Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Immigration Department experience- revisited

I arrived early in the morning at the Penang Immigration Department Office building at Padang Kota Lama. Found a parking space and made sure there was enough coins dumped into the meter to cover at least two hours of waiting. Lined up for the information and service numbers only to be told that the processing of student visas is no more done at this office and is now done in Seberang Jaya, across the channel. So off I went not letting the aggravation gets the better of me as it had done in the past so many times before. Fortunately for me i made it to the ofiice without too much hassle of finding the location and parking too was not a heartache. For those who has no experience of living in a scorching hot country like Malaysia all these little trivias can spell a catastrophy if one's luck is not in its good posture. Just driving around locating an office can be a painful experience if not for yourself it would be hard on the vehicle not to mention the fuel spent.

The Seberang Jaya Immigration office is relativelly new but already the early set on of lack of maintainance is already showing especially on the seats. Malaysians have a very long road ahead when it comes to cleanliness and the proper use of public property, there is a seriou lack of civic conciousness among the common folks in this country. The attitude it seems will never change for so long as it is not one's own property the hell with it, or let someone else pick up the garbage why should I be bothered, its not mine, not my home, not my toilet! The service at the counter was a pleasant change as the two ladies who attended to my needs were more than pleasant and even sympathetic. However due to a lack of document that the education department had not issued me I was told that nothing could be done untill I make another trip back to the education department and procure what is needed. So off i went back across the Penang bridge to Bukit Gambier and demanded for the pertinent document while keeping my literally overheated emotions under controll. By the end of the day I managed to get my children's papers filed away and it would be ready in a week to the tune of RM240 for two years. As i did not have the money I was told I could pay it up when I come to collect the documents.
Thus another major hurdle in my life is about to be overcome as far as papers and documents are concerned. It aint over yet but it is just as good as accomplished and it was a long tedious trip getting all these done simply because I lacked the financial resources. In more than one ways I was lucky that i got away with not paying my children school fees for two consecuttive years thus leaving the validity of their travel documents in question. Call it being being irresponsible, I call it being completely broke and making priorities out of what was needed day to day for my children and myself to stay alive without having to do too much begging or stealing. These were leaasons in staying alive and yet be able to accomplish what not too many can boast of at the same time, like having a solo exhibition at a prestigious Muzium Gallery for a whole two months!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

In right out left

The money made at the Little Penang Street Market on Sunday is fully utilized to pay for my two childrens'elated school fees covering three years amounting to the tune of One thousand four handred RM. I was short of one payment as i did not have enough to cover Rm240 for my daughter's 2008 school fees. Boring!! These are the most tedious aspects of life that one dont normally talk about much less write about for others to read! But... hey, life's a bitch someone in his or her infinite wisdom once said and then you die! What makes great things in life is the most tedious things that one can overcome and turn around into great things despite its tediousness. Sit and watch the grass grow the Zen master once said, effortlessness, inactive action, detatched involvement, to pluck the lotus without wetting the fingers.However, no matter how or where or when we look it, life and its trivials are merely grist for the mill and the mill keeps on grinding with or without the grist. We can choose to play along with the game and excell despite all the pressures and tedium or we can buckle underneath and be buried by the dead weight that we have accumulated throughout our lives. So called problems that we face day to day ius not going to poof! and disappear no matter what we may think or do, they are like weeds that ever grows as soon as we remove existing ones. Karmas! The Buddhas said, ancient and twisted karmas! Born through body, speach and mind!

