Atchafalaya Swamp

Saturday, April 29, 2006

I Know What Mr. Pitt Must Feel Like

And Mr. Stone Must Feel Like Too...

I’ve been blessed with two wonderful boys—5 and 13—heroes, you might say... and the Mat Salo household is about to receive a new member, God Willing folks!

The scans shows it’s a girl—Wahoo!

My wife is due for delivery (in gynecologist’s parlance—EDD—estimated delivery date) on May the 23rd. Angelina Jolie’s EDD is rumored to be on May 18th. And my buddy Stone’s missus is also due around the same time. Baby of the year honors will be hotly contested between TomKat’s and Brangelina’s… But you know already who MY Baby of The Year will be!

But as the norm with these things, when it’s due, it’s due. So that’s why I’m feeling a bit ‘antsy’ at the moment. Nervous. Restless. And a wee bit impatient. Especially when I’m away in a foreign land working. As I write this, May 23 is three weeks away and I can only leave for home in about a weeks’ time. That gives me about two weeks ‘grace’ period. Will there be enough time?

Because my first child came into the world three weeks early, and this was the time we lived in Miri, Sarawak. I was on the drilling rig and I couldn’t get a replacement soon enough. Dear missus had to take a cab to the hospital! I don’t think my dear wife has ever forgiven me—especially because it was our first child too!

As much as we guys feel these things, our wives have it much, much worse. She’s the one carrying the child, and there is no pain to rival the pain of childbirth. But then there’s nothing to rival to its satisfaction either.

So I’m praying real, real hard that I’ll be home in time.

And you know what the other headache is folks? It’s looking for a name. What’s in a name? EVERYTHING. Especially for my first baby daughter, yes? You can bet I’m trawling the net in all ‘Muslim Baby Names’ search engines and website for that elusive and special name.

And you can bet your sweet ass that my life will be changed forever, if it hasn’t already. Ironically, my buddy Stone who’s already blessed with four girls will now receive his first boy soon. You can bet that he’s fantasizing the endless ‘futsal’ nights-of-the-future already huh?

For my part, now that I’m nearing 45 means that I’ll be past 60 when she finishes high school! So this is an impetus for me to change my life and try to stay healthy. But foremost it’s all God’s hands, folks.

Dear God, help me be around to see my little girl grow up, and perhaps let me live long enough to marry her off...if that’s not too much to ask?

Reprinted below are excerpts from one my favorite songs, and it summed up what the ‘ultimate rocker’ Phil Lynott experienced after the birth of his daughter Sarah. Gary “Still Got The Blues” Moore co-wrote the tune and supplied the excellent jazz-tinged acoustic solo.

One, two. One, two, three, four

When you came in my life
you changed my world
My Sarah
Everything seemed so right
my baby girl
My Sarah

You are all I want to know
You hold my heart
so don't let go
You are all I need to live
My love to you I'll give
My Sarah

When you begin to smile
you change my style
My Sarah
When I look in your eyes
I see my prize
My Sarah

You are all I want to know
You hold my heart
so don't let go
You are all I need to live
My love to you I'll give

You are all I want to know
Oh my Sarah
Don't let go oh…


Saturday, April 22, 2006

The World According to...Lorry Eng

Eng ‘Lorry’ Bukan Eng 'Dobby’

A certain ‘Net commentator had mentioned to me (in another forum) to do a piece on this enterprising and unassuming Mr. Eng, a transportation tycoon from the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia.

Mr. Eng, hale and hearty at 69, is the typical Chinaman who arrived in the then British Colony of the Malay States—at age 10—with literally the shirt on his back, and a penchant for hard work. His isn't a typical rags-t0-riches story though, because his father and uncles had arrived much earlier and later sent for him.

He had started his transportation business in the early sixties bit-by-painstaking bit: first with small lorries to transport oil palm from the field to the mill, then branching out to trucking. It now encompasses everything from container trucks and general-goods trucks with side-curtains, to specialized tankers for fuels and sugar.

I had the opportunity to lunch with him and played chauffer in my wife’s Honda when he showed us around the wonderful towns of Bagan Serai and Parit Buntar. Believe me, these are wonderful towns that evoked the era of days-gone-by.

While driving him around (with him insisting each time to drag us to even more out-of the-way places) he gave my traveling partner and I a blow-by-blow account of events that had shaped the area in the last 50 to 60 years. We couldn’t help but keep glancing at our watches. It was only time constraints that forced us to politely decline his animated ‘tour guiding’ offers since I really needed to be back in KL. I was leaving for Indonesia the next day you see, and it had already violated a tenet in making the trip, which was solely to attend a funeral of an old school chum’s father.

