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.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Body is Still in the process of healing..

I have been having this fever and sore throat for the past week or so and it does not seem to abate. Alot of phlem dripping into the back of the throat causing irritation and prompting fits of caughs and expelling globs of thick gooee phlem like eeeyach!!! But hey its all part and parcel of the healing process or realignment of the physical elements of the body. I had put it into motion by deeply suggesting that the body goes through the healing process like telling every single atoms, molecules of photons and electrons, every single cell white and red corpuscles of the blood in the body system, every piece of organ and tissues and bones to heal. To renew, rejuvanate, recharge and renew... to remove and replace all waste or unwanted dead materials, realign and seek the balances of all opposing elements, like hot and cold, dry and wet of the body fluids etc. etc... I did this a few weeks in a row of continuously practicing this 'auto-suggestion' through meditaiton before going to bed and upon waking up and i did this just about every year for as long as i can remember... I learned this while living in Alaska after reading a book on Raja Yoga, got stuck with the practice ever since. Thought not much about it untill I started noticing that I get sick like i am now after a while of doing this practice.
Or perhaps its just a common flu like everyone is experiencing these days hoping the it is nothing more serious like H1N1 or dengue fever. If it is why not? Anything to exit this life as far as I am concern, the legal and natural way any which way but loose! As it is I feel very much like a zombie, a walking dead with my head splitting and my soul screaming to be set free from this so called existence. But it is still alll part and parcel of the healing process for even the spirit has to be realigned and the Soul to be appeased, this splintered soul.
"I am the master of my thoughts and conciousness , I am the master of the body speach and mind" the Raja Yoga had explained this principle many years ago and I adhered to it religously reaffirming this to myself everytime I find my thoughts wandering aimlessly into the darker side of despair. I suffer from 'manic depression' someone worth his salt in psychiary would point out if he or she had been following my blog or 'I am simply a born looser', who never seems to be able to make ends meet despite all the good graces i had been awarded throughout my life. Guilty as charged i would concede to all these prognosis but still maintains that life sucks! Only the historical Buddha had the guts to challenge this and discovered for Himself the road to liberation from the circle of life, death and rebirth and he did it for a humanity trapped in this Mayavic existence and that was some 2600 yeas ago when the Hindu brahmins were offering human sacrifice to their deities.
Today with the decadence of Islam mankind is in the worse state of spitiual ignorance all over the world, its like man has returned to the dark ages or the age of 'jahiliah' as was in the dark days of the Prophet of Allah. The only difference being that in this day and age we are too arrogant to admit that after all that is said and done about our capacity to learn and understand about ourselves we are still no better than our fellow creatures of the animal kingdom or in most cases even worse when it comes down to it. Why? How do we answer this question in such a way that it encompasses all of us, not just the Muslims, the Jews and Christians but All of us, collectively, Universally. How do we collectively step out of this vicious circle that is sucking us into a vortex like sinking into a Blackhole. It has no discrimination to who we are or what what we believe, how rich or how poor, it is pulling us towards the center where like a helpless flotsam we will be sucked down under sooner than later.
We need to sacrifice just like the brahmins of old but Allah had sanction that instead of a human life as in the Story of Abraham and Ismail man can replace it with a sacrificial lamb. Our collective sacrificial lamb is our ability to sacrifice our 'Ego'. That which has been the cause of many a downfall of mankind historically, albeit in statesmanship or sports, in conflict management or an act of mercy, whatever it is man has been led by the AlMighty Ego in making his decisions which is most of all 'self serving' in nature. My, my, mine! Mine is the right choice, the right way, the right deal screw yours! My country has God on its side, my belief system is infalable, mine is the chosen one... and so on we go willing to kill or be killed for this 'Our Way of Life". Collectively we are still in the tribal age with a very highly segregated mentality in just about every aspect of our so called 'pursuit of happiness' if not more so than ever and we claim this a Globalization Age.
There is no easy solution, no Sir, and it will get even harder and nastier as mankind strives for each other's throat in order to stake his tribal claim, his right of supremacy, his God given right as the Khalifah. Behind it all is the ever present ego, (Satan? Mara? Dajal?) just about every religion has identified it collectively this pride and prejudice, the desire to be on top, the number one, bigger and larger than thou kind of attitude. Allah is the only One that in Truth, exist (Mahawujud) and none else. Kind of hard to swallow that I do not exist in actuality even if science has proven beyond doubt that we are mere atoms flikering about in space at a different speed (my simplified version) and when we seize to exist we just fall back to our original natire basically back to the five elements that is combined to to sustain our existence. But hey! who in his or her right mind would like to go around claiming that "I dont exist!', No Sir-ee Bob! They would lodge me into a mental home to have a few screws re adjusted in my head so that i can 'feel' my existence for sure.
In essence 'Islamization of Knowledge', or Christianizing it, as my good friend the Doc. (Pearls & Gem blog) and his fellow 'panel' member a Prof. Wan Mohd Nor are in the process of cooking is only possible if in the spirit of "the Sacrifice" of Abraham and his son Ismail, if mankind as a whole is willing to make that giant leap of faith and scrifice the 'collective ego'. For even the term Islamization of Knowledge in itself stinks of an egotistical claim, (stated with all due respect, Doc.). When Barak Obama can stand and say I am for mankind as a whole not just Americans or Jews, Muslims or Blacks or White, Chinese or Indians, No Sir! I am the champion for mankind as a whole. The impossible dream, yet with all the tools in our possesion, the Internet, the United Nations Organizations and hosts of others, we cannot come to this realization in a million years, we will still sink like rats governed by our individual and tribalistic entrapments. Me, me, my, my mine, mine, and the country I come from has God on its side!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Proposal- Master's Degree Program.

