Childhood Memories Part 16


Read the series here

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I don’t why but I recall of the good old 80’s as I sat in front of the laptop doing work and listening to A-Ha’s “Take on me”. That song and other songs in my collection bring back a sense of déjà-vu.

Things were more fun back then in 1980s especially at school. The 1980’s was the time I started my primary schooling and had one of the best times of my schooling life, full of memorable events and teachers and school mates.

If there is one piece of evidence that the 1980s was indeed a good era, I guess one need to look from one main aspect – music. This has to stand out at the very front – both in the western world (English songs) and in India namely in Tamil Nadu (Tamil songs). The 1980s may have been one of the best eras for music with some of the more memorable song was composed.

Tamil Songs

In Tamil Nadu, a great music director by the name of Illayaraja was holding the crown in the 1980’s when it comes to music and accompanying movies. After all, all great Tamil movies in the 1980’s have great songs composed by Illayaraja (before AR Rahman came into the picture in 1990s).

The ultimate combination would be Illayaraja composing, SP Bala singing and Mohan acting. One example would be the movie, Mouna Ragam and the song Nilave Vaa (the other movies that had memorable SP Bala 1980’s hits was Mella Thiranthathu Kathavu, Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal and Punnagai Mannan).

When I was still young, there only way for us to enjoy those songs was when we are watching Tamil movies on the TV (usually on the Saturday afternoon) or listening to Tamil song cassettes in someone else’s house. Later in life, when we had enough money to buy audio cassettes, we go to the audio shop in Leboh Ampang and get them to specially record our most liked songs (the price was almost the same with normal “commercial” cassettes on display).

Either that or we get buy empty audio cassettes and borrow cassettes from friends or other family members and record them (it was a good thing that my Dad had bought a cassette player which had separate compartments for 2 cassettes).

When I started working and had time to buy my own CDs, what I normally do is to list out all those movies where there was Illayaraja-SP Bala-Mohan collaboration and presto, I would get a good selection of 1980s songs. Of course, for now, with the advent of internet and large capacity storage, I have been gathering best of 1980s Tamil songs from various sources (as at todate 131 songs and counting). Cream of the list is usually burned into audio CDs, stacked away for the long drive on Malaysian highways.

English Songs

The eightiesclub reports:-

The 1980s was a decade of revolutionary changes on the music scene. The two major developments were the advent of MTV and the compact disc

MTV was born on August 1981 giving rise to music videos – one of the first “music videos” that we got addicted was Michael Jackson’s “Beat It”.

On the western front, we have plenty of names – both single singers and group singers, from the both side of the Atlantic and Australia. The list is almost limitless but to name few of well known groups, there is A-Ha, Mr. Mister, The Police, Modern Talking, The Bangles, Duran Duran, Starship, Kool & the Gang, Tears for Fears, Thompson Twins, U2, Culture Club, Bananaraman, Wham, Toto, Eurythmics and many more.

On the singles, still remember Sheena Easton, Madonna, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Irene Cara, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Prince, David Bowie, Phil Collins, Billy Ocean, Bruce Springsteen, Amy Grant, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, George Michael, Robert Palmer and Tracy Chapman? There is more but the names would be almost limitless.

Some came with just one hit and then disappeared forever from the music arena for forever. Some like Michael Jackson went on to be one of the biggest names all time.

I recall of the evenings when we had just finished school and rush back to get onto our school bus. My school bus had a very young guy as the driver’s assistant and he has a collection of cassettes with good and popular English songs (and also one with Alan Tam’s songs – “Friends of Mine” being my favourite and which still gives me the goosebumps when hearing it on quiet nights). I would go inside the bus, find a good place to sit and just lay back to enjoy the music.

It did not matter if those songs were repeated on a daily basis – I just could not get enough of it.

Read Also

1980s in Music

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No C2H5OH


It looks like beer, it smells like beer and the people are drinking as it is beer but certainly it is not beer.

(Great stuff from Holland!)

Iran, I guess is the second country that I have been to without any drop of cold beer. Brunei was the other country although I could have brought a crate of beer after declaring to the customs. Interestingly there are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks from local and European breweries to choose from here. And the drinks which come in many colourful can also come in many flavours – plain, lemon, apple, etc. And here is one part of the drinking “style” that I found very peculiar in a country who not only allows anyone to beer in the open but also bans the sales of beer – that the non-alcoholic drink is served in the same nature of serving alcoholic beer – in a iced beer mug.

