transmit.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

LOG ......

Another day, another meeting. Woke up feeling slightly groggy. Heard an interesting fact over the radio. Today, 29 October, is the birthday of the internet! Happy Birthday Mr or is it Miss Internet. Just being careful not to be labelled as having gender bias or even politically incorrect.

On this day, 40 years ago in 1969 at 10.30 pm the first recorded internet message was sent. What was the first message? “LO”. LO you wonder? Yeah it was a simple word “LO”. Actually, according to well documented account, the message was suppose to be “LOG” which was sent letter by letter from UCLA to Stanford Research Institute with the people involved also connected over the telephone. “L” and “O” reached safely. But when “G” was sent, the system crashed. Imagine how little the computing power back then. Compare that to the power of even the simple desktop home use computer. It is like comparing “injin sigal” with and F1 car.

As advance as the computing power and computer modelling the world has now, it is not powerful nor advance enough to model something as complex as climate system our planet. If we can, at least we can get clear answers to the “big problem” facing the human race i.e. the rapid climate change. Some may ask why worry after all the climate of the planet has gone through natural cycles of warming up and cooling down over its life. The statistics look grim. Over the next 100 years the global warming is likely to be 3 to 10 times more than the figures in the 20th century. The serious effect of the global warming is no longer an issue. How it develops, its effects and detection are now the issues. Can we cope? How can we cope? Some may not be bothered at all. After all, it will happen beyond their life time.

To combat the global warming, the world comes up with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 to reduce greenhouse gases emissions such as Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide and CFCs. To my knowledge and understanding, this Convention at the very least recognised or shall we say admitted there is a problem, set some objectives and time frame. Next step, in 1997 comes the Kyoto Protocol. More or less same objectives as the Convention but legally binding with targets to be reset by 2012. I am sure if you have been following the current affairs lately, you would have noticed Copenhagen 2009 mentioned many times. Copenhagen this, Copenhagen that. Copenhagen is where the United Nation Climate Change Conference will be held in December this year. This conference is significant as it is the dateline whereby a new target will be set. As usual things will go down to the wire. The outlook for an agreement is not good. Well, we can hope, must have hope. With no hope, might as well stop all the negotiations. But if I am a betting me, which I am not, I will put all my bet on No Agreement. Almost as sure as the buah dadu of Ibrahim Pendek in the Ali Baba Bujang Lapuk movie.

All this global thing is well and truly good. But what does it mean to our small country? Well we have one of the highest per capita carbon dioxide emission, in the top ten. We must do our bit to reduce our emissions. Remember we live on the same planet. Whatever happens in the other side of the world will affect us. Rain pattern will change. We have seen some weird weather affecting us lately, unsesonal rain, strong “uprooting trees and roof” winds. We must do our bid to save the planet. Go green, not wear green but live green with green lifestyle.

LOG ... Lifestyle of the Greens .........

Reduce, Reuse, RECYCLE .......

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snippets again...

It has been a while. Here I am sitting in a meeting. Fascinating as it is, I am slowly but surely moving into “dozing off” mode. Blame it on the phenomenon of can’t sleep properly on strange bed.

A lot had happened. The obvious hot one is the zakat story. Many people has written and commented about it. Many more has started to fill in the forms. With any luck these people can own brand new cars, phones, just anything that take their fancy. My take on this is simple. Zakat is to help the needy. The authority is there to ensure the recipients are the worthy ones as required by Islam. The applicants and eventual recipients MUST be truthful. If any unworthy recipients got their hands on the zakat money, as the saying goes, “dosa tanggung sendiri”. May be they can put this warning on the zakat forms. Then again, in anything, it is not easy to get 100% correct. As long the percentage of the unworthy recipients is small, maybe it is acceptable. But what percentage will be small enough to be acceptable?

Another hot stuff was the “banning” of DPMMFC from completing their S-League Fixtures. To me, this is not the main issue. The main issue is how to revive the “legal” football in Brunei. By international law, as far as I understand it, nobody can organise any football unless under the umbrella of FIFA affiliated local organisation. Taking this to the extreme, even local kampong league may be illegal. The solution? Like it or not, hard to swallow may be, BAFA has to be reinstated as FIFA wished it to be. Once reinstated, we can all work together to ensure past mistakes, if any, are not repeated. Lucky not being a member FIFA is not a requirement to watch football. If not, there would be a high probability of riot by the football mad supporters of the Premier League starved of football.

Talking about premier league, to all Man United supporters, enough of all the excuses. Face it, your team lost. That is a fact and that’s what matters. Three defeat in a row......

“Positive Thinking” in our local context equates to “Macam Si Tahi”, my boss recently shared.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jokes & Theories.....

I love jokes especially funny ones. Well, I am sure nobody likes unfunny jokes. While I love jokes, for the life of me I can’t tell a joke even if a gun is pointed at me. Punch lines fizzle coming from my mouth. Laughter blurted well in advance of the punch lines. Not remembering how the punch line goes is another one shortcoming of mine. All in all I don’t qualify as a joker nor a stand up comedian. I am sure the audience will be laughing their heads off. Not at my not funny jokes but at how silly I look standing in front of them on the stage. Who knows that is one way for me to strike gold? Here I go again, me and my endless digression.

Back to the jokes. This morning I heard a funny yet so true joke from my boss. I hope I can repeat it here and do justice to the joke. It is about a crazy man who has a theory about where the ear of a spider is located. He theorised spiders have their ears at the end of their legs. One day to prove his theory, he gathered a group of people around a spider. After placing the spider on the floor he then commanded the spider to walk. It duly obliged. Then he took the same spider and removed all its legs. Repeating the same step, he placed the spider on the floor and commanded it to walk. The spider did not move even a single millimetre. On seeing this, the man with great pride told the group of people the reason the spider did not walk was because it could not hear the instruction as he had removed all its ears..... To him his theory is proven.

