Off to a Funeral


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(No matter what, Malaysia remains where my heart and soul lies at the end of the day. And nothing kicks starts the notion than flying on the national carrier whilst having hot delicious nasi lemak for company)

Somehow it was great to fly back on MAS – for a couple of things.

One, it was good to hear safety announcements in Bahasa Malaysia again. Two, they served nasi lemak for lunch which was a sure sign that we are heading back home. And one of the first things that I did once I am back home was to catch up on my sleep. I could not help it – I even doze off whilst I was having conversations. Having a weekend and then thereafter the CNY holidays was just perfect to catch up on a break.

So I thought…

I was made “aware” of a distinct relative who was admitted to hospital in a serious condition. And last weekend, the dreadful news came. The relative had passed away. Being a distinct relative, there was always an option for me to simply opt out from going for the funeral. Further, the funeral was taking place in Johore – a place that was considered “quite far away” to drive (although it was almost the same distance and time to drive up North). The one that nails the urge for not going is that the funeral was taking place on a Sunday (I was working on Monday)

But there was 3 reasons that was prompted me to attend this funeral. First, despite it being a funeral of a distinct relative but he was somehow linked with other relatives who are closer to me. And there will be questions raised in the next family gathering. I had some obligations to them. Second, my father in law who is staying up in Taiping is taking the bus (yes the bus – we did not know, otherwise we would have picked him up half way) all the way to Johore for the same funeral. If he can take the bus and travel for 8-9 hours, then what’s stopping us with cars half way through from attending the same funeral, right? And third, the deceased had the same (well, almost) age as me (and brother in laws). Somehow, that made me to decided to go for the funeral.

It was time for planning for the one day trip to South and it was similar to the trip to the East Coast but with a small difference. We going to use my car as I am going to do most of the driving. It was a good opportunity to test the new tires. And to ensure it is going to be a fast drive down South and back, we decided to leave the ladies & kids at home (we already anticipating massive traffic jam on the way back, so it is best to leave the ladies and the children at home). In the car, would be me and 2 of my brother in laws (one is the substitute driver and another is our navigator – he had been to the house once)

The plan was finalised on Saturday evening (it took some time on the phone with various parties to finalise who was going and who was staying). My brother in law would pick up his wife and his daughter and another of the brother in law in the morning and meet me at my house. He would leave his car and drop his wife & daughter at my house (my wife and my kids will be around to keep them company).

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(The trip down South – frankly the time and distance was similar to the trip up North but somehow it was less tiring. Perhaps it was because it has been almost 15 years since I made the trip to South)

We suppose to leave from my house (since it is nearer to the South compared to our 2 houses) at 5 am. I woke up at 4 am and by 4.45 am was all ready for the trip. I had even double checked the car and parked it outside the porch so that my brother in law can park his car easily. I also set the GPS coordinates and locked in the destination. At 5 am, he was no where to be seen. He finally showed up at almost 5.30 am – it was still good as my deadline remained 6 am (assuming we have a 4 hours to drive). The three guys finally left at about 5.45 am.

The journey to Johore was rather a pleasant one and surprisingly is not tiring compared to the trip up North. I hardly fell asleep along the way despite waking up earlier than usual. My new tires, Michelin XM2 was holding well and was quiet all the way. I had checked the route before hand (thanks, Google Map) and had decided to only use the GPS once we had reached the exit of the highway. No speeding on the highway and I maintain to the left lanes whenever possible. We made 1 pit stop at Pagoh for breakfast (a sorry looking nasi lemak with un-reasonable price was waiting for us). Quick breakfast and we were back on the highway and there was still more than 100 km to go before we reach the deceased’s house. Traffic was still sparse and it remained a smooth drive. It took us less than 4 hours including pit stop.

Using GPS is a must when venturing into an unfamiliar place and it was the case here too when we reached the house without getting lost. An uncle of mine who was not using GPS, got lost 4 times in the same area before finally finding the house. Fearing that there will be a big crowd later, we parked the car on the main road, some distance from the house but where I can still see the car from the house. We noticed a large tent outside the house which affirmed that we are at the right place. No familiar faces at the tent in front of the house, so we walked into the house. The coffin was in the middle of the house, surrounded by grieving family members. We said our condolences and prayers and headed back to the tent outside the house. The smell of chemicals inside the house was overwhelming and I started to feel dizzy.

