May 24, 2018

Apa susah susah ???


In most of my social media postings, I will always end with a mocking question … “apa susah susah ???” For those who don’t understand the words, it is a Malay phrase which means … “what so difficult ???”

Yes, what I am saying is … what is so difficult ? You want to live a good life? Take it easy, make it easy ... just live simple and enjoy the many simple pleasures around us. Apa susah susah ??? 


Many people got this idea that I am showing off … that I am able to retire early, live a comfortable life and now I am telling the whole world how good my life is. Well, yes … at this very moment, I am living a good life. I won’t deny it. 

But first, let me define a good life … a good life in my context is that I have enough and I have to live prudently for the rest of my life. I will have make do with simple things … make life easy with simple needs. 

So, while an average family fork out 100k for a medium range car … I will have to settle for a used 7k Proton Wira. While all my peers are buying new houses worth millions … I am still living in my house which I bought 22 years ago. While my peers are spending thousands or even millions sending their children to England, USA, Canada or Australia for tertiary educations … my kids will have to settle for local medium range universities for their degrees. 

Just a couple weeks ago, while many spent hundreds or thousands in fancy restaurants celebrating Mother’s Day … my wife and I were at home celebrating over a roasted duck I bought from the pasar malam (night market). 

And while others shop at Pavillion, One Utama, Mid Valley for clothing and apparels … we go to “Jalan Jalan Japan” for “pre-loved” clothing … where we pay 5 bucks for a pair of shorts and 3 bucks for a t-shirt. 

I am not rich but I am not poor either. I will be lying if I say I don’t have money. I do have savings and investments and if I live prudently, I think I will have enough to last me for a while. There is a saying … “if you have 500 bucks, don’t buy a 500-buck handbag … instead buy a 50-buck handbag and put 450 bucks inside it … don’t go broke trying to look rich”. Well, that is exactly what I am doing.

Having said that ... I must also say that not everyone share the same opinion. Just like me, many people struggled and worked very hard too for their money. There are those who want to celebrate and show their successes ... so maybe they will want to indulge in a 500-buck handbag to please themselves and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. How people want to celebrate and show what they have achieved is entirely up to them.

For me, maybe it is the failures that I went through that made me what I am today ... a very careful and prudent person who knows what it is like to have nothing. Yes, there were times, many times, when I was down in the drain with absolutely nothing.

You see, from what they see now ... many people think I am one of those lucky ones who at a fairly early age get to live without financial worries … living a carefree, simple, easy life. It looks like I have had a rather sweet and smooth journey to an early success in my life. 

But what many people don't know is that I struggled for many years to come to what I have today. Many don’t know that I was retrenched during the recession in the mid 80s. Many don’t know I went back to study at the age of 26 in the day, sold deserts at hawker market at night and drove taxi on weekends to pay for my studies. 

Many don’t know that I started an advertising outfit in the 90s but was forced to cease operation due to the financial crisis at that time … I was the art director, the copywriter, the account manager, the production assistant as well as the debt collector.

Many don’t know that I opened a coffee shop … a bad investment that lasted 18 months and cost me thousands. Many don’t know that I had a major lung surgery at the age of 36 and have to rely on borrowings and contributions from friends to pay the medical bills.

And what many don’t know is that my wife and I re-mortgaged our house and started a small café in Kelana Jaya and worked our asses off to make ends meet.

What I have today did not come easy … so that is why I am very prudent in managing my finances in order to live simple and easy with a bit of comfort and some necessities. I have said it before and I will say it again … I don’t live to show people as if I want to own the world … I live as if I don’t care who owns the world !!! 

I have “susah susah” for many years already. I am 56 years old now and I think I do have some active years to live. For whatever years that is left in my life … I just want to live it out simple and easy.

I like simple things, I enjoy simple pleasures, I relish simple moments, I love down-to-earth people, I prefer uncomplicated relationship and I take things very easy.

So for me ... really, apa susah susah ??? 


April 27, 2018

Three ghosts, a well, some nuts and screws and a prized parrot


Recently my childhood buddies and I made a trip to visit our old schools where some of us first met as classmates in 1969 ... forty nine years ago!!! 

The visit brought back a lot of memories … we walked through the old classrooms, canteen, the various sections of the school building, reminiscing the days when we were all carefree school kids fooling around in school. Yes, fooling around … really, we were not the studious type. OK, to be fair … not all were fooling around … most of us were. 
 
