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Showing posts from 2009

Oh Christmas tree oh Christmas tree...

Image credit here
It is now that time of year again, where I start to reminisce the Christmases of my childhood. Christmas? you may ask... But I thought he was Muslim?
I grew up in a stout Islamic environment where my parents ingrained in me the tenets of the Quran and hadith. But outside my little bubble I also grew up in an environment where Christmas was a magical time of year. It was the time when my friends would brag about the presents they would be getting from their parents, and how they would be playing with them when I came over to their house on Christmas, and so on and so forth. Excitement would radiate from every child, regardless of which race they belonged to...
It was still an innocent time for me. A time when when boys were boys and girls were girls, and the top shelf magazines were not to be seen, although the curiosity was starting to build (Note - many people here would not understand this reference, though people who've been overseas are probably grinning just ab…

Time (edited)

(Forgive the gross spelling errors before as this entry was thumb-typed form my iPhone)
I now sit here all alone in this deserted lecture room..

My mind goes blank for a while as I reflect on how I had to rush everything to make it to this very spot.. Rushed paperwork, rushed driving, rushed lunch, rushed prayers... All so that I could make it in time to evaluate a public speaking session..

And yet, here I am... Alone...

As I wait, the door of the room opens.

I see a young man with pleasant Somali features approach me. The troubled look on his was clear indication that something had not gone according to plan.

"Mr Abdullah..." he starts, with a very apologetic voice "I'm very sorry to inform you that the other session has not finished yet... They started late, so we're going to have to postpone your session... I'm very sorry for the inconvenience"

"It's ok" I reassure him "It's not your fault"

He thanks me for understanding and walks…

Indoctri-Nation for the Nation (Part 1)

B.T.N...These three letters are synonymous with indoctrination, politics, mental and physical 'torture', and the like.
Biro Tata Negara - responsible for handling the infamous Kursus Tata Negara and recently the Kursus Kenegaraan.
'Not again...' I mentally sighed as I held the calling letter in my hand. I was to report at the Balik Pulau BTN camp on the 22nd of October. This would be the third BTN camp I attended, and being an old hand at the game, it wasn't so much the 'torture' (that's just urban myth to scare people from attending BTN) as it was the boring lectures about Malaysia this, and Malaysia that... All the things we learned at school regurgitated back to in a space of 5 days.
And it wasn't that it was that bad of a course (based on the previous ones that I had attended). but it was just that there was so much work to be done at the office, and also it meant time away from my son and my newly-pregnant wife.
But there was nothing I could do as …

And it all crumbles to dust..

Picture credit here

'It's over...'
'My husband found out about us... It's over...I finally filed... for divorce'
I cannot say that I was surprised at the words that I heard from her.
She was on a crash course the minute she let her former lover back into her life... Not that she did anything overtly wrong... A call here here, an sms there, a Facebook message... but all spiralling faster and faster to the same direction... She was a beautiful 30-something, full of life, and so much to give, trapped in a dead-end... Married for more than 5 or 6 years, husband who didn't appreciate her, staying together not so much that she wanted to be with the husband, but more of staying together for the children...
And the sad truth is - she wasn't the only one.
Many women have confided in me the same thing... Each and every one different women, from different walks of life, with different careers, and different histories... Yet their stories are so common th…

Tired mind...

It is now 11.43pm...
Just got back home only about 43 mins ago...
My head is just spinning with an onslaught of never-ending thoughts, bits and pieces, a cacophony of images and sounds and sights and feelings. It's like a broken TV in my head that I just can't turn off no matter how hard I try.
The human mind is supposed to be able to filter 90% of unnecessary information at any single time, whether they originate from the external senses or the internal thought processes. The rationale is simple - too much information and the human mind breaks.
My filtering is probably down to 85% tonight, and even then it's driving me up the wall.
Work...classes... meetings... deadlines... vetting for exams... coordinator for UHB 2422... Marks... Adel's not feeling well... Salmah's coming down with flu... swimming... gym... Ikea... Social benchmarking... consolidation of solidarity...friend's husband's a jerk... need time for herself... why can't men understand how…

And they grow up so fast

It just happens so fast.
It only seems like yesterday that I held my newborn son in my hands, so small and fragile... and I saw him opening his eyes for the very first time... Jet black eyes, seemingly so big and tender on his little face.
And there he was this morning, waving goodbye to me, with his hand in his teacher's and walking towards the kindergarten.
I remember the range of emotions I felt as I saw him walk away. I was proud that he was such a big boy, not crying going to school for the first time, in a sea full of strangers both big and small.
I was happy, but as I drove away I became a little sad to know that my little boy had already started the next step of his journey. Pretty soon, he would be in school, and then high school and college...where he would start asking me for ever-growing amounts of money, borrow my car and put a dent in the bumper... And he would start chasing after girls (and If I read the cards right he's going to be chased around quite often too!)..…

Cow's head conundrum

Fifty local residents protest the building of a temple by marching with a bloodied cow's head.
They want to march in protest? Fine, it is their right. I would probably do the same if I felt extremely provoked in some way, over an issue that was important to me.
Marching with a severed cow's head? Stupid, irresponsible, uncouth, insensitive, moronic, and totally idiotic.
The very fact that these protesters chose to desecrate the religious symbol of another race and religion shows how small minded, how provincial, how insensitive they are of basic respect among human beings, especially in a country such as ours. Don't they realise that they have desecrated something holy to other people?
Don't they realise that this action is the same as a group of Hindus marching through the streets, protesting the building of a mosque, with a burnt Quran in hand???
It is an act of open aggression. An act of open war.
Is this how we would like others to treat us? Does the rule to do unto oth…

My makeshift office

Somehow, there's a magical draw to this place...
When I want work done I sit here.
Pay RM6 extra for coffee than I would in any other place.
Pay RM5 extra for pastry than I would in any other place.
Sit in plush chairs which are would make an office ergonomist cringe while hunched over, doing work that I could as easily do at the office.
Listen to bad jazz music that should have died 50 years ago blaring out of the loudspeakers.
And yet, here I am... hunched over, doing my work, while drinking overpriced coffee... eating an overpriced, overcooked croissant...with butter and jam...
I must be daft...

Life's Brief Candle

Yasmin Ahmad dies at age 51.
A spark of light, extinguished in the blink of an eye.
As famous as she was for her films, there is not one of them that I have fully seen from beginning until the end. I do not know her for her films. Instead, I knew her more for her opinions and how she stood by her convictions, no matter how heavy the opposition may be. Like and indomitable island against on onslaught of tidal waves she stood, firm and unwavering.
And yet, she too was human, and as such vulnerable to all human weaknesses.
A testament, and a reminder to all, that no matter how bright a candle may burn to illuminate the darkness, when it reaches the end, it fades out and dies.
Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow - William Shakespeare
Rest in Peace Yasmin.

Blunder and the Beast

Image credit here

It's a Saturday..
And I have only just finished invigilating the Special Examinations for the First Year students..
Funny thing is, the exam season is over... And they had already taken this exam before...
So why am I here invigilating an exam, when exam season is over, and the students had already taken this paper before, when it is a Saturday where I should be resting at home?
Ladies & gentlemen, welcome to the record-setting blunder of the century (as far as my department goes). I am not a liberty to divulge any details, but suffice to say something happened that made the validity of the exams questionable. And so it goes, the students had to resit the paper again...all 2000-odd students from the entire First Year cohort of the entire University... Setting a record indeed.
What I had seen these past 2 months has indeed been a test of courage against adversity against many malignant forces, with true integrity shown by the few chosen people... The implications of…

The blurry haze

Picture credit here

A lot of my readers may be wondering why the past two months have been extremely quiet here in Lobo's Lessons.
Well folks, truth is so much has gone down the past two months I can barely recall anything. It's all one big blur. Next thing I know, the semester has just started again, and I'm left with the question:
..."Where'd my holidays go?"...
Let me fill you in on some of what I can remember from these past two months:
1) End of term - marking frenzy to submit marks on time.
2) Once marking was done, got 2 SPACE UTM classes for part-time students - 1 in Kuching and 1 in JB (thank God...last year it was Kuching and KL).
3) Fly off to Kuching every other weekend, and go straight back to work the following Monday.
4) Teach weekend classes in JB every other weekend, and go straight to work on Monday.
5) Attend MELTA conference while still actively doing what needs to be done back at the faculty.
6) Was awarded post of Head of Committee for level 2 Eng…

World, meet Biscuit...Biscuit, meet World...

Hello everyone,
My name is Biscuit. I'm a Persian kitten, but my daddy says I have some local blood in me because of my stripes. I like my stripes. It makes me look like those tigers I see on TV whenever Daddy turns on Animal Planet. I like Animal Planet.
I love Mummy and Daddy, and abang Adel (he's my big human brother). I like to bite them whenever I can. Sometimes I can hear them screaming when I bite them. This means that they love me.
Abang Adel most probably wants to be a wrestler when he grows up. He likes to practice his moves on me. I don't mind. I just show him that I love him and bite him.
I am very happy in my house. But there is one thing I am confused about. Whenever I go to the toilet in the small blue box with that strange sand, Mummy and Daddy smile. I don't know what the fuss is. I mean, it's sand right? But when I go to the toilet in the big toilet that has all those beautiful plants, they get angry and lock me up for the night. Look at this picture.

Reunions and Runarounds

Picture credit here
After a group of friends haven't seen each other in a long time, when they meet up in cyberspace someone is bound to have a brainwave and suggest everyone to get together... A reunion.
So what goes into conceiving and planning a reunion?

First, the idea surfaces somewhere pleasantly, and everyone says 'what a great idea!'... 'it's been so long'... 'Splendid!'... and so on and so forth. Next, someone asks the brilliant question - 'Who's going to plan it?'
And then someone suggests a name... and that person suggests another name... and so the buck gets passed, round and round until someone says 'Hey, let's do it in KL... That's a central location... So and so is there, so let's get him to do it!'
And so the hapless guy takes up the challenge, becomes the leader, and starts delegating tasks... and surprise surprise... the ones who were making the most noise are the ones who are least inept and reluct…

Of Marks and Misery

I just had another student coming in, asking to change his marks...
Just 5 more marks for an A-.... Just 5 more marks, so the Saudi Government will not take away my scholarship...
Just 5 more marks so that I can continue to support my brother who is also studying...

The thing is... I liked this chap.
He came to class, did his assignments, scored very high for his coursework...but did badly in his finals... He came, but didn't beg... Didn't snivel... Didn't cry...
Totally different from the guy who came here last week.
I just wish there was some legitimate way I could help him...  But 5 marks is still 5 marks.
If I give it to him, where would be my integrity? My trustworthiness?  My honour? 

If I don't have these... Then who am I?

No use crying over spilt milk

Photo credit here.

I just spent the last 2 hours getting a certain student to leave my room.
He had failed the course due to a few reasons: 1) His English was very weak 2) He regularly skipped classes, and did not even bother coming up with an explanation 3) He missed a consultation assessment, worth 10% of his total marks 4) He missed his final presentation assessment, worth 15% of his total marks 5) He lacked the initiative to even do anything about it until I put out his total marks in the system. Of course by then, the marks would have been finalised
Worst of all, he spent two hours in my room pleading, crying, snivelling, just for me to push up his marks. Two hours of my extremely precious time gone... two hours of my life, snatched away from me...
Some people just can't accept the universal fact - You eat, you pay...
It's just no use crying over spilt milk.
And it's no use crying over two wasted hours of your life listening to sob stories...

My little Daddy's boy...

It used to be that I was almost a stranger to my son.
I realised that throughout his first year of his 2 and a half-year life, my son would not feel secure unless his mother was there by his side... It wouldn't even matter if I was around or not... it simply did not make any difference to him.
Things got slightly better the next year, but the fact of the matter was that it was nice if Daddy was around, but it wouldn't make too much of a difference, as long as Mummy was there. I may be slightly exaggerating there, but that is how it felt... I would go to work, and 2-3 times a week, come back at night when he was asleep... and when I was home, I would be more interested in relaxing rather than playing with him. But of course I would make the effort if I was feeling up to it.
I realised that this pattern was not good for my relationship with my son... So I tried harder.
I popped back from work during lunch just to bring him out to IOI Mall, where we'd get an Iced Milo and some ka…


Every journey has a beginning, and an ending...