I was almost given the run around again by the lady that was handling my case and i felt it coming the moment she decided to ask if the paper works ahd been checked by the 'other' office and this after she had collected my money and made out the receit. I told her I made doubly sure what i needed to do through the school pricipal's office and they had found out from the Education department that i am to make my payment at her office and that all my files were already with her office. Then it all started to unravel like another horror show as she started insisting that they had no files on my case and that I needed to drive all the way back to the'other office' and get everything checked an so forth. Afteer almost getting me all riled up she finally got someone on the phone from the 'other' office who okeyed for the payment to be made. One phone call!! Damn them! and Damn their upgraded computerized system that is supposed to make life simpler for the common folks! What is most aggravating was the fact that while handling my case she was also busy figuring out the off days for her fellow office workers.
I cannot imagine what it must be like for those who lack the means and knowhow in dealing in these matters, the paper works alone would kill an average man on the street and now i have to go back to the Education office in Bukit jambul and start another long process of filing for the renewal of my children's Foreign Student Visas which would ultimately be dealt with by the Immigration department. This is the part and parcel of being a part of the Global Community, for having chosen to live life in these days and age of a borderless society! Live and learn, from the faults and mistakes of people like me and my family it is hopefully realized that there aught to be a more humane and compassionate ways of dealing with registering and filing of paperworks that would not leave a bad taste at the end of the trail. From my experience and personal dealings with most of the government personells I learn that most are happy to help but really does not know how and when things gets a little tight or confusing it is best to drop a bomb or two on subject and make the one who needs the help do the run around to find the solution. How thankful it makes you feel finding one soul working in a Government Agency who cared and solve your problems to the best of his or her ability simply by doing his or her job as paid to do so. Woe unto you when you come up against an ego that had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed that same morning or whose application for a short vacation had not been approved!!
Its a mindset most people would agree when it comes to being served by the System's bureaucracy and does not really reflect the whole. The Malaysian Government Agencies are mostly run by Malays with a cultural and aptitude and attitude of their own. Knowing how to deal with these care givers is an art especially if and when one is at a disadvantage like not being able to afford a payment or short of a pertinent piece of paper. Malays do not like to be talked down to and are very sensitive when it comes to value judgements but they are flexible if and when the situation demands as they have a greater sense of tolerance than most other races. How you talk to an officer and how youplead your cases makes alot of difference in whether you can get a decent help or fail miserably and have to bear the paper chase. State your case as clearly and honestly as you can and chances are you will find a sympathetic ear and get your case solve with little confusion or even aggravation. Government officers are human who has to deal with humans everyday of their working life and thus they have become accustomed to dealing with all kinds of individuals and circumstances. I am just another case, a number in the filing system that they have to deal with and they help to solve my issues to the best of their abilities.

Monday, November 26, 2007

LittlePenang Street Market

It was a beautiful Sunday, sunshine but not overpoweringly hot and no rain! It reminded me of a San Francisco Block Party or the Embakadero Flea market on the water front of the Bay Area. A great crowd of people mostly the higher income bracket and a good turnout of foreign tourists. My works were well received with a good number of genuinely curious visitors who wanted to know what a mono-print is and how it is made. I made a few great new friends young and no so youngpeople who seemed to have alot of positive energy and motivated to get things done especially in making it a happening for the street fare. Penang needs this event as it showcases a good repetoire of many talented artists and craftsmen from around the city. There were also a great turnout of local musical talents and a few far out jazz and blues singers. All in all it was a beautiful day the flew by fast.
I sold five pieces of my monoprints and made about one thousand odd RM which will go immediately to the Education department to pay for my childrens' school fees. The sales came in the nick of time and what can one say but thank you Lord for the small graces that You provide through Your Care and Love for those who are in need. I am most grateful to my friend Encik Joe Sidek whose compassion made it possible for me to take a breath of relief from the financial pressures than has been threatening to bury me deep into despair. It is for these individuals who emerges out of the blue if my times of need that I create despite all the odds that had laid against my chances of a success. It is also in these types of individuals that one find it impossible to envy their wealth or affluence for their charitable hearts more than makes it up for what they have.
I hope the Little Penang Project keeps growing and bacome a more regular event without loosing its quality of products and presentations. Although it may cost a little more to buy the products here it is worth the cost when viewed at as a whole scenario of epole from all over the world having a good time like a grand Block Party.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Meeting Great Minds

