Saturday, March 31, 2007

Maulid-ur-rasool 1428 H

12 Rabiul Awal 1428 H, bersamaan 31 March 2007, Sabtu, hari memperingati kelahiran (maulid, that is the birth ) Nabi Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam.

Nasheed popular Maulidur Rasul in malaysia:

Junjungan Mulia

( 1 )
Tercipta satu lembaran sejarah
Di tanah suci Kota Mekah
Hari yang mulia penuh saa'adah
Bermulalah sebuah kisah

( 2 )
Malam isnin subuh yang indah
Dua belas rabiul'awal yang cerah
Dua puluh april tahun gajah
Lahirlah zuriat yang saa'adah

Abdullah nama bapanya
Siti Aminah ibunya
Riang gembira menyambutnya
Lahirnya putra yang utama

( ulang 1 & 2 )

Muhammad nama diberi
Gelaran yang terpuji
Nikmat Illahi sama disyukuri
Terima putra yang berbakti

( ulang 1 & 2 )

Keadaan yatim anak mulia
Lahirnya bawa cahaya
Alam derita jadi gembira
Terima junjungan mulia

( ulang 1 & 2 )

Translation to the nasheed:

It has been created this history,
At the holy land of Makkah
What a holy day full of happiness
This tale thus began.

On the Monday eve, on an enchanting dawn
On a bright day of 12 Rabiul Awal
20 April, in the Year of Elephant,
A child was born, such happiness

Abdullah was his father's name
Siti Aminah was his mother
Full of joy and happiness at his birth
On receiving a remarkable son

Muhammad was his given name
The most praised one that is the meaning
All were very grateful to Allah's blessings
On receiving a son full of good deeds

Raised as an orphan this holy son
His birth radiated lights
The gloomy world became glorious
On receiving the holy one

Zanji maulid:

Sallallahu Ala Muhammad
Sallallahu Alayhi Wassalam
Sallallahu Ala Muhammad
Sallallahu Alayhi Wassalam

Yaa Nabi Salaam 'alaika
Yaa Rasul Salaam 'alaika
Yaa Habib Salaam 'alaika
Salawaatu'llah 'alaika

Ashraqa'l Badru 'alaina
Fakhtafat Minhu'l Buduru
Mithla Husnika Maa Ra'aina
Qattu Yaa Wajhas-Suroori

Anta Shamsun Anta Badrun
Anta Noorun Fawqa Noori
Anta Ikseerun wa Ghaali
Anta Misbaahu's-Sudoori

Yaa Habibee Yaa Muhammad
Yaa 'Arusa'l Khaafiqayni
Yaa Muayyad Yaa Mumajjad
Yaa Imama'l Qiblataini

Man-ra'aa Wajhaaka Yas'ad
Yaa Kareem al-Waalidaini
Hawdhuka's-Saafi'l Mubarrad
Wirdunaa Yawm an Nushoori

Translation to the zanji:

May Allah's blessings be on Muhammad,
May Allah's blessings and peace be on him.
May Allah's blessings be on Muhammad,
May Allah's blessings and peace be on him

Salutations on you, O Prophet
Salutations on you, O Messenger of Allah
Salutations on you, O Beloved
Blessings of Allah be upon you.

A full moon rises over us
The other moon disappears
We never saw the like of your beauty
O face of gladness

You are the sun, you are the moon
You are light upon lights
You are gold and even more priceless
You are the light of hearts

O my beloved, O Muhammad
O star of east and west
O supporter, O praised one
O leader of both Qiblas

Whoever sees your face, gets happiness
O the kind one to both parents
Your clear and cool fountain
Is our goal on the Day of Reckoning

Monday, March 26, 2007

25th March: Elton John turned 60 and PDRM 200 years old

Her bitchiness, Sir Elton John, on the 60th birthday

May the queen of tart, bitches, drags, trannies, poofs and fairies, Sir Elton John be blessed with more love and happiness: with his love, David Furnish, more killer songs, lovely faux hairdo, flamboyant dresses and perhaps to remain as the only gay in the Windsor village (yeah, tell that to Daffyd (Matt Lucas) of Little Britain, that pompous and self-absorbed Welsh poof). He's still standing , still can feel the love tonight, still partying coz thats what friends are for....

For the man who sold more than 250 million records around the world, we salute you.

200 years PDRM

The Royal Malaysia Police Force, or known locally as Polis DiRaja Malaysia, PDRM has just celebrated its 200 years anniversary. From what I was told by those policemen at Balai Polis Kajang, the 200 years was marked by the 1st police force brought over to Penang shore in 1807 by the British colonials (more on the history, click here). It was documented however that the Malay kingdom has formed a security force way before that, i.e during the Melaka Empire in the 14th century all the way to Johore and other states sultanates.