In the real world, we can come up with many theories to explain the phenomenon and happenings we came across. We can even come up with reasons, explanations to promote and lobby for an idea or a cause. Some are true, some are plausible. There are some totally absurd ones. Yet we come up with it. Some believe it, some do not. Throughout history, again and again theories and hypothesis are proven and disproven. Like a yo yo. But whatever we theorised; the key is to be truthful eventhough sometimes the truth hurts, be professional. Surely you can sell your theory.

A friend theorised eating durian instead of rice helps in weight reduction.....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri...

Today is 1 Syawal, better known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Is it “Aidilfitri” one word or is it two words “Aidil Fitri”? I have seen both versions in both the official and unofficial documents. I suppose it does not really matter as long as we meant it the way we are suppose to meant it. And what’s important is our sincerity, KEIKHLASAN.

To the readers of this blog, there must be a few, very few may be, as the counter keeps ticking even without me visiting it, Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin. Please forgive me if there are parts of my ramblings that may have offended any of you. As I had said in my earlier entries, I meant well. I did not mean any harm to anybody, anyone or any soul.

This year’s Hari Raya will be a bit odd. No Istana open house due to the H1N1 situation will be the most significant. To many people, even to foreigners and tourists, Istana Open House is the main event of Hari Raya. To Government Officers, by tradition, most will be heading to Istana on the first day back at work. The highlight of personally greeting His Majesty and the Royal Family is something to look forward too. Add to that the sumptuous spread of food served. Offices will be almost deserted. Strangely for the whole day. So this year we will see the office with a bit more people. No more taking the opportunity of “escaping” from work after Istana visit. Still, no Istana open house will be making this Hari Raya less exciting to most people.

On H1N1, the health authorities advised everyone to be vigilant. Provide sanitisers or at least hand washing facilities. Good advice indeed. On the flip side, hand sanitisers whose price are already exorbitant, will now rocket up. I am sure nobody will hesitate to shake hands berziarah. If we follow our own religion’s advice, we are asked to wash our hands before eating. Stick to that, insyallah we will be alright. Worst case scenario, which is not impossible, we come across someone who will wash his or her hand every few handshakes, carrying with him or her a portable sanitiser. The pocket must be bulging with the sanitisers adding to the things already in the pocket, wallet, keys, phones etc. What’s important is to be vigilant, keep high personal hygiene to avoid hesitancy in berziarah.


Over the years, the number of Hari Raya cards had been on a rapid decline. Short Messaging Service, SMS and emails had taken over the role of cards. This year, the numbers will decline further, even SMS greetings are expected to be lower as Facebook and other social networking services provides a faster and easier platform to send greetings. A simple posting on the Wall is all it takes to greet every single person in our friends list. Less tasking for the fingers clicking when sending SMS greetings. Wonder what will be the future medium will be. May be just thinking of sending greetings is enough to send it to the recipient. But until now nothing beats the feeling of getting Hari Raya Cards......

Sunday, September 06, 2009


History is not everyone’s favourite subject. Back then, during the schooldays, history seemed to be remembering obscure names and dates. Endless dates. Not dates with the favourite girl in school but dates of historical events. Most of us could not understand what use all those history lessons were to us apart from it was another subject, another brain draining exam to pass, especially for those who wants to score straight As. No choice. Must do history. To make things worse, we had history teachers who made the lessons more conducive to journey into the dreamland. Secondary students nowadays are lucky. It seems history is an elective subject, not a compulsory one.

Over the years, as the gray hairs slowly appearing, as the music taste change from the fast beat to more mellow easy listening songs, history has grown more meaningful. Not obsessed with it but more of a curiosity. Not a history buff, but more of taking a keen interest.

People says we study history so that we will not repeat the mistakes of the past. Some says everything has cycles and by studying the past will help us prepare for the future. Some study history to gain knowledge. Knowledge of what happened, why it happened, the environment it happened so they can appreciate it more. Reasons may vary but all points to one thing, it is important to learn, to know history. Not just to pass the exams. Hopefully, this will be stressed more to the students unlike during our time where we were puzzled what good history was to us.

One part of history that always interests me is how science had developed. Science always pride itself in doing things the Scientific Method. With an engineering background, looking at things the scientific way is built in. The scientific method is simply making observation, state the problem, formulate a hypothesis (assumptions), experiments to test the hypothesis, analysis of results, interpret data and formulate conclusion then publish the findings. By all accounts, the pioneer of the Scientific Method is an Islamic scholar, Abū ʿAlī al-Ḥasan ibn al-Ḥasan ibn al-Haytham, better known as al-Haytham or AlHazen. History has shown the Islamic World contributed massively to the science world by laying foundations to many of today’s sciences.

Back to the scientific method, it will be a good thing if each and every one of us make it a habit to think in a scientific way. Think based on real facts. Know all the facts. Not just jump to baseless conclusions. Do not assume unless we have proven our assumptions, unless we have the evidence. Determine first if there is really a problem before sitting down to solve it. Addressing the wrong questions may lead to the wrong solutions, no matter how wonderful such solutions seemed to be. Ending up with a complete waste of everyone’s time. To quote the youngsters, “BUANG KARAN SAJA!”

Here are some quotations on what History is all about:
Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. – George Santayana
The past is useless. That explains why it is past. - Wright Morris
Only a good-for-nothing is not interested in his past. - Sigmund Freud
What experience and history teach is this-that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.- G. W. F. Hegel
History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are. - David C. McCullough
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. – Karl Marx
One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say. – Will Durrant

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Thinker .... Doer.....

