Sleepless in Janda Baik

(Originally written on 17 January 2009)

Have you ever had that perfect moment you cherish a lifetime?

I could name a few:  one evening at Weston Park in Sheffield where I laid my body flat on the lush field, the daffodils moved timidly along with the spring breeze, the smell of freshly-cut grass wafted through my nostrils; that sweltering hot day, back when I was a child, playing hide and seek with my friends down at grandma’s orchard, monitor lizards and leeches never bothered me at all; the sound of waves helplessly crashing itself along the shores of Batu Buruk, a melody of water so haunting I could never forget the intensity.

And tonight adds to that long list of perfect moments I have been so blessed to keep in the deepest corner of my heart. Few lines scribbled on the Moleskine, too, would help jog the brain whenever needed. Janda Baik has never been foreign to me but we are hardly best buddies either, until recently.

Here on the grass of Zaini’s Guesthouse, I lay on the matt we spread around us, not far from the barbeque pit. Low cloud eases itself to the east, paving way for the thousands of stars in the sky to shine on us. The faint sound of Chal’s voice, singing rhymes to little Amin and Ammar, punctures the still of the night. Midnight wind caresses my bare face; my nose twitches a little to fight the cold breeze.

When I close my eyes, I hear gushes of water running against the slippery stones and pebbles of the surrounding waterfalls, crickets holding a shouting match and the lone voice of seruling from the chalet atop the hill. 

Nights like this would inspire me until the birth of dawn in the sky. I wish I could hide in here forever, to romance the words away, to read until I turn blue in the face or to just lay still in the sweet embrace of nature.

Tell me, my friends, have you ever had moments like this? Goodnight wherever you are.

Postscript: I snapped the photo above from the spot where I wrote this, and I tragically lost the Moleskine. My heart bleeds until now. 

Book Review: Waiter Rant

Ah, how do I describe Steve Dublanica, the author of the sensational book Waiter Rant? He is, first and foremost, a quintessential New York waiter. This book – blook if you are being fussy – is born from Dublanica’s award-winning blog, The Waiter Rant. The blog garners million of hits and comments – both constructive and destructive – propelling its owner, now turned published author, to a dizzying heights of fame. To be honest, I envy Dublanica’s stroke of luck.

On the contrary, Dublanica’s life, some nine years ago, was dismal at its best. Unceremoniously laid-off from a health care company, he sought his brother’s help to make him a waiter at an Italian restaurant, Amici’s. Dublanica soon discovered the neurotic working environment in a restaurant, when a fellow waiter trying to decide whether or not he is gay.

Having failed to fend off insane owner and backstabbing at Amici’s, he was later fired from the restaurant. He quickly resurrected from his misery after being employed as chief waiter by Fluvio – Amici’s previous cook. Dublanica fancied himself as the “Waiter Jedi” of The Bistro, where he towered above other waiters and waitress when he got  to decide on the shifts.

Six year later, Dublanica woke up and, well, found himself still a waiter. From what he deemed as an in-between job in his life had turned into a career. Perhaps, that explains the cynicism in his writing. Trapped in such a thankless job, as your monthly income depends largely on the tips you get, Murray began describing his stint at The Bistro in an anonymous blog.  He shielded his identity to protect the interest of the establishment.

The story – tied up in a form of restaurant anecdotes, captivating dialogues and his personal life – is set against the backdrop of New York at current time. Environment of the restaurant business in America is best described as “the survival of the fittest,” where the waiters fight for the best time to work to earn more tips above their meager basic salary. However, I am guessing, the author’s wits pull the reader closer to him – if not, it is his blatant honesty which tantamount to vulgarity at times.

If you are looking for literary  writer, Murray, would not satisfy your appetite. But, if you are looking for a nouveau, light-hearted, honest-to-god writing, this book is a perfect choice. 

The book retails at RM60 (I think) at Borders. 

Al-Kawthar

In conjunction with Read the Qur’an‘s campaign launched by Kak Marina and Syed, I am writing about a surah, closest to my heart. A close friend, Kawthar, was also named after this surah. 

I start this post with a translation of the Surah in bahasa Melayu: 

“Al-Kauthar
Dengan nama Allah, Yang Maha Pemurah, lagi Maha Mengasihani.
[108:1]
Sesungguhnya Kami telah mengurniakan kepadamu (wahai Muhammad) kebaikan yang banyak (di dunia dan di akhirat).

[108:2]
Oleh itu, kerjakanlah sembahyang kerana Tuhanmu semata-mata dan sembelihlah korban (sebagai bersyukur).”

[108:3]
Sesungguhnya orang yang bencikan engkau, Dialah yang terputus (dari mendapat sebarang perkara yang diingininya).” 

And Kawthar, or best known as “Chal” among friends, is a god-fearing person. A wife and a mother to 2 beautiful boys, Chal, never preaches but she shows you the way to be closer to God. Chal makes it so easy to stop shopping for 15 minutes to give way for solat. She jokingly told me that her handbag is huge; she chucks everything inside including her telekong. It is just the way  she does everything in her life that humbles me. 

Chal is still the epitome of fashion even when she’s fully covered. That is just amazing… 

Once, I called her, laden with my worldly woes, but Chal just made everything better. Her smile, intonation and wise words shooed away the miseries I had at that time. When I grow up, I want to be like Chal. 

