Ain't Nobody's Business (Trip), If I Do
May 29, 2008

I did a bit of business traveling recently and through it all, learned a thing or two about entertaining myself during these kinds of trips. Maybe I could share some with you.

The tedious thing about business traveling, especially when it involves flights, is that you're bound to be alone for a long period of time. If you're a mere mortal just like myself (i.e. you're not Chuck Norris), you can't afford doing nothing during this moment in time. Humans were designed to not be able to withstand boredom any longer than half a minute.

Even if you're driving, the long journey would leave you in this space where the only mode of entertainment available is the car stereo. And the games on your cell phone maybe, if you were born with the gift of multitasking.

I usually equip myself with a host of things prior to a trip. The classic ones being books, magazines, MP3 player and sketching pads, or doodle pads as I like to call them whenever asked by a stewardess -- to sound cute.

Okay, I made that up... they couldn't care less. Similarly to Pinocchio, a certain part of my body elongates everytime I lie; to my delightful amusement.

The idea is to have as many 'mediums' possible to keep me preoccupied, subsequently ignoring the reduction in the speed at which Earth revolves. Legend has it that time moves no faster than the growth rate of Danny DeVito when you're on board a plane. You could've just read, with success, a copy of The Merriam-Webster Dictionary from back to front and realize that you're still eons away from reaching your destination.

Reading seems to be a feasible choice. For most, it leads to being engrossed by the wonders of words; a fascination that I never ceased to understand particularly when the letters are as big as dusts. That's not the case for me however. I suffer from a medical condition termed by experts as Getdizzywhenreadingitis, causing severe headaches whenever I read on a plane. The severity often amplified should the font size of the reading material be any less than the size of my thumb. There goes my book flushed down the lavatory aft.

Peter Griffin, wise man, once said,

"I wish I could have my own theme music, which plays everywhere I go and whatever I do."

Which is exactly how I feel about MP3 players -- they provide a soundtrack to my life. Listening to portable music transports me to into this other realm where my coolness level escalates to that of James Dean's. Think John Travolta's 'Stayin' Alive' scene in Saturday Night Fever.

But no height of awesomeness comes without a price. I have a problem with the wires on MP3 players. They're everywhere! No matter how careful I'd be with them, making sure none of them goes through my earlobes or belt holes, I'd still end up strangled. It gets worse whenever I put the player in my bag. 94.3% of the time, the wires get intertwined (whatever that means) with other wires; charger wire, USB cable wire, patch wire, barb wire*.

Sketching/doodle pads are pretty self-explanatory actually. My drawings are bad enough even when I'm stationary (Richter scale reading: 0.12). So you could imagine how pointless it could be trying to draw on a plane. Below is the snake that I tried to sketch while on a flight recently.
As you can see, the snake gets mutated mid-way due to a minor turbulence.

In conclusion, I have absolutely no useful tips on business travel entertainment; as opposed to what I'd written earlier. Well, there are always sleeping pills if Rob Schneider is in all of the in-flight movies.

*I wouldn't, of course, complain as much should 'barb wire' in this context refers to Pamela Anderson's leading role in the 1996 movie of the same name. Who wouldn't want wires all over her anyway? More than ever if you're like myself or Pinocchio, and you lie a lot.

May 16, 2008

I believe I owe it to myself to let the truth be known to the world. I've been keeping it low for far too long now and I don't see a need to keep it a secret anymore. Friends, sorry for not letting you know earlier. You have always been there for me through thick and thin hence it's you, more than anyone else in the world, who deserves to know every bit of its details. It's going to be a challenge doing this in writing but here goes.

I answer phone calls differently.

No, not saying "Differently!" instead of "Hello!". I answer phone calls from different people, in a different manner. Which most of us do as well, I suppose; consequently making it not that much of a secret really. Heck, who answers all of his/her calls the same way anyway? Ignore the first paragraph. It's not like I'd secretly gotten engaged to someone or anything.

Moving on... thought I'd share the (my, rather) many ways of answering calls from different people. Starting off, with the closest to my heart.

The Family

It's pretty straightforward when it comes to the family... a simple "Yeah" or "Ha" usually does it. Which is how I'd be talking throughout the conversation anyway...
"Yeah... ha... ahaa... yeah yeah... okay..."
Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't fancy talking to them or anything. The ‘yeahs' are basically my adherence of all that are requested of me. I always give my all when it comes to the family. Ladies, take note. Gentlemen, tell your younger sisters.

