Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Tribute to a Great Lady

" But I know this much: If your intentions are pure, if you apply your craft with a view to observe humanity and ultimately, God Himself, very often something powerful will surface."
Yasmin Ahmad
Film Maker

Born July 1, 1958, this British-educated Psychology major had years of experience in advertising before turning to the big screen. In her years in the field, she started with firms such as Ogilvy and Mather and eventually rose to be Executive Creative Director at Leo Burnett Malaysia. Her death was confirmed on July 25, around 11.25pm.

She was only 51 when she finally succumbed to a brain hemorrhage from a stroke, which happened as she was presenting working papers. Her body was laid to rest in a Muslim cemetery in USJ SS23, noon of the next day.
And like the life she led, her death last week would leave us a deeply affected, and with no small sense of loss for a talented filmmaker and a woman of great strength - for she has to be, to have weathered through the criticism, the controversy and the challenge of making eye-opening movies in the narrow-sightedness of the industry authorities.
Even as every human being has flaws, there was no flaw about her message to Malaysians - young, old, Chinese, Malay or Indian, rich or poor - that there is more to life than the petty differences of race, and that it is our differences that should draw us closer, and not further apart.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Innalillahi Wa'Innalillahi Ra'Jiun...Sayonara...

How do I feel now that my wife is gone, no more? Sad, Yes. Relieved, Yes. Angry, No. Not any more, my loss was meant to be as part and parcel of God's Will. Relieved because at long last she is free from so much suffering not only in the past few years she spent in the Nursing Home but also her life before she met me and perhaps even during our married years. I was never the perfect husband tried as I might. I am sad for my children and for my wife not being able to enjoy them in the later years as she more than me deserves to be with them as they grow into adulthood.
There was never adoubt in my mind that I love my wife and she was a great person loved by many who knew her especially her students who were mostly International students who studied English as a Second Language. She lived and taught in Japan for a total of ten years My wife was as dedicated a teacher as they come and her job was her life. I was the homemaker of the family most of our married life and my wife was the bread winner, this was the arrngement I had to choose as she was happier while in school teaching than anything else. In a way it was a blessing for us my being an artist and able to be as productive at home as anywhere else and thus was not easily succumbed to boredom or frustrations in spending my time at home. This off course did not sit well with some who sees a man's role is tot be the breadwinner not his wife. If i had insisted on this perception my wife would have either devorced me earlier or met her illness sooner.
My wife passed away yesterday in an Illinois Hospital somewhere and will be buried today according my mother in law and I feel like a part of me will be buried in the ground with her. I pray that the AlMighty will take her into His care as she deserves it. To me it does not matter if she is buried by Christian or Muslim Burial for she was both and accepted Islam as her faith in he later years here in Malaysia by any standard she was a good Muslim that often times made me feel special.
I will miss you Nancy and soon I hope that we will be together again in the afterlife Insha'Allah. May Allah receive you and protect you always for you have been cleansced through your illness and your faith in Him, Insha'Allah.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wokeup Tis morn...

