Thursday, October 29, 2009


In one of the meeting I attended back home a few years back, matters about how children of Malaysians who worked overseas cannot speak Malay cropped up.

Lady in the meeting : I blame the parents for not teaching their children Malay language. Maybe these parents only communicate with their children in English. The parents should be held responsible for raising their children without the knowledge of their mother tongue.

The accusation ticked me off and my other colleagues. And yes, its because our children do not speak Malay. And because of that, we were obviously the ones targeted with that statement, since we worked overseas for almost the entire length of our careers.

Without waiting for my colleagues response, I shot a question to the lady.

Akula : Have you ever been posted overseas?
Lady in the meeting : No, I have not, but that not what I am getting at.

My colleague, Mr AN shot another question from across the table.

Mr. AN : Do you have any children?
Lady in the meeting : No, I dont, but....

I cut her off.

Akula : Are you even married?
Lady in the meeting : (With a red face), I am not married.

Mr. AN: Then obviously you dont know what the hell you are talking about. How can you say something that you dont have any knowledge of? You never experienced any of that, and yet you found it appropriate to label us irresponsible. What kind of person are you?

The Chairperson, seeing the matters were fast going out of hands, immediately called for a short break.


The thing is, its true that our children cannot speak Malay. And so were many other children of my colleagues. For instance, my 3 daughters, all of them were born and grew up in foreign countries. Up till now, they have only lived in Malaysia for just a few years in their whole young life.

Growing up in a foreign country does effect a child's development. They are surrounded by an environment which might be alien to us parents but to them, its their world. Plain and simple. Its just logical for them to latch on to the language they were surrounded with. I think the same thing will happen to any child brought up in any country for that matter.

Here in Geneva, children of some Malaysians speak fluent French like any other Swiss children. And so are children of other foreigners who work and live here. In Berne, since the language spoken there is German, the Malaysian children speaks German.

My question was (and still is), is it fair to label us, who earn our living in a foreign country, as irresponsible parents just because our children do not speak Malay?

Its easy for some people to form an opinion which suits their thinking without having the first hand experience like that, but unless they are in the same situation as mine and my colleagues, facing the same problem that we faced, living the same nomadic life as we live, they have no bloody right to label us as anything as their smart mouth desires.

I am not being apologetic, but I do speak to my children in Malay, and so is my love one. While they understood what were being spoken, they are more comfortable to answer me or my love one back in English.

Does that make me and my love one irresponsible parents and my children any less Malaysian?

My colleagues and I have this wonderful job that enables us to live in faraway foreign countries. We raised our children in foreign environments, adjusting, adapting and living in unfamiliar and sometimes challenging surroundings as best as we could. After so many years abroad, and so many countries we have traveled, we remain as proud as ever being Malaysian and for that matter, being Malays. So are our children.

Even though they, do not converse in their parents mother tongue.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


One thing for sure, Geneva International Airport is no KLIA. Much, much smaller in size, the airport served about more than 11 million passengers in 2008.

One may wonder, why the hell this post is about the Geneva International Airport, and not other interesting stuff in Geneva?

Well, the thing is, I found out this airport is rather unique and has interesting characteristics. Beside, yesterday, I had the privilege of touring the airport itself, which include the runaway, the VIP room and all things which is normally not accessible to the just-passing-through airlines passengers.

Fact # 1

The airport lies between two mountain range which are the Jura mountain range and the Alps. I was told that this meant there is not crosswind factor here. And if I am not mistaken thats also the reason for the single runway at the airport. What significance this facts to the airplanes landing and taking off in Geneva International Airport, honestly, I don't have any idea.

Jura Mountain Range

The Alps

Fact #2

The Geneva International Airport can be accessed from both France and Switzerland due to it really close proximity to the Swiss/ France border. That means, passengers in the France sector do not have to go through Swiss immigration and customs as long as they remain there. I was informed that this arrangement was made way back when the Swiss government wanted to expand the runway and there is no other way to do it except on the French side. Thus the French government retain it rights in form of sharing the airport with the Swiss. Lucky that they arrived at this unique and amicable solution. Otherwise, who knows what will happened.

Fact #3

Switzerland is a party to the Schengen Area countries which had abolished all border controls between each other. In a simpler terms, no passport stamping, no visa needed if a traveller travels between these countries. Fro example if a passenger arrived in Geneva International Airport from Frankfurt, Amsterdam or Paris, they can just walk through the arrival gates, to the luggage area, collect their bagages and disappear into Switzerland. There is no immigration and customs counters in the airport since December 2008. Very convenient.

Fact #4

Geneva International Airport is well connected with trains, buses and the regular taxi services. What makes it different from KLIA is that there are free public transportation ticket dispenser machines before the exit. Passengers can travel to the Geneva city centre transportation station using buses or trains. It has a 80 minutes time limits. Would love to see that kind of free stuff services in KLIA, no need to pay for expensive limousines or be conned by the ulat teksi.

