Wednesday, 22 December 2010

France: Paris

I know this is late, but November and December has been hell! my workload increased 300%, and in the middle of that I had to go through some really big changes..

I'm in no mood to write about France, so i hope pictures will do, ne? ^^ By the way, these are pictures of the city of Paris. They are more or less in chronological order..

Street vendors selling towers of all sizes! and they're real iron! Most of them wouldn't let me take a picture, but I got lucky..

Paris is famous for the arts.. I just love the way the sketch captured the boy's eyes...

Aww.. there's never a cuter couple than a daddy and his precious little girl~

A boat cruise on the Seine River, which coursed through much of the historical sites in Paris. There are many cruises to chose from, but this one leaves from the Eiffel Tower, which is close to my hotel.

Life on a boat! I've always wanted to try that... remember Pergau? ^^

Autumn riverbank from the cruise.. I love fall colors!

Eiffel Tower from the cruise dock..

I didn't actually get to go up onto the tower.. :( Way too many people waiting in line, and I couldn't leave my sick mum alone. So amik gambar je la..

If you've read or seen the Da Vinci Code, you'd know where this is! That's my mum and behind her is the famous glass pyramid of the Lourve Museum.

I love ancient buildings.. They have such a feel to them.. By the way, The Louvre grounds are a lot bigger than the pictures show. It's HUGE!

I wish my DSLR had better zooming lenses.. *sob* the artistry on these buildings are awesome!

The glass pyramid is surrounded by shallow fountains. Sometimes you'll see gulls (that's a bird, people!) swimming and floating around. For some reason, they can detect camera lenses..

My mum insisted that we visit the Egyptian exhibit. Actually, you aren't allowed to take pictures in the museum, but I couldn't help it.. Cats! ^^

These jewelries belong to the ancient Pharaohs (Fir'auns)..
Beauty truly is a timeless thing, isn't it?

You know that heart shape everyone makes these days? well, this is literally the ancestor.. This is a 'heart' pendant. Back then, this means love... XD

Ah, the beauty needs of a Queen~the darn face cream containers are made of marble people! does it get any more indulgent than that??

Just so you know, the painting's ancient... I'm not sure if that's real gold on the ceiling, but knowing the french, that's not at all impossible~

More really old paintings and more gold.. There were also sculptures on the walls, but I need to keep this entry as U rated as possible. The ancients really loved detailed body parts... (-_-)

See the bright gallery behind my mum? Those sculpures are so amazing in that they are proportionate and so detailed. Not to mention 'anatomically correct'..

This famous lady.. Just to get to her you'd have to walk to the end of a very long hall! And when you get there you're immediately disappointed, because she's protected by a 10-inch bulletproof glass, and no one's allowed within ten feet of her. Hence the real bad photo. BUT! she really is worth the trip.. Monalisa's smile really does make you wonder..

A big red hall with paintings the size of Godzilla.. My mum loved the paintings in here, but taking pictures of all of them would take me all day..

This is my favorite painting: The Coronation of Marie de Medicis at the Notre Dame Cathedral, a day before the death of her husband King Henri IV. Out of the many French historical personality I learned of back in highschool, her name stands out the most...

Pont Neuf (New bridge), is one of the many bridges that connects Paris to the small island in the middle of the Seine River called Ile de la Cite (Island of the city). This particular bridge is four hundred years old.

L'arc de Triomphe (Triumphal Arch) was built by Napoleon Bonaparte. It's a very famous landmark and it is historically rich. However, I didn't get to go down to see it. Pictures were taken from a double decker tour bus.. :(

Look at the carvings.. How long do you think it'll take to carve stone??

Under the arch there is a tomb built to commemorate all those who have died defending France. There is an eternal flame burning at the tomb. I wanted to see that.. T-T

Eglise du Dome, at Les Invalides. This is the place where french war veterans used to retire. There is also an extensive hospital and infirmary apart from the church. Napoleon was buried at this complex.

One facade of the Invalides. Note the weird shape of the trees.. This garden is one of fifteen in this complex.

Ever watched the Hunchback of Notre Dame? This is the famous cathedral. See the two towers?They house five church bells, one of them weighing 13 tons!

Had to take this from the bus, since my mum was too weak to get down and have a look. See the crowd? Haish, what I would give to go inside.. (-_-)

I like this pic, even if it is a little blurry.. This is the west side of the cathedral, taken on the bus practically during Magrib. Instead of Azan, the loud bells were chiming 7 pm.. This picture literally ends my two day adventure in Paris..

In front of our hotel on the day of departure back to Malaysia. This was right before I had to hail a cab to take us to the airport. My mum was happy here, but she wouldn't be an hour later when she found out our taxi fare amounted to EU 61 (RM 240)!

I'd like to go back to Paris if I have the chance. I didn't really get to see the place; I didn't even climb up the Eiffel tower! Next time, I'll have a better idea where to go and what to see.. where to eat even! Anybody wanna come?? ^^

PS: Next entry is France: Montpellier!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

It has to start here..

Counting calories is torture enough, but counting calories on a 800 kcal diet?

FYI, the average daily recommended calorie intake per person is anywhere between 1500 to 2000 kcals, depending on gender and weight. Most overweight people are recommended to lower their calorie intake to 1200 kcals a day if health reasons so dictates. So, where does 800 kcal measure in all this?

Simple: starvation.

But before we all jump to the Sofie's-tryin'-to-kill-herself conclusion, let me just say I'm doing this under professional supervision, and only for the next two weeks.

