Save the tiger. An environment pledge by a sultan.

I saw this video. Please watch.


Slowing down for the ostrich

It was an unusual sight for motorists on Federal Highway, KL to see an ostrich sprinting past them, switching lanes even. Most drivers, slowed down to take in the spectacular sight on a a Ramadan afternoon; some even managed to capture it on video.

The feathered fugitive, Chickaboo, celebrated her freedom at 35km/h run from University Malaya passing by Angkasapuri.

What was it like for the bird and those who slowed down to see her passed by? Magical, I imagine. For a non-eyewitness like me, the flight of the ostrich has inspired me to resuscitate this blog.

I’m slowing down for the ostrich.




Pok Long

Satiman, a fellow journalist based in Kuala Terengganu, telephoned me this morning. After brief exchange of greetings and the explanation of how he lost his cellphone, he broke the news, Pok Long died.

I was choked with emotions.

Satiman and I interviewed him at his house in Kampung Bukit Putera, a village in Setiu, about 50 kilometres from Kuala Terengganu, in October last year.

Pok Long was a vivacious seventy year old artist, perhaps the only handful who could make traditional Malay musical instruments and played them. During the interview, he played a wayang kulit song with a hundred-year old serunai he inherited from his late uncle.

We were about to leave when it rained heavily and his wife, Mok Long invited us to join them for lunch a simple kampung fare of sayur air, ikan goreng, sambal sardin, budu, ulam and steaming white rice. Many tales were told during lunch among others how he and 30 others first opened the village about half a century ago. Many laughter was shared and friendship bonded.

The article graced the cover of Life & Times last month. Here’s the story

And here’s the little film I made of Pok Long, the artist.

I have never met him before the interview and it turned out to be the one and only time I saw him, but his kindness and dedication to art would remain with me for many years to come. Al-Fatihah.

Day trip to Fraser’s Hill

On a weekday after the end of all holidays, New Year, Christmas, school term, Fraser’s Hill is deserted. Tranquil and a joy to be at.

We arrived at Simpang Gap at about 11.20am and reached the town half an hour later. We didn’t do much but drove around looking at the bungalows, admiring the manicured lawns at the golf club which is right next to the clock tower.

I like the 1919 Balai Polis best.

We descend the hill via a new route and exited at Simpang Gap.

Just before Kuala Kubu Bharu, we stopped by at the Sungai Selangor Dam. The entrance to the dam was closed, perhaps it was only open during the office hours. There were many other visitors taking pictures, some just parked their cars to enjoy the fresh air, golden sun and the vast water body.

New year

Second day of the year, how quickly the year ages.

I have been transferred to the lifestyle section of the newspaper as a multimedia journalist. New challenges lie ahead and hopefully I will get to learn more about writing for different media.

Outside the window, yellow sun ray on wet green grass, morning sky white and still. I breathe newness.

Stargazing at Telok Kemang

Photography of the constellation Taurus, the bull

Image via Wikipedia

I never thought the day would come that I could tell constellations Orion, Taurus, Seven Sisters and Sirius with the naked eye.

Last night after dinner Azah asked me if I wanted to catch meteor showers at Telok Kemang, a friend of hers had invited. I would be mad to say no.

We arrived at Telok Kemang at about 12.30am, bundling along snacks, drinks, mat, blankets and pillows. A group of enthusiasts, researchers and some people from the Mufti office were already there.

It was pitch black except for lights from distant factories. Cameras on tripods with lenses pointing towards zenith scattered around what looked like bodies arranged on mats on the beach. Yeah, in the dark the star gazers looked like that.

We found a spot and spread the mat before lying down to gaze at the stars. But there were no stars. Just clouds. Eh?

Half an hour later the clouds lazily rolled away unveiling a vista of velvet night of stars and more stars. Eyes wide, I felt, taking in as much light as I could at the amazing view.

Look, that is Sirius. Farah who was lying next to me pointed at the brightest star on my left. She explained that Sirius belonged to a constellation called Dog Star (or something like that). The only Sirius I know was Sirius Black from Harry Potter.

Then there was the Orion or The Hunter, which had three bright stars aligned like a belt. The Taurus, had stars arranged like a V, while the Seven Sisters was a cluster of stars like grapes.

One of the guys caught the Orion and the nebula on his DSLR. The hunter with his bow and arrow decorated with an interstellar orange cloud of dust and gases. I was green with envy, the only picture-taking tool I had with me, was my mobile phone.

These stars moved across the sky and throughout the night whenever the clouds didn’t sail in, we could see the Geminid meteors lit up the sky. The stargazers counted out loud 21, 22, and so on. And ohh I saw a fireball!