I woke up this morning to the sounds of shouting and screaming from the ladies in the kitchen area and immediately knew that there was another fire incident in the making. As i was already in my towel getting ready for my turn to take the shower I dashed downstairs and as i got near the door saw the kitchen was bright from fire somewhere in the corner of the room. I joined in the desperate attempts that was already in progress to quel the flames that was shooting out of a gas cylinder, another leaky connection case, (happened twice or three times before). Wet cloths were brought to cover the flame in the effort to quelch it but did not help. More and more people from around the neighborhood joined with some shouting, one or two already doing the azan call and others giving lectures and instructions on fire safety. I tood there knowing that there was little i could do at the cap area was by now totally melted, so i held a water hose making sure the tank was kept cool by the the wet cloth and shower of water, I figured on waiting it to burn out the remianing gas.
The Fire Department was called and arrived to take care of the burning tank. All it needed was to send a strong blast of water from the powerful hose to extinguish the flame emitting from the tank. I slipped away quietly and got ready to send my daughter to school and avoid any further communication on the matter at six in the morning. I did not realize how I was affected by the incident till I arrived at the Muzeum USM where i did my morning walk of seven rounds around the Muzeum area while also doing my ZikruAllah holding my wife's image in mind asking my Maker to take care of my critically ill wife. It was also my effort to let go of the incident at home, however after my walk I felt like a ton of bricks hit me on my chest. I thought I was going to have a heart attack and so I made my way to the back of the Building and laid down on the couch. I woke up at noon tired but rested.
I faced the potentility of death from an explosion of the burning gas tank with no fear in my mind of the inevitable but my body was taking th toll in the form of shock. This had happened before I noticed when I was the health and Safety Officer for a CUF Project in Jerteh's Petronas Refinery. A simmilar incident occured only at that time it was a gnerator that was on fire and I was the firston sight and after much effrot managed to put it out. I notced that only one or two person assisted me in the process and that most of the workers and supervisors were watching from a safe distance. I felt no fear of lossing my life then too but I passed out when I got back to the office untill someone had to wake me up for sleeping on the job.
In the incident this morning I noticed how panicked onlookers can cause more harm to themselves than help. Shouting and screaming can add to the confussion and thus causing poor judgement in quick action taking a small incident can turn into a major disaster. The lack of fire fighting equipment at a place where alot of cooking is being carried out daily is unacceptable especially when the proprietor was told to look into the matter twice on two seperate incidents by your truly...but...

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Wife

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from Alma
Thursday, July 23, 2009 9:16 AM
"dmneff" View contact details
"shamsul bahari"
Hello Shamsal, Karim, and Marissa, Just a quick note to tell you that Nancy's turned for theworst. I was down to see her Sunday. She wasn't very good. Then I went again Monday and her condition was somewhatworse. Today I got a call that her condition worsened. Idon't know if you're familiar with the Hospice program. They are individuals who are a "go between" family and thenursing home and help to make patients as comfortable aspossible and inform you of the symptoms of death. Theyindicated that she was very ill and she is expected to leavethis world very shortly. She's just existing, sleepingmostly and doesn't respond to anything said. I'm so sorryto have to tell you and the children of this. It's in God'shands.Love,Mom

So, my heavy heartedness and lack of enthusiasm for the past few days has its reasons, I am going to loose my wife soon or so it seems. Yesterday evening for no apparent reason I found myself wanting to read the Surah Yaa Sin( considered the heart of the Quran and read when in times of need..) and I read it with whole heartedness and i thought I was just doing it to avoid my mind from drifting into its old bad habits but even this morning as I drove my daughter to school i felt a wave of negative energy and forced myself to turn to Allah with Astafargh begging for the mercy of the Lord of the Univers) and whatever came to mind. I had to force myself from letting my daughter feel the negative impact I was having by creating jokes out of the blue...and in my email this morning I discovered the source of my uneasiness, my terminally ill wife has come to a critical stage and could pass on any day.
Sad? Ya. Sometimes the sadness and cold despair reaches a point where it becomes just a numbing feeling of hopelessness. Angry? Ya, but who or at what? This is what the Buddha had warned man of, that life is suffering, impermanence is part and parcel of life and one of the major causes of suffering. If I feel sad it is only for my wife who deserves to see her children grown up into young adults and if I am angry it is at myself for not being able to be with her in these times of her need... through health and illnesses...but... only my prayers is all I have got to send to her and only the Lord's Mercy is all that elevate her suffering or end it. She is as far as I am concern in His hands.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Man can only propose...

In the Abscence of Malaysia...

Reality Check Time..

My children would rather remain American Citizens if they have to choose between becoming Malaysian Citizens or remain being American Citizens. For me btoth are equally good and both are as equally not so good but to choose the better of the two I am with their choice. This means a paradigm change in my conciousness is taking place as a begining preparation to embark again another adventure of moving my tao kids and me to the Good Ol' US of A...Land of the Free...Sweet Home of the Brave!! I hope the Amircan Consulate in Kuala Lumpur will be sympathetic to my situation and predicament with my children's Nationality status.

