Monday, December 5, 2016

Alone

It was a lonely working day as almost all my colleagues were away in KL, attending a seminar.

The seminar, centred around Drug Development (Pre-Clinical Model), is jointly organised by ARF (Animal Research Facility) of Ipharm and IMR (Institute Medical Research) under a grant from MOSTI.

It was purportedly a very technical seminar conducted by a renowned cancer specialist from New York, Dr Elisa De Stanchina. I haven't read her resume yet (already downloaded her CV attachment given via our internal e-mail), but based on the circulating e-mail, she was described as an expert.

It could take up to two years to obtain result of carcinogenic study on rats, depending on the circumstances. Two years is a long time to conduct a study, more so for a flagging student like me. For comparison, I am currently halfway through an acute toxicity study involving rats (in vivo), which only lasts fourteen (14) days* to achieve the final result, and I am already exhausted.

Kak (Dr) Adel tried (unsuccessfully) to squeeze me in for a slot in the seminar, in view of my future study in this corresponding field. But her request was decently turned down by my Study Director, who insisted that I stay behind to take care of the animals.

Honestly I wanted to be in the seminar. Maybe lady luck was not on my side for this one. 

There were only Syafif and Suraya left in this building. Both were stationed in Staff Room 1, which left me being a solitary person in Staff Room 2. Around noon, a short-circuit temporarily disrupted our internet connection (or a circuit test, I was given to understand that a test run was being conducted for our facility's wiring certification purposes).

Out of internet, and out of anything worthwhile to do since I had already wrapped up all my required task for today, I inserted my pen-drive and watched Captain America: The First Avenger on my laptop. Turning the speaker to full blast, I pretended as if I were the big boss of this room. 

If only there were more days like this.

*Although the main observation (sighting) study of acute toxicity runs for a period of fourteen days, it is preceded by quarantine and acclimatisation stages, and subsequently succeeded by a post-mortem. Together all these steps run into a month before the final report could be issued.   

Friday, December 2, 2016

Dietary Advice - Time is of an Essence

Just finished my dinner. I am currently re-orienting my dinner time, as it is not very healthy to have dinner too late into the night.

As I'm about to venture into another squash odyssey (I will make a swift return to squash arena beginning early next year), my first step towards improving my below-terrible fitness is to have my body back in good shape.

While I'm still considered by many to be thin, only I know how my body has deteriorated over the year (I hibernated for almost a year during my sabbatical leave).

So, what is the best time to have lunch and dinner? 

An ideal lunch and dinner time should be six hours apart; meaning if you had your lunch at 12 noon, you should have your dinner by six p.m. But this simplistic approach is laden with complexity as not everyone could keep consistently to this schedule.

But try to stick to this schedule; if you have a weight issue, this will help a lot.

Between your lunch and dinner, you could always have a chew or two on your favourite snacks...but try your best to limit this. There's give and take on dieting...you give away your snacks to take home your ideal body weight.

Just remember, time is of an essence to retain or reach your ideal body weight. Maintain a regular timing for your lunch and dinner, your body will automatically do the rest.

I'm having a light squash training right after this just across the road in USM (8.00 - 10.00 p.m). 

So, till then. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Beautiful Writer

I read a long essay yesterday, about the danger of over-consuming sugar in our dietary intake, that almost riveted my mind to the level that I've rarely experienced nowadays.

Some writers have this heavenly gift of weaving their mind into words that could gently blow you towards whatever direction they are leading you to; a very talented writer could even turn your mood from downright sorrow to perpetual happiness.

Writing is a dying art. Of course everyone can write, but not everyone can write beautifully. Having the opportunity to read a well-written essay is like discovering a treasure trove; you are excited to know what's inside it but at the same time, you do not want to know where it will end.

I've read many scientific articles which were severely lacking in souls. Many science writers nowadays focus too much on the scientific side of the argument; they either ignore the importance of attracting people's attention through persuasive words, or maybe they are too lazy to do that.

Science and literature is one, there's no two ways about it. You cannot do without the other.      

Monday, November 21, 2016

My Workplace

I arrived at my workplace as usual today.

Since late 2014, when I started working, I was never ever been given a proper working desk to work with. My request for a desktop PC was frequently shot down. I was never even given a working phone line to begin with.

The usual reason?

The PC was still under repair. The phone line needed a working phone...which was not there.

So I used my own mini laptop to finish all my work.

 My old desk, before I moved to new department two weeks ago

I usually have a cup of coffee upon setting up my desk.

Anyone who knows me well is well aware that I'm a coffee junkie. I'll become extremely moody and erratic when I'm not having my usual sip of coffee (as exemplified today). 

But once I had my daily coffee on schedule, all is well. 

I don't know what's the point of writing all these down, but I just feel the need to write something down, even though it's pointless and useless.

Maybe this is how I vent my frustration/boredom/tiredness to the outside world.

Things are slowly getting better but something is lost inside me.

Maybe it's there, but I'm looking in the wrong place.

So I'll keep looking.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Have Faith & Stay True

I was reading an account of a young woman who said, among other things, that she was currently residing in a land where all the people there spoke "perfect English".