Simple is beautiful. Most if not all architects believed that. Economics, albeit a very complex subject, keep to simple models in trying to explain everyday life. Many people, I am sure, like things simple too. Who want all the stress, the headaches, the fear, the scare and all those not so nice feelings complicated things bring with them. Men, especially, like to keep things simple despite some of their actions complicate their lives. Partly due to, some says, easily loses his head, the big head and the heart is overwhelmingly controlled by the smaller head. As for the ladies, the jury is still out there. Mix signals from them. Who in the right mind would make an already beautifully designed piece of fabric and turned it into complicated lines and lines of sparkling beads? Unless they want the dress to get the full attention rather than the person. Distractions from those red pouting lips and perky cheeks, botox assisted in some cases. Opppps! Here I go again, digressing. Better be careful with what I am saying about the female species. I may end up being labelled a lady basher. Let me get back on track.

As a habit, looking at things in a simplistic way had become a tendency. Remember when we were kids? Our maths teacher used to say, simplify the equations before solving it? Apply that to life, it is still the same. No matter how complicated things are, break it down to little pieces. The solution is out there. Admittedly, it is not easy. There are times, a lot actually, the mind goes overdrive. Instead of simplifying things, more and more branches are added. What is a small thin lean tree of a problem will end up with a tree with a blown up afro look complete with hanging messy beards. Oh no! Digression No.2.

Well, here it is. Over the years, out of observations, some in passing, some ogling, with no reference to any academic publications, at least to my knowledge, if any it is purely incidental, everyone, in its simplest form has two sides when it comes to approaching a problem or an assignment. On one side is our “THINKER” part, on another is our “DOER” part. Sounds familiar? Both parts have good and bad things associated with it. These two exists in each and every one of us but in different composition. Some with the Thinker part as the majority shareholder; some the Doer part, with different effects.

The Thinker tend to be creative, brilliant, refreshing, enthusiastic, but at the same time individualistic, eccentric (this can be good too!), disorganised, may not be a team player and think too much ending up with no work being done. They can think up just anything, any solution but may lose interest and stubborn especially if their suggestions are not chosen. In short, exciting but risky.

On the other hand the Doer in most cases will stick to standard, tried and tested solutions. Not giving it too much thought, just bulldozing it and get things done. Most will tend to be formal but good team player and more organised as he is less distracted by too much thinking. In short boring but safe.

In an organisation, in a team, observed carefully enough, we can suss out who the thinker and who the doer is. A balanced mixture promises better outcomes. But, as in everything, there are always challenges to be faced and questions to be answered. Who is the ideal leader of the pack? The Thinker? The Doer? How do we reward? The thinking part or the doing part? Same remuneration packages for both? Same career scheme and development for both? Do we treat them equally or as different entities? I am sure if a study is done, there will be cases where the Doer gets all the credit for the Thinker creative solutions, and there will be cases the Thinker gets all the credit for all the hard work of the Doer. Both sides will want fairness.

Life is not that simple after all ....................

It’s the assessment season again. Our challenge is for each of us to identify which part of us, thinker or doer, is stronger, utilise it to the maximum, at the same time strengthens the weak part. A perfect marriage of thinking and doing is the end zone.

Monday, August 31, 2009


5 days leave courtesy of the Health Authorities! Even better, starting from my wedding anniversary. I did not know whether to laugh or cry. Laugh because so happy to get some time off. Cry as it was very stressing and worrying especially in today’s environment of H1N1 scare. It was indeed a troubling and agonising experience. But an eye opener and reassuring one. A case of two extremes situation.

Not wanting to pinpoint what or where the cause and start of it all but a few days earlier, together with a friend, went to the Gerai Ramadhan at the Stadium to get some pesungkaian. This was after a couple of years not bothering to go there. Got the normal stuff. Nothing exotic. When it comes to food, I am not that adventurous. I should have heeded the warning signs after the first visit. The tummy started to grumble more often. As often as the thunders that accompanied the heavy rains we got frequently lately despite everyone predicting prolonged dry weather. The urge to look for one particular gerai made me went for the second visit. Then the trouble really started.

Grumblings becoming louder and louder. Visits to the small room got more frequent. Still manageable and even went out and about until realising my body temperature had shot up to well above the normal range. The worry got worse after noticing the mini poster about H1N1 hanging just outside the small room. Not wanting to take any risk, off to RIPAS I went.

Upon arrival, walking through the unmanned thermal screening, I could see my infrared self on the screen. If someone was there, they would have thought Thermo Man was making an appearance. I was on fire. May be even a candidate to be one of the hottest men there that night. After the normal filling in the form, another surprised awaited me. Not so much the waiting time, but seeing how the heart rate or rather pulse rate rocketing up. Panic mode but fortunately one of the doctors explained it must be the effect of my hotness. A couple of paracetamol gulped to lower the body temperature.

With my travel history, the well above normal body temperature and the tummy grumblings aka diarrhoea, I was referred to the Flu Screening Centre after a wait of over almost an hour. This wait, with hindsight was a good one. It provided ample time for the body temperature to go normal and the heart rate stabilised. After the interview and becoming another number in the H1N1 statistics, a lady doctor attended to me. Prepared for some swab samples to be taken but was pleasantly surprised when they did not ask me to. Been hearing stories of how painful it was to take the samples. Luckily I did not have the chance to verify this story. Saved by the lack of cough and some other symptoms. On the other hand, Brunei has moved on to the next stage of H1N1 fight, the Protect and Treat Phase where the emphasis is more on protecting the vulnerable group and not so much on reporting of every single case. So not every single suspect will be tested. Before going off, was given a few “bata” or take home stuff. The standard but effective paracetamol, something for the diarrhoea and most importantly the antiviral Tamiflu.

