Out with 2016, In with 2017


(Close your eyes and think for a second – are we doing the right things? Are we saying the right things? Are we putting ourselves in others shoes? Image source: http://www.coolnsmart.com)

The year 2016 came to a close with a bang – an accident!!

Couple of days before the end of 2016, on my last working day for the year, I got up as usual at about 6.45 am (because of school holidays) and at about 7.30 am, I left the house with a relaxed mind. The roads were clear and I was looking forward on the long holidays for the new year and thereafter. My son had orientation day on the last day of the year and I was looking forward to that as well.

As how I have passed the toll plaza in the same manner I had passed them in the last 10 years or so, I arrived at the toll plaza with almost a clear traffic. It was evident that a lot of people was on leave. I almost reached the toll booth when suddenly I noticed another car from my right. It happened in just seconds – I had no time to slam the brakes or even press the horn. I only managed to twist the steering to the left before the car came in the front of me, slamming on the front of my car with a loud crashing sound. I knew that I had a bad accident. The good thing was the engine was still running, the airbag was not triggered (means the damage was not so bad) and more importantly I was safe & did not have any injuries other than my pride and a minor headache.

Reeling from shock, I came out of the car to inspect the damage – the bumper was almost fell off and the right side of my car’s front fender was badly mangled. The hood was dented and badly scratched. The radiator’s coolant reservoir broke and lying on the road. The headlights were still working but the plastic cover was broken in thousand pieces. The mud guard was half covering the tire and making it hard to move the car. The other car did not fared better. After a brief chat (basically accusing each other in a very gentlemen manner), we had to move our cars to the side of the highway and wait for the tow trucks. Good thing the traffic was still low and I had no problem driving another 50 meters with the bumper half scrapping the road.

To cut the story short, me and the other driver discussed further and finally decided that the other driver will pay for the cost of repair. There was a reason why he could not bring his car to the police station to report the accident (no reasons given) and considering that I can expect my car to be repaired earlier (like within a week compared to 3 – 4 weeks if under insurance claim), I agreed to his proposal. I only had 2 conditions that he agreed in writing – no cost whatsoever to me and all parts must be original & new. He agreed and by 11 am, my car was towed to his friend’s workshop for initial assessment of the damage and to start the necessary repair works. And the other driver kept his promise – my car was repaired within a week and the parts were new & original. By the time I got the car back, it looked almost brand new. Even the drive and handling did not deteriorate despite the accident.

Perhaps I could consider this a bad closure in 2016 but a good start in 2017, so personally for me things was not so bad but we are still a long way from a good start for this country as whole, don’t you think so?

With the “Ringgit” not doing so well at the currency exchange and the cost of living spiralling up, 2017 is going to be a big challenge for many of the middle class families in this country including your truly. Early indications of the high cost of living was very evident when I headed over to my kids’ school end of last year and noticed that the school fees somehow had tripled compared to the previous years and this is even before the official start of school semester. But for good measures, I have decided to increase the daily allowance for my kids – I have a strong feeling that the school canteen is not going to sell cheap to the students in the coming months. Work wise, it will be an interesting year for me as I have added content management under my portfolio. It is a bit like doing “blogging” for the company on a daily basis. And that itself may inspire me to find enough time and space to kick-start my personal blog and maintain it on a more regular basis (I say may as even this first post for 2017 took more than a week to be drafted and posted).

Considering that the general elections may be conducted soon this year (if one follows the rumors lately), it will be challenging for the country as whole – do expect an increase of the unexpected and the dumbest statements & actions by our local “heroes”. On the other hand, the attempts to sweep the 1MDB fiasco under the carpet, well remains futile – not when a couple of bankers have jailed in Singapore and more will be booked in the coming weeks. Things are not right in this country at the moment and there is no clear plan from the leaders of this country to hold the bull by the horns and tackle the real issues. It will be a monumental effort to make the change at the top immediately but we need to start to start somewhere from the bottom. Just look at the majority of us – how many of us demand the highest quality of services and products and takes steps to provide highest quality of services and products. How many of us act and say things that reflects one’s embrace of rule of law and high morals.

