web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: August 2004
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Friday, August 27, 2004
More than Mystic PIzza

I'm going to do a Dina here and recommend a blog. Go visit http://chezesham.blogspot.com/ for some truly amazing morsels of food, including some for thought and soul.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004
Every Choice is Worth your While

watershed - indigo girls

thought i knew my mind
like the back of my hand
the gold and the rainbow
but nothing panned out as i planned
and they say only milk and honey's
gonna make your soul satisfied
well i better learn how to swim
cause the crossing is chilly and wide

twisted guardrails on the highway
broken glass on the cement
a ghost of someone's tragedy
how recklessly my time has been spent
they say that it's never too late
but you don't, you don't get any younger
well i better learn how to starve the emptiness
and feed the hunger

up on the watershed
standing at the fork in the road
you can stand there and agonize
till your agony's your heaviest load
you'll never fly as the crow flies
get used to a country mile
when you're learning to face
the path at your pace
every choice is worth your while

and there's always retrospect
(when you're looking back)
to light a clearer path
every five years or so i look back on my life
and i have a good laugh
you start at the top
go full circle round
catch a breeze
take a spill
but ending up where i started again
makes me wanna stand still

stepping on a crack
breaking up and looking back
til every tree limb overhead just seems to sit and wait
til every step you take becomes a twist of fate

picture taken at tan's camelia gardens, cameron highlands 19 aug 2004


Tuesday, August 24, 2004
Every Man Must Go to Heaven in His Own Way

That's the title of Aliran's media statement earlier this month. I found this website after I posted the entry below, and thought it was appropriate to include this here.
The Star published this piece, but it was heavily edited. The parts in bold were the ones left out.
Aliran Media Statement

Every man must go to heaven in his own way

There is no doubt that there is an urgent need to reach out and embrace each other as fellow Malaysians and children of a compassionate God. It is this commonality that should unite us as citizens and enable us to live as brothers and sisters in spite of our adherence to different faiths.

Our religious upbringing and background and the lessons of virtue imparted by our various traditions should guide us to be models of moderation, compassion and tolerence which are rooted in the core value of justice.

But it doesn’t seem that easy.

There are certain exponents of every faith who are bent on being the spoilers by proclaiming that theirs is the only way in absolutist terms and exclusive rights. In their bigotry, they drive in the religious and ethnic wedges that keep us apart rather than bringing us together.

In the light of this, it is very timely for the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to assert, “This is why I believe it is important to call for moderation in our respective religions. If we fail to do so, we risk having our religion hijacked by those who promote hatred and violence.”

It is precisely for this reason why it is so necessary for responsible leaders and concerned individuals to embark on a concerted effort to rein in these disruptive elements. They are few but bold and loud and abrasive and therefore get to be noticed and heard. They come across as the dorminant voice of the community.

It is rather unfortunate that the many who who do not share their views or support their extremism and who are in the majority do not speak up or stand up to oppose these disruptive elements. By not speaking up or standing up in support of good values and opposing these disruptive elements in our midst we indeed give them the free licence to hijack and portray our religions in the negative light of intolerence and extremism.

If only earlier efforts in forging unity, tolerence and religious understanding and cooperation undertaken by various individuals and NGOs had received the much needed support, perhaps we need not be in this difficult situation we find ourselves in today.

In 1980, Aliran organised a seminar on “Belief in God” which brought together leaders and individuals from various religions to blaze a common path of tolerence, accommodation and understanding. This seminar produced a book, “One God Many Paths” which is now out of print

On various occasions we have called for the setting up of an Inter-Religious Council which could promptly and sensitively address any religious strife that is bound to emerge occasionally.

As recently as last year, the Bar Council made a bold and valiant attempt to establish a similar council but its efforts were thwarted by certain views and individuals.

It is in light of this that we welcome Abdullah’s passionate plea, “What we need more than ever today is a concerned effort to initiate
inter-faith dialogue.”

This is the only way to sideline and marginalise the extremist elements out to cause trouble. This is the only way to drive home the truth that it is not your way or my way that is important. What is important is the right way that accommodates and tolerates our commonality in our shared destiny.

Let each man be aware of the wisdom in these words, “All religions must be tolerated …every man must go to heaven in his own way.”

P Ramakrishnan
4 August 2004


No Way Out? Here's the Door...

