Thursday, 26 December 2013

merry christmas

it feels good to have made it home for Christmas. I thank You for home, and I thank You for Christmas. 

Saturday, 30 November 2013

On the east and of Fitzgerald

This is a first for me- a post on a movie. But I felt like writing today, and this is the first thing that came to mind. 


I recently watched The Great Gatsby (2013) by virtue of many days at sea and the hard drives being passed around (I had missed it in the Cinemas). I hadn't read any reviews nor had I watched any trailers (though I did see posters/adverts of it), so I had little or almost no expectations. I had read the book before, so it pleased me to be able to interpret the movie with a reference point. 

I had imagined Gatsby to be more of a gentleman and less of a maniac. A maniac of course, but a maniac in control; more soft spoken, more gentlemanly and more 'Oggsford' like. So, I had pictured Gatsby to have been someone along the lines of James Franco instead of that Dicaprio. And I had imagined all the parties and music to have been more big-band-charleston like. 

Of course, all these are just a matter of interpretation and it's inescapable that everything we read is colored very much by our experiences and cultural background.  


I also had the opportunity to be in East Malaysia for a few days sometime in September, which was an interesting time for me because I had observed that the people were remarkably different from that in the west (of Malaysia). And though (or because) they were extremely accommodating and friendly, I couldn't help feeling slightly (and strangely) out of place. It appeared to me that I have now become what they call a 'city boy' and there was a need to adapt.  

So it made me very happy to have found that the closing lines of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby seemed to sum up my feelings of the east and of home: 

That's my middle-west--not the wheat or the prairies or the lost Swede towns but the thrilling, returning trains of my youth and the street lamps and sleigh bells in the frosty dark and the shadows of holly wreaths thrown by lighted windows on the snow. I am part of that, a little solemn with the feel of those long winters, a little complacent from growing up in the Carraway house in a city where dwellings are still called through decades by a family's name. I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all--Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.

And if the Lord leads me, maybe I'll have another go at the east. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Travel log- Burma pt 1

Square one

One of the randoms that happen every now and then- Siew’d been in Burma for a week for em’ pro bonos, typical white collared pro bono- nothing out of the ordinary except for the fact that this was in Burma, of all places, ol’ Burma, land of green livery, neatly pressed and matching shiny waxed shoes that em’ greenies march around and lord over other people in, but never in the sacred places, never in the shrines and golden temples and never before Buddha, the unmoving Buddha with his palm across his lap as a sign of peace that so deludes the land, Burma. 

I had no intention of being there, but Siew said he’d book a room for two anyway- that I’d be welcome to join him but I wasn’t sure when the sea would summon me, still I told him I’d be there-nevermind the sea, it’d be waiting for me today, tomorrow, and the many weeks after like a lover waiting for the return of her beloved, knowing not the hour or time of day he might return but always expecting, never relenting- demands too much of a young man with little to waste living for corporate giants with their agendas- world dominion and constant churning of liquid gold- makes the world round they say- but only round in some parts of the world whilst the rest of the world at large remains an untouched squalid square, like the land they call Burma. 

Still, the giants compensate well to play the cog and that is an end in itself- to earn to keep a living and sufficient to allow little travels like these, but sufficient is a relative term and bears different meanings under different soils; to have more than sufficient in Malaya makes you rank close with the Gods in Burma, not that they believe in God- Karma and Nirvana but never God- which in some ways, make them seem like nicer people (than Christians or Muslims) because striving to do good to others is their salvation, a salvation defined by an eternal state of peace and nothingness after many cycles of buddhistic sanctification- but God forbid that salvation is attained by works and that sufficiency be a measure of fulfillment. 

And so, after pulling a forty-winker (rather, thirty-nine: sleep never suffices), I stood in Yangon in open-eyed wonder at the magic of coloured paper sheets and what it can do for you: intrinsically of little worth (save what it symbolizes), but trade it in and in return, gain the experience of being attended to by beautiful people in a cabin hovering over the clouds whilst having a siesta to wake up in different world altogether. Different worlds! Only separated by two hours and a half but worlds apart- not just the people, or the buildings, but the air, the sun, the smell and gravity- I didn’t take steps in Burma, I bounced- and the colors: so much red, so much gold, so much black and so much death; ask lady history, but she demands a serious audience- I’m no good for that. 

