5 December 2016

Even before the UPSR result comes out, we have proactively filled up application to MRSM and SBP  schools for Adam Farihin. For the uninitiated, those are the top two types of elite public boarding schools in the country. His mother went to MRSM PDRM in Kulim, Kedah while I myself went to SM Sains Machang SBP in Machang, Kelantan. Therefore it is only natural that we would try to enroll all our children into a boarding school as well following our footsteps. We believe boarding schools would enormously help our children to be independent, excel in academics and also prepare them for the real world where they will meet all sort of people, face challenges and problems and learn to survive all by himself.

Now applying is the easy part. Getting enrolled is another matter. I heard they have already called up the first batch of SBP applicants for an interview a few weeks ago. That could mean that either Adam didn’t make it or maybe he just didn’t make it for the first call up. Anyway I know getting into a premier boarding school like the SBP schools is no easy feat and the competition for places are stiff. Even if you excel in academics and score 6As, there’s no guarantee you will get automatic placing there. There’s extra-curricular activities to consider not to mention those with cables and connection with the right people. While Adam Farihin did pretty well in his academics, I can’t say the same about his extracurricular achievement. Aside from a couple of chess competitions that he took part (and lost), there’s nothing much in his CV to boost his chances. And I hate to beg to strangers to get my kid into any school no matter how much we want them.

Fortunately for us, we get to go to an interview for the MRSM boarding school. After SBP, it’s the next best thing there is. We applied for the SPMRSM IGCSE course which is a combination of SPM examination and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education which leads to IB and A-levels qualifications. I think Adam had a pretty good grasp of the English language hence why we applied for that course instead of the others. After a short getaway in Port Dickson last weekend, we went to an MRSM school in Kuala Kelawang, Negri Sembilan for the interview/examination. The school was one of about a dozen of test centers around the country and not surprisingly, we met hundreds of hopeful applicants just like us. I don’t know what to say our chances are, I mean Adam said he managed to answer all the interview questions and much of the tests. Time will tell whether he makes it or not.

Either way, while we plan for the best education possible for our children, we won’t be disappointed or anything should Adam failed to make it to any of those boarding schools. Like I said, competition for place is stiff and you’ve got top students from all over the country vying for entries into these prestigious schools. If Adam was meant to go to a local high school near our home, so be it. I know Adam is smart and hardworking kid and it doesn’t matter which school he goes, he will ace it anyhow.

26 August 2016

After using birth control pills for so many years, my wife and I decided to try a new method of family planning. We’ve tried that implant under the skin thing and that didn’t work out well for my wife. Her period became unstable, on and off intermittently which also suck for me. This time we decided to try IUCD and I paid just RM130 ringgit for the procedure at Klinik Jameaton.

The first 2 months, this contraception method worked great for us. Linda continued her menstrual cycle normally and there were no apparent side effects from the device. However from the 3rd months onwards, she started to experience prolonged menstrual bleeding. First it was over 2 weeks long. Then lately in the past 40 to 60 days it didn’t stop at all which is worrying for us to say the least. We returned to Klinik Jameaton to seek advice and the doctor prescribed some medication to stop the bleeding. It worked for a week or so and the bleeding continues. That’s when we made an appointment at PPUM (University Malaya Medical Centre) to see a specialist. Yes we tried to get a guarantee letter for one of Linda’s panel specialist hospital but they rejected it because of the word IUCD because that wasn’t covered under the list of illness. So PPUM it is, a semi-government hospital in Petaling Jaya. At least being a semi-private institution it would be more efficient and less expensive than specialist hospitals, or so we thought.