At the main corridor of our old secondary school ... SMK Sri Pantai

As we walked around the school, we reminisced where our classrooms were, the IA (Industrial Art) workshops where we dirtied our shirts, the science labs where we let go a rat to scare the girls, the discipline master’s room where we were caned and the boy’s toilet where cigarettes were passed around during recess. 

Yes, we were a mischievous bunch … the good thing is, back in those days, there were no mobile phones and cameras … those naughty things we did were not recorded. They now exist only in our memories. As we talk, many stories were brought alive again in our conversations. 

Let me relive some of the memories and tell you a few funny and naughty stories. 

The three ghosts
I remember when I was in Standard Three, there was this rich boy called Lee Chee Wai (there is always a rich boy in old school stories) … everyone knows he comes from a rich family. Every day we see him arriving at school in a big car and every time during school events like children’s day, teacher’s day or year end school party … he will bring fried chicken wings, curry puffs, cakes … all the expensive stuffs. Most kids will just bring half a kati of biscuits or some cheap multi-colored sweets … yes, kati (and tahil) … if you are old enough, you know what those are. 

And Chee Wai speaks perfect English … we were all quite jealous of him. Having said that, there were no bad feelings among all of us … we play and talk to each other all the time. Most of us were from Chinese speaking villages … our parents put us in an English school hoping that we can learn the language and have a better working future. Like many Chinese boys in the school, my English vocabulary was nothing to be proud of. At Standard Three, I have less than a hundred basic English words that I can remember.

One day during recess Chee Wai asked me … “eh, do you believe in ghost?”. I said … “what?” He said …”you know, ghost?” Really, at that time I have absolutely no idea what a ghost is. But I was not going to lose face to a rich boy admitting that I don’t know what he is talking about. And so, I said to him … “oh yessss … I believe in ghost, I have three ghosts at home!!!”

From that day onwards, somehow I got a feeling that Lee Chee Wai was avoiding me … I did not ask him why. It must have been months later when I found out what a ghost is … maybe Lee Chee Wai avoids me because “I bluffed him” (the term we always used when we were kids) but I believe that more likely it is because he really thinks that I lived with three ghosts. 

A well
At lower secondary, my English was still not as good as my teachers had hoped … I was encouraged to go for tuition. My father could not afford a paid tuition so I found myself cycling to the YMCA twice a week … YMCA offered free English tuition to students from various schools. 

As bad as my English were, I was never afraid to write … so I got myself writing to pen pals. Yes, pen pals … rings a bell? Those were the days of aerograms and handwritten letters … where we were excited to see the postman. I even wrote an aerogram to Rowena Cortes (google the name … check her out) … a famous Hongkong singer back then.

I wrote many letters … learned to use flowery phrase like “hope you are in the pink of health” instead of saying “hope you are in good health”. But after a while, I just wanted to write something simple and so I thought … “pink of health” means “well” … right? So very simple, just replace “pink of health” with “well” … easy, no sweat (as we used to say).
 
And replace it I did … so, “I hope you are in the pink of health” became “I hope you are in the well”. Yes … that was what I wrote to a relative in Singapore and he wrote back and asked me why I had hoped that he was inside a well. And you know what? We still talk and laugh about this today. 


Some nuts and screws
At the beginning of secondary school, we can choose to attend Commerce or Industrial Art (IA) classes … I chose a spanner over an abacus. The first thing they taught us in IA class was to make ashtray … yes, ashtray. Why the hell were we making ashtrays? Aren’t we suppose to discourage people from smoking? Not sure about the IA syllabus … anyway we made ashtrays, did some simple carpentry, learned copper tooling and other so called industrial art skills. 

After two years of making small things, finally in Form Three, we moved into more exciting things … 2 strokes and 4 strokes combustion engine … wow, that was a big thing for us. We were all very excited … looking forward to “work” on a real engine in the workshop. It was long boring theory in the beginning and we couldn’t wait to finish the theory so we can get our hands on the engine.

At last the IA practical assignment came … a small group of us were given an assignment to dismantle the engine totally … which we did quite EASILY … no sweat! Then we have to assemble it back accordingly. And put it back we did. But after putting the engine back together, there were still some nuts and screws on the bench … where did those come from?

So how? We were not going to let anyone see those nuts and screws … so, we opened the fuel cap and dumped everything into the fuel tank. No one saw anything, nobody knew … until now that is.

