Atchafalaya Swamp

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Good Bye, 'Bang Captain

Mat Salo said...

Bang Cap... Salam Takziah.. Alfatehah..

Your beloved mum passed on at the same age as my nenek last year.


Bang Captain, a main who does not mince his words nor suffer fools gladly enables "comment moderation" on his blog. This was to deter anonymous hacks and fools.

His beloved mother passed on barely four days ago and I posted my condolences about three days later - or more precisely, only three days ago.

Two days later (the 17th - or maybe even as late as yesterday, the 18th?) he had approved our comments to appear in the cybersphere. My only solace, therefore, was he had read my very last comment to him, along with Pak Zawi's and others.

Who's to know The Maker was to take him away too? Barely five days after his beloved mother who had brought him into this world?

Many may not know this but it was I who "introduced" him to the blogging fraternity. He had approached me first, not because I was a blogger of any repute, but because I was "family". Furthermore, we also shared the same alma mater.

In the 50s he lived right behind my late grandmothers house in Seremban, which meant that my uncles were his playmates. My mum, the eldest, was a good ten years older so he called her Kak Zah. I had just broken the news to my mum, long distance from a rig in the mangrove swamps of Samarinda, Indonesia, where she will convey the sad news to his childhood playmates - my two surviving uncles.

These photos were taken sometime in early 2007 when I brought Bang Captain to meet the heavyweights for the first time . He has since become great friends with these bloggers,and a regular fixture at their gatherings, where I, unfortunately continue to languish in crocodile-infested river estuaries.

I have no doubt he will be sorely missed by these bloggers, as will his family and friends.

And so will I.

Many thanks to Elviza, Pak Zawi and others who had alerted me of Arwah's passing. Al-Fatehah.


I am rehashing one of my earlier posts because of the comment he posted. Skip the story if you like and head directly to his comment. My grandmother too had passed on about a year ago

The Matriarch, The Nude and The Chicken Coop

The year was ‘69 and I was in my first year of school.

With the day drawing to a close, Nenek’s high-pitched shrieks can be heard permeating the soggy evening air - summoning me for my evening bath at the well. In the days before
electricity found its way into our kampong, the path to the well could very well be perilous you can imagine. It got dark very quickly too, because the sun seemed to set a lot earlier in the kampong. But a likelier explanation would be the abundance of tall trees quickly blocking the sun’s rays, and thus with an irrational jealous pang I wondered (no, I'm sure) whether kids in the city would still be out playing.

I sat on the stoop of out in front, defiant and ignoring Nenek's calls, the cement feeling like a block of ice under my buttocks; the stone made cold from sun's fading warmth.

In that melancholic evening, I believed I felt the first stirrings of emotions that I can ever remember. It was feelings of hate and of rejection all rolled into one – the exaggerated version for seven year olds.

The reason for my slow-burning resentment was my being exiled from my parents. Father worked in an estate faraway where the only primary schooling available was for the children of estate laborers (read: Tamil). In the highly gentrified environment of post-colonial plantations, no conductor or mandor worth his salt would be caught dead having their children in a vernacular school, especially a Tamil one. But given a choice, I wouldn’t have minded being in an impoverished Tamil school. At least I would be in the bosom of my beloved parents.

My grandparents were the kindest of people, just like most grandparents the world over. Their efforts to cheer me by spoiling me didn’t often lift the veil of sadness that hung over like a monsoon cloud. And spoiled me they did, because Atuk catered to (almost) every whim of their first grandchild. He even got me a dog once, but that story will have to wait. Strangely I hear they weren’t always kind to their own offspring – I remember Mother telling me a story once when uncle broke his arm after falling from a rambutan tree—an additional beating was in store for him when Atuk came home from work. To drive the lesson home, I suppose.

That very same uncle, who was an overdue bachelor at the time of my incarceration was entrusted to keep me in line, and he took on the sacred covenant from my parents with utmost religious zeal. And trust me, he had quite a few sticks rather than carrots in his bag of tricks to enable him to carry the job. Sorta like George (Bush).

