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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Lessons in Life Part 1

Life has not been easy in the last one week. I’ve been forced to let go of someone I love dearly because we “have different expectations” and she just “wants to be friends”, whereas I want to marry the damn woman.

I called my friend Inspector Mike. “Mike, can I borrow your service revolver?” “Why” he asked, suspicion dripping heavily from that one word as only Policemen can do. “I wanna shoot myself in the head” I said. “Ah Ha!” he brightened up considerably and sounded unusually happy “Tell me the reason and if it’s good enough I’ll drop by your place and shoot you myself – Loan Shark problem? Family problem? Work problem?.”

“No lah, the woman I love…” the phone line went dead. “…doesn’t love me anymore” I said hollowly. The earpiece responded with an even hollower engaged tone. Beep.. beep.. beep.

Not finding any solace there I turned to another life-long friend, one that I knew would never let me down - Mr Regal. Yep, Chivas Regal has always been there to guide me high up to the tip of the Scottish Highlands to a cave where I meet my spiritual guru, His Inebriated Highness, Guruji Alcoholic Haze.(GAH)

Me: O great and wise Guruji, are you there?
GAH: Who wants to know? His voice floating out eerily from the cave
Me: Guruji, I thought you know everything It’s your chela (student) Dave Avran.
GAH: I know that you dimwit. The question is do you know who you are?
Me: I’m confused, Guruji. I brought our mutual friend Chivas along to guide me
GAH: Chivas? Why didn’t you say so earlier? Come in, my child, come in.

Gingerly I entered the musty cave and just as my pupils dilated and I could see in the darkness, Guruji lighted a log fire. “Come”, he said “Sit. Sit. Tell me your problem” I went and sat sat, and started to tell him my problem.

“Well you see Guruji, there’s this girl…” I started but GAH interrupted me “You said you brought Chivas?” I dug in my rucksack and gave him a brand new bottle of Scotland’s finest 12 year old whiskey. “Thank you” said GAH “are we drinking from mine or do you have another?”

“Oh, I have lots more” I said, producing another bottle and pouring into the grubby shot glasses GAH produced. For some reason, his mood seemed to have improved tremendously. He downed the Chivas in one gulp and said “Aaah! set ‘em up, son. Now tell me about this girl”

“Well you see Guruji, there’s this girl…” I started but GAH interrupted me again “You know that the cause of today’s social problems are actually the fact that we have too many choices. In the city, the sheer number of people affords cover for us to behave in a totally selfish way”

“English or Bahasa Malaysia? Western or Asian? Smoking or non-smoking? Latte or Grande? Filter or non-filtered? Myanmar or Phillipine? Leaded or unleaded? LRT or Monorail? PDA or hand phone?” he asked, sounding very Guru-ish

“yeah, yeah” I agreed “In my role as Editor of I have to deal with the new generation of the young of today in hotels, clubs and other organizations. They are confident, aggressive and smart. They also can’t speak or write proper English, don’t answer the phone, don’t reply sms-es and don’t reply to enquiries and messages, unless they need your help with a promotion. Then honey won’t melt in their mouths as they “darling” you and “dear” you and “air kiss” you and kiss your ass to kingdom come.

Today’s attitude is “Fark you, you go and die, I go first”.

Don’t believe me? Just get in your car and drive. The unwritten rule is that you’re allowed to get away with anything as long as you avoid eye contact with the other driver, because eye contact means you have to acknowledge another human being. Too many cars on the road, too many drivers behaving badly. It’s easier to join them and be a bad driver than to maintain your identity, isn’t it?” I finished my rant, not realising that he had successfully side-tracked me.

GAH: When were you the happiest? Why were you happy then?
Me: I was happiest when I was staying with my Grandma in Batu Gajah, Perak from 1959 to 1963, from the time I was born till I was six years old. She lived in a wooden house with an attap roof and a large compound with Coconut and Mangosteen trees.

My Father was teaching in Raub, Pahang and Mother was a stewardess with British Airways. They would visit me twice a month, and there were always presents and maybe a trip to Ipoh for dinner at Canning Gardens.

We had a wooden JVC black and white TV with two channels, and watched programmes like Gilligan’s Island, The Thunderbirds (the first animated cartoon?) Astro Boy, Green Acres and I Love Lucy

The Phillips radio was a varnished wooden box with one speaker on the right hand side, and a clear plastic needle indicator with a red stripe down the middle. You twiddled a plastic knob dial backwards and forwards until you were satisfied with the sound quality. Ours was permanently set to BBC London.