The Guy Friends

As they populate 97% of the incoming call list on my phone, I'd grown to adopt various ways of answering their calls, ranging from the classic,
"What's happening assface?"**
to the rather commercialized,
to the sound of a donkey,
"Hee haw hee haw hee haw hee haw..."
to name a few.

Girl Friends

Once every few fortnights (can't really sugarcoat the actual duration any better to be honest), I do get a phone call from one of my few girl friends. And whenever the call is coming from them, it's a whole new game. Things could get very tricky and I need to be very delicate in my approach. There's no differentiation by genre anymore; every person needs to be greeted differently.

A. The Close Ones

You know who you are. They're the ones who know me pretty well, thus providing me the avenue to mess around or try to be funny a bit.

Maybe let them say hello first then answer,
"You had me at hello."
or, whenever I'm at the liberty of time,
"Men of Steel Male Escorts, how may I help you?".
Girls, as Stevie Wonder would say... you are, the sunshine of my life.

B. The Moderately-Close Ones

This is when I have to play it safe, real safe. I tend to keep it short and sweet when it comes to them. I don't know why.
"Hello, yeah hi Timah, what's up? Woops... I'm driving here. Call you later yea..."
C. The Not-so-close Ones

See above.

The Office

Ingenious is the only way I'd describe this one. Nevertheless, I may be playing with fire here.

Anyway, you in the office attire, yeah you reading this instead of doing work. When you get a call at the office, do you answer it right away? If so, boy you need continue reading. Otherwise, yeah continue reading.

What scares me the most whenever my office phone rings is the implication of answering it. More often than not, it means more work. But being the committed employee that I am, I never let it ring unanswered. Not since I learned how to ‘cushion' the implication.

The beautiful thing about the office phone system is the customary "Are you busy?" inquiry before any request of favor. Leveraging on that, I normally answer the phone only after the fourth ring. And upon answering, I throw in a few puffs and pants into it...
"Puff puff pant pant... hello... puff puff pant pant..."

"Hey Asrif, you busy? Need some help. You catching breath?"

"Yeah, running everywhere here... puff puff pant pant..."
Well, while I may still have to attend to whatever that is asked of me, at least I've illustrated a nice little picture of the catastrophe I'm in with my current workload. So any delay in delivering my task would be understood. Before I put down the phone and continue laughing at the stuff up on Reddit and ImageChan of course.

Note: Fellow, lovable colleagues, none of the above apply to any of you. You guys know me too well anyway.

The Unknown Number

Right, the mother of all uncertainties. The mini, real-life Deal Or No Deal. It rings relentlessly, giving you no luxury of time and demanding a split-second decision.

Yes, a simple hello would be your safest bet. Nevertheless, there are a trillion tones you could say it with. You don't want to sound too serious when it's Maya Karin who accidentally dialed your number. At the same juncture, you don't want to sound like Krusty the Clown when it happens to be your father in-law's new number.

Nothing hurts more though, than the agony of answering in your sexiest manner, and realizing that it's your very annoying guy friend.

"Hey man, guess who's in town? It's me... Dick!"
Indeed you are.

** My dear cousins, I know you kids have been reading for quite a while now. God knows how you found this site but you did. And I only have so much control over what people read over the Internet. You guys have been the sole reason I've been avoiding profanities (bet you don't even know what that means eh). Anyway, don't let me catch you using bad words in front of me. If you ever do so, mention my name and I'm never letting any of you touch my guitars, ever again. You still need to walk on my back though. Meh, what's the point... this font size is too small for you to read anyway.

Funny Bones
May 11, 2008

It's as obvious as Fred Savage's mole in Goldmember.

My sense of humor is in no way superior to that of the other guy's. I'm with Thomas Jefferson when it comes to people's hilarity; for all men, are created equal. That being said, I'm in no position of demeaning, if you will, the sense of humor of others.

Nevertheless, I'm a junior at work. And that entails being exposed to jokes from the various generations that the people at work belong to; namely Baby Boomers, Generation Jones, Generation X and perhaps Generation Y, to which I belong... I guess.

So in order for me to survive in this melting pot of comical intelligence, there is a certain level of humor acceptance that I need to be tolerable to. It's a jungle out there. One minute you're in a meeting where this guy talks about how a graph resembles his post-marriage weight and the next, you're at lunch with a friend who thinks it's funny to say the girls on his floor are hot... because the air conditioner is broken.

