Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One of the most outstanding shows for Malaysia to remember By CALEB KHEW

The following article was published in The Star today. I agree 150% with what the author, a Mr. Caleb Khew says here:

I HAD doubts about going to Bukit Jalil today. I didn’t have a ticket, plus I wasn’t sure whether I will be able to snag one if I made it there.

Not to mention that we are facing the form team of the tournament. In the end I decided to go, praying that there will be tickets remaining. As it turned out, there were plenty of tickets remaining.

I gladly bought mine, and went into the stadium a good three hours before kickoff. Going in so early ensured that my friends and I got fantastic seats, with a great view of everything.

Indonesia had thrashed us 5-1 in the group stage, a result that had most of the nation up in arms over the state of our football. Of course, these are the general fans (calling them fans is a bit of a stretch) who know next to nothing about the team and only know how to criticise.

But lo and behold, we made it to the final and suddenly there is mass interest in our team again. I guess success is the only way to drum up interest from the casual fans but their fickleness gets to me at times. Criticism from people who know nothing is the worst kind of criticism.

The emergence of the players from the tunnel resulted in a 100,000 strong ovation, which television simply did not do justice to.

Being part of the crowd was electrifying; the atmosphere, unreal. The ultras brought along their kompangs, fireworks and flares as per usual, creating an atmosphere inside Bukit Jalil that few stadiums anywhere in the world could hope to match.

Singing Negaraku along with 100,000 people, you could feel the goosebumps developing. Have you ever been part of a 100,000 strong crowd, experiencing the exact same emotions? I have.

Ther was one thing I felt tarnished our victory ever so slightly – the constant use of the lasers to distract the opposition as well as the flinging of fireworks and shooting explosives onto the pitch.

As a football purist, I find it disgusting, and the very real danger of having the match called off was not something I wanted to happen at all. Not to mention that it would probably endanger our team and travelling fans in the return leg.

But as a fan, I will admit that it was pretty fun to watch and be a part of. I wanted to chant along to the song everyone seemed to know. Sadly, I didn’t know the lyrics. It doesn’t mean I am any less of a fan. I just haven’t been to as many games.

I will learn this song.

As for the game, Malaysia totally dominated, creating more clear-cut chances, as well as having many more shots on target. Official stats listed us as having eight shots on target against one from Indonesia. Not very hard to figure why we won then.

I also saw a fan carrying an octopus with Malaysia inscribed below it. If an octopus says we are gonna win, who can argue with that?

The opening goal was a thing of beauty with Norsharul Idlan Talaha displaying terrific balance and did fantastically well to win possession as well as keep the ball in play on the byline before jinking past one challenge and squaring to Mohd Safee Sali, who had the simplest task of slotting the ball home.

Cue pandemonium. I can’t really remember what happened for the next two minutes, I just know that I reached a whole new level of euphoria during that time.

I was jumping up and down in my friend’s cup of sirap Bandung as well. My slippers were wet with pink drink. And I didn’t care at all, not a single iota.

However, what was extremely stupid was the launching of a firework onto the pitch during the celebrations, which exploded directly in front of one of our players. Good thing nothing terrible happened but it could have been worse.

I am all for the ultras but some common sense would be nice. The flares were a nice touch though. For a few moments, I felt like Bukit Jalil was an entirely different place; the atmosphere had reached a whole new level. It felt more like the San Siro. If you don’t know what that is, Google it.

The second goal was also brilliant with Norsharul again providing the assist. Taking out two defenders with a world-class turn (yes I said world class), he then slalomed past another defender before putting in a low cross, which took a deflection off an Indonesian defender before Mohd Ashaari slammed the ball into the top corner via the goalkeeper’s fingers. Stunning, absolutely stunning.

Mass pandemonium resumed, and I went back to my little happy place for another two minutes.

The third goal was scored by Safee again, with a neat little header from a beautiful early cross from Mahali bin Jasuli. You only see crosses like that in FIFA, such was its accuracy and execution.

Mass pandemonium again. In fact that whole 12-minute period was one constant high. I nearly lost my phone as well, but in this circumstance, I really couldn’t care less. I didn’t want the game to end, everything was perfect.