Malaysia certainly is the best to be drinking beer although these times beer is not cheap. I say it is the best because very rarely I drink alone – there are always friends, colleagues or cousins who are more than willing to be my beer drinking buddies. The thing is I have cut down a lot on drinking beer – one is for slowing down the ever growing tummy and another is due to the fact that beer in Malaysia is not cheap. The day when I can say that “beer is cheaper than water” to my Aussie friend is a far, far away.

(You may have mistaken this for some beer drinking session in some coffee shop in Malaysia)

Ghana is one country where beer was kind of free-flow. It is cheaper but was more diluted as well. One needs to drink 2 large bottle of lager before one can feel the drunkenness a distance away. Perhaps we Malaysians are so used of having heavier content alcohol in our beers that when we are in Ghana, the local beers almost tasted like water. It was indeed diluted. But the locals usually can get drunk with just one small bottle – one of those unexplained funny paradoxes that I encountered when I travelled abroad.

For now, I had to do with non alcoholic lemon flavour drink as my nearest replacement for a good old mug of cold beer, at least until the next round of beer drinking session with friends and cousins.

Read Also

The joke on beer

Beer ban again?

The beer walk

Hindraf Rally Remembered


(Government’s response to Hindraf’s 2007 Rally. Image source: http://www.skthew.com)

25th November 2009 marks the 2nd anniversary of the unprecedented street rally by Indians under the now “banned but not crippled” organisation called Hindraf in this country.

From Wikipedia:-

The 2007 Hindraf rally was a rally held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on November 25, 2007.

The rally organizer, the Hindu Rights Action Force, had called the protest over alleged discriminatory policies which favour ethnic Malays. The rally was the second such street protest after the 2007 Bersih rally in Kuala Lumpur on November 10, 2007.

The rally started when a crowd estimated to be between 5,000 to 30,000 people gathered outside the Petronas Twin Towers at midnight, early Sunday morning. At least 240 people were detained, but half of them were later released.

Read Hindraf rally related posts:-

Hindraf protest – realistic way out?

Hindraf – not the end of the story

Hindraf – a year end thought

Hindraf – police and road blocks

Hindraf – a thorn that won’t go away

When Hindraf took to the streets in November 2007, certainly it was not done overnight. Hindraf existed long before that and often in thick of actions when it comes to demolishment of temples particularly in the state of Selangor.

Hindraf is a coalition of 30 Hindu non-governmental organizations committed to the preservation of Hindu community rights and heritage in a multiracial Malaysia (source)

Demolishment of temples under the old Selangor MB, Khir Toyo was one of the catalysts for the organisation to take the matter to the streets.

The case against Hindraf

The rally itself was tainted with accusations of being highly racist (that it only takes care of Indians and not Malaysians in general) and was not helped by the fact that Hindraf was trying to seek help from a foreign sovereign instead of the Malaysian King who in fact is our real sovereign (which many called it as treason on the highest order) and some of the demands in the full list of demands was worded too extreme and unreasonable.

The police at one point even painted that there was a connection between Hindraf and the Tamil Elam Tigers who were fighting for separate state in Sri Lanka but it was a case that was never proven to this day.

Hindraf vs MIC

One of the biggest implications of the Hindraf’s rally, in my opinion, was that it created a room for many Indians to start questioning the role of MIC when it comes to the welfare of Indians in this country. Long before there was general election and long before MIC realised the lost of Indian support in the ballot box, there was already Hindraf movement all over the country participating in prayers in the many temples and getting involved when there are any issues affecting the community.

Hindraf’s role in getting involved in the community’s issues was a role that I think MIC could have played more effectively but with older issues like the Telekom shares remains unsettled, many have lost confidence in MIC’s ability to continue to champion the plight of the community. Hindraf provided the alternative avenue. What more when there was a lack of coordination and solution provided when it faced with demolishment of temples in Selangor? This is why PKR, DAP and even PAS managed to grab the big swing in Indian voters during the general election.

Makkal Sakthi

Another implication that resulted from Hindraf rally and before that with Bersih and protest against toll hike was the high handedness of the government when it comes to dealing with dissent voices of the people. Instead of friendly dialogue, forum or close knit communication, the response was often come in form of arrests, tear gas, water cannon and arrogant discard of issues. The Hindraf leaders were promptly arrested under the ISA and spent almost 2 years in custody. There was a clear lack of engagement between the government with the people and the problems facing all Malaysians.