I guess I'm sharing this for the experience.

And as warnings to those who may have made plans to invite me over for brunches, barbeques and or eat-outs of any kind any time soon.

And as a strong reminder that I don't want to do this again, EVER!

Monday, 8 November 2010

A woman is independent when..

... she found out she's locked out of her house, and the first thing she does is:

1. Find the nearest masjid for Maghrib and Isya' prayers,
2. Find meehoon goreng and iced tea at the nearest mamak stall,
3. Beg her neighbor for a metal saw,
4. Proceed to cut through the front grill lock by the light of her car..

... all while entertaining phone calls from the so-called guys in her life: 1) the out-of-state dad who started the problem, and 2) the younger brother who is just too busy to help.

They say men take action. I have yet to see that actually happen.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

JYJ Showcase..

The constricting feeling in my chest got worse the further I moved away from Stadium Negara. By the time I'd settled into my KFC early dinner an hour later, I was thoroughly depressed.

Seriously, I tried.

I tried so hard to be supportive of them. I bought the pricey tickets. I roasted myself in the sun for nearly three hours waiting in line for admittance. I bought the CD afterwards (because I sincerely loved the songs). I even joined the crowd in kicking and screaming whenever they performed live - which cumulatively sums up to about half an hour tops - all so I could see them happy at our show of undying love.

But that's the problem. They weren't happy.

Xiah toned-down considerably, compared to the usual happy virus that he is. There were no jokes, no attempts at gags. There was not even a hint of that trademark laughter everyone loves so much. Just plain, serious Junsu giving textbook answers to equally textbook questions.

Yuchun was visibly strained from having to involuntarily lead the team. Gone was the cheeky Micky we couldn't help adoring. Being the only one of the three to understand english, questions were inadvertently directed to him. He tried including everyone else in the conversation, particularly the despondent Jae, but that just serves to make the situation worse.

Speaking of Jae..

My heart really went out to him. Joongie seemed so out of place, and restless! Like a lost child looking for someone to belong to. He skirted questions, and left his best friend scrambling to handle the show alone. Honestly, he looked as if he was desperately wishing a certain beloved member would just pop out onto the stage to hold him and calm his nerves.

It was heartbreaking to see Jae hug himself, so much that the image has become the only thing I remembered about the show.

Diehard fans can say what they will, but it is clear to me that at least for now, the trio is lost without Yunho's leadership and Changmin's strength.

No, I'm not saying JYJ will never make it. Heaven knows they have all the potential. They are afterall, the three lead vocals of TVXQ. It's just.. there are some things in life you just can't go without. Talent is a great posession, but talent without love and support from the those who mean the world to you won't really go anywhere.


Friday, 15 October 2010


Enggang sama enggang.
Jika aku mahu kamu, maka aku harus berubah.

Mak aku tergelak bila aku minta dia doakan cepat bertemu jodoh. "Doa saja?"

Nenek aku lagi best... "Kamu? nak kawin? rupa tu!?"


Tak tahu apa nak cakap.

Aku cuma nak elak semuanya dari luruh ke hati.

Monday, 4 October 2010

The Everything Entry

Well, isn't this nice...

I haven't been writing for what, more than two months now? I'm sorry.. It's been way too hectic. I've been chasing after things, and you need to stay put to write. And when I did get to stay put, the mood just turns out all wrong.. (-____-)

I find myself a little apologetic over the past few weekends, and I feel like I should make amends here (at least the first two points). Bear with me as i go through these; if your name comes up, know that Kak Sofie is really sorry..

1. Ati's Graduation

This is just one too many mishap piling together at the wrong place and at absolutely the wrong time! The night before Ati's big day, my cellphone died and refused to charge. At the same time, one of my close relatives had a stroke, so you can imagine where I was after that. To make it worse, I was also the designated driver for this occasion, which got Ann and Mun dragged into the whole mess.

None of us girls made it to KLCC, but thank you Lutfi for making the trip! ^^

Ati, I'm so very sorry for missing your graduation. We girls would like to take you out for eats to celebrate some time. We'll make it a grand one ya!

2. Majlis Kikah Azkiya

Sebab tak mau Pojan confuse, akak tulis dalam BM ya.. ~.^

Sabtu lepas bertemankan Mun, Ann dan CD SuJu, aku penuhi jemputan Dayah dan Pojan ke majlis kikah Azkiya di Ipoh. Kami sampai dalam pukul 2.30 petang (aku driving sambil lewa, bawah 100 km/j). Time tu makcik-makcik marhaban baru saja nak jejakkan kaki ke dalam rumah..

Sampai je time makan, aku pulun kurma kambing biri-biri (read: lamb). FYI, aku sangat suka lamb! Tapi, selesai makan, sedang aku asyik bersembang dengan Mun dan Ann, saga 'Hari Paling Menyeksakan Dalam Hidup' bermula..

Kamu pernah keracunan makanan? Baru sekarang aku tahu bahawasanya sebelum ini aku tak pernah kena! Selama ni apa yang aku sangka food poisoning tu adalah dongengan belaka, cuma angin dalam perut yang degil tak mau keluar..

The real thing, sakitnya Subhanallah! Aku tak pernah rasa sakit camtu. Tu tak kira lagi sesi muntah, trip ke bilik air dua tiga kali... Mulanya aku ingat nak tunjuk 'terrer', ada hati nak drive balik KL! Mun dengan Ann skeptikal tahap dewa. Pojan risau, terus belikan aku pil Chick It Take On (amende tah berbiji-biji cam tahi kambing tapi bau cam makjun opah aku..) dan sebotol Gatorade.