I’m a huge Manchester United fan and I celebrate every goal they score with enthusiasm and joy.

However, it is a totally different story when your country scores.

I am Malaysian and therefore I am connected to my national team in a way that no other team will ever be. Every goal the team scores is for us, all 26 million of us.

I will never forget the three goals they scored against Indonesia in the AFF tournament first-leg final and it only confirms why I love my national football team with a passion no other team will ever enjoy. Nothing United achieve will ever top this.

As the referee blew the whistle, every one of us stood up to salute our heroes. Eleven players who etched their name into Malaysian football folklore.

The atmosphere was still electric. I was still on my high.

So was everyone else around me. Malay, Chinese or Indian, it did not matter. Tonight, we were one. We were Malaysia. There is no other time can you high-five a complete stranger or celebrate wildly with the nearest person to you. They say football can unite people. They are not wrong.

The drive home was something I thoroughly enjoyed as well. You would have thought that with the jam, everything would be chaotic. It was, but in the good sense.

I rolled my windows down as my cousin hoisted the Jalur Gemilang. And we proceeded to high-five anyone that walked by as I honked all the way home.

It’s one of those things you see on television all the time, but being part of it is something else. Safe to say, the drive home was something else I will take away from this game.

Motorcycles and cars usually do not get along on the road. Tonight, even the vehicles came together as one as we shared Malaysia’s triumph.

This team have faced severe criticisms. This team were missing 10 key players. This team were given no chance in hell of going this far. This team did not have the support of the Malaysian public.

Until now. It irks me that the casual fans continue to criticise and criticise but on nights like these they magically become proud Malaysians.

Look around Facebook and Twitter and you will touch the tip of this very hypocritical iceberg. Maybe now they will l decide to follow the team a bit more closely and give them the support they need.

K. Rajagopal should be commended greatly for his work with our national squad. He knows where the weaknesses are and works on it. Our national team is now a cohesive unit; one who work for each member of the team.

The team used to be rubbish at marking and defending. Our defenders can now read the game like a book. Our midfield used to tire easily and used to have a poor work rate. The same can’t be said of them now.

And most notably, our strikers used to be selfish. They used to create only for themselves. Tonight, we saw our deadly front two combine with devastating effect.

Tonight, the entire team gave us a five-star performance. No doubt, this is due to years of hard work. And we are finally seeing the benefits of it.

Granted, this is only a regional tournament and we should have bigger fish to fry. But we are taking it slow, one step at a time, which is the right way to go.

We can’t expect to be competing with the best in Asia, let alone the world just yet. But we are heading in the right direction. And most importantly (we haven’t even won the Suzuki Cup yet), we are just celebrating a tremendous result.

My previous notes all lament the state of our football (the China game was just my initial reaction, it actually was all the referee’s fault). So one great tournament will not drastically alter my view but I do feel we are headed in the right direction.

It’s just up to the team to maintain and even improve on their current standard.

There is no doubt that they can, it’s just a matter of whether they want to or not. And when we finally get rid of all the politics and other nonsense in the FAM set-up, there is no telling how far we can go.

Tonight was a defining moment in Malaysian football history. It will be a date that stands out in time.

A date we will remember fondly. Like the time we qualified for the Olympics. Like thetime we won SEA Games gold.

Dec 26, 2010 – the day Malaysia upstaged Indonesia with one of our greatest performances of all time. I will look back at this game for many years to come, along with millions of other Malaysians. I will be proud to say that I was there.

P.S. the song he was referring to is "Inilah Barisan Kita"
"Inilah barisan kita,
yang ikhlas berjuang,
siap sedia berkorban,
untuk ibu pertiwi,
andai kata kita gugur semua,
taburkanlah bunga di atas pusara,
kami mohon doa,
semboyan telah berbunyi,
menuju medan bakti"

P.P.S. support Malaysia in the 2nd leg of the finals!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Teach a Noob to Fish..

I never really understood my Kong Kong's (Chinese for grandpa) love for fishing. Of course, the idea of a fisherman is often romanticized; the fisherman sitting beside a placid lake with nothing but his fishing stick, a bucket of bait and his day's catch while the sun sets over the water. But through personal observation of my beloved Kong Kong after a fishing excursion, I've discovered that fishing is more often a smelly, sweaty and bloody business (with pointy hooks involved).