The cry “Makkal Sakthi” (or People’s Power) became famous battle cry during the last general election and it has impact on all walk of life (not limiting to Indians under Hindraf). As V mentioned in the movie V for Vendetta

“People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people”

Next chapter

Admittedly Hindraf is now seen has lost their core objective, mainly due to several reasons such as some of the states where they were very active such as Perak and Selangor have fallen into the opposition hands, there has been more swing towards Indian welfare and focus on the problems faced by the community by the government under Najib’s administration and more importantly, due to breakup of Hindraf itself into many small factions including one who formed their own political party.

Hindraf’s rally for right or wrong, did achieve one thing that it was meant to do – that is to create awareness, both for the government and for the Indians who been ignorant of the issues facing the community.

Thankfully things are better under the Pakatan Rakyat’s administration (except perhaps on the Kampung Buah Pala incident) and to some extent, under Najib’s administration.

It is hoped that the government irregardless it is from BN or PR, to engage the issues with more conviction and effective rather than silencing them in swift harsh actions. Otherwise, Malaysians will be far from being one as Bangsa Malaysia and street rallies like the one organised by Hindraf will be part of our daily life.

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Nearing 50,000 words


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I am sorry for not writing very regularly for the blog.

It is just that I have been busy with work and during the night and on the weekends, I have been “burning the midnight oil” on my novel for the NaNoWriMo 2009. Since I have been concentrating all my free times on this venture, as at todate I have completed almost 92% of the 50,000 words which was required to win the NaNoWriMo 2009 and I still have another 8 days to complete the balance 8% words. In other words, I am ahead of the scheduled words by almost 11,000 words.

I figured that I would be able to complete the 50,000 words, probably 5 days before the official closing date.

Thinking about the plots to write on daily basis has not been easy and every night I go to bed thinking on how I can expand the novel by another 1,000 – 2,000 words the next day. Sometimes I do get some inspiration but other times, I get blank inspirations.

But as the promoters of NaNoWriMo have said, just keep writing no matter how the plot is turning out to be, no matter how bad the paragraphs may be. Just think of expanding the novel on a smaller scales rather than expanding it on a larger scales and so far it has turned out well. I need to do plenty of revisions and re-writes of the current novel and probably the long cold December (it is already getting below 10’C at night lately) will be just the right time for that.

Can’t wait for the finishing line at the 50,000 words!

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Trip to ‘Chilly’ Restaurant


By the way, Chilly means Chinese…

(One good sign is red lights and tang-lungs on the inside and on the outside)

From day 1 after we had arrived here, we have been looking for cheap Chinese restaurant and thus far, we have been unsuccessful.

Some of our colleagues who have been in this part of the world had recommended us to visit one restaurant which is located about 2 kilometres walk from our apartment. But once we reached the place, we found the gates to the front doors was locked and no one on sight. At first, we thought we came on the wrong day or the wrong time (perhaps it was still too early). So we went to the same restaurant on different days and time and yet it was still closed.

We were unable to eat Chinese food but what the heck, we got plenty of exercise – just imagine 4 kilometres walk to and fro. One day we saw someone coming out from the restaurant – we asked and were informed that the restaurant was undergoing renovation and will be opening in 2 weeks time. Unfortunately the 2 weeks was almost a month ago and the renovation is still undergoing. I guess it take another 2 weeks from the time of writing this post for the ‘official’ reopening.

(It looks big on photo but in reality the servings are small and expensive)

So, we dropped our hopes for Chinese restaurant until one of the taxi drivers mentioned another in the city. But once again we had to abort the trip to that Chinese restaurant as we found that it will cost us at least USD35 for meals for each of us.

Last week, however, we got a breakthrough. One of our colleagues had found another ‘chilly’ restaurant and after a long tele conversation, it was found that the price was very reasonable – about 20,000 Rial for a plate of fried rice. With 4 of us who have decided to go and share out the cost, there were plenty of dishes that we were able to order. The restaurant was not easy to find for it was tucked away from the usual busy roads and given the roads were jammed, the taxi driver took some time to locate the restaurant and that too, after getting lost several times and had to stop and ask people.

(A close-up of all the dishes in one plate…my plate)

The restaurant, when we walked in, was empty with no one in sight except for the lonely restaurant manager. Later we found that we came too early to the restaurant for the crowd only came in when we about to leave after spending almost one hour in the restaurant. The manager remarked that the foreigners would usually come in early before the locals come in. Coming in early was also a blessing in disguise as the chef was not busy with other orders and had time to cook our dishes without any necessary rush (no half cooked dishes were found).

