Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saying Farewell to 2009

One of my new year's resolution is to loose a few kilos in the middle.

There were moments of highs and lows throughout the year with the lows outweighing the highs not that i am making any comparison or complaining but from reflecting back on the events that has transpired throughout the year, (the advantage of having a diary/blog) I would say that the loss of my wife was the most significant event for 2009. It was both a sad as well as relief kind of tragedy which the Baharis had it coming and we have learned to live with it and moved on. My wife's departure has become an inspiration for all of us to do better in our lives in her memory.
My visit to my son in Dubai and having met Timo my son for the first time was the highlight of the year for me. I am a proud father where my children are concern as from what I observe all have good heads on their shoulders and are capable of taking care of themselves when I am not around.
My two children living with me in Malaysia has now become Malaysian citizens officially and it is with mixed feelings that I come to accept this as loosing their American citizenship is not something that one takes lightly. However in the long run I feel it is for the best in their lives as it will hopefully make their lives a whole lot less complicated as far as schooling or working in the future is concern. I have come to learn a great deal personally through the whole process as it enriches my knowledge about myself in dealing with the Government agencies. Sometimes things got to a point when I was tempted to resort to my old habit of giving up and saying screw it, but i persevered and it paid off.
Financially I did not do too bad considering that I did not hold any regular job other than working part time for my cousin and his catering business. I still owe a thousand or so to different parties for those days when I was in dire need of cash and my cousin Zakaria and my friend Lee helped to ease my burden on occasion. I am a little disappointed of the fact that I am dependant on others however the flip side of the coin is that those that i depended on are closest to me and i give in return to them whatever i can even if it may not be in dollars and cents. I truly believe that it is out of all these humbling experiences that I am being put to the test in my effort to discover my original nature.. who am I? What is my original nature before my parents conceive me? What is my function in this short span of so called life? What is my relationship to my fellow man? How far or how near am I to the Truth that I seek?
On the 7Th. of January i will begin my career as a lecturer at The Equator College of Fine Arts here in town! I am proud of it and look foreword to a new adventure in the academic world. This came as great boon for me and my children as it helps to put me back up in my standing among the 'successful' as far as the relatives and community goes. It is indeed a great New Year's Gift. my daughter has also started working for an Australian Lady who runs a chain of Guest houses in Langkawi and here in Georgetown. She is happy and it is a great opportunity for her to meet people especially those from overseas.

Surely that is the most practical way of solving our difficulties in this present world of chaos? It is because we are not creative, in the sense in which I am using that word, that we are so antisocial at all the different levels of our consciousness. To be very practical and effective in our social relationships, in our relationship with everything, one must be happy; there cannot be happiness if there is no ending, there cannot be happiness if there is a constant process of becoming. In ending, there is renewal, rebirth, a newness, a freshness, a joy.
So 2009 for me was both OK and not so OK. I have turned sixty and am beginning to feel the age but my heart forever young wishing very much to hit the road again this time perhaps to Sri Lanka my ancestral home or to Cambodia to see the Angkor Wat. Just another dream of mine, part of my on going journeys of self discovery before I kick the bucket. I say Adios to 2009, and Adieu to 2010, a year that this Buddha is going to find his place among the enlightened!!


Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Was invited to Lee Khai's for Christmas Dinner and had a great time chatting with Daniel a young Chinese jazz musician who sounded great at Lee's piano. I also had the opportunity to sit and chat Koo Sue Hoe the Artist who owns the Alpha Utara Gallery and lives pretty much in the US. Also chatted with Anne, Lee's wife who spends most of her time getting the run around by her two kids. It was nice to be able to spend a little Christmas Cheer among friends and it brought back warm memories of my years in the US and Japan as Christmas was a great part of the Bahari family's life.
I truly enjoyed the Christmas spirit when living in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The winter scene of piles of snow while cruising around the city and neighborhoods taking in the colored lights from the homes, with Santa's sleighs and rein deers set on the snow covered lawns, the smoke and steam rising lazily from the chimneys of some homes was the Christmas feeling one can never forget. Indoors, there is the Christmas tree! The ornaments, the glittering strands of tinsels and the crystal star glowing at the top of the tree. The colorful gift wrapped boxes and odd shaped items that children kept trying to guess what they were, what is Christmas without a tree? What is Christmas without a basket full of walnuts and cups of warm eggnog and the smell of turkey roasting in the oven, what is chrism as without Bing Cosby singing 'I'm dreaming of a white Christmas' or a party at Faar's Grove, the tavern at Duck's Creek in Brown County, Green Bay, Wisconsin? What is Christmas....without your loved ones sitting around with warm feelings inside despite the cold outside. the Joy of Christmas has nothing to do with being a Christian but it has allot to do with the spirit of being blessed with Love, with the spirit of Giving and sharing, of forgiveness and reconciliations. The commercialization of Christmas is just the side effect which cannot be avoided as Christmas shopping is part and parcel of the Christmas festive spirit.

Made it to two Art openings this week end, one at the Alpha Utara Art gallery while the other was at the Gallery Sri Mutiara. A Japanese print maker's works were on show at the Alpha Utara while the works of my friend Ch'ng Kiah Kiean was launched at the Seni Mutiara. I enjoyed both exhibitions and got to meet the regulars who frequents most of the Art openings in Georgetown and caught up with the latest on who is who and what is what of the Penang Art Scene. Too bad, without a camera i cannot provide pictures for my blog to make it more interesting for those who enjoy reading it.
The Little Penang Street Market was also this weekend and i made to it in the afternoon after working at my cousin's catering business all morning. I did some sketching while listening live to two great musicians Sam Ponnudorai and Paul?? Both played the guitar and sang to the crowds delight. I did a few sketches and gave to both the artists who were appreciative getting them. Sam sang my requested song, 'House of the Rising Sun" in return for i have done sketches of him singing at the Street Market before. Hopefully Big Mac the photographer can provide my with a few shots of the events as he took a picture of Sam and I. Mac is always on the scene at the Little Penang Street market which is a pleasant feeling as he is ever cheerful and has become a very familiar face in the crowd. I sincerely hope that this affair will continue on into the future and turn into a bigger thing where more people will be involve and not just the regulars. Penang brags of so many festivals and attractive events going on everywhere in the city but often times the audience turnout at these events is disappointing. Most of it is due to poor publicity i am told and the ignorance of those who has no idea of what they do but assume that they do. Off course it all boils down politics! Anything that dint work or can go wrong blame it on politics and it may not be because of lack of funds but its just politics!
A few of my artist friends asked of whether i would have my show soon or not and what am i doing with my self these days. I could not come out with a straight answer so i told them i am most hibernating and meditating and doing nothing. I pretend to be resident artist at the Museum Tuanku fauziah at USM just so i can say I am up to something but in reality I am just using the space and facility to while my time away like I am doing right now. I wish I can do allot more but after physically abusing myself for the past three days stirring pots of spicy curries to feed some ten to fifteen thousand people my body is in no shape to even walk out of this building. My left hand aches like it had arthritis already and perhaps it has already cause it sure hurts even typing.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

God is the Tester, man is tested.