For failing to memorize to multiplication tables, an apt punishment for one was where I would have to spend moments of sheer terror in the chicken coop. The sheer terror factor was ratcheted manifold if the sentencing was conducted after sunset. Not one to go down without a fight, I was often dragged kicking and screaming into the hen house. And only to be released when either Atuk or Nenek happened to chance upon the scene. Uncle’s intentions were good no doubt, but what if there was a thirty-foot long python lying there in wait?

The chicken coop had its place in history somewhere further down the line and became (to me at least), one of the most celebrated but unknown chicken coops in existence. How so? Let me explain. Late into adulthood I discovered that my grandparents at various times before I came into being had hosted ‘foster’ children in their government quarters in Seremban. Atuk’s job as a chief clerk in the old colonial administration allowed them a modest wooden house across the famed King George the Fifth School, popularly known by its acronym KGV.

These weren’t real foster children you see, but kids of distant relatives and acquaintances from remote villages who were sent (boys usually) to my grandparents house because of its proximity to the premier British institution. One of the ‘foster’ children – this shocked me really – went on to become one the most celebrated and highest paid painters in Bolehsia. In ’98 one of his Pago Pago Series oils went under the hammer for a record 40,250 Singapore dollars at a Christie’s Singapore auction.

Just before leaving for Europe in the 60’s to live the bohemian life as an artist, Latif Mohideen gave three of his paintings to Atuk and Nenek as a token of gratitude. One was an 'impressionist', the one I recalled hanging high above the grandfather clock and was the first thing you see upon entering the threshold of our kampong house. Alas it graced our living room but for the briefest of time. Later, Nenek came to realize that it was a rather convoluted surrealist version of a nude
with a huge single breast and an outsized areola. Latif must've painted this during the phase when and Picasso and Dali were considered de rigueur.

Of course, this didn’t fit well with nenek’s image as an Ustaza who taught the Koran at the village Madrasah, so one fine afternoon she got Atuk to take it down. And there it stayed in the shed at the back of the house, forever to remain anonymous to people with fat wallets who attend Christie’s and Sotheby’s auctions, and also to scholars in fine arts departments at universities the world over.

The Matriach, 2003. © matsalo

Years passed and with Atuk’s demise in the very early 90s, nenek had no choice but to shuttle between my one surviving uncle and a Chinese daughter-in-law (Yes, that uncle has since passed on - Al Fatihah) in Seremban. On occasions she would stay with Mother too. With no one to care for the creaking boards and peeling paint, the house became more and more decrepit, as unloved homes are wont to do.

It was only a decade or so ago that I decided to enquire about the painting. You don’t how much I’ve regretted my tardiness since. Nenek is still alive but is somewhat senile, and once, in between bouts of lucidity, she let it slip to her favorite grandson (that’s me) - that Atuk had used the painting (yes, "breast/areola") to patch the roof of the chicken coop.

I don't blame Atuk at all for his lack of aesthetic acumen - because who was to know what the future holds? Atuk had also once also traded his Rolex (it had cost him seven-hundred in 60s Bolehsian ringgits) for a dinghy digital watch to a backpacker who passed through the village. Please remember that this happened in the 70s and digital watches with blinking LEDs with faux gold bracelets were a novelty, if not expensive. That's the sort of person Atuk was - bless his soul - always ready to oblige.

I’m still in the hunt for the other two paintings though, one of which was a typical scene of village women toiling in paddy fields at harvest time. For the life of me, I can’t quite remember what the other one was.

Further inquiries revealed that none of my uncles knew where the paintings went. Nor Mother. Nor anybody else. Even Latif Mohideen has fled the scene. Hmmm . . . I shall need to pay a visit to the village house soon - but the dilapidated doors and windows have remained shuttered since - what ? - two, three years ago?

Somehow I have this burning need to fulfill my quest, just to give it some closure, if nothing else. Maybe I should give it a rest. But maybe I should start looking at the cow shed, because the chicken coop has long been gone and the chickens have since been converted to human protein or quite possibly devoured by that thirty-foot python or its progeny.

