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Thursday, April 30, 2009

So much to blog about, so little time

There are so many things that I want to blog on. Unfortunately, time constraint left me without the opportunity to finish what I started. Oft-times, I would find myself blogging about something, and later unable to finish the posting. I could only finish the posting later, and as a result, there are times I would post the entry a few days later than planned.

I guess, in this instance, it's better late than never.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Personal space and time

I am trying to put my life in order. I have been obliging to a lot of things that I now feel that I really need to be better organised. Office work, studies, lecturing, talking engagements, creative writing "obligations" and last but certainly not least, family responsibilities are different facets of my life.

I need to slot another item in that list.

Space and time for myself. But personally, I don't see that possible anytime soon.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Health matters

My wife was discharged on Wednesday from the hospital. Her condition has improved but she is not 100% well yet. She was diagnosed as having pneumonia, bronchitis and sinusitis. Apparently the sinusitis may be the cause for her infections.

On Monday, we'll be going back to the hospital for follow-ups. One of the specialists she will have to see is an ENT specialist. The specialist will examine the condition of her sinus and determine whether a surgery is necessary. If a surgery is necessary, then she'll have to be readmitted.

Let's pray for the best.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ludicrous plot

I don't watch that much television. For the past four days, since I've been spending time at the hospital, I have been "forced" to watch television as there is not much to be done anyway.

I have always been critical of Malaysian teledramas. Most of these dramas have ridiculous plots, poor acting and full of stereotypes. I wonder if script-writers actually do any research at all. And it's astonishing that the viewership for these programmes is high.

One teledrama that baffles me has this plot about a pair of twin girls who do not look alike. The technical term is of course fraternal twins, otherwise known as dizygotic twins or biovular twins - or simply, non-identical twins. What is ridiculous is how this drama depicts the reasoning behind the twins not being identical is because, wait for it, they are born 20 minutes apart!

For goodness sake! Can't the script-writer or director or producer check the facts first? They seem to be more interested in glamour more than anything else.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The power of dreams

I received a YM message from my colleague who is in Tokyo. Today, one of the items on the agenda is a visit to Honda. Had I been on that trip, this would be the highlight for me.

Anyway, what intrigues me is that there is only one foreigner working at the Honda factory. And he is a Malay Muslim Malaysian. Who would have thought?

I guess this achievement by the Malaysian befits Honda's tagline, "The power of dreams".

Hot vanilla

I have been spending my nights at the hospital since my wife is warded. Since this started, I have acquired a liking for a particular drink.

Hot vanilla.

I have never tried hot vanilla before in my life. Not many outlets have this drink. At the cafe on the ground floor of this hospital, there is hot vanilla. I gave it a shot. The verdict? Hot vanilla, I like.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Entry's reaction

I did not anticipate that my entry entitled "Promises and Hypocrites" would generate the kind of attention it did. A number of people thought that I directed the entry towards them, and sent apology messages.

I admit that I wrote the entry with a particular person in mind. But this person, as far as I know, does not blogroll. Even if he does, I doubt that he gets the message.

Anyhow, I didn't mean for anyone else to terasa with what I wrote. If anyone did, I apologised. Let's just take the entry as a friendly reminder to each and everyone of us.

When it rains, it pours

I was supposed to leave for Japan last Wednesday. Alas, we can only plan but it is Allah who wills for something to happen.

A day before the scheduled trip, my father had difficulty breathing. When my mother called, I rushed home and took him to a specialist hospital. The doctor at the Accident and Emergency Department found his heart's rhythm rather odd, and referred my father to a cardiologist. After some further tests, it was found that my father has bronchitis. He was warded for two days.

I immediately cancelled my trip to Japan. I had to prioritise, and family has to come first. Also, at the same time, I was not feeling 100 percent myself. I had high fever, which fortunately lasted only until Thursday.

My father was discharged on that Thursday afternoon, and has to continue with his medication at home. During this time, my wife has been complaining of some breathing difficulty. And today, when she was in school, she called me up telling me that she couldn't breath properly.

I rushed to her school, and brought her to the same specialist hospital. They did some tests, and she has pneumonia. Currently she is warded, and will probably be out in five days time.

I guess what they say is true, that when it rains, it pours. I pray that I be given the strength during this time.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Promises and hypocrites

When I was in Glasgow, one of the masjids that I frequented for prayers was the Dawat-ul-Islam or Oakfield Avenue Masjid situated at Oakfield Avenue which is very near the University of Glasgow. The masjid is more popularly known to students as the University Mosque for obvious reasons. It is just a small renovated tenement flat which definitely serves its purpose.

