Thursday, January 31, 2008

double three...

I was busy assembling IKEA wardrobe with Papa in preparation for the slider door guys the next day when Ina came in serenading the obligatory song. Abang was next... a wickedly funny and fitting card in hand. I forgot... and it was past midnight. I'm a year older, although kalau ikut surat beranak I'm only biologically trente-trois at 6:47pm.

A good start :) Complete with "your first meal for the day" in the form of a triple X burger (walaupun I baru double three je... ke itu ikut size baju? :-o ) Amt sms to wish and apologised that he couldn't be home this weekend because of exams.

I've always loved birthdays... and look forward to them. Many people dread turning a year older, but I'm ok with it. Usually I don't remember the number, just the date... haha, talk about self denial.

The wishes kept rolling in throughout the day... sms, cards, in person, phone calls, emails, sametime, facebook... waa, this year rasa macam very fofular lah ;-) Kebetulan kat office we have some makan2 this morning so sambil tu we tumpang celebrate birthday Tao and moi. We share the same birthdate albeit 10 years age gap, sama dgn Azrin's fiance... and Justin Timberlake, hehe.

Received wonderful gifts too... semua pun perfect timing. Macam tahu2 je my new bathroom dah siap... among them towel, toiletteries, relaxing spa kit... oooooh, I need that one desperately! Also received a nice pen... have been wanting to get one for a while now.

Came home... a bouquet of roses and lilies was on my bed... from the Chicks. The bouquet alone was enough to make me grin ear to ear... but Mama told me that it also came with a cake. Thanks darlings!!

Birthdays should also be known as makan day... dari pagi sampai malam, doing what Malaysian love best. Am soooooo full! Morning was department makan2, lunch was with ARG MM AAA SHH at Saffron, tea was Baskin Robbins ice-cream, dinner with the family... and on top of that 3 cakes! At the rate I'm going it's going to be double me very quickly :-o

I was supposed to be on half-day today... but memandangkan kerja yang amat banyak and I really want to finalise the draft for our organisation's annual publication untuk diberi ke boss, I decided to cancel. Yeay! I can enjoy the long weekend in peace now that I've cleared the draft.

In her sms, all the way from Exeter, DZ asked me to write about what being double three means... I don't feel any different cuma hari ni endorphin level elevated sikit ;) But her question did make me think...

To me it's not about turning 33... more about being at this *kotak umur*. Each day I find myself wondering... what's my purpose of being, what do I want in life, am I where I want to be, what should I do to be where I desire to be...

I personally feel that between 30-35 is when these things should be evaluated deeply and that I should make up my mind and hopefully be at peace with myself before I go through the final half of a decade. Don't want to end up having a mid-life crisis by the time I'm 40!

But being double-three also presents an opportunity to do double things this year. I'm already planning 2 holiday trips... play twice as hard... and work, erm... I think I've already doubled my efforts since last year hehe... be doubly nice to people, put in double effort towards fulfilling my dreams.

Those aren't really earth moving thoughts... coz as I said earlier, turning double-three ain't a big deal to me.

Today was wonderful... hope that the rest of the year would be as cheery too :-)

Do what's best for people, and in return, people will give you their best
Author Unknown

Sunday, January 27, 2008

everything done by Monday...

Yesterday my fuse blew.

I've tolerated enough delays, poor workmanship, suruh lain buat lain... All those little things I've accepted but in the end, as they say, kecil lama-lama jadi bukit. The final straw was when I discovered that those dungu workers put on the tile salah... again! I had to scour 20 shops on Wednesday, just to get those 2 pieces... half begging the shop to sell me his sample pieces. So when they did it wrong again, I just cannot tahan anymore...

Actually, I discovered the error by accident. Wak was asking me about the sink/dresser platform when I noticed the mistake. We were discussing about how *tebal* the platform should be, how the sink would be placed etc etc when through the corner of my eyes I saw what they've done. Those who know me would know that I don't shout nor scream. But this time I couldn't help but to verbalise some of my anger.

Before I say things that I should not say, I went off... I needed to cool down. Words spoken in anger are never constructive. While sitting in my *temporary* room I cried my anger out... sambil tu teringat a conversation I had with boss a few weeks back. I guess this is how he must have felt (albeit on a totally different matter). Perasaan marah tu amat membuak2. As I said, although the issue is actually kecik je... pasal pasang tiles, but with all the accumulated masalah lain, I've just had enough.

When I'm relatively calmer I went down. Basuh kain etc dulu before I gave them the ultimatum. Get everything done by Monday. Wak had promised last Friday and he had failed to deliver. He now has 2 days to get everything done... and I mean EVERYTHING. I knew that while I was cooling down my anger, Mama and Papa were trying to help resolve the issue. I heard them, Mama especially, trying to figure out where and how to get that odd piece of tile. They spoke to Wak and his workers to re-emphasise on the need to get things done a.s.a.p. They must have sensed how distressed and fuming I was. I think even they were were scared ;)

I knew that I couldn't remain at home while I was still boiling. So went out to solve the grill problem (which fortunately was settled without much objection from the towkay) and then went to get lampu, kipas, water heater. Somehow choosing lampu and making purchases helped calm me down ;) While I was out, Mama managed to do the miracle of finding that one piece of tile needed.

When I got home all of the workers, Wak included, were in full swing doing their work. The platform was ready, the bathroom wall finally siap, the plumbing finally being done and the crevices and imperfections on the walls being filled. Dah kena marah baru jalan full swing. Tau takut... Usually by 4.30pm they all dah balik but yesterday, after 5pm baru they leave.

Today they're working juga. Selalunya tak datang on Sunday. Last night after they've left, I painted the undercoat and with the help of everyone else, clear the room of all the barang to make way so that the floor can be polished. Cleared all the debris, vacummed, mop lantai, scrape things off... pukul 10pm baru habis semua. So today, they've started to paint the walls, finish up on the toilet and tomorrow boleh polish and varnish lantai. Then the wardrobe and grill can be put up. And hopefully, all will siap by month end.

Tadi when I gave instructions about mengecat, the workers were obviously concerned that they'd do salah again. Tanda betul2 which wall will be painted in which colour. Kalau tak nanti kena bambu dengan I lagi ;)

I've been distressed with all these this past month. Soon it will be over and I'll get to start on the fun part of putting on the finishing touches to the room. Nak kena cari curtain, accessories, new carpet... Time to assemble those IKEA stuff, send items to be framed.

Finally... finally... I'll get to create my haven. A place to soothe my soul at the end of the day... no more marah2, hehe...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

financial system family...