During Linda’s first appointment, the doctor tried to remove the IUCD device from her ovary but somehow she failed. Actually we went to see Dr Jameaton first and she tried and failed to remove the device as well. Hence why we went to PPUM. After that, the doctor set another appointment for hysteroscopy removal of IUCD in which they will insert a tiny camera into her ovary to look for the device better. Naturally this procedure won’t be cheap and Linda had to go for another appointment with the anesthesiologist. Plus the actual date for the procedure is more than a month away and I don’t know how Linda will cope with the incessant bleeding. When Linda could not stop bleeding for more than 24 hours, we decided to pay the emergency department of the PPUM one Friday evening.

Fortunately for us my mom was around to look after the kids. We arrived around 6:00 PM after work. The trauma & emergency unit is still bustling with people, a few patients but the bulk is made up of of family members or friends. Being a first timer there we went straight to the registration counter where the staff rolled her eyes and directed us to the triage counter. Okay she didn’t exactly rolled her eyes but we could sense the annoyance in her eyes. At the triage counter we explained our predicament and shortly after that we went to the secondary screening area. After that only we went to the registration counter.

From the registration counter we went to the waiting hall and waited for 3 hours or so for our number to be called. Yes it is that long. To be fair there were a lot of patients that day, around 30 numbers before us to like 3 attending doctors maybe? When our number finally came up the doctor interviewed us for like 10 minutes before sending us off to do a blood test. The blood test we were told is going to take at least another 2 hours to get the result. We took that opportunity to get supper in the form of nasi lemak at our favorite old haunt at Warung Rindu in Pantai Dalam. That was already midnight and when we come back 2 hours later our blood test was still not ready. I managed to doze off at the bench for a while until our numbers were called an hour later. The result says her hemoglobin count was low at 9 but not that alarmingly low as requiring admittance to the hospital or something. The doctor prescribed her some medications to stop the bleeding which was exactly the same pills that she had earlier. However this time the pills actually worked in lessening the bleeding and a week later her period almost totally stopped.

We got home around 3 o’clock that morning having spent over 7 hours at the hospital. Although I must admit the doctor’s service was top notch and on par with other specialist hospitals, it’s the waiting that I can’t stand. Would we get shorter waiting time at a fully private hospital? Probably. But the consultation and medication fees would be 4 to 5 times more than the RM68.90 that we paid at PPUM. I suppose the painfully long waiting time is the price we have to pay for the affordable fees at the hospital. Should have we avoided this situation had we invested in a medical card or something similar? Probably. But since we have our very own respective health benefits from our companies, paying for extra insurance seems like a waste of money. I’d like to put the blame squarely on PM Care who refused to release the guarantee letter for us causing us quandary in the first place.

12 August 2016

Remember the time I went for an interview at Sasana Kijang but didn't get the job? No? Well that's because I didn't exactly shout it out to everybody. Looking for a job while still working at another company is usually a secretive and hushed affair so I didn't tell it to anybody save for my closest family and friends. Actually I stumbled upon this job opportunity from Twitter, of all places. A guy I am following announced that he has an opening at his company for an IT executive so I thought why not give it a try. It's a prestigious company, an organization affiliated to the central bank of Malaysia. The minimum requirement they wanted was a degree in IT or Computer Science but my friend said just try anyway sending my resume and application letter. Who knows they might still consider from my decade of experience in the IT industry.

So I brushed up my dusty old resume that haven't been updated in 3 years and sent it along with my application letter to the company. Later that afternoon, the HR personnel called me up an arranged for an interview 2 days later. It all happened so fast. So in between the call and the day of the interview I watched a crash course on ICT and computers in general from Eli The Computer guy. Of course I already know much of what he's talking about but you learn something new all the time, especially from an industry expert such as Eli.

Come interview day, I made my way to Sasana Kijang at 3:30PM. I was dressed in my regular interview attire - long sleeve shirt, a tie and everything. With my bulging waist, I positively looked like a muffin top that day. Was I nervous? Absolutely. But at my age and experience, going for an interview is not really that intimidating compared to say 15 years ago. I just wing it and get it over with. The Sasana Kijang building is huge and spacious. After registering with the auxiliary police I waited for a few minutes for my Twitter friend to escort me to his office. I had to fill up some forms and 10 minutes later my interview began.