My friend Joe Rosli Sidek came by the Muzuem Gallery with two of his friends a lady who is suppose to write a little about me for the upcoming event at the Little Penang event nex Sunday and then there was Latif Kamaluddin a poet writer and a faculty member of USM whose appearence kind of reminds me of Hebert Alpert or better known as Baba Ram Das author of the famous spiritual guide book "Be Here Now". Kamaluddin, despite his appearence that would throw off your average man on the street is a very deep thinker and not someone who would frivolously pick his companions or who he hangs out with and so I feel privillaged meeting such a character like meeting Guirdjief in the foot hills of Georgia.
We talked mostly of myself with Kamaluddin giving me the rundown on how to make it and why not about my survival as a full time artist in Penang. I need to get myself a job as i have always did iin the past if I am to stay alive and porvide support for my children. From his honest views I tned to agree with him as i am beginning to see very little prospect at making it as full time artist and there seem no resourses that is available for retired veterans of the Arts in a country like this, artist just dont count when it comes to benifits and such. The actors and writers guild are only recently getting recognition for thier contributions in the past and the government are now acknowledging the fact that these individuals deserve to receive pensions or gratuities for their life long careers. But in the fine arts painter and sculptors, ceramists and weavers are yet to be accounted for as part of the work force that is covered under the government pension funds.
The artists of old had depended on the 'Patrons of the Arts' in their respective societies for thier financial support and most were under the patronship of the ruling class. Their works were often purchased upon completion by thier 'managers' who then send it to the actual buyers. The Artist is gauranteed an income and has little need of wheeling and dealing in the financial transactions or his works. This does not exist anymore and the number of artisits has grown so much so that it is almost impossible for such a system to exist. Todat the term connections is more in use than patrons of the arts. It is who you know that sells not who you are. Most fortunate artists finds themselves one or two corporate buyers through their connections and these buyers are not too many these days as are art collectors.
As I listened to Kamaluddin I began to realize that somewhere i have missed my calling, my works are now more as valuable as they had once seemed at least their worth in the market is not that great an asset and I need to come up with a viable backup plan if i am to survive. I need to explore all other possibilities in th job market, whatever that is left out there for one who is over the working age as myself. If it is not for the needs of my children the problem would not be that dire as i would enjoy very much to just turn my face away from it all and join the monastic practice first chance i get.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Its the FLU!!

The caughing is what will kill ya! Sometimes you feel like like your whole chest is about to rip apart from the sudden expansion and explosive exhalation just to clear the throat from the irritating mucus buildup at the back of the throat. When I am in this state of being I feel useless and handicapped especially in dealing with answering questions about my life and what I have in mind about the state of world. However it is during these moments in time in my life too that i often discover something new about myself or even catch a glimpse of hope manifesting in the form of a delirium or restless medically induced dreamstates. New thoughts, new insights new perceptions would break to the surface when I least expect and then my mind would spin into action trying to bring into realization all that these revelations may imply or has to offer. In other words even in being sick I am looking for a positive angle to move on into new realms of expressions.
The owners of Gallery 'Little Penang" are keen on having my works on display at their next Sunday Bazaar show which is located in front of the E&O Hotel at the end of Penang Road. I look forward to this show and hope that I can be productive at the show too.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Dream last night