There are lessons to be learnt from this from self-made millionaire that no How-To or Harvard-type business books could ever hope to impart. It is easy to see why, too.

Right of the bat he appeared enthusiastic at our visit. It was my partner who knew him really, but the way he treated me made me feel like we’re cut from the same cloth. In minutes we were acting like last long, lost buddies. He has the innate ability to make you feel at ease, and I can see why this singular trait had made him very rich. I suppose he treats us just like he treats any of his business associates, or government department officials his businesses so much depends on.

And he is hard one to resist when he makes an offer—an invitation or proposal because he also proposes alternatives that it’s impossible to turn down. Mr. Eng is by no means urbane, speaks almost no English, and his Malay is of the China Sayor/Bukit variety. In other words, just your typical apek. His drives a regular re0conditioned Volvo despite owning a fleet of trucks (The new S-Class would not be beyond him), but no so frugal as to not sport a modest Rolex on his wrist.

Jangan kasi peluh keluar barang kichi

With charm and wit in spades, you can almost forgive his halting and sometimes incomprehensible Malay. When asked the secret of longevity and good health, I swear it sounded like an excerpt of the popular book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. “Itu kichi-kichi punya hut jangan kasi pusing kepala laa” was how he put it. How apt indeed, Mr.Eng.

And he’s a big believer of fate to0. Shades reminiscent of Qadak and Qadar? Of course he had omitted to tell stories of the decades of hardships and toil. As we passed the back roads, he commented on the wooden rows of Chinese shops probably a century old. He was trying to prove a point about a person’s ‘luck’.

Not all Chinese who migrated to Malaya 'make it'. He said, “Ini cina ar, bukan semua bole jadi kaya. Kalu betot apa pasai sudah ada tiga generation—masih itu duduk dalam itu kedai kayu lagi…apa pasai bukan di banglo di KL ka apa…jadi dia punya nasib sudah itu macam”.

That’s fate and destiny for you, according to Mr. Eng.

Also, he doesn’t believe in expanding into other lines of businesses even if he was flushed with funds, especially a business he knows little of. When asked why he never ventured into, say, construction. He said, “Aiyah, cukup aja kita bikin ini transport (business), mana tau kalau saya jadi developer mungkin sudah bangkrap”—or words to that effect. So just stick with one knows best was his advice and to not be overly ambitious.

Better not overextend oneself, I suppose. For the consequences can be disastrous!

Please don’t entertain that notion of “bukak cawangan baru” no matter how tempting your riches can afford you to. Hmm...was that the point he was trying to make?

Mr. Eng had probably been a multi-millionaire in the seventies, so I asked him why he didn’t buy himself a title, especially from a State like Perak, where titles were once sold (probably still is) to the highest bidders? This prompted a tirade from him in that WHY would anyone want a Datukship? Why create a headache for oneself and attract attention from all kinds of people?

I'm assuming he meant attention from 'no-gooders'.

Syoru punya hal..daa

That few hours spent in the restaurant and later in the car driving around barely scratched the surface of this apek’s infinite wisdom. And speaking of the restaurant, inappropriately called the Shangri La, I must say it was one of the best Malaysian Chinese cuisine that has ever landed on my tongue, into my oesophagus, and out the juboq.

So much so that I promised myself in a few months’ time (after my wife has fully recovered from maternity duties) I would drive the three-hour drive from KL to this fine establishment just so my better half can be similarly feted. It’s THAT good.

And I can say with some authority here because in a past life, I had also eaten at a place called the Celadon in Chinatown San Francisco. Some overseas Chinese swear that the Celadon serves “the best Dim Sum (dumplings) dishes anywhere—even better than the best ones in Hong Kong”. Apparently the best Chinese cooks from Hong Kong were pinched and taken there. From connoissuers in that Gay City I had heard that second best Dim Sum is in Vancouver, Canada.

Matsalo, the purveyor of fine syoru, among other fine things has also tasted exquisite Keralan and North Indian cuisine. But that's another story. Please don’t ask the ‘kosher-ness’ of the foods I’ve sampled though, I already said it was in a past life, duh!

We literally licked cleaned the plates—fish gravy and all. Surprisingly, if this old man has such a hearty appetite, how come he’s clean of all the afflictions that “rich” foods can supposedly bring? Same with that 50p-a-trick prostitute in Nairobi, Kenya I guess. The one supposedly immune to AIDS and got the worlds’ medical researchers all agog at the moment.