Like my oldest brother said.. You are the only to be blame, dont go accusing others of the troubles you are in and Today I say Alhamdulli'Llah, I now understand the impact of this statement. About to turn sixty this coming Ausgust i reserve the right to let off some steam, not that thats about all I have been doing through this Blogging addiction. This is the more I need to know Who I am, What am I? Where am I headed for in the scheme of this cycles of life and Death and Rebirth..I read Marquis De sade at the age of fourteen thanks to my brother, Li Yu Tang's The Before Midnight Schollar and saw the first issue of Mad Magazine and and the firtst issues to The incredible Hulk, and Spiderman and got to know Stan Lee in the sixties, thanks to my brother. I had destroyed alot of his Playboy magazines when I was into Collarges. I thought a good way to get rid of evidences that he possesed Playboy Magazines during those Years while being the Displinary Teacher for Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School, my secondary school became a mixed blessing. If not for my Eldest brother I would not have been able to take this road less traveled, this journey off the beaten path. He inspired a sense of confidence about him that has helped me kept asking myself who am I? In this scheme of things, where do I fit in?

OHH!! Adekk Ciku Razali...Abang mu ado' lagiii? Dengo kate Kurang sihat kit dok'?? Nampok do' main Tai Chi Kat padang dengan geng geng Cine pagi Pagi, sehat nampok!.. Cengei die dok? Semue budok budok takut dengor name' die'!! (Terengganu dialect spoken Malay)

A little side track there a trip back in time, tripped by some related thoughts to the subject of brotherly love and the need to express gratitude and the fact you are still in my thoughts and conciousness as one of my Teachers in Life if not the first. Every once in a While my mind tends to take look back and reflect the past so as to correct the future. Taking a piece of my past successes or failiures and working on it as a healing practice in my mind a reflective form of meditation unravling and untangling the tangles and letting them float away into oblivion perhaps to where all wasted thoughts are delivered to be recycled and stored and not to be mentioned these are the files for Judgement Day! So! Allah (SWT) is perfectly fine, it is me that have to work out that which is productive and everlasting and that which is tempting and enticing but impermanent, transcient, material or spirit? Body or Soul, Which comes first?! When I admit 'I' am the Soul...I am no more... the body... I am no more material I have committed to becoming more spirit concious, perhaps some calls it more spitirually awakened by the removal of layers of Veils that had shielded me from my true nature, my original being , my sense of purpose and intellect, the tolls Allah has bestowed upon me in this short span of life.
At least I am still alive, even if this physical body is slowly surrendering to age and decay I 'm still running after my Lord and shedding my schrouds along the way as i unveil myself and bare my spirit to the Universe to be seen and heard and to be judged for qwhever it is, before it is placed before my Lord at the end of days. I am a soul speaking as one talking as one and thingking as one and acting as one, if and when I remember : Who I am. When I am not weighed down by worldly affairs or staring at a pair of tight pants or my mind is not cluttered with crows.
My children's future will occupy my mind for a long time to come yet but it is a blessing in disguise as it provides me with sense of goal in making things happen despite all the traversities. For the past elven years I have tried to get them to become Malaysian citzens but to no avail, their papers are buried in one of the boxes in the home ministry' store room. Now it seems with the new Interior Minister there is a glimpse of hope but my children has decided they had enough of being made to feel worse than foreign workers in this country and as their father I cannot help but feel the same. Perhaps it is meant to be this way and who knows what Allah has in store for them when they begin their lives there. It was a great experience for me not to mention a privillage to be in the country for 21 years of my life. But my children grew up elsewhere, Japan and now Malaysia they have no recollection of what America would be likenow as teenagers. All they know is that they are Muslim Malays and raised in the East Coast for half their lives and now in Penang for the other half. He speak bothe East and west coast Malay dialects. Thank god they speak good English and have been gathering a good amount of knowledge of what to expect if and when they return to the US., thanks to the Internet. I can only lead the way knock on some doors for them. Insha'Allaahh!