The fresh sea breeze and the stars, never mind the sharp rocks underneath the mat, lulled me to sleep between 3am to 3.45am. Suddenly it started to rain stars. They streaked the sky, golden, silvery, and blazing bluish. I had never seen anything like it before. Fireworks display were an exaggerated version of meteor shower but never quite as enchanting as this.

The peak ends at about 4.30am. We left Telok Kemang soon after, and I went straight to work, arriving at the office at 6.20am.

But what a night it was.

The smell of adventure

There is something about writing on a fresh, crisp page of a new journal. It makes me feel giddy with delight, hope and aspirations. As the year rushes to an end, I am on a quest for a good notebook. No, not the one with Li batteries to charge but thread-bound papers printed with dates and feels good to the touch.

Last year I was in Fukuoka scouring my favourite minimalist departmental store Muji for a  diary and found this: an A6 weekly planner, with square note pages. I loved it.


Its white plastic cover is soiled with use and its pages were a mix of jottings (some neat others scrambled), sketches, recipes, expenses, new and renewed contacts, to-do lists and reminders.

The 2010 diary is filled with heaps of activities from meeting with friends, journeys, adventures and film-making. It travels with me to everywhere; reminding, listing and keeping all things, happening or otherwise, intact. I am old-fashioned. I have yet found an e-gadget that could replace the paper and ink planner.

Today I got myself, a Moleskine, a pocket-sized soft cover black weekly notebook planner. It is slightly smaller, has the same layout and opens as easily as Muji’s.

Who can tell what’s in store for me in 2011 but the smell of adventure is promising.

Hello world!

Welcome to So says the site developer.

I’m still trying to figure out the tools here as I plan to migrate the content of my other blog to this site. Soon.

The last lap

The FreedomFilmFest 2010 organiser had allowed us extra time to complete the film, but we wanted to finish this film ASAP.

After last night’s screening with the focus group, I noted some corrections that had to be made including a few on the subtitles.

Today, the mistakes were duly corrected and graphics are added to the title page. We made a final check on the film; names of people, places, subtitle, end credit, title, graphics, colour and sound.

After the film preview, we gave Joe the nod to create a master copy. Until today, I have lost count the number of times I previewed the film.

The film, as we proudly called it Kisah Tauke Mancis dan Minyak Tumpah, is completed.

Screening to the focus group: my family

Suddenly I had a tight knot in my stomach (where were the butterflies?).

The final cut of the film documentary, all 28 minutes of it complete with title and end credit will be screened in my living room to the most important people: my parents, sisters and their husbands, nieces and nephews and my own family.

  • Age: between eight and 67; 
  • Education background: primary school to postgraduate; 
  • Job background: mostly engineers, banker, entrepreneur, trainer, and a daily news editor;
  • Political views: varied; Malay supremacy must reign, Prime Ministers need not even be Muslims, PKR is only sympathetic to Anwar not to the people, PAS is the way to go, Any party but Umno, No MIC, PAS is too unfashionable, UMNO is the people’s saviour and the non-partisans who watch Animal Planet religiously;
  • Hobbies: ranging from photography, violin and piano, Transformers, Nokia, to bargain hunting in Bandung and Bangkok;
  • Common trait: all are seasoned travellers;
  • Common interest: good food.

Their feedback is essential to help me gauge a general response to this film. As a family, they have been supportive of my previous work (including television dramas, docudramas, and a novel) but I dared not speculate their reactions towards this film, largely because it was rather different in tone and subject. But they have been, and for this film could be, critical too.

Could I accept criticism from the people I love? Would I be mature enough to sift between support and honest views? The knot in my stomach tightened.

The family-cum-focus group arrived in batches. After the last one was seated, the lights were dimmed and the final cut of Tauke Mancis dan Minyak Tumpah played. The room was silent, even the young ones paid serious attention to the opening scene.

I stood at the back of the room gazing at the faces of the audience, capturing in mind their expressions and gestures.

They clapped when they saw my name on the title run, cheered when they heard my voice narrating the film in the background, they were loud and generous with running commentary as the film progressed. At  about two third of the film my father walked out of the room. Clearly perturbed, he had to smoke but continued watching from the doorway. My mother sat very still.

At the end of the film, they gave me a round of applause, I switched on the lights, grinned and the knot in my stomach grew into a massive Gordian.

In brief here are the comments:

“You can’t change this any more? The intro is just too long.”

“Perlu ke pijak kepala lembu tu?” (The Animal Planet fan club was agitated with the protesters stepping on the severed cow’s head)

“What’s wrong with PKNS? The residents should have sued them a long time ago.”

“Ehh Ustad tu familiarla. Dia punya ceramah memang best.”

“Can I have the end credit song made into a ring tone?”

“This film should not be shown at international film festival. It is embarrassing to tell foreigners of our internal conflicts.”

“What do we do with the extremists?”

The last comment was the Alexander sword that swiftly sever the Gordian knot. Alhamdulillah.