Here's an interesting write-up from Washington Times. Please note that it's Times, not Post. It's filed under "World Briefing", presumably to inform (or mis-inform) Americans about the state of the globe, outside of their Land of Glory.

Here are some of the good bits :

One Malay convert and former ustaza, a Muslim religious teacher, reports that she and her family are harassed regularly by the authorities. Because she is Malay, her son was born a Muslim and forced to adopt a Muslim name. In school, despite his protests of being a Christian, he has to sit through Islamic studies, a requirement for all Muslims.
Last year, the religious police demanded that she stop her "activities," which included helping drug addicts and battered women.
She conceded, though, that part of the assistance involved introducing Malays to Christian doctrine. She recalled parking herself at a McDonald's wearing a Muslim head scarf to more effectively introduce Muslim schoolgirls to the Bible.
In Kuala Lumpur, boys who are a part of Mr. Kumar's proselytizing movement frequent mosques.
Christians reputedly also have resorted to sponsoring picnics for Malay children and offering them gifts.
In the cramped lobby of Mr. Kumar's headquarters, a magazine headline reads: "Storming the Enemy's Stronghold."
The first paragraph explains, "Within the 10/40 window," referring to the area stretching roughly from the Middle East through India, China and into Southeast Asia, "lie 62 of the least evangelized nations on this planet." The area is viewed by some zealots as the last stronghold preventing Christian global dominance.
One is left to wonder, is the government rightfully fearful or just plain paranoid?

I wonder, too if the Muslim dakwah movement in the US is received with open arms from their good Christian brothers. I wonder if the friendly farmers in the Bible-belt would not react with alarm if usrah types started hanging out with their sons and daughters. There is always a point to putting one's self in the other person's shoes.

I have to state this : I have absolutely nothing against people of other religion and I agree some restrictions on Christianity is downright insulting not just to Christians but to right-minded Muslims as well. Case in point - the ban on Mel Gibson's Passion of Christ, which I sorely want to see. What I object to is the spin : this was an article meant to divide rather than conquer the hearts and minds of Muslims and Christians. (If America is really interested in that)

I found out later that Washington Times took the article from Asia Times, and had it somewhat butchered to suit its own, unseen purpose. Nevertheless, the paper did put in a quote which I agreed with :

Dzulkifli Achmad, director of the research center of PAS, is concerned about the net effect.
"I used to seek to convert, but I no longer have the drive," Mr. Achmad said. "When you think of the unique fabric of this society, it is in our interest to enhance mutual respect ... proselytizing is a form of disrespect. It is the beginning of the conflict."
Some Muslim and non-Muslim leaders say the government could be doing more to improve dialogue and understanding among the faiths.

Go read both versions of the piece, and tell me what you think.


Happy Birthday to Papa!

My father is 60 today -- unbelievable. May Allah swt panjangkan umur and murahkan rezeki. May all your dreams and efforts come to fruition. And most of all, may you be happy always, and be assured that no matter what we vent out, or whatever we do, (or not do), all your children, grandchildren and son-inlaws and daughter in-laws still love you very much.

We're older now. At an age when you see your parents as their own persons. Once, we may have been angry, dissapointed, withdrawn but that was because we were thinking of ourselves. Often the rant was : how could you have done this to me? Children expect the world from their mothers and fathers and forget they are also human beings.

So today, we celebrate you, Papa as a human being who taught us all the good stuff : fishing, Stan Getz and Chet Baker, an unerring sense of style, an earthy sense of humor, scrabble, Scouts, personal computers, photography, PG Wodehouse, Robert Heinlein and Kurt Vonnegut, Monty Python and Peter Sellers, broadcasting and media management, and many many more things. We can never ever thank you enough.


Monday, August 23, 2004
How do you clean fluffy lingerie?

My sister who lives in Seattle, is coming home in November and she has been canvassing for our wish-list. We're boring people so we didn't ask for anything outrageous like Spitfire skateboard wheels, or a Bottega Veneta chocolate brown wood minaudière with tiger eye detail, just to carry-off the steno chic look. No, we asked for books. (Specifically : I asked for Nanny Ogg's Cookbook)

I asked my husband what he wanted and he said revenge so could my sister afford a hitman? Haiyah, why order an assasin all the way from the US, meh? In Puchong also got. So he thought for a bit and said "I know! Lingerie for you!", and then added, "Umm... let's do some research".