Monday, July 20, 2009

AsstarghfirulAAh!! Al Gafuru..Rahimmm!!!

Allah(SWT)the AlMighty, has no problem...
you have, lots of it..

Whether you believe or not have faith or no faith at all in Him,
Allah is not concerned, you should be.

Finished reading the book 'Al-Ghazali and His Theory of The Soul a comparative study by Mdm. Noor Shakirah Mat Akhir a lecturer at USM. Well thought out study of Imam Al-Ghazali whose works had so far alluded me and having read this book I have come to a better understanding of who and what to expect further down the road. For me this book which I discovered at the MGTF mini library, belongs to Hasnul and I snatched it off the shelf as I sat looking out at nothing and lost in a limbo. I dont claim to fully comprehend the book especially the Greek Philosophers, they will always be 'Greek' to me, but I come out of it with a whole new sense of pride and admiration for the Imam. Al Ghazalli will be a great study as a companion for my spiritual journey in the near future.

When my daughter and I visited the Salvation Army second hand store on Perak Road a few days ago I picked a book to read,it was the only book I felt that comes closest to what I am working on among all assortments of books and magazines scattered all over the crampped shelves. It is called "New Beginnings" produced by the Brahma Kumaris, World Spiritual University. My daughter got herself a coderoy jacket to wear to her prom and a few other items, Marissa loves the Salvation Army Store, her 'Kedai Jimat'. I paid one ringgit (RM) for the book, this book on Raja Yoga, The King or Royal Yoga came to me for less than 30 or a Quarter in US dollar. When I told my friend Shahram, the Iranian artist, he pointed upwards and smiled; the book dealt with the Soul. I did not realize this at the time i made the buy. After having read Imam Ghazali to find this book is like being handed the Wilkepedia on Souls. I had read the Muslim, Islamic way briefly and now I am getteing the practical trainin on it. The Raja Yoga is no stranger to me as it has always been a part of my study and practice or discipline eversince I was given a copy of it when leaving for Alaska from Green Bay, Wisconsin and my friend and companion 'Bare Footed Lizzy gave it to me as a parting gift. I survived much of my Alaskan Aleutian Adventure was from having adoted its teaching at that time.
I learned and put to work what i could and till this day the few affirmations that I memorized;

I am the Master,
I am the master of my thoughts and consiousness.
I am the master of My Body, Speach and Mind.
I am the Master of environments and circumstances,
I am the master of my Destiny...Insha"AAALLLAAHH!!
This was my practice while Livng in Alaska.

I came to believe I was the creator of my scenario, I had the power to change and to adapt to changes often burning my bridges behind me; I took one Leap of faith too many and look where I landed!
Still the Cheese Burger Buddha, rambbling away at the world about things i hardly know and giving out free lessons in how to make in it this End of Dharma realm. Not too bad if you consider that I have written over 300 blog entries of these garbage and with great pictures too. Not too bad if you compare to some who has much too little to worry about and grow to become the Beer Barrel Buddha or the Couchy Potao Buddha.
There is nothing right or wrong on who you choose to be, a Buddha Knows he is a Buddha, he is a cobbler ( a mender of bad souls), a fisherman (A Fisher of Man) and he is the farmer ...Outstanding in his Field!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Sermon