I was midway tengah nak menyuap nasi ke dalam mulut during dinner when Abg posed the question... "Along, ekonomi teruk ke?"

Huh? Takde angin takde apa... tiba2 terus pop question like that. Tau la I work where I work... tapi annual report tak keluar lagi. Did I miss something? "Why Abg tanya?" I asked back. Papa and Ina were also at the table... all looked at me as if I know the answer (which I don't, hehe...)

So he told me the statement made by a certain ex-staff who is now a very important person at the Ministry (of Magic, hehe... no lah), and how it's due to the *recession* in the US. So I slowly gave them a run through about (what I know) the sub-prime problem, things that caused it, the impact on the US financial market and how it affects a tiny trading nation like Malaysia, the implications on the economy, how we're all part of this big wide web of network and because the US is the world's largest economy, our main export market etc etc.

I then explained what the impact would be on Abg's organisation which deals with those who does business with the US... what the repercussion could possibly be on his firm's clients. Laughing I told them that all of us at the table understands what I just explained but if Amt was there, he'll go "Huh?" being the sole engineer in the family. OK laa.. Mama pun engineer... domestic engineer ;)

That was when it struck me... here at the table, we have all the components of the financial system (the major ones lah). In the form of where we work or used to work. It's full circle... Papa started his career in a development financial institution (DFI) then moved to a merchant bank followed by a finance company before ending his career in a commercial bank. Ina is in a composite insurance company. Abang is with a DFI. And moi... am with the supreme body that oversees them all. Semua kena kow-tow to me... haha!!

It was never by design... tapi somehow all of us siblings (except Amt of course) ended up following the same career path as our dad. For me, it was because I won a scholarship with them... have to serve bond and have been there ever since. Ina and Abg I did not expect at all. Ina is doing well where she is and Abg seemed to have embraced his job of 4 months.

The thought just crossed my mind... the four of us, sitting down talking about the financial system and financial market *shudder*... how boring! Nasib baik to date that has not happened although I've had such conversations with Papa in the past. You know what they say... kalau the patriarch is a lawyer, anak pun lawyer. Same with doctors... and teachers (my mom's family is a good example... by atok was ustaz, my mom, 3 uncles, 2 aunties and several cousins are teachers). I guess it rubs off... the parents' vocation.

My friends at the organisation who read this will surely go... aiyoo, satu family ka? :)
What to do... dah rezeki kat situ. So now if we want to build a financial conglomerate, the pieces are all there... except for the most important item...


Saturday, January 19, 2008

why can't some people just follow instructions?


Drawings dah buat, dinding pun dah tanda... tapi still tak ikut instructions. I just don't understand why some people are so dungu. Takkan lah every single thing pun I have to tunjuk and duduk tengok they all buat. Kata dah banyak buat rumah... buat rumah besar. Hmph... tapi execution not up to expectations.

The other day I came home horrified to see that they've put on the tiles wrong. They're trying to be *smart* and do the easy thing. Smart my ass! Where did they put their brains... on their knee? Bloody hell... Papa and I had to spend almost 2 hours hacking the tiles, to take them off before the cement keras. OK... that I can almost understand since it was done by the labourer and Wak tak perasan. Labourers are labourers for a reason....

Tapi today I've really been tested. The work was done by Wak himself. The man is supposed to know what to do. When I make *noise*, I'm told to let him be... "Dia tahu lah apa nak buat. Dah banyak dah rumah dia buat. He has his own style".

But when I let him be, this is the result. F*%$!! Despite the repeated instructions, put down on paper lagi, tampal-ed on the door to enter the bathroom, drawn on the wall... STILL SALAH!

What am I supposed to do? Sit down in front of them and monitor them tepek cement scoop by scoop?

I need to calm down before I talk to him tomorrow... but right I just feel like screaming!

excerpts from Robert Rubin's talk on "Decision-Making on Globalization and Poverty Amidst Today's Global Complexities"

"I believe that all times are complex and uncertain," he said, "but that some periods are especially so. And I have believed for several years that this is one of those periods. The attacks of Sept. 11th, though a terrible personal tragedy for so many, didn't in my opinion change that complexity and uncertainty." He noted that they did, however, increase public awareness of the threat of terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, global poverty, failed states, and, most important, "the vastly tighter interconnection of our entire globe."

The thrust of Rubin's talk was twofold, encompassing first the international scene, where he believes industrialized nations must both help to combat poverty and broaden global participation and growth, and second the domestic arena, in which, he maintained, public debate and criticism are not only healthy but necessary. "Such debate, even in times of stress," he said, "is one of the great strengths of democracy" - but he emphasized that in a situation so fraught with complexities and ambiguities, discussion does not mean lack of decisiveness or lack of commitment to the war on terrorism.

Rubin pointed out that though globalization has, on balance, contributed greatly to economic well-being, it has also created social, economic, and cultural dislocations for many millions of people. Though the absolute number of those living in poverty worldwide has fallen, he said, it is still vastly too high, and the imbalance often foments resentment, anger, hopelessness, and despair, which may create environments that are hospitable to terrorism. It is well known that globalization, poverty, terrorism and geopolitical instability are "inextricably intertwined," he added, but the significance of their correlation has "not really taken hold" and "become truly integral to our thinking."

Once the risks are taken fully into account, he said, "One thing seems to me absolutely clear: A gated-community approach to global poverty simply will not work for affluent countries" - partly because the very tools and strategies of globalization can be used for ill as well as good. "A parallel agenda to globalization is needed to address a whole range of purposes," he said, "such as education for all, health care for the poor, a reasonable social-safety net, and redeployment programs for those dislocated by change." This would not only have a substantive impact, he said, but also could help convince industrialized nations that trade liberalization and market-based economics are in their best interest - which would in turn give globalization long-term viability.

The glitch is that policies depend on politics. "Industrial nations are still subject to intense protectionist political pressure," Rubin said. Even if it fulfills the pledge made during the United Nations International Conference on Financing Development held recently in Monterrey, Mexico, the United States, according to Rubin, "will be contributing something less than 1,500ths of 1 percent of our gross domestic product to foreign assistance." Add to that the European Union's 3,500ths of 1 percent, along with the contributions of other industrialized nations, and "total aid will still fall far short of what is needed to make adequate progress in combating poverty."

Rubin compared today's numbers with those of the Marshall Plan, which was first suggested by Secretary of State George C. Marshall in his 1947 commencement address at Harvard and which consumed 2 percent of the American GDP to deal with what Rubin called "a somewhat similar threat" by rebuilding war-torn Europe in the interest of political stability and a healthy world economy.