Years ago I paid the village idiot some money to dismantle the chicken coop and burn that sorry piece of eyesore (and of bad memories) to make the grounds presentable for a Hari Raya Eid celebration - the photos you see in the story. Deep, deep down, my brain strongly rejects any possibility that the Nude could have already turned to carbon. I'm sure some good sense must have prevailed, but we're talking about the village idiot here, who is known only by his nickname Berok (Malay for Monkey) for his climbing prowess and proclivity in collecting coconuts from trees. Perhaps, and most very likely, that the idiot here is me.

Whoa - there could be a gross total of somewhere between 100 and 200 thousand Bolehsia dollars out there sitting among the rafters and junk of my childhood home.

But who am I kidding?

Note comments by Arwah and the first of Kickdefella's comments.



The Ancient Mariner said...

I remember Latif Mohideen. As a schoolboy he had painted the murals in the KGV school hall. I wonder if it is still there, could be worth a lot of money now.

I also remember your grandparents and they were very kind to me when I was the neighborhood kid a couple of doors away.

Sheih said...

I love reading this. I know this is my first comment here, but when I read about your missed rendezvous with you Pa, I felt really sad.

This piece which I read today remind me to a lot of think. Perhaps its time for me to leave KL.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

London in June ... and a treat by AG

It turned out I wasn't the only one feted by Awang Goneng. Pak Zawi was already there days earlier terrorizing AG's wallet and relieving our confounded host of his Great British Pounds.

Yes, that AG, the famous anok Tengganung, master wordsmith of both English and Malay (albeit of the Tengganung Kite kind), an all around great guy and a thirty-five year veteran of living on English cod and salmon. Apa? Ikang tongkol tok cukup sedap ke?

Awang Goneng, for some reason or other, had decided that Mat Salo was worth his time. My own boss at work once said behind my back, 'That Mat Salo . . .he ain't worth killin'. For AG's selfless random act of kindness . . . I thank him from the bottom of my heart. Thank you, Sir!

Surreptitious e-mails were sent, (again, Pak Zawi had a hand in this), and a note by Kak Teh in this blog soon found me walking to Whiteleys in Queensway where AG would lie in wait at a bookstore (where else?) on the first floor.

Interestingly, according to AG, Whiteleys is one of the oldest department stores in London, which makes it one of the oldest department stores in the world in my book. As I trudged my tired limbs upstairs - I had been cycling for some days - I happened to pass Lillian Too's Feng Shui shop. It was shut and looked to be out of business. Now, don't you think the Queen of Feng Shui would have known better and sited her store at a more, shall we say, auspicious place? What hope then, for mere Feng Shui deficient mortals like us?

Anyway, the reason he asked to meet there was so we could have lunch at Malaysia Hall, which happened to be around the corner. Now that was a revelation
to me because the last time I looked Malaysia Hall was someplace else. But that was twenty years ago. I didn't know it had moved since.

I was a bachelor then, traveling from Malaysia to Aberdeen to attend a week long seminar. The circumstances surrounding my presence at the old Malaysia Hall two decades back was harrowing to say the least. I was there to meet an ex and her newfangled main squeeze, to get - what
today people would refer to - as "closure".

I'm not making this up. At the time I hadn't really planned to see her at all. Why should I? After all she had dumped me in a terrifying "Dear Mat" letter some time soon after hitting UK shores. And over a year had elapsed since her posting that "Dear Mat" letter and my sudden, unexpected visit . Anyway she was not in London but in some city up north, hundreds of miles away. But Brother Fate, and its sister Miss Coincidence are about to rear their ugly heads.

Clawing my way from the Banks of the Clyde to Malaysia I decided to stop in cold windy London for the night. Having nothing to do I decided to call a mutual friend, a girl who went to boarding school with the ex, she giggling excitedly over the phone, 'Eh Mat, know what? Your ex is in town with her boyfriend lah. She's on her way over, let's all go to Malaysia hall for dinner tonight - you know where, right? See you there!'