I suppose we can sum up a couple of points from Eng Lorry's Pearls of Wisdom:

· Specialize in one thing, and do it well
· Don’t sweat the small stuff (heard this plenty of times before)
· Don’t be greedy, learn to be grateful
· Work hard, play hard, but take the time to stop and smell the roses
· Be humble, and never show arrogance
· Don’t worry be happy?

But the one I liked best: If you chose to be indiscrete, do it elsewhere!

(Isn't this the same as 'Don’t eat and shit at the same place?')

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sunday, 16 April 2006

Borneo Blues Kembali (the return of…)

Excuses, excuses…

I was home on shore leave for almost a month in The Land Of Can, and more than one irate reader had e-mailed in to complain of my “tardiness”—for not producing my blog in a timely manner, for which I will readily apologize.

I should be grateful I suppose, for at least I do have readers out there to engage me, rather than having none at all.

Kembali ke rahmahtullah (to Him we shall return to)

A close friend had just lost a father who succumbed to that plethora of illnesses (hypertension-diabetes-renal failure combo) prevalent among Malay men in their old age.

I was most fortunate to be still in Malaysia on my very last day at home, so with a friend The Grand Sheikh, we made our way to Bagan Serai in time for the prayers and the burial. It was the least we could do to lend support. I had to fly out of the country less than 24 hours after the burial; my last day in Malaysia prior to a trip abroad is ALWAYS hectic. I was more than happy to be at the funeral, but sad that a dear friend had lost a father.

Speaking of that “plethora of illnesses” earlier, it is wise to note—as we approach the mid-forties ourselves—that we are in a way, suffering the ills of “the rich”: hypertension brought on by a rich diet and sedentary lifestyles. In our quest to seal our fate in the material world, we neglect basic health precepts. Add poor diet (too many santan-laden meals), no exercise, smoking, and that scourge of scourges—stress. Heck, I’m guilty on all counts. And I’m by no means alone.

For what it’s worth, I think lets take a step back and see how we can improve the situation. I’m all for the weekly FUTSAL, mostly attended by a bunch of diehards from my high school, but each of us need to have a more regular fitness plan of “vigorous” exercise of at least a half an-hour each time, THREE to FOUR times a week.

One way to lower stress is by praying (now the Sheikh would certainly approve of this), listening to music, or having a hobby. I wouldn’t recommend the ‘Amans Bah’ route though; a triple-bypass survivor friend of mine who six months after surgery ran in a full-blown marathon. Talk about a new lease on life. I also don’t recommend a “hobby” like blogging, because life is stressful enough. Why even bother to blog you ask? In my case it’s just to fulfill a “need”. Some people crave sex, and some people blog, mine is somewhere in between and that’s all there is to it. Yeah, and pigs DO fly, people.

Moving Pictures (not a Rush album)

I’m talking about movies. In my quest for a healthier lifestyle, I conveniently neglected the exercise factor. I put in some serious time to watch some DVD’s (under the guise of lowering stress levels) of recent releases in the comfort of my bedroom.

So let’s see. I’ll start with WHAT I watched with my 12 and 5—year old boys first--Roman Polanski’s Oliver Twist with an excellent performance by the superb Ben Kingsley. What? Roman Polanski making a kids’ movie? Wasn’t he the famous director charged with statutory rape in California back in the sixties, jumped bail and escaped to France to evade trial? The movie was OK (matsalo rating ***out of*****) but that little fact considering the brutal rape and sodomy on the then 13-year old in Jack Nicholson’s hot tub colored my enjoyment of the movie. Roman has never gone to the ‘States since, not even to collect his Oscar for The Pianist some years’ back.

Instead of counting sheep, next I chose the critically acclaimed Good Night, And Good Luck starring David Strathairn and George Clooney for my late-nite viewing.

On top of being the supporting actor, it was also Clooney’s second directorial effort after Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. It was shot in black and white for the ‘period feel’ of the fifties, so it did generate quite a few yawns for me. Actually the subject matter was most interesting in that it dealt with the famed CBS TV journalist who went against Senator Joe McCarthy during the anti-communism and McCarthy’s infamous ‘witch hunt’ era. I rate it **** out of***** only because of the yawns and heavy dialog that forced me to use the remote quite a bit. Recently, Messrs David Straithairn and George Clooney were both nominated for the Best Actor and Director Awards respectively by the respected (more respected than the Oscars in my opinion) British BAFTA.

Transamerica came next, and this controversial movie starring Desperate Housewives’ Felicity Huffman was very much enjoyed by my wife and I. I give it a full *****out of***** because it will make you think about family and relationships for days on end afterwards. The protagonist (Huffman) is a male trapped in a woman’s body and is about to undergo a sex change. Her portrayal is so damn convincing that it brought to mind Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie. 'She' discovered that ‘she’ had 'fathered' a son in a long-ago relationship. The teenager needed to be saved from a life of male gay prostitution. The son was on a quest to find his father, and she needed to keep the fact a secret when she finally found and sprang him from the juvenile lock-up. Is this woman-my-father kind of thing? Needless to say there were hilarious scenes ala Tootsie but a lot of serious ones too. It’s a must-see, folks, please take my word for it. It’s the second-best movie after Brokeback Mountain that I’ve seen this year. You can bet that the Malaysian distributors will practice ‘self-censorship’ and not even bother to apply for the screening permit. Which is a shame really, because every thinking adult should watch both these movies.

Finally, I just had to watch Capote, to see what the hoopla was all about. Played by American Philip Seymour Hoffman (who won Best Actor in the recent BAFTAs), Truman Capote is the true story of the famed writer who in the late fifties and early sixties befriended a convicted killer who had slain an entire family as they lay in their beds. From his interviews with the killer, Capote wrote a bestselling nonfiction novel called In Cold Blood (1966) that practically defined his body of work since he more less invented the 'non-fiction novel’ genre. He was not just your average best selling author because some of his work had also been turned into popular movies, the most famous being Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1958) starring Audrey Hepburn. He claimed to have taught himself to read, and that “writers are born, not made”. He reportedly scored 215 in a college IQ entrance exam. And did I also tell you he was gay?

It seemed to me that the ‘best’ movies released this year have a very common thread. It started with Ang Lee’s (2006 BAFTA's Best Director Award) Brokeback, then Capote, then Transamerica. But ‘Trans dealt with transsexual-ism, but some would argue that after the sex change, the character then became ‘gay’. Confused? So am I.

Well, it certainly looks like it been a ‘gay’ year so far. Sign ‘O The Times? To some, will the themes for movies and controversies this year spell the approaching day of doom?

Edisi Perdana Playboy Indonesia

The inaugural Indonesian edition of Playboy magazine in the world’s most populous Muslim nation certainly raised the doomsday scenario up a notch. The publisher had to move its premises Jakarta recently due to ‘security concerns’. They are currently being ‘persuaded’ by the police to not publish the second issue, for fear of a much more violent response from protesters. Constituti0nally, the publisher is on the right side of the law, but to me, the real issue is the Playboy moniker. To the protesters, the name itself evokes pornography and outright debauchery. So it’s not a question of content, but name. So what’s in a name? It’s all Pria Bermain to me, as opposed to Pria Beriman. So what’s wrong with that? Some folks are just jealous of Hefner, who with the miracle of modern science can still 'swing’ at the ripe old age of 80.

Some of us can’t even swing when we were half his age. But why bother with the guy? A lot of folks are inclined to let it pass, knowing for certain ‘ol Hef would burn in that place where Satan rules. To me there’s no harm done, least of all to Playboy Bunnies. And definitely not to Hefner.

Back in the very early eighties, I too had a brush with Playboy Enterprises. A certain ‘family friend’, the gorgeous lady had asked me to drive her to a certain address off Jalan Gurney. It turned out to be the home of a former Deputy PM (he was not the DPM yet at the time) with the initials MH. So it was a very private meeting with Datuk MH with no one else present. I just lounged around the foyer after getting to shake his hand while they repaired to the back room for discussion.

On the way drive back, the lady told me that basically she ‘represented’ Playboy, among her other businesses, and was curious if the Malaysian government would allow her to team up with Genting Berhad to open a ‘Playboy Club’—with Bunnies of course, up there in the casino highland resort. It seemed to her a good proposition at the time since legal gambling was already allowed in Islamic Malaysia, so why not a Playboy Club? In hindsight, Hefner had actually lost money in the few exclusive clubs that he had started in the US and had to close them down. So it was most fortuitous that MH advised against it, really for fear public backlash, since legalized gambling was already a bit of a stretch to a lot of Malaysian Muslims. But it’s an interesting story, and yours truly did get to meet with MH. So that was my first thrust in the world of Playboy Enterprises. Later, while in college in the US, I subscribed to the magazine simply because of its cheap student rate.