Why the huge change in just five decades? Public opinion. Rubin recalled that when he went to Capitol Hill to argue, as Secretary of the Treasury, for increased contributions to the World Bank, a House member told him that votes for foreign assistance would generate a storm of criticism from constituents, whereas votes against it would produce no adverse response.

"I personally believe," said Rubin, "that, at least in the United States, changing the politics of foreign assistance would benefit immensely from, and may even require, a privately financed, massive, multiyear, ongoing public-education campaign, similar to those against drugs and smoking, to educate the American people about the impact of global poverty on us."

He pointed out that "roughly half the world's population lives on under $2 a day, and roughly 20 percent lives on under $1 a day," and noted that the longstanding policy to aid only countries with good governance and relative freedom from corruption "means that impoverished populations in many countries will be relegated to continued unaided misery because of the actions of leaders and government over which they have no control. And that includes quite a number of countries where political instability and environments conducive to terrorism could affect us."

In a world so tightly interconnected, Rubin said, global poverty will "increasingly impose itself upon us, and change our way of life, in many and profound ways" unless we meet the challenge of combating it. "I do think," he said, "that we may well be at a historically important junction point between political and social disruption, between the possible use of weapons of mass destruction on the one hand, or increasing and more widely shared economic well-being and greatly enhanced security on the other hand."

- Harvard Gazette Archives

of giving back...

I've been regularly checking websites relating to JK Rowling and Harry Potter ever since I've been enlightened by the world of magic and Hogwarts about 20 months ago. Yes... despite enormous popularity and worldwide following, I did not read the books nor watch the movie until 2006. It was a time when movies were made on books were the "in thing"... and me being me, I typically don't like to be associated with the "herd". But that's besides the point...

I found out that JK Rowling will be the speaker at the 357th Harvard Graduation ceremony in June 2008, where she will also be receiving an honorary degree (what degree? I don't know... the article did not mention). A befitting honour from such a distinguished cradle of knowledge and ideas. How I wish I'm in that graduating class...

Anyway, from that particular website, I found the link to the speeches of the previous honorary speaker at Harvard's graduation ceremonies. Two speeches stood out.

The first was by Robert Rubin, former Secretary to the US Treasury and the other was by John Lithgow, the actor. Surprising ain't it? That man who played the weird alien chief on Third Rock from the Sun, the dad in Harry & the Hendersons, he also played Don Quixote in a Hallmark TV movie. The two couldn't be any more different... macam langit dan bumi. But one thing (that I know of) they share... a Harvard degree.

I can't reproduce the speeches here, takut nanti kena saman by Harvard. They can be found at

But here, I'll provide some excerpts, parts which I liked, make me go "hmmmm" and smile ;) ...

Robert Rubin:
... decision-making will be at the core of your lives, too, no matter what you do. The only question will be how well you make those decisions.

...that life is about making choices. ... Curiously, though, despite this profoundly important reality, most people give very little serious consideration to how they make decisions. ... (that) how thoughtfully you make those choices will critically affect how good those choices will be and how effective you will be.

Professor Demos would lead us through the great philosophical thinkers of the ages, not in the spirit of simply understanding and accepting their views, but rather to use their views as launching points for our own critical thinking, to question how well each thinker's analysis held together and, most importantly, to question how each assertion of truth was proven. And, as I slowly came to realize, the absolute truths that were asserted turned out to be unprovable and, in the final analysis, to be based on belief or assumption. Only later did I learn that many in modern science hold exactly the same view, that is that sophisticated theories can be developed and then proven by experimentation, but that ultimately this whole structure rests on unprovable assumptions.
Rubin had Professor Demos... my equivalent was Tamar Lewitt...

An important corollary to recognizing that decisions are about probabilities is that decisions should not be judged by outcomes but by the quality of the decision-making, though outcomes are certainly one useful input in that evaluation. Any individual decisions can be badly thought through, and yet be successful, or exceedingly well thought through, but be unsuccessful, because the recognized possibility of failure in fact occurs. But over time, more thoughtful decision-making will lead to better overall results, and more thoughtful decision-making can be encouraged by evaluating decisions on how well they were made rather than on outcome. In managing trading rooms, I always focused on evaluating and promoting traders not on their results alone, but also and very importantly, on the thinking that underlay their decisions. Unfortunately, this approach is not widely taken, much to the detriment of decision-making in both the private and public sectors.

When I began in the new administration, a distinguished former cabinet member told me that I would now live off my previously accumulated intellectual capital, because I would be too busy to add to it.
I found just the opposite - that my time in government was an intense learning experience about how our government and our political processes worked and about a vast array of policy issues. I also found that the decisions that had to be made were often amongst the most complex faced anywhere in our society. Public service was a powerful challenge in using all the intellectual qualities that Harvard had sought to develop, towards the objective of furthering the public good.

Public service, at whatever level of seniority, can provide immense challenge to all of your capabilities, as you help make and execute decisions in the most complex of circumstances, to further the well-being of the nation and even the world. And, you can get a very special insight into many of our society's most important policy issues, and a very special insight into how our society works - for example, how policy, politics, and media interact to affect what happens.
Government service, whether for a few years or for a career, can provide enormous challenge and intellectual growth, and the satisfaction of working to directly further the public good.
This succinctly describes why I enjoy working where I am... biarlah orang kata I kerja gomen... it feels so good to know that what I do makes (or helps make) a difference...

John Lithgow:
I bet that word "picaresque" got your attention. I am afraid that is one of the few words that I still remember from my four years of studying English History and Literature at Harvard. As I recall, the word "picaresque" is used to describe a long adventure which teaches its hero a series of lessons to live by - an apt subject for a Commencement Address
Life is about the continuous journey of learning afterall...

I actually had two Harvard Educations. The first one concluded on the day I graduated. Shortly thereafter, I launched myself into the acting game where, for the next twenty years, I virtually kept my Harvard degree a secret. Somehow it never seemed to come in all that handy when I was auditioning for a soap opera or a potato chip commercial. My second Harvard education began when I was invited back into the fold, in 1989. In another example of Harvard recklessness, I was asked to run for the Board of Overseers, presumably to redress the fact that no one from the world of the Arts had served on the Board since the poet Robert Frost in the 1930's.
Equally reckless, the Harvard Alumni elected me.

He went on to tell stories about how Pete Seeger and Bonnie Raitt lent their energy towards helping support a cause...