It was one of those dreams that lingers onto your waking state leaving you with either total depression or total elation and this fortunately had an elated feeling about it. In this dream there lights in the skies like in any dream it was man made partly just to let you think of lights in the sky. Then there were stones dropping from the skies like precious stones not your ordinary gravel kind that would kill you if one caught you in the head. These were cut square stones like jades and rubies only larger than normal. They seem to fall right through roof tops leaving square holes in them and then the one stone that came sliding by me slid right into a groove of what seemed like the third eye of a statue of a buddha and fixed itself there. I felt an explanantion inside me telling me that this is the Bodhisatva of Compassion, it is for me to accept what is inevitable in my life and act accordingly for i have become a Bodhisatva of compassion having been entertaining the children and giving away what i can ill afford and all the small gestures of kindnesses that i have been sharing with those who needed them, all these have not gone unnoticed. I felt reliefed, sad but releifed like a load was lifted off my shoulders and i cried into the morning while sitting on the bed.
After that ideas kept pouring into my head as to what my future moves would have to be and how to fac the oncoming predicanments with regard to my children's future and they all seemed so simple enough as they were played before my eyes but one thing I understood and know my course of action would be is that the first opportunity I get i will renounce this life and enter a Buhhist monastery wherether here of in Sri Lanka where my father was originally from. I would like to die with a very clear head and I belief in this day and age the Bikhus or mendicant monks are one of the very few who walk this earth with the purity of a lotus amidst muddy waters. I dont know how or when this is going to happen but this is what will happen to me, this life that i am leading has become toatlly meaningless and a waste of good karma.
There will be alot of noise from my family, maybe, not that they have given a shit of what is happening to my children and I right at this moment and my friends and relatives here might be a little disturbed by the fact that i am leaving Islam or becoming an apostate, blah, blah. I do not renounce and will not and cannot renounce my true being that of being at one with my Creator, Allah (SWT). Between my Lord and I the covenant is sealed even as this writing at this moment in time and space testifies to this fact and furthermore at my age I need not justify anymore to anyone religious or otherwise.
Only my two children are my source of concern at the moment as they are still under my supervision and i am bound and obligated to care for their wellfare till they are of age. I have been preparing them mentally and spiritually towards facing the inevitable of the uncertain future of which thanks mainly to the Governmant Bureaucracies have made life short of miserable for all of us since we landed into this country, my home. My wife may Allah keep her has given up and her shell now sits somewhere ina Nursing home in Illinois waiting the final cut and i will never see her again to say how sorry I am for not being with her and protecting her from these pains she suffers. I had dragged her here from Japan where she was most happy doing what she had love best, teaching ESL, I took all that from her so that she can come here to become converted to Islam! What an irony! She came here to suffer from day one at the hands of the insensitve, heartless Ilamic religious department personels till the day she left the country not knowing anymore who she really is. For this i bear all resposibilities, I I took her happiness and in return gave her uncertainties and grief that today haunts my two children as well.
Somewhere in the distant lands of the Alpine, Switzerland another of my debunckle, a mistake that has far flung consequences till this day in the form of an angry young man who wants to know his true father and what a dissappoint this father has turned out to be for him. I am truly sorry to both my son and most of all to his mother and there is no amount of justification that can erase my shame and disgust at myself. But as far my son is concern i am proud to have a son and who knows we will one day sit face to face yet and make things happen for the best.
I have taken many wrong turns in my life and most of it was done with no thoughts in mind, most were spontaneously undertaken without hope or recourse, but thses were mostly done when i was alone, living on my own and making decisions for myself. Now I have responsibillities to others for whom I am obligated to fulfill as thus anyhting or any move i need to make i have to consider the outcome for them more than for myself. What is liberation? What is the deliverance from cares that Shaikh Kadir Al-Jilani has been preaching about? What is quality of life? Are we to exist merely as cattles following the dictates of manipulators and shysters who gets away with murders simply because? Are we not created as the Keepers of the laws, Caliphas, wardens of this domain? Why do we allow the shrewed few flog us into submission so much so that we can be marched into the bull pen to be counted for the slaughtering? They wear their masks to perfection disguising their looks to deceive the unweary. Closest friends or so called, the so called care givers with fancy names like NGOS, the esteem Educators whose moral virtues is as deep as their pocket linings eyes and ears always peeled at whatever fortune there to be made along with their regular salaries, the law keepers, what a joke this has become for us lesser people the law enforcers of old at least were deadly serious, they shoot first before they ask today you end up having to pay for every law they keep. Politicians! No! There is nothing worth saying here.
Yes I am bitter, especially when at the last Friday prayer which I attended at the Sungai Pinang Mosque, my native kampung, the Imam pointed out that there were more fancy fans inside the building than there were worshippers. The Mosque's safety box was broken into twice and what are we the Kampung folks doing about it. THis would not have happened in the Sungai Pinang of old! If i could have spoken I would have shouted at him to wake up and smell the sewerage that they have been processing in the kampung area or take a look at the building across the street from the mosque a see who resides within this entire complex if not foreigners. Please! The original Sungai Pinang guy is a rare specie in this village! Next time stop building big mosques that way you will not have problem filling it up all the time.
Now that I have got most of the crap off my chest let me see if I can make sense out of it all. I need to step away from this whole mess and reasses, re evalutate, I need to recharege my enrgies and recuperate from this cold and this negative vibes that has been hitting my family. It is worse than a curse and I definitely got to end it or it will eat me up. I have to find new gates to knock on to open and enter, new ideas, new thoughts new paradimgns, new whatever it takes to break loose from the vicious hold this parasite has on me and mine. Time to don my armour, unsheath the sword of wisdom and cut through this illusion this veil that is shielding me from what is my goal. Time to die! and be reborn!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Desperation is not a good feeling