The PDRM symbol still embodies the British Empire symbol of the British Royalty Crown, similar to the Royal Malaysia Army force, TDRM.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Times Featuring: London Calling

From Times OnlineMarch 13, 2007 (click here for article source)

London calling

It’s cool, classy, cosmopolitan — and it should secede from the UK. Business Editor James Harding on why London is the new capital of the world. Do you think he is right? Post your views using the form below James Harding (this part is meant for posting on The Times only).

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine bought a one bedroom flat in Chalcot Square in Primrose Hill, London NW1. He paid £480,000 — just less than one million dollars. As I was living in the States at the time and flabbergasted by the price, he explained: “Chalcot Square is the best place in Primrose Hill, which is the nicest part of London, which is the coolest city on earth.” Location, location, location. “This is the best property on the planet.”

In fact, he was a few miles off. The most prized piece of real estate on God’s green earth has a view of the Serpentine rather than of Joan Bakewell’s living room. The Candy brothers, two upmarket property developers, have started selling flats at Number One Hyde Park for £4,200 a square foot. That means £84 million — $164 million — for a nice, roomy apartment.

Why? Because London is, indeed, the coolest city on earth. The capital of the world. New York, like Paris, has become a mini-break destination, a playground for grown-ups who enjoy the same standard tourist menu: a walk around Central Park; a shopping trip in SoHo; an entertaining, if unsurprising, show on Broadway; and a very large steak.

The world loves a long weekend in New York but, these days, prefers to make its home in London. New York has the nostalgia, London the future. New York defines the metropolitan, London the cosmopolitan.

And the reason for this is that foreigners in New York are, always, just that. The city treats even its long-term residents from abroad as visitors, welcomed on to the cocktail circuit, perhaps even to a share of a house in the Hamptons, but never to the power-broking tables at the Four Seasons. “New York is always American,” says Bill Roedy, the American who has spent the past 15 years in the UK running MTV world-wide. “Like Paris is French, Moscow is Russian, New York is American.”

London, on the other hand, is passport-blind. It does not have the luxury of being the de facto capital of a continental economy. So, it is international: it treats its visitors as citizens, as players.

Consider Chelsea Football Club, owned by a Russian, managed by a Portuguese and made great by a striker from the Ivory Coast. The Yankees may sign up a third baseman from the Dominican Republic or a pitcher from Japan, but the management is born in Brooklyn.

The men who run two of Britain’s largest mobile phone operators — Vodafone and Orange — are US-educated Indians. The world’s biggest mining companies, run by an American woman and two Australian men, have their headquarters in London.

In January, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French presidential candidate, came to London to chase the votes of young advertising executives and derivatives traders who had quit Paris. Last week, the head of the Democratic National Committee’s fundraising efforts came to the British capital, too, eager to tap up American expats willing to contribute to the 2008 campaign.

The mandarins of New York are currently gripped by a bout of Woody Allen-style neurosis, fretting that the city’s stature as the capital of world capitalism is being sapped by London. Last year, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and the New York senator Chuck Schumer commissioned McKinsey, the management consultants, to examine why international financial business was drifting away from Manhattan. And it suggests that their paranoia is justified.

In business terms, London’s claim to be the world’s favourite marketplace is not just a boast, it’s a statistic: the report found that in the past five years international companies have not been choosing to list on the New York stock exchanges but to float their businesses in London. In 2001 the US accounted for 57 per cent of all stock market flotations over $1 billion — otherwise known as initial public offerings (IPOs). By 2006 this had fallen to 16 per cent. In the same period, Europe’s share of the world’s big IPOs had risen from 33 per cent to 63 per cent.

Small companies as well as big ones have been choosing London. The Alternative Investment Market, which is where start-ups tend to go to sell their shares in the UK, listed 870 new companies in the five years since 2001, while Nasdaq, the market for new ventures in the US, listed 526.

Just to be clear, IPOs account for only a fraction of the investment banking business. New York still has much more money flowing through it than London. The financial stock of America’s business capital, which means the amount of money that flows through it in shares, debt and bank deposits, was $51 trillion in 2005. In Europe as a whole it was $38 trillion.

But London has the momentum. “By any of a number of measures, New York still dominates,” says Jim Burton, who used to be in charge of one of America’s largest pension funds and moved to London in 2002 to run the World Gold Council. “But from the perspective of where financial business growth seems to be heading, London does have a ‘buzz’ . . . the Russian, Chinese and Indian business moguls are not flocking to New York. [London] seems like the more vibrant place to be.”