My friend did most of the talking and questioning. His soon to be retired Manager didn't ask much question although they were tough ones like do I know CMS or MySQL (which I must admit I didn't know much). They asked mostly about my experience and my knowledge and after like 20 minutes, the interview ended. I thought the interview went well but I didn't exactly have high expectations about securing the job. I'm certain they have also called other prospective candidates with better experience and qualifications. My chances are I think 50-50. Either I get it or not LOL.

They say they will let me know next week. 10 days passed and when I didn't hear anything from any of them, I DMed my friend on Twitter and soon enough he broke me the bad news. I didn't make the final shortlist. Like I said, since I didn't have much expectation in the first place, I wasn't exactly crushed for not getting the job there. Sure my ego and self-esteem took a little beating but its nothing I can't handle. This is not my first work rejection anyway and I've had a few of those in my life. I wasn't really actively looking for another job in the first place. It's just so happens an opportunity presents itself to me and I decided to grab it. It would have been nice though to be working at Sasana Kijang as an IT Executive compared to say a lowly Technical Assistant. But what's in a name? Nothing and everything.

As always I'm keeping a positive outlook in life. Whenever I missed an opportunity, it just means something much better is waiting for me in the future.

5 July 2016

One of the downside of having an all-malay colleague is when Raya is near, they all want to apply for leave at the same time. Last time we had a vacancy in IT support and guess who they hired? Yep another malay. It’s either they have a soft spot for malays or there’s nobody else qualified for the job. Fast forward earlier this month when the boss asked everybody to submit their leaves, everybody applied for the same 2 days before Raya. Me I would have applied for for the same dates as well but since my wife can only apply for leaves after Raya I relented and let the boys have their fun. Even then I thought my boss would reject one or two applications but surprise-surprise she approved everybody’s leaves. That means for the last 2 days before Raya which happens to be the last super-busy two days of the term it will only me and my manager who will be working in the entire ICT department.

And since we don’t hire any helpdesk person yet, I’ll be manning that position while my boss deals with all the tech support calls. At least that’s what she envisioned. In reality, she had to man the ICT office because a lot of the teachers will be returning their laptops and ICT equipments before leaving the school for good. In the end, it was me who was attending all the tech support calls and also manning the helpdesk. To add salt to injury, I was down with cold the entire two days so imagine my suffering at the office. Even then when all things are said and done, I survived the two days ordeal intact especially since they let us out early at 1:00PM. Seriously they should really hire more ICT staff especially for helpdesk. I mean how hard is it to get somebody from JobStreet really?

We left home around 2:00PM that afternoon. Our kids were already back home with their grandparent and uncles who took them along last Saturday. My wife was kind enough to drive for the first part of the journey since I was still sleepy from the cold and medication. I expected some heavy traffic the day before Raya but fortunately the road was surprisingly smooth with occasional bumper to bumper traffic here and there. We had dinner somewhere in Gua Musang and reached Tanah Merah after driving for 8 hours and 25 minutes. On a regular school-holiday or festival-free traffic we could reach home in 6 hours so that’s pretty fast considering it’s Raya’s eve. Two years ago it took us 12 hours to reach KL from Tanah Merah.

25 June 2016

My brother-in-law who recently finished his studies from UIA have been working in UTM, Johor Bharu as a research assistant. Apparently his final year project piqued the interest of a lecturer there and he offered him the position and to start immediately. In the meantime he’s also been looking for a job at different companies which is a sensible thing to do because you know, he might just get a better offer somewhere else. You know how it is with government jobs, especially contract jobs, you get paid peanuts these days. So he moved to JB and rented a house with his friends there. Last week however he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance after complaining of severe stomach pain. Before you know it he was scheduled to remove his appendix.