Guys, this is a simple trick you can use to ogle at Adriana Lima or Veronica Varekova with their tits bursting out of some "sleepwear" when the outfit is really just a shred of kelambu sewn together at the sides. Just say: I'm doing "research" to purchase something for you, my lovely wife.

Well, anyway, since Victoria's Secret does carry sizes up to 38D (I don't wear 38D, lah) and their stuff are not only lovely but amazingly comfortable as well, I relented. So we checked out their website and waded through shots of incredibly proportional women in alluring poses for something he might like. (I'm not sure if he was really looking at the garments)

"Hok ni guane?" I said to a picture of Ana Herzigova in a I-want-to-have-s0me pose. Strangely, we wanted to discuss lingerie in Terengganu-speak.
"Oh, payoh nok basuh tuh", he pointed out the marabou trim, " nok basuh guane kalu b'bulu?"

*Translation for non-Terengganu people :
Me : What about this one?
Husband : Oh, that's difficult to laundry. How do you clean if it's fl

My husband can be practical that way. Or he simply wanted to look at more pictures. Because every outfit seems to be wrong -- too lacy (it scratches) too satiny (everything slides) too much ruffles (gets in his face) The lingerie he did like were the kind I couldn't possibly carry off - no amount of aplomb can make me survive something described as thus : "Lace merrywidow. Sheer seduction, laced with desire. Vintage-inspired lace accented with ribbon trim and ruffle edge. Adjustable straps, back close. Adjustable and removable garters. Imported nylon/Lycra® spandex." The brief came with a picture of Gisele Bundchen in said strappy thingy. Of course she looks fabulous. If they can make Kathy Bates look fabulous in that thing, then I'll buy it.

Sometimes, when I see the things my husband wants me to try on, it makes me wonder : just who do you think you're married to? He's still stuck to the image of me at 22, when my butt-size is almost double that by now. It's sweet of him, but it usually sets him up for dissapointment when I actually do put them on.

Finally, we did decide on something we both could agree on, and funny enough it was from the Bridal Collection. (What, you want virgins, now?) Ah well, at least it wasn't something your granny would wear to the mesjid. But I'll bet you it wouldn't have been something Gisele Bundchen would have chosen, either.


Saturday, August 21, 2004
Birthday Presents from Adam and Aiysha

In Uptown Damansara, next to Kopitiam Killiney, is a pet shop. The pet shop has a glass enclosure in front, in which there are, temporarily, 4 or 5 of the cutest, fluffiest, tumbliest, Persian kittens. Every time we pass by, I will ooh and aaah over these balls of fur and my kids will do the same. Although I would whine to Adam about wanting the kitten, I have no real intention of bringing any of them home, primarily because they cost as much as a Tiffany tennis bracelet and a Tiffany tennis bracelet will never poop on my sofa.

Also, we already have Snowy, a white male cat who, if he could speak, would have surely objected to his name because he should have been called Rambo or Charles Bronson or The Rock. My children, who at that time had a thing for Tin-Tin, found Snowy in a drain when he was just a small, adorable kitten. We had no idea he would later became the alpha male feline in the neighbourhood. It is quite possible that this cat, whose face is marred by numerous battle scars, would eat them pet-shop kittens.

Last night, I finished work rather late in the evening, and my kids met me in Strudels.

"Mummy! ", Adam said, brimming with excitement. " I got you what you wanted for your birthday!"
"Really? What did you get?", I said, hoping he would reply : a Tiffany tennis bracelet.

"I got you a kitten! Just like you've always wanted! I told Anwar to ask his grandmother for a kitten because it's your birthday!"

Anwar's grandmother lives at the end of our street and has a few Persian cats. I can just imagine her giving full co-operation to a venture like this.

"Adam, I wanted a diamond ring", I said with mock dissapointment.
"But Mummy, the kittens are worth 750 dollars! It's better than a diamond ring".

Adam, my prudential genius. I hope I have not raised a man who would buy his wife a tool-shed because it has the same price tag as a mastora necklace.

Aiysha gave me a birthday present too. She also said it was something I've always wanted.
"Mummy, for your birthday, we're giving you a clean house! Because we didn't make a mess today!"