Hah. She's in town! How about that? In a fair, just and perfect world it would have been cause for celebration. But the world isn't round or fair or just. It's horribly flat, square, with sharp serrated edges. No. This can't be happening. But there you go. Brother Fate, Miss Coincidence . . . how do you do?

Now that friend probably doesn't understand the intricacies or nuances of messy break-ups, especially long-distance ones. Perhaps she hadn't experienced any. Or was privy to my fantasies involving throttling and wringing necks. Anyway, those thoughts had long passed and converted to . . . what, I don't know.

To say that the reunion was "awkward" was an understatement. A meeting of ex-es can never or will ever be described as "joyous". Reigning in flat out murderous impulses would be closer to the mark. As I stood there outside the former Malaysia Hall, one hand in my jacket to keep that London chill out, lighting cigarette after cigarette, passed an old VW Golf. Or was it the Rabbit? I wondered (belatedly) if I shouldn't just abandon this meet altogether, for it really served no purpose at all. Except perhaps, to tear old wounds.

In the rusting blue VW was our mutual friend driving, carrying inside what once held my dreams, hopes and object of er, lust. And not forgetting too beside her, hands on thigh probably, was The Guy who helped take those whimsical notions away.

It took a while for them to show up at the entrance, and it wasn't for lack of a parking space. Perhaps they needed to huddle down, figure things out at this rather unexpected entrance by Mat Salo, stage left, blindsiding them. To them perhaps, I was some kind of monster, a jilted raving maniac of some kind, bent on retribution. And they may be right. Anyway it was the girls who appeared first and true to Mat Salo's form, pretended like there was nothing ever between 'em, just a meeting of some old flames, er, friends. The Guy, they said, would join us "in a bit".

"In a bit", huh? Now how about that kiddo? Got cold feet?

Eventually Adonis, God's version of the perfect male form, came hurriedly in from the cold like a surreal scene from a Peter Lorre movie; scarf flailing, eyes shifting, looking nervous. Being the older and more mature guy, a cool and calculated Mat Salo turned up the charm (until the knob could go no further or else the potentiometer valves would blow) and set about putting The Guy at ease, joining him for cigarettes while the girls go inside to order food . . . and to gossip perhaps at the scene about to unravel outside?

'Fraid not, he's not the Adonis.

Sorry to disappoint but there was no scene "about to unravel" outside. We'll me and The Guy won't ever be buddies, that's for sure, but at least there was a semblance of civility. The art of conceding defeat, being a gentleman, that sort of thing, part of being a man in a woman's world.

For the life of me I don't remember his name or what happened to him eventually but I do know that the ex, after getting her Bar and a stint at LSE, went home, met a Mat Saleh bloke and eventually became an American. Perhaps it's fitting that I eventually met the woman of my (real, rational and practical) dreams, married her and became an Indonesian. That's a joke, by the way.

Bloody hell, and I thought we were supposed to be talking about AG here . . . and how did my post get mixed up with trips down memory lane?

AG and MSD's deputy director, on his left.

Some photos of me and my boy below, occasionally finding ourselves lost. Real men, they say, don't ever ask for directions. Not ever. They just blow 200 quid on some gadget called Garmin, and still can't find their bloody way home.

Seriously, part of the fun of travel is getting lost. But don't tell that to the spouse who pre-approved the Garmin purchase at John Bloody Lewis, eh?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lives In The Balance: Party Time!

In my previous post, Pak Aa Gym's story took place the day after. This is about what transpired the night before. In my book it's called redemption, to find a balance between light and dark, the bad and the good.

Saturday night was spent at a very happening Jakarta nightspot called SHY Rooftop on Jl. Kemang Raya. Kemang is a bit like Bangsar at night; where the city's young and beautiful upper-class crowd get to look and be looked at.

Housed on the fifth floor of a very futuristic glass building, SHY has an open area balcony where one can gaze at Jakarta's sprawling skyline while nursing a none-shariah-compliant concoction.

I went there with a friend (whose sex I shall not divulge for fear of repercussions and incrimination) who insisted, "Bang, this is where the artistes bareng (hang out)". And I was not disappointed...