Over the next 36 hours, visits to the small room more and more frequent. If there is a customer loyalty programme, I would have got some air miles, may be even a free ticket to some exotic destination. Endless checking and monitoring of the pulse rate and especially the body temperature which was yo yoing. The digital ear thermometer shouted red alert most of the time when the readings were well above normal. To make matters worse, Tamiflu had a nice side effect. Nausea and vomiting. Imagine feeling like to vomit most of the time. It was definitely a case of exit both at the top and the bottom. Not the normal enter at the top, exit at the bottom scenario.

Allhamdulillah, after 36 hours or so, things had stabilised. Everything seems to be heading to normal except for the side effect which hopefully will be gone soon. This experience was indeed an eye opener on how blessed we are to have a first class health service and organisation. Despite some criticisms, justified or not, played up by the media, mostly in the internet chatters, all I saw and experience was total professionalism and care. True, the waiting time still needs to be improved, but what is a little wait. Compare to what is happening in our neighbouring countries where based on the news report, are facing mounting challenges from H1N1. All in all, we must be grateful to the health authorities here for their responsible, swift, professional and caring actions. Thank you for job well done, thank you for the 5 days leave ...........

Talking about anniversaries, I am sure most Bruneian Malays has the choice of two different dates to celebrate their wedding anniversaries. One is nikah day, the other is actual bersanding day which in majority if not all are two different dates. Some celebrate the nikah day for the obvious reason that is the day they are officially and legally husband and wife. Some celebrate the actual bersanding day. I dare not ask the logic behind this. I can only insinuate it’s because it is the actual day the marriage is consummated. To be on the safe side, celebrate both. But make sure you negotiate well in advance, just one present for both dates. 2 in 1 ............

Saturday, August 22, 2009


It’s Ramadhan again. Time to focus more on good deeds and amal ibadat. Time the devil aka iblis is incaserated. Time to fast or better known as puasa. Refraining from food, drinks and all the “prohibited” things from dawn till dusk, the hardest for some is not so much the food and drinks, but not to pick their noses all day long. If we are observant enough, we can see all sorts of antics, tactics and actions devised to meet the demand of itchy noses.

It is also the time more people will remember prayer times for Maghrib and Suboh, if not for prayers, it’s the time we can eat, drink and to certain extend being “extra friendly” with our spouses. Maghrib, the starting whistle blows. Suboh, Imsyak to be precise, the finishing line. That seems to be how some people think of Ramadhan. Sungkai feast offerings here and there. Eateries offering Sahur spreads. In short, Maghrib to Suboh is the time for personal pleasurable indulgement.

To some, the numbers are not that many, Ramadhan is just something they have to go through before the much anticipated, awaited Hari Raya. To them, fasting or not is irrelevant. What is important is Hari Raya. Time to have fun. Time for new clothes. Time to eat, eat, eat. And off course the Hari Raya, open houses, gatherings and parties. Not realising, or may be just acting ignorant, what Hari Raya Aidilfitri is really for and for whom is Hari Raya for.

Fortunately, thankfully, more and more people, are aware of the significance of Ramadhan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri from Islam point of view. More and more are knowledgeable on the amal ibadat, wajib or sunat encouraged in this month of doing good deeds. Mosques are also seeing increase in attendance, especially at night for terawih prayers. The numbers seem to peak in the first week, stabilising in the second week, slow downward trend in the third week followed by drastic nose dive in the fourth and final week.

In short, it seems, admittedly not scientifically deduced nor backed by hard statistics, just by simple observations, as we go through Ramadhan, some of us are heading in the opposite direction to what Ramadhan is all about. More indulgement instead of more sacrifices.........

Today’s khutbah on the jokes made about sighting of the new moon is timely. We all love jokes and the jokes on the failure to sight the new moon are hilarious and original. With the theme around the “out of order” aka “rosak” telescopes. But in reality, sighting of the new moon is a serious matter and comes with big responsibility. A decision affecting all the Muslims in this country. Everyone involves are giving their best, backed by experts and high tech equipment. Failure of sightings is not for lack of trying and equipment. All by God’s will...... Selamat Beramadhan in everysense... everyway.....

Friday, August 14, 2009

Change or else.....

One of my early entries was about how it was raining, flooding here and there yet taps were dry. Prolonged disruptions to the water supply. Now, today, the last few months until who knows when but if we believe the forecast as early as September or may be longer, we are in the dry season made worse by our not so good friend Mrs El-Nino. Prefer to call it Mrs, the female gender as weather phenomenon especially tropical storms, typhoons, cyclones, initially were named after the female species. Wonder why this is? Anything to do with the female kind ability to brew up storms out of nothing? But in 1979, some people who wants to be politically correct and seems to be too serious at all things changed this. They said this practice was sexist. Spoil sport! Now the males are also associated with it!

El-Nino increases surface temperature, induced forest fires, amplify haze and brings prolonged drought. Up to 40% reduction from the normal rainfall is predicted. This figure is worrying. It is already supposed to be dry, now 40% drier? Why should we worry some may ask. We still get some rain, water is plentiful, stored in tanks, rivers, dams, etc. True, as a country we are blessed with natural water source. True we have dams to store water. True we are blessed with a government who provides excellent water infrastructure. But with our current usage of water, among the highest in the world, this will catch up with us, we will run out of water, cheap water that is. Water can always be produced but at what cost? Do we want to be in the situation where the cost to produce water is so high, uneconomically high? Ask the Saudis, Singaporeans and other not so blessed countries, how many times more it cost them to produce a litre of water compare to us in this blessed country. Do we want to pay more for our water? Increase our water bills? Reduce the portion of our hard earned income we can spend on our houses, clothings, shoes, bags, food, cars, bikes, TVs, home cinemas, karaoke sets, mobile phones, gadgets, spa treatments, facials, pedicure, manicure, hair treatment, traveling, shopping trips, hobbies, all the pleasurable albeit some are useless things and also our savings? Do we really want that? Hope we will not take this fact for granted.