Our telephone was the black Bakelite model with circular chrome finger inserts, and get this – our telephone number was 358. Only three digits. My Grandma’s “teegah leemah laapan” or “Mrs Sidhu speaking” (depending on her mood) still rings in my ears.

GAH: Did your Grandma drink?”
Me: “Nolah, she didn’t drink or smoke or man-nize, but she did play the numbers” I noticed the bottle had quickly reached halfway status as I poured another round for us, so I dug another one out on standby and continued.

“Our fridge was another Phillips product, a heavy creamy green coloured affair with a horizontal solid iron chromed handle. My Grandma cooked with firewood and charcoal on an earthenware stove and later upgraded to the metal kerosene stove with the square glass fuel container.

We normally had rice or chappati with a variety of vegetables for our meals and fish, chicken and other meats were reserved for when we had company as they were considered expensive.

Our bathroom was beside the kitchen and consisted of four corrugated iron walls. Inside, under a tap, was a huge ceramic pot that kept the water cool. Hot water had to be boiled in a huge pan over the stove and was a luxury reserved for only when I was sick.

Our toilet was located some distance behind the house and consisted of a wooden outhouse with three cement steps leading up to the door. Inside was a wooden platform with a hole in the middle. You squatted and did your business into the rubber bucket below. Yes, I’m talking about the bucket system!

There were few cars on the road as the ubiquitous Honda 50 and Raleigh bicycles were the main mode of transport and the words “traffic jam” were not invented yet. Car drivers were polite and actually waved to each other and gave way at junctions and roundabouts because everyone knew everyone else.

If there was a wedding or a death, a childbirth or a festival, everyone got involved irrespective of race and religion, gotong royong style. God bless any thief who got caught because the whole town would bushwhack him before handing him over to the Police, and drug addicts were not invented yet.

Every Sunday, my Grandma and I would walk the less than 1 mile to the wet market to buy our week’s supply of groceries and everyone along the way would chat with her and enquire about her health, her family, etc etc, making the journey painless and easy. On the way back we would take a trishaw for 30 sen.

There was a stall just down the road from Grandma’s house and on a hot day, nothing beat having an “ice kapal”, where the vendor would shave a block of ice by hand and form it into a ball with his bare hands (yes we were very hygienic then) and pour red sugar syrup over it, put it into a newspaper and hand it to you for the princely sum of 5 sen. For another 5 sen he would drown the ice kapal with condensed milk.

He also sold sweets, biscuits and savouries from China. I remember buying Haw Flakes (flat maroon rounds made of plum) and a kind of savoury packed in gold foil that had five tablets in it. These slowly melted in your mouth. Wrigley’s chewing gum, too..

I was friends with every child in my neighbourhood and we played Cops and Robbers, Cowboys and Indians, Hide and go Seek (A Chee Chop) and our favourites were marbles and spinning tops. I also studied martial arts and got my black belt at a very young age. Yes, I was happiest then” I finished my soliloquy, realising that I’d been rambling for a good twenty minutes.

GAH: “Do you realise why you were happy?”
Me: “I was carefree and had no worries, I guess.”
GAH: “you also had less or no choices to make, right?”
Me: “Yes, that’s true. Life was a lot simpler then”
GAH: “Why did you call Mike and ask to borrow his service revolver?”
Me: “Wow, how did you know that, Guruji?”
GAH: “I read it on your blog”
Me: “Oh!” feeling very sheepish. “Hang on a minute, I haven’t even written
the story yet, its still unfolding as we speak!”
GAH: “You did say Guruji knows all, didn’t you? What tool can you not live
without today?”
Me: “My PDA”
GAH: “Would you have missed your PDA when you were in your Grandma’s
Me: “Don’t be ridiculous! I was only six years old!”
GAH: “Answer my question”
Me: “No”
GAH: “Why not?”
Me: “Well, because…because… you don’t miss something you never had”
GAH: “I am so glad to hear those words from your mouth. There’s your answer –
the solution you came looking for.”
Me: “I don’t understand”
GAH: “You never had that woman, Dave”
Me: “Oh, but I did. She was bloody good too. She blew my mind. There was
this one time in the shower...”
GAH: “Stop! Firstly, I’m not talking about sex. Secondly, a gentleman never talks
about his own woman. Other women okay, but not his own. I meant you
never possessed her heart, you dimwit”.
Me: “Wow, you sure took the long way to get to the point when you knew that
all this time”
GAH: “Well, you brought a lot of whiskey”
Me “Truth be told, I still don’t understand. In fact I don’t understand women at all”
GAH: “Snort! Who does? Why do you think I’ve been sitting here for the last forty
Me: “Gasp! Are you for real?” Guruji reached behind him and scrabbled around
before producing a battered brown Samsonite briefcase. He blew the dust
off it, opened it, produced a dog-eared sepia photograph of a Chinawoman and tossed
it to me.
GAH: “Her name was Mei Mei, and she drove me nuts. A hunting night Tigress”
Me: “Good Lord! Not you too!”
GAH: “The Lord? The Lord doesn’t understand women at all. He told me so
during one of our chats.
Me: “Gasp! You chat with the Lord?”
GAH: “Of course. But I prefer msn. You can’t send pictures or files over GTalk
and Yahoo is too cluttered with music sites”
I looked at him suspiciously with one and a half eyes – I wasn’t sure if he was pulling my leg.
GAH: “Anyway, *hic* there’s your solution. Think about it” He downed another shot and promptly fell over backwards, his head making a dent in the briefcase. He was snoring in no time.