Kesudahannya, kami balik KL dekat nak Maghrib: aku dah tak sedarkan diri kat seat belakang, Ann jadi long-distance driver with Mun as co-pilot.

Pojan & Dayah, akak minta maaf mengkucar-kacirkan majlis. I know you guys were really worried. Mesti fikir benda-benda cam, Kak Sofie sakit sebab makan kat rumah kita ke? Jangan mengarut! I probably ate something weird the night before, and the lamb (or something) triggered a reaction. Salah akak la pun. Sapa suruh pi makan kambing sampai tahap tak ingat?

Ann & Mun, akak minta maaf korang kena strok driving atas highway malam-malam buta time hujan-ribut-halilintar-menyambar.. It was not my intention to give you impromptu driving lessons. But, now you know what it really takes to drive out there. It's scary, but as you've found out, it's also not impossible! ^^

I am very proud of you guys for making it all the way back to Kepong (with me unconscious, thank you very much), and then to Serdang and Bangi. Next time kita pi driving dalam hujan, Ann jadi supir, kay!

3. Happy 23rd birthday Pura! ^^

Along feels so old now that you're creeping closer to 25.. and she feels a whole lot older with the next event the both of us will be involved in.. (-_-) Luv you so much, hunny!

Er, as per birthday presents.. Well, I've bought you at least two things this month, so.. I know that's not exactly a birthday present because I didn't buy it for the occasion... but you know, technically it is, because presents are what you want to have and the things I bought you were what you really wanted..

Yeah, I'll get you something else, kay.. (-__-)

4. Fanmeets

Who knew that after 12 years of listening to Korean music, I'd be attending my very first showcase? I've never been to a concert in my life (well, technically this isn't a concert, but whathehey..)

So, I guess I'm excited....?

I love the complete version of this group - which goes by the title DBSK - but sadly, for the JYJ showcase my favorite member won't be attending. But my little sister begged me to accompany her because obviously her favorite member will be present, and as most of you are painfully aware, I seldom say no to whatever she wants..

So, can you imagine the Godfather surrounded by teenage fangirls, screaming chants and waving glowsticks? (O_o)

On the plus side though, the phenomenon pictured above is something I want to be a part of at least once in my life, which can only be observed where DBSK members perform: Cassiopeia's Red Ocean! ^^

5. Paris, attendez moi!

Sepuluh tahun selepas aku mula melupakan bahasa Perancis, baru Tuhan berikan aku peluang untuk jejakkan kaki di muka buminya.

Aku pergi sekadar untuk temankan mama ke headquarters CIRAD di Montpellier, Selatan Perancis. Tah kenapa kali ni dia takut nak pergi seorang (my mum is definitely not the fearful type!), hatta dia sanggup sponsor penerbangan aku ke sana. But it makes sense. Walau aku dah tak berapa fasih bertutur, tapi berkat kelas intensif Monsieur Rose waktu aku di Highschool, aku masih boleh memahami bahasanya. So in a sense, I'm my mother's personal guide on this trip!

Aku agak excited, sebab Montpellier berdekatan dengan laut Mediterranean. Bandarnya dikatakan sangat cantik, tapi aku masih belum dapat menemukan warga Malaysia yang tinggal di sana. Susah juga kalau tak ada local guide ni, terutama yang Muslim. Soal halal haram sangat penting, lebih lagi la bila Perancis sangat terkenal dengan makanan-makanan exoticnya (read: pelik-pelik)..

Dua hari sebelum balik, kami cadang nak singgah Paris. Serius, terlampau banyak tempat yang aku nak visit! Ni la padahnya belajar bahasa dan budaya orang lain.. Eiffel Tower isn't even at the top of my list! Aku nak pergi musium Le Louvre, Pont Neuf, Cathedral Notre Dame, L'Arc De Triomphe, Champs Elysee, Kediaman Marie Antoinette, Montmartre, etc etc!

Haish, so much to do, so little time to do it. On top of all this, I've got less than 8 months to finish my Masters (thesis writing included). But, buat masa sekarang ni aku malas nak fikirkan. I just want to go through things one at a time.

I'll get there when I get there I guess..

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

It's all about the money!

“Long, ko jangan la ego sangat!”

Ego!? Tangan aku sikit lagi nak naik ke muka dia, tapi aku tahankan. Nak bercakap dengan anak jantan umur 27 tahun ni kena ada caranya. Terutama sekali yang tengah defensive nak pertahankan minatnya yang latest..

Minat yang cukup la aku tak setuju.

Sejak cuti sem aku dah mula rasa semacam. The twins balik cuti tapi dua-dua tak lekat di rumah. Keluar entah ke mana sampai pukul 3 – 4 pagi. Telefon bimbit kalau tak lekat di telinga mesti saja di hujung jari, SMS tak henti-henti.

Aku tahu mereka ada ‘bisnes’; some internet MLM thing.. Aku dan Pura yang dahulukan duit modalnya, tapi selain tu kami tak tahu apa-apa. Dah diaorang beriya, kami tak mampu nak tolak. We thought, biar la diaorang cuba cari side income sendiri.