And thus, my wonderful journey that I embarked on as a lecturer to my first Drama in Education cohort is almost coming to an end...

I remember seeing them all, one by one, their faces eager to learn, but shying away in the beginning, all reserved in the small cocoons of their own little worlds...

And when they opened up, one by one, I saw in them different, beautiful personalities, each unique in their own way... each finding a place in my affections...and eventually each finding a place in my heart.

Yesterday night was a special night that marked the ending of this journey with them, on the one hand a sense of overwhelming pride that I had directly played a part in their journeys as teachers, building the very foundation of our nation, and even more so, as human beings, being the very essence of who they were and what they became...

To commemorate this night, I sang for them... A tune that they all knew and loved... A tune that we shared sle…

Beverage of the Ages

It used to be that I couldn't drink coffee...
I've always loved coffee, but somewhere starting along my mid-20s I developed a condition that would cause me to bloat whenever I indulged in this glorious beverage. As a result, it would be a case of 'eat now, pay later', where all the enjoyment of the present would be counterweighed by the unpleasant consequences of the near future. A painful acid-reflux reaction often does that to people. So the question that I would have to ask myself would be - "How badly do I need that cup of coffee?"
But strangely enough, over the past few weeks, I found that coffee didn't have this averse effect on me anymore...temporary relief or permanent healing? I don't know... Perhaps it's the mangosteen juice that I've been drinking...
Anyhow, from the frying pan into the fire...
Now I can't get enough of that dark delicious aroma... Tantalising my taste buds all through the working day, enticing me into its hot and p…

The Birthday

Birthdays in my family are usually a happy time - not because we'd have an over the top party or anything, but because it would be the time when the whole family would usually be together, just the share pizza and cake (if for no better reason).
Yesterday was my sister Huda's birthday (Huda the genius - definitely my father's genes all over), but we celebrated it today. Before the party I had the task of looking for her birthday present... The thing is, it's kind of hard to buy presents for girls - buy them a dress and it's not their them a skirt and it doesn't on and so what did I do? Called up the wife and asked for Huda's shoe size...called up my sister Salihah and asked her Huda's shoe size...and bought the safest pair of shoes that were fashionable and could be worn with most colour combinations (and on sale of course!)...hehehehehe... I was so glad she liked them!
However, the party itself was where it hit me the most..…

Anas Zubedy's Plea

Today in the Star, my friend (at least I hope he is) Anas Zubedy made a brave stand against the entire embicility that is our government, and all the involved players called politicians. For those who did not read the full-page advert/plea, I paste its contents below. My hat off to you bro.
Dear Malaysian Politicians,

Please stop the power chase, call for a truce and focus on the economy.

I do not claim to speak on behalf of all Malaysians, but I have strong convictions that many share my sentiments. 

Our concern today is not who rules the country or heads the state governments but the looming bad economy.

Whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat leads, it is meaningless if Malaysians have no job to go to, no money to pay rent and no means to put food on the table.

I am a business owner, like other business owners and managers of corporations I have a responsibility to ensure people under my care and payroll continue to have jobs and a decent income to take home. We work hard and willing …

Almost from the Land of the Rising Sun

It's been a hectic 2 days for me here in Putrajaya..Shacked up and slumming in the majestic open vistas of the Putrajaya landscape, as seen from the balcony of the Shangri-La... These hotel stays are detrimental to my waistline as I am a bit of a gourmand... (enough said). Buuut I try to compensate with trips to the hotel gym and swimming pool.
It was just last weekend I was in KL, and now just under a week later here I am again.. But this time in the capacity as MC for the establishment of the Meiji University Alumni Association of Malaysia, of which university our present PM Pak Lah and our previous PM Tun Dr Mahathir had received honorary doctorates... A rather daunting task for the uninitiated.
But for me I'm happy to say it was a breeze! Another feather in the cap of this MC!
So, after a looooooooooooooooong session of speeches, food, and incessant bowing (of which I am actually very accustomed), it is now finally over.
Overall, a good haul of networking contacts I would say -…

pre - FINAS in the Flamingo

I write this entry in a beautiful hotel room in the hotel Flamingo by the Lake..

Tomorrow, I face all the bigshots of the local universities who have anything to do with student films in a meeting at FINAS...And I'm wondering what the heck am I doing here? I scan through the name list of the attendees - Dato this, and Tan Sri that, and I see their positions - Deputy Vice Chancellor, Director, Dean... And who am I?

Encik (Mr) Abdullah Bin Mohd Nawi.

What is my post? - lecturer, department of modern languages.

What is my relevance to the local film scene? - I teach drama in education, I supervise theatre performances, I act in the occasional short film... but that's about it...

Honestly... What am I doing here?

Anonymity assured

Image credit here.

Recently, I visited a blog of a friend who had blogged about a recent hankering for a McDonalds Prosperity Burger. I was taken aback but not surprised by a comment which was negative towards the entry and its writer, due to the ongoing boycott of McDonalds and other companies allegedly in cahoots with the Zionist regime. I shall save comment on this particular issue as I have had many a debate over it, though I see both camps have a certain sense in their arguments.
The issue here is that the comment had been made anonymously, just as one would write a poison-pen letter, for fear of repercussions of one's convictions. In my view, everyone is entitled to their opinion, whatever it may be, and is welcome try to convince others of these opinions. This in itself is not wrong, but even encouraged here in the academic world. 
However, the issue is that when one is absolutely convinced of one's point of view, and has the willpower to voice it out against another point…


It's just so hard trying to find time to do everything I need to do. 
First, I've got to take care of matters at work, which include lectures and tutorials, consultations, research, and a billion other things so minute that it wouldn't be worth the time to mention them.
Second, I've got my personal life to take care of - seeing that I have time for myself as to not burn out, spending time with the wife and kid, spending time with the parents, parents-in-law, family and extended family, and some friends.
Third, I've got to take care my self-development - Seeing to my role as the Vice President of Education in Toastmasters, working my way up up to Competent Communicator and hopefully Competent Leader within the organisation, constantly upgrading my knowledge on my subject matter, and of course, chase that ever elusive PhD proposal that I was supposed to have finished last semester.
Fourth, I've got to take care of the other things as well, Emceeing jobs, giving talks…

TAG - 25 Random Facts

Ahhh, it's that time of the year again, where bloggers delightfully indulge in the activity called 'tagging', and this time round I have been tagged by Fauziah Ismail. And so, to kill multiple birds with one stone (by answering this tag I also answer previous tags made by some blogger friends), here are 25 random facts about me:
1)I used to be a gaming addict during my student years, playing games from dawn to dusk on my computer and console when I had the time. Not so much anymore, though I do enjoy the occasional game.2) I first met my wife at the bowling alley. We were both teachers, bringing our bowling teams for the district tournament.3) I used to think that my name was ‘Ambulat’ when I was about 4, but got to know otherwise a year later. This was probably because my parents always called me by my full name, and that was how it sounded to a small child... Kinda aptly describes my shape now though.4) To date, I have written 5 songs, most of them during my college/uni y…

We are Family

Can Christians and Muslims co-exist on God's Earth? 
By right we should be able to, as among all the religions in the world, we are most closely bound together by blood and faith. We are sibling religions, and yet we have waged war amongst ourselves since the time of the Crusades, and still do until today, spilling precious blood for the glory of what we perceive our religions to be.
Yes, there is a time for war. However, there is a time for peace.
I was going through this blog that I recently discovered, and found a diamond in the rough. It would seem that I am not alone in my views. I repost the entry taken from here:

I congratulate the Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Harussani Zakaria as 2008’s recipient of the Tokoh Maal Hijrah. I would also like to thank him in making clear that Islam is tolerant towards the other faiths. 