Sitting under the tent outside the house with my brother in law (my father in law joined us soon after – he was tired after an almost 9 hours of traveling by bus) and with a fresh breeze, my head started to get clearer. Not many people have arrived despite the scheduled time for the deceased body was suppose to be taken to the crematorium. It suppose to be at 10 am but soon 10.30 am and 11 am had passed and soon it was showing 11.30 am. I looked at my brother in law and he looked at me – we suppose to leave at 11.30 am if we are going to make it home early. My brother in law went and talked to one of the relatives on the “status” – apparently there were some delay and we have to wait at least another 2 hours for the final ceremony (it actually took longer than that). I don’t blame them – no one prepares for a funeral upfront.

Wait for another 2 hours?

Well, that was our cue to take a “walk” to our car and head back home. Since there was a funeral, there were no “good-byes” and “see you later”. We quietly walked to my car – good thing it was parked far away and near to the house, otherwise our “early” departure would have been very noticeable.

traffic

(When things slows down on the highway, just make sure the car has enough petrol and the bladder empty. It was good that the traffic was moving despite the heavy traffic)

We had to head back to the highway, so GPS came in handy again. But before we do that, a short pit stop for fuel and use of bathroom was necessary. As I drove out, I misjudged a junction and took the wrong road. Thankfully the GPS was quick to recompute the route and in fact came out with a route with less traffic (so we could “fly” towards the highway). Soon, we found the toll plaza but it was not the NS toll booth (we mistakenly thought it was the NS toll). It was actually the 2nd Link Expressway. There was no lane for cash but instead all need Touch N Go for access. The problem was I left my TNG card at home and my brother in law did not have one either. Cars started to pill up behind us and when I thought we had a big problem at hand, I remember I had the Tesco loyalty card in my wallet and that came with TNG feature. It even had enough credit for the toll. We were saved!!

It was not long before we reached the actual NS highway and initially the traffic flow was good. We managed to clock 110 km/h most of the route. But once reached Negri Sembilan, the traffic started to crawl. R&R was packed full with cars as well. We made our pit stop at Ayer Keroh for fuel and a very late lunch. We could not find a parking spot but at further up front, we managed to find a spot and had an excellent nasi lemak with a good portion of chicken. There was long queue at the petrol station as well. Then it was back to the crawl on the highway. We finally reached home almost at 8 pm and despite being stuck with traffic jam most of the way (no thanks to road works and a couple of broke down express buses).

Despite I drove to and fro such a distance, all in one day, surprisingly I was not feeling that tired or sleepy. And after the late evening shower, I was still feeling fresh to drive to restaurant near the house for dinner.

Robin Williams: 1951 – 2014


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(That funny man from Mork & Mindy will always be remembered. His role in Good Will Hunting however was a total depart from his usual fare and one class up. Image source: http://toptenfilmz.com)

I had never expected this

Oscar-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams has been found dead at his home in California from suspected suicide, police said Monday.

A statement from the Marin County Sheriff’s Department said the 63-year-old funnyman was found shortly before midday at his home in Tiburon, northern California.

“At this time, the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia,” the statement said.

The veteran actor’s publicist said the Good Will Hunting star he had been battling depression prior to his death.

(Source)

Coming back to Robin Williams, the why would why but then again, depression does make strong willed man to do crazy things. I should know, a situation that we were in once and still keeping an eye on this. However being one of the funniest man around, little we were aware that he has been battling depression. It is a silent killer.

Talking about Robin Williams, I will forever loved his roles in the Mork & Mindy (of course!) and other movies like Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire and Jumanji.

I loved his role in Good Will Hunting the most. He should have done more serious roles like this. Should have. He will be missed.

