Of Bangsawan And Hyperinflation

Block One. History class. So Mr Brookes' position has now been replaced by Miss Daleen, an expat from South Africa who is also a qualified IELTS examiner. It's been two weeks already since we bid farewell to Mr Brookes, and I have to say things are much better now compared to Day One, when she first introduced herself to the class. In the beginning I thought we were going to have an imperious, somewhat scary 30 something year old Caucasian woman from South Africa as our teacher. And the thought of having to endure the pain for the rest of the semester definitely does not make things any better. But I've survived the horror. Now I realise that Ms Daleen is actually a nice person. And to be frank, I am most impressed with her ability to make the whole class participate in discussions and stuffs. Now, even Tiki can't be as silent as she wanted to be in class.

Some random things I've learnt for the past two weeks:

1. Laos is one of the most bombed countries in the world. Not quite a tourist attraction now is it?

2. Seriously, without the US participation in the Vietnam War, Hollywood would have been dead by now. Hundreds of Vietnam War films have been produced since the 70s, and trust me, they will keep making them in many years to come. "Hey we haven't made a film about the Vietnam War for quite some time now. Let's make another!"

3. Citizens of the world should be more concerned with the US and the European countries economic downturn that is taking place right now, rather than diverting their attention to small and insignificant matters like the hyperinfation in Zimbabwe, or the war in Gaza for that matter. People should be concerned with the rising unemployment rate due to job cuts and the failing economy. "Starvation in Zimbabwe due to economic sanction and hyperinflation? Ah, they'll manage." "The survival of our automotive industry or the lives of the people in Gaza? Hm, that's a tough one. I think I'll pick the former." What an interesting time we're living in right now. Sad, innit?

4. I figured that the preparation for Bangsawan which started last Monday is now beginning to take its toll on me. I don't quite like the fact that I can only see the same faces coming to lend their hands with the props preparation every day. God knows what happens to the rest who don't bother showing up at all, even when they have every reason not to hide in their rooms. And I haven't been able to really sit down and study at all too. Haih. That kind of explains why I find myself clueless in Math class this week. I had planned to start over when the path is clear for me, meaning when I am no longer associated to Bangsawan or the high committee of Garnet House. But that will be too late. Luckily Fatin, being a very self-motivated person that she is, had requested Mr Mahadzir for extra classes. And I, being a supportive friend, agreed to join her. And so we had our first class this morning. A week's worth of Mechanics lessons in half an hour. Now that's something. Thanks Fatin:)

5. "The hardest part is waiting." I still haven't received a reply from Cambridge concerning my application yet. I get nervous every time I check my emails. And people keep coming to me every now and then, asking questions like, "How's your application?" "Any news yet?" and "Still in the pool, yeah?"

"Yeah, still swimming." That's what I would normally answer. By the way, out of the five people who were in the pool in the first place, only me and Sabrina are still surviving. Best of luck to both of us.

6. Sapphire's ICAN video is brilliant! Attiyaa, we should do a collaboration some time:)

7. Thanks to Ms Rena, I now understand why female genitalia mutilation (FGM) is heavily criticised and condemned by human rights activists. It's scary as hell! However, it is imperative to recognise the differences between the mild practice of female circumcision at one end of the spectrum and the extreme genitalia mutilation at another.

By the way, according to state-run media on Friday, Zimbabwe's Central Bank will introduce a $100 trillion Zimbabwean banknote (which is worth US $33 on the black market) to try to ease desperate cash shortages. Our saviour, President Robert Mugabe. What a brilliant person he is.
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The Black Man Should Get Tough With Israel

I realise that most of the things I write here are pretty much about myself. My daily routine, the occasional joy and disappointments I let out - most of them are attributed to my own little bubble I'm living in. I find them easier to share with. But mind you, I am not ignorant. I do care about what happens around the world as we speak. Besides the the panic and constant apprehension experienced by the European nations and the US over the recent economic downturn which has become the main topic of discussions almost everywhere on the internet these past few months, another important issue which demands the world's attention and action is of course the Palestinian crisis. A 60 year old crisis which is yet to meet with a satisfying conclusion for both conflicting parties.

And now, as the Jews in the region are flexing their muscles through an extravagant showcase of missiles and tanks, at least 800 Palestinian lives had already been sacrificed. People say Jews worry for a living - their tragic history comples them to do so. The potential for a nuclear Iran, combined with the growing accuracy and lethality of Hamas and Hizbullah rockets, will create tremendous concern. But they still cannot justify why the innocent children of Gaza had to pay the price. Collateral damage, they claim. You call putting bullets into a helpless three year old kid collateral damage? Oh come on. Don't insult my intelligence. Are you going to use the same excuse for the other 300 kids who shared the same fate too? Please.

Illustrating just how insecure the Jews have been feeling for the past 60 years.

One thing we know for sure - Palestine is being victimised by parties who seek to benefit the most from this bloody political powerplay. Be it Livni, the Jews back home, the Saud King, or even Hamas - to me, nothing is as it seems. There are always hidden agendas.

