Friday, July 31, 2009

I Want My Money Back

Lenka’s “The Show” ends with “I want my money back”. Yes EPF, I want the money you have invested in Valuecap - back!

A few hours after it was reported in MI on 28 July 2009 that “EPF to loan RM5b to Prokhas”, the social security institution formed according to the Laws of Malaysia, Employees Provident Fund Act 1991 (Act 452), “which provides retirement benefits for members through management of their savings in an efficient and reliable manner”, denies talks with Prokhas.

Though MoF was claimed to have provided a whopping RM10.0 B to Prokhas for the said guarantee packages, one would wonder why they need another RM5.0 Billion LOAN? But then why EPF Loan when Prokhas is to provide guarantees? Smell something fishy? I am disturbed after reading Mr. Simon Templar’s opinion here and here.

Our businessmen would cheer up as these guarantee packages could assist them securing financing during this cruel credit crunch – well, bankers are fair-weathered friends after all. However, to almost 12 Million EPF contributors, I am sure we feel cheated. Too many a time, our hard-earned money is used to ‘medicate’ self-centric ailing companies, while normal people are left unassisted but to seek Ah-Longs.

With ever-rising cost of living and inflation rate, thanks to people-unfriendly economic policies, and our old-age savings are constantly invested in this ‘adik beradik investment’, do you think we could survive later in life? There is no way we could, looking at dismal EPF dividend rates


It is alarming to notice lately that our GLCs are not doing well , the entrusted local institutions are not liquid enough to continue supporting the SME businesses as International banks are allowed to provide micro-credit financing, and there seems a trend in this Ibu Pertiwi to set up new entity to ‘exert desktop control’ on existing agencies dealing with SME. So, now you know why the Government has to go to our ‘piggy banks’ like EPF, KWAP, etc. for financial assistance.

While doing this post, I came across Uncle Kit’s speech on 2008 Budget in Parliament back in September 2007, “DAP proposed “FairWage” as an integral component of a new national policy in promoting social justice. FairWage has a 3-prong strategy for implementation: -

1. To increase that take-home pay, workers will contribute a lower rate to the EPF. For with pay below RM900 per month, employee contribution to the fund will be waived while for those with income of not more than RM1,400 per month, the employee’s contribution to EPF shall be reduced from the current 11% to 5%.

2. To make them more employable, employers will reduce their rate of contribution to the EPF. For workers above the age of 35 to 55, earning between RM900 to RM1,400 per month, the employer contribution shall remain at the current 12%. For those earning less than RM900 per month in the same age group, the employer contribution shall decline to 10%.

3. To compensate for the above, the Government will give workers FairWage income supplements to achieve a higher level of income. For workers aged 45 and above, receiving monthly income below RM900 per month, they will receive an annual income supplement of RM2,400. For those workers above the age of 35 earning less than RM1,400 per month will receive RM1,600 per annum. Of the supplement, a quarter shall be in cash form, while the balance will be channeled into the EPF accounts. By channeling a larger portion into the EPF, it will help the workers save for their future needs. An additional 10% on top of the income supplement shall be applied to those who live in the Klang Valley, Johor Bahru as well as on the Penang Island to cope with the higher cost of living.

I think this is a feasible idea and I sincerely hope the Government of the day would take it up, although it came from the Opposition as Gandhi-Ji says “We must always seek to ally ourselves with that part of the enemy that knows what is right”.

This is part of social justice for your people and please do it as soon as possible since “the longer you delay, the more your sin gets strength and rooting” and Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra quotes “delay always breeds danger and to protract a great design is often to ruin it”.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sharing Is Caring

I eat simple food during weekdays for i will think of my parents whenever i have something delicious. Most of the time, I would pack my lunch. That reminds me of home and mom's cookings. That reminds me of that adik and pakcik looking so tired - wondering if they had their meal of the day. Yes, I could cry while eating thinking about them, strangers i met along the road or on the bus.

The last time i paid for meals at high-class bistro or cafe was August last year - that was when i dined with my mentor and his wife after their long journey down from Kota Bharu. The one in Starbuck last May was a kind gesture of someone. Most of the time, I don't support such establishment because i believe in what Benjamin Franklin said that "Poverty wants some things, luxury many things, avarice all things". I just want to enjoy the essential simple things in life. Well, i know that i am doing the right thing after reading Uncle Pete's "Time for a Hartal".

My dear friend, Joshua, posted a heartbreaking "Chicken Ala Carte". Please, you must watch the short movie and ask yourself "how can someone's laughter bring me close to tears".

The next time we want to eat, let's think thrice - do i need it? how much do i need it? will i enjoy it? Let's shall not waste for "Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the Evil Ones; and the Evil One is to his Lord (Himself) ungrateful" (Surah Al-Isra, Verse 27).

Since Ramadhan is coming, i sincerely hope that we could do things differently. Most companies would spend a day breakfasting with selected orphanages (most of the time, the very same orphanage, i once heard the kids wear even more branded clothes than normal kids on the street) at a big hotel.

"Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly" - M.F.K. Fisher

Instead of buffet at the hotel, why not we put aside certain amount of money enough to finance them for a year. Believe me, these kids eat too simple, i wonder if they have all the nutrients required to develop physically and mentally. I always believe that when we take away their trouble worrying about food, i bet they are ready to take on this world and make a difference. It would be great if we could make them happy throughout the year, instead of just one fine day in Ramadhan.

"True charity is the desire to be useful to others without thought of recompense" - Emanuel Swedenborg

Charity and sharing does not confine to orphanages only (I wonder if we feted these orphanages for the bountiful pahala we thought we could get compared to helping others. Oh dear, that's..too shallow and extremely calculative).