But there I was, a few days ago: a fishing rod in my hand, the line slack as the bait lazily drifted in the water while a light rain pattered on the ground under a moonless night sky. Kong Kong had brought along three fishing rods on the family trip to Sepang beach, and somehow one of those rods ended up in my hands. As I tug on the fishing rod, attempting to make the bait "move through the water like a wounded fish" (like I saw once in a fishing documentary), my mind wandered elsewhere...

And like any red-blooded Malaysian male, my mind wandered towards football. Coincidentally, Malaysia had played Vietnam in the first leg of the AFF Suzuki Cup that very evening - and against all odds, Malaysia had won 2-0. It did surprise me, just like it probably surprised most of the football-watching population of Malaysia (and most probably, Vietnam too). Even the most optimistic of Malaysian fans wouldn't have expected a Malaysian team to defeat the much-fancied Vietnamese, especially since Malaysia had about 10 key players out injured.

What impressed me more, though, was not the win. Instead, it was the Malaysian coach, a certain Mr, Rajagopal, who impressed me with his pre-match interview. He spoke confidently, in perfect English, using phrases like "our team needs the right mentality" and "the boys need to realize that there is nothing to lose". It was refreshing, in a sense. And I was proud that at we had a local coach instead of a foreign one.

My mind was rudely brought back to Earth by the desperate tugging on my line. A bite! And this fish felt stronger than the previous four I had caught. Kong Kong urged me to "main" (play) with the fish, in other words, to let the fish swim around and tire itself out before I reel it in. And this is where the thrill of fishing is. The adrenaline kicks in as you realize another creature (which could be your dinner) was in a direct struggle with you through a fragile-looking fishing line.

This fish was different than the previous ones; it struggled way longer. Eventually, though, I brought it in. It was a catfish! And a good-sized one, too. Kong Kong told me (with a tinge of jealousy in his voice) that I was lucky; he had been fishing the whole day and hadn't had such luck.

That success, though, didn't stop my mind from wandering back to the Malaysian team. Whatever did happen to our team? Many of those from my generation have grown up hearing stories about "how great the Malaysian team once was". Even my mum, whose knowledge of football isn't that deep, told me in awe about how a Malaysian player once scored directly from a corner.

It was my dad, though, who gave me a lengthy talk on Malaysian football. A few excerpts from that talk are listed below:
"we were once at the level of South Korea and Japan. They were scared of us. But where are they now and where are we now?" (this was said after a South Korean match in the recent World Cup)
"we have 27 million people in Malaysia, but can't even put together 11 decent players for a football team"
"whatever happens, I will always put Malaysia above Manchester United in my list of favourite teams"

That last line embarrassed me a bit. Not because that statement was old-fashioned or "uncool", but because it was true. My personal belief is that Malaysians should put the national team above any other. But then that makes me a hypocrite. I wore a Manchester United jersey, after all, when Manchester United came to Malaysia to play against our best 11. And I couldn't name a Malaysian players to save my life.

But the Malaysian semi-final win did restore some hope. For me, at least. I really like this Rajagopal guy. And I now know the names of TWO Malaysian players. The winger, Kuna and the striker Sabri (I don't know their full names, don't push your luck).

By the time I left Sepang, I can proudly say that I've caught six fishes. Incidentally, that is the same number of fishes I've caught in my lifetime. Oh well, all in due time. Regarding the Malaysian team, maybe I don't have to wait until I'm six feet under before I hear "Negaraku" before a World Cup match. All in due time.

If one thing fishing has taught me, though, is that you need patience. And I believe that 11 decent players will emerge from among our millions if we are patient enough.

This Sunday, the Indonesian team will meet us in the finals. I hope my fellow Malaysians will urge our team on as we "main" the Indonesians - just as Kong Kong urged me on as I "main" and eventually caught my catfish.