It will take time, I know and different people adhere to different standards of morality and adherence to the law. But can we start at the lowest level of standards?

Let me give you an example – couple days ago, I was coming back from work and it was late at night. At the traffic light, a motorcyclist overtook me and waited in from of me. His rear lights was not working and he had a pillion rider with him and she was holding a baby. Now seeing families with babies on motorcycles is not new but the rider risking himself, his wife and his baby by riding in the dark is not acceptable. How much it takes to change a bulb? And lately I am seeing more bikes and cars with faulty rear lights. Another example that is a pain the neck and it does not cost a thing to get it rectified, is not putting up the indicators when changing lanes. What need to be done for these arrogant people to start putting on the indicators when they want to change the lane? What it will take to recognise what some politicians say or do is dumb, dangerous and is outright lie and voice the disapproval of it? Does it really need one to think and do irrationally when it comes to the issue of race & religion – two simple tools that is often used by politicians and politically charged NGOs?

I am sure that all agrees that the whole system needs a complete overhaul and the longer we drag our feet, the longer we deem low standards as acceptable., the longer we don’t voice our dissatisfaction and say wrong is wrong, the longer we will see this country deteriorates to the worst level. We need to start to make things right and we need to start with ourselves first. We lack the urgency and priority to look at things and see which of it needs our attention the most. In short, we need to shed the “tidak-apa” attitude and start demanding things to be accountable.

That should be our one and only resolution for the new year…


Upholding Dharma

It is a short one for this week but it has something that our country (and its good citizen) have been lacking in some areas and should be revisited. It is also something that I have been pondering on a personal basis.

Let me start with a simple case study:-

There is a junction near the housing area where a quiet number of the residents would take to make a u-turn to go to the housing area. Well, that fine as it is quite convenient for the residents. The only problem is there is a clear sign that says no u-turn is allowed. Despite this sign board and sometimes the inconvenient (and danger) posed to other road users, the residents continue to make u-turns instead of driving a bit more further and make u-turn. It may sound trivial but perhaps the residents may not be aware, they are breaking traffic law on daily basis.

The notion of dharma comes to my mind. The concept of dharma may mean many things to different people and religion. It may even have different name in different part of the world and culture. In Hinduism, dharma signifies behaviors that are considered to be in accord with rta, the order that makes life and universe possible, and includes duties, rights, laws, conduct, virtues and ‘‘right way of living’’ (Wikipedia)

Before anyone accuse me of being holier than holy (ha ha), let me assure you that it has nothing to do with religion but rather a way of life, doing the right things (as oppose to doing the things right) and ensuring that we do not hurt others out of greed, anger and of course, stupidity. You can find a variant of this in every modern society, culture and religion. Morality is one aspect of it but then the question may arise – what is right for me may not be right for you. That I agree with you. But there simpler acid test for this – be guided by the existing laws and society norms.

It can simple as following the traffic rules – don’t make illegal u-turns is one example, not driving on the wrong side of the road, put on the indicators when changing lane, wear a helmet when riding a motorbike and so on. And to something more complex like managing the country in the best interest of it’s citizen. There is no law written down to managing the country in the best interest of the citizen, of course.

This is where the society norms comes in place. No society wants to be governed by greedy, dumb, wasteful, dictator alike government – unless we are in a failing states like Zimbabwe or North Korea (but not Iran as the US wants us to believe). But we are not, we are far from countries like that. We will come across many instances of doing the right things in a day if you keep an eye and ears on it.

Asking people to do the right thing is nothing new concept. It is an age old concept.

I first came across the word “dharma” when I went to India for the first time and bought the Mahabharata from a local book store there. It was on sale (most things were) and the language used in the book was not so complicated to follow (I had to do something to kill time when the ladies were out for their shopping).

The dharma is mentioned a few times in Mahabharata which itself been called the story of dharma:-

Mahabharata is one of the oldest epics of our country, nay the world. It shows how dharma and karma govern our lives. Dharma is what is the right thing to do at a given time or situation. Dharma is based on wisdom, insight and human values. Dharma has many meanings and many dimensions as well – duty, truth, non-violence (ahimsa paramo dharma) and others. It is well said that “dharmo rakshita rakshata” – dharma protects he who follows dharma. However, if you do not follow dharma, you have to reap the consequences. That is karma – you reap what you sow, sooner or later.