There are many more people, whom we could lend our helping hands. Perhaps, we could donate expertise (one uncle shared his expertise on cucumber farming with one guy and now the latter manages to bring home stable income of 5-figure every month - imagine the multiplier effect).

How about time? It was reported here about "Lukewarm response to welfare work". "While diplomats and their wives and expatriates make frequent visits to welfare homes and make personal donations, not many Malaysians do likewise". OK BAKTI, move your butts and do us Malaysians proud.

These are a couple sites if you want to broaden your 'sharing is caring' horizon in near future - Sharing And Caring Hands and Sharing The Caring. Perhaps, you could do something on your next trip 'balik kampung'?

Happy Sharing All!

"False happiness renders men stern and proud, and that happiness is never communicated. True happiness renders them kind and sensible, and that happiness is always shared" - Charles de Montesquieu

p.s. Looking at all our Bandar Diraja and i wonder why there are many needy families there. I wonder how could one sleep soundly at night when your 'neighbours' aren't...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Another Day, Another Loss

I have known N since I was in Tingkatan 1. A senior, who later turned into a dear friend, who would drive all the way to send me back after theatres late at night (if you know where my house is i.e. how very far it is, you would give your respect to this gentleman). That was 3.5 years ago - the last time i met him.

Yesterday, he lost his one and only brother to AH1N1 - the third fatality in our country. Alfatihah to Allahyarham Kamal Hussin Abdul Hamid. May his soul rest amongst those who believe and do righteous deeds.

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

1 . Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds

2. The Beneficent, the Merciful

3. Owner of the Day of Judgment

4. Thee (alone) we worship; Thee (alone) we ask for help

5. Guide us on the straight path

6. The path of those whom Thou hast favored

7. Not (the path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray

p.s.s. Never, never, never neglect a friend :( _ _ _ I am so bad...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Buta (Mata + Hati) = 'Mati'

I chanced upon this and I am disappointed.

Then, I came to read the following comment from The Storyteller herself here and I am relieved: -

"yasmin said...

diana, no one has speculated anything here, yet you are saying, "don't speculate"?this is precisely what i cannot stand about this whole affair. some people in power are so defensive!

my mother and i were watching rtm news - a man with a moustache said at great length that we should not suspect foul play before investigation results.

my mother said, "do they think we are 2-year olds?"

Oh boy, i thought only guys are kids trapped in a boy's body. Apparently, majority of them (you know who you are - but these people do not go near my blog?) think like 2-year old kids.

Kesian....for all the news on Rancangan Tergendala Malaysia are for kids? Ouch, talking about intelligence in the 'cardio and cranium departments', my Mak surely love to say this to them - "Akal dekat kepala ke kepala lutut? Hati dekat dada ke atas para?"

Hmm...truly 'buta mata' and 'buta hati'...

Forza Felipe e Bergen Siamo Con Te

I am scared if I cried with no apparent reasons before I close my eyes for the day for it signals that sadness will harbour into my heart.

That happened when Yasmin Ahmad, The Storyteller – Forever, passed away on Saturday night.

Last night, I wept myself to sleep and when I woke up this morning, I read about Felipe Massa and Encik Bergen. That explains every single tears I shed.

No, I don’t have to personally know these characters to feel the emotions. Born a Pisces, I have the most sensitive and intuitive soul. You may say “What a weakling” but I take these words wholeheartedly: -

~ The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift ~ Albert Einstein

~ Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

~ The World breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places ~ Ernest Hemingway

So, could you please, along with me, pray for their speedy recovery and for their loved ones to be strong for them during this difficult time?

~ Oh, what good will writing do? I want to put my hand out and touch you. I want to do for you and care for you. I want to be there when you are sick and when you are lonesome ~

“Forza Felipe e Bergen, Siamo Con Te” – “Be strong Felipe and Bergen, We are with you”

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Yasmin Ahmad, The Storyteller - Forever

She passed away last night at 11.25 pm ...

Only a few weeks back, i was busy googling about her - to see how great her works of art are, to see how she is loved, to see how dedicated she is, how loving and caring she is to the precious kids she has worked with (i still remember how poignantly beautifully she wrote about her trip to Japan with the boy that played "Mukhsin") ...

I never failed to cry watching her works - they never failed to find their way to the core of your soul and make you feel "I am a human after all".

May her Soul rest in peace, for all the goodness she has shown us, for all the greatness she has brought to our nation and in many more ways she has touched our lives - after all we are no stranger to each other's soul.

Al-fatihah to Puan Yasmin Ahmad...

I shall miss her writing, immensely...

~ Storytellers, by the very act of telling, communicate a radical learning that changes lives and the world: telling stories is a universally accessible means through which people make meaning ~ Chris Cavanaugh

It took her singlehandedly fostering the racial harmony in our Ibu Pertiwi, her stories are pure and innocent and for that her stories nourish our Ibu Pertiwi...

~ To poison a nation, poison its stories. A demoralised nation tells demoralised stories to itself. Beware of the storytellers who are not fully conscious of the importance of their gifts, and who are irresponsible in the applicatin of their art ~ Ben Okri

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wednesday With Me on TV - The Hajj Revealed

I watched this documentary over Discovery Channel around 9 pm and i couldn't wait to share it with you out there.

No, it is not my intention to glorify Islam as THE religion but i wish to share about one of the greatest spiritual journeys we called Hajj. It is well documented here and I had tears running down my cheeks (ok, i'm a cry baby).


"The Hajj to Mecca is undoubtedly one of the greatest religious gatherings on earth. It is the fifth requirement in the Five Pillars of Sunni Islam which orders every able-bodied Muslim to complete this pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

With over 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide, the sheer number of people that pass through the gates of Mecca each year is overwhelming. Through special access granted to Discovery Channel, viewers will go behind the scenes and follow engineers, security officers, and medical doctors as they prepare for the influx of pilgrims.