All of these projects had the simple, obvious goal of delighting children, but I had a secret agenda, too. I was seeking to stir an interest in the Arts in young people, to educate them without their knowing it. I hold the fierce conviction that the Arts are indispensable to a healthy society, but everywhere I see evidence that support for the Arts is foundering, even under assault. I realized there was something I could do about it. With Jesuitical zeal, I began to see a personal mission taking shape: I could get them while they're young.

Because here is the point:
Many of you are leaving Harvard with lofty, ambitious goals. (Those of you who have no immediate goals, don't worry, you will discover them soon). A lot of you will achieve those goals, some with extravagant success. In fact, I'm secretly counting on you to go out and make things right in this perilous, suffering world and in this deeply troubled nation. But when you get what you're aiming for, or even as you go through the process of getting it, think about what else you can also do. Think about the people I just described to you, how they went beyond their original aspirations, sometimes in wildly unlikely ways. Think about how they made a difference in the world and how much joy and pride they took in what they accomplished. Think about how they mingled art and commerce for the public good. And then, if you like, take the word "art" out of the equation; because you certainly don't have to be an artist to follow their example. It is sometimes a very simple thing to be creative, to be useful, to be practical, and to be generous.
You really have to read the speech to get it...

Everyone can make a difference... whether through how one make decisions or by extending oneself beyond fulfilling his/her desire but rather to do good for others.

Reading this makes me all excited about working where I am and being involved in the Staff Volunteer Movement.

My purpose of being is beginning to take shape... and I learnt a new word today :)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

one step closer...

A few days back I got an email from TT asking me to call him back regarding two matters. When I got through to him, he told me that matter 1 has been addressed but he needs to ask me about matter 2.

"You know that Dr S was in our committee for the volunteer thing right?" he asked. "Since he has left, we now have a vacancy and I thought of inviting you to join the team. What do you think?"

Geez... that was not something that had crossed my mind. When I first saw his email, I thought that he had wanted to ask whether I'd like to do be involved in any charity work related to the recent floods. Rupa2nya something else...

I asked what Dr S's responsibilities were and expressed my reservations about carrying out those functions. Being the chief mobiliser of volunteers... I kan out of radar and tak kenal ramai orang, how to buat that type of work? TT then explained about the list of names that they've gathered through the survey and how things are going to be worked out etc etc...

In the end I decided *what the heck... let's give it a try, kalau tak bila lagi?* and told TT that I'll do it. In his normal exuberance and high energy manner, TT said "welcome to the team!"

So now I'm officially a committee member for the staff movement involving volunteer work for worthy causes. I've wanted to do something like this for a while now, tapi sampai sekarang, masih hanya angan2 and tak pernah buat apa2 like it. Hajat tu ada tapi tak pernah take any action...

But with this commitment, I'm taking a step closer towards doing something that I've always dreamed of doing... helping those in need and playing a bigger role in society. Cukup dah fikir about diri sendiri... time to tolong orang yang memerlukan.

Tomorrow I'm meeting Jade who is also on the committee and who will be working with me on this area. I hope I'll have the enthusiasm and energy like the rest of the team and that I'll find the satisfaction that I've been wishing for.

Start with this first... building my way towards attaining that dream job :)

Monday, January 14, 2008

10 years...

Today I received a memo from HR. Jarang2 dapat memo from HR, except bila time naik gaji or bila time potong gaji (ie take a loan)… or if dapat promotion :)

I totally forgot about it… didn’t cross my mind at all, especially since 12 January fell on a Saturday. At the beginning of the year, I remembered… but when the day came, nada.

The memo essentially said congrats… I dah 10 tahun kerja. And in appreciation they’re giving me 4 extra cuti days and the employer’s contribution to EPF is increased from 16% to 18.5%. So now I have 30 days of cuti in a year and my EPF savings will grow faster… Yippee!

10 years… who would have thought. It didn’t feel like 10 years at all. Well, sure… there were times when I wasn’t feeling all excited about work, but I can’t say that I have ever hated working here. My career here has been good so far, Alhamdulillah. Rezeki melimpah ruah and blessed with opportunities. What more can I ask? I like doing what I do… it’s not THE greatest and not exactly what I hope I do, but it is still satisfying. I suppose that’s why I’ve stayed on for so long…

I can still roughly remember what happened on that fateful day, 12 January 1998…

I reported to HR for duty… after a week break upon returning home from Melbourne. Itupun sebab I was demam the week before. Otherwise they would have wanted me to report in immediately lepas landing (OK lar… that’s a bit exaggerating, but it felt that way!). Pagi2 melanguk je kat HR tu while they decide where to send me. They all tak tahu lagi which department I’ll be attached to. From the first day lagi HR has not left a good impression on me… but that’s besides the point.

Nearing noon one of the officers (I can’t recall who) told me to go meet Pn Essah about a vacancy in Jabatan Pengawalan Bank. At the time I had just completed my CPA programme… and I was very keen to get working experience that can be counted towards obtaining my professional qualification. I was more interested to go to a supervision department where I can practice “accounting” (am I glad that it didn’t work out, hehe…). Tapi since dah disuruh, I pergilah… to see Pn Essah and Cik Normi. Talked to them, told them about my background, my aspirations etc… and Pn Essah told me straight up. “I think you’re over qualified for the section. We don’t really need someone with professional accounting background to do these kind of work. Perhaps it would be better if you tell HR about your interests”. OK… at least she was frank and I was not at all offended. Rasa kelakar pulak… “over qualified”? A fresh grad like moi?? hehehe…

So went back to HR, told them about what had transpired and went home for lunch. Since there wasn’t much “happening” I decided to balik office lambat sikit (first day dah recalcitrant, haha). When I went back to HR… dragging myself because I hate sitting idle not doing anything… I was approached by another officer. “Where have you been? I’ve been looking for you. En Razif wants to see you.” Alamak… kantoi! So I quickly went back to Jabatan Pengawalan Bank… to tingkat 10A this time.

Went up to the person whom I think is the secretary and informed her who I am and that En Razif had requested to see me. “You’re late” she said. “He was waiting for you” with a stern face. Aiyoo…not good, not good. She told me to go into the room. Another lady was in there talking to En Razif.

I greeted them and introduced myself. The other lady looked at me with evaluating eyes. It was rather unnerving I must say. En Razif introduced me to the lady “This is Puan Shamsiah. We’re thinking of having you work with her”

“So… you declined to join our department? And you want to go to Supervision… Why?” En Razif asked. I explained to him about my desire to get relevant working experience under my belt towards getting the CPA status and that Pn Essah had said that the kind of work that her section does may not be something that I would be interested in, which is true. I told En Razif and Pn Shamsiah that I’d like to do something challenging, something that requires me to explore, evaluate. I don’t particularly like doing something mundane, routine, repetitive.