Not much to moan and groan about lately except my physical state is not in good shape. Something is not right with all these aches and pains especially at the joints like the elbows, and the knees and ankles. What gives? Wind (angin)? or just wear and tear as part of the aging process, whatever it is it is painful at times and makes it almost impossible to move around and especially work at stirring the pots for my cousin's ever increasing catering orders. Another millionaire in the making, my cousin, he has found his pot of gold in the catering business. Thanks to the Bangladeshi and Vietnamese workers moonlighting to make an extra income my cousin has got his project down pegged. In the next three days there is an order to cook for 18000 total and the house is beginning to look like a warehouse for his raw materials. God bless him as he has a good heart and is fair and ever helpful in times of dire need for most anyone and I hope he stays that way.
"Every twist of thought must be understood; for all thought is reaction and any action from this can only increase confusion and conflict. "
I tried to set up some sort of Art project with my son in Dubai, like having a small studio/ gallery where i can do my work and at the same time sell artworks to dealers there or to customers who happens to stop by or start an indoor art display rental where every end of the month I will have new works on the walls of hotels or offices at a minimum fee. These works don have to be originals and can be imported from all over the world, my son and his friend who might be talked into joining the venture can accomplish this as they fly all over the world. It seems this is too far fetched as there is an Emerati boogie man that has to be fed as a silent partner. It is part of the law that one has to have local partner to set up any business in the Emerates. Another Muslim country inviting corruption into their business system before they even got off the ground, it will be a matter of time before bribery and unfair practices will creep into the market when there is money to be made for nothing. Dubai should learn from Malaysia on the art of corruption in businesses and politics. The only country known that can loose two multi-million dollars Jet engines without having to go to war, hell, without even having to take off the ground. The drug addicts are well known for selling discarded recyclable metals and carton boxes to supplement their needs, sometimes they strip electrical wires and metal fixtures from utility cable layouts, but these are drug addicts. Who would steal jet engines?!! Here is another Malaysia Boleh!!

In Malaysia no one is free of being accused of corruption not the Prime Minister nor the the guy who stops the man on the road for speeding and everything and everyone has a price and this is a Muslim country. A blessed Muslim country most would agree as there is everything anything one would need here and very few natural disasters to worry about. There are more mosques and other forms of house of worship, many elegant ones all over this country than there are hospitals and clinics or even doctors. Sadly enough most of these mosques and temples are mostly empty except for special days and events when man has to make a show before his Creator of be among the unbelievers, like on Sundays and Fridays. Otherwise most of these places are locked up for fear of the other religions, that of the drug addicts, the destitute and the homeless.
Another sad phenomena that is ever of the increase in this country is illegal abortion and the wanton inhuman discarding of foetuses found in garbage cans and storm drains. Perhaps it is happening all over the world that we don't know of but nothing is more tragic than women being subjected to having to get rid of their unborn due to one reason or another. It is as though life has no more value and the sanctity of the human spirit is so brutally shattered whenever one read of the discovery of yet another foetus among the flotsam of the Klang River two or three days ago. I feel like it is an invitation to the curse of God to be brought upon this nation all these acts of defilement's, such as rampant drug trafficking and addictions, the never ending cases of high profile corruption which often insults the lay person's intelligence, the arrogance and blatant abuse of power among politicians that is dragging the country into a quagmire of decadence...and more, we are indeed testing the AlMighty's patience and inviting His wrath which this nation has yet to taste. Na'Uzubillah!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The journey to the Lord of Power revisited

For two days now I have been working my body to the ground and now i feel the aches and pains like never before, the worse is like have a tennis elbow or as a friend mentioned it could be the setting in of osteoarthritis or something like that. Man could i use a good massage and a sauna treatment right about now! The process of aging? Some things you just cannot hold back even if you meditate and contemplate, pray and exercise for what it is worth, when it is time, it is time. It is not a good feeling this sense of being defeated at such an early stage in the game, I have yet to bring to fruit many more actions in my life, actions that I had sewed in motion long ago consciously or unconsciously ever since i started to experiment with my life. I got this notion of 'life being an experiment' when I first read Mahatma Ghandi's life and works.

"Control in any form is harmful to total understanding. A disciplined existence is a life of conformity; in conformity there is no freedom from fear. Habit destroys freedom; habit of thought, habit of drinking and so on makes for a superficial and dull life. Organized religion with its beliefs, dogmas and rituals denies the open entry into the vastness of mind. It is this entry that cleanses the brain of space-time. Being cleansed, the brain can then deal with time-space. "

"When you look at this life of action—the growing tree, the bird on the wing, the flowing river, the movement of the clouds, of lightning, of machines, the action of the waves upon the shore—then you see, do you not, that life itself is action, endless action that has no beginning and no end. It is something that is everlastingly in movement, and it is the universe, God, bliss, reality. But we reduce the vast action of life to our own petty little action in life, and ask what we should do, or follow some book, some system. "— Krishnamurti, Bombay 1958