London already leads New York in some new and growing areas of business, such as certain kinds of derivatives. The big boom industry in US financial services over the past decade has been securitisation, which involves the pooling of different kinds of debt to be sold on to other investors. It is reaching saturation point in New York but just taking off in London.

The significance of the surge in new foreign listings in London is twofold. One, the growth in financial business these days is not home-grown but cross-border. Two, when a company comes to market it is not the end of a cycle of business, it is the beginning: new share issues, share buybacks, debt finance and mergers and acquisitions can all flow from that first IPO.

London’s financial workforce has been growing while New York’s has been shrinking — the City added 13,000 jobs between 2002 and 2005, expanding by 4.3 per cent to bring London’s total financial labour market to 318,000, while New York’s slipped back 0.7 per cent to 328,000. If the trend continues, at the end of next year there will be more people working in finance in London than in New York.

Wall Street has blamed the resurgence of London on regulation, immigration laws and the tax regime for foreign residents. There is some truth to this. After a spate of high-profile corporate collapses, Congress passed a set of new corporate governance rules known as Sarbanes-Oxley that made the whole business of operating a company in the US a lot more tiresome. Foreign companies used to consider a New York listing a badge of honour. In the past three years, many have come to see it as an unnecessary bother. They have come to London instead. (The UK has also done a good job of making the Financial Services Authority a selling point of doing business in London: while New York is governed by a rules-based regulatory regime in a litigious country that is susceptible to frivolous lawsuits, London’s regulators operate a principles-based system that has an altogether lighter touch.)

In the wake of the September 11terrorist attacks, Washington also tightened its borders. The visa restrictions have stopped many foreign scientists, mathematicians and economists from travelling to the US. The UK’s relatively open borders have become a competitive advantage. The tax regime in the UK has also played a part, but a less important one than many people think. The lenient treatment of nondomiciled residents — typically, very wealthy people who buy homes in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea but claim that their real “home” is elsewhere — has added to the lure of London. But, according to the private bankers at HSBC in St James’s, a Russian oligarch gets as good, if not better, tax terms in Moscow as he does in London.

But more than these technicalities, what matters is geography: London is the centre of the world.

From London it is possible to work a normal day and talk to Tokyo in the morning and Los Angeles in the afternoon. A businessman can get on a plane from Moscow and be in London in five hours, from Bom-bay in seven, even from Beijing in nine. This is one of the reasons why, over the past 25 years, London has turned itself into an international marketplace while New York has remained essentially a domestic financial capital.

The other factor is history. Since the late 1970s London, once the capital of a trading empire, has transformed itself into the hub of the foreign exchange markets. It became the place for European companies to borrow money, the home of the Eurobond. And in the past decade it has extended itself beyond the Continent to companies from India, Russia and China.

London’s restoration is fragile and Washington’s missteps compared with Westminster’s adroit handling of regulation and immigration have made a difference. But there is, if you like, some manifest destiny to London’s resurgence in the age of globalisation.

Deep inside the Bank of England there is a room where the directors meet around a huge, oval mahogany table. The Courtroom is, frankly, a vulgar neoclassical eyesore — but despite the pretentious opulence and faux history of the place, one thing is authentic: the weathervane.

High on the western wall of the room, this clock-face tells which way the wind is blowing. Historically, an east wind would bring the merchant ships up the Thames and, with them, a surge in business. A west wind would prompt the merchants to set sail and the bankers to rein in credit.

The point is that London has long been sensitive to the trade winds. More than that, it has been adept at exploiting changes in the tide and the climate for its own commercial gain. And in recent years it has swollen thanks to this openness to foreign merchants, who have sailed in because they are fed up with the pernickety, litigious culture in the US, or because the City is a short hop from their homes in Moscow and Bombay, or simply because they like the safety on the streets, the serenity in the parks, the quality of schools for their children and the choice of restaurants.

British cuisine, once a contradiction in terms, has become such a hot ticket that you need to book nearly a month in advance to eat a plate of offal at St John on the weekend.

London has qualities: geography, history, culture and, more than that, a grudging embrace of all comers. Within a short walk from Trellik Tower in West London you can find a coffee, a cheese sandwich and a custard pie from Lisbon that make you feel as though you are in a provincial Portuguese café; you can eat a plate of steamed dumplings from the Royal China that would satisfy a discerning Shanghainese; a steaming, home-cooked nabemono at Inaho that could come from the Ginza; not to mention a great Indian at Malabar, a fine Lebanese at Fairuz and all that groovy Asian fusion stuff at E&O in Notting Hill.

