28 June 2017



About this time last year, I was still working on the second last day before Raya. My wife can only go on leave on the last day before Raya so it made little sense for me to take any earlier leaves. I can still remember the dreadful feeling when most of your colleagues have left for the holidays but only you and your Indian manager doing pretty much everything at work. It’s not pleasant at all. So this year I wisely asked my wife to take an earlier leave and me myself took my leave two days earlier than last year so I don’t have to repeat the blues of working on raya eve. That said, I still need to wait for my eldest son to come home from boarding school before we can begin the journey back to our hometown. That leaves us just one day left before Raya so you can imagine the impending traffic rush.

Hence why I devised in my head, a cunning plan to skip all the major road that is usually congested with traffic and use alternative routes instead. First I used the Hulu Yam - Batang Kali - Gohtong Jaya road instead of the usual MRR2 - Gombak - Bentong road. It was clear all the way to Gohtong Jaya and Genting Sempah with a little bit of traffic after that, nothing major. Then we took the Mempaga - Raub alternative route which is almost void of traffic. Everything looks good until then. Sure there was a little bit of crawl from Raub to Kuala Lipis but that was expected since we had no other routes to ply.

But nothing prepared us for that epic 4 hours plus crawl along the central spine road. You know that new little highway just after Lipis and before Merapoh? The road was smooth when we entered around 4:30PM but 30 minutes later the jam lasted until nearly 10:00PM. We had to break our fast a couple of cream breads cause there’s no rest stops or restaurant anywhere in site. Despite my immaculate planning beforehand I was completely ill-prepared for this one. I don’t remember facing this horrid jam the year before or else I would have taken another route.

We didn’t have dinner until well after 10:00PM that night in Gua Musang. From there we took another alternative route via Dabong and Jeli which is a lot longer than the usual route but at least we were spared the horror of that long crawl near Kuala Krai. We finally got home in Tanah Merah around 2:30AM. From Gua Musang I was so tired and sleepy, it’s a little miracle that we arrived in one piece that morning. I even had to stop for a while to rest and shut eye. It’s a horrid experience that I don’t want to repeat ever again. Overall we took over 15 hours for that single journey, longer than anything I’ve experienced before.

For the return journey, we took the Grik - PLUS Highway route to Ipoh because we were giving my sister in law a lift. Traffic was smooth all the way to Grik and then disaster struck. When searching for the fastest route to Ipoh using Waze, the app instructed us to head to Kulim/Butterworth instead of the usual Kuala Kangsar route. At first I didn’t give it much thought because I thought there will be an exit to the highway somewhere ahead of us. Little did I know it was 69 kilometres before we found the exit to the highway near Juru in Penang. By the time we realized our mistake, we wear already near the Kedah border and it would be too late to turn back then. Basically we took a detour through Kedah and Penang before going to Perak instead of driving straight to Perak. Thank you very much Waze. Remind me to just follow the bloody signboard next time.

I thought going back on the fourth day of Syawal would spare us anymore traffic jams but boy how wrong were we. Traffic was horrendous from Kuala Kangsar all the way to Ipoh and a few more kilometres after that. Although it was not as bad as the one before, my knees and body still hurts from all the braking and driving. So what’s the moral of the story here? Get to know more alternative routes and prepare backup plans in case your best laid plans go wrong. Second, don’t always trust Waze blindly, especially when Internet is spotty and the app can get traffic time horribly wrong. Or maybe I should just stay quietly at home and avoid all that altogether?

5 May 2017


While I was about to go to sleep last night, I got a call from a warden in Adam’s school. He said Adam slipped and injured his left foot while leaving the school hall just now. Actually he was more like, running to his class and in his typical fashion, slipped and hit his foot on the raised cement divider. He didn’t feel much pain at first but felt the full force of the injury after making his way to his prep class. So the warden in charge took him to the Kuala Kubu Bharu hospital for treatment. Fortunately Adam didn’t break anything from the x-ray result. But he is limping awkwardly and could barely walk and struggled to climb the many flight of stairs to his class or dormitory.