P.S, The catfish tasted awesome, but a Malaysian victory would be taste way sweeter

Monday, December 13, 2010

Walking Into a Fairytale

My mother lived in Kuala Kubu Baru for nearly a decade, from the age of four to the age of twelve. That was about 30 years ago - which means Kuala Kubu Baru isn't that "baru" at all. But this blog update is not posted to criticise the name of a sleepy town near Rawang. Nor is it a sneaky way to expose my mum's age (she's not THAT old). Nope. This post will tell the story of a mother, her childhood home, and her 6-year-old son.

I guess I had a pretty good childhood. I grew up in places suitable to grow up in, befriended the right people, and had a great sister to share a childhood with. My mum, on the other hand, wasn't as well-to-do as a child. But she made do with what she had, and experienced her fair share of fond childhood memories despite shouldering responsibilities not faced by children nowadays.

Kuala Kubu about 30 years ago was a small town. Or maybe calling Kuala Kubu a "town" is giving it more credit than its due.. No, Kuala Kubu then was more like an overgrown kampung; not quite a village, but not quite a town either. It had a main road, some coffee houses, a school, a church which doubled as a kindergarten for the local children, a small river and a sprinkling of houses. But this overgrown kampung would be the template for many of my mum's childhood stories.

My sister and I grew up listening to my mum's childhood stories. We listened in glee as she told us how she boiled live fishes she caught in the small river behind her house. How she once ran from a bull while taking a short cut back from school. How she tolerated the bites of geese reared in her backyard. How she battled the neighbourhood boys for a durian that had just fallen to the ground.

My mum's childhood stories were our bedtime stories. Stories of a little girl in a little magical town of Kuala Kubu were more significant to us than Hansel and Gretel or Jack's beanstalk. Even now, it startles me that this "fairytale land" is a mere 30 minutes from Rawang. And it never occured to me that we would set foot on the magical soil of Kuala Kubu Baru - until we did just that yesterday.

The first thing my now-grown-up mum saw was that Kuala Kubu had also grown up in the last 30 years. The main road was wider and there were new buildings all around. But Kuala Kubu, like my mum, had not lost her character over the years. The durian tree was still there, and so was the stream. The church still stood, and so did her childhood house. It was great to see my mum's face light up reminiscing memories born long before I was.

We waded in the stream where my mum caught those unfortunate boiled fishes. We visited her primary school, where my mum could still remember the spot where she performed for a talent show (she got 2nd place, by the way). My mum showed the exact spot where she once sold fruits (just outside the town's theatre). But the highlight of the day was when we stepped into her childhood house, and met the very uncle who raised her as a child.

We didn't really expect to be welcomed by anyone when we approached the house. The sign outside said that the house was now a kindergarten. Other than that, though, there were few changes. Then we were pleasantly surprised to find out that my mum's uncle (now aged 82) was alive and fit as a fiddle. He led us into the house, and my family witnessed the touching sight of a niece catching up with her aged uncle. When we left, it was with a promise that we will return.

It was kind of surreal to see the setting of my mum's stories come to life around us. Seeing those places was like seeing an enormous beanstalk sprout from the ground beside a guy named Jack. Soon, though, reality struck. It came with the realization that many things have changed in Kuala Kubu. The short cut my mum once took home from school, for example, now did not lead all the way home. It was blocked by a brand new green fence.

For me, the scene that affected me most was seeing my brother walking hand in hand with my mum while touring my mum's primary school. Here was a mother looking back on her early years, hand in hand with a boy about to begin his own primary education next year. It made me wonder if my brother would have such nice memories to tell his children in 30 years. Right now, he doesn't even know how a goose looks like. He had grown up nearer to monsoon drains than rivers. We playfully referred to him as "the city boy", but it got me thinking: would he have a childhood as nice as my mum's?

We left after a few hours. Kuala Kubu had changed. My mum didn't have to tell us that the place in her stories was not the same place we now saw. But it was still Kuala Kubu Baru, and we were content with that. It was still my mother's home. We will return, if not for anything, to let my brother have a taste of kampung life. It would be to spend some time with my mum's aging uncle - my granduncle.It would be to remind us how important memories are to us. We will return.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Watch the Car!

