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Monday, January 31, 2005

The Diary of Anne Frank

Here's one thing you may not know about me... I read a lot. Books, magazines, manuals, self-help, etc. But most books, especially goods one I never had the chance to read when I was growing up. The thing is I never had any books to read as a kid so the minute I got my own job I went out to buy books. At any one time I'm always reading at least 2 books, depending on which part of the house I'm in. At the moment, I'm reading 'Exodus' by Leon Uris (borrowed from my pal El) and 'Heretics of Dune' by Frank Herbert (one more to complete the series).

'Exodus' is a stunning book. When I finish it, I'll probably write a review here. But what struck me the most was how much it reminded me about another book - 'The Diary of Anne Frank' by Anne Frank, simply one of the greatest book of the twentieth-century. And no, I'm not exaggerating or over-generalising.

In short, the book (published in 1947) is basically the diary of a 13-year old Jewish girl from the time of her carefree days growing up in Amsterdam as the threat of Hitler's Third Reich grows over the horizon. One day the threat grows too near as Anne's family along with another Jewish family and a dentist hide in a secret attic ('the annex') as Jews were rounded to be sent the the death camp Auswitcz. So for 25 months, the diary details the suffering and monotony of 8 people being locked up in confined spaces. No fresh air, no friends, no outside contact, eating rotten vegetables and cold porridge... and worst of all, the constant fear of being caught by the Germans.

The most shocking part is the epilogue of the book, a historical account of what happened when the location of the hideout was betrayed by a friend, and the fate of all 8 people in the house. The narration of how Anne's mother dies in grief in Auswitcz and when Anne was finally reunited with her best friend Lies is heartwrenching.

'The Diary of Anne Frank' is at once a gripping account. At times it is about an innocent girl who idolizes her father, it later become journey of a girl coming of age, having her first kiss, her constant battle with her sister. She is a vivacious spirit, but caught in morbid world.

War is hate, and anger is king. Many people view this book as a prime example of Semitism and Nazi cruelty against the Jews during the Holocaust. To me its more than that. Its about the triumph of the human spirit, and innocence of a child, crushed by the brutality of human war.

Everybody should read this book. When my daughters come of age, I will encourage them to read it. Not to make them thankful for what they have, but to let them learn the fighting spirit of Anne Frank.

Another thing about Anne - the family's hideout was discovered just a few weeks before the Allied's liberation of Holland.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Craig Bellamy may join Birmingham City

This just in - Newcastle's bad boy striker Craig Bellamy may join Birmingham City for 6 million pounds.

My first reaction - What on earth is Steve Bruce thinking?! Well, sure Bellamy is very talented and only 25, but he's also shockingly inconsistent and super-arrogant. For Birmingham, such a small club to consider forking out 6 million pounds (make your own Steve Austin joke here), and prepare to pay something like $40,000 PER WEEK for him is uncharacteristic and risky.

Don't get me wrong, I like Bellamy. He's skillful, and fast. But like I said, also inconsistent. And I don't want to see another mid-table club like BCFC blow serious cash only to be disappointed.

Bellamy is known to be arrogant, temperamental, confrontative, etc and Steve Bruce is not known to be a strict disciplinarian. With that kind of attitude and paycheck, who wants to bet some of the old boys in Birmingham locker room are going to feel disgruntled.

Maybe it may work out and I'm wrong. Maybe. If Bellamy plays every week, he may score enough goals to justify this transfer, something he did not get to do in Newcastle. And Steve Bruce is no pushover, either. Maybe, just maybe, it may work.

And I can also understand Bruce's need for another striker. Who's he got? Emile 'fall-on-your-ass' Heskey.

Hot Water Spring in Sungkai

A few posts ago I mentioned I was on a holiday trip to Damai Laut. Actually, on the day before that I visited the Hot Water Springs in Sungkai en route to Damai Laut, spending one night in Sitiawan.

The hot water spring was a recommendation from a colleague, he's one of those that goes off exploring the countryside every weekend and checking every small village and nature spot off the beaten track. In fact, some months ago this place was mentioned in the Star newspaper, but I thought it was some backwater, poorly run place.

But my friend told me otherwise. So on a whim, my wife and I packed up the 2 girls and took off to Sungkai. Its easy to go there. Drive north on the PLUS highway (where they MINUS a lot of your money for toll) and turn off at Sungkai. Its about 90 minutes to get to the interchange. Right after the toll gates turn right at the junction, and after a very short distance, you'll a sign prompting you to turn left. From then just follow the signs and you'll be brought through a Felda settlement, a palm oil plantation and finally the hot springs itself. It's simple and impressive, and the water is really hot. There's a cafeteria serving ais kacang and nasi campur, a coke vending machine and plenty of shady spots.

When I was there, there were quite many families picnicking there, be sure to be there in the early morning or late evening to avoid the blistering heat, but as a Malaysian, you'll probably know that.

We had a great time there, try to go there yourself to enjoy it while it is still new and well maintained, before it runs into dilapidation and rubbish-strewn like all other tourist spots in Malaysia.

We planned to go to the deer and bird farm nearby, but didn't make it. Maybe another weekend...

Friday, January 28, 2005

It's Friday again...

It’s Friday afternoon at work here, and I’ll bet most people have their minds in the weekend already. I have to work half day tomorrow, but Fridays nights are always welcome. Looking at the calendar, there are only 2 weekends left to the Chinese New Year, including this one.

Yep, Chinese New Year. I can forsee the next 2 weeks, its going to be a mad rush at the shopping centres every evening. You can forget about going into Chinese areas like SS2, Puchong Jaya, Damasara Uptown… A few years ago we tried to get some BBQ meat (bak kua) at Sun Wing Heong in SS2. This was like 1 week before New Year. The jam to get there was bad enough, at 7.00pm! And when we got there, the line stretched out to the shop!! And luckily we got some, those at the end of the line couldn’t get any as it was sold out. Please come back tomorrow, thank you.

You can say whatever you want about the economic slowdown, people can really spend if they want to. Just visit 1 Utama or Mid Valley on any regular weekend. Sometimes you’ll have problems ENTERING the carpark! I love shopping, but I dislike the crowds and jams. And until online shopping takes off in huge way in Malaysia, I’ll have to put up with the inconveniences.

Edu considers leaving Arsenal

The rumour is that Edu is considering leaving Arsenal for Spanish champions, Valencia.

As a Gooner for the past 25 years, I can understand why many of the fans are out with the knives for the Brazilian midfielder. But I also can understand his position. The previous 3 seasons where Arsenal has won 4 trophies (including the ‘Invincible’ season of 03/04) Edu has not been more than a bit part player in the team, even for Wenger’s small squad. As a central midfielder, he’s always behind the pecking order of Vieira, Gilberto Silva and Parlour (now with Boro). As a left winger, he has no chance against Pires and now with Reyes.

The only chances he got to start a match were basically when the regulars were injured. Arsene Wenger is not known for regular squad rotation. He almost always starts the best team he has. Just ask Thierry Henry.

In spite of that, he has had many great games in the Premiership, and a few fabulous ones in Europe. I can always remember 2 magnificent goals – one against Inter at San Siro (where he was carded for the celebrations) and another against Celta de Vigo. Another interesting fact about the latter game – he was up against his namesake Edu Moya in the Celta midfield.

As this season it has only been injury after injury for him. And worse still his latest – a broken toe, was sustained in a Carling Cup match, alongside the Arsenal reserves.

As a fan, I feel that Edu may not have handled this situation in the best possible way, considering how the fans have stood by the team in recent years. But I guess he has to look for the best of his own interests. The promise of a regular slot in Valencia versus substitute player with Arsenal…? He has to make his own choices.

If he goes, I wish Eduardo Cesar Daude Gaspar all the best in La Liga, and thanks for the memories. But I think he knows in his heart that he will not find another team like Wenger’s Invincibles.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Idolatry on TV

Has anyone been watching American Idol on TV? I’m a big fan since last season, and this year it’s off too a bang. Reports show that the ratings are going through the roof in the US, contrary to earlier expectations.

It’s only the second week into the show, and it’s the early auditions. I can clearly see 4 different stages to the show – the auditions, the 2nd round, the heats and the last 12. Well, if you watch the show, you’ll know what I mean. If you’ve NEVER watched the show, just keep watching and you’ll understand.

This year, we have the usual bunch of contestants – ego-maniacs who cannot accept that they’re not the real Idol, average wannabes, crazy nut jobs, William Hung types looking for their 15 minutes of fame, etc…

And then there are the very talented ones, but it seems that it’s so very difficult to stand out when there are so many people just as talented as you in America.

There’s another episode one tonight. If I’m home on time, I’ll be watching.

Ironically, I’ve never watched a minute of Malaysian Idol. And not Akademi Fantasia either.

At long last!!

Ah, well. Finally got my own blog!!

What made me finally do it? I guess its been a long time coming, it just needed a little effort to choose the blog page and set it. All 5 minutes of it. And 3 minutes of it was spent choosing a blog page name...

I was just on a short holiday at the Swiss Garden at Damai Laut, when i was reading Forbes magazine which said that blogging will become the biggest tech trend in 2005. I think it already is. Well, here I go jumping on the bandwagon.

Some introductions, first. I'm happily married to the most beautiful woman on earth, have two girls and work in the property line in the centre of KL, Malaysia. And when I mean centre, its really the centre! Well actually, 200 meters off centre, its opposite KLCC.

Anyway I hope to hear any comments or postings, drop me a line!

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