“Then you should not go to supervision. You’ll get bored. Trust me… I’ve done supervision work before. If you want what you said you want, you should be in this department. Not in the area that Pn Essah had explained to you, but in policy. Which is the area that I had wanted to put you in. I don’t know why HR sent you to see her. Supervision work is boring and mundane… cari salah orang, buat audit. Tak interesting. Betul tak?” He’s got a point there…
[oops… those of you working at the organisation, please take note that this transpired 10 years ago when En Razif was still just a department head. I’m sure since then, he has developed a more holistic view of the organisation’s roles and functions ;) ]

Policy? What the heck was that?? I must have shown a confused and unconvinced look because Pn Shamsiah then added to explain about what the function is all about. Sambil disampuk oleh En Razif, who in one way or another explained to say that if I want to be close to the *action*, this is the place to be. The exposure will give the extensive coverage which supervision wouldn’t. I raised again about my working experience requirement thing and Pn Shamsiah told me “I’m also a CPA. You can work under my direct supervision to qualify for it”. Huh? I can?? “Yes… alaa, they wouldn’t know pun whether you did actual audit work or not” she added.

We talked on further about what my role would be, what’s the environment like, etc… “So… have we convinced you to join us?” asked En Razif. It was a good proposition… I’ll get to do something that sounds interesting and at the same time get the working experience as required by CPA. Under direct supervision of another CPA member pulak tu. “OK… I’ll give it a try” I replied. “Eh… tak boleh lah try try. Kena lah confirm whether you’re in or out. We can’t have you in one day and leave the next” En Razif was pushing for a more firm commitment. I thought for another 30 seconds or so (takkan lah nak buat cliff hanger pulak… making them wait for my reply kan?) and said “Yes. I’ll join the department”.

So that was how it started…

To this day I’m grateful that I had made the decision to join the department, for it had given me the opportunity to achieve what I have today. Had it not been for the so-called interview with En Razif and Pn Shamsiah, I would have been quite adamant about joining supervision. I doubt that if I had been elsewhere, that I would attain what I have today.

Actually… looking back, I didn’t really have a proper job interview. Well, not in the traditional sort of way lah. Because it wasn’t me who was seeking to be placed there and whilst I did cerita about myself just like any other interviewee trying to woo a potential employer would, there was also an element of them trying to persuade me to join the department. Basically, I didn’t have to sell myself so hard lah ;)

After the “interview” Pn Sham… or Kak Sham as she told me to address her took me around to introduce me to the other people who are now going to be my colleague. First person was the secretary… “This is Nora. Dia garang tau”. Yes… I got that impression I cakap dalam hati.

“So kita jadi ambik dia…” Nora sought confirmation from K Sham, to which she received a nod.

“Diorang kat sini gila-gila”, K Sham said as we walked deeper into the department, “Don’t let their looks fool you, especially this guy… Bidi this is Ruziana. What should we call you?” she looked at me and asked. “My friends call me Uji”.

“Dia ni kita panggil ustaz… paling baik dalam ramai2 ni”. Bidi dengan penuh sopan welcomed me into the department with a friendly smile. “So she’s joining us? This section?” Bidi asked K Sham. “Yes… and you jangan jahat2 buli dia” K Sham said sambil gelak. My first impression of her as someone cold and snooty began to chip away as I observed her interaction with the rest of the staff.

Next to be introduced was Kong Kuan who sat next to Bidi… he was on the phone and just angkat tangan. Followed by (not in the correct order… I tak ingat lah in detail… it was a big blur trying to remember names and faces) Cindy, Sook Yu, Yeow Boon, Alfred, Laurance, Zaed, Zeha, Kam, Rustam, Khairuddin, Jo, Keat Lin, Saw, Yin Mei, Ada, Nizam, Ropizah, Hamidah and finally Rasheed.

I have to say that when I first saw Rasheed, the first thing that crossed my mind was ahaa… finally an Indian. So when K Sham told me of his name, I had to pretend not to appear surprised. But she beat me to it and said “Sure you ingat dia India kan? Dia ni actually melayu… Colour je lain”. Rasheed like Bidi was polite.

“There’s one more… tapi she’s on maternity leave. Dia lah yang paling kecoh sekali kat sini… bising betul, especially bila dah get together dengan Cindy. Nama dia Mad. Nanti you tahu kenapa kita panggil dia mad woman” K Sham said with a laugh. In my mind I was already imagining so many things. I didn’t get to meet Mad until about 3 weeks later. Tak lah mad woman… loud yes ;)

“This is your place” she showed me. Duduk almost betul2 depan dia… in direct visual range of the boss, oh dear… what a way to start my working life. Kena be in best behaviour… or so I thought, hehe… I sat behind Bidi, in front of Cindy, my neighbour to the left is Laurance, barat laut is Kong Kuan and barat daya is Zaed.

Instead of getting straight into work, a crowd gathered… Bidi, Rasheed, Kong Kuan (this time he formally introduced himself), Sook Yu, Alfred and K Sham. It seemed like a friendly and happy crowd… laughing, making jokes. They were all warned by K Sham not to bully me and that I should tell her if it happens (little did I know then that the chief kaki kacau orang is non other than herself). I was very quickly given the 101 on the things that newbies should do… first on the list was to belanja everyone breakfast with my first gaji… and it should be something substantial. Kuih2 tak main… Or lunch is also acceptable (a tradition we continue to practice with any promotions or upgrading). Nora then joined in, followed by En Razif. “Haa… ni apa party ni? Tak kerja ke?” he said jokingly. Dia pun join berborak sekali :)

Fate had brought me to the perfect “family”. To this day, these very people are my closest friends at work. We continue to have lunch together, celebrate birthdays, share our problems, source of guidance. En Razif (now Dato’), K Sham, Rasheed, Bidi, Mad were wonderful coaches and had helped developed me, sharpen my skills, deepen my insights. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Of course there were ups and downs. As with any family, frictions happen… but also with families, the ties are strong. Some people, especially those who observe from the outside, say that we’re cliqueish. Maybe we are… but we’ve since welcomed others into the group… K As, Aznan, Bulat, K Che. So it’s not an exclusive group. As long as satu kepala… orait! :)

So today, as I look back, I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my career 8-)

10 glorious years down… 23 more promising years to go!

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Today marks a new year mengikut calendar Islam. The year 1429H.