A weekend in London is like a world’s greatest hits of city living: an English breakfast at Tom’s on Westbourne Grove, a morning spent browsing vintage Americana on Portobello Road, an afternoon watching the best French footballers at Arsenal, Chekhov at the Royal Court or Puccini at the English National Opera, Irish oysters at Sheekey’s for dinner, then out clubbing with the Russians at Annabel’s or the royals at Boujis (I’m making this up now). The next morning, a Spanish string quartet at the Wigmore Hall, a proper Sunday lunch, then a sleepy stroll past the Renoirs at the National Gallery.

No question, all this takes money. A lot of it. Much more than most Londoners have. But the capital’s claim to global leadership is not, sadly, because it is an example of equality. In terms of equal opportunities and the income gap, London has nothing to crow about. It has an alarmingly high level of unemployment — 8 per cent — and the wealth gap is wide and widening.

It’s hard to say which personality, New Yorker or Londoner, is preferable — the ballsy versus the stoic, the gruff versus the curmudgeonly, the sharp-tongued versus the quick-witted. But the real difference between the two is this: New Yorkers come from the five boroughs; Londoners from the five continents. They are Poles, Pakistanis, Brazilians, Americans, Nigerians and more. There are, it is said, 300 languages spoken in London.

London is absurdly expensive. New Yorkers point out that the cost of living in their city is nearly half what it is here. Yet Charles Alexander, who is in charge of the UK operations of General Electric, America’s biggest company, says of his American colleagues in London: “They don’t want to leave.” They like the life, the schools, the style of the city.

None of this means that London’s future preeminence is predestined. Last month London First, which lobbies government on behalf of the city, convened a meeting of top bankers, lawyers and policymakers to consider how to respond to New York’s concerns about its competitiveness — for the Bloomberg/Schumer report was not so much an exercise in self-doubt as a political manoeuvre to ensure the repeal of much of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation and a loosening of the visa restrictions. The Big Apple is going to bite back.

Bob Wigley, who runs Merrill Lynch in London, was at the meeting. His chief concern, he says, is complacency. London needs to worry about its transport infrastructure (in particular the long-stalled construction of Crossrail); it needs to be vigilant about its tax regime and defend its system of regulation. But, more than that, Wigley gives warning that “London needs to look east, towards the competition coming from Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong”.

Many see the real test of London’s future in its ability to cement commercial relationships with countries to the east of Europe — in particular, to make it the destination of choice for companies from India and Russia. But if the City can replicate what it has done for Europe in the subcontinent and the former Soviet Union, then its place as the world’s capital of free capital will be assured for a long time to come.

In September 2002, Paul Auster wrote in The New York Times about his city’s relationship with the rest of the country: “Alone among American cities, New York is more than just a place or an agglomeration of people. It is also an idea.” New York is the de facto capital of America and still a beacon to people around the world. But London has become an idea, too, and not as a refuge for huddled masses but as the most desirable address for global elites. For them, the argument between New York and London is done. They are just left quibbling over the preferred postcode: NW1 or SW1, Regent’s Park or Hyde Park.

Time for passports to Pimlico?

We Londoners are such a humble, self-effacing lot that it would never cross our minds to mention the unthanked-for kindnesses that we do the people of Britain every day.

But if the provincials get too sniffy about London and those absurd politicians keep on insisting that the Palace of Westminster should be moved to Bradford, then there is an answer: secession.

After all, Londoners give the provinces much more than the provinces give Londoners. The capital generates about £80 billion a year in taxes, and roughly £18 billion of that goes to support the rest of the country. So if Londoners were feeling particularly bumptious, they could start running an advertising campaign to ram the message home: a billboard in Burnley that read: “Your hip replacement — brought to you by the kind, hard-working people of London.” Or a TV ad in Exeter with the voiceover line: “Primary school education for your children — made possible by the diligence and innovation of those selfless people in the City.”

Indeed, we could go further. London has accounted for 20 per cent of the UK’s economic growth in the past decade. And when companies have moved their headquarters to the capital, they have chosen London over Paris or Frankfurt, or perhaps Madrid. They haven’t chosen London over Birmingham or Manchester. The location of big businesses to the City means that back office and auxiliary work is likely to go to some of the UK’s other cities. So there’s another line of possible advertising: “Good morning, Manchester — your jobs courtesy of London’s leadership.”

Of course, this may not go down that well and, having infuriated the country, Londoners may have little choice but to secede and become a city state that continues to operate in sterling while the rest of the country — the manufacturing hub — switches to the euro.

Some outside London may rather like this. They may suspect that they are currently being punished, in higher interest rates and taxes, for the excesses of London house prices and pay rises. And, free of its obligations to the rest of the country, London could finally get on with paying for what it so dearly needs: 1) proper investment in a functioning transport system, which means an upgrade and expansion of the Tube and a commitment to build Crossrail. 2), proper attention paid to the high unemployment rate in the capital and the stubbornly low levels of education in the city. And, 3) more affordable housing. Long live the People’s Republic of London. JAMES HARDING

The view from the North

London is a fantastic city. No one would argue with that. But it is also an arrogant, pampered and bloated city which has had all the odds stacked in its favour for decades and, actually, should be much better than it is.