But I still can’t get over the look that lady in the college mailroom gave me every time I came to her window to ask for my ‘mail’. In the deeply conservative South, I was, by their standards, morally corrupt. How can that be?

Mantan Cewek Bulek

In my junior year in college, there was this foray with a matsaleh girl, in my first sexcapade. I happened to be a mentor in my junior year, and like most colleges the world over, we have a ‘get-to-know-you-week', so I was a mentoring a group of freshmen. One of them was a wide-eyed blue-eyed Scandinavian-derived blonde from Small Town America, and I had watched one too many ‘Porky’ movies. So thinking I was going to ‘get lucky’, after a campus night tour, I started plying her with wine at the college refractory (bar) . I somehow got her to come back to my student digs, under the guise of checking-out my latest and the penultimate Police swan song album Synchronicity.

The short of it was I tried to get ‘fresh’ with her, hitting first base and well on the way to second. Then she began to protest.

I insisted, taking her ‘please NO’ for a ‘playing-hard-to-get YES’. I told you I was brought up on a diet of Porky’s and Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Admit it, we all were. During the ‘fumble’, I felt a sharp sting across my face, a well-deserved slap intended to potong stim. I said well deserved because she was a virgin. Take it from me, she was. I think the shame then overtook the pain of the sting.

Then she ranted about how skewed my perception of America was, and NOT every high school girl loses her virginity on Prom Night. This was certainly a revelation to me. And to my testosterone addled morally corrupt brain this was definitely a shocker.

Then she went on saying how the movie industry was controlled by Jews that liked to corrupt America's youth and thus giving a false impression of American (Christian?) moral values around the world.

So thus became my induction into manhood and the sexual mores of the American Bible Belt, thanks to a blue-eyed blonde virgin with perky upturned err…you-know-what.

There was a happy ending though. Eventually we kissed and made up. Six months later we became ‘an item’, and then it took a further six months…ahh, let’s just end the story here shall we?

Sunday, April 2, 2006

The Week That Was…Monday, April 3, 2006

Rampok Blues and Matters Spiritual

Mutiara Damansara, Monday (matsalo/asp). What a hectic week it was, running around first over the “rampok” incident, talking to the police, and replacing bank passbooks and such, and later to organize with the Sheikh (who was very kind—God Bless him--to loan his premises as the venue) a mini-doa’ and tahlil session to bersyukur over my wife’s 7th month successful pregnancy (so far, Insya'Allah). It was also an excuse to bersillaturrahmi with some old friends which I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for some 30-odd years.

(Amans Bah with a Query. matsalo images Copyrighted)

All things considered I was lucky indeed, and I am grateful to the Almighty for His Benevolence and continuing protection always.

The Sheikh had invited Uztaz Zaharuddin (http://www.zaharuddin.com/) for the tahlil session post-Isha prayers last Friday. It was actually a mini-sermon and NOT the usual doa’/tahlil events that most of us Melayu Muslims are accustomed to.

(Grand Sheikh Faez, far right, with from left, Asab, Azes BE, George, Ariff)
matsalo Images Copyrighted.

As the good ustaz mentioned, there are two ways to hold a zikir. One is the traditional way and the other is a sermon type. I’m very happy to note that the latter is gaining popularity. The problem with traditional tahlil session is this: The moment someone invites you to come over to their house for a tahlil, the first impulse is to look upon the invitation with some sort of disdain. A heavy heart, yes? Well, I understand perfectly.

The problem is a lot of tahlil sessions done the usual way can be construed to some as boring, I’m sorry to say, but it’s true. But what if we call in a distinguished speaker, an expert in a particular field, say Syariah Compliance in Islamic Banking for instance, in a very informal setting? Now I’m sure this would be more palatable to most. You can even eat finger-foods, drink tea and smoke (check with your host first of course, if the smoko permit covers the interior of the venue) while listening in rapt attention on subjects you are likely to be ignorant of: Islamic Jurispudence, The Seven Deadly Sins, Syariah laws, whatever. Now this would be interesting wouldn’t it?

Needless to say, I am most impressed with this type of session and I’m even going so far as to suggest we hold something like this more often, say maybe once every two months, and we rotate the venue. We could even chip in to cover costs. It would be a Distinguished Lecture Series like they have in Universities but in a very informal setting, minus all the pomp. So I expect someone to carry on the torch and I hope to hear some positive response soon.

(Ustaz Zaharuddin, left, with Ustaz Firdaus, a UM Usuluddin scholar from West Sumatera)
matsalo Images Copyrighted.