I put Mei Mei’s photo in his shirt pocket and pulled the tattered blanket I found near him over his thin body, deciding to leave the Samsonite as his pillow. Then I settled myself against the wall opposite him, threw another log on the fire and pulled out my wallet. I fished out her photo and stared at it for a long time.

Impulsively I threw the photo into the fire. It sat there for some time, not burning at all and spat and hissed and squealed at me, then it started bubbling. Finally a lick of flame erupted in the middle and it was gone in a flash, reduced to ashes.

I sat there and assessed my feelings. No, it didn’t have the cathartic effect of closure I had expected. I didn’t feel better – in fact I felt worse. How am I ever going to get over this woman? I poured myself another whisky *hic* and decided to ponder on the solution - you don’t miss what you never had. Cheers.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

nice colours, eh? Posted by Picasa
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I’ve just come back from a week in torture camp.

My friend Jack Choo took me to a Qi Gong center in Cheras run by a 78 year old master (Sifu) who was trained at the famous Shaolin Temple in China. “Shut your mouth and let him do the talking” Jack advised. I nodded silently, my mouth already shut for once in my life.

Sifu took my right hand and read my pulse, all the while shaking his head negatively and clucking ominously like a chicken with the HVN5 virus. “Your condition is very bad” he finally said “nerves all jammed up, body shaking and weak. The western medicine is no good for you. If you had delayed seeing me for another few months you will be bed-ridden”

Holy cow! He was spot on, and I hadn’t said a word at all. Sifu then whipped out a can of Vaseline cream (cream, not the petroleum jelly made famous by Anwar Ibrahim) from his drawer and started to trace the main nerve of my right hand upwards.

He found a block in my bicep, and I could actually feel it too. He then started to “break” the blockage by massaging it in a circular motion with his thumb. He didn’t use any physical force or pressure – rather, he applied his internal “chi” (life force). The pain was so great that I wanted to piss and shit and fart and cum all at the same time.

Long story short, Sifu asked me to check into the center and he drew up a regimen for me – a complete body massage every 2nd day to break up the nerve blockages and Qi Gong exercises the alternate days to regain my strength. I could not consume any beer, Chinese tea, ice cubes, peanuts, long beans and white radish He also gave me pure ginseng tablets to swallow.

Man, I tell you the massages were farkin painful. If you had asked me my name during the massage I probably would have forgotten it. The picture above is only of my arm. My whole body is blue black, but guess what? It bloody works. I felt better from the 2nd day onwards.

My martial arts background came in handy as I robotically performed the strenuous Qi Gong exercises. I’m still stiff as a tree but improving with every treatment, especially my back which has been continuously “jammed” for the last 2 years. It's massage every 3 days at the moment and follow-up treatment later to maintain the status quo.

So if you see me and I look like I’ve been tortured in Lebanon, - now you know.

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Sunday, August 06, 2006

Boo Hoo...he was such a good man... Posted by Picasa
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Crocodile Tears

I couldn’t sleep last night, so I randomely pulled out a dvd from my collection to watch. Turned out to be Tom Hanks in Cast Away. You know the story – he gets marooned on an island and only keeps his sanity by talking to a volleyball he named Wilson, after its brand name..

