Monday, February 25, 2008

The Kite Runner (Part 2)

Things were beginning to happen. I tgought Amir was a very intelligent boy belied his age. So too Hassan. Of course they did not really understand the meaning of what they did. How could they, being so young? Yet, that was the beauty of it all. It was the manifestation of honesty, trust, loyalty in the most genuine manner. It was so realistic and balanced. No over drama, over acting or what. It was almost like a fact.

For Hassan to stand up for Amir no matter what, was indeed the value of innocence. For Hassan, it was probably an honour for him to act in that manner. Just like a soldier willing to put his or her life in defence and in honour of the beloved country.

For Amir, the betrayal to Hassan's loyalty was a price he had to pay..perhaps for the rest of his life. His insomnia cannot be traded with money that his Baba had.

It was also a peek to the life of the rich in post trouble Afghanistan. Perhaps considering whisky as chai or gahwa was only a tip of the iceberg of the rich and famous. When Islam was mocked by people like Baba or for that matter even Rahim Khan, could we simply blame the Taliban?

To date, it was really touching and moving. I cant wait to discover

What A Weekend!

Indeed it was a very hectic week. However, the weekend was an experience hard to forget. Why not, it was like a dream comes true, though not many were aware of the significance. I was with a big group spending time at an island resort. Ofcourse it was originally all about work. So, worked we did! But, alas! The leader had something else in mind. Work was not all that occupied his grey matter. He had other plans in place. Only he did not disclose to spoil the mood.

Anyway, it was a worthy effort preparing for the event. The journey was also interesting. It was even better the return journey. The greetings from the gang on arrival was simply magnificient. They were all ready. The eldest with a home cook a'la Jaime Oliver - lemon laced oven roast chicken that comes with the necessities. Dinner was simple yet meaningful. The second one came up with something from the internet or book or whatever. But it was really tasty - strawberry yoghurt! And refreshing too!

And to top that up, the cards and the wrappers had to be attended to. Mmmmm, apparently my girls thot I was too typical. A few colour shirts come my way to step out of the ordinary! And of course The Mug....To all, with all my love, thank you very much! It was indeed a memorable milestone when u have all these happenings on your birthday!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Exceptional Day

It was indeed and exceptional day for me. I receievd a friend as a visitor to my office after a period of about 8 months not being together. He was one of my buddies...for teh tarik, thosai or whatever. He was a guy who has lived his life to the max. He was a friend who is ever willing to oblige to others around him for whatever reason. In many instances I knew, he was hard done by. But he only confided rather than complained. He was a very happy man and only happiness surrounded him.

Yes, that was until about 7 months ago. He suffered a mild stroke. The day I got to know about it, I rushed to the Hospital where he was being treated. Alas, he was discharged that very morning. Then I was told he was recuperating at home and preferred a quiet time. I would understand. My text was not answered. So, I gave him moretime. Then the second attack. It was worst. I kept in touch through his office - the boss was his best buddy. He went through emotional fluctuation, I was told. At the risk of aggravating his suffering I hold back. I knew he would not be able to hold back anything the moment we meet.

Then I was told by my assistance that he was seeking an appointment with me! Whoa...yes I will be available whenever he is. So the day came. From a healthy man, he is now bigger in spirit than in person. I expected that he would be affected by the strokes but seeing is believeing. As I said, I was not used to seeing him in this situation. He could not come up to my office with a few flights of staircase. I came down.

I was happy to see him and even happier to see him happy. We traded jokes as usual, sharing his experience the past seven months. Even in that situation he kept coming back to talking about works in the office which I told him not too worry so much. It was so much fun. It was one of the best days in my working life, in the office. His wife told me how he was looking forward to the trip - 45 minutes one way from his house - and made her to get the best pair of trouser and shirt. He has been asking her to take him to see me many times. I was touched and moved. It was a time for so many lessons. I will have to go back and peel off layer by layer. Anyway, R, please know that you are never forgotten. You will always be there.

You are a strong person. I pray that you will only get better. After one and half hours, it was time for him to get his rest - after all he skipped his schedule appointment and treatment for the day. We shook hands many times. I took him and sat him in the car. After the last touch he did look at my face. I knew he was happy but also sad. So did I.

It was really an Exceptional Day -20022008. If ever there was a wish, it would be for his speedy recovery.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Love (1)

What is love, really?

No, I'm not talking about it since many people just celebrated 14th February. The date when lovers are supposed to act out of lve for the loved ones. I bet most of them do not have even a good clue what love is all about. Let alone the true meaning of loving. So, I'm going to throw a challenge to those who can see - though not necessarily agree - my perspective of LOVE.

From Microsoft Words Thesaurus

LOVE = affection (n.), adoration, friendship, tenderness, feeling, fondness, devotion, ardor
= feel affection for (v.) adore, worship, be in love with, be devoted to, care for, find
irresistible, be keen on, be fond of

The Kite Runner (Part 1)

Came across this title a few weeks ago. Sounds like a good read i.e. good story with interesting expression. Finally got it as a gift from one of my daughters...the author was Khaled Hosseini.. Its supposed to be based on his life experience way back in 1975 and before, in Afghanistan. I was sort of attracted to the is like saying

' When floating in the air does not really mean total freedom.....'

