Friday, August 31, 2007

50 Years On

The fireworks are going off and we as a nation wank off in the afterglow of the explosions from Putrajaya to Ikano and in the city.

Lets forget its the 50th year of Independence. Lets just head on back to 49 years or 45 years of Independence and ask the same question - What does it mean actually to anyone below the age of 60?

I'll be honest i greet every August with indifference when the standard fan fare of black and white pictures and testimonials from old dudes pepper our media. Sudirman makes his yearly comeback on the airwaves and we hear the voices from the past ring around a stadium in nervous hope.

The Japanese occupation is just a story we hear, the phantom menace of the Communists hiding in the jungles and preying on folks was another tale that my aunties used to scare me with when they warned me to never go into the jungles alone. Never mind that Commies gave up 30 years earlier. Tun Doc Mahathir's actions and projects were greeted by sighs that he was just an egotistical bully, and the list goes on and on.

Until over the past few years in casual conversations with aunties and uncles and while doing research on my Grandpa's life I heard snippets of what my family went through. How my Chinese grandparents hid my aunties and uncles in the chicken coop whenever Japanese patrols might be in the area. My oldest aunty who at the age of about 13 or 15 (she's not sure of her exact age) took care of the young family as my grandmother had passed on. She would wake up in the mornings and escort the younger siblings to school in the dark rubber estates that played host to some Communists insurgents over a 10 mile trek and then make her way back alone along the same path not knowing if the oil headlamp in the distance was a legit rubber tapper or a Commie in disguise. And also, how you may have read earlier, how my grandfather would sneak out at nights after Curfew to feed the family cows and then wake up early in the mornings to go to work. The stories are still there. These stories that should be told to make us appreciate what we have now, not the song and dance routine every year that's all pomp and pop but nothing else.

The stories are here in our very homes, on the couch snoring in his faded sarong, or in the kitchen fussing over her freshly made pot of chicken curry or in the yard beaming at the first wobbly steps of their grandchildren.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chelliah Karunathar

Last year to this date we celebrated Grandpa's 100th birthday. We were surrounded by about 250 friends and relatives from all over the world and in true English tradition we even managed to get a letter signed by Prince Charles wishing and congratulating a former servant of the British Empire.

When Meera came up to me to write the script for the video presentation she was doing I realised Ididn't know anything about my grandfather or any of my grandparents for that matter. Not him, not my Amama, my Ah Kung or my Chinese grandmother who is buried in China. I was embarrassed and felt strangely quilty for being selfish with my time. Thank god Meera got into over drive and together we canvassed all our aunties to get as much info as possible. Yeah, all the males didn't have much recollections or not in that much details.

I am putting this up because I want the legacy of my grandfather to live on. This is no bullshit as he was a good, solid man who provided for his family and was a mentor and counsellor to many people in Seremban and even outside of our tiny town. Even in his old age he was healthy and seemed not to want to trouble his family.

A couple of hours short of midnight on the eve of the New Year 2007 ,my grandfather Chelliah Karunathar passed on in the Seremban General Hospital. Today on what would have been his 101st birthday I'd like to wish him "Happy Birthday Gandpa!"

Below is an excerpt from the script.

Chelliah son of Kurunathar - An inspiration to 4 generations and more.

Chelliah s/o Kurunathar is our father, grandfather, great-grandfather, a provider, an uncle, brother, mentor, teacher and more. We are here today to celebrate 100 years of inspiration from a great man.

The son of a farmer, Mr. K Chelliah was born on the 30th of August 1906 in the village of Urumpurai in the state of Jaffna in Ceylon. He helped his parents on the farm until the age of 12 when he left for Malaysia with his second sister, Chinnathangam to pursue his studies and to begin a new life.

Upon completing his education at Methodist Boys School he embarked on his career path by working in the Education Department. He further extended his work experience at the Survey Department, the Public Works State Engineering Department office in Seremban, the Medical Department in Jelebu, the Health Department in Tampin before returning to the Public Works Department in Seremban, where he eventually retired as a chief clerk in 1961.

Life in a new country was never easy especially during the Japanese Occupation where he had to slip out at night to cut grass to feed the family cows after Curfew and yet, still had to wake up early in the mornings to go to work. This iron will and discipline that he stood by was an inspiration to many.

His outlook in life is very philosophical. Inspired by the teachings of Ramana Maharishi, Mr Chelliah was and is a very open minded individual who believes in fairness and equality. His thirst for knowledge is voracious. He still keeps track even now of current news around the world and is also an avid reader of books on religion. Many have made the journey to 207 Bukit Tembok to seek advice from him over the past 30 years, be it religious or contemplative in nature. He is a man who has held strong to his principals and beliefs in God.