The Master’s Degree program proposal is a continuation of my acquired Bachelor’s degree program from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, Wisconsin. USA. It will be based on the initial idea of the pioneer program called “The University without Walls” as introduced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin in 1979.
The primary idea of this program was to allow qualified students to pursue their own ‘self designed’ program after having fulfilled the requirements for being selected. The selection of students was based on their academic performance which in this case was to have acquired a 3.7 grade point average after their third semester in school and having a proposal written and submitted to four faculty members from different schools to be deliberated. Upon their satisfaction that the proposal was acceptable the student was called before a panel to present his ideas and concepts to his proposal. I was accepted without having to do the interview.

The gist of my written proposal was to be allowed to do my studies out of the studios and campus in essence to be able to travel away from the academic surrounding and live and perform as an artist on the street anywhere in the world. My rational was that as an artist I had done as much as I could and learned as much as I could on the basic studio works and felt that I could understand myself as an artist better if I had the chance to explore the world as an artist. My studio instructors were thrilled with the idea and gave me their full blessing with a few donating art materials and even pocket money for my intended journey.

When I left the University on my first trip as an ‘Independent Student’, I left for England where I did a lot of sketching, drawings, photography and writing. All in all I had carried fifteen credits worth of workload for one semester study. Upon returning from this trip I present my works to the various instructors under whose classes I was registered. My presentation included a slide show lecture of my trip, a sketchbook full of sketches I had done and a written summary of my thoughts and impressions of my personal experiences as an artist traveling in England.

With initial success I planned my second trip which took me to South American countries of Colombia and Ecuador doing similar projects which upon return to the University was well accepted as testified by the straights ‘A’s that I acquired. One of the outcome of my trip to England was my desire to keep an ongoing journal of my trips which included sketches and drawing, writings and pictures an sometimes including scraps of materials I found interesting and reflected my experiences while also acting as documentation in the form of dates and events.

My next trip took me to three States in the South West of the United States, the state of Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. On this trip I practically lived out of my car which was loaded with canned foods and a tent among other things. My experiences on this journey was unforgettable as along the way I had many great adventures and was able to meet with some very interesting personalities and unique characters. My last rip was done in Malaysia where I was able to return to this country and captured the cultural events that was happening during my stay such as the Thaipusam, a Malay wedding in Penang, a trip up the Rajang River in Sarawak and being a guest at a long house for the Gawai Hantu celebration of the Ibans. Visiting the east Coast State of Terengganu I was able to capture some of the most beautiful pictures of the Redang and Kapas islands which very much captivated the impressions of the Americans in Green Bay not only the University students but the community as well as I was regularly invited to make a presentation by church groups and schools when news got around.

I have had ever since kept the ongoing journal of my travels which till this date has taken the form of a Blog which I called the Ramblings of the Cheeseburger Buddha. My travels in my later life took me to Alaska where I did commercial fishing in the Bering Sea and lived for two years on Sand Point in the Aleutian Isle. I may safely claim to be the first Malaysian to have done so as I have yet to meet a fellow Malaysian who had undertaken such a venture. I later moved to San Francisco Bay Area where I lived and worked for ten years. Working at such vocations as an organic farm hand, a produce buyer, a Supervisor for and Environmental Company among other things I still kept my journals alive with sketches and drawings and whatever else that came in handy.