He was made to understand that they’re going to do the procedure immediately at the Sultanah Aminah hospital that day so he didn’t trouble himself to go to a private hospital which should be covered under his insurance policy. So he waited and did not have anything except water in preparation for the surgery in the crowded hospital ward. Hours turn to days and on the second day he asked the doctor again and he casually said actually he’s 4th on the waiting list and the doctor had to fix somebody else first. All his waiting and fasting for nothing. They should have the courtesy to inform him earlier instead of torturing him like that. So he asked for a friend to pick him up and then transferred to a private hospital. The removed the appendix and stitch him up within hours.

There was a debate recently on social media where people were comparing government and private hospitals, how government hospitals are good if not on par with private hospitals. The truth is they are miles apart in term of service, especially speed. Sure you don’t pay much at government hospitals but normally they would make you wait a long-long time before attending you, let alone performing operations on you. Not to mention super-crowded wards and substandard hygiene in their toilets. Therefore it’s no surprise that many people prefer private hospitals over public ones whenever they can afford it or use their medical insurance card. For some, government hospitals are only as a last resort when they have exhausted all other options. Personally, I would like me and my loved ones to get the fastest and best possible service when they are unwell. Hence why it is important to get yourself some sort of medical insurance for rainy days or at least find an employer with good medical benefits.

So after the surgery, I drove all the way to JB last Sunday to pick up my brother-in-law from the hospital. It is a long and tiring drive, especially when you’re fasting but it’s one of those things you have to sacrifice for your family. Lucky for me I left for JB late in the afternoon and since I’m driving alone, it took me slightly over 3 hours to reach my destination. After getting my BIL discharged from the hospital, I drove another 3.5 hours home including a quick stop for buka puasa. This week, I went to JB again this time with my family to send my BIL for the follow up. Somehow the doctor failed to show up and if my BIL didn’t have to go to JB anyway to pack up his stuff and move out, my long drive there would be for nothing. So that’s twice in a week I drove 600 kilometers to JB. Since it’s Ramadan and I don’t have much funds to enjoy ourselves we didn’t go anywhere much except to UTC to renew my wife’s driving license.

On the way back we stopped at Nilai 3 to buy myself and Adam our baju melayu for Raya. To be honest I don’t mind wearing the same old black baju melayu that I wore for the last two years but then, I thought it would be nice to have the same matching colours with my wife and kids again. We had dinner at the crowded Marrybrown outlet there and head home shortly after.

7 May 2016

I get to catch Ada Apa Dengan Cinta 2 with my wife over the weekend, the sequel to one of our favorite movie of all time. To be honest I'm not exactly all that excited to watch this but since my wife kept asking me to take her to see it I thought why not. For old times' sake. We caught the midnight show at IOI Mall in Puchong. It's been a while since managed to sneak out for a date just the two of us. My in laws were in town so they could look after the kids while we're out.

So how was the movie? Only so-so if you ask my honest opinion. It's a continuation from the first movie and explains how and why they got separated from the last scene at the airport. I didn't want to spoil it too much for you but suffice to say they head into their separate ways after that incident. Cinta had her own little art exhibition in Jakarta while Rangga opened a little café in New York apart from writing stuff (books and poetry I think). Cinta had actually moved on after being dumped by Rangga and got engaged with a decent, rich & young businessman. Only for Rangga to swoop in on the pretext of reuniting with his mother in Yogyakarta where they dated at the chicken church. Okay that's enough spoilers for you. To see how their story conclude go and buy their DVD at the stores :)

The first AADC was good enough on its own and if they've never made the sequel I'd be happy with it. This one lacks the romance, chemistry and the general sweet factor of the first movie. The first movie had a killer soundtrack while this one pales in comparison. Still it's a good night's date for us. No more sequels please.

5 May 2016

I've eaten a lot of ayam penyet in my life and they are one of my favorite food ever since I came to know of their existence. Some were really good, with the chicken tender and crispy and the sambal so spicy you got your tongue wagging by the time you finish. Many however are a travesty to fine Indonesian food, the chicken is regular fried chicken and the sambal bland and tasteless. So far you can't go wrong with Ayam Penyet AP although their restaurants are far and few in between now.