Failure to uphold the dharma will eventually attract bad karma. That’s universal – if you don’t do the right things, the consequences will not be good as well. If you don’t follow the traffic rules, you may get into an accident (or cause others to get into an accident).

The same with running this country. If you don’t govern the country well, it will not prosper and developed. And so. You may have heard variations of it – Murphy’s law, Newton’s 3rd law of motion, blah, blah

Knowing what is the right to do is one thing, doing it without fail is another:-

Doing right always is a very difficult task. Many a times we do not know what is dharma, what is not. Even though we know, unless it is a very usual habit of following it, at times of great stress it is impossible to follow the path of Dharma.


In order to do thing on a constant basis, it takes high discipline and of course practice but more importantly there must be an acceptance that doing the right things should precede doing things right. It has to be habitual as well.

Big Boss’ New Boss

The Big Boss finally got his wish come true (and so was ours) and it did not take long for him to be overprotective of the new Boss.

It is going to be very interesting years to come more so after the Big Boss have taken the task of a mentor and have major plans to teach her dancing, gaming and swimming. It is going to be interesting years for us too – no doubt we have the experience now (to know what need and need not to be done) but certainly it will be challenge to repeat the feat especially when my wife will be going back to work in a couple months time after a long break and we have “conveniently” forgotten all those difficult times bringing up the Big Boss in the early years.

But nonetheless it was a good day when the new Boss reported for “duty” last week. The long holidays helped a lot – with fewer cars on the road, it was not a big problem to rush to the hospital and make the follow-up visits during my wife admission to the hospital for a few days after delivery. It was easy to find parking spots on the ground floor too – after all, it was not productive to be on medical leave on  an off-day, right? A couple days after the delivery and after the mother’s and baby’s health have been checked out and bills all fully paid, the new Boss arrived at home with other family members waiting in high anticipation.

Next, we went over to see a priest to check on the names that we use for the new Boss and after getting the initial “starting” names, we just google to see which other “glamour”, short, easy to pronounce (and write) names we can use and then throw the dice to choose the final one. Well, not really – I just took the one I liked the most and stick with it as I got other suggestions from others. In the end, we ended up choosing the one that I picked in the first place.

Choosing the right name for the new Boss is just the first steps in raising the new member of the family and we still have a long way to go and we can’t wait for the challenge. Hopefully it will be a good one and with the Big Boss at our side, we are sure it will be so.

The Week Has Been….

Let’s talk on something that you may be facing but failed to recognize it…

(When is the last time you had depression? Or you are having one right now but failed to recognise one? Have you asked for help from someone or have you decided to face it all alone and end up more depressed? Image: http://www.bipolardisordertestonline.com)

Whilst I finally managed to resolve the Ubuntu upgrade problem and upgraded to 12.04 LTS, this week has rather a stressful one. A couple days ago, I had to bring my Dad to the hospital for check-up (he has not been well since the last weekend) and after a long 4 hours wait for the doctors to complete their observations and diagnostics (discount 1 hour in between on waiting for the doctors), they informed that my Dad is undergoing bouts of depression (it seemed serious though).

Depression, damn I have heard of it and I am pretty sure I have experience it myself when I was far away from home, family and Malaysian food.

Wikipedia defines depression as:-

“….a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person’s thoughts, behavior, feelings and physical well-being. Depressed people may feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, or restless.

They may lose interest in activities that once were pleasurable; experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions; and may contemplate or attempt suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, loss of energy, or aches, pains or digestive problems that are resistant to treatment may be present.

Depressed mood is not necessarily a psychiatric disorder. It is a normal reaction to certain life events, a symptom of some medical conditions, and a side effect of some medical treatments. Depressed mood is also a primary or associated feature of certain psychiatric syndromes such as clinical depression…”

My dad is reaching 65 years old starting line and based on the national average of 71.8 years and that is considered old but depression not necessarily affect old people. I guess everyone reaches this point at one point of their live except a few mortals like my Grandma who in her late 80s can still see far without glasses, can speak clearly (including fluent Bahasa), can walk unaided, travels a lot and have a great expectation of life. I hope to follow on her footsteps as well.