While you do have the liberty to tell your friend to kill himself for cracking such a horrible joke, your hands are tied when it comes to that guy at the meeting. Perhaps the most you could do is just scream silently at him,

"Even if your last breath depends on it... please avoid stand-up comedy, or any other form of it, at all cost."

Other than that, the only thing you could do physically is in essence, draw a friendly snicker on your face and maybe nod a bit. My second most favorite actor of all time Denzel Washington (only next to Al Pacino) does it all the time in his movies, when he's pissed off. He carves a huge smile with his mouth closed but you know, you just know that he doesn't mean even an iota of it.

It's been a good year plus for me in the corporate world though. I'd somehow grasped the tricks behind maneuvering around the different nature of comedy different groups of people demand.

When a 52 year old office colleague asks me if I'm single or married, do I answer ‘single but I used to play doubles badminton back in school'? Or whenever I'm out chilling with my friends, do I reiterate, with intent, a joke I overheard from a much senior colleague? About how Malaysians crossed the rocket in their ballots in the recent general elections... because we've been obsessed with rockets since we sent a man into space.

Answering these types of questions, which used to mystify me into deep thoughts, is now at the tips of my fingers. I've held a grasp, if not a strong one, on the concept of tailoring your gag to your audience's need.

Or so I thought until this sketch I did last week. Ajep, nice working with you on this one.


May 06, 2008

Gone were the days where I would find going to the mall an enjoyable outing.

My days as a teenager were filled with trips to the malls around PJ and Subang with my friends; in and out of comic shops, video arcades and bowling alleys.

Reaching there was never easy and there were basically three options: walking, cycling or taking the bus/train. But since we were as broke as Oliver Twist, minimizing the transportation cost was always our main concern; hence opting to walk or cycle. We needed to optimize the amount spent from our measly funds so that the bulk of it goes to the fun stuff (namely comics and video games et al, as mentioned earlier).

Walking for miles under the blazing hot sun was never pleasant even for the bravest of hearts. Yet the journeys were never short of laughter branching from our piss-taking on each other. The jangle of coins dangling from the pockets of our three quarter pants was the soundtrack of our expeditions. All amidst the puffing and panting for air. Thus most of the time, we'd be drenched in sweat by the time we reach the mall.

Nevertheless, the second we take the final chug off a shared bottle of soda, quenching every bit of our thirsty throats, we transform into rejuvenated souls as we saunter into the entrance. More often than not, half a minute under the cool breeze of the automated door and we'll be as good as new.

The most beautiful thing about going to the mall back then was that we cared very little about things beyond our domain of interests. It was always straight to The Mind Shop for the rarest comics and trading cards or WYWY for the hottest game titles in town. Everything else was only as important as getting our names jotted down by the school prefect.

It didn't matter that 90% of the time we won't end up buying any of the things that we drool over. The thrill of reaching the mall and walking hastily towards our favorite shops to see the things that we crave for neatly displayed behind glass showcases, in itself, gave a different kind of satisfaction. And especially with action figures, if we ever make a purchase, every piece of item from the experience becomes a memento; everything including the receipt, packaging and plastic bag.

And who could ever defy the effects of hormonal development in their prepubescent years. Going to the mall allowed us to feast our eyes on the beautiful young ladies of urban Klang Valley; none of them our age, which makes it a million times more exciting, really. It was the mid-90s so one could only imagine the number of women sporting those Rachel/Monica bangs; gorgeous young things they were.

Credits to them as well for assisting us in learning the new way of reading time.

"Two o’clock, two o’clock... not yours, mine! Alright, slow down... slow down... ha’alright... smooookkkkkinnnn'..."

Well, The Mask was pretty big back then.

I guess our fascination with women twice our age was simply the result of us being hated by most (okay, all) of the girls in school. Which still bewilders me actually... we never really did go any further than drawing pictures of Ken spreading his seed of love on their Barbie posters. Why all the hate when there’s so much to love anyway?

Nowadays, there’s simply nothing to look forward to upon going to the mall. Traffic jams, tight parking space, expensive parking, too many people, buildings so big you can never find your way out; the reasons are too aplenty to list down. Plus, women with huge sunglasses and hair full of volume whom we used to salivate over are no more twice our age. For they are now, our age... and rarely walks without a guy with popped up collars and spiky hair by their side.

Malaysia needs better online shopping facilities.

Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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