Let´s all CHANGE, use LESS WATER now! Not just during this dry season, but all the time. Change or else ....

If my sources are correct, I believed they are, they are the professionals, the experts, at the current rate of usage and in the event of prolong dry season, our storages can only last us between 6 months to a year. Worrying indeed and the water levels are beginning to drop. Boh doi!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Being Critical ....

“To me the sign of a great nation – and a great citizen – is pride in the country coupled with the ability to recognise what needs to be improved” wrote Philip Merry, CEO of the Global Leadership Academy in the Straits Times.

Definitely something to ponder, contemplate and reflect as we grow as a country and a nation. I am sure every citizen, every resident in this country of unexpected treasures, negara bertuah, feel blessed to live in one of the best places in the world. A wonderful place. The best place to lead a balanced lifestyle one of my bosses said before. In fact a friend used to say, albeit jokingly, which if you think about it, have some truth in it, you can find everything here. Good, bad, legal, illegal, over the table, under the table, halal, haram and so on. Semua ada as in the Doraemon front pocket / pouch where all sorts of things, gadgets and tools can be magically produced.

As much as we are proud of our beloved country, I for one do not wish to live in another country even if I am forced at gun point, we must be able to be critical, not in a senseless way, to make this great country even greater. To be critical we must be civilise, able to discuss rationally, objectively with constructive criticism at the same time understanding the issues, getting the full true facts and most important of all is our good intention to see this beloved country grow even greater and able to provide the best for her people. For the good of everyone. All for one and one for all as the Musketeers used to say......

Doraemon’s front pocket is called yojigen-pocket, or 4-dimensional pocket. Although he can hear perfectly well, Doraemon has no ears: his robotic ears were eaten by a mouse, giving him a phobia of the creatures. I once read Doraemon stories contain a lot of moral lessons regarding values such as integrity, perseverance, courage, family and respect. May be our kids are not wasting their time watching this blue and white creature from the future up to his antics. May be they did learn something.............

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Breastfeeding ....

It’s the end of the first week of August. The last day of the World Breastfeeding Week (WBW) which this year falls from 1st to 7th August. By all accounts breastfeeding is good for the baby as well as the mom. Among the objectives of the WBW 2009 is to draw attention to the vital role that breastfeeding plays in emergencies worldwide. According to the WBW website, “ Children are the most vulnerable in emergencies – child mortality can soar from 2 to 70 times higher than average due to diarrhoea, respiratory illness and malnutrition. Breastfeeding is a life saving intervention and protection is greatest for the youngest infants. Even in non-emergency settings, non-breastfed babies under 2 months of age are six times more likely to die.”

Our local health authorities have a policy of encouraging breastfeeding as soon as giving birth, exclusively for six months and to continue breastfeeding up to 2 years. The fliers they distributed also stated among the advantages are the baby will have higher IQ, lower risk of obesity, antibody against diarrhoea, lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and reduce risk of orthodontic and dental problems. As for the mom, breastfeeding helps the mom's body return to its pre-pregnancy state faster, helps delay return of fertility and to space subsequent pregnancies, develops a special emotional relationship and bonding with her child and helps the uterus contract after birth to control postpartum bleeding.

That takes care of the mom and the baby. How about the daddy? To date, haven’t seen any fliers telling what benefits breastfeeding brings to the daddy. Some will say, having healthier wife and baby is benefit enough. But guys being guys, I am sure will want to know what other advantages they will get out of it. Remember, if the mom breastfeeds the baby for at least two years, that will be two years of refraining from some pleasurable activity for the daddy. So they must be thinking “I better get something out of this”. Hope the health authorities can look into this.

In the absence of such fliers, on top of the head, we can see some obvious benefits. First, to the wallet. Milk formula tends to be costly. Breastfeeding definitely will help in reducing the household expenses. The money saved can be used on other things or be used as seed money to open up the baby’s account. Over two years, the figure can be around $1000 which will worth double when the baby turns 18. A second advantage will be to the eyes and better night sleep. No more worries about waking up and mixing the milk formula with half eyes closed in the middle of the night. Better sleep means the daddy can get up early and be at work on time. No time loss at work and the boss will be happier.

I am sure if we put our head into it, we can conjure up more imaginative benefits to the daddy. A not so obvious advantage, according to one website, the stool of a baby on breastfeeding has a butter-milk smell. Any volunteers to check on this? If it smells like the butter milk fish/beef/chicken, pretty sure changing diapers will be a more pleasant experience. We may even want to savour the moment, take in the smell, may even feel hungry, not trying to get it done as fast as we can.

Being a daddy, I support wholeheartedly the breastfeeding drive. Don’t be surprised to see the following slogan on my car bumper.... “Support breastfeeding, excellent for the baby, good for the mom and the daddy too.”

As in anything, if you ask any guys, breastfeeding has its “disadvantages” . Feeling left out, less bond with the child, just to name a few. Some may feel resentment towards the baby who has "come between" him and the mom. We often hear jokes how the daddy may compete with the baby.But I am sure, we in this muslim country, would do all we can to avoid being grouped into the “sesusuan” category.....