Similar to the new Gregorian year, I'm not making any resolutions/wishes... have not been making any for many years now. But with the mark of this *other* new year, I pause to reflect on the blessings that has been 1428H...

I've been blessed with good health (ada lah deman, batuk, selsema... but not a single doctor visit), murah rezeki (confirmed promotion and due to salary adjustments in the organisation... increments twice this year), opportunities to see the world, made new friends, spent more time with old friends... normal things, yet so meaningful.

Yet my mind has been worrying and troubled about an issue which overshadowed what is an otherwise wonderful year. Sometimes, we just need to step back and see things in perspective... how they fit into the bigger picture. A small black dot can seem large in a pristine white canvas.

I talked to boss about a matter late Wednesday evening. I can fully understand how he feels. He told me things which I had never thought that he would share with me. In some ways, we've gone through the same things... at different times, with different people and in some cases with the same people. I had never thought that he would feel that way, respond in that manner. I suppose it is a common trait shared by those who were born awal tahun kut... Since Muharram is in January this year, that also means that I'll be celebrating my birthday mengikut calendar Islam soon... just 4 days apart, but 1 year difference in terms of age.

Someone told me a few months back that reading this blog has inspired her to start her own blog. That's a compliment. Little does she know that my own inspiration to start writing was also fuelled by reading another person's digital capture of daily going-ons :) These past few days I've been wondering how this blog is taking shape. In the beginning it was more insightful, more thoughts... then it was about how I was feeling... and lately more on preoccupation with renovation works. But always some mention about food, hehe... I've not been writing as religiously as in the beginning... a sign of running out of steam? No lah... I think it's more because I spend more time scouring the internet for interior design ideas. That aside, I think I write best when the thought or emotion flows through. Sometimes (or rather, MOST times) that results in a blabber... verbal diarrhea. Apa2 pun, I've decided that I might not be writing on a daily basis, and may even perhaps write more than once in a day (yes... there has been times when I think about more than one thing in a day). It's about quality, not quantity (erm... ada quality ke? whatever lah...). Tengok lah how the mood strikes... I don't think I'll ever write like any of those people who puts up a well researched view on a particular thing. It's not what I want or desire.

Selamat Tahun Baru kepada semua muslimin dan muslimat. Semoga tahun ini membawa lebih keberkatan... insyaallah!

Monday, January 7, 2008

today 20 years ago...

7 Januari 1998 is a date that changed my life.

It was the day that I was *shipped* off to be on my own, away from family for the first time in my life. At the tender age of 12 year, 11 months and 14 days.

I don't quite remember the exact details of the day. What I can recall is that I woke up very early that morning. During the drive down to Seremban, Mama told me what to do and not do... so did Papa. Both of them went to boarding school and have first hand experience. They told me not to worry. I don't think I was...

We were among the early birds that morning. Went straight to the hall for registration... While waiting for our turn, we sat on kerusi besi warna biru. Papa pointed out the markings on the chair "KTK... katak" he said with a laugh. Little that I know then that katak is a gelaran synonymous with the students of the school. Papa went on to tell the story about how when I started to talk, I couldn't pronounce kakak properly. It started as tatak, then katak and finally baru kakak. After about 1/2 hour wait, I was officially a student of the illustrious Tunku Kurshiah College.

I was then introduced to a senior who is my designated CS - college sister. Every first former gets a fifth former from her house to be her CS, the person who is responsible for her well being and adjustment into boarding school life. My CS is K Musi, short for Musalmah. She's very fair, wears glasses, pakai tudung and is soft spoken.

We then went to Block D, dorm Orkid, rumah Mahsuri - red house. As I stepped into the room, I saw the rows of bunk beds and thought to myself "this is it... no turning back". Gone are the comforts of my king sized bed, the aircond... I'm now living a utilitarian life where the colour of our sheets are predetermined and I have to start washing my own clothes.

I got an upper level bed, near the door. All lower level beds have been booked and my dad convinced me that upper beds are better... more fresh air. Another reason why I chose that particular bed is because I get to have a locker right next to the bed.

Mama and Papa didn't stay long. Both of them had to go to work and they left me in the trusted hands of K Musi. While unpacking and making the bed, K Musi gave me a run through of the daily activities and schedule. It was an overload of information... breakfast at 7am, class until 1.50pm, quiet time until 2.45pm, house games on Tuesdays or Thursdays, dinner at 8pm, followed by prep until 10pm, except on Thursdays when it dinner is at 6.45pm followed by solat jemaah and then prep, lights off at 10.30pm etc etc, house cleaning on Sundays preceeded by house meeting... the do's and don'ts, what to wear, what to do... my mind tried hard to cope. It all seemed second nature to K Musi. And I have not mentioned all the *rules* which are not part of the official routine/student guide... where you are in the hierarchy, how to address a senior, when to start eating at the table... the *regime*. Memanglah pening nak ingat everything.

We went for lunch with another senior and a fellow first former, who is also my dorm mate - Amy. K Musi sent me back to the dorm and said that she'll come by to pick me up for dinner later that evening. It was a Thursday... so ada solat jemaah at the hall. Lucky for me, K Musi is also the assistant house captain. So her room is on the same floor. Easy if I ever need to get her assistance.

There I was... all alone, tak kenal anyone. Amy went to her bed and said that she wanted to kemas her cupboard. What was I going to do? That was when a girl came over and introduced herself "Hello... saya Mynn. Apa nama awak?" And that was the beginning of a life long friendship... I was a shy not-so-little girl, and Mynn helped introduce me to some of the other girls. We started chatting about where we come from, our families... but the thing that broke the ice was when we started to talk about *Police Story*... a chinese drama series on TV3 which airs at 6pm every weekday. Soon we were laughing away, sharing our admiration over Tony Leung, telling each other who is our favourite artist... masa tu Madonna and Whitney tengah top.

If I'm not mistaken, it was also Mynn who gave us nicknames. Lucky for me, I already have a nickname... so I stuck to that. The 3 Idas were renamed to IdaJ, IdaY and IdaK... who was later known more glamourously as Kamm ;)

That night as I tried to lull myself to sleep... I heard some of the girls crying. It must be hard being away from home. Me? I was excited to meet new people, making new friends... in fact, I lupa pun about home, hehe. The only thing that concerned me was whether I'd get up in time the next day...

Going to TKC was a significant event that shaped my life, my future... mould me into the person that I am today.