The ambiance was first class, the decor smart and cozy. In Malaysia it would be the size of an average pub housed in a shop lot. There were perhaps thirty to fifty patrons in all, coming and going.

The music? M
ostly acoustic guitars with only the bass being amplified, no drums, just bongos and tambourines to the accompaniment of vocals so sweet it will bring tears to your eyes.

SHY being a musician
's joint, the band played everything from Jason Mraz to Sting to Bob Marley. Aaah...

The crowd? If I told you I got to dance with Maia would you believe me? I'll let the pictures tell the story.

I even get to jam my Canon Ixus 850iS right in her face.

Ah, drool over, because everything is about balance, right?

Roy Marten's son, Gading, inadvertently shared a table with me. Apparently he's following in his Dad's footsteps, making a name as actor. I couldn't tell him from Adam until my friend whispered in my ear who that guy across the table was.

Maia Estianty? Everyone knows Maia,the hottest woman in showbiz. She's currently undergoing a very public divorce with mogul Ahmad Dhani, fighting a bitter battle over their three children Al, El and Dul. The kids are also musicians in a band called Lucky Laki, managed by the male parent, who at present has custody. Not a day goes by here in Indonesia where one isn't bombarded by news of Maia and Ahmad Dhani's woes spelt out in gritty detail... I really wanted to ask her how she handled the pressure of it all, but it wasn't a good time. I felt that she wanted to be left alone and I could respect that. Hey, being the subject of gossip and slander by tens of millions, day in day out, must be terrible. Ever since that Ahmad Dhani took up with Mulan, Maia's duet partner in Ratu...

Lives In The Balance: Good Works Vs Bad

I have always held firm to the belief that we must have some balance in our lives; some sort of yin and yang in equal measure. To do some bad and to do some good, because to see the worst in human nature will make us appreciate the nicer parts of humanity. And I don't mean women's bodies...

I'm sure many of you will disagree but that's just me; seeing bad in good and good in bad. And I'm always grateful to be able to tell one from the other.

Because... how else would I find myself in what once was the largest prostitution area in the whole of South East Asia last Sunday afternoon?

I said,
was. Remember the tense, please, was.

It's in north Jakarta, past Tanjung Priok, at a place called Kramat Tunggak.

What once housed close to 4000 rooms in 277 buildings employing hundreds of
germos (pimps) is now the Jakarta Islamic Center. I dare not even speculate how many PSK's (Pekerja Seks Komersial) this bustling area once had. Ten, twenty thousand? More?

Anyway, all that was demolished in 1999 and early in the millennium the Jakarta Islamic Center had replaced all that had once brought misery and ecstasy in equal doses.

But don't take my word for it. Go here to Mualaf Center Online for a background on Kramat Tunggak.

So you ask, what the hell was I doing there?

I went there on a self-induced mission to visit a friend who once worked as a radio operator on my rig in Kalimantan.

Pak Aa Gym, fiftyish and obese, suffered a stroke about a year ago in his
kost (rented room) in Balikpapan. Workers like Pak Aa Gym don't get to go home during time off like I do because their point-of-hire is in Balikpapan. They see their families perhaps once or twice a year, usually over Lebaran Idul Fitri, and of course, paying out of their own kantong celana. They just don't make enough. Their schedules are usually "two-one" - two weeks on and one off, and it was on one of those "offs" that his neighbor noticed that he had not emerged from his kost for two days running.

So he had suffered a stroke, alone in his
kost, with no one giving a damn.

He was hospitalized for a while and when he was able to walk, his kin came to take him home to Jakarta. He had, by then, lost his faculties to speak.

So I promised myself that if I ever spend a day or two in Jakarta, I would hunt him down and pay my dues to a fellow comrade.

But finding him was no easy feat. I had to ask around until I found another offshore worker called Sugeng who could get me his address. So I kept that battered piece of paper with some crude references to
Bekas Tempat Prostituisi Terbesar and finally, there I was.

I kept the meter running on the taxi (no need to expound on my getting lost in the maze of Tanjung Priok - the taxi driver had never been there either) which eventually made me poorer by almost RM 150.00 (yes, it's that far). After asking around I found the "Ibu RT" (some sort of neighborhood leader) who finally led me to Pak Aa Gym.