When We Look the Other Way…


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(The CCTV grab above, which shows a toddler being led by a man out of Kota Raya Komplex, could possibly be the last moment Siti Soffea Emelda was seen alive. The image was taken by police from the shopping centre located in Puduraya on the day Soffea was abducted by the man and hours later found dead with her head severed on the bank of Klang River. Image source: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/)

When I am abroad on work assignment, things are pretty much of a routine – wake up early in the morning, take a couple slices of bread to fill the stomach for the morning rush (until it is time for lunch), take the cab to work place and work until night, came back to the apartment dead tired with just enough energy to take shower, a bit of food as dinner and perhaps putting the dirty clothes into the washing machine and go to sleep. I hardy have time to blog even when the Big Boss celebrated his birthday couple days ago and I only managed to wish him through the phone.

Then I read this and I was speechless and got very, very angry:-

A CCTV footage purportedly showing two-year-old Siti Soffea Emelda Abdullah being abducted at the Kota Raya shopping complex has gone viral.

In the video, the suspect was seen trying to lure her away. The CCTV footage in the complex later showed the man walking away with Siti Soffea. The man was said to have abducted and beheaded the toddler with a ceramic tile on Thursday before jumping into the river in an attempt to escape.

Police found the body of the man in the Klang River near Jalan Tun Sambanthan, bringing a closure to the case. The body was found floating in the river near Bandar Sunway here on Saturday. A police source said that witnesses of the incident had already identified the suspect through photos and police are studying the CCTV footage.
Police believed the suspect, who was in his late 30s, was released from prison recently and had previous criminal records, mostly drug-related.

The source said the man had worked as a parking attendant near the Kota Raya shopping complex in Kuala Lumpur where the girl was abducted. Siti Soffea was with her mother Siti Salmy Suib, 32, who left the toddler with her friends as she needed to use the toilet on the fourth floor of the complex at about 3pm on Thursday. When she came back about five minutes later, Siti Soffea was not with her friends.

They searched the building but could not find her. Siti Salmy only learnt of what had happened to her daughter when police tracked her down and alerted her later that night.

(Source)

A young kid abducted in day broad light and no one took notice of it until it was way too late. I do not know how filthy this society had come to be – from being the usual “tak apa” attitude to murderous monsters who prey on little innocent children. When this will even stop? In this case, the mother alone cannot be faulted for losing her kid. What happened to her friends who were entrusted to keep an eye on the kid when the mother had to use the bathroom? High on drugs? What happened to the security guard who saw the young girl forcibly pulled by the stranger but opted to do nothing? It is not part of his job scope? Has human life had become that cheap for everyone when they could have done something and opted to do nothing?

As a father to 2 young kids, I am very angry with this whole tragedy. We have been losing kids (some like the Sathiskumar who went missing into thin air or William Yau who got down from the car and later found to be dead) on a regular basis. And no matter who we try to lay our blame on others – the parents (there are super sized morons who do not deserve to have any kids), the suspects (a big surprise on how the long arm of the law does not do much to keep them away from society), the society (who usually chooses to look the other way until it is too late – the famed tak apa attitude) and even the Government (who have plenty of time talking cock when it comes to dirty politics but have not demonstrated a sense of some intelligence in protecting the society), at the end of the day, it is the young innocent children that get the raw deal.

Let’s admit that everyone of us is guilty in one way or another to this tragedy (forget about the Home Minster coming to the rescue – the past few interviews and statements made by him simply reinforces the notion that we all have been dumb enough to continue to allow certain morons to hold public office and these morons have no shame whatsoever demonstrating their lack of good judgement & intelligence on what matters more when it comes to good governance). As a Home Minister, he should stay at home and save a lot of trouble and embarrassment to the country.

What I am afraid of is that we have too many of these tragedies of having missing and dead children and one day, we may find ourselves waking up and deciding that missing or dead children is a norm in this country. Can we stop this nonsense right here, right now  before that happens?

Karpal Singh: 1940 – 2014


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(He may have said many things but he have always been consistent and highly principled and that earns the respect and admiration. Image source: Malaysiakini)

From theStar:-

Bukit Gelugor MP and veteran DAP leader Karpal Singh died in an accident near Gua Tempurung here early Thursday. The prominent lawyer and his assistant, C Michael, died on the scene. His son Ramkarpal and the car’s driver, C Selvam, were injured in the 1am incident. Their bodies have been brought to Kampar Hospital. The Toyota Alphard in which Karpal and the three were in had collided with a lorry. Karpal was on his way to Penang to attend a court case.