Tapi bila tengok keadaan diaorang yang makin rancak grouping sana sini sampai ke subuh adam, aku mula rasa tak sedap hati. Parents aku tak tahu cerita. Walaupun mereka awalnya tak menegur, aku tahu mereka dah mula menghidu perkara tak elok. Bukan apa, kembar ni dua-dua masih lagi belum tamat pengajian. Kalau awal-awal lagi tumpuannya lebih kepada bisnes daripada buku, aku dah dapat forecast haluan adik-adik aku ni.

It ain’t good, that’s all I gotta say...

Bila dipecahkan tembelang, mak ayah aku naik angin. Lebih-lebih lagi bila the twins kata mahu tumpukan perhatian pada bisnes, nak buat MLM seumur hidup. Katanya, belajar tinggi-tinggi pun, gaji permulaan cuma tahap RM1500 sebulan. Nak kena belajar lagi kalau nak naik pangkat. Kerja makan gaji ni menyusahkan, asyik duduk bawah telunjuk orang. Tak ada future..

Katanya, dengan MLM boleh dapat financial freedom. Contoh sukses yang mereka beri? Remaja belasan tahun yang tak ada pelajaran tapi ada kereta mewah tiga empat biji, rumah banglo sana sini dan duit berjuta-juta dalam bank. Nah, dengan bisnes seuntung ini, kenapa perlu susah-susah nak belajar, nak dapat sijil..

Logik? Memang logik, kalau duit yang dijadikan kiblat mata hati.

Aku cuba mengembalikan pemikiran mereka ke arus normal, tapi langsung tak berkesan. Malah aku dianggap egois kerana enggan ‘bertukar mindset.’ Katanya aku tak pandai mengambil peluang, terlalu terikut-ikut dengan gaya hidup yang mementingkan ranking dan hierarchy. Yang paling aku tak dapat terima, bila mereka memperlekehkan ilmu dan seperti memperkecilkan impian aku dan Pura untuk belajar sampai ke peringkat tertinggi. Katanya aku hanya omong kosong tentang impian aku untuk tubuhkan perniagaan sendiri, sedangkan aku masih tak punya modal pun untuk memulakannya.

Haish, macam mana tu?

Dalam hidup ni tak aku nafikan yang duit tu penting. Serius, siapa tak suka ada duit, dan siapa yang tak suka ngabiskan duit? Aku rasa aku paling suka kedua-duanya! ^^

Kalau ada duit, boleh bawa adik-adik keluar makan, pergi shopping ramai-ramai kat One Utama. Boleh belikan mama dan papa Big Apple donuts, atau aiskrim King’s perisa Caramel Almond Fudge. Boleh merayau kat pasar malam dengan Pura tiap-tiap Khamis beli ayam, ikan dan sayur untuk rumah. Boleh balik kampung, bawak nenek pergi pasaraya dan beli apa saja yang dia bubuh dalam troli; sebab selalunya dia akan taruh benda-benda yang dia selalu tengok dalam iklan TV tapi tak pernah rasa lagi - haish, comel! ^^

Dan paling best, boleh plan surprise birthday parties... beli hadiah, belanja orang-orang atau makhluk-makhluk (read: cats) yang sangat aku sayang.

Rumah banglo dan kereta BMW tu walaupun wujud dalam fantasi, bukanlah sesuatu yang aku target dalam realiti aku. Serius, kalaulah aku diberikan rezeki menjadi cukup kaya untuk beli mahligai dan kereta mewah, dan apa yang aku lakukan ialah beli mahligai dan kereta mewah, aku rasa aku la khalifah yang paling tak berhati perut dalam dunia..

Harga satu kereta BMW tu, agaknya boleh beri makan berapa ramai orang? Boleh sponsor berapa ramai anak-anak nak pergi belajar? Boleh bangunkan berapa rumah kos rendah, rumah kebajikan, masjid, perpustakaan, etc? I’m just sayin’..

Maksud aku, apalah salahnya berkerja makan gaji, simpan duit sikit-sikit, menabung untuk masa depan? Kurang-kurangya pendapatan aku stabil; ada elaun, ada pencen. Ni tak, semua nak cepat. Nak duit banyak, nak kereta mewah, nak rumah besar.. all before 30! Wow.. Duit yang datang sebanyak tu dalam jangkamasa yang begitu singkat.. aku sangsikan halal haramnya.

Tapi yang lebih aku risaukan di sini ialah keadaan rohaniah adik-adik aku. Peribadi apa yang dapat dibentuk dari pekerjaan yang semacam ini? What kind of knowledge can be gained? Apa sumbangan yang dapat diberikan pada ummah?

For the record, “Kitaorang dapat tolong bumiputera-bumiputera lain untuk jadi kaya,” is the biggest nonsense I’ve ever heard..

Aku suka teringat pada kata-kata Sr. Fatimah, seorang guru sukarela kacukan Siam-Mesir yang gemar mengajar aku hikmah di sebalik Islamic Finance. Ketika dia terlihat aku mengira hasil kerja babysitting di bilik bacaan masjid waktu aku berumur 16 tahun:

Sr. Fatimah : Sofie habibti.. you want to know how to make money grow?

Aku : Grow? Er, yeah.. sure..

Sr. Fatimah : Good, it’s very simple! Here, you keep a little bit.. Then the rest—

Aku : The rest, I keep in piggy bank?

Sr. Fatimah : What means piggy bank??

Aku : (O_o)? Then, the rest...

Sr. Fatimah : You give away habibti, give away! ^^

Aku : Owh...

Sampai ke hari ni, ini la satu-satunya petua yang tak pernah menghampakan aku.

