Monday, 30 June 2008

Help! Hearts All Gone!

Allow me, if you please, just a little bit of vanity and pray with me that it does not turn into a worse fault. But should you experience something similar, do drop me a line, or if you prefer to let it remain a secret, it's okay too. After all, this is also a test of my ability to laugh at myself.

Judge me all you want but as a 'new kid on the blog', i have been fascinated by the pink and blue map on my side bar that tells me who have been visiting this page. Well, it actually only tells me the place where the hit has been made from, not the url, so anonymity is preserved. All the same, the places that appeared when i placed my curser on the pink 'hearts' have been simply fascinating. Kudos to the creative people at the project. Fantastic job! Makes me feel as if i was traveling without moving!

In the beginning i was simply delighted to see visitors from Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan; Bandar Maharani, Johor; Dungun, Terengganu; Penang, Kerteh, Semenyih, Seremban, Melaka or just simply Malaysia. Then, some time last month the 'hearts' informed that i had 2 visitors from Mountain View, California. I started wiki-ing the place to see if i had been there before, may be on my way to a factory outlet when i was in SF last year. The thrill of having visitors from the Silicon Valley was short-lived, though, as i came to realise that it was where Google HQ is situated. I am guessing that it must have been some visitors with another kind of interest, perhaps, or no interest at all. Ah, well...

The hearts kept increasing to a modest number, which soothed my ego no end, despite the fact that only one or two visitors left comments. On the Europe part of the map i had hearts marking visitors from Sant Just Desvern, Spain; Amsterdam Noord, Netherlands; Ile-de-France region, France; Nyon and Genve , Geneve; Madrid, Spain; Lisboa, Portugal; and in the UK; London, Sheffield, Bristol and Southampton. I started toying with the idea of writing about some of these places, the ones that i have visited, but well, time enough for that in the future, i thought.

Then on the American continent there were stars marking Burnaby BC, Ontario and Calgary, Canada while Vancouver was marked as Vancouver US...really? Anyway i have been to Vancouver about 3 times, and i had a friend who owns a hotel in Victoria on Vancouver Island, but we lost touch. Pity. But the sock-eyed salmon and portobello mushroom BBQ at my friend's in Burnaby remains unforgettable.

Moving down, there were hearts marking a few places in California, all the way down to SF, Azusa, LA and Baja, was that CA or TX? though i cannot imagine someone offroading in TX and rolling the blogs at the same time! Then moving eastwards there were hearts in Idaho and Kansas but i have forgotten the names of the towns/city, Pompano Beach Florida, South Carolina, Atlanta Georgia, Pennsylvania, Brooklyn New York and Natick, Mass, of course. There was even one heart at Santiago, Chile. Interesting.

In Asia, there were hearts indicating visitors from Ivanovo, Russia; Teheran, Iran; Istanbul, Turkey; Bangalore, Karnataka and Mumbai Maharashtra, India; and Male, Maldives. There was also indication of visitors from Bangkok, Thailand; Singapore and Brunei DS as well as one each from Hong Kong SAR and Japan.

I remember the last few visitors were from Morocco and Sydney, Australia; and New Zealand. That was about 2 days my map is empty of all hearts. "No Visitors To Display" Whaaattt?! And i am wondering...what on earth happened and what should i do? HELP!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Baby's Home

It was the longest wait ever at the KLIA arrival area. My baby girl Aisyah was coming home!

The last time i had seen her was in March at Milano Centrale, holding hands with Aieda, waving goodbye as the TGV took me back to Geneve.

And that had been a very good visit as we drooled all over the shops at the Galleria and Monte Napoleone and went shopping where we could afford, apa nama pasar tu ek, Kak Ngah?

Took a day trip to Venezia too but everybody forgot to recharge the cameras and the mobiles and by the time we got to Realto, we had to buy the pakai buang Kodaks. It was the holiday mood, i guess, or may be Kak Ngah's cooking. No, definitely not old age. Thank you again, Aieda, Kak Ngah and the handsome Syeds who loved Nacho Libre.