Monday, August 03, 2009

Happy Birthday....

~~~ Happy Birthday To You ... Happy Birthday To You... Happy Birthday... Happy Birthday.... Happy Birthday to You ...~~~ Happy Birthday To You ... Happy Birthday To You... Happy Birthday... Happy Birthday.... Happy Birthday to You ...~~

My cheeky brainy fourth son has been telling me to sing it regularly lately. He asked me to sing it TWICE in a row every time I wash my hand with soap. Didn’t give it much thought initially. Really thought he was having me on. Got the cheek to play a prank on me.

Apparently, to my wonderful surprise, to make sure our hands are really clean, we need to wash our hands for at least 20 seconds. That’s about the same time it takes for us to sing the Happy Birthday song twice. Thank you son. You taught your ignorant dad something. Who says the we can’t learn anything from the young. Definitely comes in handy in this time where we need to wash our hands regularly. Touch anything, we wash. Sneeze, we wash. Cough, we wash. Shake hands, we wash. Wash, wash, wash. Wet tissues, hand soaps gone in no time.

Singing Happy Birthday song can also bring smile to our face. Remind us of the birthdays of the people around us, the people who means a lot to us. Have them in mind when we sing it, advance, current, belated. Those gifted with wonderful voice will bring cheers to people around. Those not so gifted, with suara katak, with any luck may just scare those bacteria and viruses off our hands for good......

Reader’s Digest August Edition gave an alternative, albeit costly. We can ask our kids to use a soap dispenser which shoots a small black ink (vegetable dye) along with soap. Kids need to thoroughly wash for 20 seconds to get the dye off. Well, we may have clean hands but may also end up with artistic abstract looking stain splattered all over their uniforms....

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Time to Kill...

It’s the first day of August. It’s a Saturday. It’s my off day. Well normally it’s my working day. But for some very special and joyous reason, it’s my off day. “Time to kill a lot I have” as Yoda would have said it. Quite where in the Star Wars series he said it, please do not ask me.

What do I do with a lot of time to kill? I can choose from watch TV, read, trying to catch up with some sleep, cruising around aimlessly, window shopping, house chores, baby sitting etc. The list goes on and on. One of the killing time activities is surfing. Before you start thinking of beach bums with bermuda shorts, delicious behind with tanned six pack torso, with surf board in hand, this is not the surfing not on the beach kind. It’s the kind of surfing used to be for the nerds of this world but now it seems everyone bar the few still in the dark ages, nerd or no nerd are into surfing. Surfing the internet seems to be one of the most favourite past time nowadays. On the PC, on the notebooks or on the smart phones and to certain extend not so smart phones, everyone is surfing the cyber world, the world wide web, the internet.

Everything, anything in this real world can be found in the internet. Useful information, useless information, trivial matters, serious ones, long lost family members, forgotten friends, new love, old love, gossips, facts, PG rated, X-rated. It goes on and on. Basically everything you can think off. Google it, it will be there. Sometime ago, a friend said one way of measuring how popular you are is by goggling your name. Imagine his horror when he goggled his name, no entry appeared. He was obviously very popular.. NOT!

Freedom of information some people call it. But as in everything, freedom does not necessarily mean a totally good thing. No regulation on what is put on the internet. No way of telling if it is a fact or a lie. One thing we can do, is not to trust the internet 100%. Take the information with a pinch of salt. An example of this is how readily available information on health and symptoms of any disease is. Before you go to the doctor, you somehow manage to come up with the diagnosis and even the prognosis. Some may even doubt what the real life doctor says and prescribed. It seems a few minutes surfing on the internet made us a well qualified doctor compared to someone who had gone through at least 7 years of medical training and many many years of professional training and experience. The internet seems to be taken too seriously and taken as the truth. In actual fact, the internet is only a very useful tool to disseminate knowledge and extend our network and source of information. For expert and professional advice, trust should and must still be given to the right professionals of the real world.

Back to my surfing. Came across a very interesting albeit to many people useless site. With a domain name of, it definitely attracts attention. This particular site has a collection of facts and trivia about things that are the longest of their kind in the world. Useless but some are hilarious.

The longest name of a country? With 74 characters with spaces and 63 characters without, Al Jumahiriyah al Arabiyah al Libiyah ash Shabiyah al Ishtirakiyah al Uzma holds the record. It is more widely known as Libya. Imagine how twisted tongued the newsreader will be!

Another, the world's longest abbreviation containing 56 letters: NIIOMTPLABOPARMBETZHELBETRABSBOMONIMONKONOTDTEKHSTROMONT
Which stands for Laboratory for Shuttering, Reinforcement, Concrete and Ferroconcrete Operations for Composite-monolithic and Monolithic Constructions of the Department of Technology of Building Assembly Operations of the Scientific Research Institute of the Organization for Building Mechanization and Technical Aid of the Academy of Building and Architecture of the USSR. Do they even understand what abbreviation means? And who in the world would give something such a long winded name. No wonder the USSR is no longer around.

You can try the website for more. Have fun ...

Only do this if you have plenty of time to kill. You have already wasted enough of your valuable time reading this useless entry. Ha ha ha ....

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Big Yawn ...

Read in the August edition of the Reader’s Digest:

“..... Researchers say our brains burn up to 33% of the calories we consume - and generate heat. Yawning cools brain cells, thus making them more efficient. The researchers also found that yawning increases blood flow and helps maintain optimum levels of functioning. And they suggest we´re biologically hard-wired to yawn to stay alert and protect ourselves from danger...."

The next time you see somebody yawning nonstop in a meeting or a presentation, be rest assured he or she is the most alert one. The one who will take in most if not all what is being discussed or presented.