A great loss to DAP and Pakatan Rakyat indeed!

RIP, The Tiger of Jelutong

Larry Hagman: 1931 – 2012


(The character itself is an icon and there was no other better to play the role than Larry Hagman. Image source: Wikipedia)

From CNN:-

Actor Larry Hagman, who created one of television’s iconic villains with the treacherous J.R. Ewing of “Dallas,” died Friday, according to a family statement. He was 81. Hagman died at a Dallas hospital of complications from cancer, said the statement posted on Hagman’s official web site early Saturday.

“Larry was back in his beloved Dallas, re-enacting the iconic role he loved most,” it said. “Larry’s family and close friends had joined him in Dallas for the Thanksgiving holiday.

When he passed, he was surrounded by loved ones. It was a peaceful passing, just as he had wished for. The family requests privacy at this time.”

“Dallas” was an iconic TV show back in 1980s and the main role in the series was the ruthless J R Ewing played by Larry Hagman. But back then Dallas was heavy stuff for us kids although my parents watch them often. For us, we prefer the funnier side of Larry in the sitcom “I Dream Of Jeannie” which was more entertaining and funny.

Neil Armstrong: 1930 – 2012


(The first man who will step on the moon -Neil Armstrong. Image source: The Hindu/NASA)

“This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”

Although he was not the first in space (that credit goes to a Russian, Yuri Gagarin who unfortunately died of a young age) and as the LM commander (and the pilot), he just happen to be the first to step out, we shall not forget the famed statement that Neil made after stepping on the Moon in July 1969 The moment was historic to all mankind who for ages have been fascinated by the Moon both spiritually and scientifically.

There is certain aura and mystery of the Moon – for one; it is not clear how the Moon was formed. The best theory is the giant impact hypothesis which states that the Moon was formed out of the debris left over from a collision between the Earth and a body the size of Mars, approximately 4.5 billion years ago. And without the Moon, the planet Earth would not have tidal motion which is generated by the gradient in intensity of the Moon’s gravitational pull from one side of the Earth to the other. And the Moon also stabilizes Earth’s wobble, which led to a more stable climate (otherwise we will have extreme weather every few months) and probably helped life evolve. So, was it by chance or by design we have a Moon for close companionship?

And whatever the reason, landing on it seemed to be dream that eluded us for many years until Apollo 11. Man’s exploration of the Moon ended with Apollo 17 in December 1972 and the planned exploration in recent times under the Constellation program have been cancelled in favour of a manned asteroid landing by 2025 and a manned Mars orbit by 2035. The Moon is moving away from Earth at the rate of 3.78cm per year but it will take billions of years before we can feel any drastic impact from this and who knows, perhaps by then we would have already landed humans on the planet Mars and travelled to other galaxies and managed to stabilize Moon’s shift from the planet Earth.

The possibilities are endless – all we need to do is to take that one giant leap.

Punch Gunalan: 1944 – 2012


(The very young Datuk Punch Gunalan. Image source: http://forzameyya.blogspot.com)

From the Star:-

Badminton legend Datuk Punch Gunalan passed away peacefully at 6am Wednesday. He was 68. Gunalan had been battling with liver cancer for some time. He had put Malaysia on the world’s map in the 1970s with his immaculate performances in the singles and doubles events – representing the country in the Thomas Cup, All-England and Asian Games.

He had also served with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and Badminton World Federation (BWF), earning the respect of the world for his excellent administrative and communication skills and also for his warmth, kindness and passion for the sport.

The last I meet Punch Gunalan was in the mid 1990s when I attended the KL Badminton Association annual meeting with my company Sport Coordinator who was there to discuss on hiring some of the KLBA’s younger players as interns and to represent the company for inter-bank meets.

Unfortunately, the meeting itself was an embarrassing one. Before the meeting started, we are the buffet table and in the rush for food, someone knocked onto me and I accidentally spilled the chilly sauce on my rather “white” shirt. Just then, my friend called me and introduced Punch Gunalan. As I shook his hand, I noticed that he was looking at the rather messy spill on the shirt. Embarrassed, all I wanted to do was to go and hide somewhere far. But he did not comment on it and he was rather polite to us despite the VIP guests that were waiting to see him.

RIP Punch…