To me, it doesn’t matter how much money you have. As long as you keep it only for yourself, you’ll always be poor..

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Second thump..

"True friendships are never serene."

-Marquise de Sevigne

“I heard your parents last night.”

I watched her from the corner of our so-called secret garden as she fluttered about, a small watering can in hand. She was busy watering the base of four apple trees which, to our surprise, had come into full bloom so suddenly that afternoon. Delicate pink-white petals swirled about like a million tiny butterflies whenever the wind blew, reminding me of the passing winter, now diluted in the warmth of spring.

She looked back at me expectantly. Her candid statement held no venom; just plain curiosity.

I know. The whole neighbourhood must have heard my family. A student-community whose residents lived in close quarters would have little to hide from one another. If walls weren’t thin enough, tongues certainly went a long way in facilitating the spread of rumors. Not that last night’s events needed any helping. The desperate yelling and slamming of doors made things plenty evident, I was sure.

I wanted to give her a good answer. I wanted to tell her that my family was not broken; that no matter what happened, there is still love there. I wanted desperately for her to believe it.

But I had no idea how to convince a friend of the existence of love. For children like us, love was objective. If it existed, there would be spring and apple blossoms and school holidays. If it didn’t, then there would be yelling and doors slamming and misery. Our juvenile world often ruled in solid colors, and we were built to believe brighter shades were best.

After last night, my world was swathed in dark, angry hues. I remember hiding the car keys so my father wouldn’t leave the apartment. Sadly, my efforts were defeated by innocent and obedient little brothers who presented them promptly at my father’s angry demands. It didn’t take long for them to realize what was happening though. No amount of hugs from my distraught mother could have calmed them as they watched my father walk through the door.

And yet..

Here I was, barely the next day, enjoying the first spring afternoon of the season. With delicate petals sticking everywhere, I was hardly the picture of pity. The warm sunlight managed to paint me just another happy girl basking in God’s gift. My sorrows were thus camouflaged; my worries deftly cloaked. And I realized, belatedly, that I wanted it to stay just so.

“I think the trees need more water, don’t you?” I asked, picking up my own empty watering can as I go. I hoped she’d heard my silent closure on the subject. I was never one to start a fight, but I wasn’t going to back down if she insisted.

She grinned, and threw a casual arm around my shoulder. “Yup! But I think our watering cans are too small. Maybe we should get a tub.. Think your mum would mind? She’s the coolest!”

A crash course in girlfriend diplomacy: successful.

Lesson 2: Love does not exist exclusive of hate. Love exists because of it.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Off track!

First of all, I blame my current theme on the new, slightly-improved Designer button Blogger's currently sporting on my dashboard..

Like my cyber abode's new look, other changes are abound in my life at the moment. Lots of going places; not all of them business. Plenty of new experiences to be found; not all of them pleasant. For a few months now, my life has been anything but routine. There are weeks of dull nothingness, and then one weekend would leave me breathless. My mind toggles three ways:

work, study, home = career, education, family = money, knowledge, life.

Forgoing any one of these is impossible, but pursuing all of them could mean the death of me.

Could being the operative word here..

There seems to be a distinct line between earning a living and getting a decent education, at least where Malaysia is concerned. For instance, I've spent the past three weeks up in Penang attending classes and academic discussions. It's been almost two years since I last step foot in a lecture hall, and the experience left me feeling strangely... unfit?

Working life seems to have stripped me of most of my studious capabilities! I lost focus in class and fumbled through tutorials. My usually nimble tongue faltered on more than one occasion, brought on by a sudden fear of heaven knows what. Lit reviews became excruciating, not to mention the labwork. I was starting to grow envious of my full-time-student coursemates. All the time in the world to focus on just one thing.

But I guess working has its own selfish perks, no? Financial freedom is a large part of that. Add a wider social structure and a stable life routine, and most people would be content to simply leave education behind. Or at least be tempted to.

My choices are meager. I'm not yet an employee; not really a student. I'm just stuck somewhere in between doing everything I could to please both sides of it. It's starting to wear me down a bit, but I suppose like everything else, I'll manage. What doesn't kill me can only make me stronger, right? So pray I stay alive long enough to find out..

Monday, 10 May 2010

First thump..

I don’t know you, but I want you all the more for that.

Falling slowly
by Glen Hansard

I had my first crush when I was nine.

We grew up together, both our parents being foresters. He shared my interest in nature, often coming with me on various excursions through the sprawling woods of the research institute we both call home.

To him I dedicated my very first love note, which offered the naive, simple words: Kita sayang awak.. I was a tad nervous, but I guess I’d somehow overlooked the outcome. He and I were great friends, what was the worst that could happen? He’d probably call me silly and laugh himself to death for a bit, but by the time we get to planning our next afternoon meandering, everything should have been forgotten..

Or not.

I found out that day, my buddy-turned-crush had a penchant for dramatics. In front of what felt like a million classmates, he made a show of shredding my note to pieces before literally throwing it in my face. 20 years later and my ears still rang with the simple words that came after: Cuba cermin sikit..

His gang was in stitches; my girlfriends were irate.

First taste of rejection: complete.

Lesson 1: Hearts do not belong on sleeves.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

hard lessons for the hopeful penjual-ikan-to-be

Aku mahu angkat telefon dan buat panggilan yang menentukan masa depan aku, tapi tangan aku tak tergerak. Jauh di lubuk minda terasa seperti aku membelakangkan sesuatu. Seperti menggigit tangan yang memberi makan?

