Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Club

There is just something about belonging to a club that gives a person a certain sense of belonging. When you have something in common, its always nice to be able to group together and share experiences with one another. Sometimes a club is formed "unofficially", where it so happened that people who share something in common happens to congregate at the same place until one such day that everyone seemed to know each other. My father happened to belong to such a club. Its something he does every three month or so, and usually when he is there, he will come across people he has met or even some friends from his golf club. You can see a certain camaraderie among them, as they have gone through life threatening episodes in their life and they now resolve never to be in the same situation again.

Despite that, I do not wish to belong to such club.

Place of meeting : IJN, Kuala Lumpur
Common interest: Angioplasty procedures or by-pass surgery

I'll make sure I won't join your club, dad :)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Reminiscence: Madison, WI Prt 3

I made the decision to attend University of Wisconsin, Madison when I was asked by the JPA officer to decide between UW and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. When the placement office at PPP/ITM applied for my university, University of Michigan wasn't in the list. The other two universities that offered me a place were Purdue University and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In fact I was later told that initially the placement office wanted to place me at NYU but JPA was not keen on sending anybody to New York city. I have always wanted to attend Uof M and when I went to see the Head of Program, she told me that I should go for it and they will assist me in my application. The only thing is that I need to pay for the placement fee on my own (USD65).

In fact, University of Michigan was the first university to send me a Letter of Acceptance but something in the literature that they sent me prevented me from jumping with joy. It read "...students applying into the School of Business must complete their Freshmen and Sophomore year at University of Michigan..."

Wait a minute.

So, when the JPA officer told me to take both I-20 forms from both UW and UM to a small room and think it over, I basically have less than five minutes to decide something that will shape the rest of my life.

Oppps... again :)

For the past few days, the media was highlighting KLIA's (Kuala Lumpur Internatinal Airport) win in the 15-20 million passenger catergory for the best airport in the world.

However, barely two days after the victory, the airport was hit by massive blackout, apparently caused by a thunderstorm that strike one of power plant supplying electricity to the airport. According to the report, the incident happened during non-peak hours where passenger arrival and departure were minimal.

Anyway, I was reminded of an incident that happened when I was in Madison, WI. The city chief of police proudly announced in the media that Madison went for a whole year without any murder crime. Guess what happened the next day ?

Someone was found murdered.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Reminiscence: Madison, WI Prt 2

The next day we had our orientation with the MSD officers. I can't really recall what was actually being said, except for the spattering of "you have to study hard" and "taxpayer's money". Halfway through, one of the MSD officer called me out (no, not just any officer but the head of MSD LA and waiting for me at the lobby was Pak Long Mail and Mak Long Yasmin. Pak Long was the Counsel General in LA (and an old boy of MCKK) and since I gave them a call last night, they decided to drop by. They were asking the MSD officer whether they could take me out to their place for lunch but to my dismay, the officer told Pak Long that the orientation will provide me with "much needed" information and alas, I was back in the hall after saying good bye to Pak Long and ever stunning Mak Long.

After one full day of orientation, the next day was the moment we were waiting for; our flights to our respective universities...

-to be continued


Apparently, the girl who supposedly scored 19 1As actually managed 18 As (14 1As, 4 As and 1 B). To think that for the last week or so, the media (well, one of them anyway) was trumpeting her achievement. To be fair to her, what she achieved was already quite good but I am so sorry for those folks at her hometown who were putting up buntings and banners on her "19 1As" achievement..


Cost of Living (and retiring)

I drove my father to his blood test at the IJN (Institut Jantung Negara, or National Heart Institute) this morning. Ever since he did his angioplasty last June, he has been diligently going for regular check ups at IJN. I was not around when he suffered his first attack. It was in '97 and I was still in Madison at the time. I only found out about a month later when my mum finally told me.

He has been on a steady regiment of pills for the last ten years and boy, they do cost a lot. To add to the matter, about two years ago, he was diagnosed with diabetes more medication comes along.

Anyway, as I was waiting for my father, I saw the headline about how someone who is 35 years old today would need to have at least RM1.4 million by the time he/she is 55 in order to retire comfortably. Excuse me.. RM1.4 million?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Reminiscence: Madison, WI Prt 1

Somehow, I am more in a very nostalgic mode after watching, of all things, Desperate Housewives :) I am not going to divulge what particular scene it was but suffice to say, it brought back many happy memories of my universities days. I did not keep a journal of my days in Madison so in a way, it's going to be a form of journal for me. Just to make it easier to distinguished from present day posting, I will used italic when I am in my "nostalgic" mode, so here goes.

Come to think of it, it all took place ten years ago.

I departed for the United States on 20th January 1996, which happens to be my 21st birthday. How often do you get to celebrate your birthday twice ... I departed in the morning of the 20th and arrived in LA, also in the morning. I couldn't really recall the flight (it was a 21 hour flight, with a stopover in Tokyo, thank God) but I can remember vividly the moment the MAS flight landed at LAX. There was excitment in everyone's face and we were like "Finally, we are in the US of A"

In fact, we almost did not make it to the states. We were scheduled to fly off in batches in January of '96 but towards the end of November '95, the US was experiencing a government shutdown (fiscal crisis, Newt Gingrich, the works...) and among the casualties were embassies all over the world. We were not able to get our Visas and in fact, our sponsor (JPA) were contemplating of sending us for the Fall session. Luckily the crisis was able to be resolved and we were duly issued our visas. Talk about close shave.

If I recalled correctly, there were forty of us in the flight; I was among the 12 to be shipped off to Madison, WI while the rest were sent to places like Wyoming and Montana. We were to have our orientation for two nights before we depart on the domestic flight to our respective universities. I can't remember the name of hotel we stayed but what I remember is that, upon checking in, a group of us actually went to the nearest news store and purchase various adult magazines! That night, we went to Ralph's, a supermarket located nearby and I purchased a phone card to call home.

-to be continued

19 1As ? What's Next?

It was recently published in the Malay dailies that for the last SPM examination, a girl from Johore achieved another record-breaking 19 1A, beating the previous record of 17 1As (or was it 18?), set also by another lass from Johore.

First of all, I never knew that much subject existed in the SPM exams. Even way back in koleq, the nine subjects we took (ten, if you include English 1119) were wee bit too much for me. Even with the nine we took, the aim was to score an aggregate of less than ten. Not many of us were thinking about straight A's, except for the few who actually believed they could and they did. Yes, even with that, I managed to overshoot by one point.

So, were we less smarter back then or the exams are much easier?

Also, what is it that they put in the water in Johore ?

Signs of Aging.. Part I

I was down with fever since last friday and it was then that I realized how much I have aged.

You see, way way back (yes, way way back) if I have a fever, I would take two dose of Panadol and voila, the next day I would be A ok...

... but off late, I am still feverish on the third and fourth day, only to recover fully on the fifth. Statistically speaking, my recovery rate is down by 400% (did I get that right ?) and that's not good.

Innalillah.. The Passing of Mak Lang Barirah

Barely three months into the new year, I have lost two very close relatives.

Mak Lang Barirah passed away on saturday morning, March 3, 2007 after a long bout with cancer.

Mak Lang is the mother to my cousin, Intan who is also a regular blogger. Check out her blog at http://melopong.blogspot.com/

I visited arwah Mak Lang at Hospital UKM a few months back when she was warded at the Makna cancer ward. Despite all the adversity, arwah Mak Lang displayed some admirable fighting spirits.

Semoga Allah mencucuri rahmat ke atas rohnya dan semoga ditempat bersama para-para solehen dan syuhada. Amin.