It is always the first glimpses of a new place that confuses- everything is new, everything is amazing and everything is novel- blinded by the lust of newness, I spent (too many) worthless frames capturing the mundane and ordinary and think to myself what exotic people they are- heavenly handsome savages- poor souls, they must be defended at all cost, don’t let the imperial capitalists in, save your people and save your nation and build yourselves a heavenly utopia- I’m glad frames don’t immortalize thoughts, because the romanticism wears off and all that is left are just frames- mundane and ordinary, with many longyis to spare. Don’t get me wrong, they are special people nonetheless, only less so with thoughts put on a leash, but I like freedom, and I am ill in that way. 

Longyis- similar to the Malaysian “sarong”, but both men and women don it, almost as a matter of national pride- it bothered me not knowing if it were offensive that I wore shorts in a land of cloth people, but we shouldn’t live to please people, then again, neither to offend them (and I prefer to be at peace with all mankind), so I had secretly intended to get myself one- maybe plain, maybe tartan, maybe floral- but then I spotted the young of some cloth people donning shorts, and thought to myself- ah, they are less of the savage I think they are, maybe they even speak English (which I later found out that they do and further tarnished my romantic obsession with the natives), so I settled for being the normal tourist- shorts, trainers and a huge, shiny camera. 

The coloured sheets bartered in Burma is pronounced “chart” with a silent “r” (spelled as chat). Seven thousand of em’- that’s how much it takes to get from the airport to the city centre to where I’d rendezvous with Siew- he said he’d leave the keys at the counter, but when I got there, they told me that he’d be in his room- I wasn’t too sure what to expect, it’d been, what, three years (?) since we’d done a trip together; we’re stiffer now (he was stiff even then), and perhaps less game for adventure- who knows what age does to the soul?- but if this is gonna be anything like the last, it’d be a blast (we jumped Adam and Eve and became freemen of Tryfan our last trip). So in my mind, I dismissed age, but my limbs begged to differ.

Friday, 9 August 2013

On seasons

You could see it in their eyes: what it feels to be normal, to be kicked out of routine- a routine of twelve hour shifts, thirty consecutive days at a time, living on a floating vessel a (few) hundred miles from land. Coming from an upper middle class society, I’ve been spared from much physical labour and I find it strangely enchanting to watch the labourers at rest, and in watching them, too, be at rest. Half-days off for Raya has done all of us a lot of good in becoming more human (albeit, not so good for project progress). 

I’ve always found seasons one of the most  brilliant of God’s abundant creation, and found it rather unfortunate that we don’t get seasons in tropical countries. Brilliant mainly because: 

  • I love how seasons give different flavours to the same scenery. 
  • I love the diversity in the way people dress and look- there are ways the weather can help us look pleasant, but being a one-season nation, we have not understood this- we are a nation of shorts and tees and slippers and jeans. We will never understand summer dresses and we will never understand cardigans. 
  • I love snow. A lot. 

Apart from the immediate foreseeable benefits - there’s the added benefit of time keeping. I mean that life, when measured by yardstick of days, could easily spiral out of control and leave us in a rut. And what’s to stop us from doing so? 

It’s crossed my mind, that the closest thing we might have to seasons (in Malaysia), is the month of Ramadhan (that happens once or twice each year, depending on the Hijrah calendar). Obviously, its a whole lot different from seasons as understood in temperate countries, but it bears some resemblance in the fact that it imposes a change to life (as it normally is), for a certain duration each year for the fasting muslimeen. But for the kuffars like myself, it is all bazaars, rendang, ketupat, ayam percik and serunding. 

Still so much practice to notice God in each and every season


Disclaimer: Second bullet point does not absolve the reader’s responsibility to practice grace in addressing my lack of taste and fashion sense.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

On returning

Took me by surprise- internet usage is being regulated on the barge: website filters on facebook, whatsapp, etc. It feels weird to be so disconnected. Just imagine, about a decade ago, none of these existed- I wonder how they survived. But they did, and I suspect that I will too. 

So, it’s back to the books for me (too many movies- they’re starting to wear me out). Thank God I brought along some of my favourites- Lewis, Morrison. And I guess, there’s writing; haven’t been writing (and journaling) much, as you can see from the blog (maybe I’ll finish up a short piece on my trip to Burma earlier this year). And there’s hanging out and chatting with colleagues. And there’s day dreaming, just like in the old days. So I guess, there’s plenty to do. 