See the proceedings from a pilgrim's point of view through the eyes of Australian Matthew Nelson, a recent convert to Islam, as he embarks on his first Hajj.

With millions inundating the city, crowd control is top priority for the Ministry of Hajj. Hundreds of deaths have occurred in past decades. In 2006, Saudi officials learnt a painful lesson when a failure in crowd control left more than 350 pilgrims dead at the Jamarat Bridge during the symbolic ritual of stoning huge pillars.

Revealed: The Hajj provides the first look at the very latest technologies such as advance logistics software, satellite imaging and computer modelling used by the Command and Control Centre personnel to ensure efficiency and safety.

Revealed: The Hajj chronicles how an age old tradition is made possible in the 21st century. Join Discovery Channel on this amazing journey and experience the Hajj like never before".

You may want to view Youtube version of this documentary: -

p.s. I was there in the Holy City 11 years ago for a 2-week umrah accompanying my parents and my Atok - the best trip - i ever had though it was not short of challenges in any imaginable terms.

I learnt about people and how to deal with them, from the best right to the worst human beings. Tolerance was essential. Your whole self was at total peace - just you and the God Almighty.

The journey made you think how far you have reached in this world - more of what good have you done to deserve this chance, this invitation to be in the Holy City.

Tears were abundantly shed as getting in touch with your dear heart was truly an emotional experience.

While some spent great times shopping, i felt ashamed to do so. Besides, most of the goods sold there are "Made in China". Experiences - that's 100% Made in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Foods were many and tasty. Fruit juices - the richest - were part of our daily consumption. I must say everyone that came back would look much younger and healthier. Thanks to the food, the peace of mind and continuous supply of Zam Zam water - to which i swear that it is one of the cures to Dengue fever.

No wonder, to some, they save for annual trips to this Holy City.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Mr. Wenger J Khairy, You'll Be Missed

“Gold is tried by fire, brave men by adversity” ~ Seneca

"Without a sign his sword the brave man draws, And asks no omen but his country's cause" ~ Homer

Bye Bye Moody, Welcome Cheery

Last week was one of my saddest weeks in life. Some may label sadness as negative outlet of emotion, I take comfort in this Arabic proverb, which says that “Sad are only those who understand” and Carl Gustav Jung thinks that “the word “happiness” would lose its meaning if it was not balanced by sadness”.

However, we all need to bounce back, as fast as we can, for (prolonged) “anger, tears and sadness are only those who have given up”. I don't think we should give up hopes, amongst others, hopes for "Justice for Adik Beng Hock".

I’d like to share 13 you-lift-me-up tips (in 2 minutes or less), which I found on I must say they really work. So, why don’t we start... now?


“According to happiness researcher Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., of the University of California, Riverside, life circumstances account for only 10 percent of happiness. Half depends on our genetic “set point,” which is kind of like the weight our body bounces back to after that crash diet. And about 40 percent of our happiness is influenced by what we do deliberately to make ourselves happy”.

1. Flip Through Old Photos

When you’re feeling down, break out your kids’ baby albums or pics from your favorite vacation. It may actually make you feel happier than a square of Godiva chocolate would!

2. Munch on Nuts

For a mood-lifting snack, stash walnuts in your desk drawer. Or sneak salmon into your salad for lunch. They’re both packed with omega-3 fats, which may make people less prone to depression—and easier to get along with, say researchers from the University of Pittsburgh.

3. Inhale a Calming Scent

Fill your office with a fragrant candle or diffuser to calm down during a deadline-packed day. In an Austrian study, researchers wafted the smell of oranges before some participants and lavender before others. The two groups felt less anxious, more positive, and calmer when compared with participants who were exposed no fragrance at all.

4. Open Your Shades

To feel happier in seconds, let the sunlight stream in when you first wake up. One study of more than 450 women found that those who got the most light, particularly in the morning, reported better moods and sleep. Got more time? Eat breakfast near a window that gets plenty of daylight, and put exercise equipment near a bright view. Some researchers speculate that combining exercise with morning light exposure may amplify light’s beneficial effects on mood, sleep, and alertness, says Anthony Levitt, M.D., a University of Toronto light researcher.

5. Walk around the Block

If you work in a windowless office, make sure you step out to see the sun a few times throughout the day. “A couple of studies show that people who get more light exposure during the day have fewer sleep problems and less depression, and evidence suggests that light can keep you alert and productive,” says Daniel Kripke, M.D., a University of California, San Diego, light and sleep expert.

If you have more time, a longer bout of exercise may also spark a smile. “Lots of people skip working out when their moods aren’t ideal because they don’t have the mental energy to switch gears,” says mental health and exercise expert Jack Raglin, Ph.D., of Indiana University. “But the trick lies in finding the right workout to match the mood you’re in.” When you’re battling blues, try something low-key and mindless. “Studies have shown that even mild exercise—about 40 percent of your max heart rate—can lift your mood,” says Raglin. “So if you’re not up for the usual high-energy stuff, do some leisure activity you enjoy, such as digging in your garden or walking in a park. View it as mental recreation, not exercise.”

If you’re angry, pick something that makes you focus like playing racquetball, or take an aerobics class you’ve never tried. Learning new moves will free your mind from what’s upsetting you.

6. Clear Away Clutter

Disorganized heaps of paper in your cube or on the kitchen counter can make you anxious. For some, “clutter is a reminder of things that should be getting done but aren’t” says Elaine Aron, Ph.D., author of The Highly Sensitive Person. Don’t bother to organize unless you have a chunk of time. Instead, arrange papers, books, and other detritus of daily living in neat piles or store them in baskets. “Just the illusion of order is enough to ease the mind,” she says.