It all started when I reversed my car out the front porch. My Mum's beloved Mercedes Benz was parked beside me, so you can visualize the tension hanging in the air as I put my car into reverse. Cold sweat glistening on my forehead, I let go of the hand brake.
"Just reverse straight," said my dad.
"Watch the car!" yelled my mum (which of course meant her car)
"Ok, you're doing good," said my dad.
"Watch the car!"
"When the rear end of the car has passed the gate, cut in to the left," continued my dad,"and remember to watch out for cars on the road"
"Watch the car!"

It was smooth sailing after that until we reached the highway. At that point, I have fetched my sis and bro from their tuition centre, and the car was pretty crowded. While my bro annoyed me relentlessly with his requests ("Bang, can we play PS2 after we go back???"), I gripped the steering wheel with the iron grip of a crab hanging on for its life over a red-hot wok. Occasionally a car would stray into my lane without signalling and draw my mum's typical response to such an incident: "Stupid car...!"

I was tempted to point out to my mum that it was not the CAR that was stupid, but rather it was the DRIVER who was an idiot. I kept such thoughts to myself, though, fearing that my right to eat dinner in my house would be revoked that night.

After the eventful but thankfully accident-free trip, we arrived at IOI mall. We were there to shop for supplies for my upcoming studies at Banting - or at least we were supposed to. My mum and sis, though, entered "shopping mode" - meaning every item in every shop we passed was put under microscope-like scrutiny ("just in case there are discounts"). It was not their fault, of course. The very environment of a shopping mall unleashes in them an almost animal instinct to shop till you (or your husband and/or son) drop - kinda like sharks in a feeding frenzy.

Finally, though, we looked for the stuff I needed. A bedsheet here, a comforter there and before long we were in Jusco for the clothes I will be needing. My mum showed her immense organisational skills here. Without a shopping list, she looked for items coolly, effectively and systematically. Not unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Terminator series.

Shopping took longer than I thought it would. It was way past lunchtime by then and to make things worse, I had skipped breakfast (and most of the morning) by waking up late. I found myself admiring my mum. While the only thing I could think of was food, my mum was still going down her mental shopping list with steady determination. How could she even remember of the stationery I would need when all I could think of was how good a stomach full of chicken rice would feel? (I like the Hainanese variety, FYI)

All "good" things, though, must come to an end - and sure enough, the shopping was eventually over. We had a late lunch at the food court where my parents showed their love subtly by making sure the children get to eat before them. I realized that over the years, I have taken this act of love for granted, as I'm sure I have taken for granted a million other acts of their parental love.

We hit the road again after that. My dad told me to be careful in the basement as cars sometimes rush out of parking spots without warning. My mum proceeded to repeat my dad's statement. Again and again. And again. But I guess that's another act of love usually taken for granted.

A safe (and if I may say so myself, extremely smooth) ride later and we were at the front gate of my house in one piece. The gates slowly opened and my heart started beating oh-so-rapidly.
"Do you think you can park without any guidance from me?" asked my dad.
The Mercedes was taunting me, so I nodded my head.
"Lets have faith in Abang," my sis chimed in from the back (I wasn't sure if she was being sarcastic.
"Fine," said my mum.
"But watch the car!!"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

SPM Results and the American Civil War

The year was 1860, and the United States of America declared war on it's Southern states, and it was a war was as painful emotionally as it was physically.

Wars are always painful, but civil wars are even more so, since you are fighting men similar to yourself. Men who speak your language. Men who celebrate your celebrations. The land you call home may be the same land your "enemy" calls home as well. You couldn't just block out the fact that these men were people you may know, may even be related to.

It was not uncommon, for example, for men in the American Civil War to have friends in the opposing army. Friends they may have known for life. It made killing them that much harder - not that killing is ever easy in the first place. In one case, an army officer fighting for the Union (the United States federal army) had three brothers fighting for the Confederacy (the rebels).

Makes me wonder how it was when those brothers reunited after the war. Must have been pretty awkward...

There is a soldier's saying:

"A soldier's life consists of long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror".

When I think about it, a student's life also consists of long periods of boredom (e.g. lessons) punctuated by moments of sheer terror (e.g. exams). And when I think about it more, a student's life is an 11-year war. And when I think about it even more, it is a civil war, since your "enemies" are your friends. Sure there's no shooting and killing, but it is a rat race, where a student winning the prize, indirectly, is depriving friends of that very prize!