I wish I could pick him up sooner that Friday afternoon but I got to work and Linda is using the car so I had to wait for her to come home first so that I can drive all the way to Hulu Selangor. I braved the Friday evening rush hour traffic that day to go and pick up Adam. Usually he would take the train home but obviously that is out of the question. Adam didn’t go to school for the whole day that Friday. When I went up to see him in his dorm, he was fast asleep. I helped him to pack and carefully lead him down the staircase. Thankfully we still keep the crutches left behind by his uncle. We made it to the car park slowly but surely. When we left the school, Adam was missing a few of his belongings. He couldn’t find his school bag in class. Actually I went up to his class to look but they were nowhere to be found. And then somebody either accidentally or on purpose switch their school shoes with Adam’s. It was the exact same shoe brand and design but one size smaller. Other than that, he also lost his sandals which he left outside his dorm. I know you can’t help but lose stuff in hostels and boarding schools but this is way too much. Hopefully some of them will turn up again by the time he comes back.

So I took Adam to see my panel doctor and asked for him to have a few days off. The doctor was kind enough to give him medical leave until Wednesday which is coincidentally Wesak Day so we could send him back to school. Adam was on crutches for a day or two before his foot started to get better and he could walk with a minor limp. It was just a little muscle strain that needed some medication, TLC and a good rest. When we returned to the school on Wednesday, Adam couldn’t find neither his school bag, school shoes nor his sandals. If money is no object, we would have gladly bought new shoes, sandals, school bag and books for him but no we don’t have that much money to throw away. We asked Adam to look for his bag again in and around school. Why would anyone want to steal a school bag with subsidized text books anyway? He must have misplaced it somewhere. As for the school shoe, we told Adam to wait a while longer in case the culprit realized his mistake and return them back to the shelf. We just had to buy Adam a pair of new sandal in the end because he would literally walk barefooted to the surau than wear a flip-flop or a pair of shoes. That’s how much he didn’t dare to break the rules, it’s bordering on ridiculous.

We went to look for a sandal first next door in Antara Gapi and when we could find none, went further away to Hulu Yam Bharu. In the end we went all the way to Batang Kali to buy one in an Econsave mart. Should have gone straight there in the first place. A few days later Adam called and said he still couldn’t find his school bag anywhere. Some of his teachers even scolded him for the missing bag which is unreasonable because it was not entirely his fault (or is it?). I had to swallow my pride and call his warden to report about the missing bag and ask him to help find it. The same warden who took Adam to the hospital that evening said he thought he saw Adam carrying the bag to his hostel block. Which is what actually happened. He did brought back the bag to the hostel block but he asked his mate to keep the bag in his dorm first while he goes to the hospital. So the bag was with his friend all along and somehow he had forgotten all about this. What’s even weirder, his friend also didn’t seem to remember to return the bag to Adam.

In the end, Adam found his school bag, walked around happily with his new sandal but had to wear that one size too small shoes because the idiot who took his never returned his shoes. Although we just left him there on Wednesday, by the next day he called us to come during the weekend because he lost his songkok and he wouldn’t dare break the rule and wear a kopiah instead. Just when we thought we don’t have to visit him for at least another week. So we visited him on Sunday and helped to do his laundry at a self-service laundromat in Batang Kali. Apparently he’s quite left behind in his studies and homework that he didn’t have time to do his laundry. The things you do for your kid. While we would want him to be independent and self-reliant, we felt it is imperative that we support him as much as we can in his first year at boarding school. Help him transition and fit in to his new environment, at least for the first year (or two). I know back in my day, my parent almost totally left me on my own at boarding school but the times are a-changing and we can’t expect the same level of hardiness with our children.

That said Adam, we expect you to not lose anything valuable and of importance again in the future. Our money doesn’t grow on trees you know and we can’t possibly just go out and buy a replacement every time you lose something. You must learn to take care of your properties and remember the hardship your folks went through to be able to afford them. We love you but please take much better care of your stuff.

25 March 2017



If you have read my review of Sunway Lagoon, there’s a few behind the scene stories that I didn’t mention there. How did we get the tickets so cheap? My wife’s colleague knows someone who works at the ticketing office in Sunway Lagoon. He managed to secure us those special tickets which comes under the corporate account of a state government agency. Apparently they have special price for these agencies because they usually buy the tickets in bulk. The caveat was, we had to pay the full price in advance and only get the tickets a month later which was fine by me. A month goes by but we didn’t hear anything about the tickets. My wife asked her colleague a few times about this but she kept getting vague answers from the ticketing agent. Two weeks passed and we were getting increasingly restless with the whole deal. Could have we been duped by her friend and paid 250 ringgit for nothing?

Finally by the third week, we got the confirmation from the ticketing guy. There’s an opening to visit Sunway Lagoon with the discounted ticket on the 25th of this month so we agreed and confirmed the date. That’s the other catch, he can only produce one set of tickets per month. I don’t know how the system works but I don’t care as long as I got those cheap-ass tickets. By comparison, the normal ticket price for adults is RM120 and RM96 for children.

Another thing that I didn’t exactly tell you the truth about is the lunch. Guess how much we paid for lunch at the park that day? Zero, zilch, nothing, nada. When we called the ticketing guy (now I found out he’s an event manager) before entering the park, he said if you want to have lunch just give him a call. We really thought he was going to give as coupons or discount vouchers or something. So come lunch time, we peeked at one of the restaurants in the park and looked in dismay at the exorbitant prices. The cheapest meal we could find was 12 ringgit something and that was just some basic spaghetti. I was resigned to spending a fortune on those but my wife reminded me to call the event manager guy first. So I did and he asked what do we want to eat. Since we’re already in front of Lighthouse Bistro I said how about that one. Then he asked me to pass the phone to the restaurant manager and they talked for a minute and then the manager said I can order anything I want free of charge. The bill will go under the event manager’s account, no kidding. So we ordered some chicken rice, chicken wings, nuggets, fries and drinks. The restaurant manager also said if we’d like anything more just holler. I cannot believe my luck. From discount voucher to free lunch. I mean our lunch that afternoon should easily cost something around 60 - 70 ringgit. I can’t thank you the event manager enough. I don’t know whether it’s appropriate to mention his name here but to be on the safe side I won’t. But you know who you are and thank you so much!

I guess it was our lucky day. First we got the cheap-ass tickets and then the sumptuous free lunch. To be honest, I was about to get really pissed off when we had to wait more than a months for the tickets. We thought if we didn’t get the tickets by the 7th week, we’d cancel and ask for a refund. Needless to say, we wouldn’t have had that amazing yet affordable experience in Sunway Lagoon if we did. Thank you again A!

15 February 2017



My mom’s birthday was 2 days ago on the 13th of February. It must have been nice for her to have a birthday just before Valentine’s Day for I am sure those days before the creeping Islamization of Malaysia, my parent must have celebrated it. So she should be getting one present for her birthday and another one for Valentine’s Day, how lovely. I don’t know, I never asked. And on the next day it is my Dad’s birthday. What a coincidence. Those were the days, the happy days.

So on my Dad’s birthday that is today, I gave him a customary call. You know just to find out how he’s doing. You see, my parent is divorced ever since I was 9 and he moved on to have a new family with a new wife. I got a step sister from that marriage, who I rarely meet, naturally. My Dad is quite old now, well in his 60s now. By right he should be resting and enjoying life after retirement right about now. Unfortunately he’s not relaxing at home occasionally looking after his grandchildren like he should be at the moment. Instead he’s working for this islamic charity organisation who seeks donation for wakafs (the dedication of a property by a person through a will or otherwise for religous purposes or for charitable purposes). You know how you sometimes see some old man setting up stalls in public places to collect alms or entice people to give to that purpose? Yeah my old man is doing that right now for a living.

Not that I am ashamed of him or anything. I am sad more than anything. I consider my Dad as something of a role model. A role model of what not to be or to do in life. My family’s history is long and complicated but let make it brief here. You see my Dad had a steady job as a plantation manager in a government-linked company right after he finishes college. He met Mom at the same college but ironically she didn’t finish her studies for some reason. After a while he asked her hand in marriage and then after 5 years there’s 4 of us siblings. We had everything that a well-to-do middle class family could ask for then. A steady job and income. We had a nice home in Cheras and I was about to go to school at S.K Jalan Peel nearby had things not changed (the school’s registration was still stamped on my birth certificate until now).

For some reason, my Dad felt adventurous and decided to leave his comfy and steady job and start a business. A laundry business some more. Now that isn’t necessarily a bad thing you know, starting a business, people do it all the time. Some might even do well and achieve many great things in their life. But my Dad, unfortunately is not cut out for the business world. After resigning from his job, investing all his savings and borrowing a substantial amount of money from the bank, his laundry business went bust. I recall Mom telling me we had to pay our single employee at that time in one ringgit denominations and coins towards the end. Eventually my Dad was declared bankrupt and we had to sell a lot of things to pay to the bank. Our decent car and most of all our nice home in Bandar Tun Razak, Cheras. To make things worse, my Mom’s brother was one of the guarantor for the bank loans so you can imagine the humiliation she felt when things went south.

As the months past, our financially situation didn’t really turn for the better. My Mom for once was fed up of living in hardship and the stigma of bankruptcy, decided to leave my Dad and return to her hometown in Pasir Mas to live with her mother. It’s almost like a classic malay drama story. I remember vividly like it was only yesterday how we walked from the Pasir Mas train station that fateful morning together with my siblings towards my grandma’s house with nothing much in tow. Lucky for us, it was only like 2 miles away. Little that I know, I would spend the rest of my childhood there until I finish high school. My Dad, he didn’t come along to join us though. I suspect my Mom would have liked him to stay away and fix the mess he created. As the years goes by, my Dad somewhat recovered from that dark episode in his life and managed to secure a steady job. In agriculture of course, what else. It’s what he does best. It’s not for lack of trying and he did tried a few times to get our little family back together again. I remember he came to visit us once or twice a year and tried to reconcile with Mom. Somehow Mom can’t seem to find a space to welcome that man into her life again. Much to our despair, she and my Dad formally divorced in some time in 1989 (I think). I remembered that year very well because I got third place in school for the final exam.

As I mentioned, Dad moved on a got himself a new little family of his own after that. Even my Mom secretly married another man, a senior teacher who already had a family of his own. You heard that right, my Mom actually became somebody’s second wife. The first wife was naturally not so thrilled with that arrangement. I don’t know what she did but my Mom’s second marriage didn’t last for more than I year a think. She became a single divorcee again from then on until I went to college.

As fate would have it, I went to the same college that my parent went to in Serdang, Selangor. In fact my two other siblings also went to the same college later on. Despite the absence of a father figure and not much financial support from Dad, my Mom did a remarkable job of raising all 4 of us siblings until we all graduated. Sure I graduated 10 years too late but the point is, Mom did it all on her own, with the meagre earning she earns as a teacher. I don’t know maybe she finally felt lonely without a man in his life but one day she came up with this surprising if not crazy plan of reuniting with my Dad again. My Dad by that time in the early 2000s managed to climb out of the financial ruin almost 2 decades earlier, went on to get a steady job and a respectable position (as a plantation manager, what else) and were living happily with his new family. When my Mom brought up the idea I was naturally excited and keen to see our family reunited again after all these years. Finally we can have a normal family and parent like everyone else. But life of course, had other plans for us.

Since pretty much everybody in my immediate family had no objection to Mom marrying Dad again, they were remarried some time in 2002. As Dad is still based in Johore at that time, he had to regularly commute from JB to Serdang every other week. And you know what? His other wife had no idea that his husband is now married again to his first wife. At least not at first. And when she finally found out, all hell break loose.

My stepmother is one of a kind. Once she found out Dad is married again to Mom, she did everything she could to ruin my Dad’s life, ruin our life there in Serdang and indirectly ruin her life as well as her daughter’s life. To say that she’s a stepmother from hell would be an understatement. Somehow she got hold of my Mom’s phone number, my siblings’ and I phone numbers, even my grandma’s back home number and started hurling abuses and profanities at us with every single call. She even shamelessly send poisonous letters with obscene drawings just to spite us. That went on for a few months. To be honest, as much as we hate her for doing that to us, you’ve got to see it from her perspective too. There she was living happily with my Dad and her daughter and suddenly one day she’s sharing his love (and wealth) with another woman and her children. That’s enough to drive some people crazy, no?

Not content with hurling abuse and profanities at us, my stepmother did something even crazier that ultimately led to my Dad’s downfall. Somehow she managed to convince his boss to fire my Dad. I don’t know whether she personally went berserk at the office or something to make him fire Dad but unemployed my Dad she did got. After that incident, Dad was understandably mad at her insane actions and decided to leave her altogether and come live with us in Serdang. That should be the beginning of something wonderful right? The family back together again and all. Alas it was not to be.

In spite of his wealth of experience, Dad struggled to get another job fitting his qualifications. Maybe it’s his age or other factors, possibly the economy but Dad failed to get another respectable or steady job within the plantation industry until this very day. It even come to the point that he had to sell nasi lemaks in the mornings in front of Central Market to make ends meet. That was possibly the lowest point in his life. Mom then had no choice but to became the sole breadwinner in the house, at least until Dad gets a decent job. And believe me he tried. As months goes by, we come to see history repeating itself. My parent’s second honeymoon period was well and truly over and with the pressure of being the single provider for the family, it didn’t take long for Mom and Dad to fight and argue again. Things gradually turn for the worse until one day Dad packed a few of his most prized possessions and go running back to his other family. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him.