Spent a greater part of the past two months offshore which is quite new for me. Juggling commitments that I’ve made outside of work is significantly harder due to limited resources (connectivity for example), and the fact that I cannot be physically present elsewhere since I’m- here. And though I try very hard to be present at significant events, alas, I can’t. So I’m beginning to understand the thrill of sailors returning home, military personnel from lengthy missions, Ulysses from his odyssey. But our citizenship is in heaven. And here is Lewis to say what I came here to say. 

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, whom I love and long for, my joy
 and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved. – Phil 4:1


Read the rest of Lewis' weight of glory here.

Friday, 3 May 2013

elections for all

For the pessimist:

For the optimist:

For the Christian:
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.” This took place to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to Daughter Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” 

For those observing:

For those involved: I have a dream

Saturday, 9 March 2013

funky town

I played Archer in the closing paragraphs, and looking up, I walked up the stairs instead- all five flights. Archer, oh Archer, you had it all wrong- it would've been as real as you imagined!

I guess, London is home too in some ways and this reminds me that the best is yet to be!


Words to describe my recent UK shindig (in no particular order):

  • Fellowship 
  • Friends 
  • Gospel 
  • Luther 
  • Lion King 
  • Tube 
  • Warrington 
  • Jacket potatoes 
  • English breakfasts 
  • Old Trafford 
  • Crosby Beach 
  • Cold 
  • Trains 
  • Coffee 
  • Plan
Went without a plan, did nothing, and ended up doing everything I went there for. Priceless.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

why we should read the OT

Reblogged from and all 10 got eaten by a werewolf

This is my favorite scene. 

If you’ve read the Silmarillion, you know who Fëanor was. If you don’t, Fëanor was the great elf who created the Silmarils: three indescribably beautiful and magical jewels that contained the light and essence of the world before it became flawed. They were the catatlyst for basically every important thing that happened in the First Age of Middle Earth. 

It is thought that the inspiration for the Silmarils came to Fëanor from the sight of Galadriel’s shining, silver-gold hair. 

He begged her three times for single strand of her beautiful hair. And every time, Galadriel refused him. Even when she was young, Galadriel’s ability to see into other’s hearts was very strong, and she knew that Fëanor was filled with nothing but fire and greed. 

Fast forward to the end of the Third Age. 

Gimli, visiting Lorien, is also struck by Galadriel’s beauty. During the scene where she’s passing out her parting gifts to the Fellowship, Galadriel stops empty-handed in front of Gimli, because she doesn’t know what to offer a Dwarf. Gimli tells her: no gold, no treasure… just a single strand of hair to remember her beauty by. 

She gives him three. Three. 

And this is why Gimli gets to be an Elf Friend, people. Because Galadriel looks at him and thinks he deserves what she refused the greatest Elf who ever lived—- and then twice that. And because he has no idea of the significance of what she’s just given him, but he’s going to treasure it the rest of his life anyway. 

Just look at that smile on Legolas’s face in the last panel. He gets it. He knows the backstory. And I’m pretty sure this is the moment he reconsiders whether Elves and Dwarves can’t be friends after all.


Sometimes I feel like Legolas when I discover hidden meanings in the NT when reading it in light of the OT- reasons why we should get a balanced diet of OT and NT. You know what they say: a text without a context is a pre-text for a proof-text. Dive in.

Sunday, 20 January 2013


Off the shore, off the coast, 
O’er miles and miles of sea, 
An edifice made of nuts and bolts- 
A home away from home for me. 

There’s a chest of gold for souls willing to be whisked away at dawn, not knowing if dusk’ll bring them home. Time is precious, and mobility is highly rewarded. Gold for gold! And keel over its weight. Better Gold, than gold, and choice is a luxury fit for kings.


Say me a little prayer, while combing your hair now.

Sunday, 13 January 2013


there once was a lad named p'er,
h'made a promise to keep fo' d'new year-
to lose some fat,
and gain a six-pack,
and ne'er t'touch a pint' o'beer.

Don't you love these funny resolutions? =) keep it real.


Here's to the year ahead, have a laugh: