Sunday, December 28, 2008

Demise of one of the favourite shops in UK: Woolworths

Earlier this afternoon, we were shocked by the news of the dearly departed AlMarhum Yang DiPertuan Besar Negri Sembilan , Tuanku Jaafar Tuanku Abdul Rahman, (1922-2008) who passed away at 11.45 am Malaysia time at the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital, Seremban. He was our university's Chancellor, having served this post for over 32 years. May Allah rests him in peace.

And although I have heard this news for the past few weeks, I could not help but to attach here an article from BBC of the soon to be defunct Woolworth:

Woolworths store closures begin

Woolworths store
Woolworths has had a presence on the UK High Street for almost a century

More than 200 Woolworths stores across the UK are about to close their doors, signalling the chain's final days on the High Street after 99 years.

Barring any last-minute rescue, the remaining 600 stores will follow suit by 5 January and 27,000 permanent and temporary staff will lose their jobs.

Branches in Prestwick, Liverpool, Llandudno and Gateshead's Metrocentre were those due to shot on Saturday.

The chain called in administrators last month amid mounting debts of £385m.

The rest of the branch closures will be staggered, with another 200 stores shutting on 30 December, 200 on 2 January and the remaining ones on January 5.

Closure countdown

Shop windows are displaying a countdown showing how many days are left before stores close.

In the meantime, shoppers are snapping up the last of the bargains from the closing down sales.

The shelves at the chain's Ipswich branch were virtually cleared as the store opened for its final day.

Teresa Stewart, 38, from Stowmarket, Suffolk, left with a box full of discounted stock.

"I've got so much stuff - there are so many bargains.

"I've got some school clothes for my children and various other bits and pieces. It's sad to see Woolworths go," she said.

The situation was the same at the branch in Chorlton, Manchester as goods were sold for up to 90% of the normal retail price.

One member of staff, who did not want to be named, said: "We started trading this morning at 70% off everything, then in the afternoon it went to 80% and now it is 90%.

"We have been told the more we get in the till the better it reduces the risk of us not being paid."

They said they would be open until 1730 GMT but if shoppers cleared out the shelves, they would close early.

At some stores fixtures and staff lockers were even put up for sale.

At the Notting Hill branch in west London, small posters advertised sections of staff lockers for £30 each, while a "very large safe" cost £300.

People could even take home the metal shopping baskets they were filling up with goods for an extra £1.

Shopper Debbie Anderson, 49, stocked up on pens, envelopes and a shower curtain.

She said she was planning to lay flowers to mark the branch's demise.

Staff will be entitled to compensation under the statutory redundancy payment scheme and will be retained for a few days following store closures.

Farewell sign in New Malden Woolworths
Staff at this store in New Malden, London said goodbye to customers

However, it is expected some stores in prime High Street locations will be reopened by other retailers who have expressed an interest in buying their leases, which could offer job opportunities to redundant Woolworths staff.

Last week Woolworths' administrators Deloitte said there was still interest in parts of the business but added it had "not come close" to finding a buyer for the firm.

However, it said a range of food, clothes and "value retailers" had made offers to take over the leases at about 300 stores.

Efforts would be made to put Woolworths staff who were losing their jobs in contact with these potential employers, Deloitte said.

The first round of Woolworths closures comes nearly 100 years after American F W Woolworth opened his first UK store in Liverpool.

Woolworths ran into trouble this year after struggling under the weight of its debt.

Its problems were compounded when it was forced to pay cash while buying goods from suppliers because trade credit insurers were no longer prepared to cover its suppliers.

Gloomy forecasts

The chain is the most high-profile UK High Street casualty of the economic downturn so far.

A number of other retailers have hit trouble in recent weeks, with the most recent being music and games chain Zavvi, which collapsed into administration on Christmas Eve, and the fear is that more could follow in 2009.

Earlier this week, official figures confirmed the UK economy is sliding towards recession faster than was first thought.

Revised data showed a 0.6% decrease in output between July and September - the worst since 1990 and bigger than the 0.5% fall first estimated by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

And on Friday, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) - an independent group of economists - predicted the economy would shrink by 2.9% in 2009 - more than at any time since 1946.


One of my most frequent Woolies stops (famously known locally) is at Edgware Road, London. If I was looking for Pyrex pot (glass cookware range) or some on-sale chocolates or even discounted DVDs and Videotapes, I would definitely look for them in Woolies and compare them with other shops's prices (HMV, ASDA, Tesco, etc). I even bought some baby clothes for my nephews and niece there too. It is just so SAD to see it go knowing that it has been around for nearly 100 years since its first opening in Liverpool. London will not feel the same without Woolworths. I even one time bought a brolly in a rush there too. Some of their stainless steel , non-stick especially cookingware products are a bit crappy but if you are living on a modest budget, one would be thankful that they are affordable.

Adios, Woolies, you will be missed. You are now officially a history...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Seasonal Greetings and Christmas Tree

Having been in the UK for coupla years, Christmas has been the third most significant festive day to me, the 1st two are of course the Eid Fitri and Eid Adha. I still remember those christmas parties i have attended at our college and at my 1st hall, Claypond Village in South Ealing. It doesnt mean that I am committing myself religious wise to the celebration yet the festive moods were in the air.

Anyways, during our RSCE-SOMChE 2008 conference, the Christmas spirit had already begun and they put up all those christmas decorations including one Christmas tree at Impiana KLCC Hotel & Spa. Crazy i may say as they have begun as early as 1st December 2008 but I liked the ambience. And to commemorate some of the sweet moments during the conference, I took a picture with my old friend, Siti Shawalliah and our ex-lecturer turned colleague, Nornizar Anuar aka Kak Nonie in front of the Christmas tree on Day 1, 2nd December 2008 before our lunch break.

left to right: Manal, Kak Nonie and Shawal

One of those last moment of the conference just after the closing ceremony:

1st row: Assoc. Prof Dr. Siti Masrinda Tasirin, Dr. Jamaliah Jahim, Dr. Masturah Markom, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Siti Kartom Kamarudin, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Siti Rozaimah Sheikh Abdullah (all are the conference committee members), Prof. Dr. Sal Mynt (UniMap), Prof. Ir Dr. Wan Ramli Wan Daud (the chairman), Assoc. Prof. Dr. David Shallcross (Uni Melbourne, keynote speaker),Prof Masaaki Suzuki (Tokyo Inst. of Technology), Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Sobri Takriff (co-chairman)
2nd row: Dr. Renata Adami (Salerno Uni, keynote speaker), Dr. Nurina Anuar (committee member), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Hossein Kazemian (Tehran Uni, keynote speaker), Dr. Manal Ismail (head of secretariat), Prof. Maria Natalia Dimaano (Uni of Santo Tomas)

I do miss the sight of those magnificent Christmas trees at Trafalgar Square, Knightsbridge and Whiteleys and those bright Christmas lights across the central london especially around Knightsbridge, Regent Street, and Oxford Street. And the moment when I first saw life reindeers in Bradford back in 1998. And that I loved receiving Christmas cards from fellow friends at Imperial too.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

R&D powerhouse and Singapore flyer

This news article from Bernama is a good knock on Malaysia's thinking cap of the many MNC and GLC on the importance of the R&D and a good reminder to all the universities and research institutions in this country:


December 23, 2008 15:06 PM

Singapore Closer To Becoming R&D Powerhouse

SINGAPORE, Dec 23 (Bernama) -- Singapore spent S$6.3 billion on research and development (R&D) last year, putting the republic closer to establishing itself as an R&D powerhouse.

The republic's overall expenditure on R&D last year increased by 26.5 percent compared to the 2006 spending of S$5.01 billion, announced the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) that conducts the annual national survey of R&D in Singapore.

The agency said the unprecedented year-on-year increase by 26.5 percent was a significant jump from the 9.3 percent year-on-year increase in 2006.

As a percentage of GDP, the gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) rose from 2.31 percent in 2006 to 2.61 percent last year.

A*STAR said with GERD at 2.61 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), Singapore's R&D intensity was above the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) average (2.26 percent in 2006) and Germany (2.53 percent in 2006), and was approaching that of the United States (2.68 percent in 2007).

However, the agency said Singapore still lagged behind R&D intensive economies such as Finland (3.41 percent in 2008), Sweden (3.63 percent in 2007), Japan (3.39 percent in 2006) and South Korea (3.22 percent in 2006).

The agency also said the private sector spent more than the public sector in R&D last year when it spent S$4.23 billion compared to the latter's expenditure of S$2.1 billion.

A*STAR said the manufacturing sector, particularly the electronic industry continued to drive the growth in private sector R&D, accounting for S$2.98 billion or 70.5 percent of total private sector R&D expenditure.

Singapore's research talent base also expanded last year when the total number of researchers grew by nine percent from 25,033 in 2006 to 27,301 last year, with the private sector employing 59 percent of all researchers, the agency added.

It also said the number of reported patent applications had shown steady increase with a compound annual growth rate of 11.8 percent from 2000, adding that there were 1,739 patent applications last year.



This also happens in Singapore as reported in The Star. Mind you, this entry is not on Singapore bashing but to share with you that no matter how canggih the country can be, a few but rather significant glitches may still occur:

Tuesday December 23, 2008

Trapped passengers evacuate Singapore ferris wheel

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - More than 100 passengers stranded for six hours on the world's largest ferris wheel were being evacuated and given medical treatment in Singapore after the attraction ground to a halt on Tuesday.

The Singapore Flyer stopped working after a short circuit in one of the wheel's motor drivers cut its power supply, a company spokeswoman said.

The Singapore Flyer observation wheel seen in this November 30, 2008 file photo. (REUTERS/Tim Chong)

There were 173 people, including many tourists, trapped inside the huge tourist attraction.

The wheel started turning again more than six hours later and passengers were ushered into ambulances, a Reuters witness said.

The spokeswoman for the Flyer said the stranded passengers were given water and food throughout their ordeal.

Standing at a height of 165 metres (541 feet), the Flyer started operations in the city state in February and is 30 metres (98 feet) taller than the London Eye.

It has 28 bus-sized capsules attached to a circular frame 150 metres (492 feet) in diameter. Each capsule can accommodate 28 people.

The Flyer is part of Singapore's drive to boost tourism revenues.

Copyright © 2008 Reuters

Monday, December 15, 2008

Of cuteness and a World Leader

Does one's good looking trait help boost his potential to be the country's next leader?

Bemused? Have a look at some of these examples:

From left to right:

Pic 1: Tony Blair, former Britain PM, pic 2: Michael Howard, former Britain Shadow PM during Blair's tenure,

pic 3: US President elect for 2009 term Barack Obama, pic 4: Senator John McCain, Republican candidate for presidency who lost to Obama,

pic 5: Ousted Thai PM Somchai Wongsawat , and pic 6: Newly elected Thai PM Abhisit Vejjajiva.

There are many other examples which inludes Bill Clinton era and so on. It is debatable of course whether looks could actually influence the voting numbers but it may be one of the reasons they became a leader. What say you?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Mereka adalah queen yang telah dotdotdot

Strange isnt it when one man would feel totally offensive when someone likening him to a queen in a joking manner? No wonder la these people made us think they are one CLOSET poof. Like i give a 3825 innit? So they are muslims and some closet fairies, so what? They chose to be one, and they should be damn proud to stand out and be counted and not thinking just because we usik2 them here and there just a weeeeetle bit, dah melenting mak datin ala2 azwana issit? Dah la closet, sensittttippppp yaaamaaatttttzzzzz....! Grow up and rationalized. Some people memang suka mengusik and it takes like a LOTTA courage and sensibility to handle some naughty or sarcastic remarks.

(photo 1 from this website:

I guess these species are like that.

I dont mind you being whatever (batting on the other side and what not) as long as you dont mess with me. And i actually think its fun hanging out fag-hag like and that sort. They are MEN and although they are harmless to me they are damn well a good protector too just like any hetero men put it that way.

I have like quite a few gay friends meself , flamboyant ones, fairies, manly gaymen, queen-like ones and one bisexual who is now a hetero again. Do the math and that makes me a NON-homophobic person. Totally a no-brainer.

(Photo 2: Flamboyant man-doll in Georgian outfit, thats a bit of a queen fella)

(Photo 3: David Beckham, the flamboyant icon and he loves wearing his missus knickers)


And lagi satu species, budak2 awal 20an yang perasan COOL abiss laa by wearing all sort of terbukaksanasini style of clothes. Heelllloooo budak, stop being soooo bloody judgmental just because we people arent wearing the same clothes like u lot that we aint cool. Some budak2 melayu free hair memang la suka bagi this weird glare to those tudung people typecasting each and every one of them save for those who wears tudung and a lowcut jeans that shows off their butt crack no matter how unsexy their asses are. DOES ONE NEED TO PROVE WHO ONE IS ALL THE TIME? Learn this word budak2 ^&&^&^&^%@@: DISCREET. This is one of the reasons I took almost 2 years to feel at home and getting accustomed to the surrounding. And thats also why they have clubs in London that caters for different groups and then there is the 20 and below club too. Unfortunately there aint much around KL except for maybe those lounges at the hotels and tu pun kena careful otherwise one might think we are the makcik karaoke.

That is probably one of the reasons I missed out most of the KL nightlife (the after midnite ones).


On a lighter note, I am now narrowing down my choices on digicam and mobile phones. As I have been quite satisfied with Sony Ericsson mobile phone performance for the last 3 years, I am most probably will opt to replace my old Sony E to a new one. I was actually contemplating on Samsung models too but I dunno, I feel like inclined towards Sony E more. Digicam, I am still juggling between choosing Sony Cybershot series or the latest Fuji cameras. I had 2 fujis before , one the older zoom camera and the other one the 2005 digicam E550x and they are not that bad really. Like my PC choice where I have been sticking to Dell PC since 2002, I probably would like to renew my mobile under the same brand that I am currently using based on the satisfactory level. But for digicam, let see how it goes. I will of course be bringing my XD Fuji smart media card with me to learn if I could upload the pictures directly into my laptop using the card or I may have to ask the photoshop to save them in a CD.

But I seriously need a digicam now especially that I have one wedding reception in the afternoon and one annual dinner (by invitation, FOC) this Saturday. Being the "on my own" person, I'd like to get myself equipped with the necessaries and this include my own digicam. Simple as that. Cant really rely on other people to do the job and later on asking them to send those pictures by email or perhaps saving them directly into my thumb drive/external hard drive.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Some motivation needed here

Some quotes to bounce myself back on track and to gain the momentum and encouragement I need:

  • "One day in retrospect the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful" -Sigmund Freud

  • "Great hopes make great men" -- Thomas Fuller (1608-1661) English Historian

  • "Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." -- Helen Keller (1880-1968) American Writer
  • "Right actions for the future are the best apologies for wrong ones in the past."-- Tyron Edwards
  • "Man has never made any material as resilient as the human spirit."-- Bernard Williams (1929-) English Philosopher

  • "The three great essentials to achieving anything worthwhile are:first, hard work, second, stick-to-it-iveness, and third, common sense."-- Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931) American Inventor
  • "He who has health has hope; and he who has hope, has everything."-- Arabian Proverb
  • "It is a glorious achievement to master one's own temper."-- Anonymous

  • "When we accept tough jobs as a challenge to our ability and wade into them with joy and enthusiasm, miracles can happen."-- Arland Gilbert

  • "The person who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones."-- Chinese proverb

  • "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."-- William Arthur Ward

  • "We need a renaissance of wonder. We need to renew, in our hearts and in our souls, the deathless dream, the eternal poetry, the perennial sense that life is miracle and magic. " -- E. Merrill Root (1895-1973) American Writer
  • "Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember, you can achieve."--Mary Kay Ash
  • "He who has persevered (through hard works, determinations and efforts), wins" (man jadda wajada) -- Arabic proverb

Those quotes are just those few I found in my email inbox and Google. Care to share some of your favourite quotes here too?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Brief entry

So many things to say, so little time....ok, more precisely , so little mood i have to break down all that i had in mind to write them down.

In brief :

  • Petrol price has to date made a total of 80 sen reduction since that horrible RM 2.70 sudden price hike. Good news? So far, it is.
  • RSCE-SOMChE 2008 conference organized by most members of our department including yours truly went on VERY WELL indeed at Impiana KLCC Hotel & Spa and a few of my old friends also turned up as participants. It was rather an overwhelming experience to me that left me with a fine line (or a mix) between euphoria and repression. For some, or should I say, most consolations came from many participants across ASEAN and Asia Pacifics who offered their sincere warm gratitude to me and 2 of them, one a professor from Phillippines and another one, a research engineer from Italy (who was also one of our keynote speakers) even mentioned my name as part of their acknowledgment in front of the audience.
  • Aidil Adha was a bit of a quiet celebration this year for me. Both my parents are performing hajj and we gathered at my eldest sister's place, which is just a 5 minutes drive away from our family house. Not much could be said. But I still did my morning solat sunat prayers, and that was my "highlight" of the day.
  • I missed MJ more and more. I hope he will get his viva date soon.
  • My old 2005 Fuji digicam broken as a result of major faulty at the telescopic motor that connects to the lenses. And to add to the disappointment, it occurred RIGHT before our RSCE-SOMChE 2008 conference banquet dinner, on 2 December 2008. Good thing was, many took pictures with me and our trusted technicians managed to capture many moments too. So, I gather that I need to copy those photos into my external hard drive and later to be downloaded into my pc. I am thinking on replacing it with a newer Fuji model (it's about time!) or maybe I could try Sony Cybershot or some few other digicam models/brands.
  • I almost have never had this kind of situation where more and more people kept coming to me to request to take pictures with me than during the 2-day RSCE-SOMChE 2008 conference. Did I just shot to fame? Or it was merely another way of them expressing their joy having able to participate at the conference through some constant correspondance with their mistaken for man conference head of Secretariat,that's me. That man part was all due to my peculiar name which made it sound a bit masculine to many.
  • I was made a Malaysian "mascot" ....ok...putting it in a nicer way, the Malaysian model gracing our TCE magazine since my international debut in 2007. That very photo of mine still graces the leaflet and registration packs across Malaysia for those interested to join the IChemE in Malaysia. I could see my smiling photo on the IChemE booth at our conference.
  • 15 November 2008 marked our very first reunion as a career people and many are married with family too for our KISAS ex-classmates. Not everyone turned up but the turnout was encouraging. Some came with their spouses, others even brought their kids along too.
  • Its the end of year Malaysia MegaSale, and so i need to buy a new digicam and perhaps and new mobile phone too (a Sony Ericsson walkman series) also over 3 years old. I have never bought any of those here in Malaysia. People have been advising me to go to Low Yatt Plaza for that reason and since I have never been there, maybe I should do my survey across that nationwide most famous "electronic gadget emporium".
  • I have made many new friends through blogging and some I have actually met and befriended in real life too apart from those old friends of mine. One of them is Makji Esah, met 2 months ago and she is far demure than her blog persona.
I had wanted to be more emotional here but I dont think it would do good anyway writing them in anger.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Barack Obama the new 44th USA president!

Barack Obama (pic,left) won by 349 votes over 159 (as of 15.48pm Malaysian time) by John McCain of Republican, a landslide majority indeed. The Blue states swept across the nation except for the typical conventional central and southern part of the country. Even so, the voting counts in most of the Red states are narrowing by 10 %.

More news, go read them everywhere!

In his winning speech, Obama has uttered these strong words: "Change has come to America!"

And McCain responded by saying: " The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly". Macam ala2 Survivors the series jer...harosss la the tribe has spoken thingy.

Poor Sarah Palin (pic, below), she gotta stay perked up and wait for another 10 years to run the presidential campaign...if ever she is still popular....


One wonders how long will it take for some progressive reformation with the right paradigm shift among our politicians...


One of the things malaysians soo hyped about on this o-ba-ma elect is his middle name Hussein. 1st of all, they prolly shud hate his daddy who didnt practise his grandparents religion and dont the malaysian muslim against any "apostate" or "agnostic" sort of people? Secondly, he has declared himself a Christian and his middle name shudve been Steve or something (refer to his speeches in youtube). The Times Onlines reported on this too:

Barack Obama was directly confronted on prime time television last night over allegations swirling around the internet that he is a secret Muslim who worships the Koran (note: We Muslims DO NOT worship the Koran but we try as much as we could to adhere to the teachings and we are required to read and study those words of God to understand Islam more with the right guidance from the learned people), during a Democratic presidential debate in Las Vegas.

Mr Obama, who was raised as a Christian by his white mother despite his Kenyan father being Muslim, has been dogged by smears and innuendo for months that he is in fact an Islamist trying to enter the Oval office by stealth.

"Let's make clear what the facts are: I am a Christian. I have been sworn in with a Bible. I pledge allegiance [to the American flag] and lead the pledge of allegiance sometimes in the United States Senate when I'm presiding."

Mr Obama is a member of Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ and is an actively practising Christian. But opponents, particularly on the Republican side, delight in reminding people that his middle name is Hussein, taken from his father, a Harvard educated economist who left the family when Mr Obama was two.

In spite of all that, to me, he brought this "fresh hope" so to speak. But then, Collin Powell and CondoleezaRice preceded him in terms of world power with those Secretary General post for UN and US respectively. And Obama is practising what any(most) US president would do: electing some Jewish fellas as their right people. IN short, he is a typical American but with different upbringing experiences.

All I hope is that he aint just some "fresh prince of bel-air" but a reformed man who brings positive impacts throughout the world. And that he wont get assassinated because of his skin colour. Coz all i care now is to see him doing the "Change", practising what he preaches.Otherwise, he's just another democrat president-elect to me (but also as someone i'd like to meet given the chance).

Monday, October 06, 2008

6 Days of Shawal 1429 H


Yeah...bummer....back to work and all. Dragged meself off my bed to come to work today after like 1 week holiday. But once I am seated at my working desk, I am all geared up to do what I needed to do, checking on things, emails from the RSCE-SOMChE 2008 conference participants and many more. I guess it all came naturally to me, being diligent and committed to my job (have to innit??!!!)

Baru 6 October 2008, and I have effectively used up all my monthly salary plus the half month bonus. Over Rm3000 (raya bonus + a portion of my salary) were gone to pay off a third of my Natwest overdraft debt (as they have been pestering me to do so, sob sob sob), more than RM1200 gone to the TAX (inevitable kan?), and the rest went to house loan, car loan, credit card, food and some simple raya shopping (beli 2 helai tudung jer ok?) and DUIT RAYA. Am I whinging and moaning now about it? NOOOOOOOOO !!! That Duit Raya is a must and I have given to those deserving members of my family, especially to my father and mother. What makes me a bit put off is that, the country only deducted another 10 sen off the petrol per liter value when they know that the current petrol price per barrel kept going down! And dah la last year langsung takde bonus, this year pon sama kadakoootttt bagi half half konon. Siap la I tunggu another half this December so I can pay my Natwest debt.

Nevertheless, alhamdulillah, I am also OVER the MOON (macam la over sangat happy nya , but ok la happy la jugak kan) that I have successfully made 3 kuih raya: Chocolate Muffin (just the right muffin feeling that melts in your mouth, so soft and moist, abso-****ing-lutely lovely), Choc Chip Cookies ( Famous Amos Who??? Move over brother, Ini Manal Ismail punya cookies enak berkhasiat, rangup, spanking gorgeous) and honeyed cornflakes with raisin (yang everytime i check the balang, it kept getting less and less even though i thought it wasnt that great but others think it is perfect?). Baru buat 3 kuih dah berlagak la yea....No la, I was just sharing my happiness as they were a success. I am my own critique when it comes to my own cooking and when I say it is GOOD, it is GOOD. Similarly, when it is BAD, I would be unashamed to declare it a FAILURE. Next time, cuba lagi.

I have also managed to do a full 30 days fasting. No menstruation during Ramadhan means I have successfully avoided doing Qadha puasa.

What else? Oh yea, although I didnt do my Taraweeh prayers every single night save for some few days a week, I managed to do the 1st night and the final night of Ramadhan. I also got 2 new baju raya tempah (tailor made, another one will be completed after raya) and a new shock absorber for my front left tyre FOC as the car is still within the 3 year warranty. On top of that, they also patched a teeny, tiny hole in my back right tyre and a duly aknowledgeable car wash both for free too! Thank you Toyota Sales and Service Centre Cheras (near Taman Midah).

On that pagi raya, I felt glorious celebrating this victorious Aidil Fitri day. I woke up early in the morning, took my sunat bath, and clad in my new baju raya and new telekung, off I went to Masjid UKM with my family to perform the solat sunat aidilfitri. That day memang melantak saja...sampai ke dinner the same dishes: rendang daging, rendang ayam, kuah kacang eaten with nasi himpit. Sampai sendawa pun bau rendang. In the evening, I went with my mum to Desa Pandan to visit a family friend, and they came the next day beraya to our house. We also had a few guests on the 2nd day of raya and we served them with masak lodeh, sambal tumis udang and the remaining rendang ayam and daging as side dishes to our nasi himpit.

Nothing extravagant, just the family reunion, photo taking, duit raya giving, solat raya and rehat2 were all we did on the 1st day, but it was certainly a good feelings for me.

The next personal challenge is to do the 6-days puasa sunat Shawal. I tried to wake up for sahur this morning but felt too sleepy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ramadhan and US Open 2008 Champs

YES, Roger Federer redeemed his shameful losses in the past 3 grand slams to win the final 2008 grand slam: US Open. He defeated British player (a Scotsman) Andy Murray on a straight set 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. Andy also created his own history by reaching final in the grand slam for the first time in his career. He stole Rafael Nadal's thunder in the Men's semi-final before facing Federer. Not only that, he has shown a great length of maturity and polished attitude on the court displaying a brilliant , notwithstanding having some dull moments match leaving the world no. 1 Nadal confused and dazed. Federer, on the other hand, has managed to tame the US Open 2007 runner up and Australian Open 2008 champion Novak Djokovic to set the final match against Murray.

I watched the game during sahur all the way to around 7.30-ish am in the morning, before going to work on Monday 8 September 2008. I have been wanting to blog on this on that day itself but was caught with loadsa works to do, practically inundated with academic and conference works.

Serena Williams won her US open champion back too! The other three grand slam winners for Women's Singles are: Maria Sharapova -Australian Open, Ana Ivanovic -French Open, and Venus Williams -Wimbledon. Serena took a straight set win from Jelena Jonkovic 6-4, 7-5 in a thrilling match that saw her in a ferocious mood with her powerful tennis skills. She's definitely in it to win it and she did.

Only Rafael Nadal managed to win double grand slams this year: French Open and Wimbledon. Novak "Djoker" Djokovic won the Australian Open and he beat Roger Federer at the semi final en route to winning the Men's Single. And in the US Open 2008, the table has turned and it was Federer who has outwitted Djoker.

I guess RED is the Winning theme for the US Open 2008 or perhaps the lucky colour? Both Serena and Roger were clad in red gears on clinching their number one spot. Photos are taken from AP news.

Oh well, I leave you with this illusion image:

So, did you get the joke or you get watery eyes as a result of squinting really hard?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Obsessing over Manal

I am serious ok...some fella out there (in the Facebook) is soooooo obsessed with this name:MANAL. He kept adding more and more ladies named Manal into his Facebook list?!

Apparently there are quite a few Manal Ismail too listed in the Facebook search engine.

When the Malaysians are still "in the dark" on this pretty peculiar yet beautifully crafted name Manal , those especially in Egypt and many Arab league countries have long been enchanted by it.

I have also had a request from a middle-east lady to add me as her friend through Facebook just because I reminded her of her nieces, and friends and some people dearer to her. And she made acquaintance with me through Scramble.

As of today, there are about 1, 030, 000 Google hits on Google for the search word: Manal.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ask God

In the spirit of Ramadhan, I would like to share a very interesting article from Islamicity on the importance of having strong and consistent faith in asking God what we want and be patient for it:

Does God Hear me?

By: Hesham A. Hassaballa

In the Quran, God clearly says that He will answer the prayers of those who pray to Him: "When My servants ask thee [O Muhammad] concerning Me, [tell them] I am indeed close: I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way" (Quran 2:186)

In another verse: "Your Lord says: 'Call on me, I will answer [your prayer]" (Quran 40:60). Consequently, I pray to God for everything in my life, big or small. If one notices closely, my lips are frequently fluttering away in silent prayer to God throughout the day. Most of the time, the Lord answers my prayers. Sometimes, He does not.

Recently, I asked God for something very, very important to me. I prayed to Him night and day. I got up in the early morning to pray extra devotional prayers before sunrise to make that supplication to Him. I prayed to God at times when the Prophet said God will answer those who pray to Him. I prayed almost constantly for this particular thing. It did not come.

Needless to say, I was sad and disappointed. In the midst of my sadness, a barrage of thoughts and questions raced through my head: "What went wrong? Was it something I did or said? Is God angry with me?" In fact, I almost wanted to say, "Why?" Furthermore, my sadness gave way to momentary spiritual weakness in that I had transient thoughts of rebellion against God. I said to myself, "All this prayer, and it was not answered. Did God not hear me?"

No, God indeed did hear me, but He chose not to give me what I asked of Him at this particular moment in my life. The above exchange in my head was born out of the fact that I am a human being, subject to all of the weaknesses and hypocrisies of the human condition. The Quran told me that this is in my nature: "Now, as for man, when his Lord tries him, giving him honor and gifts, then said he, 'My Lord hath honored me.' But when He tries him, restricting his subsistence for him, then said he (in despair), 'My Lord hath humiliated me!'" (Quran 89:15-16).

Now, thank God I did not say God has humiliated me. Also, thank God, I did not point an angry finger at the Lord and proceed to disobey His commands. To do so would be horribly ungrateful. How many blessings has the Lord bestowed upon me? They are innumerable. I do not want to be among those who "worship God, as it were, on the verge," as the Quran says, "if good befalls them, they are, therewith, well content; but if a trial comes to them, they turn on their faces" (Quran 22:11). When the answer to my prayer eluded me, I simply put my head down in acceptance, still sad, and said, "All praise is due to God. God has decreed thus, and He does what He wills."

The truth is, the Lord neither abandoned nor humiliated me. According to the Prophet, when someone calls on God, one of three things happen:

(1) it is immediately answered (and I do not have a shortage of those prayers, thank God);

(2) the answer to the prayer is deferred to Judgment Day, when the supplicant will be handsomely rewarded;

(3) the prayer will block a calamity that is to befall that person.

Thus, in my case, either something bad was going to happen to me, but my unanswered prayer blocked it, or the Lord is saving the answer to that prayer for Judgment Day. Either way, I win.

The thing is, I frequently can't see that; I do not have Divine Vision. This is another trait of the human condition. I do not understand God's wisdom in not answering that prayer right here, right now. Hence, my sadness and disappointment. Yet, my role is to be patient with the will of God and continue to be a humble, devout servant. God will answer other prayers. Perhaps God will one day let me see the wisdom of His decision. He has done so already once before.

When I was a senior in high school, I applied for an honors program in medicine in which I would be guaranteed a spot in medical school after three years of college. My application was very competitive: a 4.0 GPA and a whole host of extracurricular activities, honors, and awards. I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed. I was not accepted, and I felt the same sadness and disappointment then as I do now. Yet, I did not despair or become rebellious against God. Three years later, I was accepted to medical school without a bachelor's degree. In fact, I was the only one in my medical school class to be accepted right out of college.

I reminded myself of this during my recent sadness. While I do not understand God's wisdom, I have to trust that He has my best interest in mind, and that He will not do me harm. This is what God wants, and I have to be patient.

Even though this prayer was not answered immediately, I will continue to pray. I will continue to try and get up before sunrise and pray those extra devotional prayers. I will, in fact, pray more to God now than I have done so in the past. God always hears those who call on Him, and I will live my life making sure He constantly hears my voice. And the most beautiful thing is, He never gets tired of hearing that voice. That is why nothing else in this world except He deserves to be worshipped.


It resonates well with my life too. I remembered back in 1996 when i just finished my A-Level that I had wanted to pursue my first degree in Petroleum Engineering at Imperial College. But fate has it that it did not work out for me just yet and I was instead accepted at the University of Bradford, UK where I obtained my BEng (Hons) in Chemical Engineering. But I never lost my faith that one day I will be in Imperial to pursue my tertiary degree. I stood up in front of the main entrance one fine summer 1999 and made a pledge that one day I will be here.

And on Spring 2001, I finally made it to Imperial College London as a PhD student. Four and a half year later, I secured my PhD degree during Ramadhan.

Another case is when I had wanted a best friend, a close friend who would share so many common interests that he/she will stick by me for better or worse, through thick and thin and that we will put up with each other's weaknesses. I wished and wished for it, prayed to God too that I will find someone who would click well with me. I have been asking it since I was in primary school. Over a decade later, I found her at NCUK Shah Alam, and we have been buddies ever since. And 12 years on since we started getting to know each other, we are still going strong even though she is now married with 2 kids. And not only her, I kept making close relationship, lasting ones even if we had to go through ups and downs and so on with quite a few people: Malaysians as well as people from around the world, males and females, of different backgrounds, races and creeds.

I still have a lot more wishes that were made for a certain reasons like the wish to settle down and have my own family. I was not that very serious on tying the knots before I was 30, and now, after achieving a few more successes in my life, I think I am more than ready to be some lucky man's other half. I have been there, done that, and now I would not mind sharing my life with him thus completing half of my religion (implying that one who marries has taken another step further or perhaps figuratively speaking a giant leap in his/her life for future procreation, more responsibilities, and so on). On top of that, I reckon it is about time I go for the halal relationship, something that God will offer more blessings as I would further honouring my oath to keep myself firmly on the rightful path (siraatul mustaqeem). I can just hope and pray and I let Him decide what is best for me and for my future life companion as well. I dont know how to explain this but I think my body too gave me an inkling that she had had all that she had wanted to experience and experiment and now she is ready for another Big decision.

Is this like saying that I finally succumb to the idea of sharing? Or was it more of a consolidation of two human beings and not just a natural union? It was never easy for me to accept another man into my life without skepticisms.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Cinta monyet membawa ke jinjang pelamin kisahnya

Feeling lesu after a long day work and fasting at the same time? Have a little bit of laugh with this article from Daily Mail:

'I now pronounce you monkey and wife': Animals are married in controversial Chinese zoo stunt

By Hugo Daniel

Maybe the dress wasn't the right size, or perhaps it was the grey and gloomy weather - but these two monkeys don't seem over-the-moon after being married in China.

The downcast-looking pair tied the knot in a special wedding ceremony at their zoo.

The monkeys - who live in Wenling, Zhejiang province - are seven-year-old male monkey Wukong and a six-year-old female named Xiaoya.

The widlife park organised the wedding in the hope of attracting more visitors, local media reported.

But the controversial stunt is bound to upset animal rights groups in a country famed for being cruel to animals.

Back in 2006 a Shanghai zoo cancelled a show dubbed the 'Animal Olympics' following accusations of cruelty from animal welfare groups.

The show had featured animals in athletic-type situations, such as boxing matches between kangaroos and their keepers, bears fighting and riding bicycles, and an elephant tug-of-war.

And in 2007 a bear was forced to ride a bicycle and be chased by his trainer during an animal performance for the Chinese May Day holidays at the Shanghai Wild Animal Park.

Happily married? Wukong the monkey and his bride Xiaoya

Happily married? Wukong the monkey and his bride Xiaoya

Cruel? The monkeys at the ceremony organised by a Chinese zoo

Hitched: The monkeys at the ceremony organised by a Chinese zoo


It's kinda cute doncha think? Does it make u wanna get hitched too?

Now compare Wukong with Rafael Nadal (pic below). An evolution from the planet of the ape??

Photo source: Tennis Planet

He's a good looking Spaniard, but I can't stand his voice though.....its as if he has like a large lump of saliva in his throat, phlegm and all. But perhaps thats how a typical Mallorcan sounds like when they speak english? All the best in the US Open and keep scratching your arse if it would help compose yourself.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

What is wrong with you, Roger Federer?

He had to go into 5 sets before he could clinch a place into the quarter final at US Open?

Dey thambi, ape masalah lu haa?? Could it be that you need some changes like:
  1. New girlfriend
  2. New coach
  3. New attitude
  4. New hair style
  5. New spirit
  6. ETC....

And yeah, even John McEnroe thought that it wasnt you, it could've been an impostor playing you. Perhaps the new title: World No.2 made you somewhat "incoherent" with your game? 2008 definitely isnt a great year for u innit? bagus jugak kan, dari asek menang jer since 2003 to 2007 except that 2005 Australian open and not even once in French Open. Am i lamenting your inconsistencies here? Naahh....u have just proven yourself a normal human being and that you are aging? They said that 21 is the middle age for tennis though i doubt Martina Navratilova and Andre Agassi would even want to hear about it....Such a gleeful (or horrible?) remark from some people who thinks that since you are now one of the tua species on the tennis court, u aint got the glam and that youthful power anymore kot?

If you are asking me who's the favourite to win, I'd say like i give a tiny rat ass. I love watching the Game and if its meant to be another fella's or another lady's winning trophy, then so be it. Serena Williams just beat her sister Venus, and now aiming for her trophy too having lost her Wimbledon trophy to Venus. OK la, apa2 pon balik2 Williams sisters jugak dapat nama whether its Miss S.Williams or Miss V.Williams.

And what the hell happened to the one time Australian Runner up Jo Wilfried-Tsonga? He's funny on court though. Prolly you need to go down under more often to keep your cool?

Dinara Safina although she aint as gorgeous as her brother Marat Safin has proven to be quite entertaining on court too with those "come on", whats "come on" in Russian ha? I better ask MJ for it.

Elena Dementieva is such a girly-girl on court but she's one tough bird. I just find her grunts sounds like some happy orgasmic shriek: ooommmwahhhhh...oooopphhwahhh....I almost didnt notice her earlier days but lately she just got better and better. One thing for sure, her more famous Russian compatriot, Maria Sharapova is no where near the court la...sebok modeling kot or pouting somewhere nursing her bruises/injuries/poor performance? She will do a comeback for sure, upping her game but with the same loud grunts that are so synonymous to her .

Aaahhhh this middle to upper class or should I say those with middle to high income kinda sport that is Tennis. I just LOVE it!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Countdown to ramadhan 1429H

Muslims will begin observing Ramadhan inshallah on the 1st September 2008.