The doctors have prescribed some medications for my Dad and it seems to be working – he finally had a good long deep sleep last night compared to the last few days. He had opted to stay at home to rest instead of going to work although he admitted that he can’t wait to go back to work once he has recovered. Of course, there would be follow up therapies to ensure a complete recovery from depression but this may take some time. It is not possible to keep my Dad locked up at home and closely monitor him – he is not the type.

PubMed Health recommends the followings to keep depression at bay:-

  • Get more exercise
  • Maintain good sleep habits
  • Seek out activities that bring you pleasure
  • Volunteer or get involved in group activities
  • Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling
  • Try to be around people who are caring and positive
  • Avoid alcohol or illegal substances at all cost

Kids Health further suggests:-

Exercise – People who are depressed may not feel much like being active. But make yourself do it anyway (ask a friend to exercise with you if you need to be motivated). Once you get in the exercise habit, it won’t take long to notice a difference in your mood. Two other aspects of yoga — breathing exercises and meditation — can also help people with depression feel better.

Nurture yourself with good nutrition – Depression can affect appetite. Proper nutrition can influence a person’s mood and energy. So eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and get regular meals (even if you don’t feel hungry, try to eat something light, like a piece of fruit, to keep you going).

Identify troubles, but don’t dwell on them – Try to identify any situations that have contributed to your depression. When you know what’s got you feeling blue and why, talk about it with a caring friend. Talking is a way to release the feelings and to receive some understanding. If there’s no one to tell, pouring your heart out to a journal works (hmm, like how I usual do by blogging?)

Express yourself – With depression, a person’s creativity and sense of fun may seem blocked. Exercise your imagination (painting, drawing, doodling, sewing, writing, dancing, composing music, etc.) and you not only get those creative juices flowing, you also loosen up some positive emotions.

Look on the bright side – If depression has you noticing only the negative, make an effort to notice the good things in life. Try to notice one thing, then try to think of one more. Consider your strengths, gifts, or blessings.

Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish from normal stress, anger, mild depression and serious depression but I guess if one thinks positive and trust others to help out when the going gets tough, things will turn out just fine. And that is what we planned for my Dad on his road to recovery. After all, he has come this far in his life – putting his kids through good education and who now working in stable, good jobs. He have lived well enough to see 2 grand kids (including the Big Boss who is very, very close to his Grandpa) and is likely to see another 2 in the coming months.

For now, for the family (me and my siblings and my Mom), we probably entering a whole new phase and making sure he continues with his medication and therapies – I am very positive of this.

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The Friendly Ah Long

P.s. The problem of drafting a blog late at night – instead of clicking the “Save Draft”, I accidentally pressed the “Published” button. This explains why you may have seen half completed post in your RSS feeder. Sorry about that.

(2011 seems to be a very slow year for blogging. It is not that I am having a writer’s block – I have almost a dozen posts in my mind now but rather, does not seem to have the “urge” to put things down on “paper”. One such example is this post below which I have been thinking about for sometime now)

(How many of us keep a budget? How many of us spend more than we earn? It is not too late to learn the fine art of financial planning – keeping budget, ensuring that our income is enough to cover the expenses, keeping up saving for rainy days and when hard days are in, to learn to cut down on unnecessary expenses and tighten our belts)

This is rather personal but it is a situation we have been in before…

I am pretty sure we have been on both side of the spectrum at some point of our life. We would have borrowed from someone when times are bad or lend someone when they were in a tight situation. I recall accidentally leaving my wallet in the house one day and I had to rely on my good friends for cash for the day.

Lending money to close friends or relatives is nothing new and is not wrong. It is different from lending money to total strangers on commercial basis – you don’t usually impose any of the exorbitant loan shark interest, repayment period is very flexible (that money sometimes ends up as free gifts) and no hard feelings when you face them during family gatherings or go out for lunch. This is because you know them and their family members very well and you trust them deep enough to part with your hard earn money and sometimes forget about it.