Fact #5

While my group visited the runway in the airport, we noticed there were a lot of birds, big black ones, calmly minding their own businesses, amidst the very loud noise made by the obvious airplanes landing and taking off. I asked a question to the person in charge, "Aren't these birds poses a danger to those aircrafts?". She answered "Oh, dont mind them, they know where they are not suppose to be. We never had a bird sucked in a jet engine before, here in this airport". Such confident answer of course made me looked at the other colleagues, with raised eyebrows. But, what do I know anyway about large flock of birds happily trudging the airport runways.

So there, now you know a little bit about Geneva International Airport.

I am done here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


What is kutuk?

I am not sure whats the correct Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka definition on kutuk, but I am pretty damn sure its not nice. Some would argue that its to condemn, while others might say that its to insult. For me its more like ribbing. I think, whatever it is, all of us had indulge in the mengutuk aktivity, in one form or another, at any one time.

I would not argue here, if mengutuk is right or wrong. Nor will I explore why kutuk mengutuk has been part of our daily life. I am just sharing my experiences on this weird behaviour of ours. I mean why exactly we want to rib our friends? It must be because of we have nothing better to do. Besides, lets admit that its rather fun to see our friends squirming, their minds scrambling and working in full drive, trying to think of something good for that great comeback in a kutuk session.

For a start. let me say that I am really cool with this kutuk thing. Either way is okay with me, whether its being at the receiving end, or the one who mengutuk. In short, kena kutuk pun ok, mengutuk lagi la ok. I dont now about you, but I consider it as one of my fun activity.

But still, there are some unwritten rules which for me, I would try to adhere to. For instance, I would definitely try to avoid saying things about a person's disability.

Let say if someone is blind, pekak or kurang upaya, I will not say anything about it, even if they are open minded enough. But there are exception to this rule. With good friends, disable or not, I tend to shoot off my mouth if I find the situation potentially funny, and if I know he can take it.

A close friend of mine when I was in Canada, Subar, is blind. He works as senior manager in one of the local company there but loves to practice his part time real estate agent skills during his free time. I asked him to look for a house for another friend of mine who was interested to buy a property. After 2 weeks, Subar called;

Subar : Akula! I found a really nice house for your friend.
Akula : Really, how is it?
Subar : I've SEEN the house, I think its perfect for your friend.
Akula : *Laughing* Oit bro! You are blind, how come you said you have seen it?
Subar : Oops sorry, I meant its my wife who has seen it and she described the house to me.
Akula : Ahh, ok.

At first, I felt guilty since I thought I had insulted him, and offered my apology. He just laughed it off, explaining that what he meant was, he went to the house to check it out with his wife and his wife description of the house (to him) was as good as seeing it himself.

The number two rules is to kutuk only if you think your friend can take it. If there is any indication that they are overly sensitive person, forget it, just keep your level of friendship as formal as you can with them. Otherwise, you'll risk the lost of a friendship. And it will be years in the future when your friends finally get over your ribbing and forgive you. If ever.

Back in my college days, a friend of mine, J.E, was really cool with this mengutuk thing. The best thing about him was that I could trade insults about anything without having to worry whether or not I hurt his feelings and vice versa. Our most celebrated ribbing subject was the mother jokes.

J.E: Akula, semalam aku tengok race haram, aku nampak mak hang, baiknyer tengah lap kapchai 5 kupang, cecah telinga, berapi ekzos.
Akula: Itula, hang bawak mak hang pegi tengok race tu kan? Ala tak kan tak ingat, mak hang, baguih giler dok cucuk lengan, happy semacam aku tengok pekena dam (illegal drugs).

We would trade insults like that back and forth. And when we got tired of insulting each other mothers, we turned our attention to our friends, and usually it ended up with fist fight since they couldn't accept it. And nor would other people, I think. But we know that we didnt mean anything by it. Let me just caution you that this kind of kutuk mengutuk is not for the faint hearted and definitely NOT for everybody.

The number three rules and the MOST IMPORTANT one, is do not get involved in kutuk mengutuk sessions if we ourselves tak tahan kena kutuk.

But of course, sometimes, there are those people who cannot take it themselves, tried to be funny and started to rib their dear friends. And when the tide turned and they are at the receiving end, they went crying to their mothers. I encountered this kind of situation a lot of times.

When I started working I rented a house with some friends, and of course, the kutuk mengutuk is one of the things that we did endlessly. My housemate favourite ribbing target on me was my voice since I have this deep, bass like sound whenever I spoke. Which is fine by me (I was ribbed about thatby my schoolmates since my school days, loudspeaker, etc,). One of my housemate concentrated on that particular factor when we were engaged in a kutuk war.

Mr. J : *Imitating my deep voice* SAY SOMETHING AKULA.
Akula : Tak de kerja lain ke?
Mr. J : *Still imitating my voice* COME ON, SAY SOMETHING!.