Aku masih lagi bertatih menjadi seorang penjual ikan yang berkaliber..

Perjumpaan di USM membuahkan hasil yang tak aku sangka-sangka. Result yang aku dapat dari DNA Barcoding nampaknya seperti menyangkal penemuan satu penyelidikan yang telah dijalankan oleh seorang pakar Chiroptera (read: kelawar) dari Texas Tech. University di Rezab Krau, Pahang beberapa tahun lepas.

Sekiranya data aku signifikan, dunia taxonomy dan genetik akan berselisih lagi. Yang aku tak sedap hati, I'm afraid I am too green to pick up this fight..

Penyelia-penyelia aku, baik di FRIM mahupun USM sangat teruja. Dan walaupun aku telah menolak secara halus cadangan mereka untuk bertukar terus ke program sarjana doktorat, masing-masing begitu excited menghimpunkan cadangan-cadangan penyelidikan peringkat PhD yang boleh aku pertimbangkan untuk Masters.

On the one hand, I'm grateful that they think I have what it takes. On the other, aku takut kalau mereka menaruh kepercayaan di tempat yang salah.. (=_=)

Haish, don't mind me.. Aku sangat insecure pasal benda-benda yang melibatkan ilmu dan pengalaman ni..

Tapi aku ada motto baru! ^^ aku terjumpa, funnily enough, masa tengah melayan fanfiction, dan aku realize aku suka berpegang pada ayat ni, sebab aku akan selalu rasa macam on track gitu:

A fool thinks himself wise; but a wise man knows himself a fool..

Approximate translation: Orang yang bijak sedar hakikat bahawa dia sebenarnya tak bijak..

Thursday, 22 April 2010


Projek DNA barcoding baru saja selesai. Part of my Masters is now complete. Aku ditawarkan oleh USM dan FRIM untuk bertukar terus ke PhD, satu peluang yang buat masa ini masih lagi aku pertimbangkan. Jujurnya, aku ingin menyambung pelajaran ke luar negara, sebab aku lebih senang dengan sistemnya. Cumanya, aku tak tahu kalau akan diberi peluang belajar overseas pun, dan tawaran FRIM dan USM tak lah sampai bila-bila.

Recently aku upset. Dengan adik bongsu, aku cerita macam-macam. Dia setuju dengan pendapat aku, simpati dengan nasib aku. kami satu geng. Tapi, dalam diam aku tahu, mungkin aku berkelakuan seperti anak-anak. Lalu, aku buka cerita pada mama. Harapkan respons sama yang diberikan adik.

Malangnya - atau mujurnya, depending on how you see this - mama berikan pendapat berlainan. Pendapat yang walau tak mahu aku dengar, adalah sesuatu yang harus aku terima.

Kawan tu kawan. Tapi sampai satu masa, tongkat persahabatan tu kita kena tinggalkan, sebab dalam hidup, kita mesti nak berjalan sendiri.

Aku realize, sejak kebelakangan ni, banyak perkara aku simpan dalam hati. Makin dewasa, aku rasa makin banyak benda yang tak dapat aku luahkan. Bukan sebab aku tak mampu, tapi mungkin sebab aku sedar aku tak berhak.

Aku juga sedar selama ini aku banyak buat keputusan dengan mementingkan orang di sekeliling aku. Aku tak buat keputusan untuk diri sendiri. Aku tak tahu sama ada ini satu petanda bahawa aku seorang yang bertimbang rasa, ataupun sebenarnya seorang pengecut yang takut untuk mengambil langkah sendiri. Walhal, ramai di sekeliling aku buat keputusan yang tak langsung mengambil kira tentang aku. Tak mati pun.

Tapi, bila difikirkan secara rasional, kenapa pulak aku harus diambil kira? Di dalam gambaran besar hidup, adakah aku begitu penting? I guess when you live surrounded by family all your life, you can't help but make decisions based on what's important to the family unit. Because you're important to the family, and they're important to you.

Aku rasa, aku harus pecahkan kitaran ketergantungan ni. For once, aku nak rasa jadi orang yang pentingkan diri. Bak kata Pura, jual ikan.. ^^

Friday, 26 March 2010

Seriously, I don't know whether to feel honored, or used..

All I know is, this is feeling a whole lot like heading the prep and tech division for that ill-concieved KOS AGD Dinner back in 2006.

History is about to repeat itself, minus the camaraderie and willing help of close friends.


Thursday, 25 March 2010

Falling apart at the seams..

All done! (=_=)

Serius, dah tiga minggu aku menghadap skrin komputer. Kerjanya:

1) Membetulkan lead dan reverse sequence untul 150 samples, base by base..
2) Run haplotype analysis untuk setiap spesis
3) Identify unique haplotypes untuk barcode
4) construct barcodes by hand, using Paint program
5) Report

Aku jenis yang tak senang puas hati. Sikap perfectionist aku ni kadang-kadang menjadi benda yang buat aku sangat susah nak get along dengan rakan sekerja. Orang dah penat buat report, nak hantar cepat-cepat. Aku? down to the last minute masih lagi membelek; edit content, wording, font, color, alignment, heading, captions..

Semuanya nak kena betul, tepat, cantik.

Too bad SV aku tak sabar-sabar nak tengok result. Aku tengah perah otak nak identify haplotypes, dia sibuk nak minta aku buatkan gambar-gambar barcodes untuk include dalam progress report. FYI, namanya jer DNA barcoding. It's a concept. Bukannya software aku boleh generate betul-betul barcode tu. Yang boleh di-generate ialah DNA sequence yang panjangnya beratus-ratus base pairs. Nak buat barcodes daripada sequences camtu? Nak mampus!?