Long before I got married and was still young, naive & ignorant, I had to help one of my relatives out on his financial problems. I was still single with very few commitments and made enough to have a reasonable savings at the end of the month and I knew about the problem that my relative was facing. So when he asked me to take a huge loan on his behalf as he was facing problems getting loans himself, despite major alarms going off all over the place, I did not hesitate much in agreeing to it. He promised that he will pay the repayments once the loan has been approved. It did not take long for me to find out that I have been duped. He came out with thousand and one excuses and dishonored his promises that he made before I agreed to take up the loan for him. Ya, I was that naive and to some extent stupid.

A couple of years after that was a little mess indeed but thankfully it was resolved in good terms by the same relative. It was a good wake up call for me too – it made me a bit more wiser and more alert and give the due consideration when someone starts asking for a big load of money. It made me a bit paranoia but that’s ok as there were other positive changes as well (I will post about it some day)

The reason why I am recalling this old story is that couple of months ago, I got a call from a good buddy of mine. He needed some cash very urgently – I know he was doing some part time business and he was facing the usual cash flow problems. He called me several times before but having been in “getting-in-someone-else’s” financial mess before, I always found some good excuses to say no.

But the last call for money seemed urgent and desperate. I know this ex-colleague very well – we worked together for long years and he helped me at work before. I have been to his house several times and know his family well too. So, when he called me one late night with no other options left, I had to think hard. On one hand, I had the spare money at hand and I know things were serious indeed and I was ready to give that money but on the other hand, I know my good buddy rather well. He was well known to delay things, don’t usually plan well ahead and somehow I know I have plenty of chasing to do to get back the money. Deep down, I know where I was getting myself into – I gave the money that he requested.

History seems to repeat itself but thankfully this time, the amount is very small and manageable. My friend promised to pay back in a “couple of days”. That “couple of days” however was many months ago. But since I know what I was getting into, I was not really pushing him hard to  pay me back. But at the same time, I don’t want him to just “forget” the money that I gave him in good faith, so I do give him a call occasionally just to refresh his memory (as I said, I know him very well).

Now, the real reason I am posting these stories is not because I had to lend someone some money – a friend calls you for urgent cash and being a good friend, you help him – that is fine and admirable. And you allow the flexibility and time for him to pay you back the cash – in part or in whole. I am doing the same thing but what I could not tolerate is the change of attitude after you have helped your friend with his/her problems – you will encounter the “silent treatment”.

He promised to pay me back in a couple of days later but when the day came, he did not call back. A week after that, I called him – he did not mention anything about repaying back. He was telling me about his problems which I silently listened and consoled him. When I called him one day, he then told me that he is getting a loan from the bank to settle his other debts which included mine. It’s seems positive but I was not giving it much hope. More than a month later, when pressed for a solution, he said the loan has approved and pending disbursement. Lately he simply been unreachable.

The matter is money when it comes to close friends and close family members is secondary (by nature, it is) but it would have been the worth if my friend could have been more honest on his financial situation and do not give the round about. By giving that silent treatment and act as if nothing had happened is an abuse of the trust and understanding of a good friend. I just hope that he realized that.

It is ok if he did not have the money to pay back but he should not giving excuses after excuses. Tell me what are his plans to get back on his feet – if he needs more time – I would have been happily granted his request. I may even assist to look for means to settle his problems. And when he promised something, he should at least keep it – or call up earlier to say that he had tried his best but unable to meet his commitments. That is what I had expected to get but did not in the end. In reality, it is not helping his situation especially if he need to ask for another favor in the near future.

That is all…

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2010 Reflection: Sorry, I’m An Idealist

No, I am not but looking at the state of the country, I am trying to be one

(Doing something ideal means different thing to different people. Image source: http://sentense.me/)

This year, instead making the usual New Year resolutions (which I know I would have a hard time keeping), I thought of doing something different. I have my own set of rules that I live by day in, day out and I fully aware that no one is perfect (I would be a fool if I claim to be one).