There was no one home except Pak Aa Gym, dressed in a white T-shirt and sarong with a metal cane by his side. He had lost perhaps fifty pounds. He registered surprised, and a pitying 'huummm, huummm' escaped his throat. He grabbed my waist and cried. And so did I.

And so I had come to fulfill my vow.

What struck me was what "Ibu RT" said to me as she left me outside his gate, "Pak, you're the only friend from his workplace that visited".

In reply, I said, "Alah...but my house is just on the way, Bu...", shrugging it off.

She had no idea that my house is in another country.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"Rainbow Warrior" aka Laskar Pelangi

Best movie I've seen in a long while, folks. And that includes all the Hollywood ones.

An adaptation from Andrea Hirata's novel, the first of the tetralogy, this movie broke all box office records in super-populous Indonesia.

You'd think with rampant
ciplaking and DVD bajakan going on, people won't flock to the big screen any more. But they still do. Especially when a real good movie comes along, they still line the velvety ropes, don't they? Great movies are best savored on the big screen, as God had intended them to be. Not on your plasticky grey China-made 21 incher in the old 4:3 format.

Even President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was not spared by the movie's impact. He forced his whole cabinet to watch at a legislative sitting - just so his reps can truly appreciate the failings of Indonesia's public school system.

All this was almost a year ago.


And it still hasn't hit the big screens at our glitzy cineplexes in 1-Utama or Mid-Valley either.

Poor culture-starved folks in Malaysia can only settle for generic (and forgettable) horror fare like
Setan Budeg.

A gross injustice has been perpetrated here, man. I almost feel compelled to write to Cathay and TGV, the main movie distributors in Bolehland, and ask -

I live and work in Indonesia - each time I come home to Malaysia I open the movie listings page with trepidation - and disappointment.

Notchetyet, lah.

It's been so long that even the official DVD has hit the shelves here in Indonesia. I've been raving about it to my family so much that I already bought some to bring home. Just to feed their curious anticipation too.

The DVDs are in my laptop bag right this moment and coming home to a private screening at my cluttered living room on my 32" CRT TV soon.
Belum ada Plasma laa bang...

Cinematography? - Top Rate.

Acting Cast / Ensemble? - Brilliant. Cut Mini Theo is beautifully cut out for her role as the early seventies Ibu Muslimah. Supporting casts include stellar Indo thespians like Ikranagara, Tora Sudiro, Jajang C. Noer, and Alex Komang. But the kiddie actors, as in Slumdog, is what this movie is all about.
Folks, you're going to shed plenty of tears. Don't say I didn't warn you!

The actors had to undergo intensive training in Bahasa Melayu to perform their roles convincingly. And after watching it you can almost believe that you are watching a Melayu movie. A "Melayu" movie that became the best-selling ever movie in Indonesia, that is. Imagine that, watching a an "Indonesian" movie - arguably the best ever - in Malay?

According to Cut in an interview, she had "begged" director Riri Reza and producer Mira Lesmana for the role of Ibu Muslimah. Riri was impressed that Cut was able to impart a certain sadness even while smiling, a required trait that l
anded her the poignant role.

The set direction was flawless. As a child growing up in the 60s and early 70s, Belitung was similar to rural Malaysia as I had remembered it. The producers certainly took great pains to create scenes for this period piece. Great for nostalgia buffs.

Is this the best Indonesian movie I've ever seen?

Yes. Me thinks it deserves and Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

I'm hoping the Malaysian Cathay or TGV distributors will come to their senses and bring it in for release.

Just don't borrow the DVD from me, though. It has already been booked months in advance!

And please don't buy the pirated copy. Besides, it's haram to do so.The original DVD will probably find its way to Malaysia eventually. Better yet, and I'm sure good sense will prevail, Laskar will hit our cineplexes soon.

Better see it on the big screen


I was prompted to write this after being inspired by Alina Abdullah's take in her "ranting chanting" blog.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Reshmonu's HARAPAN CD - Buy it!

