Thursday, 22 August 2013

Sod It!

So here I am, working in Langkawi, enjoying my new life and learning new things.

Then I get a message from a friend (and former MAS mate) that new things are happening in MAS and they are interested in setting up a new F&B Product Development Department in MAS. They have already appointed a new VP and things are moving along fairly quickly.

My friend then asks whether I would be returning to MAS after I complete my 1 year Leave-Without-Pay this coming 30th October 2013. I am flattered really, that a few close friends and colleagues had suggested and supported my return.

About 2 months back, a different former colleague and ex-Uni mate contacted me and offered me a position in his department.

A month ago, the new boss of my old department, also suggested my return.

Now, despite what people would say, flattery does win influence over people (and I admit I use it like a useful weapon sometimes), but I can't shake off the feeling that I will be yet another tool. A mere cog in the scheme of things, where people who have no real inkling of what it takes to conduct Food & Beverage Service well, lord over the people who actually win and keep customers.

Strange really because I miss my KL life and MAS Colleagues terribly, some of whom are very nice people. The date is looming closer by the minute, yet I really can't honestly say whether I will come back to MAS. Oh, the irony of it, the return of the prodigal albeit rant-y, son!

Right this very second though, I do feel like fucking screaming to those who let it come to this. After all the insult and ignominy you put me through, you finally realise I was actually adding value to the team and company? That I added a special esprit de corp to the team? After years of downplaying, to the point of running me to the ground financially, you expect me to happily skip back to square one? And you finally think I had made several excellent developments, and had vision?

Sod it! Thank you very much.

Come back with a good offer and then we'll talk. Sure, it ain't all about the money honey, but it pays the bills.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Of Dogs, Mis-Used Surau & Beauty Pageants

Lifted this wonderful observation from a string of FB comments.

Orang kita memang sensitif…
Orang kita memang sensitif dengan berita surau diguna oleh non-muslim baru-baru ini, baru sedar selama ini rumah-rumah Allah banyak yang sunyi.

Orang kita memang sensitif dengan berita tokoh agama poligami, baru sedar ramai rupanya selama ini anak-anak kita ramai berpacaran tanpa nikah tapi sudah seperti laki bini.

Orang kita memang sensitif dengan video menyambut raya sambil pegang anjing atau babi, baru sedar selama ini banyak adegan lelaki perempuan bukan muhrim berpegang tangan berpeluk-pelukan setiap hari disiarkan di TV.

Orang kita memang sensitif dengan berita tulisan selamat hari raya dicetak terbalik dalam tulisan jawi, baru sedar selama ini Al-Quran yang dicetak betul hanya hiasan almari.

Orang kita memang sensitif dengan isu gadis Melayu menyertai pertandingan ratu cantik tidak menutup aurat nampak body, baru sedar selama ini ramai gadis Melayu tanpa masuk pertandingan ratu cantik pun berpakaian begini.

 off an original update;

Surau tidak dihina kerana dimasuki orang bukan Islam, surau lebih tercemar kerana sunyi tidak dikunjungi oleh orang Islam. Andai sekadar satu saf jemaah yang hadir waktu solat di surau sesebuah kawasan perumahan yang majoritinya ribuan muslim, tidakkah ianya juga boleh dianggap menghina sindir surau. Sensitiflah secara bertempat, perihatinlah dengan bermaklumat"

Dari Ustaz Mohd Erfino Johari

much to learn from this.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Maya Gong Illusions, Revisited

I first saw this years ago, when Rhythm in Bronze (RiB) staged it at the Temple of Fine Arts in KL. Been meaning to write a review about the show, but it was so difficult to put into words so many things going on in my head at the time. Then life took over and the idea sort of just got put away in stasis somewhere.

Lo and behold, like all good things in life, happy news came unbidden and I stumbled upon the last few remaining DVD Live Recordings being sold. Snapped it up as fast as I could (along with their recent Bites of Delights DVD) and immediately proceeded to make digital copies (DVDs don't last very long okay, not in Langkawi weather!).

Sat back and watched it again and again since it arrived in the mail. Truthfully, I am still at a loss for words, probably brought about by the Beef Rendang I copiously ingested this Raya week.