So, I don’t impose my personal rules on others (I have my shortcomings too) but it is whole different thing when it comes to rules of the office / work. There is a fine line between what I think you need to do and what I say you must do. At most times, I tend to close one eye on things but sometimes it gets too obvious (until it gets noticed by others and questions & accusations start flying around). For example, punctuality – for me, it is OK to come in late, once in a while, and with a good excuse (the usual like car broke down or had to bring family member to the clinic) and have something to eat so that you have enough energy for the day. There is no difference with what we did in schools – try walking in to the class after the bell has rang and you find yourself in detention class. So, what’s the indifference at work?

But enough about others (I am pretty sure that they have good reasons) – this is post is more about me than others. What I will be telling myself as I drive out from home in the morning? What are the “checkpoints” for me to make the day a great day? Certainly certain things that was said and implied in 2010 was said and implied in the wrong way but after a long breath (over several days, arghhhh!) I decided to take it up in a more positive way. What more a better way to kick myself in the butt for improvement than waking up to the underlying truth of my weaknesses and shortcomings from those in the “observation posts”. Thanks a lot to those who gave me the “list” of my weaknesses – in my endeavor to be more idealists, I intend to work even harder on this (keyword – intend).

One thing I definitely need to work on in 2011 is keeping awake during “the day” – it has become a routine that in the morning for couple of minutes, my body tends to simply “shutdown”. A cup of strong coffee in the morning has been the temporary permanent measure that I have “deployed” in recent months to ensure I remain “perked” up at least in the mornings (somehow evenings are the best time to work). And in 2011, since my son need to wake up early for school, it has been crucial for me to go to bed early as well (otherwise my son will use this as excuse to sleep late and have a hard time waking up in the mornings). Hopefully I catch up on some sleep early at night.

Another thing I need to work on in 2011 is control of my temper – not so prevalent at workplace but definitely show the uglier side when I am on the road. In 2010, I lost count of the times; I decided to ram some pesky idiots on the road that earlier had endangered me and others on the road and give a damn about it. But somehow common sense and unfounded restrain comes in at the very last moment.

Else where, motorist discipline on major highways have improved – perhaps with more people armed with cameras and the Government opening up an online submission of evidence but the city roads are still crawling with idiots who don’t deserved to be on the road in the first place – cutting into other’s lanes without any indicators, using no-entry roads as quick exits, jumping queue at the toll plaza, riding motorbike without any helmet and sometimes without any front and rear lights. For that very reason, not all who been a road-bully victim are angels. Anyway, it is better to stay cool on the road than becoming a “pest controller”.

At home, year in, year out – at the beginning of the year (and every time now and then) I often get a short lecture from my HEO (House Executive Officer) on what she expects from me when I am at home. The list is too exhaustive to be posted here (ha, ha). But perhaps with my son need to get up early and my wife is taking care of transportation before she leaves for work and weekends is as tight as weekdays, I might as well put more effort into house work (hope my HEO is not reading this – this does not mean I am putting my “commitments” in writing).

As I said, I am not an idealists (at least it is more realistic than being a perfectionist) but I am trying to be one – I guess the journey is more important than the destination, at least, for now. There is plenty of days in 2011 to make this happen.

P.s. It is ok if the post above does not make any sense whatsoever to you – it is still early into 2011 and my mind still tied to 2010

Kojak Time

It is T minus 2 days…

(Still remember this show from the 80’s? Back then, we used to call anyone who is bald, Kojak! Image source: http://savalas.tv)

There are some prayers over the weekend for my son and we suppose to get him shave his head as a sign of “renewal” (or as a means of going through a purification ritual, so they say).

This should have been done when he was still a baby but somehow we have been procrastinating until now (ya, we hate to see sharp razor “sliding” on his head). Aware of his good looks, he initially refused to get his head shaved clean until my wife informed that I will shave my head as well (it happened so fast, I had time to react). My son who like to act and talk like me at certain times liked the idea of two of us going bald at the same time – he asked me and I decided “why not?”

I had my hair cut to the minimum length before but a complete shave of the head is something new. As it is for a good cause and for my son, I will do anything, so losing a couple of hair from the head is small thing.

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