(The All-Important Pre-Syarahan SHORU--sampling Mohsin's TTDI Delicacies. From left Captain, Que, George, Asab, Stone, Abu Qistina)
matsalo Images Copyrighted.

My HairStylist, My Spiritual Advisor

I was happy to get my hair toussled again by none other than fiftysomething stylist par excellence Mr. Harun Enduk. It has been quite a while since I last saw him because he had had an extremely busy year. In case you didn’t know, Harun was the official Stylist for last years’ Akademi Fantasia working his magic on Marsha's and Nikki's tresses, and was also in Secret’s (a deodorant I think) Beauty Search TV show. In the eighties he was Stylist to the Stars like Sheila Majid. He also has his fair share of Bollywood Queens too when they come to Malaysia for a shoot. Harun owns the Crimpers outlet along the main road in SS2, Petaling Jaya.

I’ve been close friends with Harun for more than a decade already, well, almost as long as I’ve been married (he styled my hair for my wedding). But what brought us together was since this fiftysomething bujang terlajak hails from Dungun, we had a lot of mutual friends. Some of the people that I work with in offshore Terengganu were Harun’s classmates.

Harun’s beginnings were most humble, starting as a caddy in the Dungun Golf Club in the very early seventies. A lot of Dungunites think that if he had taken golf seriously, he might’ve even ended up like Vijay Singh! He has the physique though, almost six feet, and still very fit. He tells me he still goes to the gym in Bangsar thrice weekly. If you didn’t know it, he looks more thirtysomething than fifty! By the way, when we were in high school, Harun used to grace the pages of local magazines as a model for Levi’s on account for his rather nice posterior. Now don’t get any ideas about this “nice posterior” business, wokey?

Anyway he had some bad news for me in that his younger brother “Ali John” passed away some two months back. Innalillahiwainnalillahirrajiun. Ali John was a mere acquaintance but we’re of the same age, the arwah maybe just being slightly older. He leaves behind a wife and two small children, the eldest daughter being in Year One.

He had married late (close to forty) and only discovered the heart ailment a few years ago while undergoing a gall bladder operation. At that time he was employed as a safety officer with a small contractor in Paka. After going in and out of hospitals and IJN, he was thus forced to resign. I heard the company that laid him off was wound up recently. Lucky for him his wife had the foresight to uproot the family and move to Gombak where she got a job as P.A. to a Petronas senior manager. The relocation was also to facilitate his frequent visits to IJN. Alas, it was already written in the Book. I apologized to Harun for not being able to come for his tahlil though.

For those of inclined to see any “Brokeback” related issues in my conduct with Harun, look no further. There are none, as we are just good friends who value each others' counsel. I dare say, he is in a way a form of “spiritual” advisor to some as countless women will agree. You know how women can spill their innermost thoughts to their personal hairdressers? Strange but true. Why can’t these women approach a respected Imam or Tok Guru to tell their troubles? Why? Is it because the Tok Iman will tell them that they’ll burn in hell forever for their transgressions?

I’ve often joked with Harun that his job is something like the Catholic priest one sees in the movies in a “confession” scene . Except he gets to play with their hair and it doesn’t occur in some dark, claustrophobic booth. Harun speaks excellent English, a damn good listener, and above all wise from listening to so many human-related issues. I do envy him a bit though because I really wish to be the person that a friend or family member can turn to in a moment of crisis, self-doubt and trouble.

For me this would be the ultimate accolade.


In an upcoming episode, I will relate how a 55 year-old card-carrying PAS member-for-life, thrice-haji-ed and in the process of memorizing the Quran (Hafidz), came to ME (yes, you heard that right) to seek counsel on personal issues like whether to divorce his wife of some thirty-years or even to disown the eldest daughter.

Incidentally, he spends at least RM 50,000.00 annually for related good works (Tarbiyyah) on top of compulsory Zakat. He recently became a pensioner but now consults with Petronas Carigali.

With the wise counsel of the Grand Sheikh, I have told this elderly gentlemen to seek Dr. Harun Din's help.

No, not me, no sir. I’m not even qualified to boil water to cook maggi. But there’s something to be said about a person’s approach, I suppose. He was forced to seek my view because he had gone home only to beat his wife for the first time after consulting a “Tok Guru” about his marital problems. So how? Mat Salo sure ain’t no preacher man for sure, but I’m not going to recommend anyone to go home to beat their wives or wayward kids. Or disown allegedly straying daughters who just decided to rebel by not wearing the headscarf any more.

Tune in for more titillating commentaries next week folks. I guarantee thee...things can only get racier eh?