Maybe I think too much.

Which brings us to the SPM results, which are, effectively, the culmination of the 11-year war. When I went to school today to receive my results with my fellow ex-students, we all felt the feeling of a battle fought, that we were all war veterans; some admittedly more successful, but all gone through the same experience.

We waited for the results of a battle concluded months ago. I won't narrate the events that transpired when the results came out, because that will take days to write out. But the thing I remember most in those few euphoric moments after I accepted my exam slip is the overwhelming sense of relief.

The relief. It's like getting to empty your bowels after being stuck at a party where the curry served has passed it's sell-by date. Diarrhoea of the mind, that's what I felt in those moments. And as weird as it sounds, it felt good.

Anyways, this entry is reaching its point of expiry, and I'm supposed to tie all the loose ends neatly together, like a typical Korean drama. Sigh. Here goes:

Maybe my schooling life shouldn't be compared to a civil war. As I looked around at my friends getting great results, I felt their joy. I was as overwhelmed as the friend who shed tears of joy when she finally got to know her marks (Tiffany). Or as hyper as the friend who belted out Malay tunes with his guitar after getting straight A's (Lam).

Yup. Its not a civil war. Not if I'm happy for the "enemy". I would make a pretty crappy military commander, come to think of it. And the underlying message to all this is: its not over. The battle may be won (or lost, for some) but the war at large is not decided until your terminal breath.

Back to the Civil War: the Confederacy officially admitted defeat on 9th of April 1865. But the individual Confederate Generals fought throughout the next month, not willing to let go. One Confederate ship even sailed all the way to Liverpool, England before surrendering. That particular event confuses me. Why sail all the way to Liverpool? They don't even have a decent football team, for God's sake!

But all Manchester United fanaticism aside, the message I can milk out from all of this is that we should always let go and be ready to move on after an occasional defeat, military or otherwise. For my friends who weren't happy with their results, the war is not over, and life goes on. For those who had the results they wished for (me included), the same rule applies, and complacency is not an option. Take your next step eagerly and decisively.

In my case, I'll steer away from any military-related career options.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bloodless Buttocks on a Road to Nowhere

There's really no other way to get more intimate with a car than resting your rear on it's seat for a whole day. And that's exactly what I did on the 14th of February. That's right - on the first day of the Chinese New Year, and Valentine's day besides, my butt was smooching with a car seat.

With the luggage packed and everybody awake, my family left for Port Dickson. I had a PS2 on my lap, to entertain myself in PD. The sun was up when we left that fateful day. It set a cheerful mood for the trip, although cheerfulness was the last thing on my mind, having enjoyed only four hours of sleep the night before (6 to 10 a.m., to be exact). Oh well, just a tiny obstacle to a great holiday...

At least breakfast cheered me up. Nothing like a warm belly full of roti telur to lift your mood. After that, we left for the (assumed) short trip to Port Dickson, and I attempted to take a short nap.

Unfortunately, those attempts were useless. While Sis slept as if her life depended on it (maybe she was dreaming about some hot Korean guy), I couldn't get any shut-eye at all! Staring at the passing scenery didn't help. Closing my eyes just meant I was staring at the scenery through the inside of my eyelids instead. All the while, I felt the blood slowly drain out of my butt...oh well, just a tiny obstacle to a great holiday...

The ride to PD should have taken not more than 2 hours, but we took a detour through Malacca instead...and if you have the remotest idea of the Malaysian map, you will realize that it just makes the trip longer - by 3 hours. At this point, my butt was screaming in agony. I tried to balance out the lack of blood in both butt cheeks by shifting my weight from side to side constantly, but that just widened the scope of the torture. Just a tiny obstacle to a great holiday...

So we arrived in Malacca, where my family owned an orchard. Hmmm..maybe the word "orchard" is pretty deceiving, since that word implies a lush plot of land where you can pick fruits and enjoy them under the shade of a tree. The "orchard" in Malacca is more like a set for a Resident Evil movie. Hardly worth a 3 hour detour, but oh well...just a tiny obstacle to a great holiday...