He was a keen sportsman, excelling in cricket, football and athletics. He pursued his zest for sports well into his 70’s where he exercised daily in the mornings and went for walks around the neighborhood in the evenings. He also cycled everywhere in his trusty Raleigh Gentleman instead of driving. This healthy discipline rubbed off on many of his children and grandchildren who are also very active in sports.

Mr K Chelliah did not ignore the arts in his quest for knowledge and a healthy body. His favourite movies which inspired a legacy in a granddaughter were the movies Meera and Sakunthalai.

And now the most important segment of his show. His legacy. Mr. Chelliah married our Amma, our Ammama and Appachi, a young lady called Sothimani Shanmugam who also hailed from his village of Urumpurai. Together they had 6 children, Vimala Devi, Thamarai Desani, Kamala Losani, Tharumarani, Sivasothy and Sivabalan.

We all hope that we can live up to his achievements. 100 years ago our Papa, Grandpa and Appu was born. Today we celebrate his legacy to our world.

Additional Info:

He had 4 sisters (Kanagama, Chinnathangam, Sountharam, Thangaratnam) and 3 brothers (Thambaiyah, Ponniah & Rasiah). Two brothers eventually settled in Malaysia too. They were Ponniah and Rasiah.

Mr K Chelliah:

‘I was very far from god in my younger days and had my own convictions. I only started reading about religion, hindu saints and sages later on. Life will always have its obstacles but I am a firm believer of Ramana Maharishi who said that we should never doubt the grace of god. Now, I have no physical or mental work, and so the least I can do is pray for everyone’.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vacancies and Memberships

I hate to bring work here but I haven't had much luck outside so I thought I'll just put it out at every avenue I have.

Sponsorship and Servicing Manager
The new sports marketing company I'm heading, Havas Sports Malaysia has a vacancy for a Sponsorship/Servicing Manager to handle the sponsorships of some of our clients and to assist me to acquire new clients in Malaysia and within the region. Job scope is basically working with and advising our clients on how to leverage their sponsorship of sporting properties and to come up with new ideas for them.

I don't want sports FANS (this species is normally selfish and narrow minded). I' prefer someone who UNDERSTANDS and knows the basic sporting world. I don't expect you to know Sharapova's waist size or the number of poodle pelts Ronaldo keeps in his closet. If you are keen or you know someone who might fit the bill drop me a note at the chindianatrails@gmail.com and then we can exchange information and run into more detail.

Weekend Hikes Anyone?
Our little weekend hiking/getaway gang is depleting for various reasons. Anyone keen to join in drop me an email-la and we can exchange contact details. Its nothing hard core and maybe once or twice a month where we head out to areas around KL to basically build up an appetite for a Ba Kut Teh or banana leaf lunch. Hikes range from 2 hours to 4 hours. Sometimes it's just a drive for food if any of the editor gang are test driving cars. It's normally an early morning start so might not appeal to the ravers or average college student or that guy with the 1 year old bundle of joy.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Remaking the Wiz of Oz

Yes, the world cries out again for another remake. Not done with mining the wealth of material from comic books, Hollywood now plans on remaking the classic Wizard of Oz. This harder edged version, simply called Oz is inspired by the line of toys from the insane sculpturers from McFarlane Toys called Twisted Land of Oz. This is an extremely graphic gory line of action figures targeted at older audiences.

They're going to scale down the scale of the gore and sex for the movie, which will be a pity. Even the scaled down version should look like 300 meets Narnia meets Pan's Labyrinth ( I hope!).

I can almost hear the Tin Man mutter to the Scarecrow "Tonight we dine in Hell!" as they stroll into the Emerald City with a couple of M40 grenade launchers. But I guess only Tarantino would have the balls or the clout to take the original source material to completion as a movie.
Below are some pictures of the action figures released over the last two years. It should give you an idea of the look and feel of the movie when it comes out. You're not going to see a cute and cuddly Toto folks. Dorothy however WILL NOT be based on her toy version. Sigh... Enjoy!

Dorothy and some Muchkins in the background. And yes, she comes with glass slippers.

Toto. This version as the bastard love child of a wild boar and a Predator.


A very,very pissed off Cowardly Lion. And then you compare this feller with the clown in the pussy cat suit from the original movie...

Some other fairy tale figures from the Twisted Fairy Tales series by McFarlane:

Hansel's hot Gretel.