"Yes, see?", Adam pointed out, "you got two things you wanted on your birthday!"

My grinning husband wholeheartedly agreed -- after all these are seeds from his loins, and he is the sort of guy who thinks sex is an appropriate gift. It's okay, next March, when the three of them celebrate their birthdays, I'll give myself a moratorium on nagging and complaining -- because it's something they've always wanted.


Friday, August 20, 2004
Is it My Age, or did Someone Move the Goalposts?

Thank you so much :) to all the people who wished me today -- yes, I am 36 years old. Both my father and my sister trumpeted this fact on their blogs -- when I was hoping to ignore my birthday, say, until I'm 45.

When you're under the age of majority, birthdays are something to look forward to, because you know, it's a great excuse to party. When you're on the wrong side of 30 you start thinking of the milestones you haven't yet achieved, or some roads which you may have missed altogether (and it's too late to turn back now) But usually, this lasts for only a while, because 1) I'm an eternal optimist, and 2) I'm too danged lazy to do something about it, anyway.

But just for the sake of argument, let's see the goals I am going to allow myself , all due before my next birthday.

Goal 1
To redeem myself in the eyes of my children, I will, I will get myself a driver's licence

Goal 2
As an incentive to Goal 1, my husband shall get me a nice car because I will not be caught dead driving an Unser. (I have low standards : a red Kelisa is better than a non-descript silver Unser)

Goal 3
I will lose 10 kgs and go to gym three times a week (and I will not flirt with Fayz, the 25 year old personal trainer with the pony tail to whom I have promised a nomination for Cleo's Most Eligible Bachelor, next year)

Goal 4
If I don't flirt with Fayz where got incentive for Goal 3 meh?

Goal 5
I will build a sustainable business with Suhaimi and Kamarul so that people will stop asking me if I miss my old job. Also, so that I have sufficient money to paint my house, re-upholster my daybed and fix floating shelves in the living room. If I can make enough to install Scandinavian cabinetry in my kitchen, I shall call myself Mrs Forbes.

Goal 6
I will not pray Zohor at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I will read the Quran at least once a week, puasa sunat now and then and take my mother's advice about solat Duha. Most of all, I shall remind myself that everything is within Allah's Great Purpose and that there are Signs from Him every day.

Goal 7
I shall call on my parents more often *sigh*

Goal 8
Ain and I will finally sit down and write that screenplay about a trollop masquerading as the long-lost daughter of a dying Chinese man, with interesting consequences, all set in the turn of the century Malaya (and then we shall beg for financing)

Goal 9
My children will get at least half of my waking hours. Sub promises : Yes Adam, I will bring Snowy to the vet and I will register you for your monthly robot class on time. Yes Aiysha, I will tell you the story about how your parents met and got married, and I will buy you a camera. Yes Aliya? Oh, you want too many things, so go ask Dadda.

Goal 10
I will forgive myself if I don't score these goals, because I'm already having so much fun playing the game, anyway


Thursday, August 12, 2004
Mokciknab and Motion Sickness

My father gasp! read Elisa's post about her son wanting to be in school three hours before a school trip, and she compared him to our grandmother, the eponymous Mokciknab, to whom being early is like a requirement of faith.

My dad wanted to post a comment, to illuminate on my grandmother's anal behaviour, but somehow could not. So, here I have posted his e-mail to me, and you would probably get an idea where we get our sense of humor.

Re Elisa's Dilly Dally blog
I have tried 3 times unsuccessfully to add my comment . So I hope you can put it for me.
Here’s what I wanted to write :

An insight into why your grandma felt she HAD to be early for buses or other large moving objects :

Many many moons ago, long before Pembangunan Luar Bandar, Merang had an infrequent "only once a day" bus service. The bus would arrive late at night (frequently after getting stuck somewhere in Ru Tapai or broken down somewhere in the bush with passengers alighting and roasting ubi kayu patiently) and leave the next day early in the morning. There was no official booking system. No 800 numbers (simply because there weren’t any phone around)

The accepted method of ensuring that you get a seat in the morning was to rush to the bus on its arrival, remove the seat (to wit, the seat cushion ) and bring it home with you overnight. Next morning, you put the seat back although not necessarily in its original place.