Tapi tak. Dia nak jugak.

Sebenarnya aku tak payah fikir panjang. Apa saja yang dimuntahkan software Mega tu aku include je dalam report dan hantar pada SV. Dia bukan faham sangat. Kalau aku kata ada 18 haplotypes untuk 10 species, maknanya betul la ada 18 haplotypes untuk 10 spesis. Why should she doubt me? I'm the geneticist.

But like I said, aku ni jenis yang tak senang puas hati.

Aku sangat risau kalau haplotype aku tak cukup spesifik untuk barcoding. Terlampau banyak benda yang aku tak pasti. Is the sequence clean? are the primers conserved? Are they really unique haplotypes or errors made during translation? Will this be useful? Softwares can only go so far in giving you what you want. If garbage is what you feed into it, you really can't expect gold to come out..

Point is, kata-kata aku, pandangan-pandangan aku, as well as kerja-kerja aku tak seharusnya diambil bulat-bulat. I'm a novice at this. Kamu yang expert.

Tapi biasa la, dunia aku selalunya terbalik.

Haish. I want more time to work on this. Aku rasa banyak yang perlu diperbaiki. Mungkin aku tak faham semua benda, tapi aku sangat peka kalau kerja aku tak berapa mantap. Susah la kalau research aku diganggu pihak pentadbiran yang asyik nak tengok result; tak kisah la apa rupanya result tu. Yang penting projek selesai pada waktunya.

Etika kerja aku tertolak tepi demi berkompromi dengan masa.

PS: Presents to anyone who could tell me where I could get this drink in the Peninsular.. ^^

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


It seems I'm toggling from white, to black, to white again.. ^^

Life is nothing if not for that top-of-the-world-bottom-of-the-barrel cycle, no?

"But what's new, Kak Sofie?"


I just fancy oblivion, which white excellently represents.

And besides,

Black just talks too much.. you know?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010


I'm leaving for Sarawak in 16 hours.

It's a phylogenetic workshop in UNIMAS, no big deal.

I'll be there from tomorrow till this Sunday.

I hope until then, you guys will stay okay.

If you can't stay okay, you can reach me via the usual lines: cellphone, internet. Any time.

Maybe I'm making too much out of this.

It just feels so far away.

And somehow very lonesome.

I'm not even packing my camera.

Ja, matta ne..

Monday, 8 February 2010

An obituary

This was printed in as an obituary in the London Times.. just thought it was cool! ^^
Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

- Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
- Why the early bird gets the worm;
- Life isn't always fair; and
- Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion..

Common Sense lost the will to live as the places of worship became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims. Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, and I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone..

This is very sad, but also very, very true, no?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Been there, done that..

This entry encompasses my childhood. I identify with literally every single thing on this list. See if you're familiar with any of them, ne?

By the way, credit goes to VioletEyed-Demon of ^^

Do you remember the 90's? You're a 90s kid if:

You remember watching Doug, Ren & Stimpy, Pinky and the Brain, Aaaaaah Real Monsters, Rocko's Modern Life, Animaniacs and Gargoyles.. You've ever ended a sentence with the word PSYCHE!".. You just can't resist finishing this: "In west Philadelphia born and raised...".. You remember Step by Step, Family Matters, Dinosours, Boy Meets World.. You remember when it was actually worth getting up early on Saturday to watch cartoons..

You remember reading "Goosebumps".. You still get the urge to say "NOT!" after (almost) every sentence.. everything was settled by rock-paper-scissors, bubble-gum-bubble-gum-in-a-dish, or Miss-Mary-Mack.. Kickball was a daily activity.. you used to obey your parents.. you used to listen to the radio all day long just to record your FAVORITE song of ALL time on a tape.. you remember when Super Nintendos and Sega Genesis became popular.. You remember the original Gameboy.. you always wanted to send in a tape to America's Funniest Home Videos, but never taped anything funny..

You remember watching The Magic Schoolbus, Wishbone, Reading Rainbow and Ghostwriter on PBS.. You remember when Yo-Yos were cool.. you remember those Where's Waldo books.. You remember eating Warheads and Splashers gum.. you remember watching the 1st Batman, Alladin, Ninja Turtles, Ghost Busters.. you remember Ring Pops! If you remember when everything was "Da Bomb!" then you'd remember boom boxes vs. CD players. Making those little paper fortune things, and then predicting your life with them..

You played and/or collected "Pogs".. you had at least one Tamagochi, Gigapet or Nano and brought it everywhere.. One word...... trolls.. Windows 95 was the best.. you watched the original cartoons of Rugrats, Wild Thornberry's, Power Rangers and Rocket Power.. All your school supplies were the "Lisa Frank" brand.. You collected Beanie Babies.. Carebears and Lambchop's song never ends.. Silver dollars were cool to have.. everyone watched WB.. You even know what an original walkman is..

You know the Macarena by heart.. "Talk to the hand".. you went to McDonalds just to play in the Playplace.. you remember playing on merry go rounds at the playground.

Before the MySpace frenzy.. before the internet and text messaging.. before Sidekicks and iPods.. before Playstation 3 or X-Box 360.. Before Spongebob.. before Tupac was shot.. when light up sneakers were cool.. when you rented VHS tapes, not DVDs.. when gas was $0.95 a gallon.. when we recorded stuff on VCRs.. you had slap bracelets!