Today I came very close to breaking down what a shrink would consider as a nervous breakdown but I only sat and cried on my bed and after a long quiet sitting I managed to compose myself and decided to turn my face away from all the crap that is bugging me. I decided to wrap up my show at the Muzeum gallery well at least gather all the journals and store them as there is no harm in leaving those on the walls for the visiting students. Not many understand the German Video exhibition that is presently on going and there is one or two pornograpic images in those video scenes which I think the Gallery staff missed or maybe...
I also collected the items I left with Haslam at the Ghara gallery Tanjung as I have no intention of prolonging our relationship into the future, probably my loss but I have to make changes in my approach or I will dragged down the same path to no wghere depending of others for my survival. I doubt that i will be having anymore shows in the future and from the way I feel it looks like I am about to make a drastic shift in my life and it is scary. I dont know where or how it is going to happen but something will happen for the better or for worse.
I still owe half this month rent and my car payment and so far there is no income from anywhere in sight, it makes me sick to even think that i cannot give my two kids a short vacation in the east coast like they wanted to instead they took off to their friend;s home and the3 daughter is working for one of her uncles. Well done Bahari! You really blew it this time and really big time!! Where's the dvine intervention or the karmic grace where's all that crap about being Perfect, Strong and Powerful trip? Wheres' all the rich family and friends who used to look for your return and for god's sake what is going to happen to your kids and their visas and their educational situation? Wake up!! Before its fucking too late wake fucking up! This is not fun anymore, you are not getting nay younger nor wiser and how often have you wrote this same old crap to yourself over and over like a broken record, dont you ever learn?
It will take a miracle yes nothing but short of a miracle to turn your life around either that or the end or your existance. You still wanna be an artist? Ha! be creative because its a divine gift? God given talent and all that jazz? Look at where it has got you all through the years. So many had warned you about the consequences but do you listen? No! You beleive in yourself being on the right path, the right motivation, the right calling and all that crap, today the world need another creative genius like you like it needs a Nuclear Holocaust! Wake up Bahari! Seek deeep within your soul and seek deeper than you have ever find that miracle before it is too late and stop looking at others for your liberation from this mess.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Convent Greenlane Art talk.

This morning I spent two hours giving an art talk and demos to a group of sixty girls from form threes and fours and some form ficves students of the Convent greenlane Girls secondary school. It was quite an experience as i had never faced so many young girls and including my own daughter in the group, before. I did not realize that young girls can behave just as unruly as young boys if not worse! But I took charge of the situation right from the start by telling them a short story, my favorite, "What brought You here?", an African folk tale about a hunter who found a skull in the forest that can speak. Suddenly I had their attention and from then on it was a matter of making it last the two hours.
For the talk I gave them the spill about not wasting their time and age as long as they are in school and to remember that there is alot of competition out there especially from foreign workers. I tried to hammer intot their heads the fact that their future hangs in a balance where jobs security is concern and they had better take stock of their predicament and be prepared for the future. To stay focus and awake while they are getting their education and to respect their teachers. I emphasized the need for creativity and the search for what is originality especially in Art and why it is relevant for creativity to be developed from a young age. My point in my talk was to get their attention towards facing their future in the country as the younger generation that will take on from those before them. I doubt that much of what i said was received with full understanding or acceptance but i have my hopes.
I gave a brief demonstration on the technique of sketching paying attention to light and darkness. Most did not know what to draw and copied my works on the board instead. But as I moved around among them I started to communicate better on an individual level of interaction. Most that i had the chance to talk to were able to understand the rudimentary techn iwues of seeing and sketching what they see. It is an eye opener to realize that very few of these girls have any understanding at all about sketching or drawing. Those that shows any talent at all were into sketching Japanese look alike animation characters with big round eyes that the Japanese nver have and the hairstyles that defies imagination while clutching huge swords or some other weapons ready to save the world from some new form of life.
Obviously Art is not the nuber one priority in Malaysian schools at least not in the secondary school levels and where art is left out creativity is on the way out. Students will suffer from lack of the ability to think and act creatively or they will become stereotypes and followers instead of creators and actors. At the rate the school system is running Malaysia will one day arrive at what japan has been through with her younger generation as far as creative thinking goes. In Japan it used to be so bad that no man dare to think any different from the rest of the group or collective whole. Creativity came to a standstill and japanese found out that they lacked inovative and creative thinkers, planners and designers to keep their industrial production vibrant and up to date. This was remidied in the past ten years where young Japanese student were allowed to and encouraged to leave their Japanese Universities and studied abroad especially in the US where they were exposed to a more liberal form of education whci does snot stifle their sense of creativity. Some of these returned to Japan with red and green hairstyles and raised hell with their Japanese elders demanding a change in mindset that had long been nailing the Japanese minds to the tatami boards. Malaysia being a follower country will run the same ciours unless something is done sooner than later to rectify this flaw in the education system. No scientifc research or space travels can create creative minds for the nation, only the humanistic and fines arts schools can help to create

Friday, November 09, 2007

What's the next Show gooing to be?