Indonesia has taken another blow from the merchants of doom when bombs exploded in two major hotels killing at least four foreigners in Jakarta, thank God it is Friday! North Korea is still bent on setting off a Nuclear war while its leader is dieing of cancer. In Pakistan too there were random bombings claiming innocent lives, somewhere in Chechnya a human rights activist was executed and her body brutally dumped by the roadside jus as a day or two earlier in Mexico somewhere a group of mutillated corpeses belonging to the drug enforcement agencies in the country was found dumped on a roadside by unknowns. The Chinese are at it again, and this time it is against the Uighurs the Muslim Chinese population who for one thing do not eat pork!. They had had their field day with the Tibetans having just about obliterated an ancient socitey anh its heritage driving its ihabitants into exile... Let us not venture further or it will another black Friday entry in this blog. But suffice to say we are living in sad times and real bad times despite all the graces we are given by the Good Lord. The swine flu, H1N1 or whatever names they are calling it by is slowly joining the race of major outbreaks of deseases around the world shoving Aids and the Bird Flu to the sideline and shoving preexisting desease like TB and cholera and malria even further into the museum of medical history.
Will we homo sapiens ever wake up from our self created nightmares? The death of a Pop Star has left us a legacy of songs one of which strikes to the core of every sensitive human heart when watching the videoclip of his performance..'The Earth Song", is a wake up call that we all can relate to unless we are demons and devils, shaitans and jins bent on the destruction of the human spirit, the destroyers of faith and denizens the anti Christ. Well its ok if we know who we are so long as we really know who we are one way or another, it is hell of alot better than just being an ignorant pawn in the cosmic game of life in the battle raging between good and evil. Knowing who we are at least can narrow it down as to who serve, which side are we on or what is neutrality in this day and age where even the fence you are sitting on can be blown to pieces at any minute of the day.
The veil of darkness is rapidly descending upon humanity as a whole and man charged with being the caretaker of this planet is helpless in stopping the advancement of its negative impact with the ignorant masses becoming victims to its onslaught. Our young is lost in the chaos and turmoil deluded by all the negative influences that is being overtly or covertly showered upon thier psyche turning them into rebels without causes or zombies under the influence of sophiticated drugs and lude entertainments that corrupt the spirit. Religions and cultures are pitted one against another stopping at nothing short of genocidal campaigns and the humanitarian values inherent in man has all but distinguished, Love and Compassion, Tolerance and Charity are but only words with no meaning, Greed, Hate and Dellusions has become the norm. At the end of days what is the difference between man and the truck load of cattle headed for the slaughter house?
So lets blow up more hotels in the name of the AlMighty and bury our freedom fighters and law enforcers in open graves by the wayside, lets worship the coins and drink our cup of crude oil, lets dope every Tom Dick and Effendi with our latest techno media savvy and corrupt our young with promises of bigger tits and asses on the other side of the fence, let us do our final dance with all the pomp and festivity as we head towards our self manufactured doom with the belssings of Baal and the Dajal, let God take care of Himself.
All those who believe in the AlMighty Lord of Compassion raise your hands!!
All those who belive in Shaitan and his cohorts do you know who you are?
And all you who have no believe whatsoever, what is your purpose of occupying the space and breathing the air here on this battle ground?
Today it is no more a matter of Communism against Democracy, or Muslims against the non Muslims or the east against the west, or Black against White, today the dilemma is Good verses evil. A dark cold heart of ignorance against an enlightened heart of Love and Compassion, the Man vs the beast in him. So wake up all you children of Adam you who the Creator has created in His image, whose essence is riding within your heart of hearts wake up before you and your loved ones are forever doomed to be one of those lead to the slaughter house in your sleep.
It is of no more significant if you are Jew or Gentile, Hindu or Muslim, Japanese or Irish, whatever or whoever you are each and everyone has to wake up and ask the simple question; Who Am I?
This is your 'Koan', your Mondo your key to salvation to Light to being who you really are in the Light of your Maker.
It is never too late to become a child again even if you are Donald Trump or Osama Bin Ladin, it is never too late to ask and find the truth of who you are in the Uniniversal context. This is the true Jihad of every man and child as preached by all religiuos denominations all around the world. Do it if not for yourself for your children and theirs.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Much ado about Language...