You actually played outside until it was dark! Way back. Before we realized all these wonderful things would eventually disappear...

These were my younger days exactly. Reading this made me wonder at the little things we've experienced to shape the person we are today..

Monday, 25 January 2010

Having babies...

Example of this week's routine:

5:45 am
- Boil water, prepare feeding bottle

5:50 am
- Prepare kitten's milk (2 tsp fomula + hot water), let cool

6:00 am
- Feeding (minimum 5 ml/kitten), clean cage (fresh towel & hot water bottle), clean kittens (wet wipes), short play time.

6:30 am
- Subuh prayer, shower

7:30 am
- Check on kittens, leave for work

8:30 am
- Gel elution process/Sequencing

10:30 am
- Call home to check on kittens, breakfast

11:00 am
- Touchdown PCR, labwork continued

12:30 pm
- Leave for home

1:00 pm
- Kitten feeding/cleaning/cage change/ play

1:45 pm
- Zuhur prayer, leave for office

2:00 pm
-Resume labwork

5:00 pm
-Asar prayer, pick Safura up from practical training

6:00 pm
- Grocery shopping

6:30 pm
- Pick mum up from office, leave for home

7:00 pm
- Kitten feeding/ cleaning/ cage change/ play

7:30 pm
- Maghrib prayer

8:30 pm
- Dinner, work/ internet surfing/ TV

11:00 pm
- Kitten Feeding/ cleaning/ cage change/ play

~12:00 am
- Isya prayer, Check on kittens, bedtime.

Four orphaned kittens and my entire day is occupied! Haish, ni baru anak-anak kucing... (-_-)

Bear, Ayie, Chuum and Leis; Mummy luvs you! ^^

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A matter of happiness

Semalam, tepat pukul 9 pagi, aku dan Joann mengambil tempat duduk di Auditorium FRIM untuk menghadiri mesyuarat pertama bahagian Perhutanan dan Alam Sekitar bagi tahun 2010.

15 minit selepas mesyuarat bermula, minda aku hanya ada satu soalan: What in the world am I doing here?

Kamu pernah rasa lemas? Itu saja yang dapat aku rasakan sedang tuan pengerusi sibuk menelaah slide powerpoint di podium. Mulutnya terkumat-kamit tapi satu pun aku tak dengar. Aku faham apa yang sedang dibentangkan; bajet dan target kerja untuk setiap unit bahagian bagi tahun ini.

Yang aku tak faham: What's this got to do with me?

Kamu percaya tak? kadang-kadang, kita tak kenal diri kita sendiri. Dalam kekecohan kita nak buat benda baik, nak contribute, nak make the world a better place, kita turuti jalan yang mungkin tak begitu sesuai dengan jiwa kita.

Aku tersedar, aku pilih FRIM kerana aku mangsa idealisme. Sedari kecil tempat ini membentuk aku menjadi seorang yang cintakan alam; menyebabkan aku mengiblatkan seluruh hidup ke jalan itu. Dari zaman sekolah sampailah ke menara gading, fokus aku hanya satu; aku mahu jadi seorang environmentalist.

Nah, secara logik, ke mana lagi aku mahu pergi selepas semua itu, kalau tak pulang ke akar umbi?

Aku lihat di sekeliling, kepada pejawat-pejawat yang sudah dekat separuh abad bersama FRIM. Di dalam mata mereka sudah hilang bayang semangat. Seperti aku mereka semua mendengar bentangan acuh tak acuh; mungkin membayangkan bihun dan kueytiau goreng yang sudah tersedia di ruang legar.

Cuma tuan pengerusi dan rakan-rakan setugasnya - boss-boss kami - di barisan hadapan yang galak membincangkan isu-isu semasa:
"Projek you dapat funding banyak mana?"

"You publish kat jurnal Borneo Science? ada impact factor ke tu?"

"FRIM dah mansuhkan tabung Tea Club. Takde la jamuan makan besar-besaran lepas ni ek.."
Aku tahu kenapa aku rimas. This is not what I'm looking for..

Bukan aku kata tugas di FRIM tak mencabar. Aku suka penyelidikan. Aku juga suka makmal. Kelawar lagi la aku suka! Tapi.. there's something missing. Aku suka, tapi aku tak cinta. Sekarang ini aku kurang pasti bagaimana tugas aku di FRIM akan dapat menyumbang kepada konservasi alam sekitar, which is what I want to happen.

Aku kucing advokasi. Aku suka belajar dan mengajar, terutamanya bidang biodiversity. Aku teringat betapa aku enjoy bawa student Dr. Jalal masuk hutan dan paya bakau time aku kerja sebagai demonstrator/RA di UIA dulu. Ya, memang banyak kerja. Lesson plan aku sendiri yang kena lakar. Berminggu-minggu aku buat research; tulis manual.

But you know what? I did it with love. Lots of love!

Terlewat, tapi aku realize sekarang yang aku sangat suka jadi guru. Aku suka tengok students belajar. Bila mereka tanya soalan, aku suka carikan jawapannya. Aku suka cara muka mereka berubah menjadi kagum dengan ciptaan Tuhan; bila mereka faham dan ambil tindakan.

Dah lama aku tak lihat semua tu. Aku rindu.

Yang lagi sedihnya:

Mum, what do you think if I became a lecturer?

I was thinking the same thing! Leave FRIM and go to USM, or UNIMAS.. you'll be great at it!

Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence, Ma.. (-_-)