I like how it satrted...well I have just finished a few pages anyway.... Amir, Hassan, Baba & Ali are the main characters. I somehow managed to visualise and feel the setting. Perhaps it was not much different from the setting where I grew up in about the same time frame. Of course Amir had a better physical surrounding than me and I would probably had better ones than Hassan's.

Both Amir and Hassan lost their mothers almost immediately after they were born though due to different reasons..

Khaled must have been a very creative person; he managed to balance between now and the flashback years; at least up to where I am now.

I hope I could continue sharing my reading experience here...........

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Minuses than PLUS

About a year ago I wrote on this same matter regarding traffic management during festive seasons to reduce possible congestions on the (PLUS) highway and the Federal Highway. PLUS then responded that they took note of the issues and had instituted measures to prevent such a situation. I am not sure how effective these measures were during the festive seasons upto the first day of Chniese New Year, last Thursday when I had first hand experience.

Granted, there will be more vehicles on the road but on that particular morning when I was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh the following were observed and experienced:

1. No proper and adequate traffic management initiatives was visible. Two lanes were open along the upgraded section between Sg Buloh and Tapah. The third lane though has been completed was not in use. Flexible posts were erected to demarcate the boundary between that third lane and the other lane in use. Unfortunately, there were some mindless road users who chosed to drive thru the lane, not only creating danger to other users but creating more bottlenecks further ahead when there was any obstruction. There was nobody monitoring or controlling this blatant breach of traffic rules. It was almost who dares win. Sad to say, most of the offenders were those driving MPV, SUV and big vehicles. Then, somewhere along the same stretch a contra flow lane was opened along the southbound lane. Hence there were 'four' lanes for the northbound traffic. One would have thought that traffic would flow smoothly. Unfortunately it didn't. The reason? Both the contra flow lane and the 'unofficial/emergency' lane merged to the two operational lanes at the same location. So, obviously a severe bottleneck was created. Only one guy, probably a labourer was trying to direct the traffic or rather to 'civilize' the drivers. How could that be possible if PLUS had spent more time with scenario planning? I am sure this simple matter need no Angkasawan standard to figure it out. As a result of this omission (or minus) on PLUS's side how many users were inconvenienced, let alone those who missed appointments since it took at least two additional hours to get to Ipoh.

2. The 1-800 PLUS line is displayed everywhere along the highway, on the toll tickets and everywhere else deemed relevant to the PLUS. It was supposed to be the contact point for people wanting information on situation along the highway. For instance, with better information, one could come up with another plan like exiting at the next point. It was most regretful that my calls went unaswered for the best part of the period I was stuck in the jam. It was almost one hour between 10.30 nad 11.30 am. I was indeed in real need of a service from PLUS. But where are they? It is a pity for every PLUS highway users to be put into this kind of predicament yet still having to pay the same amount for toll at the end of the highway. No wonder they keep making money. Can't PLUS spend some thot to have a better management system at the control or call centre? Whatever the reason offered, it is really an excuse. If they had to attend many calls at the same time, can't they come up with a better telephony which can put the callers in queue and to be attended to?

3. As an alternative, I made a few calls to the Bukit Aman traffic control centre. What a surprise! Every call was attended to promptly with a lot of smile. Syabas to Kpl Roslan and the team! Although their resources are also limited i.e. relying on information provided by their field team, which incidently consisted of one peronda and a helicopter, at least they rendered better service than the other party, at least from my experience on that day.

In short, being the operator of the main trunk access from North to South of the Peninsular, PLUS should do more and better. I dont think they would require a lot of money to get this done. Even if they do, it will be not much compared to the amount collected during the festive period. Further more, PLUS would have nothing to lose but everything to gain while at the same time playing a role of a good corporate citizen contributing to the social well being of all Malaysians or at least those highway users. An effective and efficient traffic management would result in stress free trips especially when those trips are to improve family relationships and friendships among us.

It is my earnest hope that those in authority including the Majlis Keselamatan Jalanraya, Jabatan Kerja Raya, Polis Di Raja Malaysia could work together with PLUS and other relevant local authorities to come up with a comprehensive traffic management plan before the next festive or holiday seasons. This would definitely further enhance our domestic tourism industry because judging by the increasing number of vehicles already on the road/highway and with more to come on stream, the upgraded PLUS Highway alone would not guarantee a better travelling experience.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Service?...Excuse me!

Ever wonder why there is a service tax item in your bills, especially those you get from a food outlet? How do you define service in this regard? Does it mean taking you to your table, take an order from you and then send you your order? Does it include creating an atmosphere of relax so that you could really forget other things and focus your attention to the food or whatever else you want to do while at the table? Does it mean you, as the served would be free of any irritant while at the table? After all you are paying for the food which is supposed to include all the costs associated with getting the materials from d farm to your plate!

I don't know really. I mean whether those people in the service industry do understand what service means. You can carry out your own test. My experience most of the times suggest that many of them including those foreign based franchise outlets do not really have a clue what service means. To them (their employees anyway) you are seved once your food is delivered to the table. It does not matter if it is delivered late, if it is delivered in a rough manner, if the food is less than tasty, if the plates or cups or glasses give an indication of less hygiene....I could go on...