And my personal favourite - Red Riding Hood. "Who's the bitch now Big Bad Wolf?"

And coming this Christmas 2007...

Santa Claus. Geddit CLAWS?

One of his reindeer behaving like an English football yob.


And Mrs Claus, all geared up for her MAXIM shoot.
The rest of the figures especially the Twisted in Oz and Fairy Tales series take gore and violence to a whole new level. If you're not squeamish head on over to the Fantasy section of the Toys category at http://www.spawn.com/.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tuition Teachers the Bane of Society

Looks like the authorities are really cleaning up the country. Go HERE for the exciting news! Even the incorrigible scourge of society, the neighbourhood tuition teacher, is being set upon by the Forces of Righteousness. To bring them to justice, these foul beasts of prey, for trying to make some additional money without resorting to crime, corruption or getting on their old Vespas and snatch thieving hand bags in Sri Kembangan. I always knew that the old balding Indian uncle who taught me Math was secretly He Who Shall Not Be Named.....

"Freeze Cikgu!!! Put your hands up and move slowly AWAY from the Buku Sejarah!"

*Pictures and toys courtesy of Chindiana Trails

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saving the Nation's Ringo$$$

How about this rumour eh? This vicious little nugget that's going around that all the money being spent on elaborate projects are actually going back into the ruling party's election war chest? Why they need a war chest against the aging Opposition is lost on me. Sure they may have started recruiting younger more dynamic leaders but they're a long way off from taking over and I don't think they have enough momentum from all the current national level screw-ups to really make a dent. Take back Terengganu? Hmmm...Nah, They've got the Monsoon Cup. The biggest economic shot in the arm for any state. Heh!

Anyway, my main point is sometimes government funds are spent as lavishly as Michael Jacko at a Toys 'R Us fire sale. Just off the top of my head, here's a list of projects that we've lost cash or are planning to spend with no redeeming features:

1. Malaysian Astronaut Program - sending 2 clowns into space to conduct 'experiments'. Thank god they've nixed the tea tarik stunt - RM80 million (depending on sources)

2. The High Performance Training Center in Brickendonbury in the UK - - RM500,000,000 (and that doesn't include the nasi lemak we have to send over to feed our national cry babies)Our athletes are shit on Malaysian soil so we send them to England to train to beat the world! Someone forgot to tell them to look at Cuba and China for developing world beaters.

3. Champions Youth Cup - RM 17,000,000 x3 years (OK 2 years are optional). On paper very impressive. Man United, Real Madrid, Arsenal and other top clubs playing in Malaysia. Just don't read the clause that it's their Under-19 teams. (this excludes the rumoured Rm25million paid out as organisational costs). Did ANYONE watch this tournament?

4. Port Klang Free Zone - losses of RM4.1 billion ringgit - I do not think it's that easy to lose over USD1,000,000,000 due to mismanagement. I just think the poor guys accidentally signed a Purchase Order to buy Canada and they couldn't back out of the deal...

5. The Proton and MV Augusta - Sell RM5. Resell at over RM400,000,000 plus (OK I'm sure there were some debts to service but still...)

OK, OK...I'm just thinking if that rumour is right, that all these monies are being stashed away so that our current boys can stay on to serve us better, than it's all just a miscommunication isn't it?
Until we have some solid Opposition Parties that we can take seriously, besides a bunch of whiners, we wouldn't really want them in power anyway unless they start recruiting Sheila Majid, Jimmy Choo, Michelle Yeoh and Dragon Red as new members.

So how about we tell our boys in Pewtra Jaya - Don't waste the cash for your campaigning or vote buying, we don't believe those vicious rumours about you. We WILL vote for you, we'll do it for free. Just take all that cash and build us some proper public transportation systems, pay our cops and other civil servants better so they're not waiting around the corner to bust me for talking on my mobile while driving or clamp my car in Damansara Uptown. I don't need to negotiate for their 'help' anymore. They just straight out ask for it...

Maybe if we have more money we don't need quick cash from unscrupulous developers and industries who are destroying our environment. Maybe a better education system with better paid teachers who don't have to give up their afternoons supervising a bunch of pouty ungrateful punks.

It's just a suggestion. If they're cool with it, they've got my vote.

Sky on Fire

I took this picture yesterday evening. It was still lightly drizzling and windy. I haven't seen this type of sunset in a while. Made my day after one too many meetings, an overdose on a banana leaf lunch and being stuck in our traffic jams.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Economics 101


2005:
Proton sells MV Augusta to Italian company Givi = RM5

2007:

Present Day:
The look on the Volkswagen (potential Proton owners/partners) executive when he reads the morning papers as he takes his morning dump = PRICELESS !

