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A few years ago today (according to the Muslim calendar), at around 11 am, my house phone rang. There were only me and my father. Everyone else was not at home. They’re either next door at my grandparents’ or at the mosque. I picked up the phone and heard a woman’s voice. She was crying. She asked for my mother. When I said she’s not here, the woman said, “Tell your parents, Prof G passed away a few minutes ago”. The woman on the phone was Prof G’s wife. I hung up the phone, took a deep breath and walked a very long walk to my father’s study. “Abah, Prof G meninggal”. My father tried to get up from his chair but couldn’t. He just sat there, didn’t say a word whilst tears ran down his face. Prof G was his best friend.

The story was, that morning Prof G was at his community mosque performing qurban with the locals. Suddenly, he felt pain at his chest and decided to walk home. Upon arriving, he told his wife about the pain and said that he needed to rest. The next thing, he vomited blood and died on his wife’s lap.

That day, it was the first time I saw my father cry. Shedding tears at the death of a best friend.

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I got a call from grandmother. She said, “Ayyub, when are you coming home? I made you your favorite crème caramel. Do come home.”

That night we talked. We took a long drive. We talked about our memories of my late grandfather and other stuff. “You’ve got a long way ahead of you. Umur 35 nanti pun boleh start fikir pasal kahwin”, she said.

Hmm. I think she knows about my intention of taking life off the expected course. Maybe.

She was lonely.

The recent (current) internet disruption was far off from the heat. Fingers started pointing. In today’s Utusan, the CEO of Jaring Communications blamed the government for not having alternative gateway route. All I have to say is, in this industry, the inclusion of IT, telco, networking etc, backup and contingency are supposed to be part of the flesh. Accidents tend to happen but rapid recovery should take place almost immediately. Now, the more mouth damning, the slower the recuperation.

Many local (read; Malay) IT (solutions developement) companies promises the sky to customers. Even the sales department’s motto spells “sky is the limit”. Well, common users and respective customers are being cheated straight to the face. The less knowledge customer has the heavier the deception. Systems delivered looked similar to the requirements but at the back-end, complications and predicaments loomed. When customer complained, all is done by sugar-coating the system. Little repair is done. Why? Because we are what we are, irresponsible, indolent, uncooperative and egotistic. Maybe what I’m saying is self-centered, but I know what I see and I’m sick of it. Sampai bila pun takkan maju camnih!

I sensed this trend since my university days. I even made a comparison between under-graduate engineering courses and IT courses. My example is the final year projects. For engineering students, what they do is proving a solution (by doing experiments, tests, data collection etc.) first and then present the findings based on proven facts. With IT students, they talk big first and then when they realized that they can’t deliver what they had promised earlier, they came out with a not so impressive work just to pass the course. Yes, not all are like that, but still, it happens regularly.

As a conclusion, IT is not a distinctive profession. Any decent human being on earth can practice it with or without professionalism. The key element is deep interest. Without it, you better do something else rather than be a bane to others!

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It is hard. Especially being normal human beings, we tend to strive or at least dream of something more than better. Being regular is just not adequate. Persuaded by envy, wealth and non-compliance to routine, frustration arise. The dissatisfaction with thy self. Which is a good thing, but we don’t really know when, what or how is enough.

Greed is not necessarily about riches.

Saturday exhausted me. Came the evening, I was nearly worn out. But I have to run some errands before I can call it a day. Azim drove me to a nearby bank in Shah Alam. He parked his car and waited for me with his headlights on and engine running. Nawal text conversed with me as I was doing my stuff. My thumb was still rapidly on the keypad as I was walking back to the car. Finally I put away my phone and opened the door. There was a handbag on the seat. I was thinking, what the hell was Azim doing with his sister’s handbag? I waited for him to put it away before I can get in. It was taking him too long so I decided to take the bag and shove it to the back seat. As I bend down, grabbing the bag, I saw an unfamiliar stiff face with shocked eyes looking directly at mine. There was a pause, a long one. I let go of the bag and said, “Sorry, wrong car”. Thud!