No wonder I yawn a lot when reading a book. No wonder so many men yawn during khutbah on Fridays . No wonder husbands yawn when the wives pour their hearts out. Come to think of it, men yawn more than women. Now we know why... Men seems to be the more alert species... the more thoughtful...

for better career prospect, next time make sure you yawn a lot in front of your boss. If he asked what is wrong with you, give him a copy of this article. He will definitely appreciate how alert you are and how your brain is functioning at the optimum level..... Guaranteed top management material.... Promotion will follow very very soon....

Monday, July 27, 2009

@$#!&* ....

The clock struck 530pm. Newsreader started the news rolling. This and that. Bla bla bla ....

Out of the blue, Arghhh! I am so gerigitan. Words can´t describe what went through my head. They are at it again. How many times? Will they ever learn? Did anybody tell them? You can call me bibiran on this. I don’t care. Is it just me being so fussy? Nobody else see or hear what I heard and saw? And they announced it to the whole world. Some will say they meant well, they are just doing their work. I am not disputing that. In fact I salute them for all their hard work in keeping our country safe. I really do. Tunjuk langit kind of truth!

But why oh why in the world do they have to say they are undertaking their operations "sempena" or in conjunction with His Majesty´s Birthday? Are they saying more criminal elements appear during this joyful occasion? May be statistics can and will show it is true more crimes do happen. But isn´t that suppose to be the case? Crowds will always attract unsavoury elements. Just like sugar will attract ants. Just like ladies will attract guy´s attention. It´s a fact of life how sad it may sound.

There must be better ways to tell the whole world about what they are doing. Isn´t it better just to say they are doing their duty to keep us safer during this joyous occasion. But definitely and surely not in conjunction! As if it´s part of the official celebration. The last time I checked, I did not recall seeing the operation listed anywhere in the programme book.

I am sorry and sincerely apologised if this seemed to be repeat broadcast of my entry before. Just can´t help it. I am just so gerigitan and geram at the way this piece of news item is being handled again and again. Geram berabis. Some people says KE OTAK....

PS: singing Geram Jangan Engkau Geram as famously sang by Black Dog Bone....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In a blink....

Time really flies. The week seemed to have gone pass with only a blink of an eye. Sunday to another Sunday to another Sunday here we are almost 70% of the year gone. Wonder how much we have achieved the targets we set at the beginning of the year. 70%? 50%? 30%? Or worse 0%? Are going to quantify it in terms of numbers? Or we do it qualitatively?

Soon, in less than a month will be Ramadhan. The month of ibadat. Month to get in touch with our inner self. Month to do good things good deeds. Well aren´t we suppose to be like that 247 365? (366 in a leap year ....)

Bulan puasa is also famous for being the month of food. All sorts will turn up everywhere. All kind of offers to tempt us. Not just for sungkai and sahur. Catalogues, lists, forms for kek raya flying here and there. All sorts of cakes, kek rolls, biscuits some with strange names like kek lapis Siti Nurhaliza and Dato K as if Siti Nurhaliza can make kek lapis.

As soon as puasa starts, preparation for hari raya will start. Offices having meetings to discuss hari raya celebrations. Shops offering hard to believe sales playing raya songs from day 1 of puasa. Opening hours extended. Midnight crazy sales offered. Shoes walking away. Shirts and pants apart from the size S ones gone. Tailors on 24 hours shift. Sets and sets of new sofas on the road. Crates and crates of soft drinks fronting entrances to shops. Hampers taller than most people who got them walking about. Flowers blooming albeit plastic ones. TVs, large ones appearing in many living rooms. Rolls and rolls of cucul of all sorts of colours and blinks unfurled. Yards and metres of curtain hang. Buckets of paint splattered. New car registrations jumps up. Sounds of air bombs louder by the day. Pawn shops on overtime. Loan sharks having field day. Banks giving out loans in myriad of names but all the same it is still hutang. Credit cards well ironed and swiped with eventual thicker than usual statement waiting.

Off course the ladies started well well in advance. Some as soon as Syawal ends. Or else they will end up with baju raya from the past. That wouldn´t look good in the photo albums. Even more so now in the age of Facebook where old raya albums are uploaded. Guys can get away with it. Baju melayu is still baju melayu. Apart from the odd one or two people with baju melayu bekatok, all look the same. Even for those who favours the handkerchief hanging on the front style. Add to that saloons offering all sorts of treatment. Lose kilos before raya. I bet those kilos are the weight of the dollars we have to pay for it. All sorts of perms. Afro look used to be the hits in raya pasts. Rebonding. You name it. Whatever you want to do with your hair, they will do it. Even for guys. But if you want to do the kojak look, save your money. Don´t go to the saloon. Just go to the Indian barber. $4 and your hair will be gone in a blink! Massage and head slapping thrown in for free!

About the only thing that seems to be in decline is the attendance for terawih as Ramadhan passes by.....

What am I doing talking about puasa and raya? First thing first, we are in Sya´aban. The month for Rasulullah. The month for puasa sunat even if it is only just a day. I won’t go into detail about it. I m no ustaz. Just another guy with "tuhur" level of knowledge in ugama matters. But let’s remind ourselves of Nisfu Sya´aban, the night of 15 Sya’aban. We are encouraged to do sembahyang sunat and recites Surah Yaasiin three times with doa in between. Doa for panjang umur, murah rezeki and ditetapkan iman. Amin ..... Insyallah this year Nisfu Sya’aban will be on the evening of Wednesday 5 August.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Food.. Food... Food

Recently, a friend asked me why I think of food all the time. My reply.. everything we do goes back to food. Food is among the basic things in life. Abraham Maslow, in his hierarchy of needs theory published in 1943, identified food as one of the basic human needs. He categorised food together with water, air, shelter, clothing and few others including sex as "deficiency needs" which if not met, will cause the individual feels anxious and tense.

It is no different here. On average, each household spent almost 30% of its income on food. The biggest portion of spending. Well ahead of other form of spending