Your grandmother had a son who suffers from severe motion sickness even on benign things like a swing or a wobbly waterbed. This could have been caused by an overzealous tok bidan during the lenggang perut ceremony. Many times he even got seasick on a boat that was still tied to the jetty and he is a fishing kaki. Talk about a masochist who does things to torture himself (and others) but that’s another story. So grandma got used to fighting for the seat in the frontmost row with the hindsight that the son would "goobledygook" (as Anis put it) or throw up on people's tempayan budu, assorted livestocks or whatever else they were carrying on the bus. Being early helped a lot.

Another reason would be the bus driver, Pok Kassim. Pok Kassim was full of humour and managed to repair the bus even if it broke down in the middle of the jungle. He was so good that Elisa's father's burning ambition then was to be a bus driver like Pok Kassim. But, Pok Kassim never owned a watch. At least not when he was driving buses. So most of the time he drove off without waiting for dilly dallying passengers (with or without their tempayan budu).


Adam killed Merdeka

A few posts ago I said my nine year old son, Adam created some kind of Betty rap -- I have to apologize. It seems that he picked that up from Fern Gully and at any rate I got the lyrics all wrong anyway. Thanks Elisa for pointing that out.

Yesterday, Adam sang me another song -- something he learnt from his school-mate, Haziq.

To the tune of Sudirman's familiar chorus about Merdeka, Haziq's version of 31 Ogos starts like this : "Tanggal seluar dengan baju, bulan depan beli spenda baru..."

The rest of the song is just too rude to put in print. Should we wonder then, how men grow up to be so asinine?


Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Shopping Lessons

Aiysha's teacher gave me a note yesterday : it instructed parents to give their children ten ringgit because there will be a lesson on shopping today. The kids will be brought to Giant Kelana Jaya, and taught how to spend.

I'm sorry? No daughter of mine needs a course in spending -- they're born consumers. Aiysha could string proper sentences by the time she was two, and God knows it's only because she wanted to instruct me on which Barbie T-shirt to buy. When Aiysha followed me to work at the TV station I used to work for, she would sit with my Producer, the ever chi-chi Gina, and they'd be picking out handbags from Harper's Bazaar or something. Gina said, Aiysha would point out the most expensive one, every time.

Needless to say, my six year old Aiysha was terribly excited this morning. She was fussing over what to wear, and complained that she didn't have anything matching to carry. Finally she decided on a lime twin-set, jeans, small denim bag with rose embroidery (and Power-Puff Girls purse inside) and denim sandals.

"Mummy! Don't forget to fill up my purse!", she said, beaming. Obviously she already had lessons from Adam, who proclaimed his Wealth Principle recently.

"First Rule about Money", Adam declared, "Never Use Your Own!"

No wonder my kids are rich.


Friday, August 06, 2004
Sports Day!!

Last Sunday, Aiysha's kindy held their bi-annual sports day. This year, the teachers decided to let parents do some work, so they devised this March-Past competition, where we have to come up with costumes for the kids to wear, to correspond with the names of their houses.

Aiysha was in Venus, the glam planet! This was a group effort, and to ensure that other mommies get to contribute their ideas, I kept the evil, control-freak Mokciknab alter-ego in-check. I tried very hard to listen to other people's ideas, while supressing the urge to jump up and say : "No! we do it THIS way! Oh, gimme dat and let me do EVERYTHING".

I didn't manage to keep her always in check, I have to admit. Most of the stuff you see here are the work of the evil Mokciknab, after her travails to Jalan Masjid India and Teddy Tales, with gay employee in tow.

By the way, did I also mention that Venus won the competition? We could've gotten more marks if I did everything myself, I tell you.

Aiysha (R) and her friend, Atiqah. Umm, I didn't really like the green shirt and a Venusian Princess won't wear a cap, but I have to make concessions. My husband was so proud of me for not being totally anal.

This is Ilham, my nephew, Elisa's eldest. He wasn't in our house, but I want to put a picture of him anyway, to give this post some "Awwwww.." value.

My mother was kind enough to sew the flouncy skirts on Saturday morning. All the moms worked on the banner - the fluoro-green material is dotted with glued-on glass beads, and the name is made of ribbons.

Huge thanks to all the mommies in Venus House, especially Nani, who did all the capes and the antenna.