I hope you will find your Kawthar because I surely have found mine. Amin. 

Chal & Aswi during iftar at Rebung, Oct 2008

Secawan kopi di pagi Isnin

Di atas meja ada: komputer riba Apple, secawan latte yang mahal (bukannya saya menyokong Starbucks tetapi saya ketagih minuman ini), satu buku nota moleskine yang buruk dan 2 batang pencil 2B yang tumpul. Kerja pun tak banyak, kakitangan pejabat takut hendak bertanya, sebab semua boss asyik bad mood kebelakangan ini. Boss yang sedang menulis sekarang ini, paling teruk bad mood nya. 

Walaupun sudah dimangkin otak dengan kafein, isinya tetap kosong. Ketandusan idea. Kontang bagai laut pasir di Sahara. 

Balik rumah jaga anak lagi bagus. 

Nota kaki: Sahabat saya, Mat Salo, baru sahaja menulis satu cerita pendek yang tegar. Sila klik di sini untuk membacanya.

Florence’s Point of View

Ah, the effervescent Florence Looi.

A lawyer-turned-TV personality, Madam Looi, will produce and host NTV 7′s new talk show, Point of View. Her debut show will go on air tonight at 8.30 p.m. with repeats on Mondays at 12 midnight. 

Florence and I used to chamber together at Lee Hishammuddin in 1999. Five years later, she left legal fraternity in search of a greener pasture (who wouldn’t if you are rotting among thousands of lawyers in town?).

We got along like a house on fire. Our friendship was fostered with planning truancy during office hours, artificial rock climbing and cycling at Bukit Cerakah. Totally based on her power of persuasion, she managed to make me jog with her on Sunday mornings! For someone who thinks exercise is worse than childbirth, Florence did a good job in convincing me. 

Florence is an eloquent speaker. She can be rather opinionated at times, but only in getting her point across. She has a wicked sense of humor too. Prior to producing and hosting her own talk show, Florence anchored The Exchange on TV3 for three months. But The Exchange is far too clever for someone like me, so I look forward to watch her on Point of View.

The show will feature a lively debate on current affairs with two or three guests of dissenting points of view. I assume Florence will have to play moderator if the debate gets too heated. I am sure she has no qualm in doing so, her practice in law will lend her a helping hand in being a moderator.

The one-hour show seeks to be informative yet entertaining in pursuit of knowledge and balanced perspective. Let us show Florence our support by watching her on Point of View tonight. 

Good luck mate!

Let’s Read the Quran

quran-logo

On January 1st 2009, four friends Syed, Walski, Marina and Anas got together at Coffee-Bean Bangsar Village and decided to launch a campaign to encourage people to read and understand the Quran better. 

This campaign is not only for Muslims, but also for our brothers and sisters who are Christians, Buddhists Hindus, Sikhs and those who believes in a God-Head but not so gung-ho about being in any brand of religion, too – come join us and share your ideas! You can join this campaign even if you are an atheist! 

The goal of this campaign is to encourage people to read the Quran in the language they understand most and find in it areas of common values in our day to day living.

What is the Campaign all about?

Read the Quran in the language that you are familiar with.

When will the campaign start and end?

January 15th to February 14th (Happy Valentine’s Day!)

Where?

Participating blogs in the blogospheres.

Why?

So more people know what the Quran says and what the Quran does not say and to match it to what is really said in our daily lives.

Who?

Everyone who wants to – the more the merrier! If you have a Blog, Facebook, etc carry the logo/icon.

How?

  • To join the campaign, place the accompanying logo/icon at your blog.
  • Write or share short articles based on the Quranic text.
  • Share what you find in the Quran with family and friends.
  • Ask questions about the Quranic message
  • Read the Quran – eg click here http://www.islamicity.com/QuranSearch , www.altafsir.com

Peace and Thanks, 

Marina Mahathir

Syed Akbar Ali

Walski, and,

Anas Zubedy 

Participating Blogs 

  1. 3540 Jalan Sudin http://www.nursamad.blogspot.com/
  2. Anas Zubedy: http://letusaddvalue.blogspot.com
  3. ARTiculations: http://art-harun.blogspot.com/
  4. Being Human in the World: http://www.peru.name/writing
  5. Cowboy Malaysia: http://cowboymalaysia.wordpress.com
  6. Disquiet: http://malikimtiaz.blogspot.com
  7. Jebat Must Die: http://jebatmustdie.wordpress.com/
  8. Lunch at the Lake Club: http://lunchatthelakeclub.blogspot.com
  9. MACVAYSIA: http://macvaysia.com
  10. myAsylum: http://asylum60.blogspot.com
  11. O.B.E. http://shar101.wordpress.com/
  12. OutSyed The Box: http://syedsoutsidethebox.blogspot.com
  13. Poetic Justice: http://nizambashir.com/
  14. Rantings by MM: http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com
  15. Rapera: http://jahaberdeen.blogspot.com/
  16. Renovatio: http://stephendoss.blogspot.com
  17. Rocky’s Bru: http://rockybru.com.my/
  18. Write Away: http://elviza.wordpress.com/
  19. Writing By Amir: http://amirmu.blogspot.com/