We rarely get to see him again after that except for once or twice a year, during Hari Raya especially. All that while Mom and Dad was still married but in reality they’re just as divorced and separated as they were a few decades earlier. I wish Dad would do the honorable thing and let my Mom go in a dignified and respectful manner but no, he didn’t lift a finger or show up once during the fasakh divorce proceeding. Yes Mom had to literally fight her way to divorce herself from Dad, again. It was a rather painful memory for all of us to see our family broken to pieces again. But one thing time does well is heal. Mom recovered from this second painful episode in her marriage with Dad and went on to achieve great things in her career. Right now she is retired and enjoying the fruits of her labour by jetsetting and holidaying around the world with her savings and pensions money. It could have been the two of them holidaying abroad together but it was not meant to be.

As I said, I look up to Dad as a role model of what not to be in life. I learned some very valuable lessons from him like not to quit your day job to pursue pipe dreams or learn how to control your crazy spouse better and not let her ruin your career and your life. Dad made some terrible, life-changing decisions in his life that let him to the state he’s in today and I’ll be damned to repeat those same mistakes as he did. Am I being harsh too him? Maybe. Should I’ve done more to help him now that he has no one else to turn to? Probably. But every time I thought of giving or helping him in one way or another, my evil stepmother came into the picture. Why should I help the person who single-handedly ruined our family and our lives. Every cent I give to Dad half will go to that woman. Yes I’m mature enough to be on speaking terms with her whenever we meet but deep down inside, I don’t think I could ever forgive her for everything that she’s done to us.


Post script:

It was not my intention to bore you with the story of my life here nor do I think I did justice for everyone involved with my storytelling. Sometimes letting it all out gives me that liberating feeling for something that I have kept pretty much to myself all these years. Hopefully the day will come when I could put this all behind me and do the right thing.

8 January 2017



As I drove away from Semashur last week, there was a pang of sadness leaving Adam Farihin behind. It will be the first time he will be away from home for a prolonged period of time. Away from his parent, siblings and friends. Friends that he’d known since a long time. The first evening, we came to back to an Adam-less home. Every time I looked into his room I’d half-expected him to be there in front of his computer playing games for hours while balancing on the two legs of his chair. He’s not there anymore tonight. Instead his youngest sibling has decided to occupy his room and slept there almost every night. I also wondered when he’s gonna call, at least to tell us he’s doing okay but I guess he’s busy with orientation week. He did called us the next day although only for a few seconds. He asked us to bring a few more clothes, hangers and also his mother’s home-made tom yam. I reckon you’ll learn to appreciate your mother’s cooking now huh?

I guess this is a normal reaction for every parent who is parting from their children. I’m sure it will get better with time. Today we went to visit Adam in his school. We just waved at the security while driving in. I presume they saw our school sticker hence the smooth entry. I can tell Adam was glad to see us. He waited impatiently at the surau as we were 5 minutes late. We had lunch together and he related his experience during the first 5 days there. He said the food was okay, not as bad as I’ve been telling from my experience. He had to wake up at 4:00 in the morning though to shower because else he had to wait behind all the seniors.

Rumour has it they will leave the first formers alone first and the bullying will only commence during the second year. That’s what his senior said anyway. Although I was rather alarmed at first to hear that, I’m sure any kind of bullying is nothing serious and not physically abusive or else the teachers and wardens will be hearing from me. It’s part and parcel of hostel living and it’s quite common everywhere. Ideally nobody likes this kind of culture in an educational institution but it’s a vicious cycle. The seniors did it to the juniors and on and on it goes through the years. I wish they would put a stop to that but unless there’s some serious paradigm and culture shift by all the students and teachers involved, I don’t see it going away anytime soon. My advice to you son, if the seniors ask you to do something (or help them), just swallow your pride and play along. As long as its nothing humiliating or abusive just do it. If you think they have crossed the line somehow, don’t be afraid to let me know. It will deal with them accordingly, I promise.

The good news is Adam get to come home every two weeks starting next Friday. We can go pick him up as early as midday every Friday. I doubt these kids even get to feel homesick at all except for those out of state. Just consider it as an extended summer camp Adam except that you have to go all year round. With the kind of negative influence these kids can give you in and outside of school these days, we worry for you if you attend regular day school. Yes it will be tough at first but just like your mom and dad before you, we are sure you will get along fine. Hang on there kid!