TKC provided me the privilege to attend school with among the best students in the country, had the necessary infrastructure and faculty to offer the best learning environment. Takut jugak masa first masuk... selalu kat sekolah rendah, I've never tak dapat #1. Now that I'm amongst the bijak pandai, what would my chances be?

It was at TKC that I belajar cakap English and learnt to command the language. It was a part of the culture... speaking English is second nature there. I also learnt French... walaupun sekarang ni berkarat yang amat

Time in TKC was character building. I learnt about independence, discipline, responsibility, time management, people management, conflict management (when you live with so many girls... byk conflicts...), teamwork, always striving for excellence... honed my creativity, develop interest in the performing arts... I'm glad that I had the chance to experience and learn all that in my formative years.

My years at TKC were good. Performed well academically, less so athletically. I was in the brass band, was involved in drama and dance, became headgirl and band president. I have to say that I did not have a difficult time while I was there... in fact they were some of the best years of my life.

Had it not been for all that... I would not have won the scholarship. I would have not gone to Melbourne to further my studies. I would not have met Tamar Lewitt... the teacher who nurtured me to think broad and deep. So many things I owe to my years in TKC and the people around who each have a part in shaping me into the person that I am today.

People say that TKC girls can be easily recognised... either by way of how they carry themselves, how they talk. Being a TKC girl is not always a positive thing... many shun us because they say that we're snobbish. I say that's rubbish!

If one were to ask me what's the most important things that I got out of TKC... I'd say it's the friendships that were built. The camaraderie... nothing else comes close. That's the thing that I cherish most.

So on this momentous day, thank you TKC... for making me the person that I am today and for gifting me with lifelong friends, whom I call family.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

smokey eyes...

Last night Ina and I were on a mission... to learn how to buat sultry smokey eyes.

I was doing my kira2 on my renovation costs when Ina came into the room declaring that she had found a video on youtube... step by step on how to put on eye makeup. I've always wanted to have that sexy mysterious look, but each time tak berjaya.

We were excited... watched about 8 videos before finally deciding to buat practical training. Earlier that night we were in Bangsar Village... and sambil tengah beli Nescafe kat Village Grocer, we passed by the Revlon counter. That's when Ina brought up the suggestion... thought about buying the palette but decided otherwise since manalah selalu nak guna eye shadow colour gelap2 ni kan... Bukannya I selalu keluar berdinner or clubbing pun. Nanti benda tu terperuk je atas meja.

Tapi bila dah jumpa the video, we were both excited to try out. So armed with whatever dark/grey colour eye shadow that we have, the experiment commenced. First attempt... koyak. Bukannya jadi smokey... more like panda, haha. Try tak jadi, cuci dgn eye makeup remover, then try again. Finally boley lah... but that took about 10 mins... itu baru untuk satu belah mata!

We continued playing around... try other colours pulak, try lipstick... macam2. Decided that we need to invest in other eye shadow brushes... one of those smudging brushes and another yg angled type. Share lah... since they're quite mahal. Also to share to buy a good pencil sharpener. Tak boleh lah guna sharpener mcm budak2 sekolah tu. Habis rosak my eye pencil tu pulak...

That was really fun :) Main punya main, finally around 2.30am baru we decided to tido.
Sangat seronok ada a sister to do all these girly things with 8-D

Saturday, January 5, 2008

redang, ambuish, sakar...

Those are the colours of the tiles that I've (finally) chosen for the bathroom. Wanted to have something modern and simple, something that's natural. So I opted for MML. Niro tiles are nicer but also much more expensive. Will cost me over RM600 more if beli Niro tiles, which is considered to be high end. Tak apa lah... something that looks like that pun jadi lah... And I'm going to have those rectangular tiles. Something different and more modern :)

Also bought my basin, WC, taps, water trap too. The sanitaryware I chose white. Should contrast nicely against Redang and Ambuish. For the taps, I chose a squarish design to match my square, semi recessed, slightly jutting out basin. I've always wanted to have a square sink... dream come true :)

I agonised over the countertop and cabinet. Asal2nya plan to use IKEA's kitchen cabinet, but then takut tak tahan selalu kena basah. Then Papa suggested to suruh buat je platform batu. On top can put those large tiles. Not a bad idea...

Changed my mind several times about the wardrobe too. Mr Alex the Wardrobe man must be pening with my numerous sms yg sekejap kata A and sekejap kata B. Ye lah... when you're spending this much money, mestilah nak yang terbaik... kena rasa fully satisfied.

So that's what I've been doing in the evenings on weekdays and most of the day on weekends... sitting on a plastic stool in the room yang now dah lapang... meng-imagine how the room would look like under different settings. Either that or designing layout, checking out design sites on the internet... Constantly with a tape measure... I'm obsessed!! Sangat tak boleh jadi interior designer because I'm so indecisive. Tapi now all the major items dah confirm. No more turning back, except with the wardrobe and shower screen. I still belum fully decide on those items. Selagi boleh, tukar2 je lah the plan, hehe...

I've started looking at paint colours. Want to have the colour mcm the houses in Architecture Digest... something in a natural tone.

Got ideas from AAA's house on how to tackle the lighting issues. To use a curtain pelmet (is that how you spell it?) on the walls as a casing for the tube lights, instead of having normal lampu from the ceiling or downlights.

Went to the kedai besi to get a quotation for grill. Tak best lah ada grill, block the view. Tapi apakan daya... Malaysia ni ramai orang jahat.

Still plenty more to decide, order and buy. Tapi I'm already almost reaching my budget... sans the lampu, kipas, exhaust fan, etc. Memang bust lah like this. But like Mama & Papa kata, dah alang alang buat tu, buat elok2. If only the jumlah wang involved has one less zero at the back...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

welcome 2008!

It's a new year... a new beginning of sorts... but I still feel the same.

No resolutions, no celebrations... in fact I celebrated 2008 on bed, sleeping. Woke up just after 2 am, because belum solat Isya. So much for celebrating, despite earlier plans...

[flashback to a few days back... if this can be visualised like on tv, it's the moment when things suddenly berasap and kabur2, hehe...]

Day: Sunday, 30 Dec 2007

Started the day like any other Sunday except that I was was awoken by ketukan chisel and hammer. Oh yes... the workers are here again. Mama asked when the basin, WC and tiles will be arriving. "Belum beli lagi laa" I told her. "Dah nak siap ketuk ni... nanti tak sampai apa Wak nak buat? Delay pulak" she started with her reminder (which was repeated over the next few days).

Can't do much today... the shops are closed. The best I could do was to browse online. I had earlier shortlisted some tiles from Guocera but nak tengok options lain. Discovered the MML website. Teruja!! They had the natural stone looking tiles.. just like at AAA's home. That's be interesting! Wonder how much that would cost...