Whatever happened to the auto suggestion that i had been imprinting upon my mind since i was a teenager?...
"I am Whole, Perfect, Strong, Powerful,
Loving, Compassionate, Harmonious and happy!... and I can do What I will to Do!
In Sha'Allah!"
Has it taken any effect on my life now that i look back over the sixty odd years? Have i failed or have i succeed in achieving whatever it is that i had envisioned my life to? Who is making the observation and who is making the conclusion. One of my failures in life is to establish good rapport with my two remaining siblings each of whom has an axe of one form or another an unforgivable act i have committed against them or their family members, because even their children i noticed had treated me with disdain whenever we meet by chance, like they are qualified to do so. Whatever it is, I have tried, in the effort to be a good Muslim made a special trip to see them with my daughter on the third day of Aidil Adzhar to seek their forgiveness and reconciliation, a Muslim thing to do. I I felt impelled to do this for some odd reason even when a part of me, my ego, said fuck it. I had the feeling that either one of the three of us is about to meet his Maker soon. Consulted and took the advice of my good friend Latif or 'Mamu' the Union Man, at the Farouk Coffe shop and informed a few people significant in my life like my sisters and and my cousins here in Penang of my intention to end this discord with my brothers. I am not a great Muslim but I try my damnedest to follow the dictates of the Prophet whenever it is needed of me to do so. it is hell for those who cannot find reconciliation between kith and kin. I have done my part, as far as the religion is concern. I got to meet and express my regrets to my eldest brother to which his comments were i have disappointed him. I failed to meet my twin as he was out playing golf when i visited his home where i met his wife who among other things told me that I shoulder make my way to Mecca and perform the Haj for I am a sinner and have much to atone for. My failures in life?
My two children has finally got to become Malaysian citizens, whoop-dee-doo! Whatever it entails at least I do not have to visit the Immigration department except to make their Malaysian Passport or renew mine. Almost ten years and the death of my wife, the nasty accidents that i was involved in while driving to get these paper works resolved. One of these involve my cousin Mohd. Kalam's car while driving from one Education department to another to get some foreign student fees paid for my daughter and then the recent accident on our way back from Putra Jaya after recieving the citizenship certificates. My many trips from Georgetown to Bukit Kayu Hitam on the Thai Malaysian Border and the verbal abuses i and my son had to take from the officers at the border with regard to his passport. I am successful cause it is now over. Is it?
I find myself still in limbo when it comes to my faith, yes i am still lost as far as being a good Muslim goes I have yet to be able to bring myself to pray five times a day with complete faith and determination in my performance. Thus I have no right to force or coerce my children into practicing that which i have problem doing myself. All i feel i am a Muslim and that i have finally come to grips after allot of reading and talking to those with enough acknowledge on the matter that I Love and worship Allah and only Allah as my Creator Lord and Master, (let this be my profess witnessed by all who happen to read it). Not because my family and relatives and friends are Muslims, nor from fear of hell or the love of Heaven, but from my gut feeling after years of so called seeking for that which the Truth, (let this too be my statement witnessed by those who read it). My success? I found what i have been looking for my entire life, something I can absolutely unequivocally believe in and hold true to in faith and worship.
My wife passed away in the prime of her life and i miss her, I did not love her enough perhaps or showed her my affections as i should but I loved her as one who understands her and why she had me for her husband. I was married twice and and loved both my wives even if my marriage did not work out the first time. We went our separate ways but maintained mutual respects for each other till this day. My first born is today a pilot for Emerates Air and, he is our pride and joy out of our brief union. My success/failure? No one coached me on how to be a great husband when i was first married to an American there was no precedent to go by. I made mistakes for which I had to live by, but I stayed true to my path of exploring and experiment with what life had to offer and made the best of the worse of situations. As my teacher in the Zen tradition once told me, " You have to pick out what makes sense and discard that which is non-sense". Has my married or family life been a failure? Perhaps! Many are those who would be ready to testify to this if given half the chance.
I asked my cousin Jamie while having dinner in Bukit Beruntong after having the accident the previous evening and while waiting for my car repair job to be ready on whether I had failed in my life. She said yes and no. I have my successes and my failures. One of the my success is that i was able to raise two teenagers and put them through school without a proper job, a proper place of my own. But I have very little to show for in terms of what i can call my properties to leave behind like everyone else in my family and that is why they frown on me. I have become somewhat of an embarrassment to them.
Having spent 21 years of my life in the United States and travelling to various South American countries and a few in Europe, having lived for three years in Japan and raised my kids for the past twelve odd years here in this country, does this not count for a measure of success? Putting it in terms of fiscal cost alone would be extravagant. Ever since my return to Georgetown I have had three solo Art exhibitions at three of the most prestigious Galleries here. I should pat myself on my back for i, one of the few 'Malays' in the City to do so. I have been able to place my name in the book of records on who is who in the Art scene of Penang and the Northern Region, not bad i should say.
So what is lacking? What makes it for a man to be contented and pleased with himself in this life other than the ability to have four wives and three cars, two Banglos and whatever it is that is considered a success criterias in this country? The more I dwell on it the more i come to realized that my spiritual growth is still in its infant stage despite the years I devoted to it and all the practices i have put myself through, my mind if not my soul is still fragmented. I am a splintered soul seeking to become whole but am running up against psycho emotional walls, (ancient twisted karmas from beginning less, greed Hate and Delusions mostly the last in my case). How far or how near am i to my final stage of liberation or to my Maker? This is what will take precedence in my life as of now and nothing else matters anymore as I have most of my life towards the deliverance of other, making others feel right and good. Making sure that the world is cared for in whatever capacity I could, caring with every little help this way and that, but now I have to turn myself inwards and look deeper into my soul like I did while living at the Zen Monastery for that which have been eluding me in my seeking . I have to come to meet my Creator. InShaAllah!! Even if it means having to die of this life before my physical death. My hijrah from that which is to that which will deliver this soul from the death of a kafir.

"All our life is based on thought which is measurable. It measures God, it measures its relationship with another through the image. It tries to improve itself according to what it thinks it should be. So unnecessarily we live in a world of measurement, and with that world we want to enter into a world in which there is no measurement at all. Meditation is the seeing of what is and going beyond it - seeing the measure and going beyond the measure. What takes place when the brain, the mind and the body are really quiet and harmonious - when the mind, the body and the heart are completely one? Then one lives a totally different kind of life.
Source - Jiddu Krishnamurti Book "Awakening of Intelligence."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Road Downhill

Yesterday while at the registration department Office getting my Identity Card(Mycard) redone (it split into two a common flaw with the MyCard that happens to most people), I took advantage of being a "Warga Emas". A golden auger, one over the age of sixty, fit for the pastures and it got me a faster service to my surprise although the young lady attending to my needs asked me my age to make sure that i was over sixty. I took my two kids to ge their ICs done too and after getting their documents and pictures taken they were told that they had to wait for four months or so before they will get informed of their ic. status, four months?? Oh well they waited for almost ten years already so what is another four months? At least now they have the papers to say that they are no more illegal aliens in this country.
I must raise my hat to he Minister of Interior for walking the talk as he had promised to clear as much as possible all the back logged applications for PRs and Citizenship Applicants in this country. I feel Ike a load has been lifted from my back after all these years, the second after my wife's passing away but I still do not feel happy in my heart. Something is missing or not right, there is still a nagging that seemed to try to surface and demanding attention or needing to be resolved and i cannot put my finger on it. Whatever it is I hope for once it is something more positive and would benefit me and my children in the long run. I also hope that it happens soon as I am feeling the aches and pains of age setting in with the lack of enthusiasm to do stuff that is creative and energetic.
I need change, at least a short break from this routine of caring for my two teenage children who are just finished with high school. I need to revitalize myself and recharge my energy to take on whatever lies ahead in the near future as at present i am sitting in a limbo like bird without a song. I am focusing all my mental and spiritual energy on Ibni Arabi and his philosophy while physically stirring pots of chicken and beef curries for three to four thousand people in the catering business while also cleaning and various other jobs that goes with. If god works so hard what is the sense of being a God?
Am I a God? According to Arabi I am, in a nut shell. I am His manifestation, His mirror image, His eyes, ears and nose, His feelings and impulses and consciousness, I am that, I am. What else can I be if not That which created me in His image because he wishes to see, feel, smell taste touch Himself through His creation. I am no 'Al Insan kamil' or the perfect man, no sir, not me off course, but nor am I an ordinary being for i was created special above all creations only I took a wrong turn somewhere down the road and headed away from the right direction towards my final destination, that is my Maker. But hey, I am still salvageable, I am still able to regret and repent and return to the right path just like everyone else and i am still enlightening myself while letting go of all that i am not and shedding all the veils that i have brought upon myself along the road. I have many rivers to cross, but I cant seem to find my way over, there is still many hidden ancient twisted 'Karmas' still holding me down tied to the ground nailing my feet to the floor.
I intend to break free before the angel of death comes before me and this I swear as a man who has spent his years seeking that which he does not understand, looking for answers to questions from every nook and cranny of this planet and circumstances and situations, through experiences and indulgement , putting to the test right and wrong, experimenting with life in order to come to the ultimate Truth before I die. I am a believer but what I believe in is still beyond my ability to envision and when I do i hope to be erased from all these so called phenomenal world and its trappings. In the meantime i will keep on writing these nonsense for so long as I live or for so long as i am at the computer. I will keep on recording all the nitty gritty tediously boring as heck episodes of my life to purge myself of the demons of boredom amid tediousness. The mind needs to express itself so let it be.
Out of suffering is born the urge to seek truth; in suffering lies the cause of the insistent inquiry, the search for truth. Yet when you suffer - as every one does suffer - you seek an immediate remedy and comfort. When you feel momentary physical pain, you obtain a palliative at the nearest drug store to lessen your suffering. So also, when you experience momentary mental or emotional anguish, you seek consolation, and you imagine that trying to find relief from pain is the search for truth. In that way you are continually seeking a compensation for your pains, a compensation for the effort you are thus forced to make. You evade the main cause of suffering and thereby live an illusory life.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Immigration Blues Continued 2