Since he was so intent to make me say something, so I did.

Akula : Hek eleh, hidung Kembang Setaman pun ada hati nak kutuk aku.

Upon hearing that, he was really pissed off and immediately get up to confront me. He said to my face;

Mr. J : Oi sial! Hidung aku hang jangan kutuk.
Akula: Eleh! Sudahlah! Kutuk suara aku tak pe, kutuk hidung hang tak boleh. Kalau tak boleh kena kutuk, pergi duduk dalam hutan Borneo la, ada monyet sama hidung macam hang.

Needless to say, it ended up in a fistfight. My point is, if we cannot take it, dont get involved. Heck, dont even think about starting a kutuk session. Its so not cool to loose tempers over that kind of things.

Its my opinion, the kutuk thing are meant to be that sort of a fun bonding session with our friends. Its never meant to be taken seriously. Like I said before, if we cannot stand it, dont participate. We always have the choice to walk away before it escalated into something undesirable.

Now, did I just hear someone kutuk this post?


Kembang Setaman was the popular friend finder column in the pop mag URTV. Its kind of insulting to be associated with it back then, at least among my friends.

If you are wondering how that monkey look like, here is the pic of the said primate, a proboscis monkey. The idea to associate that friend with this guy in the following pic came from a Tin Tin book, Flight 714.

Monday, October 12, 2009


My big, jelly like pot bellied stomach was constantly abused by my 3 daughters. It started right from the day they were born and lasted until early this year.

Perhaps I may be at fault here too since the thing was, I love to cradle my daughters, in their infant and toddler years, on my big belly, lulling them to sleep. Each one of them.

Growing up, I think they sort of adopted my belly to be their plaything. They jumped, pinched, hide their fingers inside my deep belly button hole, bit the poor thing when they were teething, and did all imaginable things as toddlers would have. They jiggled and rearranged it so it become an angry ocean in a violent storm. They pretended that its a quicksand, swallowing their little fingers to its depth, shrieking and giggling a sigh of relief whenever their tiny fingers survived the horrific ordeal. They turned it into an imaginary birthday cake or a big jelly, enough to serve everybody at their parties.

I did get angry at my daughters sometimes for their abusive behavior. But always only for a short while.

And then there were those times, when they were upset and crying, they would crawled up the belly mountain and somehow they were calmed down by just lying on it. It became their own comfort zone, land of peace and security. They slept on it with their mouth opened wide and I am sure they dreamt of the nicest dreams. They told their mother that my big, great belly is the best thing in the world.

One night last May, the youngest one with her sleepy eyes came to take her position on my belly, as usual to sleep on it. I could see she was restless and forever trying to adjust her little frame to a comfortable position on my belly. After a little while, frustrated, she sat up suddenly, looked me in the eyes and said;

"Abah, I dont like your tummy anymore, its not the same like before, and I cannot make it into a big jelly like always".

I told her that it has since shrunk because of I lost weight.

"Can you exercise and keep your big tummy?"

I didnt say anything, and shushed her to sleep. I suddenly realize that lately, their favourite thing in the world was not given enough attention as what they usually did. Perhaps they grew out of it.

That night, looking at her face, while she shifted endlessly on the once great belly, I suddenly felt I was missing something.

I miss those belly time with my daughters.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


If I have money to spare right now, I would definitely drop everything and buy the Canon EOS Mark II 5D.

The thing is, I am beginning to like Canon DSLR cameras, after witnessing the visible quality difference of pictures taken by series of Canon DSLR cameras owned by my friends, as compared to my own Nikon D70s. I have to say, pics by Canon DSLR cameras projects more clarity and captures almost every details available at that moment of the particular shot.

Researching hundeds of reviews on the Internet, reveals the superior advantage Canon DSLRs had over Nikons.

The problem with that is, I have invested a lot on my Nikon D70s. 3 different zoom lens, speedlights and various other accessories which I acquired over the years. If ever I decide to buy a Canon DSLR, I would have to start spending quite a bit of money again.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II costs around CHF 4,999.00 which translate to about RM 16,000.00. Its a damn lot of money. With that amount of cash, alternatively, people can use it as a down payment of a decent house, or a car, or buy 3 kapchais, or to buat belanja hantaran. But, of course, all that will not measure up to the 21 megapixels, 1080p video, 3.0" VGA LCD, Live view, and higher capacity battery offered by the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, that is, if your die hard interest is all about taking awesome pictures.

Admittingly, I have to reluctantly conclude, its not that Nikon DLSR cameras are not great, its just that Canon DSLR cameras are better.

Now, if you want to help me out, I am accepting cash donation.


Sunday, October 4, 2009


I still have a lot to learn on how to take awesome pictures of buildings. The following pics are test shots. Camera used was Nikon Coolpix P6000.