What can we do to help them? Pray to God for the Palestinians' well being, run donation drives to raise funds, send medical supplies to the collapsing hospitals, increase public awareness by running campaigns. But for now, forget boycotting American products. Admit it, we're just too dependent on them. And I bet not many will answer the call for boycotting anyway. Hence it will not work as effective as we think it will be. Since the rest of the Muslim community can only protest in street demonstrations in front of embassies while most of the leaders just shy away, in my opinion, the most realistic solution to the crisis so far lies in the hand of the the most powerful man in the world - The President of the United States. No, not Bush. Barrack Obama, when he steps into the Oval Office this Jan 20. This view is expressed by Aaron David Miller in his article in the latest Newsweek issue.

If Obama is serious about peacemaking he'll have to adjust that balance in two ways. First, whatever the transgressions of the Palestinians (and there are many, including terror, violence and incitement), he'll also have to deal with Israel's behavior on the ground. The Gaza crisis is a case in point. Israel has every reason to defend itself against Hamas. But does it make sense for America to support its policy of punishing Hamas by making life unbearable for 1.5 million Gazans by denying aid and economic development? The answer is no.

Then there's the settlements issue. In 25 years of working on this issue for six secretaries of state, I can't recall one meeting where we had a serious discussion with an Israeli prime minister about the damage that settlement activity—including land confiscation, bypass roads and housing demolitions—does to the peacemaking process. There is a need to impose some accountability. And this can only come from the president. But Obama should make it clear that America will not lend its auspices to a peacemaking process in which the actions of either side willfully undermine the chances of an agreement America is trying to broker. No process at all would be better than a dishonest one that hurts America's credibility.

Second, Obama will have to maintain his independence and tactical flexibility to play the mediator's role. This means not road testing everything with Israel first before previewing it to the other side, a practice we followed scrupulously during the Clinton and Bush 43 years. America must also not agree to every idea proposed by an Israeli prime minister. Our willingness to go along with Ehud Barak's make-or-break strategy at the Camp David summit proved very costly where more disciplined critical thinking on our part might have helped preempt the catastrophe that followed. Coordinating with Israel on matters relating to its security is one thing. Giving Israel a veto over American negotiating tactics and positions, particularly when it comes to bridging gaps between the two sides, is quite another.

If the new president adjusts his thinking when it comes to Israel, and is prepared to be tough with the Arabs as well, the next several years could be fascinating and productive ones. I hope so, because the national interest demands it. The process of American mediation will be excruciatingly painful for Arabs, Israelis and Americans. But if done right, with toughness and fairness, it could produce the first real opportunity for a peace deal in many years.

Miller, an adviser for Democratic and Republican administrations and author of “The Much Too Promised Land,” is at the Woodrow Wilson Center.
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Saturday Morning

Dude, my Cambridge application got in the winter pool yo. I'm neither sad nor overjoyed by this, but as an optimistic Nea would put it, at least I can still be hopeful. Yes, I am well aware of the competition and no, I am not putting high hopes on this one. But it'll be awesome if they do consider my application and offer me a place at one of their colleges (besides Girton). I mean, to make it this far is quite an achievement for me. Watching others meeting with disappointment over their Oxbridge applications is a painful experience already. So yeah, I will keep my fingers crossed and pray to God for His guidance. Wait, I don't mean the first part literally. You can't really cross your fingers while you're praying right? It's peculiar and inappropriate. I've done my part, and now it is entirely up to Him. In the meantime, I'll just carry on with my daily routine. Anxiously and ever patiently.

The first week returning back to college was pretty smooth I think. Although I must point out that not everything that I had planned worked out. I should at least equip myself to face the tight schedule ahead (organiser, anyone?). Haha I don't know how effective it'll be, but I think I'll give it a try. Events this semester include ICAN, Bangsawan and Garnet housetrip, among others which I pretend not to care. Sometimes I wonder why I have to worry about all these things when the real event this semester, in case you've forgotten, is our A2 exams in May and June. Speaking of which, our AS level result will come out this 21st of January. Another painful wait. Please please please spare me from having to resit for the papers thanks to horrible results. So yes Fatin, I would love to join you for a revision class with Mr Mahadzir.

Owh I think I miss my hair. Tsk tsk.
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The Week That Was. In Retrospect.

So I've turned 20 three days ago. Not quite an awesome feeling, but I guess I embraced it like a man. My birthday celebration this year was something I will never ever forget. Not once in my life have I felt being so appreciated as a friend. At least not in such an extraordinary way like I had with my close friends a few days ago. First it was Nabila. Initially she had planned a surprise mini party for this aging soul, but there was some miscommunication somewhere along the way, jeopardizing the surprise itself. And the presence of another friend too. But to me, everything was perfect from the point when Juek, Blur and Nabila arrived at the LRT station with a birthday cake, followed by the mini celebration we had at the golf course in Bukit Jelutong. Thanks a lot Nabila and the rest for the surprise. I really appreciate the fact that you took the trouble of carrying the cupcakes around that morning.