7. Think fast

Turn your thoughts into a race—it can lift the blues in minutes, says Princeton University psychologist Emily Pronin, Ph.D. For example, when your mother-in-law is driving you crazy, give yourself 30 seconds to make a list of all the ways she’s been helpful to you in the past—you’ll feel better fast. (If nothing nice comes to mind, quickly jot down other ways she bugs you; speed thinking negative thoughts can still improve your mood, Pronin found.) Researchers believe that rapid thinking may release feel-good brain chemicals—or it could just be a helpful distraction.

8. Giggle

A hearty laugh produces a chemical reaction that instantly elevates your mood, reduces pain and stress, and boosts immunity, studies show. When stress builds up or you feel as though you may snap at any minute, make yourself giggle: Watch a funny video clip online, or stop by the office of a wisecracking pal for a quick chat. Also, keep an eye out for the unexpectedly silly side of daily life to combat negative thoughts. “

9. Rethink Your Retail Therapy

To get more happiness for your dollar, splurge for experiences instead of stuff. Psychologist Miriam Tatzel, Ph.D., of Empire State College surveyed 329 shoppers and found that “experiencers”—consumers who are easygoing about spending on a great meal out or a concert, for example—are happier than those who lavish their money on material goods such as clothes or jewelry. Added bonus: Experiences allow you to spend quality time with family and friends; a new pair of shoes is a solo endeavor.

10. Zone Out

Rest, peace, quiet, and solitude can also create joy. Some research suggests that we may have an inborn need to zone out once in a while. Give yourself a time-out during a hectic day: Push your chair away from your desk, kick up your feet, and close your eyes. Think about something that takes your mind off the daily grind, like fun plans for the weekend.

11. Chat Up a Friendly Neighbour

Socializing with a cheerful person in your neighbourhood increases the likelihood that you’ll be happy too.

12. Cooking

It’s a favorite unwinding technique of Andrew Weil, M.D., a Prevention advisor and leading integrative medicine expert. After a particularly emotional and stressful day during his residency, Weil went straight to the supermarket. “I bought ingredients and spent several hours cooking in the kitchen. There was something about chopping vegetables, making order, creating something wonderful—that whole process neutralized my negative mental state,” he says.

13. Do a Good Deed

People who volunteer are likelier to be happier than those who don’t—regardless of how much money they make or other socioeconomic factors. Pitching in for a regular cause in your community is ideal, but you can make a difference in other ways in mere minutes. Researchers believe volunteering boosts happiness because it increases empathy, which makes you appreciate all the good stuff in your own life.


“They say a person needs just 3 things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for” – Tom Bodett


"Anyone who interferes in the destiny of others will never discover his own"

- Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist)

"And the high destiny of the individual is to serve rather than to rule, or to impose himself in any other way"

- Albert Einstein

Reason for these quotes being highlighted here is that some people are getting on my nerves, despite them saying that they have my very best interest in mind.

The quotes are not for them but me. It's unfair to impose something on others when you failed to achieve yours.Please, let me choose.

If what I'm doing is wrong in their eyes, let my destiny be a punishment, instead of merriment.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Smoke Gets Into Your...Yikes!

I wouldn’t mind when men smoke and I dated some even when they smoke like a chimney but I would be extremely conscious when I smell like the chimney myself :P - even my vanilla perfume could not outperform while my cats would get so jealous – collateral damage is apparent (countless well-chewed chargers, well-scratched bags and chest of drawers, splashes of perfume all over the floor, you name it, I’ve been through it).

My Ayah quit smoking when I was in my Mommy’s tummy while my late Atok was on and off the fags till the day he died 2 years ago – it was not the cancer, he succumbed to injuries after bike accident, 50 metres from his home sweet home.

Then, one fine day, this article rolled into my 'laps' - "When bad advice is the best advice" (Bak bulan jatuh ke riba). Especially after reading these excerpts, i put my anti-smoking stance at the lowest level possible: -


"According to this new paradigm of preference-sensitive decision-making, doctors like me shouldn’t tell patients what to do (Take your pills! Stop smoking!), but rather should educate our patients about the risks and benefits of their options.

So going by the book, I should have informed my patient about the pros and cons of tobacco. But I couldn’t stand by, in the role of a dispassionate educator, and let this man hurt himself. Instead, I felt compelled to give him advice that would promote his best interests.

I advised him to smoke.

“You two obviously love each other very much,” I said. Then I turned to his wife.

“I know that you are trying to keep your husband from smoking because you love him and don’t want him to get sicker,” I continued, as I recall. “But those cigarettes aren’t going to hurt him now. If anything, they’ll help him relax. What matters is that you two stick together, because these next few months are going to be really difficult.”

I reminded them that the cancer wasn’t curable, that we were hoping to improve his quality of life, and that the best way to do that was to spend quality time with the people he loved".

Isn't that so touching?

Wait a minute gentlemean! Are you an old, terminally ill cancer patient? Or do you want to be one? So, would you be kind enough to yourself and your loved to, at least, reduce the number of fags you puffed or if you are strong-willed enough, why don’t you quit, pleaseeeee?

The Prime Minister to the world’s seventh biggest cigarettes market has likened cigarettes to terrorism that the government has banned imminently smoking in cafes, restaurants and bars and the PM has even banned this puffin business in Cabinet meetings - that’s a measure of how strongly Tayyip Erdogan feels about tobacco. Read more here.

So, this is the man who is brave enough to tell Shimon Peres “You are killing people” on TV in Davos and branded Xinjiang Killings as genocide. A man who feels and speaks for those being marginalized, brutalized and oppressed when most men that walk the Corridor of Power talk about how much they could get from their game plans. How about the rest of you gentlemen out there?

I know you have all the rights to smoke but I must let you know when it comes to deteriorating the lives – yours and people around you – I do have the right to tell you to stop making yourself sick (to put it mildly when i can say "you are killing yourself baby") and leading many innocent souls into smoking - simply because I care.