Where is that land would be?

Nowhere.

There is no land in this world where the people there speak perfect English

Not even England.

The same thing goes for the Malay language. 

There is no land in this world where all the people there speak perfect Malay.

Not even Malaysia.

It was not long before I came to a conclusion that she was indirectly insinuating that she was currently living in the land of the English...England.

England, for centuries, has been associated with a high-status society.

So this woman wanted to be associated with that.

Some people have this insecurity within themselves that they need outside influence to further elevate their status.

Some do it for ego, while some do it for attention.

Some need other people's approval before doing or deciding to do something.

A black pen will still be a black pen, even though a thousand other people say it is a blue pen. 

Have faith in your own ability. And stay true to yourself. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

A New Dawn

It's been a hectic week.

I've been devoured by mounting new information to chew (yes, chew...it's not yet been wholly digested). While it's definitely true that I love challenging myself to the highest level, my age is fast catching up with my ability to cope with new knowledge as rapidly as before.

I have ten more years before my mind starts deteriorating (research has shown that in average, human mind reaches its limit of intellectual capacity at age forty), so I'd better pulling up my socks fast before my mind starts dragging me down.

Flicking through the web-pages, I took a quick glance at Pancasara and, lo and behold, it's been a mess. It's sluggish, saggy, and full of half-baked writings (figuratively speaking, it's heavy in light writings, and light in heavy writings). There are two or three "hanging" (or unfinished) articles (USM Convo Finale and Dido, these two sprang up in my mind), and lots of movies. 

I actually intended to make Pancasara, apart from its other purposes, as my movie's repository (I'd already stressed in the past that Pancasara is an entity in itself, it's existence is independent of me). I usually forgot movies that I'd already watched, so Pancasara serves as the perfect platform for me to sift through all these movies, in order not to watch them twice (for some excellent movies, I did intentionally watch them twice or more).

I will invest more time in Pancasara beginning this week, if my time permits.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Movies...and Work





As usual, I will update my progress on movies that I've had the pleasure to watch last week (I've already reported for formal duty last week, so my time is severely limited now).

The Shawshank Redemption, rated as one of the greatest movies of all time, is head and shoulders above the rest. Based on Stephen King's novel of the same title, the movie is moderately-paced with a beautifully-built plot twist towards the end.

The rest (the other three movies) are ok, particularly Need For Speed, which I skipped during my happy time in Unimas due to unfavourable reviews (now I know that not all reviews are good).

I don't have much time, hope I could write more this coming weekend. Till then.    

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Bukan Untukku


Malam ku tak berbintang
Siang ku hanya berlari-lari Apakah tanda makna mengenalimu Sekadar mimpi
Jari ku sentuh dingin ku rasai Kosong tiada makna Diamnya tak berkata
Hanya aku yang tak pernah Mengejar kejora kau janji bersama Walau diri mu berharga tidak kau bahagia Jika ku bersama denganmu Tanpa sayap cintamu Takkan ku terbang setinggi ini Ku tuju langit cerah Rupanya kelam kabus menanti Percaya kasih kucuba sedaya
Namun tiada beza Biar ku undurkan diri Hanya aku yang tak pernah Mengejar kejora kau janji bersama Walau diri mu berharga tidak kau bahagia Jika ku bersama denganmu Hanya aku yang tak pernah Mengejar kejora kau janji bersama Walau diri mu berharga tidak kau bahagia Jika ku bersama denganmu Mungkin kecewa mencari Gelapnya berteman ku rindu selama Namun harus ku mengerti kiranya kau di sisi Cinta mu bukannya untukku

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Read :)


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

My Second Coming

1. I formally reported back for duty today in Ipharm after a long hiatus (I love to call it sabbatical).

2. I was informed that Yana (my partner) refused to come back. She understandably threw in the towel and decided to walk away.

3. Yana was my closest friend during our first stint in Ipharm last year. I heard reliable stories about how she missed me and used to talk about me during my absence (she is married by the way...what we have is real friendship).

4. Whatever I do, she's not going to come back. What I have of her now are the remnants of our memories together.

5. I was escorted by Myra to meet Dr Adel. She greeted me with her usual smile, and she read to me an important message from my supervisor, Prof Madya Dr Zafarina.

6. The message was simple; try my level best and complete all the work as soon as possible. I'm still unsure whether I could do it or not...what I'm very sure is I will give my best.

7. From this day onward, time is going to be very scarce for me.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Forum: Bersederhana Dalam Beragama


As you have already known, Penang was hit by a heavy downpour late evening yesterday, culminating in a severe flash flood in several areas including Ayer Itam, Jalan P Ramlee, and Bayan Lepas (I was informed that certain flights were forced to be re-scheduled).

My area (Bukit Jambul) was moderately affected, resulting in me staying home.

I was initially planning to go to this forum, conducted in Sungai Ara, just next to my house, before heavy rain thwarted my plan. It was moderated by Ustaz Ahmad Jailani, with Dr Rozaimi and Dr Asri sitting on the panellist chairs. All three of them are highly respectable figures with extensive knowledge on Islam.