Fatin almost made it here in the pictures.

And last Saturday it was time for an intimate celebration among the Shah Alam crew members. A representative from Damansara joined the party too. This time, it was Aainaa who planned the whole thing. First, she picked me up from my place (along with Faris, Shahir and Akmal) and took us to an undisclosed location which later came to my realisation as Marche, located at the Curve. An awesome place it was. They also presented me with a chocolate fudge cake with "You're Freaking 20 Oggy!" written on it, courtesy of Shahir's sister. Gee, thanks for the reminder, peeps. We had a good time at the bowling alley afterwards. By the way Aainaa, I demand a rematch:P *Owh a little footnote* If you're planning to ask Nea out for a bowling match, don't forget to bring Akmal along. You know, so as not to embarass yourself with the score (if you're not pretty good at it, that is). Haha, no offence bro:D


I had a great time celebrating my adulthood weyy. So thanks a lot, you people are the coolest bunch of friends ever. I'm sorry if I've spoilt your surprises. I really didn't mean to:/

By the way, adulthood? HAHAHAHAHA.
I'll save it for later.
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Happy New Year Yo!
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Fatin Afiqah

1. Apakah benda yang paling penting dalam hidup kamu?
  • Family.

2. Apakah benda terakhir yang kamu beli dengan wang sendiri?

  • Top Gear issue 22.

3. Di manakah tempat impian perkahwinan kamu?

  • Macam Mawi. Hahahahaha.

4. Berapa lama anda rasa hubungan kamu berkekalan?

  • Lama. Jap, hubungan apa?

5. Adakah anda dilamun cinta?

  • :)

6. Di manakah restoran terakhir kamu makan malam?

  • Rasta.

7. Namakan buku terakhir yang kamu beli?

  • Top Gear issue 22.

8. Apakah nama penuh kamu?

  • Alif Nurhaziq Abd Rahman

9. Kamu lebih senang dengan mak atau ayah?

  • Mak dan ayah.

10. Namakan seseorang yang kamu ingin jumpa untuk pertama kalinya dalam hidup anda?

  • Adolf Hitler.

11.Sebutkan 8 nama sahabat yang paling rapat dengan kamu?
  • Faris
  • Shahir
  • Aainaa
  • Nabila
  • Fatin
  • Abu
  • Faizzamri
  • Azwa

12. Adakah kamu mencuci pakaian anda sendiri?
  • Takmo jawab.

13. Tempat yang paling seronok kamu mahu pegi?

  • Buat masa sekarang, safari di Afrika Selatan.

14. Pelukan atau ciuman?

  • Soalan apakah ini?

15. Butirkan 5 perkara tentang orang yang tag kamu
  • Penghuni RC sepenuh masa.
  • Menangis bukan hobinya.
  • Penggemar F1.
  • Suri rumah contoh. Malang sekali masih belum up to standard, mengikut segelintir pihak.
  • Anak Mr Mahadzir!

16. 8 perkara yang amat saya gilai buat masa sekarang
  • Blogging.
  • IM
  • Photography.
  • Resident Evil 4.
  • Internet yang sederhana laju.
  • Tidur.
  • Makan.
  • Memalaskan diri.

17. 8 perkataan yang sering di ucapkan
  • "Weyy..."

18. 8 buah buku yang paling terbaru dibaca.
  • Lapan? Biar betul.

19. 10 lagu yang saya boleh dengar berulang kali.

  • Mates of State - My Only Offer
  • Kings of Leon - Sex On Fire
  • The Decemberists - Yankee Bayonet
  • The Last Shadow Puppets - My Mistakes Were Made For You
  • Fall Out Boy - America's Suiteheart
  • Barry Manilow - Can't Smile Without You
  • Snow Patrol - Run
  • Lady Gaga - Paparazzi
  • Los Campesinos! - Death to Los Campesinos!
  • Muse - Hysteria

20. 8 perkara yang saya pelajari tahun lalu
  • Kepentingan menguruskan masa dengan bijak.
  • Rakan-rakan: Tanpa mereka, hidup kurang indah.
  • Menjadi rajin bukan satu pilihan, tetapi suatu kemestian.
  • Jika kurang pasti tentang sesuatu perkara, pastikan.
  • Menjadi ketua adalah suatu amanah yang sangat berat.
  • Punya masalah? Selesaikan segera. Makin lama dibiarkan, makin sarat jadinya.
  • Mind over matter.
  • Overexcitedness dalam melakukan sesuatu perkara kadang-kala boleh mengundang bencana.

21. Mari men'tag' 9 orang lain.

  • Syamim.
  • Haziq.
  • Pokchek.
  • Mariam.
  • Abyan.
  • Majin.
  • Dan selebihnya.
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