Ah, but this is the trouble, you see. Criticise London as a northerner and everyone has you down as a chippy clog-wearer who eats coal for breakfast and is blinded by envy. But answer me this: if London is such a fabulous place to live, why does everyone always look so miserable? If it is so cultured, why do adults seem to have only two topics of conversation: 1) the awfulness of its state schools, and 2) the size of their mortgages?

The idea that London would be better off without the rest of the country is deluded. Why do so many young people flock there? It’s not because they want to pay £300 a week to rent a tiny room in a shared flat, but because this country is so Londoncentric that they have no option if they want good jobs. London is a succubus, drawing the talent out of the provinces — but many people, once they have children, can’t wait to get out.

London needs to realise that if Britain was like other countries, such as Spain and Italy, where provincial cities are not patronised, it might fare less well.

And it had better watch its back. The provinces are getting cooler and richer, so that, culturally at least, London is becoming less relevant. I won’t even dwell on that fact that the North West has produced the best pop music for the past 20 years. Or that it leads the field in comedy talent. Or that, proportionately, the number of new millionaires is rising faster there than in London. Suffice to say that the landscape is changing. CAROL MIDGLEY

‘NY is cheaper and more convenient’

The Londoner in New York Vicky Ward

Recently I had dinner with three British girlfriends at a bistro in the West Village in Manhattan. We were Amanda Foreman, the historian; Abigail Asher, a film art consultant; and Joanna White, a TV documentary-maker.

We are all married working mothers and have lived in New York for years now — Abigail for 20, myself for ten, Amanda probably for eight. Joanna has lived here on and off since she was 15. The inevitable question cropped up: would any of us return to England?

The consensus was: “Don’t be absurd.” New York is such a convenient city — everything is a five-minute walk or a 15-minute taxi ride away. And far cheaper than London. Ready-cooked meals arrive in five minutes; dry-cleaners collect and deliver your clothes the same day. Hairdressers come to your house. Computer technicians swing by to fix your e-mail. The pharmacies deliver cough drops for my children; and my new best friend Charles, the chief sales assistant at Ralph Lauren, sometimes drops off sale-reduced sweaters for me to try on at home if he thinks that I’m too busy to visit the store, which is all of two blocks away.

Don’t get me wrong. We all miss various aspects of England. I get a lump in my throat when I see photographs of friends’ children in wellies, playing in soggy fields.

Yet the irony is that London today seems vibrant and cosmopolitan thanks in large part to US influences, from Nobu to Starbucks.

London Fashion Week is slowly getting more ink, but the major British designers Luella Bartley, Matthew Williamson and Alice Temperley still have no choice but to show here. Wall Street money may be relocating to London; fashion and entertainment dollars are not. And even Wall Street dollars aren’t rushing that fast. London may have lots of investment banks and hedge funds but they are all branch offices. New York is HQ.

I have a feeling that Mayor Bloomberg will soon be retracting his comments about why London could replace New York as the centre of the world — and here is why.

What many Londoners might mistake for a failing in the Big Apple is one of New York’s greatest strengths: we have Haitian and Bangladeshi taxi drivers; yours are all English. London cannot shake its British habits.

New York is a genuine melting-pot, while London is several cities coexisting uncomfortably , like a bag of stoats. English London has very little to do with Russian London or American London or Arab London; stately-home England has very little to do with aspirational England. New York, by contrast, has such a powerful personality that it subsumes your other attachments and makes you something more: a New Yorker.

For all the hand-wringing in Davos and elsewhere about the evils of “income disparity”, at least in New York our billionaires pay taxes. A Russian resident not “domiciled” in London need give nothing back to the city.

Our mayor is a brilliant businessman and philanthropist; yours is not. And in New York, a true meritocracy, our billionaires underwrite the building of dozens of schools and libraries each year through charities such as Robin Hood, where wealthy board members pay all the administrative costs so that every penny raised goes to eradicating poverty in the city. Come, tired and poor and yearning — work; succeed; give back.

The other evening my husband and I attended a gala dinner to raise funds for the British Memorial Garden, a monument to honour the 67 British victims of the 9/11 terror attacks and to celebrate the friendship between the US and Britain. New York City’s Parks Commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said that New York had much to thank the British for, chiefly the fact that without them “we’d all be speaking Dutch”. Now, perhaps, London could learn a few more words from us.