At least the stop in Malacca allowed me to stretch my legs and give some well-deserved respite for my bloodless buttocks. But something was worrying me. The rear left wheel of the car (the wheel closest to me, by the way) had been making strange noises the whole time, and the sound seems to have grown over time. Everybody seemed oblivious to it, but personally, the thought of getting killed by a creaking car axle did not appeal to me, and I was relieved when we stopped for some lunch.

We weren't hungry, and ate little, but the bill came out at 35 ringgit. 35 ringgit! When a similar meal in Puchong would have cost half of that! A rip off, pure and simple. Ah, but its just a tiny obstacle to a great holiday... or so I thought as my butt was reunited with the steamy embrace of the car seat.

Finally! We were in PD! I could almost hear the chorus of singing angels as the cooling blood flow returned to my butt cheeks. We carried all our luggage down (PS2 included) and trudged towards our apartment. It was locked...not so tiny obstacle to a great holiday.

Apparently, the previous tenant of the apartment locked the grill of the apartment, when there wasn't any key for it. Funny how a locked door can mess up an entire day for 8 people. But as frustrating as it was, Sis and I couldn't help to laugh at the whole absurdity of the situation. We proceeded to concluding the irony of the day's events:
1. Being optimistic, we can look at the entire trip as a visit to Malacca, but:
2. We brought along enough luggage for a two-day stay
3. We brought a PS2 along (on my lap)
4. We got ripped off at lunch
5. The car is disintegrating under us
6. I may have permanently damaged the nerve endings in my butt

Mum, on the other hand, didn't exactly see the funny side and seemed ready to beat up the wise guy who said: "When a door closes, a window always opens" (We didn't try to break in through a window, by the way)

And so, my butt and the car seat lived in holy matrimony for another few hours as we took the surprisingly short drive back home. Sis and I passed the time by translating English songs to Bahasa Malaysia, and vice versa (and thus discovering that Maroon 5 would have done well if they had explored the Malay music industry). It did become quite nervy since the troublesome wheel was now screeching like a demon being exorcised and I was silently praying that the day would not end with me being horribly impaled on a car axle.

But all in all, the trip did, in a strange way, bring us closer together. We even had time to hook the PS2 up for a few games before going out for a family dinner that night (in another car). And I have the car seat and my butt to thank for teaching me that "two is better than one"

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rooting for the Blue Aliens

The human stared in disbelief at the arrow that had just pierced his torso. But his gaze wavers just a bit, enough for him to see the tall cat-like alien shoot another arrow into his chest. The human keeps standing defiantly for a few tense moments...face still set in a mask of disbelief. Then he finally falls to the ground. And I started cheering.

Strangely, I didn't feel guilty at all for rooting for the alien fighting against a fellow human. After all, the rest of the crowd in the cinema was cheering too. At the end of the movie, the humans were walloped and sent packing back to stinky old Earth (sucks for them) while the main character (a human) changes into a blue alien through a strange spiritual ritual thingy-ma-jig involving a deity called Eywa. But I don't want to mention too much about the plot of Avatar. I want you to watch it yourself...cause its so freaking awesome!

There's just something about Avatar, but I can't seem to put my finger on it. Is it the breath-taking graphics? Or the great plot? Or even the topless aliens? Perhaps it is a combination of all of those reasons, or maybe none of them at all. Whatever the case, there's just something about Avatar...

Not too long ago, my sis had a thing for Titanic, the 3 and a half hour movie with the winding plot and the love triangles and the hero suffering...is it any wonder that sis fell for Korean dramas later? I tolerated her constant hogging of the TV and wished Jack would die more quickly as he once again says to Rose in a shivery voice: "Rose, I want you to grow old, and have lotsa children..." or something along those lines. My memory's a bit fuzzy on that, since my brain tends to forget incidents of utter boredom in order to focus on more important aspects of life. Like breathing. Meanwhile, my sis cries along with Rose, contributing to the booming business that is the tissue paper manufacturing industry.