If you have tuned in to our local stations when you make that daily grind to the office you most probably have heard Oh Anok Anok right? Yeah, that's the one, the catchy Kelantanese-inspired anthem. (Click for the MTV youtube video)

That's by Reshmonu and the lyrics are by my beloved, multi-talented sister, Pacha.

His first full-length Malay album has just made it to market, folks, with Pacha penning most of the lyrics. Pacha had also written his award winning 2004 hit Cintaku Pergi.

HARAPAN is up for 5 nominations for the upcoming A.I.M. (Anugerah Industri Muzik) Awards 2009 in May for Best Pop Album, Best Engineered Album, Best Music Video, Best Male Vocal Performance for 'Sayu' and 'Doa Untuk Dia'.

To order the CD, please go here. It comes with a nice denim CD "sock" by Key Ng.

If nothing else, proceeds from my sister's royalties will go towards me taking you guys out for teh tarik, eh?

Hiresh's lovely wife and son with Pacha.

Hiresh with my sister at the opening night of her first solo. In the background is my niece N and partly hidden by Resh's mic is A, niece of both Kak Ton's and Nuraina's.

Excerpt from Resh's Facebook:

Subject: My Album ‘HARAPAN’ earns 5 nominations for the A.I.M (Anugerah Industri Muzik) 2009

Hey there thought I’d share the good news.My latest full length malay album titled ‘Harapan’ just earned me 5 nominations for the upcoming A.I.M awards happening May 2nd. The nominations are for the following categories :

1. Best Engineered Album
2. Best Music Video - ‘Oh Anok – Anok’ the MTV
3. Best Male Vocal performance in a song ‘Doa Untuk Dia’
4. Best Male Vocal performance in a song ‘Sayu’
5. Best Pop Album

I ‘m overwhelmed at the fact that this first malay album of mine has earned a place among a majority malay music industry. I am humbled that it has earned its recognition among my fellow musical comrades…my only hope now is that ‘Harapan’ reaches you… my supporters! (available exclusively @ www.rrecords.net
) Would love to extend my sincere gratitude to everyone involved directly or indirectly in the production of ‘HARAPAN’.
BTW: With regards to the release of my next English album…mmmm???? All I can say is somethin’s cookin in my music kitchen!!!! (hint:- Soulfull Funky House music in session!).


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

More (Yawn) Bike Stories

My boy turned 8 yesterday, and he also came out 3rd in his term exams, so what did I do to reward him amidst this raging recession and BN's recent humiliating loss? (Is this Perak's and Kedah's "gift" to the newly-crowned First Lady?)

I bought him a scaled-down replica of former world champion Thomas Frischknecht's race machine: A Scott Scale JR 20.

The "20" means twenty inch wheels when adult-sized bikes are 24 inch. So it's a kid's bike. But a serious kid's bike armed with Revo Shifters, front and rear derailleurs,front fork with 55mm travel, the whole works.

Come visit my other blog for more of this insanely inane, stupendously mundane and lame ho-hum stuff.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

On Cloud Nine Pt. 2 - "V009" actually made 9th!!!

That's right, folks. I was "upgraded" to 9th!

Damn the organizers, or praise 'em, rather? - because the official race classification came in almost a week later!


This is something akin to what happened to Jarno Trulli in the opening F1 season on the same day as my race. Lewis Hamilton was eventually disqualified from his third placing and Trulli bumped up to third from fourth.

Apparently legendary Pat "Pig Pen" Brunsdon (V012) and "Ironman" supremo Wan Shahidan (V019) had jumped the gun. In Pat's and Wan Shahidan's case, there were so gung ho on starting (a bit like being kiasu laa) that they started off at the first flag-off in the Open Class.

They were supposed to start off with us, about 10 minutes after the Open flag-off. It was a bit chaotic I suppose since there are hundreds of us jammed on that small lane waiting for the Pajero to lead us on a rolling start. The Pajero had some dudes in the rear holding a huge Selangor flag ready to "drop it". So these two decided to trail the Open pack I guess, thinking the Vet class race was going to be on a slightly different and shorter route. In Pat's case the marshalls made him go on the longer Open Class route (see note above), Buy why Wan Shahidan was positioned 18th I wouldn't know. He must have committed a bigger sin like failing to pass a checkpoint (shortcut?) or something when he actually had the fastest time.