Improving quality of life of the people was and still one of the main objectives of this country. Self-sufficiency in food especially rice has became an obsession. Like it or not, as a country, we have to strive for this. Our over reliance on food import is one of our main strategic challenges. It is not impossible to be self sufficient or near to be self sufficient. We have already one success story in the local eggs production which has more or less managed to meet the local demand. Based on Agriculture Department’s statistics, all of use consumed around 123.66 millions of eggs. That’s about 311 eggs per year for each of us, almost one egg a day. Around 123.21 millions of eggs are produced locally. That’s a self-sufficiency rate of 99.6%! I still can recall, clearly, the years where we imported most of our eggs. It will arrive in wooden crates. During weddings, where eggs wrapped in napkin or handkerchief was the common door gifts, we can see these timber crates closely. There were even instances of egg shortages especially during festive seasons. Now we hardly have these shortages.

Compare to other countries, the figure of 311 eggs per year per person is reasonable. In the Philippines, it is around 94, in Thailand 145, Malaysia 305 and in the USA is around 257. We are indeed an egg consuming nation which is good for the agriculture industry. All those kek lapis, kek batik, kueh makmur, biscuits which required trays after trays of eggs especially near to Hari Raya which is just over two months away is definitely welcome.

What! Is Hari Raya that soon? I haven’t bought any kain yet for my baju melayu. Shortly, all the tailors will be fully booked with baju melayu orders. Here I am thinking of hari raya when it’s not even puasa yet. Should be thinking of puasa more , how to improve ibadat etc etc rather than new baju melayus, sinjangs, new sofas etc.

Talking about food and my encounters with food , there are many memorable, wonderful, funny, and delicious stories. I am sure everyone has their own stories. One of my earliest recollections was with kueh malaya. One stall in the old tamu at Padang Besar sold the best, the meanest kueh malaya. A favourite indeed. A relative joked, it was not because the kueh malaya was any good, but the daughter of the owner was pretty! Well, what did a 6 year old know about pretty girl. Not much! So it must be the kueh malaya. Next to be encountered was the talor dadar (egg omelette) taken together with lauk goreng cacah with the Brunei chilli sauce (nowadays it is in the familiar yellow cap to differentiate it with the Singapore ones). The ever favourite is my nini’s fish curry. Out of this world!

Another that stuck in the mind is the kebab in Manchester. Abdul Kebab to be precise. It was so deliciously hot, we were sweating in the middle of winter by the kebab. The briyani was also fingerlickingly delicious. But beware! Consume at the risk of regular trips to the small thinking room more famously known as the toilet. Must be all the spices. The trick was to consume it only when we were safely at home and with no plans to go out after that.

Talking about briyani, more precisely nasi bukhara, we used to bring back boxes and boxes of the supa dupa delicious bukhara from a particular place in Kuala Lumpur. Once we took back more than 10 big boxes, the custom people did not believe us. They thought hidden among the bukharas were some contraband stuff!

Food industry is definitely growing here. Restaurants, cafes, gerais mushrooming everywhere some with catchy names. All sorts of food. Local, ambuyats, western, chinese, indian, french, italian, fast food, slow food and many more including the popular nasi katoks. All the best to them but what’s important, they must be halal and must maintain high standard of hygiene.

PS: Today, passed by a new row of shops and saw a well known food chain in Kuala Lumpur famous for it’s supposed to be secret recipes, opening an outlet here. Good luck to them. Hope they can keep up with the established ones such as CA Mohammad, Chop Jing Chew, Thien Thien..............

Friday, July 17, 2009

Playing Catch Up ...

Finally able to catch up on my readings, especially newspapers, which I had neglected for the past week or so for many reasons. Luckily these are just papers... if not I would have gotten some yellow card for abandoning my duties... worst I can be charged for desertion.

In one article I came across an interesting result from a survey which polled almost 1,000 people across Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. When asked what are the worst attributes of the opposite sex, men think women are materialistic and difficult to please, always dissatisfied and always complaining. The women think men are indecisive and difficult to please, always dissatisfied and always complaining. So what’s new? It took 1,000 people to state the obvious. It took three countries wide survey to confirm that men and women are the same. Both are difficult to please, always dissatisfied and always complaining. Ha ha ha ..... Well, for the single ones, who according to this survey rates finding it hard to meet someone who shares their values or interests as one of the top three reasons to remain single, at least being difficult to please, always dissatisfied and always complaining is a good start to having a common interest. Interest in complaining ha ha ha ... Statistics indeed paint many pictures depending from which angle you see it. This reminded me of a famous quote attributed to one Aaron Levenstein ... “Statistics are like bikinis, what they reveal is suggestive but what they conceal is vital.”

On another note, the new Harry Potter ( I always thought all this while it’s Porter not Potter) movie, the so called Harry Potter 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is finally here. Being avid fans and reader of the novel, obviously the kids have been waiting for this. I don’t know much about Harry Potter apart from it spans over seven books which are thick enough to be my paperweight. At least the kids are into reading. That’s what matters. Reading is important. Very important. It keeps the mind, the brain alert. On top of that we can gain something useful such as knowledge. The boss at work has been bugging us, again and again stressing how important reading is. To the extend just read anything, novels, papers, comics, magazines etc. A friend, when asked, what book he is reading now, answers FACEBOOK. Good one!

PS: I am struggling to finish the Jeremy Clarkson series of books. As interesting as the stories are, they are very interesting and very funny, often made me laugh out loud when reading them on the bed at night some may think I am having some sort of extra pleasurable strenuous activities, lately the eyes still manage to shut effortlessly.