If we felt betrayed when too many lives being lost at the hands of people who are supposed to protect us, how different are you from them then – head of the family, community and nation?

Smoke gets in your lungs and it may get into my eyes and your loved ones too...Please?

Friday, July 17, 2009

I Cannot Take These Craps Anymore

Hilang Nyawa

6 months ago, my Adik Kugan died during '#%&&*' custody

Yesterday, my Adik Beng Hock was found in a pool of blood at '*&^%#^&' Selangor HQ

How many more lives do we need to 'sacrifice' before our conscience prevails?

Wow, lives are indeed bloody cheap in Malaysia when they threw us with these?

Buat Duit vs. Buang Duit

Less than 2 months from April Fool Day, rightful Perak State Government fell into wrongfool hand of '*&^%$' impostor - thanks to 'katak-katak yang tak mesra alam'

On 12 July 2009, that '*&^%$^' announced '10-carrot sticks' to 'lure' us back to his 'den'

2 days later, Abe Uji won MU's buy-election with 'kulit bawang' majority of 65 votes - thanks to bag$ of $

4 days later, they said they will increase both taxi and bus fares

5 days later, they say they will increase our electricity tariffs

Heck! This is the price we pay for giving the '%$^$#&' gomen another chance. So much about "Ketuanan Melayu", "Memertabatkan Islam" and 'Jaga Periuk Nasi Sendiri", we forget those '&#%^*^%' are animals after all.

Don't you think it's high time we kick their butts!?

p.s. Anyone wants to volunteer as my 'punching bag'?

Will & Ariel Durant

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” – Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Page 22

I like to share a beautiful love story of these great minds of the century – Dr. Will Durant and his wife, Ariel Durant – which appeared in Reader’s Digest, November 1969 Edition (the one I randomly picked from my collection yesterday evening).


“The Philosopher and the Schoolgirl” by Jim Bishop

The bar at Madrid’s Castellana Hilton was dark and cool and almost empty. This was siesta time, and a high hot sun stared at a million closed shutters.

The old man in the corner moved his glass of iced tea in the dark coolness if its own sweat. The things he said to the lady at his side were said in a whisper, a sound heard in church. The sheaf of white hair was as orderly as his mind, and it lent an indescribable dignity to the marble planes of his face.

The woman was his love. She was small and plain, a doll with the dark luminescent eyes of an orphan looking at her first Christmas tree, and a body too small for the face; she had the aura of an elderly child.

This was six years ago, and one would hope that they might still be sitting in the dark cool of the Castellana. Because, on that hot afternoon, Dr. Will Durant was reminding his Ariel that they were about to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their marriage. He sipped the tea and flicked his finger under the trim white moustache and tried to explain the magic of loving one woman forever.

Well, not forever. Dr. Durant is an agnostic and he believes that when the time comes to say farewell to his love, he will be engulfed in a dark void without memory or aspiration. Mrs. Durant understood. At one point, she smiled and hid her face with her small hands and peeked at him through the fingers. She hunched her shoulders like a girl about to be tickled.

Will Durant is the author of “The Story of Philosophy, Transition” and co-author of a ten-volume work called “The Story of Civilisation”. He sought no honours and won them all. Durant was 32 when the dean of Columbia University slipped the velvet doctorate of philosophy around his neck. To help finance his studies, he had taught at a small school in uptown Manhattan. The class was small; so was the pay. In the front row, sat Ida Kaufman. She was 14 and fidgety. The dark eyes looked up at her teacher and she vowed that she would be happy to look up at him all her life. Ida and her parents were Jewish refugees from Russia. They had nothing. Often, the child wore the same print dress all week.

When she was 15 and he was 28, the teacher proposed marriage. It was as though he was revealing a secret he could no longer keep. The girl from Harlem said yes and yes and yes. Will Durant begged her to ask her parents. They handed down a gentle judgment : No. The young professor went to Harlem to sit on the final-inch of a living room chair and plead his own case.

Joseph and Ethel Kaufman said no and no and no, and finally, yes. That was the first step. The second was to explain that, although he has been brought up by Roman Catholic parents and indeed had a sister who was a nun, he could not agree to be married in any church or temple because it would be hypocritical.

Mrs. Kaufman held her hand to her head. Durant said that he would need her presence to marry Ida. A judge, you see, might not accept his word that the mother had given her consent.

Mrs. Kaufman agreed to come. A license was drawn up by an assistant city clerk in October 1913. Professor Durant phoned the New York City Hall and made an appointment. He held the girl’s hands in both of his and gave her the day and the hour of the wedding.

When the day came, the bride first attended classes at a secretarial school, to which she had gone on roller skates. Will joined her there, and they went downtown on subway. As they entered the alder-manic chamber, Ida’s skates hung from one small wrist.

“Oh, no,” the alderman gasped. “I won’t do it”. He looked at Will and said, “If you think, Professor, that I am about to become a party to a ceremony involving a child…” Durant brought forward Ida’s mother, who affirmed her consent. The alderman turned to the bride and said “Do you realise what you are doing?” She nodded yes and put the skates on the floor.

When it was over, the young man held her to him. She murmured, “You are my teacher as well as my husband”.

Later, Ida became Ariel. “We began to call her that,” said Will Durant, “because she was as strong and brave as a boy, and swift and mischievous as an elf”. There were two children, Ethel and Louis. The doctor dropped teaching for writing, and made great ages of man come tremblingly to life in the written word. For a time, Ariel was the proof reader, the moral lifter, the eraser of literary doubt.

It was as though, content with her own minor role, she was forever roller-skating across his consciousness, making herself more and more indispensable. She removed some of the chores of research from his shoulders and sat the lonely hours delving into dusty books for the titbits he required. Fat books were born, and acclaimed by the litterateurs of the world. The name “Will Durant” on the back of a volume ensured a big sale.