However it is the hope of seeing his beloved wife (played by Helen Hunt) and her picture in his fobwatch that keeps him alive and fighting for survival. He is rescued after four years and returns home only to find her remarried to one of his colleagues. This would have devastated someone like me, but good ‘ol Tom takes it in his stride. .

He takes a cab in the pouring rain to her house in the middle of the night and their meeting is truly ironic in its simplicity. Things are so civilized – he politely asks her for her daughter’s name while she scurries around the kitchen making him a coffee and updating him on his favourite football team. No tantrums. No anger. No “Oh God, why me’s”. In short, no emotional displays.

When push comes to shove, she chooses to “let him go” (isn’t the English language wonderful?) and remain with her new family, but tells him that she always knew in her heart that he was alive and that she loves him.

My take? Why the bloody farkin hell do women do this to men? “Sorry dude, I know you’re a good guy and I know you love me to bits and that’s what kept you alive and all that crap, but you see it’s been four years and I couldn’t survive without bonking so I married your friend”. What, she never heard of vibrators?

Don’t believe me? How about actress Tiara Jacquelina writing a tribute, a whole page in the Star last week, praising ex-husband Hani Mohsin, (who died of a heart attack in front of their 10 old daughter at Subang Airport) praising him skyhigh as a noble person and one of the last few gentlemen left.

Yeah, right. This begs the obvious question, doesn’t it? If Hani is such a darling, why did she divorce him and marry Datuk Effendi? Puh-leese, give me a break before I barf all over my copy of the Star. Oh, hang on. it must be an occupational hazard – actress mah.

Sigh…women. I love ‘em but they’re really something else, aren’t they?

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Video Killed The Radio Star

The BBC's flagship pop music programme Top of the Pops has been cancelled after 42 years.

"The time has come to bring the show to its natural conclusion," said BBC director of television Jana Bennett. The BBC said the weekly programme could no longer compete with 24-hour music channels.

Top of the Pops was first broadcast in 1964, from a converted church in Manchester. The final edition was shown on 30 July.

The pop programme was only commissioned for six episodes when it began in 1964. It proved so popular that it won a weekly slot and has been broadcast ever since, celebrating its 2,000th show in 2002.

The very first show was presented by BBC Radio 1 DJ Jimmy Savile and the first artists to appear were the Rolling Stones, who sang I Wanna Be Your Man.

Many Radio 1 presenters hosted the show over the years, including Dave Lee Travis and Noel Edmonds. The last presenter was Fearne Cotton.

Jimmy Savile said he was "not at all" sad about the news and "not surprised in the slightest".

"In those days you would have to wait until Thursday night to get your fix and you don't need to do that anymore," he said. "Top of the Pops has been overrun by video of music on TV."

Although it has had numerous face-lifts in its 42-year history, Top of the Pops has always featured the chart rundown, culminating in the number one single of the week. Dance troupe Pan's People were a highlight of the show in the 1970s

In the days before music videos, dancers would perform to songs by artists who couldn't make it to the studio.

Although the Go-Jos were the first dancing troupe to feature on the programme, the best-remembered dancers were still Pan's People.

They made their Top Of The Pops debut in 1968 dancing to Tommy James and The Shondells' hit Mony Mony, and stayed for nearly a decade.

In its 1970's heyday, the show attracted audiences of 15 million, but by 2002 the figure had dropped to just 3 million.

It was relaunched in 2003 with former presenter Andi Peters in charge, but it failed to attract new viewers and was moved to BBC Two the following year.

"The team did a sterling job in revitalising the format for our audience," said BBC Two controller Roly Keating, "but we all recognise that the time has come to move on."

Mike Read, who was a presenter in the 1980s, said: "It was a situation that was obviously coming because of dwindling audiences.

"There are lots of people who say `I used to watch it years ago but I don't like the music now'. There needed to be a mix of old and new."

In a statement, the BBC stressed its commitment to other music shows, such as Jools Holland's Later programme and the BBC Four Sessions.

The Top of the Pops spin-off show, TOTP2, will also make irregular appearances, incorporating archive footage from the series and occasional new performances.

May you rest in Peace, Top Of The Pops

My take on this? I think it is downright stupid to throw out one of the most recognised brands in TV today. It's a huge commodity and kids are still listening to music, even if they are downloading it. Get Mark Burnett on board and turn it into a reality series.

I feel it's a tragedy when a broadcaster doesn't understand such a powerful brand. These are the same people who took the hugely popular Goodness Gracious Me off the air. Let’s not even open that door and get me started.

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