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Sunday, March 21, 2004

The Faces of F1 2004

I guess I was lucky enough to be assigned to cover the Toyota Panasonic

race team for this year's F1. While everyone's attention was riveted to the

track, their necks moving in unison from right to left to the deafening

sounds of "vrrrr-oooom!!!", I got bored of the repetitive activity and looked

for interesting people to photograph.

Awright, awright, I'll admit it - I looked for interesting

female people to photograph.

Sheesh! What does a guy have to do in today's politically correct world to

justify taking some perfectly innocent shots?

Enjoy - they're here in all their female glory, just for you.


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I recently had the opportunity to attend Toyota’s pre-race “Rev Party” at Bar Med in Sri Hartamas. As usual, it provided an excellent window for people watching, and I arrived at one conclusion:


For a start, Toyota were generously giving away 500 goodie bags for the first 500 people (Duh!!) who turned up at 6:00pm. Well, the queue started at 5:00pm and swelled to quite a sizeable number by the time the security opened the doors at 6:00pm sharp.

Here’s the rub – roughly 30% of the crowd waited patiently in line for an hour, exclusive invitation ready in hand. They inched their way towards the entrance, had their invitation collected, had the numbered lucky draw perforated corner torn off and returned to them, collected 2 free drink coupons, had their wrist tagged with the “Toyota Rev Party” band (for re-entry, if necessary), got their mitts on the precious goodie bag, pushed/jostled/bulldozed their way past the overcrowded drink and food counters into the outlet, only to emerge with a wide grin from the side exit and head towards the carpark behind.

Smart people, I thought. They’re gonna stash the goodies in their cars before returning to the party. I watched and waited. They didn’t come back. Apparently they had successfully achieved their objective.

Meanwhile, things were getting very crowded at the party, as the entrance corridor was used not only for processing invited guests but also for dispensing drinks and food. A group of us journalists were jammed into a corner next to the drink counter (strangely, my esteemed peers seemed to have an endless supply of chilled Carls bottled beer despite only having two coupons each!).

This is where the realization hit me as I looked around the chaos – Malaysians do extremely well when there’s free stuff for the taking. I observed that on the whole, the female of the species was the aggressor, merrily going back and forth against the human tide in the overcrowded corridor, with the practiced ease of an “orang minyak”, collecting drinks and mounds of food while their male partners protected their postage stamp “territory”.

To say that they had excellent juggling and balancing skills would be an understatement. To say that some of them were also talking or sms-ing on their mobiles while simultaneously carrying the drinks and food will be risking being accused of smoking bad weed. Except that I was solidly sober. Have been since the 3rd of November 2003.

However, the guy that took the cake for multi-tasking was inside, standing right next to 9 huge bass bins piled on top of each other beside the stage. He was swigging from 2 (yeah, 2) Carls beer bottles held tightly together at the neck by the fingers of his right hand, eating a hot dog with his left, and regularly swerving violently to avoid the emissions from the smoke machine. Oh, did I mention he was on the phone too? On the handsfree, no doubt, but carrying on a conversation all the same, with the booming bass from Outkast’s Grammy Award winning “Hey Ya” blasting into his ear.

Fear Factor, you’re a walk in the park for us Malaysians. Brings a tear to my eye and rousing cries of Malaysia Boleh! in my ears.

Or is that the blasted smoke machine and Outkast on the infernal bass again?


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Monday, March 15, 2004

Hey you there!

I'm still alive, no worries :)

Some of you may have realized that I’ve more or less gone “missing” from the scene the last coupla months.

I was invited to open a Café called the Dixon Café in Port Dixon, Negri Sembilan, with three other partners. After renovations, we opened with much fanfare in Sept 2003. I was running the daily operations so I actually moved to PD and lived in a semi-retired stupor.

In November I went to Kuching to look for staff. Stayed there for three days and had a meal at the only restaurant in the airport before flying back. That meal was the start of my nightmare. I promptly caught Jaundice from the contaminated food, collapsed from a damaged Liver and was hospitalized for a month. The good news is that I’ve lost almost 10 kilos as a result.

Since then I’ve quit from the Café and returned to good ‘ol Kay Ell for treatment. Recently I’ve undergone tests at Sunway Medical Centre under a specialist/neurologist. Apparently the Jaundice also attacked my nerves, besides the Liver, therefore the "numbness" that I'm feeling in my hands and feet.

We have 2 sets of nerves, motor and sensory. My motor nerves are ok but my sensory nerves are damaged. The good news is that this is a curable condition. May take a couple of months of treatment, though. The specialist reminded me that there is no cure for Jaundice and people still die from it in this day and age, so I guess I'm pretty lucky, eh?

You see, in this lovely country that we call home, it takes 4 months of worry and sleeplessness, 1 General Hospital that is absolutely bloody useless at explaining things to patients, 1 Medical Center (Desa Med, near where I stay) that charges for everything (my itemized bill listed RM0.50 for each cotton swab!) and prescribes the wrong treatment (physiotherapy) and finally a Specialist Neurologist who charges an arm and a leg (by the hour, mind you) to give you a proper diagnosis and explain your condition to you.
Aaah! Peace of mind comes at a price.

Well, at least now I know what's wrong with me and that it's not a permanent condition. Whew!! Let me tell you, it's scary when you can't use your hands after having them around for 44 years!! I start treatment at Sunway Medical soon. I'm still very weak and get tired very easily but I'm doing light work for the magazine that I edit now.

Mostly sitting at the computer at home and typing with 2 fingers (my fingers are "jammed" stiff) or scanning photos and preparing them for the magazine, using Photoshop. Becoming quite the computer wizard, I am. I've even upgraded the home pc to broadband so I have it on 24/7, as I only pay a fixed monthly rate of Rm77. I've also added a webcam so I can see whom I'm chatting with, provided they have a webcam too. Duh!

Well, I guess you're now fully updated on what's happening with me. If you wanna meet, we'll have to catch up over a coffee. My expensive doctor (sorry, I meant Specialist Neurologist :P) has forbidden alcohol for 6 months and I haven't touched a single drop since 3rd Nov 2003. Yes, including X’mas and New Year! Miracles will never cease!! First I quit smoking, then drinking. Soon I'll be giving up sex as well.

All that remains is to find a nice quiet mountain-top and become a hermit.
Go figure!


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Friday, March 12, 2004

Hey dudes,

this is my brand new blog. Share my observations with me.
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