My life took me to Sendai, Japan for three years after living in San Francisco and there I continued pursuing my art by frequenting the Miyagi Museum of Fine Arts almost on a daily basis. The Museum’s policy of ‘open studios’ allowed me to create some of my best creations and I met some of the most exciting Japanese artists from around the area and shared their ideas and perceptions about art while also having six solo exhibitions in the three year period I was living there. My fascination with Japanese arts and culture had been satisfied to a great extent having lived among the Japanese for three years raising two of my youngest children while at it. The Japanese experience has been culminated in a book I called ‘The Cheeseburger Buddha in Sendai’ (yet to be published.)

It has now been ten years since my return to my hometown of Georgetown Penang and I am still aggressively fulfilling my intended course of study which is based on the original intention of understanding Art in the context of Universal Understanding, Art in the pursuit of the meaning of what it takes to be an artist and exist among your fellow man and benefiting them with your God given talent. To discover what it takes to become a well rounded wholesome character respected by your peers as well as society as a whole for what you are, an Artist.

I have spent almost four years now involving myself with the activities being carried out by the Museum and Galleri Tuanku Fauziah at USM and from this experience I have further been able to have three major solo exhibitions in the City of Georgetown including the Penang State Art Gallery. I believe that success as ‘being an Artist’ is not so much in how well know you are of how many shows and recognition you have had hanging on your belt although these are part and parcel; being a successful artist to me is a realization deep within oneself that it is something special that you are ‘Graced’ with and to honor this ‘Grace’ by being an excellent well rounded wholesome entity existing as an man of ‘Art’.

Most Art student that I have encountered in this country and abroad has found themselves stagnated after having completed their academic studies and lost for what to do with their qualifications out of school. Most ended up abandoning their art degrees opting for a more conventional career with a few lucky ones who persevered ending up being Art teachers. Their original motive for becoming a creative and productive individual giving way to the necessities of eking a living just like everyone else thus sacrificing their God given talent inherent within them. Most ended up making a distinct separation between Art and their daily activities, like geography or history, just another subject to be studied for no apparent reason than to fulfill an academic requirement or merely for general knowledge. Most fail to grasp the essence of what is art in their human development agenda that is propagate, promote and nurture their sense of awareness and creativity throughout their lives. To seek and discover that which is primordial within them and manifest or actualize it in their daily lives while at the same time being able to share this manifestation with the general public regardless of what their vocation may be.

Being an artist in my opinion is synonymous with embarking upon a journey of ‘self discovery’ where a student is led the way to look within and without in order that he may discover who he is and what his uniqueness in being a person has to offer the world at large. He is led to understand where he stands from in making his individualized statement or in manifesting his thoughts or product, this is his original creation, his original thought his originality recognized as such by his peers and public alike. This journey of self discovery will hone and intensify his sense of awareness and intellectual understanding when confronted with the challenges of everyday life albeit at the workplace or on the street, at the dinner table or in the court of law. A mind that has been honed in its creative and expressive development is rarely a victim of mediocrity in words thoughts and deeds nor will it be subjected to easy manipulation or exploitation by others. Such a mind is always on the go seeking, questing looking for ways and means to express it above and beyond what is expected normally.

The artist it is said is the worse critique of his own product, he is the experimenter and the analyzer of his own self development just like a child with an inquisitive mind. Only the artist persevere in his discipline for as long as he is in the process of creating his works or pursuing his objective with the passion of not settling for anything less than ‘Being original’. To arrive at a state where his creative endeavor can be affirmed as ‘His Style ‘ or his ‘Touch’, the artist has to go through a long process of self discovery on who he really is or what it takes to ‘Be an Artist’,
and All these to be accomplished effortlessly without fanfare or exageration like a tree that has finally bore fruits after having survived the trials and tibulations that nature has thrown at it.

An art student who carries the title of 'Master of Fine Arts' in my opinion has to carry under his belt the road map for his rights of passage to having the title. A map the can reveal the roads and path he or she had treaded, slipped and slided, scrambbled and fall, a map that records his or her victories and success no matter how large or small that he can share when the time is right around the academic campfires or at a Solo Exhibition of his works in a prestigious gallery, or even at a coffee shop where art is being discussed and the question is being put to him ...what is your opinion about Art? Or what is 'being an Artist?