Returned to the immigration office in Butterworth the next day on the 4th. after being told to bring along the first passport my son had entered the country with, ( it was also his firtst Internationational American Passport). After making copies of the relevant pages the officer who we saw the day before took us upstairs to the Visas department where it all began the day before. We were told to take a number and wait and waited we did, i was fortunate to have fallen asleep on the floor with my back against the wall. When our time was up we were called to the window and the lady told us she had an apology to make. She had failed to take notice the first time we came to her that there was an overstay of seven days involved and hence the immigration officer on the Thai Border had insisted that we come to the Penang office to deal with our situation once and for all. However, the passport has also been black listed ( no reason provided) and thus nothing could be done at the Penang Office it has to be take care of at the Federal Building in Putra Jaya. Great!!! Now I am really up shit creek with the days running out and me flat broke I have to find my way to Putra jaya with my son and resolve this issue.
It was the weekend already and so i worked for my cousin and was payed for the two days with enough cash to find my way to Putra jaya and my cousin also ditched out a couple of hundred ringgits just to make sure it was enough for me to cover any fines or charges i might inccur in the process. We left after midnight on Sunday trusting the Kancil would give us no problem so long as there was enough oil and water in it. Arriving very early in the morning we decided to stop over at my cousin Jamie's house in Bukit Beruntong to take a rest and freshen up before we continued on to Putra Jaya. One of my nightmares driving in KL is getting lost on the highway at a peak hour. We found our way to the immigration department in PJ with little problem and spent the entire day chasing the paper work from one window to another. At the end of the day my son got a reprieve of 5 months stay on his visas and i had to pay one hundred RM for this extension. There is also a clause stamped on the visas that read, after this no more extension will be given. I have been made to feel like my son is a criminal in this country by this department once too often so it seems, the question haunted me again why did i chose to return here with my family in the first place? We returned to Penang that same night.
The next morning I decided to rise early and work for my cousin with hope of making some money to survive the next few days. My cousin handed me two official letters in which were letters from the Department of Interior informing me that both my children has been awarded the Malaysian citizenship status! Great! If I been patient for a day longer I would have avoided all the trouble i have had with the Immigration department in the past few days. The letter also informed me that i was to appear in Putra Jaya and the Ministry of Interior with my two children to receive the award at a ceremony failling which might incur some problem. We left for Putra Jaya on Sunday midnight again and made it to our appointment the next day. Along the way we stopped at my cousin Zakaria in Shah Alam where we took a short nap and had a good breakfast before heading to Putra Jaya.
The ceremony was officiated by a lady who enjoyed nagging and most of what she had to say was aimed at my son although not personally but he deserved it more than any that were there. My son Karim is a rebel wanna be especially when it comes to clothing. He had grungy pair of jeans on and a long sleeve shirt which he refuses to stick into his pants and rolled up sleeve like he was ready to rumble. This devil may care look coupled with his long hair made me cringe when the lady was giving her spill about how fortunate it was for the likes of him to be given the honor and privilege to become a member of this great country of ours, even if it takes some eleven odd years of waiting and dealing with the various bureaucracy till it was becoming a nightmare.
I walked out of the building with a mixed feeling, both relief and a foreboding regret of the fact that my children are loosing their US citizenship status by becoming Malaysian citizens. Was it worth it all? Only time can tell, after all the only experience they have had of the country of their birth was one month of visit to their grandma's in Illinois and that too did not fair out too good as she was not in any state to care for them and their sick mom. What would they do if they were to return to the US, where would they live, can they manage themselves without becoming sucked into the America nightmare. I have no answers to all these and the future is here right now is all i know, take care of it now and it will take care of itself in time for only time can tell if i made the right or wrong decision.
We left PJ and KL and headed for home that same evening stopping over at a rest area to have Burger King for a small celebration. As we came by Bukit Beruntong we decided to stop over and pay a visit to my cousin and her Mom and i need some rest before the long drive. They were not home ans so i decided to continue on heading for Penang. I poured rain heavily as we were leaving and at a junction as i was pulling out a Volvo appeared out of nowhere in the heavy rained smacked into my car! I almost cried even before the car came to a stop from spinning, it was like a nightmare happening before your eyes and there was hell that you can do. I shouted out what else do You want from Me! My daughter from the back seat reached over to calm me down. The driver of the Volvo had not licence and the car had no road tax. He was a kid who took his dad's car out for a drive and so I was fucked again from collecting any insurance unless i have no compassion for this kid who has to face his father's fury or perhaps even a criminal charge if i were to make a police report of the accident.
My cousin Zakaria drove all the way from his home in Shah Alam to help us solve the problem with some cash to fix the car so it was drivable and took my two kids to catch a bus home to Penang as my daughter had her final paper to sit for her SPM the next morning. I stayed the night in Bukit Beruntong with my cousin Jamie while the car was getting fixed. It cost me five hundred RM to have the car fixed and fortunately together with the money my cousin gave me and some sent by my son from Dubai via the Western Union I was able to leave for Penang driving the car apprhensively as the windshield wiper had decided to get stuck on me perhaps due to the accident. So I was praying that there was no rain all the way home.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Immigration Blues Continued