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Engrish.com


Finally discovered this hilarious testament to our Asian penchant for linguistic carelessness. Just head on over to http://www.engrish.com/ for those slow Thursday afternoons when you need a pick-me-up and you've exceeded your caffeine quota for the day. Enjoy the samples below!


Guess it beats eating oysters everyday..


So does that mean hair crap is dandruff?


There's an Idiot's Guide To Dwarf Tossing? Excellent!


Yeah, I have to agree, those shirts DO suffer from a lack of fashion sensibilities.


"Would you like an epidemic plague with your morning call sir?"

UPDATE 10.30pm, 23 August 2007 : Thanks to Nex for this tidbit - "The one about the 'smallpox': That button is actually for the 'ceiling light'. In Mandarin smallpox is called,would you believe it, 'sky flower'. The Mandarin writing for 'ceiling, coincidentally, is also 'sky flower'.


I have NO rational explanation for this but all I can think when I see this is "Do not, DO NOT put the shit BACK IN YOUR DOG!"


Something I hope never to see when I renew my driving license.

: )

UPDATE: 10.30pm, August 23 2007 - Thanks to Nex again, the Mandarin words mean "drinking water for use during severe disaster"


This is my favourite. All the labels are just so wrong almost on a galactic scale. Can you imagine aliens arriving on Earth and this dude drafts the welcome speech? "Welcome, it is convenience for you to wash our pubes with your airplane!"


I'm not sure if they're talking about a Telly Tubby or a diamond studded condom...


An early training gift for new parents to be.


I'm trying to be fair here. What the flying fish could he be trying to mean??? I think Speakers is the name of a band but the rest of the words...Maybe its "Venting your emotional baggage into a tranquil lake of koi fish?"


Yeah, I feel like that some days...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Trying Too Hard

It must have been the tan or whatever from the mountain trip. I've never been greeted by any retail sales person with wide open smiles but on on that day this dude came up to me in the Nike boutique with the happiest and brightest smile that I have seen in quite a while. And then he spoke, with an accent that was obviously influenced from too much Hollywood. It was also painfully obvious that he had graduated from the Salak South School of Higher Engrish.

He followed me around the store introducing me to the latest Air Force Ones and responded brightly at my mumbled answers. He seemed to be enjoying speaking to me in the English language that was not his own. Then, as I stepped out to leave he looked me keenly in the eye and asked me seriously:

"Are you forenj?"

"Huh??? Wha..."

Helpfully he stepped forward and asked slowly, "Where are you from? Are you a forenjer?"

I should have corrected him I guess. Maybe next time...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pantai Hills, Negri Sembilan

I went looking for a hiking trail in the Pantai Hills area in Negri Sembilan. It's about 20 minutes drive out of Seremban town. However it didn't go as planned as I forgot never to trust the intel from an orang asli recon team. The 'trail' that I was supposed to take ended up a brush infested jungle which my informant had forgotten to mention was last used at least 5 years ago.

The trail was supposed to run along the Main Range (our Banjaran Titiwangsa or one of the mountain ranges that spines our country). I wasn't in the mood to spend my weekend floundering around a leech infested hell hole so i chickend out and walked around this secluded housing area when i discovered a hidden gem of a home amidst the lush vegetation. This was supposed to be an exclusive housing project that ran into some problems. It's a beautiful area which from the higest hill you can see as far as Seremban town in a valley that streatches towards the sea. There are some houses up but the rest of the owners are taking their time to build their dream homes.

I met my dad there as he's building his own tiny sanctuary there and he got me into this awesome 3 story all timber home that is owned by a gentleman that lives abroad most of the time. Above is the entrance to the home.

The walkway in.

One of the sections of the house. Lovely. Peaceful. Something most of us might take a life time to afford!

The thick moss covered statue of Kermit and kid near the entrance to the house.



The bar area and the open balcony which can double as a dance floor or an open air sun bathing platform for German nudists.



A simple bathtub - as close to showering in the middle of the jungle. River rocks for tiles, the tub overlooks shrubs on planted on the window sill and the shower which is actually on the ceiling so you stand on the stones and the water comes on from the top like rain.

One of the cosy bedrooms. The caretaker does an excellent job as although the owner rarely visits the entire house is spotless.


View of the top balcony and the lush green valley below.


The Ganesha statue in backed up by the watchtower.

For those swingin' moments when you've had one too many to drink.