Vicky Ward is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair

London has endless possibility’

The New Yorker in London Erica Wagner

I had a small dinner party on Saturday, so I headed off to Borough Market to shop. A bus along the sunny Thames to London Bridge and then in the thick of it, stalls selling everything delicious that you could imagine eating and more.

I bought gravadlax, Old Spot bacon and unpasteurised cheese; I bought steamed puddings and custard and I had coffee, standing on the cobbles, from the Monmouth Coffee Company. I was in heaven.

I headed home to make my supper; one of my guests was coming from Paris, which you might think was a big deal — but then it’s only two hours away by train, isn’t it?

Of course, London isn’t perfect. Borough Market is under threat from Network Rail ( — please sign the petition), and it’s fair to say that if I’d been in New York City I could have done my shopping at the Greenmarket in Union Square. But — and don’t get me wrong, I adore New York — it wouldn’t have been the same thing. And, yes, my friend could have come from Paris, too, but I reckon jet-lag might have taken the sparkle out of his conversation.

I left New York when I was about 18; I came to Britain to go to university and never went back home, as I admit I still think of it. I moved to London more than 12 years ago and don’t see myself leaving anytime soon.

There are many things about New York that I miss. I miss the Brooklyn Bridge. I miss Nathan’s hotdogs on the boardwalk at Coney Island. I miss the subway, which is cheap and clean and runs all night. I miss coffee cups that say It’s Our Pleasure to Serve You! in faux-Greek script, and I miss the Staten Island Ferry, which now doesn’t cost a dime. There are times when I wonder what the world and his wife are on about when they hymn the superiority of dirty old London over any other city. Not long ago there was a travel piece in The New York Times advising visitors to London on how to get a taste of the vibrant nightlife: go to Leicester Square, said the writer, at 11.30 on a Friday night. You what? Rejoice at the streets awash with puke! Chortle as you take a stinking night bus home! I ask you, as they say in New York.

And yet: here I am and here I remain. For London, as the great city’s great biographer, Peter Ackroyd, would tell you, allows of everything. In its disorder, in its sprawl, in its clutter and mess and ramshackle air, there is a sense of endless possibility, of secrets ever to be discovered. I don’t love London in the way I love New York, but London never ceases to fascinate me, perhaps because I know that I’ll always be a stranger here. But maybe everyone is a stranger in London; only London truly knows itself.

It fascinates me the more as it has changed over the years. They say now that London has the best restaurants in the world; I suppose that depends on what you are looking for and what your price range is. But it’s not Gordon Ramsay or Richard Corrigan that make me love London. It’s the breadth and spread of the place, its oddness, the fact that it is a city where wealth and poverty still coexist.

When I go back to New York I have a sense of a place that is now almost segregated by wealth. The Upper West Side, where I grew up, would no longer be affordable to people such as my parents were when I was growing up. Of course, London “gentrifies” too: the East End, where I live, has changed immensely since we moved there ten years ago. Yet to me London is still more socially mixed than New York; it’s harder to make assumptions about others, and people are more likely to have a wide, strange variety of friends than to move in small, safe circles.

London is a dainty place, a great and a gallant city; all the streets are paved with gold, and all the folk are witty . . . So goes a song I learnt years before I came here; and now I know it was sung with some irony a couple of centuries ago. But only some. I am glad to be a New Yorker — a New Yorker who lives in London.

Manal's own point of views:

I do miss London. I have like a bucketful of reasons why it's my second home after Malaysia (Bangi and Kuala Lumpur). One of them is that my mojo is definitely stronger there. Oh ok...and the myriad attribute of the city where there's always slums coexist with the posh areas, more races from around the world live in one big city, variety of food, clothes and shoes that I know i can fit in them almost perfectly, the unpretentious dirty areas, the different moods it offers every time u reach to a certain borough or zone, the narrow streets and what lies at every corner, the competitive transport network that allows u to cross the british isle's boarders into neighbouring continents, it's where almost every world religion is permitted to have and to build a worship centre at a significant size, bizzarre alleys, inhabitants dressing sense from the expensive boutiques to the council flats hippies, where punk still lives on, the many bridges from east to west, the funny feelings to see familiar strangers among the malay/malaysian communities where the integration is formed gradually and many2 more...I've been to many parts of the world, yet it seemed as if london gives me some breather, and kuala lumpur the haven for delicious halal food (asian, far east, middle east, western, woteva u name it, it's served halal).

I could go on and on, but lemme just do them bit by bit, little by little.

news round-up 2

Full bodied bikini (pic below) termed burquini which meant bikini in burqa style for muslimah (female muslim) swimmers/beach enthusiasts has been given the go at Cranulla Beach, Sydney, Australia. The first lady to don such costume is Mecca Laalaa, a lebanese-origin who has earned her lifeguard licence thanks to the new Australian Outreach program aiming at muslims in Australia. She is committed to wearing headscarf and modestly covered dresses but that has not stopped her to join those blonde, blue eyed and tanned Australian lifeguards. In an article featured on IHT (click here), one of Laalaa's drives to engage into such activity was related to educating the Australians on the muslim minority.