In any event I'm a happy puppy.

Like everything else in life, we should play by the rules and hope to "get lucky" sometimes.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

On Cloud Nine

My smile says it all...

Folks, today I surprised even myself. The presence of expat Pat "Pig Pen" Brundson, Gary Choong of CycleWorx Singapore, Farizul, and some hard core athletes like Wan Shahidan did not deter me one bit. Back in '06 Gary made top 50 in the International Tour of Thailand (ITT) and will make some piss in their pants. And he made Top 50 IN THE OPEN CATEGORY, not some piss-ant "Veteran Class" shit. I was only nine places behind number one (Wan N). And seven places behind Gary. Yeee-haaa!

You heard that right, folks! Mat Salo with race number "V009" made tenth place. I was shocked. Which means I smoked some of 'em rider-athletes-cum-super-heroes that were once featured in newspapers...

After crossing the finishing line in almost two hours (there's one portion where you had to push up the bike up a 45-60 degree slope for 1 km, with no way to ride it, what with 200+ cyclists bottle necking the single-track - that's why it took so long) the marshalls at the finishing line said I came in tenth. I couldn't believe it so I grabbed the list to be sure.

Too bad there's no prizes for coming in tenth but knowing that I smoked some of 'em super-established guys?

It is indeed sweet, folks.

After crossing a small stream halfway through the race the whole bottom lip of my clipless shoes' got snagged. I had to look for some 'tali rafia' to hold it in place. If it had stayed intact - could I have been on the podium? Excuses, excuses...

Pre-Race: Leaving the house at 7.00 a.m.

Pre-Race in Sg. Buluh... all suited up.

My 15-year old first-born in the Open Class. He "DNF'd" at the last checkpoint due to a broken chain...

Pre-Race: Marshalls zooming past on their motocross bikes while I don my gloves and say a little prayer...

Me and Le Tua's pro Lim Yew Meng who came in second in the Open Class. Of course Yew Meng's in the same team with Indonesia's Number 1 and 2 rider Samai Amari and Tonton Susanto - participants in the recent LeTour DeLangkawi.

Strollin', Strollin' ...past the finish line...

Main sponsor's tent: Ng Joo Ngan's son- imcyclist.com

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Man In Mid-Life

Mat Salo in (poor) post training form, March 26, 2009. T minus 3 days to Race Day this weekend.

I guess like all men hitting the "magic 50" they start to do something "crazy" - and I'm certainly no exception to the rule.

Some take on mistresses or an extra wife, some will purchase a low-slung two-seater sports coupe, or a Mark Levinson (yes, Kim Catrall's hubby) hi-fi, or a big plasma TV. I wonder if going to umroh or haj is a consequence of mid-life too?

Back in '04 - GP Speda Race Series - note the "boghoi" factor

Me? As soon as I came back from Indonesia I decided to do something that I had not done since 2004: enter a goddamned MTB race. Back in '04 when I was not quite 45 I managed to complete 100 k on a road-bike. But that was five years and tens of thousands of sticks of cigarettes ago.

And I've also piled on the pounds, in case you haven't noticed.

Mean, but not-so-lean-nor-trim in '04

So this weekend I'll be competing in the men's "veteran" class (45 and above, of course) but for old-timers like us who couldn't get it up more than once a single night, the course is only over 15 km when normal UCI sanctioned cross-country MTB races would be at least 24 km or 4 laps on an average 6 km loop.

So why am I doing it? I don't really know dudes and dudettes.

Perhaps like all men in mid-life, we all start "losing it"?

Wish me luck this Sunday the 29th, eh?

If you're keen, it's near the old leprosy hospital in Sg. Buloh. Go here for directions.)

Brand New Shimano XT "clipless" installed at Joo Ngan yesterday.

Transferring "clipless" cleats from new to old shoes...