Admittedly at the end of the day, the price of the dishes and the taste can never come close to what we have back home in Malaysia but it was a relieve to see something that were very familiar such as ‘taugeh’, ‘onion leave’, ‘noodles’ and etc.

At the end of the day, 3 bowls of different types of soup, 2 bowl of fried rice (with different ingredients), 2 plate of mixed vegetables, 2 plate of noodles with different ingredients and a free flow of green tea, cost us about 500,000 Rial for 4 of us.

(To be continued)

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2012 & 4 Yugas


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In my earlier post on 2012, it was stated that the Hindus believed that there will be a golden year within Kali Yuga. But what is Kali Yuga anyway.

From About Hinduism:-

According to Hindu scriptures, all mortal beings are destined to pass through four great epochs in every cycle of creation and destruction.

The four great epochs in Hinduism are: Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga. Satya Yug or the Age of Truth is said to last for four thousand divine years, Treta Yuga for three thousand, Dwapara Yug for two thousand and Kali Yuga will last for one thousand divine Years that equals to 432,000 earthly years.

Throughout these four yugas, Lord Vishnu is said to incarnate ten times in ten different avatars. During the Age of Truth (Satya Yuga), human beings were spiritually most advanced and had great psychic powers. In the Treta Yuga people still remained righteous and adhered to moral ways of life. Lord Rama of the fabled Ramayana lived in Treta Yuga.

In the Dwapara Yuga, men had lost all knowledge of the intelligence and bliss bodies. Lord Krishna was born in this age. The present Kali Yuga is the most degenerated of the Hindu epochs.

Another theory explains these epochs of time on the basis of the degree of loss of righteousness in the world. It says, during Satya Yuga only truth prevailed (Sanskrit Satya = truth), Treta lost ¼ truth, Dwapar lost ½ truth and Kali is left with only ¼ truth. Evil and dishonesty has replaced truth in the last three ages or yugs.

Wikipedia on the other hand reports:-

Kali Yuga is the last of the four stages that the world goes through as part of the cycle of yugas described in the Indian scriptures. The other ages are Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga and Dvapara Yuga.

According to the Surya Siddhanta, an astronomical treatise that forms the basis of all Hindu and Buddhist calendars, Kali Yuga began at midnight (00:00) on 18 February 3102 BCE in the proleptic Julian calendar, or 23 January 3102 BC in the proleptic Gregorian calendar

Veda Online explains in details what happens during Kali Yuga:-

Hindu astrologers have calculated this to have been 2:27 a.m. on February 18, 3102 BC. This took place some 36 years after Lord Krsna spoke Bhagavad-gita to Arjuna.

The scriptures like SB 12.2 teach that during the 432,000 year age of Kali, humanity deteriorates and falls into barbarism. Humans begin to kill animals for food. They fall under the spell of intoxication. They lose all sexual restraint. Families break up. Women and children are abused and abandoned.

The saints and sages of ancient India describe the people of this age as greedy, ill-behaved, and merciless. In this age, says Srimad-Bhagavatam, merely possessing wealth is considered a sign of good birth, proper behaviour, and fine qualities. Law and justice are determined by one’s prestige and power

Severe droughts and plagues are everywhere. Slovenliness, illness, hunger and fear spread. Nations are continually at war with one another.

The men of Kali-yuga seek only money. Only the richest have power. People without money are their slaves.

Now the question arises – when does Kali Yuga ends? There seems to be many different interpretation of the end on different websites. Wikipedia simply mentions it as “When flowers will be begot within flowers, and fruits within fruits, then will the Yuga come to an end. And the clouds will pour rain unseasonably when the end of the Yuga approaches”

Interestingly it is also mentioned that “since only 5,000 years is past from the beginning of Kali-yuga, there is still 427,000 left for the end of Kali yuga. Even the Kali-yuga is not the end. After the end of Kali-yuga, again Satya yuga starts”

The last statement is interesting since we take into account the predicted golden years that may start in 2012, then it may be true that there is another 427,000 years to go before the end of Kali Yuga. And the golden years within Kali Yuga is expected to last for 10,000 years.

2012 will be an interesting year if all the ancient predications falls in place.

Read Also

Year 2012

Why We Pray?