Spent the day at the Immigration office in Butterworth yesterday with my two children trying to get things done with regards to thier visas. According to his passport my son has less than a week in this country and unless something is done he will have to leave the country and go home to the United States. This was the result of our visit to thye Thai border the day before to get his Passport stamped and validated for three months. But it was not meant to be, the immigration officer at the border decided that he had had enought of it and decided that we take care of this matter once and for all at the Penang Office so that we do not have to keep crossing the border every three months to legalize my son's stay in Malaysia.
I agree with this decision and decided to take action immediately getting both my children to fill up the forms for application to become permanent residence in the country as they by now i am sure more than qualify for it if not the right to become a citizen of this country. Now the the window hopping and paper chase begins as we were sent from one department to another and had i given up without insisting on seeing the Director of Immigration to present my case i would have no knowledge of what is going on. Fortunately after seeing the secretary to the Director not even the Director yet i was again sent from window to window untill I got to the right department. Here the collecting of information begins all over again but I still did not have the very first passport for my son which indicated when he actually entered the country which was more than ten years ago in 1998. And so today i ahve to take a drive with my son again to get the process moving. The officer in charge was fortunately very calm and relaxed about the whole thing despite the fact that it makes little sense for the department not to have any back up data on my son after all these years of residing in the country and going back and forth across the Thai border in the past year, you'd think that by now the immigration department should have dossier on him and for his sister too for that matter. What is the computer for? Why keep feeding the information into it when you cannot acess for the information when you neeed it and keep adding more work than necessary? But hey, never quesion the authority especially when you are at their mercy. If you are told to come back with the old passport you just do it even if it will cost another half a tank of gas and 7RM for the bridge on the way back. Indeed Allah is Merciful if inspite of all these i could get my children's visas problems resolved.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It was a Bahai Wedding

Attended a Chinese wedding dinner with my daughter at the bay View Hotel
downtown Georgetown, in Penang and enjoyed a seven course Chinese dishes which included a shark fin dish, steamed fish and delicious mushrooms with broccoli; I would have settled for a good stir fried rice and wonton soup anytime but this was the hoidy toidy gathering and it was a Bahai -Chinese wedding. My daughter and I enjoyed listening to a Chinese lady who happens to be a world traveller and a Bahai explain to us all about the Bahai faith and its existence around the globe.

Bahá'í at a glance
The Bahá'í faith is one of the youngest of the world's major religions. It was founded by Bahá'u'lláh in Iran in 1863.
Iran was then mainly a Muslim country, and the faith was proclaimed by a young Iranian, who called himself The Báb. He said that a messenger would soon arrive from God, who would be the latest in a line of prophets including Moses, Muhammad and Jesus Christ.
Bahá'u'lláh, which means the Glory of God in Arabic, was born Mirza Husayn Ali in 1817
Bahá'ís believe that Bahá'u'lláh is the most recent Manifestation of God
Bahá'u'lláh himself stated that he is not God's final messenger
The Bahá'í faith accepts all religions as having true and valid origins
The idea of progressive revelation is of central significance for the Bahá'í faith
Bahá'u'lláh taught that God intervenes throughout human history at different times to reveal more of himself through his messengers (called Divine Messengers, or Manifestations of God)
The central idea of the faith is that of unity. They believe that people should work together for the common benefit of humanity
The followers of Bahá'u'lláh were descended from the Bábis - believers in the Báb who foretold the mission of Bahá'u'lláh.
There are 6 million Bahá'ís in the world, in 235 countries and around 6,000 live in Britain.

I was introduced to the Bahai Faith like while living in San Francisco, just like i was introduced to The Nichiren Shogakai and the Veedanta Society at one time or another and i did take them each seriously for a while just to settle my curiousity and learned all i could from what they preach. As Mahatma Gandhi once said religions are like rivers each headed in one direction and the is toward the source or the sea, they are like water that no matter what form one drinks and in whatever form of container a golden goblet or the palms of one's hands, its still water in essence. So long as man finds peace and harmony of existence through professing these religions I dont see any fault in them for all religions big and small originates from The One, The Truth and the Compassionate Lord of the Universe, call Him by whatever name you will in your own language He Is The Creator and there is none but Him.

Religion has many faces and taken numerous forms throughout the history of man and man has tried to understand and explain religion for just as long eversince he discovered that he was able to think and make choices, that he fears the unknown and has no answers to all the questions about life itself. From the Totem Poles to the Pyramids, from the Ka'abah to the Heiji Temples, man has expressed his feelings towards what is the divine in him expressing that which is beyond his grasp or imagination... the One, the Source, the Origin, the Truth, the Essence, the Compassionate, the Great......for God has many beautiful names.

Man who cannot create a blade of grass out of nothing can only marvel at the Creator of the Universe and yet there are men who will not acknowledge the existence of such a Creator despite all the signs manifesting around him and all the beauty and chaos that coexist in almost a balance throughout time and space. It is indeed a lonely planet we live in when we cannot feel within ourselves the existence of a far greater Universe and that we are the product of a manifestation of a far Greater Being expressing Itself through us. We are His collective expression anything and everything we manifest is related to the Universal expression of Itself, Mirror of the mirrors. Unfortunately man has lost touch with his original nature, his primordial being, his divine essence and forgotten what or who he really is in the scheme of things. Thus man is limited in his course through this life assuming that this is all there is to it and that he either make it big now or forever suffer the consequences.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Handed in my application for a part time teaching position with Equator Academy of Fine Arts as recommended by Mrs. Char Yin presently a lecturer at the college. Char Yin has great confidence in the fact that I would make a great teacher because I have so much to offer from my experiences as an artist. Char Yin is from Beijing, China and is a fashion designer who is trying very hard to figure out what to do for her Master's degree program. She would drop by every once in a while to say hello and catch up with what is happening in my life.
My trip to the Equator Academy of Fine Arts was not only to look for a job by also to fulfill Cah yin's expectation of me, I feel obligated as she seemed to have much confidence in my ability to teach. I met and was interviewed by Dato' Chuah Kooi Yong the Principal of the Academy and his assistant the academic Director Mrs. Tan Hooi Kee. It was a pleasant interview and we talked about Art and education in these modern day and age. We discussed the issues of Art in the State and community of Penang what could, should and aught to have been done by the various government entities and agencies to preserve and promote Art for the local Artists.
As far as the teaching job goes, it will not be till February when school actually starts or maybe even later while in the meantime...
I was taken for a tour of the facility and studios where I met the Mexican Instructor Senor Ricardo teaching his printmaking class and looked like he was having fun, but hard to tell as this gentleman has eluded me eversince we met. I cannot tell if he is simply the dull character that he plays out to be in public or he is by nature an introvert, like hey dont call me i will call you, kind of guy. Well El Maestro, I have been to your neck of the woods too Ese! Komo Esta' compar!
I will most probably not get the position to teach there but I know if I do try and kept my promise to a friend who believed in me to make this appointment.
From my observatiion of the works in progress I could safely say that yes most of the students are good droughtsmen already but do they have the potential to become great artists? This is what education in such an environment cannot teach, it has to come from a well experienced and one who has earned the rights of passage to impart such knowledge not another good droughtsman with a certificate in hand. But hey, Art is Art and anyone can make a work of art but to make a great artist it takes the very special kind of individual and circumstances he or she creates for himself.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mr. Jack 2

My physical self is slowly getting back into form and i can feel renewed energy building up with all the teltale signs of the fever and cough receding into past tenses. Perhaps it just takes time for the body to response to the mental cum spiritual commands that one sent a few weeks ago for a general overhaul and alignment of the engine and so far all the symptoms, cause and effects seems as it should be. Just a little tiredness but the external responses seems to be gathering momentum towards a more positive healing nature, less attatchment to worries, more letting go.

Had a nice walk with Mr.Jack my elderly Chinese Sifu and discussed the state of human evolution , the effects it has over the planetary evolution, the nature of healing individually as well as collectively and our role as the human specie towards other beings exisiting on this planet. The planet is going through radical changes due to global warming among other causes and just like the body gets feverish from too much heat and it requires alot of readjustments and realignments in order to bring some form of balance back into nature before the scale is tipped too far to one side and irreparable damage is manifested beyond our control and management, it in short becomes a terminal cancer case. The movie 2012 gave a vivid depiction of what can happen in the event of a global meltdown and it is indeed food for thought for those who care a little about the state of our planet and its health. Those who are bound and determined to stay ahead economically and screw thy neighbor will find it less appealing at what insights the movie has to offer and after all it was not the global warming that was the cause for the catastrophy in the movie it was more like the planetary allignment and it had to do with a sudden outburst of solar flare that caused the earth system to break down, and 2012 is just another fiction, a pigment of the collective imagination ala Holywood.

The environment is just an extension of our human form, whatever happens to the environment around us has a direct affect on our physical if not genetical make up albeit in the form of self preservation of self development. We hardly take notice of these changes especially when we are too busy keeping a balanced cheque book or in keeping up with the Jones. Even as we were strolling along buried deep into our conversation I noticed the changes occuring around us from the serene quietitude of an early morning into an rush of traffic from every direction as those headed for their various stations in life drove by each with a sense of urgency and purpose. There is no right or wrong in this daily scenario of commuting workers to and from work or sending their kids to school and picking them up, it is just that it is a routine that even i was just involved in like it or not, but to witness the whole scene from a psychological and emotional distance it makes one feel a sense of futility of existence. Zoom, there went an ego barely missing me by and inch onwards to fulfill some need, to be at an alloted time and place to justify his or her personal existence, to get paid, cant be late got a date. We walk through our lives thus most of us with a sense of purpose for some and with a sense of loss for others not knowing where to or what for but making every effort to accomplish what we deem our personality demands that we accomplish and call it keeping ourselves busy while waiting for something to happen out of the ordinary and consider it an exciting event, a break from our routined life. In the meantime we trudge along each our invdividual path towards some unknown desitnation often oblivious to what is in and around us. Is that which is happening in the world outside different from that which is happening inside? In the world there is violence, extraordinary turmoil, crisis after crisis. There are wars, division of nationalities, religious differences, racial and communal differences, one set of systematized concepts against another. Is that different from what is going on inside us? We are also violent, we are also full of vanity, terribly dishonest, putting on different masks for different occasions.
This out of sync state of exitence that we often find ourselves drifiting into is what causes us to loose touch with what is going on around us especially the environment. As we drift further from our own primordial center where it all originate we become less and less sensitive towards what is in effect really happening or what is reality. The mind becomes myopic and ego takes the form of Me and mine and the hell with the rest, taking care El Numero Uno is the name of the game. Why should I give a damn about what happens to the climate or the starvation going on in the Congo? The family? Hell with the family it is their fault afterall that they are not like us why should we care if they live or die, oh, by the way it is not our fault if our children becomes like us who asked them to? Hee! Hee!, Its strange, strange world we are living in Mr. Jack!
The fact is, one is the world; not as an idea but actually. Do you see the difference between the idea and the actuality? One has heard the statement that one is the world and one makes an idea, an abstraction of it. And then one discusses the idea, whether it is true, or false and one has lost it. But the fact is, one is the world; it is so.
So one is responsible for changing it. That means, one is responsible, completely, for the way one lives one's daily life. Not try to modify the chaos that is going on, decorate it or join this group or that group or institution, but as a human being, who is the world, go through a radical transformation oneself; otherwise there can be no good society.Change is not brought about through compulsion, through reward and punishment. The mind itself sees the absurdity of all this; it sees the necessity of change, not because God or the priest or somebody tells one to change. One sees the chaos around one and that chaos has been created by human beings; I am as these human beings; I have to act, it is my responsibility and a global responsibility

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mr. Jack.

This morning driving my daughter to schoolI discovered that my car brake was not functionning properly. Should have been alerted as the brake light was red for quite sometime now but thought it to be a minor rpoblem with the handbrake cable..bla..bla. MoneY! Just now discovered that the brake fluid was totally dry and so there is a leak somewhere and so with a single dollar in my pocket and my car not functioning and my body still wobbly from the fever I am at the nadir of my resources. I feel like being kicked in my guts by some unknown force to make sure that this time I stay down and possibly out of the picture altogether.

But that is not to be for so long as I have my children still under my care I will stand up and do battle till I can stand no more or die trying. I have been up this shit creek time and again and it has never been fun but i have managed to survived and this time is no different except the rebound is a bit slower which comes with age.

Upon arrving at the campus early this morning I took my morning walk as i usually do before the Museum opens and along the walk I always prayed or Zikr to Allah or simply talk with Him. Am beginning to doubt that he even listens anymore but still do it like and lunatic on the loose. At one of the truns I was taking I was mesmerized by the beauty of the landscape set before me and it stopped me on the spot. Time out! Small voice whispered, your mind is so busy worrying and complaining that you forgot to witness the beauty around you and how can you hear the voice of your Lord when you are so engrossed within and without.

After awhile i continued my slow walk and as I started my way back I stopped more and realized how beautiful this whole campus was in the morning with hardly any traffic. Then an elderly gentleman stepped up quietly behind me and whispered good morning. I was surprised that I did not even noticed his arrival untill he came right up to me. We walked together for awhile and he asked me what i do at the campus I related to him about myself to which he started talking about art, about colors how to choose minimal use of colors, colors that pleases the eyes with healing effects to subjects from landscapes to kitchen walls. He quoted Chinese sayings about paintings and poetries translated them each and everyone had to do with how the Chinese view an art work. He talked of watercolors and how the Chinese has the problem with perpective in depicting their landscapes and insisted that I read all about Chinese painting techniques.

By the time I was getting too tired from being hungry and still feeling sick I had to let him go as much as I enjoyed this early morning lessons in Art from a total stranger who collected posters of original artworks taking the trouble and patience to hunt down a picture till he found it taking many years. His name is Jack and he is sixty five years of age! It was like walking alongside Jedu Krishnamurti while he was taking his walks on the hillslopes of Ojai, California, or Thich Naht Hanh on one of his mindfulness walking along the path to Hope Cottage at Green Gulch Farm. It helped to keep the positive energy glowing for the rest of the morning such that i can transcend the myopic tunnel vision that i have been suffering from my discrepit existence. Whatever happened to, 'Be Here Now?' Whatever happened to, 'This Is It'! Where is the Zen Mind?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For the past two days upon returning from KL I have been bed ridden from some kind of flu that was so intense at one point that i felt like i was having a stroke. My whole body just one solid pain especially at all the joints and I could barely move. What was worse was that my son Karim was having the same thing as i was next to me on the bed. I felt my worse as i could not afford to get both of us to the clinic. So we pretty much suffered in silence bitter tears running down my face as i came to realize how fucked up my life has been and how my children has to bear the consequences of my bungling. Today despite of being still not in good form i have decided to get out of bed and into the car and see how i can generate some income or at least try not to let my kids see how defeated i have become.

The trip to KL was a good break from the Penang scene and hanging out with the Museum boys is always a pleasure as they are always up to something when they travel. It is sad that i am not able to follow them to Kucing in the next few days but I cannot leave my daughter with her finals exam beginning in a week. Also I am so poor I feel like a beggar living off the charity of others.

In Kl we put up at the Dynasty Hotel not your regular five star but for a large crowd like us, it was perfect. On the first evening the stargazing with our dynamic Dr. Chong was hammered by heavy rainfall ans so instead of gazing at the stars in heaven we were gazing at the pinnacle point of the Petronas Twin Towers from the Natinal Art Gallery.

The Museum Gallery Tuanku Fauziah staff members were invited to provide a support entertainment for the Syed Ahmad Jamal Exhibition that was going on at the gallery and on this ocaision it was also for the international participants for the Curatorial Convention that was being held there. Needless to say we ended up entertaining no one in particular was everyone was rushed to the open air food court with live entertainment. Really, who would want to sit and stare throguh a telescope at a raincloud or the Petronas Crystal Ball while there is food and entertainment right around the corner.

For me the highlight of the visit to KL was meeting a few great young artist like ceramist Umibaizurah whose works are presently on exhibit at the Wei-Ling Gallery, in Brickfields. We later visited her home where she and her husband Shukri another excellent artist had renovated two or was it three buildings to combine in one art community. It is an enviable feeling to see how successful some artists has become and i am sure they have earned it every step of the way.

The presentation given by Dato Syed Ahmad Jamal of his works on show at the National Art Gallery was another event that made it worth while for me to have been there. The presentation was done for the benifit of the visiting members of the curatorial convention. I was very impressed by the amount of work this one man has produced in fifty years and be able to recount every episode for each and every one of them. He has captured the Malaysian scene like no other Artist has and deserves all the awards and honors bestowed upon him for his works. Dato Syed Ahmad Jamal is a phenomenon in the Malaysian Art scene and beacon for many young artists to ameliorate.

The anti-climax of the whole visit to the national Art Gallery was being given the brush off by the Director Najib Dawa who played I am now beyond your reach since we last met kind of attitude. I had purposely brought along the one hundred feet long drawing that I did with me to show him as it he who gave me the paper and asked me to do the drawing. Knowing me i would most probably ended up giving the whole thing to him or the Gallery if he had been any nicer. But them are the breaks.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Work hard Boy...and you'll find...

The problem with not having enough cash on hand if and when needed has haunted my life eversince I made my first pay check sometime in 1969 working as a medical field assistant for an American doctor who was doing a research of tropical deseases in Terengganu. I was hired through the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) and we were working out of Kuala Brang doing back then research on cholera and malarial deseases and hordes of otheres that was prevailent then in the jungles of Ulu Trengganu. Most of the kampung areas we had covered back then are now under water after the Kenyir Lake was constructed. Travelling into these areas in the Ford Bronco Land Cruiser back then was the thrill of a lifetime and adventure in itself especially for a teenager just out of high school. Sometimes we were stuck in mud on rainy days in the middel of nowhere and often we had to sit around on the muddy grounds fixing sores and applying bandages to broken legs instead of doing actual research work, but it was all educational and helped build my character for better or worse. I had money back then more than most of my peers.

The I decided to work for Bristow Helicopters, a chopper company servicing Esso Exploration in the oil and gas exploration off the coast of the South China Seas. Out of Surrey, England, the outfit was run predominantly by British pilots and had a German chief engineer. My job was communications, the wireless operator, the radio man, keeping in constant contact with the Drilling Rigs off shore and the Control base in Kuala Lumpur. The drilling vessel 'Discoverer Two' was back then operational doing the exploration and I later left Bristow to work on this Ship as their radio operator.

One of my most unforgetable expereinces working as a radio operator for Bristow Helicopters was receiving a May-Day call from the Discoverer Two in the middle of the night. The call came very soft that i could hardly read what was being said. May-Day! May-Day! This is the Discovere two calling Trengganu, come back!! I almost shit in my pants when I realized that the Ship was in trouble and i had fallen asleep on the job and worse had turned the volume down on the radio! And so there i was strainig my ears to hear the call when I could have just turn the volume back up and had no problem hearing at all. Needlesss to say, the Discovery Ship had a blowout and the impact was strong enought to tilt the whole vessel an an angle, (something like that, I learned later). The Danish captain of the Discoverer 2 had fainted and all hell had broken loose on board...there i was alone in the radio room imagining the worse.

The Bristow Helicopters operations base was located in Seberang Takir inside two bungalow houses that used to belong to the former Mentri Besar, the late Dato' Ibrahim Fikri. In the main building was the operations room as well as the dining and staff lounge. Most of the pilots and engineers were roomed in the next adjacent building and so i had to leave the room and rush over to wake everyone up. I started with the Operations captain who answered the door stark naked and simply told me to wake the whole crew up while he walk back into his room to get dressed.

Back at the radio room the captain asked me to call the Local police department and the Navy and the Airforce and get their permission for the two choppers to fly at night on a rescue mission. What??!! The Airforce?! The Navy?! You got to be kidding right? Nope! Just do it or you will be out of work tomorrow. Try it sometime! Calling the police was not hard but the Airforce? The Navy? in the middle of the night? Not like I had the numbers on the board somewhere to begin with. So i did the next thing that came to my mind and that was to tell the policemna answering my call that it was a matter of life and death od many at sea and that he was to contact the Airforce and the Navy to ask permission for our choppers to fly and unscheduled flight that night., all these done in the Trengganu dialect Malay and the police man was also rudely awaken from his sleep too perhaps. How do i do this he asked me back! Wake up the chief of police for crying out loud i yelled back at him. I have the feeling he did just that for after a while came the permission from all authorities for the helicopters' night rescue flight.

The rest was history. I bought a motorcycle while I was working for this company and in the early seventies it was a big deal to be owning a sports bike and running aroung town like an easy rider.

I was twenty years of age when i worked on board the Discoverer 2, a Seismogrphic Research Ship looking for oil off the coast of Trengganu. It was while working for bristow helicopters that i came to realize for the first time in my life how much i hated the Brisitsh expatriates for their arrogance, aloofness and prejudices toward the locals and how some locals would kiss their asses every inch of it to curry their favors. I liked the German Chief engineer even if he was tough on everyone where work was concern but after office hours he was one of the guys. The British and the French pilots stuck to themselves and frowned upon locals who showed any sense of intelligence or got too friendly, some still do till this day unfortunately!. My lesson about life and careers began after being exposed to these jobs that I did soon after my high school education. I never continued my education into college untill I was in the United States.

Working on the Drilling Ship as a radio operator was boring as hell for me and so I applied to work on the platform or the Derick itself where I thought the action was. I used to watch the guys from my porthole at the radio room handling the hundred feet long pipes in and out of the drilling hole and wondered what it would be like for me to do it and wondered even if i had it in me to do it. I got the job and the first day i was on the jod i busted my hand so bad that I had to have it looked at by the Ship's captain who was also the Medic on board. He wrapped it up tight with a piece of gauze and sent me back to work, I did and found out after awhile the black and blue on the palom of my hand was gone at the end of the day. The Deck Boss, an elderly guy who reminded me of Buffalo Bill in the Western movies kept me going. I learned the job fast and got to be quite good at it. I could handle the long pipes as they slid up from the ship's lower deck pulled up by a whinch line and alter attatched to the top of the revolving pipe that was already in the hole. The whole procedure was as dangerous as it was challenging. The guys working on the deck was constantly covered with hot mud that kept shooting out of the pipe everytime it was uncapped to be joined by the next pipe. The floor was as slippery as one can imagine being covered by the mud and when handling the the hundred feet ling pipes as they swung from the edge of the deck free towards the center one is tested to the max in how to avoid getting knocked off one's feet while clinging on to these pipes. This was how i hurt my hand, I had slipped and placed my hand against the revolving pipe in the hole to stop myself from falling and the pipe i was supposed to hold back from swinging into the center came and smashed my hand. Immediately after the impact i almost passed out when I slipped off my glove and saw the blue black discoloration taking place before my eyes amidst sering pain. I saw the line on the horizon tilted to one side and then the other as I started to fade out of conciousness but I was rudely jerked back into my sense by someone smacking my back hard enough to throw my hard hat to the ground. I looked around me dazed and found the old guy Buffalo Bill standing there smiling at me and told me to get to the Captain's room and had him take a look at my hand.
After my hand being fixed by the captain I returned to the Derick area and reported my conditon to Buffalo Bill, he told me to get bat on the job to my utter dismay. I did not back down but kept at it grabbing the pipes and then the 'Thongs' the best i could and by the end of the day I felt like my hand was all forgotten, no more pain, like nothing happened. Buffalo Bill came over tapped my on my back and asked about my hand. I showed him that it was perfectly ok by gripping and releasing my fist. It was short of a miracle I thought. Then he took off his glove and showed me that his little finger was half missing like some yakuza deal made him cut it off. He pointed at the chain that was used to wrap around the pipes each time the joints were tightened.
Why do i describe this whole scene in such detail? Because there always skeptics who cannot accept that an artist like me could have done what I did somewhere along the way in my life. Not that it mattered to me but to my children it is my way of saying hey, I worked!

My next employment was in Georgetown, Penang it was after I have had enough of the East Coast life and living under my oldest brother's watchful eyes was not exactly what i thought was the coolest thing for me. He was also formerly my highschool teacher and the school's disciplinary teacher to boot. I needed to break loose and carve my own future elsewhere, where i did not have to compete against my twin brother for a spot in the sun. The move was prompted after i was kicked off the Discoverer 2 for challenging the Deck supervisor to a duel which ended up in a standoff. The cause was about learning that I could understand and spoken good English and detested being subjected to filthy and abusive language by my superiors as my fellow workers were subjected to when they could not understand a word of English to understand what 'mother fucker' or 'son of a bitch meant'. If they had known what the expatriates were abusing them with there would have been blood shed alot earlier than before i stepped into the arena. So much for ignorance is bliss as they say. In those days there was no government body to turn to for complaints as Petronas was unheard of.
Hiring and firing of locals in those early days of the petroleum industry in Malaysia was done through a Jew who acted as the middle man and he was assisted by a Malay smooth talker, a shyster and between them they made a killing over the salary earned by the local Malays working on the oil rigs. I was made aware of these by the Americans who i befriended on board the Discoverer 2. These middle men were like parasites that bled the ignorant young fishermen who opted their fishing jobs for a glamorous job which was said to pay well. The injustice done to these pioneers of the oil rigs workers was inhuman and dehumanizing by any international standard but by Malaysian standard "apa apa pun Boleh lah!!" Today looking at the petronas employees strutting around in their fancy gears and sporting high brow lifestyle claimming how much profit and how far they have come, I want to puke! It was the ignorant Trengganu fisherman's sons that got the ball rolling and they deserve better than getting what is righfully theirs taken away from them purely on political grounds alone. The Malays have a saying ' Lembu punya susu, Sapi dapat nama'. How many gave their lives in the early years of the petroleum industry in Malaysia? How much were they or their loved ones compensated with? Does the mighty giants sipping the blood of the people in the ivory towers care to ask or even recognize?
My services with Hagemeyer Trading Company on Leboh Pantai in Penang was what i would consider as my first real job. I was offered the job by a friend who was asked by his Chinese friend to find one or two Malays to work in the company as the malaysian governement back then in 1970 had made it mandatory that there be a percentage of Malays employed in major companies and banks all over the country. On my first day i was placed among the administration department keeping records of sales and anything to do with accounts. For someone who hated maths with a passion the job was like a true grit test and i do not know how I lasted as long as I did but I did, I survived. Then i was transfered to the Matsushita sales department where i was required to make out Delivery Orders and cater to the needs of the salesmen. After being grilled and thrown around by an elderly Chinese lady who ran the department like an Iron Lady I was transfered to yet another department which was involved in sales of Nipon Victor Co. Products. The department was also ran by another Chinese 'Iron lady' but alot younger and not as immaculate as a concubine as the one that ran the Matsushita or then known better as the National products.
All in all there were about five or six seperate departments involved under one roof and they dont really get along between one and another and it was a challenge to be passed around from one department to another while I was undergoing my trainning. Working among the Chinese one has to earn their trust and than their respect and having done this there is no better education one can get than from a group of Chinese who sometimes hated eachothers' guts but have great perserverence in not showing it in the face of day to day work. Like the store keeper will swear all bloody hell about one of the department heads in front of you but you make no mistake of telling it to the person, this was an unwritten law that you learn to observe.
As i progressed in the company I was allowed to become a salesman like hitting the streets with batteries," National Eveready Batteries." I tried every damn stalls and stores there was in the Georgetown area but try as I may it was like I was up against a brick wall of no takers for batteries, or selling was definitely not something I was great at.
I was one day called into the office of the 'Old man', Mr. Van Der Muellen for a pep talk. He said to me that if I could survive these groups of Chinese who bounces me around the various departments, learn all they had to throw at me and succed I would have a great future in the business world. The old man was soon replaced by a younger Dutch by the name of DuBois who was married to a Chinese. This guy was slick and we did not see eye to eye from day one but he kept his temper with me to just dirty looks. Later he was caught for embezzlement and sent packing with his wife to God knows where.
Making money? Work? I did my share, here in this country and overseas. I was not one for staying too long on one job till weeds starts to grow out of my toes but whatever i did i gave my best and did not take any nonsense from my fellow workers whether they be my superiors or those who work under me. I am today not so financially well established not because i was lazy but because i never did beleive in saving for the rainny day. My mother God bless her soul, said to me that I have holes in the palm of my hand when it comes to money, I beleive her so.