In 1961, Simon and Schuster published “The Age of Reason Begins” and the world of letters was surprised to find that it was written “By Will and Ariel Durant”. The Harlem schoolgirl had become a full partner. The older they grew, the more work she assumed, digested and put before him.

On the afternoon that they sat in the bar of Castellana Hilton, he was 78; she 65. He moved the glass of tea in wet circles and told her, for 10,000th time, that he could not have been as productive without her. Their 50th anniversary was coming up and he thought, not looking at her, that there should be some special gift to mark a notable milestone.

No, she said. A Taj Mahal could not add a whit to her contentment. There would be no special gift. Love and work were enough. “You are right”, he said. “Our work and our love became one”.

Again, she hid the face behind her hands. “I am your old partner”, she said. “You love me because you know I love you to distraction”. Suddenly, she burst into laughter. He looked up from the tea. “Remember the time we were in a big group and I wouldn’t shut up and you kept passing plates of nuts to me? I ate them and still kept talking”.

A writer from America walked over to shake the hand of a great man. He said hello to Ariel and asked if she thought the marriage would last. She was never hesitant about words. “He was my teacher and my guide 50 years ago. He is still my teacher and my guide”.

Dr. Durant shook his head violently. Their love was a shade of this side of embarrassing. Ariel showed her left hand. “He forgot to buy a wedding ring for me”, she said. “And I have never missed it”.


This famed psychologist-philosopher, along with his beloved wife, took 50 years to write “The Story of Civilisation” - true to Oscar Wilde’s quote – “Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it”.

“Durant embodied the two qualities that he once declared no philosophy or philosopher was complete without: understanding and forgiveness.

He never once attempted to build his reputation at the expense of others; instead he sought to better understand the viewpoints of human beings, and to forgive them their foibles and human waywardness.
When two burglars were apprehended by police after having broken into his Los Angeles home and stealing valuable jewelry and savings bonds – Durant refused to press charges and insisted that they be set free. "Forgiveness," again, is the other half of philosophy”.

“Durant’s love for his wife Ariel only deepened with the passing of time. When he was admitted to hospital with heart problems in 1981 at the age of 96, his wife stopped eating; perhaps fearing that he would not be returning. When Durant learned of the death of his beloved wife, his own heart stopped beating - he died a week after she left him. They are buried beside each other in a small Los Angeles cemetery, together for all eternity”.

Their marriage lasted for 68 years.

p.s. What do you see in your beloved?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

At the Crossroad of Life and Death

I am so tired today - my eyes are heavy, my heart is weary and i still couldn't stop crying.

Yesterday evening, my dear Abang Yus called me up. It's been quite sometimes since he told me about his beloved mother suffering from colon cancer and I've been meaning to call him up last week. He told me his beloved mother passed away last friday, while i was away from work and home. His mother's house is in Kg. Baru and I could have been there for him. Tonight, he called me again - his voice was ladened with sadness. He misses his mother. I wish I could find better words to comfort his soul. I wish I could hold his hands so that he knows he is not alone - his adik is with him all these while.

This afternoon, I managed to talk to my dearest friend, Rose, who had delivered a beautiful Sofea, last friday afternoon. I shared with her about the latest positive and glowing development in 'human capital department' in my office (used to be ours last year) - it is good for her to know that some people were finally awakened from their 'deep slumber' and now know 'siapa kawan siapa lawan'. I can say we are relieved - God has answered our prayers in silence. Indeed, just like her simple, beautiful yet meaningful name, Sofea, which means "wisdom" in Greek and "pure" in Arabic, brought so much happiness to my dearest friend. I cried tears of happiness.

After an interesting banter with someone dear, i read about "Teo Beng Hock, 30, an aide of Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, has plunged to his death at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Selangor headquarters in Shah Alam". My heart, which had just recovered from tremendous shock last night (not from my dear Abang Yus), is again a bottomless, darkest pit. My googling found various reports on his untimely, mysterious demise. He was released at 3.45 am and I am sure he was so happy for he is going to get registered for marriage tomorrow. But, he was found dead at the rooftop of Plaza Masalam, where MACC Selangor HQ is located this afternoon, with his car remains untouched at the car park.

Well, I've lost someone extremely dear to my heart - i called him my soulmate - ten years ago. I know what his fiancee is going through now.

It's simply indescribable - losing the love of your life, your world, your hope, your future, your purpose. Just imagine a can in the pressure chamber - the wreckage is beyond repair. Just imagine being in a silent movie - you shouted and cried with all your might but nobody hears you. And when all the hugs and words mean nothing because you just want to be hugged and comforted by him and him alone.

I do not know the Late Mr Teoh Beng Hock but God, please. Let his soul rest in peace. Please God, please don't leave them - his beloveds - living in unimaginable pains and loss. Let justice be seen to be done for him and his loved ones.

At this crossroad of life and death, all i want to do is cry myself to sleep, again, if that will lessen the pain of losing.

And let me listen to Ray La Montagne's beautifully haunting "Be Here Now"

Don't let your mind get weary and confused

Your will be still, don't try

Don't let your heart get heavy child

Inside you there's a strength that lies

Don't let your soul get lonely child

It's only time, it will go by

Don't look for love in faces, places

It's in you, that's where you'll find kindness

Be here now, here now

Be here now, here now

Don't lose your faith in me

And I will try not to lose faith in you

Don't put your trust in walls

'Cause walls will only crush you when they fall

Be here now, here now

Be here now, here now

p.s. Someone told me i'm always upset. If only he knows how it feels like when your soul could sense the pain, loss and sadness of everyone around you and you couldn't do anything to make it go away...if only he knew...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

They Long To Be Close To You, Special Bunch!