As good as Ayam Penyet AP is, it doesn't come close to Warung Leko in The Curve. There not only I had the most delicious ayam penyet ever, I also discovered the uber-delicious iga penyet which is basically soft juicy ribs combined with their super-spicy sambal. I mean I have a pretty good tolerance for spicy foods but theirs top the upper scale. You just have to try them for yourself and get lost in culinary heaven. Their ayam penyet is good but their iga penyet is out of this world. It's rather expensive at 18 ringgit per plate but it's worth every ringgit trust me.

10 April 2016

For long hiking trips across the country I would usually carpool with a fellow hiker. I don’t have a problem with driving my own car but since I only have one and my wife is using it for work and other errands, I couldn’t possibly leave her stranded without any mode of transportation. So carpool it is. I have been pretty lucky so far, had no problem getting people to offer me a ride in their cars. I would ask around a week in advance and book my place for the trip. I did the same for my Yong Belar trip but this time the driver has set the fare in advance. 50 ringgit for the return trip to Kampung Raja in Cameron Highlands. Normally we would discuss about payments during the trip or on the way back. There’s nothing wrong with that of course. It’s his car so he set the rules. Perhaps he had had a bad experience with his previous carpoolers or something who didn’t agree with the cost set. I wouldn’t know. As far as I know, we would just agree with any price set by the driver, no question asked. As long as they are reasonable of course. So far that had been the case.

My driver (ahem) picked me up at the Sungei Besi LRT station. In the car there’s already another fellow hiker who he picked up near his home in Kajang. I was notified in advance that there’s going to be 3 passengers at the back so like it or not we had to be cramped in the old Proton Perdana back seat for the duration of the 3 hours journey. Ideally I would have preferred more leg and arm room in the car. Realistically, beggars cannot be choosers. We could barely fit 44 people into enough cars for that trip so we had to accommodate everyone into all available cars. That means some cars would have to carry 4 passengers excluding the driver. Fine by me. As long as we get to our destination. If I can endure a 5 hours trip to Merapoh in a tiny Kancil before, this is nothing in comparison. I digress.

From Sungei Besi, we detoured to Pantai Dalam in KL since the driver had to pickup another passenger. This one happens to be his long lost school/college friend or something. From the beginning he was accorded special treatment from my driver. He was picked up right in front of his doorstep. Our other passenger was relegated to the backseat because the driver would like to chat with his long lost friend. I doubt he even pays anything for the trip. That’s his prerogative I know but already it sucks. From Pantai Dalam we finally made it to the Gombak LRT station. There we picked up the final passenger to make it 5 in the car.

My driver must be in a real hurry to reach Cameron cause he only stopped briefly once to fuel up and the second time to buy some drinks. Although I’ve had my dinner earlier that night, my tummy was grumbling again by 1:00 am that morning. I wished he would stop for supper at one of the R&R along the highway but to my disappointment he just kept on driving. I can’t remember a single trip where we didn’t stop for a drink or supper along the way so again I was kind of disappointed with my driver again.

Thankfully we reached Kampung Raja safe and sound. I didn’t have much sleep in the car. It was hard trying to sleep with all the chatter going on in the front seat (wish I had bring my earphones). Plus the fact that there’s too little leg room at the back. Nevermind that. At least he drove pretty fast and it’s only a 3 hours journey.