After Zohor, Mymot called... "Babe, do you want to come with us tonight?" Yesterday we had planned to go to Hotel Istana sama2 for Marni's reception hosted by Mazran's side of the family. "Yup... what time?"... and we made arrangements for Mymot to come and pick me up around 6.30pm. I decided to wear a baby blue baju, pakai the new clutch bag I bought at Nose and wear my Cinderella slippers. Oh yes, wear that bracelet I bought yesterday too. Perfect!! Cuma nak kena minta tolong Mymot pakaikan the selendang...

I was ready by 6.20pm but by 6.45pm when Kancil tak muncul tiba, I sms Skinner "Are you girls nearby?" Mymot was supposed to pick Momz then Skinner up before kutip I. "No... she belum sampai lagi" was her reply. I called Mymot up and informed her that I'll drive straight to Istana so that I can solat first... she can do my tudung there.

Like any other weddings at hotels, it was a bit formal. Especially when there's royalty involved. I didn't know that Mazran is cucu YAM Tengku XXX... bila tanya Aunty Naimah who the guest of honour is, baru lah tahu. One wouldn't know from interactions with Mazran. He's so lepak... and I'm not one who really cares or tanya about the family background of people I know. I mean... he/she is my friend, not the family. So what if dia anak Raja ke anak tukang kebun ke... it's the person that I'm interested in.

Anyway... after the dinner, we stayed on. Berborak dengan her family, who were all dressed in lilac, while the newly weds bid farewell to their guests. The band played on sementara orang berangkat pulang... and sambil tu I noticed a lady asking the hotel staff to move some tables. Rupa2nya they were preparing a dance floor. Waa... menarik :) I've never attended a Malay wedding yang ada menari2.

To cut the story short, we stayed on not only to snap photos with Marni and Mazran, but also to boggie the night away. Boleh tahan the uncles and aunties ;) It was fun! Dalam hampir2 terkehel in my glittering slippers, I managed to do some dancing... including poco-poco. We all got excited with poco-poco and promised ourselves to take some dancing lessons before the next OGA dinner.

Dalam keseronokan tu tak sedar that the night dah jadi pagi. I finally went home at 1.30am and didn't sleep until around 4am. Who could after getting so worked out on the dance floor...

Day: Monday, 31 December 2007

Most people are on leave today but not moi. Despite barely getting any sleep, I forced myself up to go to the office... eyes all bleary. Didn't get much done kat office pun... it was barely 1/3 full.

Around 4pm got an email from one of the girls to meet up tonight... for more dancing to usher in the new year. I was all excited... even got hold of a cd for the occasion. The plan was to have some steamboat and then joget the night away.

Hajatnya nak balik awal to get ready, but I ended up having a discussion with NAMN on the project. It's such a messy problem... In the end, I got home around 8.15pm. Mama dah masak, so decided to have dinner first. That's when fatigue finally caught up with me... I could hardly open my eyes. I know the girls were waiting, but decided to take a nap first and go meet them around 11pm.

The nap turned into a deep sleep... and I didn't wake up until way past midnight. I recall sambil tengah tidur tu answering a call from one of them... apologised that I won't be coming after all and continued to tido.

And so that's how I said goodbye to 2007 and greeted 2008.

2007 has been a busy, busy year... I've never been this busy at work. I guess it comes with the territory. It was hard to adjust at first, but I'm getting the hang of it. However, I'm still struggling with remembering so many things and to keep on top of everything. I don't know how the others do it... they must have super memory cells.

I travelled a bit too this year...
In January it was to "below freezing point" Seoul. Celebrated my birthday alone for the first time in my life... that was lonely, especially when my handphone tak boleh guna kat sana. Made worse by losing my purse, with half of the money I had with me and all my credit cards plus IC, to an unassuming looking lady, whose images on the CCTV shall remain in my mind. But as soon as I touched down in KLIA and turned on my phone, the messages came in :) Made nicer by the gifts that were waiting at the office from friends who remembered... Gestures like that made me forget the harrowing experience of being in a foreign land with only a few hundred dollars to my name. So much for shopping in the haven for fake designer handbags...

In May, I made the trip back "home" to Melbourne after almost 10 years. It felt so good to be walking along the corridors of my alma mater again... taking in the sights and sounds. Going back made me realise how much I've come to love the lovely city that is Melbourne. Met up with NMS and had a good time chatting with her. I'd say that's when we shifted from being mere acquitances to friends.
Also met up with Tamar Lewitt, my favourite lecturer ever, for a nice long chat. Despite having left her class for almost 15 years now, we still had a lot to talk about. She's so amazing and warm. I credit her for having trained me on how to think critically and develop the ability express ideas in a cohesive manner... putting together pieces of information and fact to form an opinion and present a case to support it. History of Ideas has been and will always be my most favourite class. And how can I talk about Melbourne without mentioning about the glorious iced chocolate on Lygon St. Just thinking about the experience makes me want to go back there for more...

In June, it was the wonderful trip to Netherlands, Scotland and Belgium. I was purely on holiday for a change... a whole 2 1/2 weeks :D I never thought that I would appreciate nature so much as I did when I was in Scotland. It was simply breathtaking! I won't elaborate here since it's all documented in my travel blog (which is currently on hiatus... unfortunately, most of the beautiful Scottish scenery are not up yet... soon, I'll get on with it again)

In August, I took Mama for a holiday in Hanoi and Ha Long bay. Just the two of us... a driver and a guide. The serenity of Ha Long bay soothed my stress away and the shopping was just heavenly :) Mr Chien, our trusted guide, took good care of us.

And finally, to the USA in November... which turned out to be a "round the world" and shopping trip for me. Meeting and spending time with my dear friends Linda and Farisa again was wonderful, especially when I was feeling down... to take me away from all the troubles. Real friendships always survive the test of time and distance.

I did more things this year... spent the time to "live", especially the latter half of the year. I finally admitted to myself (and a few close friends) on how I felt... went through the giddiness as anyone in such a situation would be, but later succumb to the reality that it is not meant to be and experienced the accompanying sorrow and dejaction.

It was more fulfilling in many ways and yet at the same time, painful. The highs were exhilarating and the lows were gut renching. Too bad that I didn't end the year with a high note... was more on a recovering path. I'm out of the blue but it's not quite sunshine yet.

I look forward for a better year... filled with happiness, good health, great times with family and friends, dirahmati, diberkati and of course, many more travels :)