Let me take you to the following situations then you see:

1. Open 8.00 am to 12.00 midnight

You are on your way to a morning meeting and saw this outlet with a breakfast package and thot why not get a cup of piping hot coffee and a piece of donut. You peeped through the glass walls and saw movements in there. It is 8.10am. You are lucky. The breakfast must be ready now. You walked in and tried to place an order. Lo and is not ready, donut is still in the freezer or something! You inquired. Ohh...its not yet ready, we don't usually get customers before 8.30. Then why the hell telling people you are open from 8.00 am? To me 8.10 am is well after 8.00 am and should be ready to serve. So, is it false advertsing, misleading information or simply cheating?

If you are supposed to serve at 8.00 am then you should make every effort to be ready by then. Whether people will walk in then or later is not your concern. Your concern should be what if a non-regular customer needs a cup of coffee at 8.00 am? I wonder whether the decision maker of that oragnisation is aware of such 'service'. I hope they do before its too late.

2. Sorry, We missed your order

You finally decided to settle for some food in the outlet. You went thru the menu, rattled out the orders and waited. Its six of you making the orders which was repeated well and clear. So, 5 of the entree' were delivered. The sixth one did not come and you have to inquire. To get the attention of those people is another task. They are always moving around keeping themselves busy but never see your hand trying to attract attention. Then the main dishes are delivered, together with the sixth entree'. No common sense! How is it supposed to be eaten? Then you realised only 5 main dishes arrived. What happened to the other one? Ohh...let us check out. Mm..turned out there was no order? How come? It was read out by your waitress? Sorry we mixed the order.........So, how are you supposed to feel? Would they compensate with a discount? Not in a million years! Would they waive the service tax? You bet... Then you saw a customer feedback form that comes together with the bill. You filled up and handed over. Do you think they will come back to you, even though you left all your e-mail, phone contacts? I'm still waiting.....

There are many more examples or real life experience on this; like, sorry we don't have this tonite/today, we run out of something...... Why then would you not shown on d menu, or at least inform us while handing out the menu before we even think of placing an order? Where is the responsibility to the customers? What? Customer Service?

The bottom line is, we have a long way to go to really live up to the real meaning of service, which should be distinguished from doing what is expected. Service to me is things done in a better than expected way, when its least expected but badly needed. It is beyond expectation, the extra mile, whatever that can be deemed. At the end of that, the serviced would have not even an iota of dissatisfaction but the happiness is written all over the face...then the service would be well rendered!

Looking For Love...

Love is one of the most interesting four letter word in the life of mankind. It can be the most interesting situation given the right times and circumstances. It can also be the most painful reminder at other times and circumstances. Does Love has real value or is it the most overrated virtue? I don't really have the answer...I leave to you to figure that out.

Anyway, I was at a food court in a major shopping mall the other day with my other half and our 'Huggie' boy. We settled down at a table to quench our thirst after a round of routine aisle surveying. My hearing and subsequently sight was drawn to a golden couple almost dragging their feet moving between the food counters. Looked like they were trying to decide which counter to patronise and how to get get their food. Suddenly it came to my mind, did this couple come alone, or were they following someone? Most often than not this group of people would not venture to this place on their own. They would have been with a group who are most likely their extended family (read like their kid's family). If so, then why would they be allowed to wonder about and struggle in this kind of situation. Would it not be better if those in d group took them around and show them what foods are available and let them decide? Then why not bring them to a table to wait for the order to be is a self-service area but I'm quite sure someone in the group could do just that.

Trouble with me is that my gut feeling always point to something. True enough, after watching the gradma struggling with the order my eyes trailed her to a table where the grandpa was already seated. Apart from him, there were a man and a woman enjoying their meals like there would be no tomorrow, oblivious to the plight of the two elderly people. Perhaps they were not supposed to bother or care! I do not know what were the relationships between the four but I could almost guess. I almost had tears in my eyes and kept thinking how could this happen? Is there no more love between the young and the old? I can almost be sure that love is never lost from the old to the young...but...

Indeed, it was almost cruel to say the least. I did not know what I could have done but looking at my boy's eyes hoping that he would not ever repeat what the young man and woman did to the golden couple. I am sure the golden couple never minded what's done unto them..perhaps it is normal to them. Perhaps they were thankful enough to be brought to this place although it put them out of it...Perhaps they never thought or expected to be treated other wise. Perhaps they never knew that in the twilight of their years, they were actually looking for love.........

'Do not do unto others what you do not want done unto you'

Thursday, February 07, 2008


After a long lapse I am now ready to resume the observation...Hopefully it will be most interesting considering the state most people are in now...

Indeed there have been too many things/events overtaking one another. D'contrarian is the reflection of things that are not in line with the main stream, looking from different angles, looking at a glass half empty rather than half full, which is probably rare these days, as rare as one would find a White Eagle..

Yes...White Eagle will soar and has the widest persepctive yet only the less seen would be the target.......