This morning at my usual breakfast haunt at the Astaka Taman Saadon, I was joined by a fellow artist and lecturer at USM who was reading the Star News paper across from where i sat. Normally we dont talk much other than hi and bye but this morning Fauzan decided to comment about the ruckus that has been in the news for the past few days about teaching English and how not to teach English in the Malaysian schools. He was obviously glad that the government was reversing the manner in which English is being taught in schools today which is teaching maths and Science in English and i agreed adding that Science and maths has a language of their own sometimes even English speakers also has a problem understanding and what more for beginning students. We reflected back in time when we were in school and noted that back then there were a good supply of good English teachers mostly products of Kirby and Brinsford in England and whose delivery of the English education was excellent.
Memartabatkan Bahasa Malaysia/ Memperkukuhkan Bahasa Inggeris or Upholding Bahasa Malaysia,Strengthening English is the new government policy although on looking back in time it has always been the Govenment policy and the only tthing new about it is that those who make the policies today are having a hard time keeping up with it. Students today are not those of yesteryears and the English just as the Bahasa Malaysia has taken a more different sense of urgency. Just as English is the lingua franca for internation communication Bahasa is The National Language for the country and must remain so for the sake of indentity and unity. Both are equally valid and need to be acquired by all Malaysians who read and write and not to mention speak. It is lame to find a Chinese or an Indian or any of the othere ethnic groups living in this country not being able to communicate in Bahasa Malaysia if not in English a poor excuse when a Bangladeshi or a Miyamar worker can pick up Malay in a few months of his stay in the country. For a non Malay Malaysian regardless of what nationality or ethnic background he or she comes from not being able to speak or communicate in Bahasa Malayisa is an insult to the nation and to himself not to mention the lack of loyalty and pride one should have towards one's homeland.
The only question I had in the previous government was the lack of wisdom when the teaching of maths and Science was to be done in English. Math and science have a language of their own which sometimes even a good English speaker cannot understand just like reading a medical journal where not everyone can do even if it is in their mother tounge. The language should have been delivered through subjects like literature or geogrphy or history like in the old days where reading was a major part of the study. But this is my country, Malaysia, anything goes and for every step forward we take often we take two backwards but we keep on trying till we find the solution to everyone's satisfaction. Ther is no villains or boogey men in this matter and no hidden agenda to talk of as it affects everyone's future and that of their children's. There is only the need to find better ways and more practical solutions all around. The sooner the better for this to drag on is a waste of the public's time and can create insinuations for the government like using the issue to divert public attention from other more pressing issues.
On this subject the only thing that I can offer as a suggestion towards enhancing the quality of English usage in the country is to encaurage reading. The Sun news paper the was given out free every morning at the Ampang Park Junction where I waited for the American Embassy to be opened was a great example whereby the public is automatically encauraged to read or sit and waste their time away waiting. Books and novels especially at book stores are relatively too expensive for people to purchase and read, the government can look inot how to lower the cost of these novels so those who enjoy reading can have a larger choice of reading materials that they can afford. The purchase of second hand books, especially good novels can be made and shipped to rural libraries via public libraries so that more children have excess to these books. Many a good Samaritan I know of living retired life in Terengganu have donated their times and even money to provide the means for rural students to enjoy the benifits of libraries in their neighborhood, these should be given support in forms of expansion with more materials and even an assistance in the form of a part time librarian. For God's sake just do it! Do something no matter how corny or absurd but if it works why not?
Second hand books are a lucrative form of business if you look into it and used books like used cloaths find their ways out of the country where they fetch profitable prices and so go figure it out where is the loss for the nation? Each and every school in the country should boast a library of its own like in the old days. Nomatter how small or insignificant a library is a library where books can be accumulated and dispersed and students can find a corner to bury themselves into thier private world or reading. Help the helpers, find out who they are and what they need to function for the benifit of the students and the nation in general. An abandoned building or even a renovated container can be turned into a mini library equipped with second hand books and a computer it can become a perfect hangout for rural students who enjoy reading. For those who have and have the inclination or urge to give in return for the good of the whole creating a form of mini library within schools or outside is one sure way of doing good in enhancing the standard of education especially in acquiring language proficiency for the nation. Even if only one individual benifited from one's whole project it is worth all the effort.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