While I am on my countdown to 1 Ramadhan 1429, here's a short recap for a brief read:

  • Olympic Beijing came to an END last 24 August 2008 after entertaining moi for like 2 weeks on Astro channels 816-823. Congratulations to all the winners especially those who broke the Olympic and World records like Usain Bolt (sprinter from Jamaica), Michael Phelps (US swimmer) and Yelena Isinbayeva (Russian pole vault athlete).
  • US OPEN the final Grand Slam leg for this year is ON from 25 August (and I just found out about it today....cheh! Takpe, as long as no shocking results just yet!) to 7 September. Could it be the final holy grail search this year for a grand slam champion for Roger Federer having lost 3 previous grand slam tournaments? At least he won Gold in Olympic Beijing for Men's double teaming up with his fellow countryman, Stanislas Wawrinka. And man, how they hugged each other that would definitely send some kinkychilling signal to his woman, the blonde-turned-brunnet Serbian M*rka.
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton shouted : "Obama must be our President! " and told the world that her hubby Bill would do whatever he could to campaign for Obama's presidency. The man then pledged for a deepfull-throated endorsement to Obama's bid for the White House.
  • Tun Det said and I quote that his former Deputy Premier (who was once his protege pre-September 1998) who is also the PKR defacto leader could “convince even the devil to follow him”. How romantic is he? Such words coming from someone who should be acknowledging on "better the devil you know" or was it some sort of a reverse psychology? His MP son has never stopped calling the current PM to step down and he kept going on and on about it. Is this really bapak borek anak rintik routine or the sort of the black sheep of the family proverbial status?
  • Anwar Ibrahim (pic below) is BACK in the House of Common aka Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara in the Parliament as he took his oath today. Lim Kit Siang, the DAP leader made his welcoming comment telling the press, "with the success of the second political tsunami in Permatang Pauh and the coming of the 'Titanic' next time ...". The PM, Datuk Seri Pak Lah however made a point that such a comeback will not affect BN position as the ruling party. The "bubbly-mouth" Information Minister also made a statement that the by-election in Permatang Pauh was nothing much but a shelf-life key decision point of PKR party itself suggesting that it was merely another 5-year hold by another PKR leader after Datuk Wan Azizah (PKR president and wife of Anwar) resignation as its MP there.

Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim swearing (not pun intended, seriously!) in Dewan Rakyat
photo source: Berita Harian

A Dewan Rakyat assistant secretary placing Anwar's nameplate on the front row opposition bloc facing the PM. I honestly think Anwar should carry with him enough painkiller supply throughout his dewan rakyat appearance. Or perhaps the PM (and some few loyal BN MPs) should install Ogawa's mobile back-massager seat cushion while he is at it. Photo source: The Star

I better fill up my car at a 15 sen cheaper petrol/litre or should I keep my fingers crossed for another 50 sen plunge?

Ramadhan Al-Mubarak wishes to everyone who reads or stumbles upon this humble blog.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Lighten your head up during Olympic Beijing

Can't help sharing this funny joke found from TennisPlanet. If you feel offended, chow ngan ba cha!

Hmmm...why is this sudden cravings for nasi ayam hainan ha?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Busy happening months July-August

First it was my birthday last month: celebrated nearly 4 times..... One with family, second with close friend Hana, third with MJ and fourth a more of combination of birthdays, leaving do and thanksgiving for our clerk's promotion kinda party that was organized by our tutor Darman who is now on study leave doing his PhD in Newcastle University, England and Hidayat the department clerk.

Then I was hooked on Wimbledon which saw a new champion, Rafael Nadal who outwittted and outshone Roger Federer twice on two Grand Slam tournament this year: Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

It was followed by my hectic days at work, addicted to Scramble! in Facebook, and weekenders with MJ and his cousin.

Now the once in four year summer Olympic in Beijing. We saw world class athletes breaking records after records like Michael Phelps in swimming competitions who made 6 so far.... With a cool theme: One world One dream, i dunno whether it sends chills to America with that one powerful theme signal from China. Right at the moment, China is dominating the medal standings and they just keep on getting better and better.

Some of the pictures which captures the essence of July-August:

1. It is a Macademia white chocolate cake. First time trying it and it should be the last. I'd say stick with those chocolate ones from Secret Recipe

2. The traditional candle lights...

3. One weekend sojourn in Cherating beautiful beach

4. View nearby our room in cherating

5. A friend of mine on her nikah day.

6. Wimbledon 2008 champions: Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams

Latest news is Malaysian own Lee Chong Wei will go to final in Badminton Men Single and Malaysia will surely be adding either silver or gold to our zero so far medal standing. And Rafael Nadal will play against Fernando Gonzales in the Tennis Men Single Final. it a political thing now?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Masih Ada Yang Sayang Padaku....

And so the day has come....

Mama and Baba

Big Smile on a Morning Cruise down Musi River, Palembang

This is the time of the year where the number of my age changes. Obviously it is increasing but I am very grateful to God nonetheless for all His blessings and that I am still alive and kicking.

I made a new change today. I woke up rather early and had an early breakfast, a sahur really. I intended to make a puasa sunat (optional fasting) today while observing Rajab. I have never fasted on a day like this before. I reckon I want to try something new and at the same time it gives me some sort of peace and serenity in a spiritual way. It was not a good day in 2006 and in 2007 it didn't fare much either anyhow. And so I hope my luck will get better this year. One thing for sure, my little but took a year rift with my mother has gone into patching up mode and we are rekindling the mother-daughter relationship steadily. Yet, I went from cheerful to less friendly with a certain people in my family too that includes sisters and inlaws. But I am very much at peace this year so far (inshallah, by God's will) than the previous (sometimes rocky, sometimes stifling, sometimes boring) 2 years.

I pray that I will keep on getting better and better, fitter, smarter and wiser each year.

And for this day, I pray that my wishes will come true. Ameen.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Baba's prediction on Euro2008

Faces of extreme joy and happiness....

Fernando Torres: the goal scorer

Fernando Torres again

Iker Casillas: the goalkeeper
Photo source: Euro2008

Baba was SPOT ON with his early prediction telling us that Spain will win 1-0 over Germany.

And I was....ummm...had one correct prediction too, even though i was 50-50 on which team will win but i had the gut feelings that Fernando Torres will score.

Felicitacion to them Spaniards for winning the coveted Henri Delaunay UEFA Euro2008 Cup hence the European Football Champion!!!