Thematically, each of RiB show is different, displaying different facets of what is arguably an ancient musical instrument in a more contemporary light. And yes, many would slink back into the shadows thinking Gamelan is archaic and hence irrelevant in this current day and age.

However, RiB is out to prove that this is certainly not the case. There is much to love about Gamelan, first off the fact that Gamelan should in it self be seen and felt as a thing unto itself. It is not a musical instrument (but rather an ensemble set of percussive tools, it is not the musician(s), and it certainly is not limited to the sounds it makes. Quite difficult to encapsulate what I feel about it really. Look it up, there would be many interpretations as to what Gamelan really is.

I call it emotions released from wood, bronze and leather.

Maya Gong Illusions is about a dream-state journey through ambient sounds of joyous travels, of making new acquaintances and reconnecting with old friends. RiB has decided to feature guest artistes in this - singer Reza Salleh, drum battlers Batteryheadz Percussions, Bass guitarists Zailan Razak & Koh Eu Gene and Khazrin Yani on Gambus. Just the different kinds musicians involved suggest an interesting journey ahead. There is also a contemporary dance incorporated in the show.

It starts with aplomb, immediately transporting viewers into a sub-Saharan journey of 'Suntuk Masa'. The deep resonant plucks of the Gambus strings echoing of places far away, of middle eastern scents and sounds. Then the Gamelan comes in, connecting me with the spice traders along the silk route. Racing stallions outrunning a sand storm, Maidens in veils stealing glances at their would be suitors. Beautiful. I recall being choked with nostalgia hearing this, strange, not least because I have never been anywhere near the middle east!

The show progresses onwards showing the ability of the Gamelan to hold its own amongst the more modern music instruments. At times, lilting, others uplifting and in some instances wonderfully cacophonous.

'Gianyar' was a dramatic piece, featuring contemporary dancers, acting out of the posturing of the masculine against the demure feminine. While the music accompaniment was no less impressive in its quiet beauty, the dancers - Azti Nezia Suriyanti Bt Azmi and Mohd Firdaus B Mustapha Kamal were captivating in their unique poses.

When I thought it couldn't get better, Reza Salleh stepped in and belted a wonderfully low-key love song titled 'For Her'.

The Ladies were certainly enamoured by the smooth Reza Salleh.
This turn of event brought about even more surprises. A battle between old and new was examined in 'Runtuh', a piece between RiB and Batteryheadz. Started with each trying to outdo the other but later progressed into an amalgamation of percussion after revealing that music is universal, much like the feeling invoked in people who did not really know Gamelan.

What would show labelled Illusion be like without some kind of a visual spectacle right? This show certainly had it covered with 'Lagu Untuk Teman Baru'. This particular bit had glittery faces pop in and out of the darkness, surprising us with the light flashes of glittery presences. Reminds me of twinkling stars (or Will-o-wisps).

My favorite was Saat Akhir (and it was difficult to find which I like more as each piece was very different to the other, so how to decide in an apple to apple comparison right?). To me, this blisteringly fast piece illustrated well the power of music, the latent ability to unify. And I have never personally seen a group of artists in such rapt enjoyment of their art. The were feeding off the good vibes from each other and they looked SO happy it was ridiculous! Just look at the the lady in the middle with the Gamelan Kethuk in her arms. Her expression alone sold this piece for me. Such conviction!

What I do feel is that for shows such as these, especially true for percussive instruments, is that one must be there front and center to truly truly feel the power of the music. The ringing and pounding can be felt through the ground reverberating into our bones and heart, just like drums can be felt in the chest.

I first felt the magic of RiB in their Hari Jadi show in PJLA (was that in 2010?) and have been hooked since then.

So the next time RiB comes up with a show, put your preconceived ideas about Gamelan away and just go watch it. Bring someone along so you can both be awestruck! 

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Langkawi Chronicles: Island Eid

Spending Raya differently this year. My family is coming over to Langkawi for an Island-style Raya do. Yeayy!

There's sure to be Ketupat Palas (a Kedahan staple, do as the locals do okay!), Briyani Rice, Beef Rendang, Chicken Opor (which is like a sweet savoury mild chilli stew of fried chicken), Vegetable Dhalcha and Acar Rampai. And cookies of course, and cakes, and other sweet delectables, and, well you get the picture. 

Eid Mubarak to all! Stay safe and be merry.