Anyway, I am not blogging about the masjid per se. It's just that I remembered that this masjid used to have (not sure anymore though) selected verses from the Quran put up on its many pillars. One particular verse that stuck in my head until today is from verse 2 of Surah as-Saff (61) which is translated thus:
O ye who believe, why do you say that which you do not do?
I find this verse drives home the message of the importance of keeping promises. It is sad when someone who supposedly have knowledge and is well-respected ended up breaking promises. To me, why promise something that you can't keep? Why say something that you are not certain that you'll be able to deliver? In Islam, it is hypocritical for someone to break their promises.

Unfortunately, in our life, we tend to come across these people. I, for one, have been promised a lot of things by a certain someone. Until now, most of what were promised remained just that - empty promises and hollow words.

Tell me, if you were in my position, what would you do?

Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair 2009

It's that time of the year again when bookphiles all over the country converge to Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur for the annual Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair (KLIBF). This year marks the 28th year for the book fair, and will take place from 17th to 26th April 2009.

I never miss the opportunity to visit KLIBF every year. Unfortunately this year, I will be away for most of the book fair's duration. I will only return from my Japan working trip on the 22nd, and I hope that I'll have the chance to catch the tailend of the book fair.

For those who happen to have some spare time, do visit the book fair. I'm sure you'll find something there that is of interest.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lecturing experience

I delivered my last lecture to the group of students from the Academy of Islamic Studies, Universiti Malaya whom I have been teaching this semester. Teaching this lot has turned out to be the best experience for me thus far. I wish them all the best in their exams and their future undertakings.

During the upcoming short semester, I will return to lecturing at the Faculty of Science. This time around, my subject happens to be the faculty's compulsory subject and must be taken by all first year science students. I have been informed that there are more than 300 students taking this subject.

I hope I'll live up to the challenge of lecturing the subject that many people seem to dread - "Philosophy and History of Science".

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Deadlines, deadlines!

I have three big deadlines coming up in the next few months.

The first three chapters of my PhD thesis will be due at the end of May.

The manuscript for the sequel to Transgenesis: Bisikan Rimba is due at the end of July, but the editor also said that if possible, they hope that I could get it ready by the end of May.

The manuscript for my entry for Sayembara Fiksyen Sains dan Teknologi UTM-Kumpulan Utusan has to be ready by the end of August.

I think I need to take some time off to get these things done.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Fed up with dial-up.

Tired with wifi.

Now, I've migrated to using wimax.

My first reaction?

Amat laju!

[Translation: Very fast!]

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Salted egg crab

I had a craving for salted egg crab yesterday. One of the best restaurants that had this on their menu is Cheng Ho.

Cheng Ho is a restaurant that specialises in Chinese Islamic seafood located at Wangsa Maju and owned by Amy, the well-known rocker of the famed rock band, Search. I was introduced to this restaurant late last year. While the price may be on the high side, the meals prepared, to me, are very delicious. And salted egg crab is my favourite dish there.

So, after work yesterday, I went to the restaurant. They open for lunch (until 2.15 p.m. if I'm not mistaken), and reopen again at 6.15 p.m. for dinner. I arrived just before opening time. The restaurant was still closed, but I could see from the outside that the staff were having a briefing. Before the briefing began, there was a recitation of the doa. I said to myself, "How very Islamic!" What I saw really impressed me. Not many restaurants I know perform a short prayer before they are opened. This is, to me, an effort, on the part of the owner and staff to ensure that their efforts are blessed by Allah SWT.

This little effort on the part of the restaurant staff only served to increase my confidence in their service. And I have to say that the salted egg crab was tasty. If anyone ever got a chance to stop by Cheng Ho, make sure that you order the salted egg crab.

[Cheng Ho, or Zheng He, was of course a Muslim Chinese admiral assigned by the Emperor of China to establish relationship with the Sultanate of Melaka during the 15th century].

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Working trip

I will be leaving for Japan next Wednesday for about seven days. The whole trip is packed with meetings and study visits. Among the places that I'll be going to are Takushoku University, Tokyo Science University, Hollywood Digital University, Meiji University, Meiji High School and Honda.

This will be my first trip to Japan, and I hope that it will be an eye-opener and good experience for me, insya-Allah.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Tiring affair

This morning, I left for Shah Alam to attend two meetings at Universiti Teknologi MARA. The first was a breakfast meeting with Professor Dr Abu Bakar Abdul Majeed, the Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy. This was followed by the university's Research Ethics Committee of which I am a member. The meeting ended at close to 1 o'clock.

I immediately drove to Universiti Malaya for another meeting to discuss an upcoming international workshop scheduled to be held in July. By the time I got back to the office, it was already 5 o'clock.

I must say that attending meetings can be a tiring affair. My body and mind are very exhausted. I hope I can sleep early tonight.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Promotional trailer

It's finally here. After putting up the teaser in December, here is the finished product: The promotional trailer for my science fiction novel, Transgenesis: Bisikan Rimba.

What do you think?

Challenge of a postgraduate student

When I enrolled for my PhD course three semesters ago, one of the requirements for completing the PhD is to publish in refereed journals. There are many refereed journals around, and I don't see that as a problem.