I'd say, let this bathing/swimming suit style go global. Even many hotels in malaysia impose a limited choice of dress code for anyone (especially their customers) who wishes to use the swimming pool facility. That suit looks rather similar to professional swimmer suit. The only other accessory one needs is a suitable swimming goggles as this burquini covers the head part too.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

First theatre I watch in KL

I went to see this free-entry theatre but with an advanced booking by my friend, Hawati, who is also an assistant registrar at this Faculty of Artistic and Creative Technology in UiTM. We gathered at the MTC next to Saloma Bistro down in Jalan Ampang for the show. There were all 6 of us booked under her name.

This theatre show entitled "Kalut" (loosely translated in english as worried and anxious in a haphazard way). The act and directing was done by the faculty students.

Poster photosource: kalut official blog

To me, this is the 1st ever Malaysian theatre show I have ever seen. I missed that Puteri Gunung Ledang Musical at Istana Budaya before because i didnt have a car yet that time. Unless they do matinee or early evening shows, I do need a transport to go back home since most of the shows finish around 11pm or that they did not give an approximate running time to it. Good thing i just learnt that there is a Bukit Nenas Monorail station just a walking distance from MTC.

(Speaking of public transport connection in KL: Depressing as in not every place has easy access to public transport including buses. It might be ok if u go out during the day time, but if u had to be somewhere or leaving somewhere in the late evening, chances are a bit slim for you to rely on a public transport. Nevertheless, it has been improving a LOT esp that this year is the Visit Malaysia Year.)

OK I digress.

Back to Kalut theatre. My honest review: 3 star for good attempt at theatre acting, 2 Star for the storyline, and overall: 3 star. I only laughed a bit. Surprisingly, most of the audience which consisted of the college students seemed to enjoy it very much based on the roaring laughters across the theatre hall. Sorry but i think most of the jokes are too Senario-malay typical corny slapstick jokes. I even found myself feeling a bit bored in the middle of the show. But that just me. I was probably got used to English (and american) humours that it probably didnt tickle me much. However, I was impressed at their ability to deliver the dialogues and their courage to stay in their character despite some audience cheers (and some jeers). I also noticed that since many of the audience were from the same faculty as those actors and actresses, 1 fella got more cheers than the rest of the cast simply due to his popularity. That i knew from hawati who told me that this student-actor, Fasyali Fadzli Saipul Bahri was not a stranger at all when it comes to stage performances especially on the acting and monologues. Never mind him being famous, I do think that he has displayed a promising talent in acting and I rate him the best actor among the cast.

All in all, I had a good time tonight. I am now looking forward for more theatre shows in the future around KL. If i can get someone to go with me, then it'd be cool. Otherwise, i probably end up going to a show on my own. Which is OK as well but of course, less fun.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Just some old PC jokes

1. Who would think Adobe Photoshop could assist a doctor's job, or more precisely, a radiologist job? I suppose it could hide some "bad" news.....If a model gets airbrushed to erase any skin flaws or making her thinner than real life, why not an X-Ray photofinish?

2. Thought that ESC button is only for aborting some pc job/command/ etc? It might give an inmate who is planning a breakout a certain sort of imagination.....

3. Careful what kind of password you wish to inscribe on creatinng a new web account. Especially not any word below 6 characters.


Oh and by the way, I got that DSL power surge from that G & B shop before the shop closed and it costed me RM 25 after a little more bargain as a regular customer. So far, it does work. I dunno whether it is a good idea on testing this new product during some heavy shower or not. An experiment sort of to see whether it does serve its purposes or not. Moreover, it is still under warranty period though. But at the mo, i'd like to have it as my first shield against any sudden lightning strike. And perhaps, right after that i'll just unplug my modem and continue with my work on the pc without internet connection. That would be the safest bet, i reckon so.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Wiz kid of OZ

Juat click on the image.

A pint of lager anyone...not me though, i am a tee-total, matey!

On a personal note: I have not been down under. Would love to do so one day.

Power Surge for DSL connection

Must. Get. That. DSL. Power. Surge.....U dont need to wait till the rain starts to pour in malaysia when the lightning can strike even 10, 20 mins before the shower hits the area. Last sunday was the hmmmm....dunno how many times....but last sunday was the WORST hit of all time ever since i am connected to the broadband in this country. Imagine the strong burning smell emitted from my old (Jaring supplied) Aztec modem. There was a little but distinctly sharp 'clack' noise and the modem is dead. I took precautions for my pc as it is connected to a SIRIM approved power surge cable. Now, I must connect the modem DSL phone line to an appropriate power surge specially customised for phone-to-modem connection purpose.