11 PM's Promises...

Its Sunday and there is no catering orders, so a relaxing day for yours truly to hang out and do more work on the 100 feet long painting that I had resumed work on at the Muzeum TF, USM. Today's Star News Paper carried the PM's 100 Days of assuming his role as the Leader for Malaysia and this came with 11 promises he had made to implement as gifts for the nation. Another politician's promise? Well what can we do but to accept whatever it is as good Muslims should and that is with faith in the AllMighty that these promises were made by a Muslim leader and thus will be fullfilled. One of the promises made spelled a glimpse of hope for my children future with regard to their future status under the title; "Clearing the backlog of Citizenship application." Insha'Allah if this not another empty promise than there is a glimpse of hope yet for me and my kids that I can rest easier once their papers are in order.
Allah be praised, even if this does not come into being I got the feeling that at last the government is waking up and trully waking up to the call of the Rakyat in meeting their needs. No promises of highrises or out of this world mosques or temples to be constructed in the near future thank God! No promises of bonuses and increases in salaries for the government servants thank their lucky stars, for this would only create more negative impact than positive for them. No promises made to make it easy for those who run the country but mostly to make life more bearable for the people. Kudos! Mr. Prime Minister but let us witness the delivery of these promises before we shed our tears of joy and gratefullnes. From somewhere in the not so long a distace in time and barely audible I am beginning to hear the echos of the past when promises were made and genuinely delivered the days when respect and loyalty one holds for the leadership was paramount; one of those echos is from the second PM, Tun Razak one of my all time favorites among PMs. If Najib can deliver like his father did Insha'Allah Malaysia has a hope to hope for.

Friday, July 10, 2009

What's New and Exciting...

Posing with two of Malaysia's Greats whose works and life had inspired me during my school years.
Datuk Lat of 'Kampung Boy' and Mr. Chew Teng Beng of the Chew Brothers from Kuala Terengganu.

A question I often use when writing someone or calling, what's new and exciting in your life and the answer for me personally right now is, well, not a whole lot. Reading and listening and watching of what is going on around the planet is like taking a depressant, there is very little to celebrate and much to moan and groan about, wars are still raging and future threats of even bigger wars are on the agenda. The rising cost of living a making people hungry and lean and mean towards eachother and the spread of deseases are becoming an everyday affair so much so that an epidemic is just another in convenience for globe trotters. Locally politics is taking center stage and politicians are still making debuts with new and better promisses branding slogans and disguising failures in the form of finger pointing. People are becoming more demanding with the media hype of everything and anything that can be called news and political evengelists are mushrooming all over the cyber space writing off their cuffs of things that everyone is aware of but has no means of expressing them.

So whats new and exciting with life these days? The Solo exhibition of Johari Said's "Samudra" was officiated by the Governor of Penang, Haji Abdul Rahman Bin Haji Abbas and was also attended by the famous Malaysian Artist Lat of "The Kampung Boy" series. I was asked to comment on the show by my friend and fellow artist from Iran and coulod not find the words to really express my thoughts and feelings. I only met Juhari recently and hardly knows him personally but from what the limited amount of contacts between us all I could say to my Iranian friend was, Juhari is one of those lucky artist, one who is at the right place and the right time having the right contacts, which is most relevant in the Malaysian Art scene. As for his works, well to claim to be the 'Master printmaker' is a tall order unless one can prove it in a real peintmaking exhibition where all the methods and techniques of printmaking such as Etching, Intaglio, Mezzotint, Aquatint, Lithography, Woodcut etc. are fully on display. Juhari Said is to me a great self promoter which takes talent no doubt and most artist dont have this, those that do are most often are not that genuine in their being a true believer as artist. I ask myself what message the works on display carred other than what it claims and that is 'carrying printmaking to a new height or dimension' by turning it into a sculpture cum installation. To me this kind of claims is what is making art a little more confusing than it has already become.