The latest requirement is that postgraduate students must publish in ISI journals which are highly cited worldwide. This poses a challenge for postgraduate students as getting published in ISI journals is not easy.

I am in the middle of identifying which journal to send my article to. Hopefully, things will work out, insya-Allah.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Campus life

Truth be told, I have never stayed on campus during my undergraduate studies in Glasgow. Sometimes, when I think about it, I do regret not having the experience of living on campus.

On Thursday evening, I was a panellist in a forum organised by the students of Applied Science with Islamic Studies held at the Academy of Islamic Studies, Universiti Malaya. The forum was lively, so much so it ended at 11.30 p.m. instead of the scheduled 10.30 p.m., and by the time I left the university campus, it was already 12.15 a.m.

That was the first time that I left the university at that hour. And I was surprised to see campus life at night is very lively with activities. I could see students associations having their meetings. And there were also students who were studying and writing up assignments within the faculty's building. Outside, I was surprised to see a student jogging!

I guess there is never a dull moment on campus. And that's what I missed.

[For a brief review of the forum, read this entry].

Friday, April 03, 2009

Say it as it is

People say that those born in the year of the tiger has a short temper. I was born in that year. When I was a young boy, I used to have a very short temper. I would easily snap at people and if I remember correctly, I was quite fierce.

Later, when I got into secondary school, I have learnt to keep my temper at bay. I don't recall ever losing my temper when I was in my teens.

Since my schooling years, I have managed, more or less, to control my anger. Yes, there have been occasions when I had to vent out my anger out of frustration mainly. But more often than not, many people who know me would probably have never seen me angry.

But I guess, things will have to change somewhat from now on.

Lately, I have been getting severe bouts of migraine almost every day. You could see the veins popping up on my forehead when I have these migraine attacks. When I checked my blood pressure, it is quite high. And I have been advised by my doctor that I should not hold back when something is bothering me.

I have seen many cultures in my life. Malaysians, in particular Malays, have always been "courteous" and unwilling to show their displeasure out of respect and out of fear that they would offend others. Americans are well-known to be direct and honest in giving their opinions. Arabs are almost similar. When I was in Egypt, I witnessed that if they don't like something, they will say it, but once they said their piece, they don't hold any grudge.

I have been advised to just say my piece. Never mind if others are "offended" or if they want to sulk later on. And I must admit, I am feeling slightly better after doing this. No more sugarcoating my words or trying to play diplomat.

From now on, I will say it as it is.

Too bad if you can't take it.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Credit where it's due

No doubt, many people have complaints about Malaysia's counter services in various government departments. Rarely though we hear people praising these services when they perform. But I believe that credit should be given where and when it is due.

I had to go to the Immigrations Department today to renew my passport for upcoming overseas trips. I arrived at the department's Wangsa Maju branch at around 11 a.m. with all the necessary documents. I was given a number and less than 10 minutes later, my number was called up. The officer at the counter was pleasant and courteous, and the whole process was completed in around five minutes. Five minutes later, I paid the fees for the passport renewal and was told that the passport would be ready in an hour's time. True enough, one hour later, the passport is ready to be picked up.

I have to admit that the visit to the Immigrations Department at Wangsa Maju was very pleasant and hassle-free. The officers were always smiling and spoke courteously. They entertained my queries professionally. The service rendered was efficient and prompt.

I hope that all other counter services in all government departments (as well as banks) are as professional, efficient and courteous.

Last week at a seminar

Last Thursday and Friday, I was busy at the Universiti Malaya. I was involved in the organisation of a seminar on Islam and science in civilisational development. In spite of the problem with my voice (and overall health), I spoke three times. The first was during the opening ceremony representing my organisation which was one of the co-organisers. The second was when I presented my paper during the first session. And the third time was during the closing ceremony on Friday.

It was one of the best seminars that I have ever attended. The discussions were lively and there were a lot of information for the participants. All in all, I have to say that the seminar was very successful.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


If life is a journey, we'll have to decide which route to take. There are times that we have difficulties in deciding once reaching a crossroad. And usually, once the decision has been made, there is no turning back.

I have come across major crossroads in my life before. Almost each time, I had taken risks, venturing into the road less travelled. Alhamdulillah, so far, each decision I made (no matter how crazy or irrational they may seem then), have turned out well.

I am yet again standing at a crossroad. In actuality, I don't have to make this decision today. In fact, I don't really have to decide for another year.

I have one aim that I want to achieve in my life. But I don't foresee that happening just yet. I have given myself until 2013 to achieve that aim. But what if, opportunity were to present itself early? What if I now have that option to achieve that personal aim much earlier? Should I go for it? Or should I stick to the schedule?

For the time being, I am still weighing my options. I will not make a hasty decision. Nevertheless, the decision will have to be made.

I pray that whatever decision I make, it will be for the best.