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Showing posts from August, 2012

Merdeka... and muntah.

I am on Facebook, and I see throngs of status updates wishing a Selamat Hari Merdeka Malaysia.

People have changed their profile pictures to flags, or to pictures of them with flags. 
All to indicate their love for their country. Their Tanahair. Their Ibu Pertiwi.
As for me, I ask myself what do I feel?
No over the top compulsion to break out into patriotic song.
No compulsion to change profile pictures, to upload pictures of flags.
Nothing.
Why?
I don't know.
Part of me says it's that i'm sick of everything that is happening there. Merdeka slogans that mean nothing at all about achieving Independence? Seriously? The Independence song that has the phrase Kedai 1Malaysia in it?? Seriously??? Why are you trying so hard to push propaganda down people's throats? Why are you so insecure? When are you going to learn that Malaysia is not the same as BN? When are you going to learn that the harder you push something down people's throats the harder they will vomit it out?

Like a hammer

"Every soul shall taste death" (Holy Quran)

Death is inevitable. It is the other side of the coin for life. We know it, and acknowledge it.
Yet, when it hits we are never prepared.
Yesterday, my wife received news that her father had died - twice. One from a relative who was misinformed, at 7pm NZ time, when my father in law was actually still barely alive. One from my own father at 3am NZ time this morning, when it was confirmed that he had passed on.
And both times I saw her cry, like her heart had shattered into a million pieces. The anguish in her agonised sobs could not be hidden. All the pain and the frustration, the feeling of helplessness at not being able to do anything while being in another country thousands of miles away from home, tore from her very being.
And I was powerless to do anything.
I could only be there comfort her and wait for the storm to pass.
In my mind however, I was very thankful that we managed to do at least one thing. A few hours before, my fa…

Thesis in Three

Image credit here.
In a PhD, we are expected to write close to 100,000 words.

In a Masters we are expected to produce 30,000 words.

Imagine all the effort and pain it takes to write even a single paragraph of an academic masterpiece. Your theoretical framework, your methods and methodology, your research context, research participants, analysis, discussion.. the list goes on and on. In imaginary terms, with a PhD you try to come up with substance that can produce the mass the size of the Earth, and the thickness of your final thesis reflects this.

Now imagine that you have to take this planetary sized mass, and compress it. Compress it until the very ground you walk on shakes and moans, buckling under the strain. Compress it until everything comes to a juddering stop. And you are left with a ball the size of a marble, but containing the mass of a whole planet.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is the Thesis in Three.

Three minutes to sum up your life's work.

Three minutes to justify you…

Ramadhan 2012

Image credit here.
It is only a few more days until we reach the end of the holiest month in Islam.

It is time for retrospection.
Praise be to Allah the Most Compassionate and Most Merciful for allowing us to draw breath until this very second. To be able to breathe, to be able to live, is sometimes a ni'mah that many of us take for granted; for it is through His will and His pleasure alone that we remain on this Earth. Even that is only for the briefest time, before we return to Him, and await Judgement.

Judgement. Where our eternal fates will be decided. Where there is only eternal bliss.. or eternal damnation.

No middle ground.

What will we be able to do in the Supreme Court of our Lord? Who or what will defend us against all the sins that speak out against us, each lengthening the Sirat Al-Mustaqeem, making it further to cross, and ever so much easier to fall into Jahannam. Who?

And the answer is our deeds, on this Earth, for the briefest time that we draw breath. That will be…

Coffee

Picture: My caffe latte served with my wife's Raspberry and White Choc muffin


It began with a shy look.
A college student with barely two coins to rub together, walks past a Coffee Bean cafe and wonders how his some of his friends can afford to drink a coffee that costs as much as two whole meals.
He looks up at the price list, steals a glimpse of a straw touching a pair of luscious lips, and sees the dark, cool liquid move up the straw... and sees the person's eyes close with pleasure.
And he quickly looks down.
"One day" he whispers to  himself, "one day I will drink you".
It has been many years now since the college student made the promise. He is now a... well, he's still a student. Except he is now studying towards his PhD in New Zealand. He has drunk countless cups of coffee. Some coffees cheap and cheerful (and usually always upsetting to the stomach), some coffees more refined than others, and some coffees verging on being luxurious.
I am known …

Eat, Pray, Visa

It's been more than a year since my last post, and I am frankly a little surprised my this blog still gets hits. But what can I say, doing a PhD punches the wind out of you, so much so that you only have a vague memory of what life was like before that.

Right now it seems like there are only two phases in my life - PhD, and pre-PhD. The strange thing is, it's not that I've been buried in journal articles and papers for the past years, just swimming round and round, drifting aimlessly as I do so. It's more the little things, that bury me, where I'm just swimming round and round, drifting aimlessly as I do so.

Seriously.

It's like instead of being on the "where is the next conference" and "when is the next journal due?", we get questions like these: "how am I going to register my son in his new school?", "how many hours teaching am I doing this week?", "have I filled in the timesheet yet?", and "when am I ev…