Before that, there had also been a long wait, sitting at the Nottingham Railway Station after coming off the East Midlands train, waiting for Aisyah to come and get me. It was the first time seeing her after she left last September. That was the time i saw my baby girl in her element, at her place in Notts, studying her cute *** off while i slept in her bed until it was time to get up and eat. I had dropped by for a couple of days with all the good intention of cooking for the girls but ended up being pampered by them, 5 future doctors no less.

We did go walkabout the Jubilee campus and a l'hopital but gave Robin Hood a miss. Well, may be next time, kalau ada rezeki.Jubilee Campus on a Weekend

It was a strange view from this side of the railing, unlike those times when i was the one coming home, walking out of the glass door as fast as possible, trying to avoid the expectant look on the faces of those carrying the placards with many a misspelled name or marital status or worse still, the wrong gender.

Then i saw my darling daughter, smiling broadly, which was a relief. Hugs all around and off we went, chatting (chattering, Chah?) all the way home. We are not done with the catching up yet, but we do have three whole months!

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Happy Father's Day

This post is going to be very short
Just to say a very special Happy Father's Day to my son
Who has been a father for well over a year now
And is proving to be the best Daddy Ary could ever ask for
And Eez could wish for, for her son
We all know you always try your best, Min
I say this as a compliment and a prayer
Hang in there, Min,
Savour every moment, everyday
Every step of the way!
With all my love and my prayers

Post Hike Driving

It has been a week since the petrol price hike announcement. Actually, a little more than an entire week has passed. So is everybody adjusting? Trying to? A little?

People in general are actually making changes; some making big ones like fixing a new tank to go natural, or some making small ones, say in driving habits, for example. It is not just my imagination, as confirmed by colleagues and my sons, that the degree of politeness among KL drivers, and i am one, has risen tremendously since that fateful Wednesday.

Take for example my daily drive to work.

Just like any other self-respecting driver, I would be pressing on the accelerator the moment i hit the main road, braking at the very last minute, even though i am going down a fairly steep hill, just as the light is turning red at the Beringin-Setiamurni junction...yup, i too have asked the questions: what? amber? when? Amber is a colour?

Nowadays, though, i join other well-advised drivers and start to brake from as far away as possible. But this particular junction is busy as always, except that now it remains safe and accident-free even with the merah-hijau-kuning going caput... at least i think that's the main reason why they have not repaired it for so long, but there lies another tale!

Anyway, as i proceed further down where the road gets wider, where i used to have to slam on the brakes again to avoid running into people who think you can read their minds, i now actually see them flashing their signal lights way before they turn into the SC!

Moving further down the road, i would still find some drivers who cannot get rid of their queue-cutting habit, especially coming down the highway exit in front of the Science Center, where logically there should not be any queue since the road goes from one into three lanes within a distance of five meters, but really, these days, the number of such drivers has noticeably reduced. Surprisingly, logic is starting to prevail.

But the miracle of the new era of politeness is to be found under the bridge where one must turn right unless one is an equestrian or is a fan of those concerts by well known and not so well known foreign artistes. Where it has always been a case of "go first if you dare!", it is now obvious that people can at last tell the difference between right and left, and therefore, who has the right of way.

Driving further, the pedal-to-floor moment would come as soon as i clear the slip road and make it to the highway. I used to refer to it as the freeway because it is the only patch of highway that i can get in and out of without paying troll ...oops toll (pinjam kejap ya, Cak and Cak's friend who i also want to be friends with), but no longer. Current prices being what they are, even the word free should be banished from our Perbendaharaan Kata!

Still, there are no more pedal-to-floor moments, for me and apparently for other well-advised drivers too. We politely let others on our right go first, then, signal lights having been flashing for some time without being honked at by the driver of the car behind, make our way out of the slip road....yes, really, believe it or not!