And you know what? We passed our assignment. 

The prized parrot
Brickfields was a popular place in the 70s … there were several schools there, an old theater called Lido Cinema (remember?) and it was centrally located in the then Kuala Lumpur township. If you have studied in one of those schools in Brickfields in the 70s, then you will know that there was a pet shop, the corner shop just opposite where Anthonian Bookstore used to be … a shop that sells all kinds of pets … birds mostly. 

There was this beautiful white parrot which was always displayed in front of the shop ... the prized possession of the shop owner. Not only the parrot is beautiful, it can “talk” too … “hello”, “I love you”,“good morning”, “how are you” , “kor kor” (brother) and also croon out some funny whistles and tunes. The people passing by just love this parrot … it was the darling of the shop.

Like most school kids after school, my friends and I will hang around the pet shop … looking at the parrot, teasing it and try to get it to “talk”… so much so that the bird gets irritated and behave strangely. And the shop owner don't like us teasing the bird … “don’t disturb my bird … do you know how much this bird cost?”… he scolded us and chased us out of the shop. 

We were little rascals who don’t like to be shouted at and chased away … we were not going to let it go that easy. From that day onwards, every time when we pass by the shop and when the owner is not looking, we will whisper to the parrot … “f**k you”, “go to hell”, “die faster”, “stupid fool” and a mouthful of foul *%$#@ Chinese words. That went on for weeks and very soon the chatty parrot was happily letting out those newly learned words at the disbelief of the customers visiting the shop. Suddenly, it was no longer the darling of the shop … the once prized parrot is now worth a lot less. Not just that … really, who would want to buy a foul-mouthed parrot?

Poor shop owner … he didn’t know what hit him. And the bird? Not sure what happened but it was no longer in front of the shop. 

OK … to the shop owner and the poor parrot … really, I am sorry. Maybe it is a bit too late to apologize but better late than never. Look, we were young naughty boys … we didn’t really think about the consequences of our actions … please forgive us.

There are so many naughty and funny stories from my younger days … maybe I will tell you more some other times. 

I must say I have a good past … so many good memories … the cheerful childhood, the naughty schooldays, the playful young days and the carefree growing years. Every time when I think or talk about them … it brings a smile. I have said it before and I will say it again … at my age now, I don’t want dreams … I want memories.

March 29, 2018

ENOUGH


By the end of this week, I would have retired exactly ten years. Time flies ... well, to me yes, time went by but it did not pass by idly ... I enjoyed every moment of the last ten years. When I first told people that I am retiring ten years ago at the age of 46, almost everyone think that something must have happened.

So what happened? I will get to that.

You see ... in most people minds, when you retire at the age of 46, you must be loaded. If not, how can you live comfortably for the rest of your life? What about your two growing children? What about your mortgages? Car loans? Education for the kids? Insurance? And so on and so forth. The general thinking of the mass is ... you must be rich before you retire.

So there were a lot of guesses, questions and comments ... some laughable, others were quite sarcastic and a few were genuine concerns.

Someone actually said I won the lottery ... really funny, I used to tell people that but it came back to me. There were stories ... one was I invested hundreds of thousands to start a fish spa chain with a friend and the other was I got a big retainer in an advertising business. Not sure how the stories started but yes I do know a lady who started a fish spa and yes, I have two good friends who were running an advertising business then. But no, I have no businesses with any of them.

There were concerns ... was it something to do with my health? My friends were actually worried. But no, I wasn’t sick ... though my liver was not at its best during that time. You see, my last job was in wine and spirits industry ... so my liver was pickled by whiskies and brandies for a good few years. The doctor did say that the GGT was on the high side but it was not life threatening yet. So no, I did not retire because of my health but it was good that I stopped hard drinking when I stopped working.

Then some sarcastically asked ... what are you going to do when you retire so young. Stay at home waiting to die ah?

Well, what did I do since I retired? Let me tell you ... in the last ten years, I have trekked into jungles and mountains for more than 300 times ... some long and some short treks and I enjoyed every one of them. And if I counted it correctly ... I have read 36 books ... some thick, some thin, some fictions and some historical facts. Apart from that, I learned and played over 100 songs on my erhu.

I have traveled quite a bit ... both within the region as well as further to the east. More importantly, I spent a lot of time with my kids and watched them grew up to be young adults. And last but not least, I can say that I spent almost every day with my wife ... doing many things together and keeping each other company.