As he quoted, “We do not condemn Jesus because he, too, is a prophet in Islam. Neither do we destroy the many temples and places of worship because our religion refra…

Awaken the Racer within

Photo credit here

There is something almost irresistable when a motorcyclist is faced with a red light.
He stops (if he loves life). Soon, one by one, his brethren start forming a line on both sides, each stopping as if held by the invisible shield of the red traffic lights. 
Each biker a stranger, on different bikes, from different walks of life. 
Each trying not to be seen looking at one another, though one does catch discreet glimpses at individual bikes, marveling at bigger and tougher bikes, and triumphing over the smaller, cheaper bikes.
Each pair of eyes fixed to the traffic lights ahead of them, not daring to miss a beat for fear that they would be left behind in the oncoming onslaught of heavy traffic behind them. Brothers in arms, for sixty seconds, until the changing of the light.
Soon there is an elecric quality of excitement buzzing in the air.
VROOM! VROOM! engines are revved mere seconds before the lights change to the all-powerful colour of the US currency.

The Reason

It was with no little pleasure that I stepped once more into the granduer of JB's former number 1 spot for retail therapy - City Square. 
If I recall correctly I hadn't been there for more than an year and a half... Not because I was boycotting (the catchword of the day) anything there. There simply wasn't anything uniquely there that I couldn't find anywhere else. If I wanted to shop for basic daily goods and hang out at a mall that provided most of the things I need, I could go to IOI Mall which is a mere 5 minutes drive from my house. If I wanted to catch a movie, I could go for the full monty in Jusco Tebrau, where the screens are huge, the sound systems crazy, and  the parking free with the ownership of a Jusco card (instead of the RM10++ which is usually charged for the timed parking in City Square). Basically there was no real need for me to brave the traffic and being stuck in the notorious traffic.
But, just for old time's sake, I figured why not...
Because fi…

Inspiration in half-light

It's been a sombre time in my house for the past week now - all because my wife had fallen sick... pity the poor girl. This meant that when I'd arrive home at night, dinner would be prepared, and then after that she would go for her prayers, and then straight away nod off. Overworked, underpaid, and sick... Pity her.
This also meant an extremely loooooong period of being by myself at home - pity me... :)
But yesterday was different. After dinner, I went up to my bedroom, switched on the air-cond, dimmed all the lights, and drew open the curtains to the splendour of the view of Gunung Pulai in the half-light.
It was beautiful... the light of the moon reflected off the surface of the rooftops and the palm trees of the golf course surrounding us... The streetlights eminating a warm glow to the streets below them, as if inviting the world to bask in their quiet radiance... Like smiles of familiar faces in a vast unknown sea of strangers.
I was at peace.
I picked up my guitar and arrang…

Men, Women and GPS

Sometimes one wonders how our two species even co-exist on the same planet here on Earth (though I do not dispute that I cannot do without these heavenly creatures). I know that it's a cliche, but men and women really have different ways of communicating. In this post and in some other future posts I will try to decipher some of the wonderful and mysterious ways that women try to convey their messages with.
I think, one that remains a delightful mystery is the method of communication that I like to call the "Tone and Pitch GPS device". For some reason, I've noticed that many women that I've come into contact with have the abilty to transfer coded map information in the pitch and tone of their voices. It's a wonderfully mysterious device that I seem to have been born without... And oh how I wish I could own one. Allow me to illustrate:
During my sister's wedding recently, almost all my uncles and aunts attended, and of course, while they were in JB they mana…

The wisdom of House

"One day, One room"
A quotation by the doctor everyone just can't help but to like, dislike, and admire all at the same time - Dr Gregory House. 
Life is a series of rooms. When you enter a room, you will find someone there. This is the person who will share that part of your life with... Whether you choose to like him or her is irrelevant, and this does not only pertain to girlfriends, boyfriends, etc... This includes the best friend you had during childhood, the school bully in your teenage years, and even the old lady that sweeps your school grounds. You don't choose who you share the room with. 
You merely spend a certain amount of time with them, before walking to the door, twisting its handle, and walking out... Where you will walk a few feet to the next room in line, and open the next door...
That is life.
Once we truly understand this do we realise our relationships with the thousands of people we all meet in our lifetime - Make the most of every room, and make the…