What would by-(/bye-bye/buy-buy) elections 'feel' like? Fat chance that the MEGA Spinner MSM would share with us the real-life stories at Ground Zero. For this, we need HEROES and they come in the form of Uncle Zorro ( hey Uncle Z, it even rhymes :) ) and his Selfless Special Bunch.

Frankly, I've never met them in person but it comes naturally for any of us out there - who believe that we are after all brothers and sisters, who would feel the pain (peha kana kena cubit, peha kiri terasa sakit), transcending the 'articifial man-made barriers' - to have this deep respect and affection for them.

Their 'reports' make me - smile, cry, mad, thankful and sane - they make me human, simply, as we know that in today's world, being humane is a huge challenge. In the quest of personal interest of power and wealth, we hurt each other too often, conciously and subconciously.

So, they came, they saw and their reports 'conquered' our hearts.

In the Malay heartland of Manek Urai, despite being different, our malay brothers and sisters welcomed them with generous hospitality. I am so touched whenever i look at all the photos in their blogs, i cannot help myself but cry. 'Terima Kasih Tuan Rumah' for making their stay a wonderful experience.

Untuk menyahut seruan Encik Dnightcaller, i want to 'sing' another song this week ( please, don't blame me as my mom told me i started singing while i was in her comfy, warm tummy:) ).

My dear Uncle Zorro and Special Bunch, this song is for you...

No words can thank you all enough
May God Bless you all, always

Ikhlas, Fi-sha

They Long To Be Close To You – The Carpenters

Why do birds suddenly appear
Every time you are near?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

Why do stars fall down from the sky
Every time you walk by?
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

On the day that you were born
The angels got together
And decided to create a dream come trueS
So they sprinkled moon-dust
In your hair of gold
And starlight in your eyes of blue

That is why all the people in town
Follow you all around
Just like me, they long to be
Close to you

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stand By Your Man

Abe Uji, the fish wholesaler, won Manek Urai by-election by 65 votes against the graduate, who represents the Mighty UMNO (read: Kac$hing, Spinning MSM, aunties and kakak2 pituitary (gland ke?:P) plus 2,000 over policemen there) - Yey! Rejoice all - for the latter should win this by-election with at least 2,000 majority.

Jadi, apa beza peraih ikan dengan graduan U?
Jadi, apa beza kerajaan negeri yang tak dapt sesen royalti minyak dengan kerajaan pusat yang duk kaut royalti minyal dari Petronas beratus billion? Ouch, ouch, ouch! Fikir-fikirlah sendiri Nabil kata :)

Abe Uji janji nak bagi 40 tong ikan kalau dia menang. Kalau nampak dia bergegas meninggalkan dewan tu, jangan la ambil hati sebab dia nak gi ambik ike, buat jamu satu Manek Urai. Amanah sungguh Abe Uji! Hidup Abe Uji! Kalau semua syarikat ada boss macam Abe Uji, semua anak buoh duk suka hati sebab dapat boss amanah, prihatin dan rendah diri (semua nak gi buat sendiri).

Today, is my sing-a-song day. This second song is for all the men out there, who come home with battered soul, bruised ego and shell-shocked trauma after the by-election. We, your women, still care for you but will love you more if we could knock some senses into your genius brain. Get it ;)?

Stand by Your Man - Dixie Chicks

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man
You'll have bad times and he'll have good times
Doing things that you don't understand

But if you love him please forgive him
Even though he's hard to understand
And if you love him, be proud of him
'Cause after all he's just man

Stand by your man
Give him two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
When the nights are cold and lonely

Stand by your man
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man

And if you love him, be proud of him
'Cause after all he's just a man

If I Could Melt Your Heart

My Dearest,

You only see what your eyes want to see
How can life be what you want it be
You're frozen
When your heart is not open

You are so consumed with how much you get
You waste your time with hate and regret
You're broken
When your heart is not open

If I could melt your heart
We'd never be apart
Give yourself to me
You hold the key

Now there is no point in placing the blame
And you should know I suffer the same
If I lose you
My heart will be broken

Love is a bird she needs to fly
Let all the hurt inside of you die
You're frozen
When your heart is not open

If I could melt your heart

Yours Truly,
~ Your Conscience ~

This is "Frozen" by Madonna and it is dedicated to all of us as: -
  • Gandhi-ji says "The human voice can never cover the distance that is covered by the still small voice of conscience";
  • James Freeman Clarks thinks "Conscience is the root of all true courage; if a man would be brave, let him obey his conscience"; and
  • Napoleon Bonaparte professes "The extent of your consciousness is limited by only your ability to love and to embrace with your love the space around you and all it contains".
  • Mark Twain feels "Conscience, man's moral medicine chest"

Let's embrace our conscience...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bono, Obama and Ghana = New Africa

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish
and you feed him for a lifetime" - Lao Tzu

While one 'leader' celebrated his 100 days in Putrajaya Command Centre with populist short-term goodies (more of 'khabar berita dari rupa' because like PPSMI, implementation sucks in this part of our 'world'), Mr. Obama has his feet firmply planted on the ground when he says the economic stimulus would only 'bear fruits' in 2 years time - that's my Mr Seriously Realistic!

, a dear blogger, shared with me an article wrote by U2's Bono on Mr. Obama's visit to Ghana titled "Rebranding Africa". Thanks Joshua!

Here's some of the interesting excerpts from the said article, which i think are relevant and applicable for us, right-minded malaysians, to take comfort that these are workable, if our government is serious about changes: -

"President Obama can hasten that day. He knows change won’t come easily. Corruption stalks Africa’s reformers. “If you fight corruption, it fights you back,” a former Nigerian anti-corruption official has said. From his bully pulpit, the president can take aim at the bullies. Without accountability — no opportunity. If that’s not a maxim, it ought to be. It’s a truism, anyway".