Then, at the junction with the road that leads to either Mont Kiara or the other highway, no longer is there a two lane queue affecting people not making the turn, except for those humongous trucks who just cannot wait in line like everybody else. But that is exactly the point here. They will not be persuaded into politeness because they are not paying for the diesel that they guzzle. Anyway, let us hope that at least their towkays have become more polite, which i believe they have, if they are also driving on the roads that i have been observing.

Then of course, there is the interchange where i exit my not so free way to join the crowd that has just exited the NKVE at Duta (not the singer). Before that fateful Wednesday, this is the place where a mini grid lock would form for no apparent reason, or for as flimsy a reason as a biker stopping on the triangle to adjust his helmet. This is the place where complete strangers exchange the most negative gestures and salutes, but no longer.

Here, one has to slow down because it is the right time to gently apply the brakes as advised, since the curve is pretty sharp and what lies beyond is invisible. Then down the slope, where people have to decide whether they are going right or left, i can almost hear the one going from left to right ever so politely saying "you go first laaa..." to the one going from right to left, and the latter even more politely saying " you go first also caaan..." to the former! yes, really, even men drivers have become polite nowadays, but let's not go there now!

From this point on, it would be plain sailing to the office. I would no longer expect some young men in their gentuus and maivees cutting in right in front of me from the next lane, or some older drivers flashing their left signal lights but going right instead... and even if there is still the occasional queue-cutter, those humongous trucks excluded, i can generously say the car is not from these parts, or less generously say, as it would be obvious, that it is after all an SUV from south of the border.

May be later today i'll get my partner in crime to go for a drive just to show her i pun dah insaf, and that she no longer has to press on her imaginary brake pedal or check her blood pressure after our outing.

It truly is nice to have so many more polite and considerate drivers on the road these days, but rather sad that it takes a 40% hike to make us think of others. But hey, what others? it's our own pockets we are really thinking of, and that’s no sin!

Y'all drive slow now, y'hear?! And get there safe.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Tell Me Why

The thing about these past few saturdays is that they are very good for vegetating. Take the one i spent watching the American Idol Marathon, which of course took up all of the next day as well, but it was well worth the sacrifice of not going out to the shops. Besides not spending beyond the call of a shopping list as i would usually have, i also managed to persuade the boys to finish all the foodstuff that is still in the freezer. And how i love the Idol; Simon Cowell in particular, always a masterpiece of minimum number of choice words with maximum impact!

Then there was last saturday. I had the grand plan of surprising my partner in crime for our used to be once a month or so petit dejeuner ensemble but i woke up with a really bad cold. So what choice did i have but to vegetate again. And I did, by watching a total of 253 videos on utiub. It is a shameful way of spending a weekend but it did rid me of the cold in time for an extremely busy week.

So here we are, close to the end of this present saturday, which has not been spent vegetating, but more or less. The truth is, i am still trying to recover from the shock of the petrol price hike, so shocked was i that i didn't even bother to join the queue last wednesday night. And the fact that crude price has gone up and up and expected to go all the way up to 150 does not make it any easier to fathom the future.

Someone on TV said it is all a question of supply and demand. To stabilise the price, demand must be kept down through drastic changes in consumption as production can no longer be increased, but traders are also to be blamed as they do gamble on the surges in price. There we are, then. Gamblers are bringing down countries again? But really, it is all very confusing even for the pseudo-economists among us, and it does nothing for the folks who are faced with the sudden reality that they can no longer make ends meet no matter what the explanation may be.

There are many more questions that i need answers to; like what Obama meant when he used the three big words including the word hadiah all in one sentence? Or are the geng 8 coming up with something new or just same old, same old, all in their own aid and noone else's?

Well, i am going back to vegetating, while looking for more learned answers, the unadulterated truths, from the wisest of the wise. Or is it meant to be, that Mr. Cowell alone is the definitive yoda?