I have got a few months ahead to prepare for my next show and many ideas are floating around inside my head including painting white on black which can be a challenge if i can only find the theme to go with. Then yesterday I had lunch with the Dean of Humanities Sschool at USM Prof. Najib and he came up with a great idea for me to work with and even provided me with the material for it. He gave me roll of good quality drawing paper of and told me to sketch the Penang streets with all its landmarks and heritage buildings. 'Pucok di cita, ulam mendatang' as the Malay saying goes to translate it would be a futile attempt at the moment but suffice to say that it is what is hoped for and what materialised far exceeds the expectation.

Today I took a drive to Georgetown and visited my friend and gallery owner Encik Haslam and he took me to lunch at a nearby restaurant where we discussed my future in the art business. He suggested that its time i have a business card and he would foot the bill and also that i should think about working out of his gallery so that i can find the exposure and at the same time meet foreign visitors who visits the gallery. Tomorrow we will be attending a Aidilfitri gathering at teh Penang Malay Chamber or Commerce to be attended by the second Minister of Finance a gentleman i had a chance accounter when I was working at Pulau Jerejak. On his returning trip from the Jerejak Resort the speed boat he was taking broke down and almost drifted away and he ended up eventually taking the motored sampan instead. I was at the Penang jetty to welcome his return and when he arrived I was impressed by his laid back attitude as though he had gotten use to such set backs in his life and this was nothing to be upset about and this is the man who controls the purse strings of the country. I have known quite a few Dato's and datins big spenders and even some little spenders who under simmilar circumstances had raised such a stink that made us the little fellows who had tried our damndest to make them comfortable lost any sense of respect we had for them. The problem is who to borrow a batik shirt from as tomorrow's event requires that all guests wear one.
Talking to Haslam has helped me get to know the art scene of Penang especially who is who in the art business of buying and selling, of what sells and where and when. Although he is relatively young and new in the business, he seems to have a good perception over the art commercial scene. He is fortunate too in that his father is a very influential man and has strong connections through his former illustrious career. The Ghara Seni Tanjung Gallery is located in the Armenian Street area od Georgetown, squeezed in between two rows of shop houses although it seemed congested it ha an aesthetic quality by this very fact and it would more so if and when this whole area is renovated or restored to its former glory of being a business area for the Hindu Muslims. If the owner's intention of acquiring and renovating the adjacent building does take place it would be a great space for a gallery.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What's cookin in the country?

