Thursday, October 29, 2009

The bridge of death


This picture of the suspension bridge across the Kampar River at the Kuala Dipang Curriculum centre, Kampar, Perak was taken on October 12, 2009 at 11.42 am. Who could have predicted that the bridge would collapse 15 days later as the picture below shows?



On Monday night (October 26, 2009) the bridge, which was opened a month ago, gave way. The 22 pupils on the overpass were plunged into the river. Nineteen were rescued from the river while three girls drowned.

They were among nearly 300 pupils attending a 1Malaysia unity camp. Another tragedy, another round of gloomy introspection.

Will we ever learn from our past disasters?

The usual calls for investigation have kept the newspapers busy. What's the use of making noises about safety and security? You and I know that we don't take these things seriously.

I am reminded of an observation made by the late Syed Hussein Alatas: "Malaysia has no awareness of standards." This latest catastrophe is a further proof of the validity of his statement.

Photos courtesy of New Straits Times.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

An evening with Gary Thanasan

Popular businessman Dato' Gary Thanasan held a social gathering in celebration of Diwali at his residence in Petaling Jaya yesterday.

The above picture shows Gary, who is holding his daughter, with Prestige magazine editor Saleha Ali and journalists Yani (Bernama), Suraya (Life & Times editor) and Meena (Life & Times).


Miss Malaysia (Universe) 1990 and Mrs Malaysia (World) 2004 Dato' Anna Lim came with her husband Dato' Jeffrey Lim and their two children.

The friendly pair sportingly posed for a picture.


Yani baked Gary, a former radio and TV show host, a classic dessert -- buttery rich Pineapple Upside Down Cake -- which brought back many childhood memories.

She is pictured here with Meena, who came to the party in her usual Bollywood style.

It was really a nice evening!

Thank you Gary!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Zen Prescription

zenhabits (simple productivity) is one of the Top 100 blogs in the world.

It also happens to be one of my favourite blogs.

Its entries or posts seek to find "simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives".

The message is to "focus on what's important, create something amazing, find happiness".

It is the perfect pick-me-up when you feel down.

Check it out here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Night falls in Kuala Lumpur


This image of the Kuala Lumpur Tower (foreground) and the Petronas Twin Towers (background) was taken by journalist Jehan Mohd from Maybank Tower in Kuala Lumpur City last month.

Isn't it interesting how everything looks different at night?

Take this view of the city, for example.

What happened to the grime, congestion and pollution?

Night-time covers a multitude of sins.

It hides the real situation or facts when these are not good or pleasant.

As one unknown source puts it, "night is the blotting paper for many sorrows".

From the Talmud comes this warning: "Never greet a stranger in the night, for he may be a demon."

While Somerset Maugham notes that "in the country the darkness of night is friendly and familiar, but in a city, with its blaze of lights, it is unnatural, hostile and menacing.

"It is like a monstrous vulture that hovers, biding its time."

If the black of the night sky inspires fear as we are likely to feel when power failures blacked out various sections of the city, it is also conducive to contemplation.

Although "fear (and grief) can keep us up all night long," notes another unknown source, "faith makes one fine pillow".

Those who lead a life of prayer and contemplation believe that the secrets of the divine are revealed at night-time.

It is the time when they feel closest to their creator and spiritual obligations take on a whole new meaning.

Khalil Gibran urges us to celebrate the night because "one may not reach the dawn save by the path of the night".

An African proverb comments in a similar vein:" However long the night, the dawn will break."

NOTE: For more night quotes, go to this website.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The genius of Shunya Susuki


Japanese creativity teacher Shunya Susuki is a man of unusually great artistic ability.

His wide-ranging creations which include solar electric cars, kites of unusual designs, sculpture of women and computer graphics animation reveal a highly-inventive mind.

His recently completed Jang Geum Robot (see picture) is remarkable for its resemblance to Korean actress Lee Young Ae, who played historical figure Dae Jang Geum in the popular 2003 television series produced by South Korean television channel Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation.

The robot will bow with a smile when it meets a person.

Susuki's creative endeavours display a commitment of time, energy and resources which is very
encouraging to those who wish to hone their artistic skills.

Some would call him a creative genius and I think that description is apt.

Oxford Advanced Learner's dictionary ( Seventh Edition) defines a genius as a person of
unusually great intelligence, skill or artistic ability.

But can anyone be a genius?

Yes, if we accept Edward Said's explanation of what makes a genius.

"The essential thing about the actual works of genius is that they hide or eliminate all the traces
of the labour that went into them.

"Rather than trying to retrace the massive effort that went into the work's making, we ascribe
everything to 'genius', as if genius was a magic wand, or a secret chemical formula.

"This rather lazy idea of genius as something both final and beyond normal comprehension
sentimentalises, obscures, venerates what it should instead be studying with profit to everyone:
namely, the fact that genius is more a remarkable devotion to work, to patience, to slogging away
at a problem or a task than it is simply a matter of having a devastating flash of divine inspiration.

"There's no way of doing without the inspiration, of course.

"But that's less important than what the genius makes of it, through exhaustive work and an
obsessive attention to detail, going on for years and years.

"Patience is as important a virtue as ingenuity, perhaps even more so.

"Every genius works hard, though not everyone who perspires is a genius. The qualities that a
genius has include a certain incomparable elegance and inevitability: these take one's breath
away immediately."

Edward Said, the late Palestinian intellectual, may well be describing Susuki, who believes that
an individual is blessed with his or her own talent.

It is a matter of discovering what it is and taking it as far as you want to go.

The choice is yours.

NOTE: Read "Creative Genius" for more on Shunya Susuki.
Photo of Shunya Susuki and his Jang Geum Robot was taken by Maki Inoue
from The
Nishinippon Newspaper.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Remembering Aslam


My dear nephew,

It has been a week since you were taken away from us.

We miss you.

Yes, death is inevitable, we accept that.

Still, the grief lingers on.

Time is a great healer, they say.

But we will never forget you.

We are glad that you had a full life.

And we will remember that when we think of you.

Al Fatihah