Just another view of the different levels.

Along the way.....



Man, I haven't seen one of these bad boys in years! And what a break to catch 3 of them grazing by the road! Anyway, beasts of burden they may be, but these sawah padi water buffaloes won't tolerate the close presence of strangers. After this shot the dude in the front gave me one of those "kindly remove your dumbass from my presence" looks, so I had to retreat back to the safety of my car with a slightly bruised ego.

Saw this fortress like monstrosity along the Pantai trunk road. Obviously someone in Negri Sembilan is expecting an invasion from barbarian hoards. Or its just a production set for the next Ang Lee movie...


*Photos copyright Chindiana Trails and photographer

Friday, August 17, 2007

Sigh, Here We Go Again

You know like, it's like sooooo cool. We're just the smartest littlest buttons in the whole wide world? And like its so excellent that we got all these people who like soooo wanna get in with us? And like they don't know we're not really as cool as them?
Or as smart.

Or farsighted.

Or just plain ethically professional.

So now we have this Port Klang Free Zone crap fest. Another government bailout for another bunch of morons. Another foreign partner running back to the Middle East with their robes flapping in the tailwind.

My main gripe is that if you, no make that WE (yes we're all in this together you know because we get what we vote for), want and DO shout out to the world that we want to be part of the global village it would be nice if we did have some semblance of global common sense and professionalism.

We tried our best to attract the A-Rab tourists. They came in droves. Hey, they even cooked the odd lamb in that 5 star hotel room. And then they realized that our tour agents were scamming them so this year they've decided not to come on over and celebrate our 50th year of Independence.

How about some of those poor Mat Salleh geriatrics that came over looking for a little bit of paradise in the Malaysia the Second Home project? It's all good, notwithstanding the reels of red tape that's enough to swamp Anfield Stadium.

As a whole, Malaysians are as cincai as you can get. We accept the exorbitantly prized pink lego blocked apartments dreamed up by a billionaire Ah Beng and then spend a lifetime paying off these testimonies to bad architecture, workmanship and planning. We create our own traffic jams by not just giving a little way to others on the road and then bitch about the OTHER stupid drivers on the road. We take short cuts in everything and then, audaciously we say we are ready to take on the world.

We are so brave, we little jaguh kampungs. Satisfied with mediocrity and then indirectly promoting it whenever we reach out to foreign partners or worse invite them over here to work/stay/play with us.

Of course, the some of us who have conquered the world are out there making sure that our flats in London or those bungalows in Melbourne are kept aside for a rainy day, so it's us regular morons who have to figure out where we stand and what we really want to make of ourselves. Village thumb wrestling champ or World Heavyweight Champion?

A Can Do attitude is fine, but definitely not a credo of Can Do It Like A Moron.

Monaco Long Bar


Just the place for Friday Happy Hours if you're stuck in the KL Evening Traffic Jam Induced by Rain and Subsequent Flooding of City.

Checked out this place along Changkat Bukit Bintang. Just one shop lot away beside Frangipani. It's the old Hemingway's and still retains the Cuban cigar lounge ambiance inside with the various references to Che Guevara. Very cosy especially the upstairs. Nice high ceilings so you probably don't end up smelling like a used cigar if the stogie aficionados are lighting up beside you.

Only has tapas and bruchetas for food but it's more a cosy place to chill than for dining. The food's alright but I've got the taste buds of a stray goat so you might have to judge it for yourself. The prawn with garlic thingy tapas wasn't too bad though.

It's a Carlsberg outlet so no Guinness draught :( OK wine list (from a beer drinker's perspective) and has some imported bottled beers - Hoegarden, Paulaner, Warsteiner, etc.


The wine 'cellar' cum balloon bath.


*Pictures copyright Chindiana Trails and photographer

Thursday, August 16, 2007

AirAsia Inflight Magazine

Finally, Now Everyone Can Read! AirAsia launched Travel 3 Sixty, the low cost carriers inflight magazine yesterday at the KL Tower. At least now we don't have to pretend to read the contents of Pak Nasser's Nasi Lemak for the 50th time on the AirAsia F&B Menu or to stare in wonder at the layered cakes of makeup on the stewardess...


L-R: Travel 3Sixty Editor, Richard Augustin, Su Ann from Go Holidays, Jason the mag designer and Andrea from AirAsia Corporate Comm.

The magazines should be on board already but you can't take it off the plane.

The Mag is also available at Starbucks and Secret Recipe outlets in the Klang Valley.

View of KLCC from the KL Tower.