Now, does that sounds like someone who is waiting to die?

So back to the question ... why did I retire at 46? Ok, just one word  ... ENOUGH. I have enough of a few things.

First ... I have enough financially. While many people think that one must be rich to retire ... I think differently. It was always on my mind since I started working that I will retire when I have enough.

The question is ... what is enough? There is no quantitative measurement here ... you cannot measure "enough" quantitatively. Some say a million is enough, others say five and there will be people who will say the more the better.

Since I started working, I have struggled to pay off the mortgages, loans, saved some money and invested a little. Nothing to shout about really ... I think any hard working 46 years old can do this and can do better. At that time, I think I have enough. I decided that I am not going to buy a bigger house and I am not going to buy a new car ... instead I have to downgrade to a cheaper car. I cannot afford high insurance premiums so I have to challenge myself to be healthy staying away from the clinics and hospitals. I will have to budget for everything ... from simple household expenses to utility bills to holiday trips to kid’s education. Everything will have to be budgeted carefully ... because for me, enough means I don’t need anything more and I don’t have anything more.

Second ... I have enough of the corporate bullshit. Yes, most of what I have came from the corporate world ... but it did not come easy. I don’t know what others think ... I think the corporate world is not so glamourous really. On a good day (yes, a good day) ... one will have to deal with the endless reports, meetings, budgets, deadlines and overtime. On a bad day ... there will be the frequent blame storming, bickering, backstabbing, names calling, finger pointing and table banging sessions.

And at the worst ... favouritism, cronyism, nepotism, authorism, affairs and bullying.

Yes, all that ... to survive, I have to learn to be able to do all that. In the corporate days, I was not your everyday “lovable Mr. Able”. Really, I did my share of bullshit as well. Every day I woke up and put on my “bullshit mask” and go to work ... so much so that after putting it on for so many years ... many times when I got home and removed the mask, I couldn’t recognize the person standing front of the mirror.

And last ... I have enough of a particular person. In the last several months of my last job, I had a new marketing director. I have worked with many department heads before but this guy is a real asshole ... actually the asshole of all assholes. The very moment he joined the company, he wanted to change things ... of course I understand that a new boss would want to do things differently but not at my expense. You see, many times when I don’t agree to what he is doing ... he will find ways to make my life difficult. If I don’t use the contractors or suppliers or the people that he recommended ... he starts finding faults with me even with petty little things. That happened too many times to be counted.

And then the bullying starts ... slowly I was sidelined ... I know it was not going to be a good ending. It came to a boiling point at an event in a popular joint in town ... we were having a joint event with our sponsors. At the event, he belittled me in front of the few VIPs ... he did it on purpose to prove his authority. That was the last straw.

And so I told him that we go outside and settle it and indeed it was "settled". I would like to blame it on the few drinks that I had but no, I was not drunk ... I was very clear, since he did not give me any face ... I wasn’t going to give him any too. My late father always told me not to get into physical fights ... it is better to walk away with a bruised ego and many times I did just that. But this time no ... this time I have had enough, this time it had to be settled with bruises and blue blacks. And the next morning I handed in my resignation letter.

Many people asked me why I did not take my grouses up to the MD or CEO ... oh come on, I am a senior manager ... I am not going like a cry baby to the MD or CEO. And in the corporate world, you don’t go against your superior ... don’t even think about trying to do a David versus Goliath ... no, that won’t happen. In the corporate world ... David will always lose!!!

If you are not good enough in playing “company politics” you will lose out ... so, it is either you tolerate the situation or you walk away. I chose to walk away ... maybe from many people’s point of view, it should not have turned out like this but for me, there is no other better way.

So now you know ... why I retired at 46.

February 28, 2018

Don’t show off


During the first few days of the Chinese New Year, I received literally hundreds of festive messages, greetings, photos and videos from various social media groups ... most were simple festive greetings, some were quite funny and a few were creatively done.

Like all other people, I too shared some of the good ones with my friends who celebrate this festive occasion.

However I have some concerns for a couple of the videos that I received and I believed they were being shared by many in social media groups ... one video was about a group of people using stacks of RM100 bills to make a money tree. From what I saw on the video, these people must have used at least a couple of hundred thousand to make the money tree ... really, every bit of the tree was made with $$$$$$$$$$$$.

The other video was of a group of people performing the celebratory “lou sarng”... but instead of the usual “yee sarng” (fish salad), they placed a big heap of RM50 and RM100 bills on a huge plate and tossed these bills with the usual shouts of auspicious words and wishes.

Now why am I so concerned about these videos?

First ... I want to ask ... why do people want to make these videos? Is it tradition? Is it custom? Is it religion? Is it value? Is it ethics? Is it belief?

NO ... none of the above!

Second ... why do we want to share these videos? What do they give us?

Happiness? Do we suddenly feel very happy? Do they give us love? Do you suddenly want to hug someone? Do they give us satisfaction? Or appreciation? Or maybe orgasm?

NO ... nothing!

Videos like these only tell us one thing ... the people who make these videos ... they just want to show off. To show off that they have money ... using money to glorify themselves. It is like using a 100 dollar bill to light a cigarette ... it is like Jho Low splashing millions of dollars on expensive champagnes ... just to show off.

Maybe there is nothing wrong sharing these videos  ... but there is nothing right either. I don't share videos like these ... I don’t encourage people to show off ... especially showing off with money.

Now, instead of using the money to make a money tree ... why not use the money to help the needy? Hey, donate the money ... or use it to buy necessities and donate to old folk homes, orphanages and charity organizations. Help someone who is sick ... donate a dialysis machine or pay for someone’s education ... how about that? Then make a video and share it ... now that will definitely be something worth spreading in the social media.

And talking about donation ... I would like to offer a few words of my opinion on what I saw just last week while on the way to our weekend trek. We stopped by at Serendah for breakfast and at the coffee shop I noticed a big manila cardboard with writings posted near where we sat. At a closer look, I saw what was written on the big card ... it was a list of names of who donated how much to buy fireworks and who sponsored how many “kongming lanterns”. I guessed it must have been for the celebration prayers to “tien gong” (god of heaven)... it is a big thing in many villages.

The list was long with people offering from RM50 to RM500. I think the total must have been a few thousand dollars at least. For those who donated, their intentions were good ... they wanted to help make the celebration prayers a bit better and merrier ... and maybe to show off a bit too ... telling the people they have done a part for their village.

It is customary that during festive occasions people want to make it joyous and merrier by setting off fireworks and fire crackers ... I can understand that but collecting thousands of dollars for fireworks just to make a big show off out of it ... that is not good.

Why burn away the money collected? Why not donate the few thousands to the needy and the poor? And then put up a cardboard with names of those who have donated to some orphanages or old folk homes or maybe help a kid from their village through college or university ... now, isn’t that more meaningful?


January 25, 2018

I don't want to look too far


The year has just started and many will be looking forward to a busy year ahead. In a conversation at the beginning of the year, a friend asked me ... “Hey Shiek, what are you looking forward to?” As usual my answer was quite general ... told him I look forward to a simple and easy life ... nothing much really.

But what do I actually look forward to?

Well ... I can’t say that I have a lot to look forward to. I am not like some of those people about my age ... they may have a lot to do in their coming years ... some have plans to backpack the big countries ... one actually told me he has a 10-year plan to travel China ... others are looking forward to a series of exciting outdoors adventures and two siblings told me that they will be taking flying lessons ... I really admire them.

You see ... I cannot be like those adventurous people ... I have my own reasons. So, I don’t have big plans but I have this "three terms" plan ... short term, mid term and long term. Short term is one year, mid term is 3 years and long term is five years. If I live up to my long term plan ... then I will repeat another three terms and take it from there.

So what I look forward to is just as far as the next 5 years. Why?

The way I look at it ... at my age, things can change rather quickly ... health wise especially. As bad as it sounds ... if some illnesses were to come at this age ... it will be fast, it will be serious if not deadly. Yes, that is what I believe ...  it will be life changing and whatever plans I may have ... it will all change or stop altogether.

If it is not illnesses ... then it will be my physical ability. Yes, we all want to think that we will be as strong as ever ... we can still hike a few mountains, run a few marathons, pedal hundreds of kilometers and trek into deep jungles ... but the fact is our (or at least my) physical ability is declining and is declining quite briskly. And there are other factors ... somehow when you are in your 50s ... like it or not, there will be a lot more to worry about than you think.

For me ... I don’t really want to look too far ahead but not to sound too pessimistic ... I can say I do have some active things to do in the coming few years.

On short term ... for this year, I will try to trek as much and as far as my legs allow me to. I will continue to play my weekly racket games but try not to do what I saw on TV and I will also sweat it out with some light weights just to burn some calories to keep the bulges down. If all goes well ... I do it again next year.  

For mid term activities ... I would like to travel a bit ... no backpacking, no crisscrossing continents ... just visiting, sightseeing, exploring, savoring, relaxing and holidaying in neighboring countries with my best buddies. Also included are some “jalan jalan cari makan” trips to quaint towns and villages around the country. Maybe 4 or 5 neighboring trips within 3 years and several trips locally ... I think that is quite practical.
 
As for long term within the next 5 years ... I want to read and research on world history. I am a big history fan ... fascinated by world history since I was a young boy studying Tawarikh in school. And now I have the time to learn more and with the convenience of the internet, it is a lot easier to seek relevant materials on the subject. I have started on ancient Chinese history and civilizations ... kingdoms and dynasties, emperors and queens, kings and concubines, princes and princesses, warlords and generals as well as heroes and heroines of ancient China ...this will keep my mind active for a while.

So you see ... not much really ... let’s see how it goes for three terms ... will I get to do another three more? Hope so.

I do look forward ... but unlike others, I don’t look too far. Really, I don’t want to look too far ... at this age ... if I look a bit too far ... at the horizon ... maybe, just maybe ... I might just see the graves.

December 31, 2017

A good year


Today is the last day of 2017...  as per what many people felt, I too think that the year passed rather quickly. Throughout the 360+ days, many things happened ... some bad and a few quite ugly but most were good. So for me, I think it is a good year.

On this last writing of the year, I would like to recap ... not on the bad and the ugly ... but on some good things that I think is worth talking about to end the year on a happy note.

“Torng kai pai sun”
At the beginning of the year my son enrolled into a local university ...
yes, I am a proud father because my son is the first in my family to attend university. Maybe for many other families this is normal but to my family, this is a big thing. Really, if my father is still alive, I am sure he will call for a “torng kai pai sun” (slaughter chicken and offer to the gods) session and very likely invite all my relatives over to celebrate.

And just a few months before, my son passed his driving test at the first try (that surprised me) and after getting his driving license and his mother’s car, he is very much on his own. Now he is quite independent in managing his own personal needs and education requirements ... I am happy to see that he has grown into a good young adult.

A journey of great friendship
I went to China with 4 of my very best childhood friends. We went exploring the various parts of this great country. From Xian to Beijing, we spent time learning the rich history of China ... emperors, princes, generals, terracotta, tombs, mausoleums, walls, temples and pagodas. Apart from that we also explored modern China ... places, streets, food, Olympic city, bullet trains, underground rails and glittering skyline of Beijing today.

The trip was not just a holiday outing ... more importantly it was a “bonding” trip of 5 very good childhood friends ... getting together, experiencing, learning, sharing, connecting, discovering and spending time together ... a journey of great friendship.

Cha Cha and Tango
We adopted two cats ... someone left them in a box behind our house when they were just little kittens. First we were thinking of keeping the kittens for a week or two ... just to look and see if our dogs can tolerate them. But after a week, we decided to keep them ... they were just too adorable ... then we named them Cha Cha and Tango ... like the Latin dances that my daughter is learning.

Cha Cha and Tango brought a lot of joy to the family ... cats being cats, with their carefree laid back manners and attention demanding attitude, they can be quite delightful and amusing. Always had us entertained with their mischievous frolics. At times when they are not running and chasing squirrels up the tree ... they will curl up beside you teasingly seeking attention and affection.

We love Cha Cha and Tango dearly ... glad to have them in the family.

My Susan
I bought a car ... why am I talking about it? I don’t know about other people but buying a car is a big thing and a good thing for me. Bear with me on this.

You see ... my wife gave her car to my son and set her eyes on my car ... so, I have to buy another car for our convenience. As I am always on a limited budget ... a used car is the only choice. And so I got me a cheap “pre-loved” 15 years old black Wira.

My son called it Susan ... why? Because like the Susan he knows ... it is big, heavy and noisy. OK, OK ... to all the Susans out there ... you go settle this with my son. Well, my Susan has nothing to shout about but I am very happy with it ... it serves its purpose dependably ... so you will see me with Susan very often from now onwards.

A pleasant surprise
I have two very active teenage kids ... like normal teenagers ... they hate exams, love Marvels and cannot live without Ed Sheeran. On good days they complement each other and do things happily together. On some days ... each were yelling and calling the other an asshole. Yes, they made some noise every now and then but really, they are good kids.

Not too long ago I wanted to buy a newly launched book but the new hard cover version was a bit expensive. I went to the bookshop ... looked at it several times but still I could not convince myself to spend the money ... told myself I will wait for the cheaper paperback. My kids know that I love that book ... so they used their own pocket money and bought the hard cover for me ... wrap it up nicely and let me open it. That was really a very pleasant surprise ... love the book, love the kids ... like I said, they are good kids.

Thank you Mrs Shiek
Throughout the year my wife and I were quite busy running our daily activities to keep everyone in the family well, comfortable and fed. In our daily activities ... we pretty much do everything together ... marketing, preparing, cooking, buying groceries or running errands ... she was always close to me.  

We spent a lot of time together every day ... we talked, we laughed, we joked and we gossiped. At times we argued and sporadically we quarreled ... but very soon we were back to our usual jolly cheery selves. I like doing things together with her ... it is this togetherness that strengthened our friendship, our closeness and our companionship.

Thank you Mrs Shiek ... for always staying close and beside me throughout the year. I am looking forward to the same next year and the many more years to come.

Last ... but not least
I must say I had a lot of good outings, gatherings, meetings, games and treks with a bunch of good friends. Though we do not see each other very often over the year but almost every day I received morning greetings, words of advice or simple courtesy messages from them ... appreciate it ... simple things like this made my days better throughout the year.

Again ... to all those who made my days better in 2017 ... thank you very much. And a Happy New Year to all !!! 

November 21, 2017

Please don't tell me you love me


I was upstairs watching a documentary online when my son (came home a bit late) happily shouted to me through the stairwell ... “I love you Daddy !”. I heard it but then I thought I must have heard it wrong ... I want to be sure so I asked ... “what did you say?” Then he came nearer to the stairs and said again, a little louder this time ... “I - LOVE - YOU - DADDY !!!”

Now I hear him ... loud and clear ... almost immediately my mind went into the “what has he done wrong now” mode and I said to myself  ... “oh shit, something bad must have happened”.

Then I asked him suspiciously  ... “son, which subject did you fail?” He replied confidently ... “NO, I did not fail any subject”. And very quickly my next question was ... “did you damage the car or what? And again he said ... “NOPE”.  And I asked again (very curiously) ... so, what is wrong then? “Nothing is wrong Daddy!” ... he assured me jokingly.

Really? I think to myself ... cannot be, this is strange ... so I went downstairs to talk to him. “Really nothing’s wrong?” ... I asked again. I was thinking ... he must have screwed up something. Since he started talking he has never ... I mean NEVER, told me he love me in any way whatsoever.

And then I found out I was wrong  ... apparently he attended a motivational course organized by his university and the students were told (when they go home that day) to tell their parents ... “I love you, Daddy/Mummy”.

Gosh!!Really, for a while there, I was a bit anxious.

You see, in my family we are not those who express our love and affection openly ... at least I am not. It must have been years (can't remember when) since I last said something affectionate to my wife and kids ... really, I am not the romantic and affectionate type.

Many people openly express their love, thanks and appreciation to their parents and their loved ones on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays and many other special occasions ... there will be hundreds of touching messages on various social media ... sent from all over the world. Well and good ... I am sure the intended person will feel very much loved and appreciated by the affectionate and touching words.

For me ... I beg to differ ... come Father’s Day or birthday or other special occasions ... I don’t really need my wife and kids to wish me or write me touching messages ... strange but true, I am kind of awkward with things like this.

You see ... I don’t need good words from my children to tell me how much they love me. I told them this ...  if you love me, don’t tell me ... show me. Show me that you are the person than I expected you to be ... that is all. Like all parents ... whatever I do for my kids is with the hope that they grow up to be a good person ... so, if they can do just that... that is all they need to show.

Same goes for my wife ... I don’t need any affectionate words from her. All I need is her presence ... when I am at home, she is with me ... when I go to the hypermarket, she is with me ... when I go for my roti canai, she is with me ... when I watch TV, she is with me ... she is with me almost everywhere. Every time I look, she is always nearby and every time she look, I am always close. You see ... I don't think both of us need any affectionate words from each other ... our presence in each other's life is a lot more than words can offer.

Yes, I am quite a strange fellow ... so, my dear wife, son and daughter ... please don’t tell me you love me.