Thursday, August 05, 2004
Being Sad, and Silly

On most days I am a cheerful person. I rarely give in to dramatics or overwrought despondency, I don't over-analyse my feelings and on most days, I take things as they come - curveball or thunderbolt or glacier-slow.

However, today, I just feel like surrendering to the melancholia. It must be that dreadfully depressing book that I'm reading : Steppenwolf. Also, my husband is away in Cameron Highlands in his search for yet more land, this time for a plantation of dragonfruit. Early this morning, between darkness and light, I sat beside him at the bottom of the stairs, and watched him lace his Red Wings, while a big black Ford sat humming, idling outside the gates.

"You know, you still look like that girl I fell in love with in Melbourne", he said, as gently as he brushed hair away from my cheeks. One small kiss, benign smile. My husband got up, slung a bag across his shoulders and climbed into the truck.

As I watched it turn away, then hidden from my view by rows of houses not yet awake, a horrible thought formed within : what if he is not ever coming back? What if he got into an accident, and that one remark -- that I am still the girl he married -- was the last thing he said to me? What if all I would have of him from henceforth are the pictures I have in my head, and the pictures I have in boxes?

It makes me incredibly sad to think of this one certainty : of my husband's passing. There are times, like when intercourse becomes a connection of both flesh and spirit, I mourn for his death even when he is very much alive. My marriage is blessed with such felicity, that I often fear for it - because you have that much more to lose. Because I feel it is truly a gift from the Heavens, the same kind of Destiny could wrench it away. I worry that my life, now, is merely the good times in a tear-jerker film, the brief period of happiness before the script calls for everything to go awry. When you ponder upon these things, you realise how futile your plans really are, if they don't depend upon God's Great Purpose.

I stayed under the covers until mid-morning, by which time my daughters had jumped on me and no bad thought can be had when you're assaulted with questions and requests from two shrieking imps. A good cry in bed usually clears my head, after which I would come to my senses and see that this is all just silly and that he'll be back in the evening - because he always does, no matter what the premonition I have upon him leaving.

It's nice to be depressed once in a while, and I carried it to work - I played Puccini without having pity for my friends, until Kamarul remarked that O Mio Babbino Caro was the song to which Hannibal Lecter sliced open the head of his victim, before feasting on his brain.


Tuesday, August 03, 2004
Bana not Bond

And just when I thought the next Bond film might actually be worth watching, there's this in the Star :

007 Bana rumour not true

In yesterday’s Buzz, we had an item saying that Eric Bana (Troy, The Hulk) is in negotiations to replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. Apparently, Coming Soon! has confirmed that the rumour is simply not true.

It is learned that Bana had not even been approached for the role of the British spy.

Recently, Brosnan announced that he was done with the 007 franchise after four films and won’t be back for a fifth. Now speculation has it that Brosnan has simply started the negotiation process in the media and may still be in the picture after all.

Several names have been mentioned : Orlando Bloom, Heath Ledger, Jude Law, Ewan McGregor. Some punters (and I mean real punters) are betting on such unlikely names as Robbie Williams and David Beckham, no doubt putting their money on these boys' pecks, erm.. peccadilloes. So who should be the next Bond? It doesn't interest me anymore, unless of course the other Aussie hunk is picked.


Cheap Books from a Supermarket

When you work for yourself, you tend to be careful with money, because you'll never know when, or if, your next meal ticket will arrive. Today, we discovered, much to my husband's chagrin, that his client has once again, made the unilateral and unfair decision to delay payment.

Two months' worth of outstanding pay now threatens to capsize our savings. To hear my husband rant and rave, and to listen to his underlying tone of dissapointment and defeat, and to know that soon, he would have to swallow his anger and his pride to plead for something that is rightfully his, makes for a bleak Tuesday morning indeed.

And so it is that I end up scavenging for books from a bargain basket in Giant Supermarket. I can't even afford proper retail therapy so I tell myself to enjoy the irony of discovering art in a place as banal as a hypermart.