I just got back from G & B shop off taman reko, kajang and asked about this power surge. They have quoted its price: RM 26.00. Alas, i did not carry enough money with me, and so I just bought a new ADSL Aztec modem for RM 91.00.

The shop closes around 7 pm. Maybe I should go back to that shop later today to purchase that power surge item.

Previous post on broadband failure due to lightning strike here.

Friday, March 02, 2007


I like reading blogs. I began reading them back in 2003. Those early malaysian bloggers like The Reader, Organized Chaos are still continuously contributing their thoughts (or whatever form of entry) till today.

The number of blogs just kept increasing over the years. In September 2004, I started my own blog with the early intention as an online diary. I wasnt keen to let this blog go public in the beginning. Only towards mid-2005 or so did I have the courage to share my thoughts with other fellow bloggers. Through drbubbles and kakteh , I began my public blogging adventure. However, until now i still havent mustered enuf courage to share every single thought, day-to-day story basis, life experience and anything I consider personal within the blogosphere. The only nearest encounter for that matter is via leaving some comments on those blogs i frequent. By doing so, i may let out some bit of me without creating a blog entry.

I am friendly and easygoing by nature, but experience has taught me to become reserved. It is one of the ways i think that i can discipline myself to be careful not to be such an open book that i was before. I was misunderstood before and thus, the "eccentric one" title. I think i have been a complete individual, totally self-relying person since i was very, very young. My mum had me after 4 years of age gap between myself and my eldest sister. And just a year or so after that, I got another sister, and then 3 yrs after that, another sister, and then 3 bros after that, and then 2 more sisters, which total up to 9 siblings altogether.

My parents told me that I could already take care of myself at a young age of 3 or maybe younger. My eldest sister was too old to play with me and she was the eye candy of my parents for quite some time. And then when my 3rd sister came to the world, I started to develop the affinity of doing things on my own somehow. Nevertheless, I forged some sort of a close bond with the 3rd one as a result of wanting to socialize badly. I was easy to look after, least fussy with food and so on. However, my rebellious streaks began early too. Perhaps, I was seeking some attention that was becoming more and more divided as more members of the family were born.

At a tender age of 5, I tagged along my mum to her birth country, Egypt, just the two of us and not feeling afraid at all. I was given my own hand luggage, and even without a proper, formal education, prior to my tadika year, i can read ABCs and numbers. That i self-learnt through television and by figuring out my eldest sisters textbooks both english and malay ones. Sometimes, i just sat down listening to whatever my mum teaching my eldest sister and it might have absorbed into my tiny but hungry for knowledge brain. It was probably curiosity and the thirst for learning that made me a bit "nerdy" even at a young age. During that 1st ever trip overseas, i wasnt scared of grownups and could actually walk around the airport, and take the lift on my own to get to wherever i wanna roam despite those adult glares on me. I didnt care what they think of me. I was happy in my own world. Furthermore, I didnt do stupid, damaging acts just like my peers that time, jumping around, crying nonsensically for attention and too timid or shy.

People like Ruby Ahmad, Gab, Abdun and Pugly are quite eloquent in sharing their daily experience, while those like Lilyliverbird and bisutulibuta are brazen enuf with their more explicit stories under pseudo identity, but these two have always left me in stitches. Since i am still a bit reserved in exposing all in my head, I would comment in their blog on whatever funny (and genuine) entries they wrote instead.

Oh well, I reckon if I am still not daring enuf to do what most bloggers normally do, at least I can act as a "reporter" to share some current scoops in my own words (or quoted whenever possible). Or I could actually attach some online articles (news mostly) for my own reference and perhaps to some other readers, too if they deemed it interesting enough. I personally dont see cut and paste articles from online news and whatnots a big no-no for a blog entry. It's a way of sharing minus all those email forwarding hassles (and consequences esp in terms of adding more "junks" in the inbox unless some people prefer to send those fwded stuff to their bulk/junkmail box as it does not contribute to the inbox quota).

Part of my so-called "selective" reserved mode and practice (SRMP) was nurtured actively during my PhD years. That way I can still make a lot friends but at the same time preserving some mystery bits of me. Actually that is what many people suppose to be like, but i only get to be more "smarter" in my social skills as i get older. Besides that, as a career-person, by applying SRMP, I also learn to be discreet whenever necessary while still attaining good collegiality and integrity in order to be in harmony within the working environment. A lot of things has improved since SRMP and one of them is my ability to keep secret not just my own but also close friends.