I first heard of Dr Asri more than ten years ago...during my first spell in USM. Dr Asri was already a rising star then, causing ripples here and there with his brand of new thinking (Reformist and Kaum Muda were Dr Asri's most popular labels during those time).

Dr Asri taught Munakahad, a popular Minor subject among physics/biology/chemistry students back then (I deviated from the norm by taking Management), and always mesmerised his students with his vast memorisation and deep understanding of Hadith. His aura and influence grew exponentially until he was elevated to the status of Mufti by the state government of Perlis.

Dr Rozaimi, now a senior lecturer in UPSI, was heavily influenced by Dr Asri's charisma when he finally decided to further his PhD in Hadith in Jordan (he was formerly in SyariahMuamalat). That proves to be a very wise decision as he is fast becoming a second Dr Asri (he is widely seen as a younger version of Dr Asri). Sharp, witty and hugely talented in organising his thoughts, I am now spending more time listening to his ceramah compared to Dr Asri's. 

Ustaz Ahmad Jailani, a lawyer, came to prominence when he was wrongfully accused of helping a Muslim woman to leave Islam (murtad). This accusation came in a PhD thesis submitted in UKM, which was widely derided as the thesis appeared to be very low in quality, nowhere near the standard that is required of a PhD thesis. Ustaz Ahmad Jailani has a PhD from England, although he never uses the title "Dr" in his accompanying name.

Ustaz Ahmad Jailani and Dr Rozaimi/Dr Asri has some disagreements over some issues, but this never prevented them from sitting together. It's heartwarming to see people with different stance can come together to discuss issues that they are in agreement with. They are truly an embodiment of the real spirit of Islam.

I spent almost my entire Sunday's evening (today) watching this recording, which ran at two and a half hours long, which was worth every minute of it. An interesting point was shared by Dr Asri on minutes 1.24.30 of the video, regarding entertainment in Islam. I intended to write all that was said during the forum, but time is running out as Malaysia Cup final between Kedah and Selangor is starting any minutes now.

I highly recommend this video, as it is full of knowledge concerning the real teaching of Islam (towards the end of the video, during question & answer session, Dr Asri commented about recent failed attack on Kaabah). Wasatiyyah is the way of Islam, not extremism.   

Saturday, October 29, 2016

More Movies





1. Tonight, I'm still out of mood to write (there's a third instalment of USM Convo 2016 underway...to wrap up the previous two. It covers the very fine performances by Sakura Band and Dayang Nurfaezah during their closing ceremony concerts).

2. It's a feel good story...but how can you write a feel good story when the good feeling is not there? That's why I'm putting it on hold.  

3. Mood is the primary driving force of my writing. During my youth, I write regardless of mood...so it was not unusual back then to find me ranting endlessly about nothing at all.

4. I always support our local music bands. I didn't buy their albums or merchandise (for economic reason...I'm almost broke), so the only way to show my support and appreciation towards them is to attend their concert, simple as that. 

5. They entertained us when we were down...so that's my little token of appreciation for all their effort and hard work.

6. I received an important call today from the main office...directing me to report for duty next week (Nov 1). That call effectively ended my long "sabbatical" leave. It gave me a mixed feeling...I'm still unsure whether to feel happy or sad.

7. For movies, these are those four movies that I mentioned yesterday. All these are highly enjoyable and are worth watching (the first and last movie [Schindler's List & Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind] are both highly rated and critically acclaimed. In fact, Schindler's List is listed among the greatest movie ever made).

8. That's all for today.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Movies





This week, I am blessed (again) with plenty of free time.

So in order not to waste all those precious time, I watched all these movies (I finished another four besides these four as of today; two yesterday, two a day before yesterday, but I am not updating it yet).

All four are highly watchable...especially the Snow White series.

I've had no mood to write anything tonight...I'm doing some casual reading.

So, good night.   

USM Convo 2016 (2)

1. Dark clouds hovered on the horizon as USM continued her Convocation's festival.

2. The crowd was less than last year; this was expected as students were home enjoying their mid-semester break.

3. I was told by one of the cafeteria operators (Desasiswa Aman Damai) that an Officer from USM ordered her to cease operation for a while. This, I think, was part of a concerted move to assist stalls in convocation arena to achieve more sales.

4. I moaned quietly as I was thinking where would I buy my dinner tomorrow? The observant cafe operator noticed my grief, and she offered a quick solution,"boleh pi cafe bawah...mungkin depa bukak?"

5. "Saya jarang pi sana...selalu memang saya mai sini", was my subsequent reply.    

6. My answer elicited a strange duality of feelings to her...both joy and sympathy. She quickly gave me free food that she packed earlier (fried egg and sausages).

7. And then, the night came.

8. Drama Band was scheduled to perform after 9 p.m. I knew this band from my time in Unimas, when I was truly enthralled by a girl's rendition of the band's song Cerita Dia (I wrote about it here).

9. The much awaited show started around half past nine. 

10. Aepol Roza, the vocalist, appeared to be a playful character on stage. Actually, he was the composer of Ronnie Husin's hit song, Dikoyak Waktu.

11. Contrary to popular belief, I had nothing but respect for Ronnie. Even Kechik addressed him as "sifu"...signalling his own admiration for him. So the rumours of discontent between them were just that...fiction.   

12. Aepol certainly lived up to expectation. On stage, he enjoyed himself and was lifting the crowd's mood as well. He moved around the stage with ease, dancing to the tunes of his song. 

13. He knew exactly how to properly channel his energy. There were times when he slowed down his movement in accordance with the song's tone...only to raise it a couple of bars higher later to keep up with the pace of the music.

14. They presented five songs in total...including a rendition of Jon Bon Jovi's hit song It's My Life. They did enough to captivate the audience while keeping them entertained. 

15. A good performance on a good night was a fitting finale on a rather good day.     

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

USM Convo 2016

1. Convocation week is back in the groove.

2. There are plenty of lights and sounds again permeating the drab atmosphere surrounding Malaysia's only Apex university, USM.

2. Some people were drawn by the carnival-like atmosphere; some were excited by the great deal of foods on offer; while some were drooled by the graduation ceremony itself.

3. Me? I was only interested in concerts.

4. Last year, Hujan entertained us with a succession of their hit songs. Noh was exceptional...full of energy and enthusiasm, he treated the crowd with respect (he ordered one of the spectators who removed his shirt to put it back on as there were VIPs present).

5. It rained when Hujan took the stage last year. Luckily it wasn't this year.

6. Man Kidal kicked off the show with a rousing start. Armed with his trademark left-handed guitar, he showed off his skills in swashbuckling style. Rock-queen Ella followed through with her evergreen golden voice.

7. Special mention deserved to be allocated towards a family of Chinese who performed admirably in the Battle of the Band contest. Police officers from north-east district of Penang (who nicknamed themselves NEPD) also made a special appearance as contestant.

8. I hope this wind of joy continues unabated till the end of the week. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

Movies








This is a list of movies that I've spent considerable amount of my precious time to watch (or waste) this week.

The latest is The Visit, which I just finished just now, while waiting for UEFA Cup to start (in an hour's time). This movie gives you an uncomfortable chill right through your bones. I can't say it's a good movie...but I can't say it's bad either.

I watched Inferno yesterday in cinema, which was a bit of a disappointment. To make up for that, Syafiq recommended that I watch Identity (which I already watched back in 2015, Inferno fails so badly that I feel the need to watch other movie to compensate for the RM10 ticket that I had already burned), to which I happily consented. 

Earlier yesterday, I had wasted almost two hours of my life watching Rock Sangkut. No story-line, no clear direction, poorly-written script...what was the purpose of this movie anyway? 

Left Behind and John Wick were also below par, but I finished watching them nevertheless.

I watch movies not only to pass my time...this is also one of my avenues to discover/experience new things. Good narration, strong story-line, and script imbued with beautifully-constructed words are important elements that make a right movie.

Independence Day was the the best among all these movies. Maybe I should start digging old movies to find the one that truly satisfies my innermost curiosities.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016

8 Mile


Since it's debut in 2002/2003, I've always wished to watch this movie, but strange circumstances preclude me from having the required time and space to watch it.

Eminem was a global phenomenon then...a record-breaker (to date, he is one of the world's best selling artist) in an awkward situation. He made his breakthrough in a field dominated by Black Americans, no less than a significant achievement.

In an era when Youtube was not even invented yet, we (my generation) depended solely on MTV for video clips (new songs were only available via radio, my preferred radio station was HitzFm during that era). NTV7, during its formative year, used to air new video clips for hours non-stop, to which I enjoyed very much.

The title 8 Mile is not about distance...it is actually based on the name of a highway separating two classes of people somewhere in the United States (the correct translation in BM should be Batu 8 instead of 8 Batu).  This is where Eminem actually grew up before his eventual rise to stardom.

I finally had the chance to watch 8 mile yesterday, albeit over a decade late. It's an above-average movie (I rate movies based on my desire to watch it again. A movie is good if I want to watch it again. Above-average means I would love to watch certain scenes, not the whole movie, again).

I am not Eminem's biggest fan...I couldn't even comprehend what he was spouting in his song. But no one can deny his impact on the global music scene. To me, Eminem's biggest contribution is his hand in the emergence of another music's legend...

Dido.

(to be continued)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Badminton's Great Mystery

1. Lin Dan, Chen Long, Chen Jin (retired), Xia Xuanze (retired), Wang Yihan, Zhang Nan, Ma Jin. 
2. Lee Chong Wei, Tan Wee Kiong, Goh V Shem, Goh Liu Ying.

Notice the difference?

The first set of badminton players are all from China. The second set are undoubtedly all-Malaysians.

Players from China are all composed of two words in their name, whereas for Malaysian players, all of them have three words accompanying their respective names.

They are all of Chinese origin, so why are the Chinese of the mainland have two words in their name, whereas Malaysian Chinese have three?

This has been puzzling me for some time now.

I asked one of my friends, Wong, to explain this.

A Liverpool supporter just like me, Wong is one of the untypical Chinese that I've ever met.

During the badminton matches (we watched Olympics together; matches that we watched include [1] Lin Dan-Lee Chong Wei, [2] Lin Dan-Viktor Axelsen, [3] Lee Chong Wei-Chen Long; [4] Tan Wee Kiong & Goh V Shem-Fu Haifeng & Zhang Nan) I overheard him muttering 'mata sepet' towards the Chinese pair, because they were leading at the time.

It is very unusual for a Chinese to say such words towards a fellow Chinese, but that is just Wong.

Wong explained that most or almost all of our Malaysian Chinese originated from southern China. Even his grandfather was from there. 

"He arrived here penniless," was the exact phrase used by Wong. 

Chinese from the southern part of China have three words in their names (e.g. Lee Chong Wei), whereas from the rest of China, their names composed of only two words (e.g. Lin Dan).

That indirectly indicates that all (mainland) Chinese badminton players hailed not from the southern part, right? That would be another mystery.

Whatever the case, now my great mystery of badminton has been solved.  

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Batu Kurau - Finale

I visited Batu Kurau for the last time.

It was tranquil and comforting as always...the small river flows quietly from the dense hilltop through the constellation of rocks inhabiting the riverbed.

So much memory in so little time. All my time spent here was worth its weights in gold.

I will still visit Batu Kurau next week...but not this site anymore. Our next site will be Sungai Ara.

Till we meet again.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Batu Kurau

Just came back from Batu Kurau, Perak.

I've been making weekly trip to Batu Kurau for the past month to assist Fakhrul with his on-going Msc project.

His site is located in a rural area deep inside Sempeneh village in the territory of Batu Kurau. The first time I was there, I was marvelled by its scenery. It is theoretically a jungle, but villagers there converted it into many segments of small plantations, including orchards. So in a way, it is practically a series of orchards in a jungle.

There are rubber plantations on the way towards the 'research' site. What makes the scene stand out is the apparent amount of big 'stones' among all those rubber trees. I have never seen rubber trees planted alongside big stones. Even 'Batu Kurau' got its name from a big rock that resembles a fish (ikan kurau). The Kurau rock is still standing today, although I never had a chance to see it.

I was told next week will be our last trip. Hopefully I'll take some time off to truly admire the beauty of Batu Kurau next week, because I'm sure there will be a long long time before I'll have another opportunity to come back there.

* Nothing to write actually, just wanted to activate my neurons' reflexes through quick writing. I've stopped writing long enough that my synapse is just too slow too react now. I need to arrest this halt immediately or else I'll risk losing my already limited writing ability (have to write report, thesis[still a long way]...so writing is very important for me).

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Friday, September 16, 2016

Tales From School

National Day

As we are celebrating Malaysia’s Day today, and I'm having plenty of time to waste, I’ll share an amusing anecdote about an actual event happening in one secondary school in Penang, two weeks ago.

It was slightly a rainy day that morning. I was in the vicinity of the school’s canteen. Crowd of students gathered at the school's assembly area, which was just next to the canteen, where they were scheduled to have their school's level National Day celebration.

As students started filling the assembly compound, my interest grew. I couldn’t remember ever celebrating Independence Day during my secondary school days, as we were too busy focussing on academics (aha).

We did celebrate it during Matriculation; I still remember our principal (I was formerly from Mara Kulim Matriculation, the head of our matriculation was known as principal instead of director) wore a full army suit when delivering his wind-up speech on top of our assembly hall.

I was aghast and confused simultaneously upon seeing him in action; was he about to declare a state of emergency? It was amusing because all the other teachers wore the usual casual attire. He delivered his speech in a strong, fiery manner...army style. I was seriously thinking that he was about to declare a war. A friend of mine, sitting next to me, bewildered as I was, quipped, “dia ni dah buang tebiat ke apa?”

I was jolted back into reality by an announcement. A teacher announced that a special student was going to perform. I knew that student personally...as his father always came to me early morning every day to book for his lunch. He has a 'disability' with his vision...he couldn’t see properly. He wore a very thick spectacle. He is practically blind.

His disability didn’t deter his special talent. With a violin placed on his left shoulder, he started playing KeranaMu Malaysia almost to perfection. Heavy noise that was prevalent early on dissipated abruptly...as every students and teachers paid close attention to his tune. Every breath we took in synchronized with his violin’s stick movement...as he mesmerized us with the captivating sound of his music. He may not see properly but his talent was there for all to see.

After he received a rapturous applause upon the completion of his performance, a new segment started.

A quiz.

I loved quiz.

The quiz was about our nation’s forefathers.

"Tunku Abdul Rahman dikenali sebagai bapa apa?" came the first question.

A student raised her hand, and answered enthusiastically,

"Bapa Kemerdekaan!!!"

“Well done! Come on up here to pick your prize” was the teacher’s reply.

Second question was a bit tricky.

“Tun Abdul Razak...bapa apa?"

There was a wee bit of a silence among students. They looked on each others' face, discussing among themselves.

Then came a murmur from someone next to me...she was one of the kitchen's helpers.

"Bapa Najib..."

*Update 17/9/2016
I don't know why, but it's obvious the font used is quite big, is it? And I couldn't fix it...all the words are either becoming smaller or bigger (beyond my acceptable range of satisfaction) every time I try to fix it. 

So I'll leave it at that (sadly). Next time I'll try to figure it out. 


*Update 12/10/2016
Problem solved :)

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mid-September

It's already mid-September, 2016. In less than four months, 2017 will be knocking on our door.

Time really flies, and it flies so fast like a shooting arrow. It will kill you if you didn't keep up with its pace.

I am still on my 'sabbatical' leave, due to expire at the end of this month.

I still have two more weeks to indulge myself in whatever things that could satisfy my curiosity.

Which means, when October comes, I'll be going back to my old routine.

I was told I would be embarking into a new area of research, which includes animal handling.

My first phase of research is over, now we are entering the second phase.

Sadly, Yana has left the team. I do not know where she is and what she is doing now, but I wish her all the best.

There are many things that I'd like to jot down here, but I need space to write comfortably.

Currently I'm sharing this lab with three other friends.

Every single time that I have the feel to write something, Safwan is sitting just beside me.

Now that he's sleeping (yes we sleep in the lab, on the floor, with flattened boxes as our mat) so I have a bit of a freedom to write.

Not much to write, but at least I'm jotting down something.

When you leave something unattended for a long period of time, it will get rusted.

I think my keyboard is already accumulating so much dirt.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Forgetful? Write More.

In the study of hadeeth (or the science of hadeeth), there is one category of weak hadeeth called "soo.ul-hifz" (it's from an arabic which I couldn't extract here...it literally means weak memory).

One who is "sayyi.ul-hifz" is the one who is mistaken more than he is correct.

There are two types:
1. One whose memory was always bad throughout his life.
2. One whose memory became weak, either due to old age, he became blind, or his books were burnt (this type is called al-mukhtalat).

The ruling for their narrations:
1. For the first type, his narrations are rejected.
2. For the second type, then:
     1. what he is known to have reported before the "ikhtilat" is acceptable.
     2. what he reported after the "ikhtilat" is rejected.
     3. that which is not known whether it was before or after, then judgement is                    suspended until it is clear which is the case.

(The above short notes are extracted verbatim, except the underlined part, which I added, from Tayseer Mustalahil Hadeeth, written by Dr Mahmood at-Tahhaan)

*******

1. The short extract above briefly tells us the need to write more if we have a short memory span.

2. It always startle me when I try to recall a memory from the past, I always try to equate it with something totally different from what it was supposed to be.

3. Emotion plays a big part in our memory relapse. Due to our emotional attachment, our facts become massively distorted from the truth.

4. For a quick example, when asked about her present state of marriage, one girl rejoiced immediately and told the questioner with glowing excitement that she was always happy with her state of marriage from the start.

5. Well, that is further from the truth. She is happy now, but not then. In fact, in the early period of her marriage, she was clearly unhappy and poured her disappointment to somebody (which unfortunately was the questioner himself). Over time, her marriage becomes a lot better and she unconsciously loses her early memory of her disappointing start to her marriage.

6. Sometimes we have a reservation about something...be it towards people, situation or our own feeling. Almost all of the time, we tend to forget it when things get better. When these things rear their ugly heads and come back to haunt us, it's maybe too late to turn things around.

7. So to avoid this distorted truth, write more. I am always interested by truth and emotion, but for me, truth always comes first before emotion.

Friday, August 5, 2016

August!

Well it's been almost a full-length month since I last posted on this clandestine blog called Pancasara.

I am re-adjusting my life to a new tune. I must admit that Prof Bouchet and Dr Ellen have permanently stamped a big mark on me during our short stint together.

Not a single day passes by without me remembering every minutes of our short stay together.

Those moments were temporary, but the memories that come with it will last forever.

As I said before, I should be writing numerously, but time constraint keeps strangling me. I now have an unrelated job to keep my mind off things, I still need to prepare my overdue proposal, and I must keep my mind fresh to absorb new knowledge as they come.

I am meeting new people now on a daily basis, and it includes those that are half my age. It is awkward to hear yourself being called uncle for the first time, but I must accept the harsh reality that I'm getting old.

So I'm bracing myself for the new month of August. This is my favourite month; throughout my life, good and magical things always happened in August. So hopefully this time it won't be of any difference from the yesteryears.

Till then.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Aidilfitri 2016

"Taqabbalallahu minna wa minkum"

I received this raya greeting from somebody, which I personally thought was a bit odd (because it sounded different).

I have limited number of friends, and I rarely sent out raya greeting except to my confidants. So I have little idea about what constitutes a good raya greeting, except for the usual Selamat Hari Raya Maaf Zahir Batin.

Today, I found out that this greeting is indeed a sunnah, words that were uttered by the prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) during Aidilfitri.

So, I learned a new thing today.

I will be actively writing and learning new things starting this week, as I am about to embark into a long journey with a known expert in his field (malacology).

He is Prof Philippe Bouchet and his wife, Prof Dr Ellen Strong.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I'll make sure it will turn out into a memorable experience.

So, this may be a bit too late, but better late than never. Selamat Hari Raya, Taqabbalallahu minna wa minkum.