Its a wonder that the director of Titanic was also the one to direct Avatar. The movies are just so different. They don't even seem to target the same audience. Titanic is, admittedly, a nice movie, and Titanic fans are an intimidating lot (have you seen my sis angry?). But I have to stand up for my favorite movie of all time. Because even though Avatar may not be as romantic or as tear-jerking as Titanic; and Avatar may not even be a true story, there's just something about Avatar...

The movie makes you see the flaws of us humans. It exposes our greed, our destructive love for wealth. It provides a glimpse into our future, where our world is dying and we have to go to a brand new planet just so we can repeat the destruction all over again. And the movie does all this in epic fashion. So yeah, I'm not ashamed because I root for the blue aliens.

Ah, but what do I do now, after watching such a great movie? Maybe I should watch another movie. I wonder where that Titanic CD is...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Football 101: The Basics

Ah, I notice that my (only) two followers are girls...well, being the considerate, thoughtful, and oh so charming person that I am, I will explain the one thing that will forever confuse the minds of the fairer half of the human race.

The Ball

Humans have invented many wonders in his short history on Earth. We discovered fire, which earned us the respect of wild animals. We invented the wheel, which allowed us to travel faster, further, and for nuch longer. We invented guns, which made killing each other as simple as squeezing a trigger. We discovered fuel of all kinds, eventually providing sufficient power for our rockets to break free of Earth's gravity and land us on the Moon. But the greatest invention ever, without a sliver of doubt, is:

THE Football.

The first footballs consist of nothing more than an inflated pig bladder (seriously) but the modern ones usually are made of 32 panels of waterproofed leather or plastic, since Christiano Ronaldo and David Beckham resent having smears of pig urine on their boots, being the spoilt millionaire brats that they are...

Game Concept

The lives of football players revolve around the single objective of kicking a pig bladder-like ball into a queer cuboid-like shaped net which serves as something called the "goal". When a player manages to do this, everybody who has turned up will immediatly raise their hands in an almost instinctive move and shout GOAL!!!!!!!!! in the shrill voice football fans are famous for.

Of course, there are rules to the game, without which, the players would fall into disarray and kick balls other than the foot ball (feel my pain, brother?). As such, a certain official is given almost dictatorial control over everybody else on the field: The Referee.

The Referee

The referee is definitely the most important person on the field. Without him, the game would descend into mayhem, like a scene from parliament, minus the flying chairs. Yet, the ref is often the most hated person on the field. Every decision he makes is met with objection, derision, confusion, and confrontation mixed in with a generous dose of profanity. If guns were permitted into stadiums, refs would surely be the first to bite the dust, or in this case grass.

But the ref does have his powers. For example, a misbehaving player who, for instance, takes to breaking other players' legs are given the dreaded RED CARD by the ref. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, a red card is the most horrifying thing to show to a player on the field, more so than a middle finger, or worse, a picture of Madonna naked. A player shown the red card is in much pain...although the player of the broken legs will probably beg to differ...


When broken down, the various aspects of football may seem weird, downright crazy, even. But I still stand by my earlier statement that The Football is the greatest human invention ever, for the fact that such a simple object (the first being a pig bladder, remember) can inspire such passion in tumbling toddlers (a.k.a. my bro), pimply teenagers (a.k.a. me) and beer-bellied middle-aged men (not my father) alike.

This passion is most evident by the construction of stadiums worldwide for the purpose of allowing tens of thousands of people to watch 22 men kick a ball around a rectangular field so that they can shout GOAL!!!!!!!! when the ball ends up in one of the two cuboid-shaped nets at either end of the field, while the managers of both teams prowl the edge of the field, gesticulating wildly with the enthusiasm of a newly escaped mental patient while shouting themselves to the point of heart attack (seriously). If you happen to be viewing a stadium from above, you will notice that they are nothing but temples built in honour of the Gods, i mean players, of football.

Unfortunately, there is too much about football to fit into one blog entry. So before I destroy your eyesight any further, just one simple message to my readers: if you are a lady, take it easy on your football-loving brothers, boyfriend or husband; if you are a fellow football-loving gentlemen: ROCK ON!!!!!

P.S.: The sport referred to above is the soccer variation of football. There are other versions, including American football (a.k.a. rugby), which is another totally different type of s***