The books are stacked face-up in a big wire bin, not unlike discount clothes. I had to go through the whole mound of literature, to unearth the ones I want. There were a lot of Shakespeare - Richard the Third, As You Like It, a volume of sonnets, and there was a solitary To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, which I didn't buy because I haven't even started on the Orlando I bought at Tesco. Beryl Bainbridge, Oscar Wilde, Elmore Leonard, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Drabble, even Gabriel Garcia Marquez, - all were pressed against each other like comrades in arms in a dusty foxhole. Finally, I decided on four books :

Eugene Onegin by Alexander Pushkin, RM9.99. This is Pushkin's "most moving, romantic epic" and his most enduring, if not really long, poem. Given the circumstances, it felt appropriate to dive into the "melancholy splendor and chilling depth of Russian literature". I have no idea if I would ever finish reading a novel in verse, but I shall endeavour! (I carry a small copy of Beowulf in my handbag, just in case I find myself bored, waiting for something) To be honest, I bought it for the picture of Ralph Fiennes on the cover, and also, in the hope that it would serve as a companion to the Onegin DVD that my dear sister will buy me. (she doesn't know it yet, but she will buy me)

Kuala Lumpur dari Perspektif Haji Abdullah Hukum by Adnan Haji Nawang, RM3.69. This is a reprint of a series of interviews with Haji Abdullah Hukum, published in Warta Ahad, back in 1935. To KL denizens today, Abdullah Hukum (1835-1943) may be nothing more than an LRT stop, but the gentleman was once instrumental in the development of areas around Pudu-Bukit Bintang and Bukit Nanas, and also started plantations in a place called Sungai Putih -- the old name for Bangsar. This book is a personal account of a man who lived through the history of Kuala Lumpur, even before Yap Ah Loy and the arrival of the British. I was always interested in old KL, and this book should satisfy a great part of that curiosity. Includes some pictures, and the original Warta Ahad articles, which is in jawi (which my husband is attempting to read, right now)

The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad, RM4.99. How could I resist this book? I love Conrad because he is deft at presenting the tragedy of men taking the wrong turn, and always against the backdrop of great and dramatic adventure. Almayer's Folly, Nostromo, Heart of Darkness, the yet unread Lord Jim which now occupies the bookshelf of someone far-far away : every protagonist is tainted, seduced by evil and human weaknesses, and yet somehow, still worthy of our pity. The man of the hour, Khairy Jamaluddin, I discovered, cited Heart of Darkness as his Favourite Read. Meanwhile, Secret Agent is described as an atypical Conrad novel - it is set in dour London, for example. The anti-hero is Verloc, "an overweight, indolent anarchist who conceals his political activities, such as they are, under a veneer of domesticity and family life". I bought it because the blurb says its "brilliant depiction of a terrorist underworld, its ruthless irony and its black satire on a morally corrupt society is the culmination of many influences on Conrad, including that of Dickens and Dostoyevsky". That's me - I judge a book by its cover.

Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse, RM9.99. The only other Herman Hesse that I have laid my hands on was my father's copy of Siddharta. Steppenwolf is a story about the individual, about not relating to, and being alienated by society, much like wolves in the Steppes. It has been called the "hip bible of 1960's counter-culture, and captured the mood of a disaffected generation and a century increasingly unsure of itself".
I thought it might prove instructional for our time, and that's why this is the book I am reading first.


Monday, August 02, 2004
Sure Spin!

Understandably, news editors who work on Sundays have a tough time deciding on a lead story, because it's usually slim pickings during weekends. However, you have to wonder if they're being diligent enough when the oldest and most respectable broadsheet in the country chose this as their Monday morning headline :

Thousands at TV3 fest
The Information Minister today challenged the statement by the Mufti of Perak that the popular Sure Heboh carnival was haram and should be shunned by Muslims. Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said that he considered the TV3-organised event wholesome family fun. He also said that before anyone issued a fatwa on anything, they should investigate the matter fully and consult a range of people.

"We should be careful when making statements. If not, it will confuse people and create a lot of difficulty. Before saying this is haram and that is haram, there should be a thorough study and discussion by a group. And if a decision needs to be made, let it be done by the National Fatwa Council," Kadir said after visiting the Sure Heboh carnival site today.

His comments came in the wake of a statement by Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Harussani Zakaria that Muslims were prohibited from attending the carnival because it caused them to neglect their other duties and promoted vice among the young.

Harussani said it was haram for people to organise, attend and watch the concerts as they were detrimental to Muslims.
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Well,at least they're sticking together now. Hurray for Media Prima!