2. "That’s thanks to Africans like John Githongo, the former anticorruption chief of Kenya — a hero of mine who is pioneering a new brand of bottom-up accountability...Then there’s Nigeria’s moral and financial fist — Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a managing director of the World Bank and the country’s former finance minister — who is on a quest to help African countries recover stolen assets looted by corrupt officials. And the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, which is helping countries like Ghana clean up the oil, gas and mining business, to make sure that profits don’t wind up in the hands of kleptocrats".

3. "New promises from usual and unusual partners, from the G-8 to the G-20, need to be made — and this time kept. If more African nations (not just Ghana) are going to meet the millennium goals, they are going to need smart partners in business and development. That’s Smart as in sustainable, measurable, accountable, responsive and transparent".

And here's another snippet from an article from AP, which speaks volume of the First Family's values, deeply ingrained in them, for they know where they come from, the torments their forefathers had to go through to make a difference in their own ways to this world, now inherited by their generations.

Their ancestors must be so proud of them. I wonder - are we doing the same thing or are we destroying our forefathers' reputation and sacrifices - all in the name of self-interest politics?

p.s. Talking about self-interest politics,
Encik Aspan Alias' blogpost is a must-read.

"Inside the whitewashed fortress, the first family got a tour of the oven-like brick dungeons where slaves were crammed as they awaited their fate. The Obamas walked through the "Door of No Return" — the gateway through which thousands passed to ships bound for America — and paused in contemplation, arms around each others backs.

Afterward, the president called the castle "a place of profound sadness." He told reporters it put him in mind of Buchenwald, the German concentration camp he saw last month — evidence of "the capacity of human beings for great evil."

Yet he also found it inspiring, and hoped Malia and Sasha would grasp its import. "It is here where the journey of much of the African-American experience began," he said.

"Every day with its success, Ghana sends a simple message to the world, that democracy can thrive in Africa," Obama declared. "Great days lie ahead for this nation. The future is on Ghana's side".

So, after figuring out this equation as this -> Ghana (Bono's article x Obama's visit) = Rebranded Africa, do you think you can figure out an equation for a better Ibu Pertiwi?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

These Are My Favourite Things

When the dog bites, When the bee stings, When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favourite things and then I don't feel so bad

- Sound of Music

Maria sang this song to Von Trapp children during one thunderstormy night in her bedroom.

Of course I am sad - 1FPM6 will arrive at ‘its’ 100 days in the next few days but are we any better or worse, today than 100 days before? After too many talking cock and gimmicks, I think I need to sit for another MENSA test to check if my IQ has gone south. However, I am sure that my EQ has quadrupled since May, 7. Coupled to some ‘disturbing and confusing facts and fallacies on every front’, this is really a sad week, indeed.

Therefore, i have to ‘sing’ you “My Favourite A-Z Things” since I’ve been tagged by my dear Mirian Bong (ain’t that cool Bong, even better than Martian, kan? :P): -

A = Audrey Hepburn, definitely! She epitomised beauty in every possible forms

B = Ballet is the most expressive body language in the world yet so mysterious. I wish I were a ballerina because most of the times, words would not be able to express your feelings

C = Cats, of course!

D = Daffodils are cheap and cheerful. This happy faces of spring time is the national emblem of Wales – my favourite part of the United Kingdom

E = Empathy and I wish I have enough of it to be a compassionate soul and make this world a better place

F = Family and Friends are close to my dear heart and I love this proverb that says it all - “Treat your family like friends and your friends like family”

G = Garden, Tropical Spice Garden in Teluk Bahang - there's a giant swing overlooking the sea that makes it the most romantic spot in this wonderful garden

H = Hill, magical Penang Hill – I guessed I fell in love with this hill after countless trips up there with my parents when I was once an innocent, cute little girl (well, you can ‘see’ from my blog what I’ve turned into)

I = Ibu Pertiwi, tanah tumpahnya darah ku, rakyat hidup bersatu dan maju
J = “J”, simply…

K = Kitchen is my favourite place of the house and my mom says it is the soul of the house. It is my ‘lab’, where I do my thinking – best – while cooking!

L = L-O-V-E and for this word, you have to listen to Nat King Cole’s Love

M = Making up is better – someone said this and don’t you think so?

N = Never say Never – Lance Armstrong swears to these words and yes, he’s going to grab the yellow jersey from Fabian Cancellara in TdF 2009

O = Of course, it has to be Mr. and Mrs. Obama – the best partnership

P = Pumps are sweet, comfy and petite – just my kind of ‘heaven on feet’

Q = Quintessentially English is a great business model that is people and environmental friendly. If I could do it here, it would be called Quintessentially Malaysian

R = Raindrops & Rainbow – physically and metaphorically capable of putting a broad smile on my face and in my heart

S = Sotto Voce perfume by Italian Laura Biagotti as it has my favourite smells of blackcurrants, coriander, plum and peaches for its top notes, orchid for its middle notes and vanilla as its basic note. Sadly, P&G stopped selling it here for the longest time !sigh!

T = Tempestuous perfectly describes my emotion at its best (or worst)

U = Understated fashion sense like Jackie O and Michelle O – I like!

V = Vanilla, what else can I say, my heavenly vanilla!

W = Wenger. My Arsene Wenger !sigh!

XX = XX Chromosomes – Praise to God for making me a woman for the hands that rock the cradle will rock the world. For that, love thy mother, love thy wife, love thy daughters and the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with

Y = Yogurt is yummilicious!

Z = Zoologist is my dream career – I reckon it is even more enriching, fulfilling and daring career compared to dealing with human beings.

p.s. Sorry Bong, this tag will stop here..for now.