The Putra World trade center is inundated by the devotees of UMNO the ruling Malay political party a part of the National Alliance or Barisan National which comprises of the Malays Chinese and the Indians predominantly and the rest of the minor races that make up the nation. It is an anual convention that very few who declares themselves stalwarts of the UMNO Party ever missed and alot of highly charged speaches are delivered by those in power from the Prime Minister on downwards to the district representatives vowing and pledging their unwavering commitment towards the ruling party in its effort in running the country. Its like any political convention anywhere all over the world as the next general election is around the corner the part needs to do political housekeeping making sure that past unwonted experiences do not repeat itself and future successes are gauranteed. Like most political conventions there is alot of fiery words thoughts and ideas thrown at the participants and through the media is passed on to the nation so that they have a vague idea as to what they can expect as far as future policies and government rulings would entail.
This is Democracy in action, this is where words and actions are being syncronized so that the governance of the country can move forward with greater vitality and lesser complacency as every words thoughts and ideas raised at the convention is being obeserved and scrutinzed by the whole country those supportive and those in opposition of the ruling party. making fiery speaches is the hallmark of Malay politicians sometimes detrimental to the party itself when these over zealous political leaders get carried away making accusations and pointing fingers, making claims that is almost impossible to at time to ascertain or fulfill but each and everyone who has the opportunity to express themselves become the firebrand for their constituencies as the election is around the corner. What is claimed and what can be delivered is often secondary, what is important is to deliver the nations' woes and concerns, to demand for justice where justice is wronged, to cry oput foul where corruption is detected, to plead solidarity despite all the petty grievances among the party members.
The man on the street are mostly oblivious to the big pow wow going on at the PWTC and those who take the trouble to keep in touch follow as much as they could in the morning papers gazing with envy mostly at those impeccably dressed with glitterings beyond their own means cutting cakes and enjoying another day at yet another "Kenduri". Those that i had the opportunity to pry upon their comments simply shrugged their shoulders and express their skeptism over the rise of food and oil prises, the corruption that still is rampant despite promises made at previous conventions and the most critical issue that Malaysia is facing, that of foreign workers in the country. Most fear that the government is doing too little too late and this issue is another time bomb waiting to go off. My personal feeling over this matter is one of ambivalance, I am torn between the need for foreign workers and the danger of over dependant upon these workers. For most foreign workers are genuine hardworking people at least when they first arrive however after being here for a few years and having learned the trick of the trade as well as the opportunities available here most become opportunistic and even greedy. These even becomes arrogant and often can be seen treating the local Malaysian with impunity and disrespect. The worse of the lot takes to crimes and clandestine opperations forming syndicates that defies government control. How do I know these? I read the news papers, talk to the Immigration Officers, the Policeman on the street, the Sosial Worker and the penghulus; this is no secret and it aught to be addressed sooner than later.
Malaysia has opened her gates to those who are willing to work within her boarders and it has been a very humanistic gesture to those poorer nations who benifit from this gesture. It is no doubt that in doing so Malaysia has been able to develop her infrastructures at a rapid pase and cheaper cost, thus making it a win win situation. However, today this scenario is running out of sync with what the government had in mind. The number of foreign workers for one thing has become a cause for concern and their influences is steadily becoming a effect upon the Malaysians especially those who sees opportunities in making a fast buck with the situation. The saddest and most concerning effect is the crimes and social effects the foreign nationals has and will continue on affecting this country. It is an obeservation based on experience of having bee a foreigner myself living both in the United States and Japan. I am not in the process of blaming any one or pointing my finger at the government, for me this solve nothing and would even land me in trouble for no good reason. But as a Malaysian I have my rights to express what concerns me and my fellow countrymen, the fault is not in anyone agency or the processes that is being utilized to bring foreign workers into the country, the fault or the flaw is bacically in all of us Malaysians becoming complacent and to put it more drastically greedy. As Malaysians we have become dependants instead of independant as we claim to have achieved for the past fifty yearts. We have become dependant on foreign entities and foreign workers to develop our country, how can we claim to be independant when if without foreign workers and foreign aids our Country would be fifty years behind Singapore in development?
These are food for thoughts that all the hoopla that is going on at the PWTC has triggered for me. How much all of theses cost the Malays if not the nation as a whole it is not for me to ask or need to know as i am sure every penny spent at the convention is accounted for or well spent. It is my only hope that the outcome is well worth every dime and penny and not to mention the hours taken off by every individual from their regular paying jobs is accounted for. We as a nation must never be accused of being a wasteful nation, we can be affluent but not wasteful and this lesson we have to hand down from generation to generation, we can live in this materialistic world without being sucked into materialism. An independant nation is a nation that does not need or depend upon any external help in any form for its existance but we have to learn through words, thoughts and deeds to become truly independant.
If there is any to blame lets blame ourselves those of us who are capable of creative and productive thinking and those of us who can make things happen one way or another whether through our positions or our intellectual understanding. For those who can but will not, they aught to be blame, these are people who for one reason or another refuses to become involved and i am one in many ways for i am not as zealous or pariotic as those who had gathered at the PWTC. In many ways they by the fact of making the effort to be at the convention has involved thelselves in this nation building and deserve a cheers regardless the cost.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Japan Foundation 2

Received my reply from the Japan Foundation and found out that the final result of the awards would only be announced in April the date I had intended to have my Sendai show. In the meantime I guese the time will be spent getting feed backs to and fro bet me and the Foundation...the paper chase begins, if I care to comtinue. It has never been my good luck when ot comes to getting things accomplished when I have to deal with any form of bureaucratic red tape, it is just not in me when I have to deal with paperworks. However it is yet another challenge to face and overcome with once and for all like who says it cannot be done! There are worse demons out there than a bunch of pen pushers gaurding the coffers of the Foundation and they just demand a little respect, just need to follow the rules fulfill the requirements and even if at time things makes no sense I just have to dance along and make it happen. Anyway the date to my solo exhibition might not be in April according to the Gallaery Director Noni who I met a couple days back at an openning. The whole schedule it seems might be changed and as she put it you might end up at a later date into the distant future, most probably not in April as offered. It is okey by me one way or another so long as you got your act together, I mean who the fuck am I but just another artist hardly known around my own kampung, I can be flexible take it or leave it! I mean screw my plans and for that matter my life!