After the hike, we assembled again at SK Kampung Raja where we parked the car. Did I mention how we had to collect 2 ringgit each to pay for the parking fee? I mean we already paid 50 fricking ringgit for the ride and you just had to ask more money for the measly 10 ringgit parking? Ok maybe you’re just really poor. Fine. Anyway I managed to get into the middle pack of the hiking group on the way out. Still we didn’t get to the school’s parking lot until well after 9:00 PM. My driver and his best friend were from the leading pack so they were already cleaned up and ready to go. Unfortunately one other member of the car pool was in the last group that came out of the jungle. After finding out we had waited long for him to arrive, my friend here decided to skip shower altogether much to my horror. I actually coerced him to have a bath and clean up first be he insisted that we leave straight away. That’s how I end up sitting next to that stinkbomb for the 3 hours journey back.

As always my driver didn’t stop anywhere for dinner. He and his buddy already had dinner earlier in Kampung Raja but it never occurred to him that his fellow passengers are thirsty or starving after an exhausting day hike. It’s only after I asked him to stop to buy a drink that he stopped at one R&R. Before we leave Cameron that evening, he was quick to warn me that he’s not going to send me to my place. Yes he’s going to leave me at the same LRT station that he picked me up. He does in fact knows that the train doesn’t run anymore at 3 in the morning but that’s not his problem apparently. In the end I negotiated and asked him to leave me opposite of the Serdang commuter station instead. At least I can wait at a mamak there while my wife comes to pick me up. I know it is late it is entirely his prerogative whether to send me home or night. But we have this unwritten rule that if it’s late, the driver usually sends us right to our doorstep. He either had never heard of this rule or he’s just real selfish and unreasonable. I mean I had to bother my wife at 3 in the morning to pick me up.

What really pissed me of more is the fact that he readily and voluntarily send his best buddy right to his doorstep in Pantai Dalam. That’s a far longer detour than stopping by my place in PUJ. I know I barely know him in 2 days but that’s so fucked up man.

I don’t usually bitch about people I hardly know here but this guy totally deserve it. I know I might just be bitter but he’s kind of a jerk and riding in his car is one of the reason my hiking trip to Yong Belar suck a little more than usual. I know I shouldn’t demand a 5 star treatment when carpooling but the least any driver could do is be reasonable with his passengers. Surely that’s not too much to ask?

19 March 2016

March 2016 was my brother in law’s wedding month. Their love story is a bit complicated because the father of the bride didn’t really approve of the relationship. My BIL used to work with the bride’s father, let’s call him B. When the business goes south, my BIL quit the job thus leaving a sour taste in their relationship. While working there, my BIL had a relationship with his eldest daughter, my new sister in law. When they finally decided to get married, B indignantly refused to give his blessing and wants nothing to do with the wedding including giving his permission as the wali (guardian). My BIL and FIL went through great lengths to get B to play ball but he steadfastly refused.

In the had they had to do the next logical thing which is to get married in Thailand. You see according to local Islamic law, if the father of the bride is still alive and his whereabouts is known and he somehow refused to give his permission for marriage, you cannot appoint another person as the wali. Somehow that does not apply in our neighboring country so they all went there to solemnize the marriage and just do the reception at home later. Sure they’ll be fined by the local religious authorities for marrying outside of their district but desperate times calls for desperate measures. It baffles me that in this day and age they are still parents who just can’t let their children be happy and bless their marriage. If this is a western country with western values it wouldn’t be an issue. However since this is an Islamic country, there are norms and rules to adhere to.

In spite of that, the wedding and reception went well and everything ran according to plan. We went to his reception in Maran, Pahang and also in my BIL’s place in Tanah Merah. All his siblings and a few relatives came to help including one boyfriend and his brother from Perak. I know they meant well which is to help out with the wedding but it is still awkward to have somebody without any formal relationship sleeping at your place. I mean I wouldn’t think of staying long at my girlfriend’s place for whatever reason. Until I am part of the family, it’s off limits. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned.

The day after the wedding, half of my family member is down with diarrhea. It didn’t take long to find the culprit which was the reheated ayam masak merah which everybody that got sick ate later that evening. Fortunately for me I have this habit of not eating anything made early in the day and especially yesterday’s food. Today my fussiness is totally justified and damn that felt good.