Personally I have great respect for Juhari and his accomplishments as an artist in the long run as displayed in the numerous News Paper cuttings on display and the awards and claims that were given and made in his name, this is Malaysian Art, and like Lat Juhari too will one day become a Datuk. So my advice to future artists in this country is collect all the proof of your talents esoecially the News Papers frame them just like the diplomas on the lawyer's walls. and make sure you have enough high profile awards under your belt, the phili Moritz show or the Salon de Sao Paolo, these are sure winners as to establish who is who in the art world and if you are among the lucky ones that have your works in the collection of Christy's than you have it made. If failing all these and you still maintain that you are an artist then a teaching job is a good option as it is both creative and somewhat lucrative at the same time. Whatever your goal as an artist never let yourself become a starving artist, like yours truly.
A starving artist is hungry in all manners humanly possible, he is always scratching his souls for what is 'New and Exciting', he is dancing with the Devil and God while neglecting his domestic and social responsibilities while in the persuit of his ultimate joy of becoming a creator only second to his Maker, screw what people say or think for him he has lost or given up this sense of shame or redicule in the eyes of others, his peers or his contemporaries, the datuks or the art dealers. He will beg, borrow or sometimes even steal if the situation demands that he does and look for understanding between himself and his Maker. A starving artist is no any different from a con-artist for he is his worse critic and his goal is often how to create an illusion that could even fool his-self, and not to mention the general public. A starving artist would pander his self esteem if it is waht it takes to fulfill his creative needs he is no different that a prostitute in selling his works for just a pittence.
So avoid becoming a starving-artist if your choice of vocation in life is to become an artist.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Whats going on around the Country...

I was in KL monday morning arrived there in the wee hours while it was still dark and hardly any traffic on the roads. I was suppose to have stayed at one of my cousins' for the morning, however my ride from Penang a couple who live and worked in KL could not locate the place I was supposed to be picked up from. After heading back and forth and the beginning of light and polite finger pointing at whose fault it was it deccided that i should just head for Ampang Park where there is a Mc Donald's and wait it out.
As KL came slowly to life with the outpouring of traffic I sat having my breakfast and discovered that one of my shoe has lost its sole and so it meant that I had to look for a shoe repair shop in the area. Fortunately for me there was one in the shopping complex but was not opened till eleven and there i was at seven in the morning making my discovery and the American Embassy my intended destination was at nine. I wish very much that i had a book to read to while my time away but no such luck and so settles for the free 'Sun" news papers. As time passes I managed to settel one after another of my issues at hand and I learned that I was in no hurry whatsoever and this seemed to make life in this big city more tolerable than it would have been. As i have mentioned before i have no desire to be in KL unless I need to.
By eleven thirty after having my shoes fixed I made my way to Pudu Raya bus terminal to catch my ride back to Penang. I was told to take the local transit bus and not trust the Taxis as they would slaughter me with the fare. I was told where to catch the bus and explained a little about KL life while i was waiting for my shoe by a Bangladeshi caretaker, what an irony. At the bus stop again I had the help two boys from Bangladesh who pointed out the bus to take and looking around me I began to realized that pretty soon KL will have her own 'Little Bangladesh' by the looks of their numbers here. Why not? Little India, Little China, little Japan... and for those well to do, there are second homes to take a bite from... theres enough little slices of the 'Bengkang' to go around in this country. Indonesia has stopped the export of housemaids to Malaysia due to house maids abuse prevailent among sick Malaysians but the Philipines is taking advantage on this by providing their maids instead perhaps these will be more abuse proof.
AHH!! the foreing workers where would we be without them? What have our lives become with their presence here can we ever get rid of them when the time comes. If not for the abuses and the corrupt practices involving these foreign workers Malaysia has a great thing going as far human resources is concern and the locals aught to thank their lazy stars.