I cleared my throat and walked to the right car. From outside I can see Azim was shaking like crazy inside. I entered the car and mad laughter with occasional snorts was bursting as we drove away. It was hilarity all the way until a few miles along the federal highway. “Was that your friend?” Azim eventually asked with tears of enjoyment running down his cheeks.

As described by Azim, “Dengan muka confident nye, with the ‘I’m always right attitude’, selamba je kau bukak pintu kereta mamat tu!”

Lucky I don’t live in Shah Alam!

Something happened today. A minor misunderstanding from long ago that eventually leads to massive aggravation to both individuals involved. I’m one of them. An initiator started it with such graceful naivety. It was hard to maintain my composure after the argument because it was just plain stupid. Maybe I was wrong and for that I am sorry and I mean, literally, I’m sorry. As a result, I may be losing a friend; a person that I once looked up upon for his passion for music and impulsive eccentricity.

Still feeling the heat after work, I called somebody to talk to. A real friend. I kept on talking and talking to this person about what had just happened. He listened with occasional “hmmms” and “oks”. After a while, he interrupted, “You know what, I’m worried about my family back in Segamat right now. They’re experiencing the flood as we speak”.

Again, I said sorry.

You make me forget myself

ball

I thought I was someone else,
someone good

A few months ago, I had the honour of having breakfast with one of Bangi’s prominent artist, Pak Usop. We started talking. He loves to talk. I asked him about his art gallery, a place that I used to come and watch him paint. He said business is ok by his standards, visitors if not his arty peers, are art-lovers from abroad, mainly Singapore or Thailand. Too little locals visited his gallery, or maybe they just didn’t care enough. I asked him about his infamous Anak Alam colleague, Latiff Mohidin. He said Latiff will never set foot in Bangi again unless necessary (on events like Pak Usop’s daughter’s wedding recently). When I asked why, he said, it was a sad story. About 20 years ago, Latiff presented UKM with one of his masterpiece painting. It was then hung in the Dewan Tuanku Chancellor. After years of decay and building maintenance, that particular painting experienced the treatment of rags.

When Latiff saw this mistreatment a few years ago, the vow became imminent. It is said that a Singaporean once visited Dewan Tuanku Chancellor, saw the painting and shook his head. The Singaporean said that according to current value, the painting could be worth around S$3 million. Luckily, UKM management doesn’t know the monetary value of the painting. If not, they must have sold it already.

Pak Usop explained his opinion regarding this matter. About the lack of art appreciation among general Malaysians. He said that, this all happens because of the segregation in the national education system. Mainly, the separation of science, arts and religious streams among our students. This mold continues throughout higher education level and the result; an engineer will not be a creative engineer, a politician will not be a thinking politician, a religious council member will not be an open minded religious council member and so on. Rarely seen are engineering or business or IT students in local university taking minor (non-compulsory) courses such as foreign languages, ancient history, photography or even arts and music itself. It can be said that Malaysians are developed intellectually from under the coconut shell. There should be a near-parallel balance among the three streams in our students education system, according to Pak Usop.

He took a puff from his Winston and ordered another cup of kopi ‘o. I phoned my boss and took half day off from work just to finish my conversation with Pak Usop. It was worth it.

If you notice in certain radio stations, there’s a song called Ku Impikan Bintang getting frequent airplay. Sean Ghazi has an album out. “He revives the genre of the classic Malay song with stunning big band, swing and orchestra arrangements in this captivating debut album”, so I was told from his website. The suave, neo-classical, jazzy Ku Impikan Bintang is something that puts a smile on my face each and every time I hear it. Even though it’s a translated cover version of Pink Martini’s Let’s Never Stop Falling in Love, it is still a good effort. Kudos!

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Photo courtesy of Bob Pilgrim.