P/S : During our journey, I was corrected by Prof Bouchet that Dr Ellen is not a prof as was initially told to me by Dr Aileen, so I've made a minor correction above.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Tanggung Dosa

This simple cartoon still makes me chuckle to this day ( I think it's a month old...I received it in May).

We need more shrewd sketches as this one...filled with nuggets of wisdom without neglecting the humour, in order for us to be a more informed society. 

There are many misconceptions and outright lies flying around these days, sometimes without any traces of basis to weigh its claim. The worst of it all is when they tagged Islam along the way to further their cause.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Melayu


Interesting points from the above article (I'll only summarize key points since I do not possess much time now) :

1. Humans moved out from Africa since 200,000 years ago, believed to be originated from a woman known as "Hawa". 
Christians believe that human dates as far back as 5000 years ago (based on their calculations from the Bible). This belief is shared by certain sects of Muslim (I remember seeing a big chart in a local mosque where it shows a depiction of chronological events from Prophet Adam (a.s) right through our last Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h). It's calculation didn't differ much from the Bible, which puts the age of human roughly around 5000-6000 years old (from the time of Prophet of Adam (a.s)). This view, however, is criticized by Perlis Mufti Dr Asri, who argues it's illogical for the age of human to be only 5000 years old when scientific dating clearly proves otherwise. Quran never specifically mentions the exact age of human today from the time of Prophet Adam (a.s).

2. Research indicates that the settlements in China move from south to north.
This directly contradicts the Yunnan Theory, which states that Malay ancestors came from China. This Yunnan Theory is widely mis-used by chauvinist Chinese to propagate the impression that Malay race is indeed originated from China, so the Chinese is the rightful ancestor of the Malay archipelago. With this new finding, the opposite is true...Malays seemed to migrate northwards through Thailand and Indo-China before settling down in China. So Chinese indeed is descended from Malay. This scientifically-backed theory must be a bitter pill for the chauvinists to swallow.

3. Kelantan Malay and Javanese share a closely-matched genetic resemblance, and they are older.
I am secretly hoping that Kedah would be proven to be the oldest of the Malay lineage, but remembering that my great great grandparents were from Kelantan, so it's not a bad deal for me. And to be scientifically linked with Javanese is a great honour, as I have very good friends from Javanese descent. 

Dr Zafarina is the most intelligent and down-to-earth woman I've ever seen in my entire life. She is also deeply religious. There were, on numerous occasions, that I encountered her reciting Quran privately in her office. Hopefully more women would aspire to reach her monumental height, as we are currently in a dire need to have more women of her quality.     

I think that's all for today.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Ramadan


Tomorrow is a start of a blessed month in Islam...the sacred month of Ramadan.

Muslims all over the world generally, and Malaysia particularly, will be observing a month full of religious duty.

Fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam, although some would say it's the third pillar, as was widely taught during our school days.

I have asked this question many great times to my fellow friends, whether fasting or zakat is the third pillar of Islam? 

To date, none could have answered this seemingly basic question properly.

I do not know about our current syllabus, but during my school days, we were practically drilled to fully observed our fasting period, as our ustaz/ustazah continually stressed, that fasting is the third pillar of Islam behind syahadah and prayer.

But just recently, I watched one officer from JAIS on national television (TV1), emphasizing that zakat is the third pillar of Islam.

Of course I was stumped and perplexed upon hearing his bold statement. This ran contrary to what I've been taught all along. 

He seemed to base his statement from the following hadeeth (sahih), popularly known as the hadeeth of Jibril:
 
"Daripada Umar r.a. katanya: Pada suatu hari sedang kami duduk di sisi Rasulullah s.a.w. tiba-tiba datang kepada kami seorang lelaki yang sangat putih kainnya, sangat hitam rambutnya, tidaklah kelihatan atasnya tanda-tanda orang yang sedang dalam perjalanan, dan tidak seorang pun daripada kami yang mengenalinya sehingga dia duduk berdekatan dengan Rasulullah s.a.w. lalu dia menyandarkan kedua-dua lututnya kepada kedua-dua lutut Rasulullah s.a.w. dan meletakkan kedua-dua telapak tangannya ke atas kedua-dua paha Nabi s.a.w.
Kemudian dia berkata: Hai Nabi Muhammad! Khabarkanlah kepadaku darihal Islam. Maka Rasulullah s.a.w. menjawab: Islam itu ialah bahawa engkau mengakui tiada tuhan melainkan Allah dan bahawasanya Muhammad itu pesuruh Allah, dan engkau mendirikan sembahyang, dan engkau keluarkan zakat, dan engkau puasa bulan Ramadan, dan engkau mengerjakan haji di Baitullah jika engkau sanggup pergi kepadanya. Dia berkata: Benarlah engkau! Maka kami pun tercengang kerana dia yang bertanya dan dia pula yang membenarkannya.
Katanya lagi: Maka khabarkan kepadaku darihal Iman. Rasulullah s.a.w. menjawab: Iman itu ialah bahawa engkau beriman kepada Allah, dan malaikat-Nya, dan segala kitab-Nya, dan para Rasul-Nya, dan engkau beriman kepada takdir baik-Nya dan jahat-Nya. Dia berkata: Benarlah engkau!
Kemudian dia bertanya lagi: Maka sekarang khabarkanlah kepadaku darihal Ihsan. Rasulullah s.a.w. menjawab: Ihsan ialah bahawa engkau menyembah Allah seolah-olah engkau melihat-Nya, tetapi jika engkau tidak melihat-Nya maka sesungguhnya Ia melihat engkau."
(HR. Muslim)
And the learned JAIS officer is not alone on this. A number of people are also advocating this belief, particularly those who hold fast to hadeeth.