As I have often commented in the past making changes in life is a risky business especially at this late in life. Some say that if you are not a millionaire by now forget it, chances are you missed the boat or your calling somewhere back when. I now seem to feel this way, the depression and the empty feeling of not being able to get things accomplished, the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that in the past had haunted my life is making its prescence felt again. I have dealt with missing my wife and dealing with my children's future, I have made every effort to provide for their daily needs and see that they go to school. I have put on a solo exhibition at one of the most prestigious Galleries in the country, my second solo exhibition in Malaysia sincce my return to this country. I have established good relations among the contemporary local artists and have built good rapport with many, yet i am at a loss. Where i go from here?
One of my spiritual mentors, someone whose teachings i follow closely in my daily life if only through reading his works keeps calling on me to be patient. The Prophet ( Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported as having said,
"Poverty and patience are the boon companions of Allah (Al Mighty and Glorious is He) and the poor and those who endure with patience are the boon companons of the All Merciful (Ar Rahman), their hearts today and the body tomorrow". Patience is again a very tough act to follow especially when one is in desperation of need. I have to find some source of income at least for now to fill up my gas tank or I will never make it home! Is it because i doubt? Is it because I am being logical whatever it may be at this moment in time to weigh between the practice of patience and desperation it feels like desperation demands a greater attention. I still need to beg borrow or steal in order that i can make it through the week.
Someone who stinks of Zen made a comment of my frevious entry that it is not Zen enough. I have no idesa what the person was refering to, however I thank him or her for caring to even read what i write and as far as Zen is concern I have no idea what is or not enough about what i wrote for to me Zen is Zen day to day moaning and grumbling about life is day to day living. Day to day grumbling about life is Zen.No Grumblings no Zen No Zen no Grumblings.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Japan Foundation

Yesterday after a long search for what I should be working on next to justify my xexistance and especially pertaining to my next solo show which will be in April of next year I have come upon an idea. I have decided that i will do a Japan show. I will do a show entirely japanese that will reflect upon my three years stay in Sendai Japan all the works i did there which some of them are still stored away in places that might have saved them and all that i have with me here, it iwll be a good way to remember what was in Sendai.
Then I hit upon another possibility when I was asked to look around for sponsorship or a grant from the Japanese Government and I came upon the Japan Foundation and conveniently enough which has such project in mind when they offer their grants. I decided thatif it all works out I would like to involve my Japanese Artists friends who i had met and got to know well in Sendai especially those who hailed from the nearby mountain village of Akiu. I do hope after all these years they would still be producing artists and would still be intrested in my project. Akiu is a unique mountain village that is a residence for artists mostly and alot of creative individuals live there within walking distance of eachother. In my getting to know these individuals which was maily through my good friend Mrs. Emi Yanagisawa, I learned a great deal about contamporay Japanese and their thoughts and one of the most profound feeling I had was that they very much would like to travel and share their works with the rest of the world.
Hopefully if i could wing it through the Japan Foundation I could help to make their dream a realization and I too could benifit through the working experience in setting up such a project which could be developed further into wider scope for the future. Most Japanese that i know of love to travel and see the world, however due to not being able to communicate in English or any of the foreing tounges that they might encounter in their travels, have restricted their desire. I would love to be able to help in setting up the means for these artists to travel and see the countries that i am sure would widen their perspective on the world around them.
But this will all have to depend on the ability for me to convince the Japan Foundation or any other Japanese foundation for the promotion of Arts and Culture for Japan abroad.
My solo exhibition is being extended for one more month as the next show which is more of a Video presentation by a German will not be taking up much of the gallery space and seeing that my show is gaining quite an attraction among the children, the Gallery Director has decided that I might as well stay on. Allhamdullillah! This means that i have a place to hang out at and what better plae could that be than the Museum and gallery, the one place if anyone take a careful look through my journals would realize that, this is where i had most of my time whether i was in japan or the United States and now here in Malaysia. Even this very moment i am writing from one of the PCs at the office of the Gallery and i had just emailed to the Japan Foundation my project proposal. So all in all even if in my wallet there is only one ringgit and hell knows where i am going to get money to feed my daughter tonight, I have not too bad for the day i have been productive! If anyone jnows the teaching of Dogen Zenji, I have earned my food for the day!, but that is another story, Imean dont ask me who was Dogen or Rinzai or Bankei for that matter ask any Japanese... whAT IS zEN?