So, which is which?

Personally, I think we should follow the hadeeth, although this ran afoul of my earlier belief, which was taught to me from such a tender age.

All in all, hope this year's Ramadan would bring new spirit. Let us all light this Ramadan with a new spark of enthusiasm to do better in whatever we wish to endeavour.

Salam Ramadan! 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A New Day

It's a smashing new day, and I would like to kick start it with something refreshing.

Due to two main reasons (which I will explain in the next chapter, hopefully), I will write more in the forthcoming future.

This should be a norm long time ago, but procrastination has always have the upper hand upon me.

This, also hopefully, will be a thing of the past starting today.

I'll start off with a mini review of this book:


I was checking what is the best-selling book currently in Malaysia last week when I was alerted to this book.

This small book sits well among the best selling titles currently in Malaysia (at least according to on-line Popular book store).

And it sits well right in front of me, as Nora bought it weeks before (I informally share a place with Nora in the lab. We swap places at exactly 6 p.m everyday).

I had no interest in this book before, but upon realizing that it received warm welcome from readers, my interest deepens.

Written by a very young medical student currently in Eqypt, this book dwells on his current and past undertakings of his life.

A simple book by its nature, it breezes through his experiences when dealing with life. There is no particular point of interest that makes this book stand out...but there is no particular point that makes this book stand down also.

It was a good read anyway to fill time. This book is loaded lightly with quotes from hadeeth, which keeps my interest in check. I finished it about an hour later.

All in all, it's a good book for light reading.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Mis-Quote of the Day

"melayu itu pantun...
...pantun itu melayu"
- Professor Diraja Ungku Aziz

"melayu itu melayu...
...pantun itu pantun"
- Pancasara

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Throwback Saturday

Original date of writing : November 8, 2013 (Friday)

I wrote this short (and unfinished) essay when I was still in Unimas.

It was part of a very long story...but up until now, I've never had the required time to finish it completely.

Maybe some time in the future, when I was totally free, I'll try to put a finishing touch to this piece.

I hope so.

(To new readers, throwback is a series of my unpublished stories, dating as far back as ten years ago)


It was mid 90's. While almost all of my friends here were still in cradle, I was already heading a Rakan Muda programme. It was Rakan Cinta Alam.

There were not many members, they were all my close friends. I designed its logo, planned its programme and charted its overall activities.

We hiked up bukit Tunjang on a regular basis, most of it without prior permission. On one occasion, we brought along a long tape as a marker. We would tighten the tape on selected tree trunks to mark our path, so that we won't get lost.

It was very risky venture...there were no telecommunication devices back then (hand phone was as big as a water bottle, and it was the luxury of the elites). We would begin hiking right after school hours and went home late in the evening. During those time, all the computers and game consoles were at the very end of our wildest dreams, we can't afford to have one. So we plunged into nature to fill the void of our time.

I love nature. And I love being deep in a forest. I read one of of Japan's most celebrated writer, Haruki Murakami novel, Kafka on the Shore and almost immediately identified myself with its main character, Kafka.

On one of his retreat, Kafka hesitated to venture inside a deep and mysterious jungle because the jungle is described as a "one way journey". Those who chose to go in never went out. He eventually chose to go in. The rest, as they say, is history.

I once hiked up bukit Tunjang alone, when I was still a raw, primary school boy. I almost got lost in the process, because bukit Tunjang is no ordinary hill. To this day, I still count my blessing...I may end up being just like Kafka.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Breaking the Break

On second thoughts, I've decided to reverse my previous decision to hibernate.

What else can I do in times of my current predicament, rather than writing?

I recently wrapped up these two books:


Finished this one the day before yesterday. I bought this during last month's Big Bad Wolf in Penang.

They say Tim Harford is Britain's version of Malcolm Gladwell...well, maybe he falls a bit short of that mounting expectation.

This is in no way a disrespect to Harford's cunning ability to write, it was down to Gladwell's more convincing and persuasive ways to present his ideas to his audience.


Finished this one almost a week ago (I read many books simultaneously, that's why sometimes in a week I could end up finishing two or three books in a row).

It took me almost two months to read this giant book. Michio Kaku is one of my favourite writers, so it's not hard to fathom why I consumed a great deal of my time on this book.

The first part of the book was a bit slow...it only picked up pace right into its second part. Kaku's range of knowledge is very impressive.

And today, or this morning to be exact, I watched this:


It's a so-so movie. Not too bad, not too good either.

Now I'm in the middle of watching this:


So far, this movie is ok.

That's how I spend my Saturday this weekend.