2012, In Tweets
December 31, 2012

What’s with all these 2012 reviews? Here’s mine…

January: Began my new post in Education. Here are the graduates of a welding program we're sponsoring. I like this gig. http://t.co/7bUDdt2m

February: Yogyakarta. The city that illustrates Indonesia like no other. Here's our article in  Travel 3Sixty. http://t.co/jTXdDXdi

March: Started my English class for the kids in . Thanks to Astro & the Internet, these guys speak much better English than I do.

April: I turned 29 and  threw me a surprise b'day party. Here's us and the  Blue Moon cake she made. http://t.co/fmu1rtoq

May: We went to Siem Reap. And later in the month this happened. (Hint: Agueroooooooooooooo!!!)   http://t.co/cKNJ452Z

June: Met  at KLIA. He'd just touched down and we were off to Paris to cover 1,000km of northern France. http://t.co/ddAUNITC

July:  was in town and we were invited to meet the lads. Here's us with , Kolo and some trophy. http://t.co/Tt4laj5p

August: Mocha, Capt. Planet & John John joined our family. And I got a Ceriatone amp. Here's me tweaking it with Zalo. http://t.co/I44TRE41

September: Injured my hand at futsal a week before playing my first wedding gig. It went well. My hand still hurts. http://t.co/l7enES8T

October: Kelantan lifted the Malaysia Cup to complete a treble. Here's my  article on the Red Warriors. http://t.co/NKNT8otS

November: Performed for the first time with an Indian classical group. A great preamble to our trip to Maldives later. http://t.co/nrdFLfgm

December:  welcomes , our new keyboardist. 2013 is the year we conquer The World, a cafe in Balakong we're trying to gig at.

Okay I Googled That Quote At The Bottom
December 29, 2012

If “How I Met Your Mother” was based on my life, it would be the shortest TV series ever. The pilot episode would go,

“Kids, the year was 2009. I had a thing for this girl so I asked Uncle Ikram to invite her to join us for lunch. He did, and that’s how I met your mother.”

That’s the kind of guy Ikram is. Never selfish, and always tries his best to make everyone happy. He didn’t even know my wife that well at the time. But knowing how much it would mean to me, he went ahead and risked his reputation by asking her to join his creepy group of friends for a meal.

And thanks to the number of weird guys he befriends, that wasn’t the only time he took one for the team. But seeing his loved ones happy remains at the top of his list. As his friends, Ikram has touched us in so many ways. (Sometimes too much.)

Yesterday, it was his turn, and I’ve never seen him happier. The rain had just stopped at the Tuanku Mizan Mosque in Putrajaya and the cool breeze was just perfect for the monument to host the event.

Ikram was to tie the knot with the girl of his dreams, Jannah, and the setting was as beautiful as you could imagine. Close family and friends gathered while the sun set as they become husband and wife.

As Rumi once said, “Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along.”

And in these two, I see love. Congratulations guys.

No Mall Matter
December 26, 2012

In case you haven’t noticed, we have too many shopping malls. Here’s an example.

The LDP stretches for 40km from Damansara to Puchong. Along this expressway, the distance from Sunway Pyramid to The Curve is about 17km. Within this stretch, there are exits to Subang Parade, Empire Shopping Gallery, Paradigm Mall, Citta Mall, Tropicana City Mall, 1 Utama, IPC Shopping Centre and e@Curve (formerly known as Cineleisure Damansara -- which obviously made less sense than “e-at-curve”).

That’s a total of 10 malls branching out of a 17km road. If they are to be spaced evenly, that’s about one mall for every 1.7km. Getting from one mall to another would take no more than a 15-minute walk. Or a 10-minute drive. Or a 5-minute train ride. Or a RM25 ride on a taxi with a “broken” meter.

In other words, close enough for the cabbie to not overcharge you more.

So do we need that many malls? Do we need that many buildings designed with the same template of shops mirroring each other at such close proximity? We can only watch so many movies and consume so much bubble tea.

Arguably, we have some of the highest density of malls per distance ratio anywhere in the world. Our townships have evolved to become urban jungles of commercial districts sprawling uncontrollably like the hair on David Hasselhoff’s chest.

And it’s killing the soul and character that used to define us. “Less is more” is dead. More is always more. Plus with approval for credit cards becoming easier than issuance of birth certificates, our shopping habit isn’t making the situation any better.

Earlier this year, CNN Travel ranked Kuala Lumpur at number four in their list of “10 Best Shopping Cities in the World” -- after New York, Tokyo and London. The article also mentioned that three of the 10 biggest malls in the world are in KL.

For a country that has its own Book of Records that acknowledges “largest dinner” and “youngest to pull a car”, CNN’s recognition was an orgasmic feat. Not to mention that Singapore didn’t even make it to the top 10.

But to be known for having the largest number of megamalls with the largest number of shops and the largest number of parking lots, is probably just that. An achievement many others can achieve given the time, space, and money.

Is it a sign of economic growth? Maybe. Is it a sign of a nation giving in to the power of commercialism? I don’t care. We did better than Singapore in that CNN list.

We Are What We Watch
December 23, 2012

As if by sheer coincidence, the day the Mayans (i.e. the media) had predicted for apocalypse to take place, was also the day South Korean phenomenon Psy made history when "Gangnam Style" became the most viewed video on YouTube with 1,000,000,000 hits.

December 21st, 2012 shall forever be remembered as the day a Korean man pretending to ride a horse became the most recognizable image in the world. Psy has now probably joined the ranks of Superman, Hulk Hogan and Tony Fernandes as some of the most identifiable figures in history.

Given the attention that the video got, it comes as no surprise that Gangnam reached a billion views. My younger cousins alone contributed to 900 million of them.

But I was intrigued to know who the runners-up were. So I did some research – on Wikipedia -- and learned that following are the other most viewed YouTube videos and their respective hit figures.

1. Psy – Gangnam Style (1 billion)
2. Justin Bieber – Baby (803 million)
3. Jennifer Lopez – On the Floor (623 million)
4. Eminem – Love the Way You Lie (516 million)
5. Charlie Bit My Finger (503 million)

Among the five, I have never seen the Justin Bieber and Eminem videos. I know the songs. They’re played incessantly on the radio and at shopping malls. And links to the videos have appeared in one way or another. But I was never drawn to click, let alone specifically search for them (unlike On the Floor).

In a way, the list above illustrates the demographics of people who spend their time on YouTube. And it’s probably safe to conclude that the majority consist of members of our younger generations e.g. college undergraduates, school students.

Is this a cause for concern? The stuff our children are watching?

Probably. Looking at the trend, I’m guessing we would see the likes of Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj if we go further down the list. While they might look the same, I’d much rather have Cookie Monster or Oscar the Grouch up there.

I Thought the World Ended on Monday
December 21, 2012

Earlier this week, photo-sharing community Instagram updated its Terms of Service to include the following clause,

"You hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the content that you post on or through the service"

Painstakingly written by their lawyers, the line basically means that they can sell your photos and make money out of them. That’s right. That photo you took while stuck on the road last Friday evening could be sold to Traffic Jam magazine.

I for one wasn’t too worried with the change because I don’t see my photos being valued more than the first prints of Snooki’s autobiography. But I could see how the news was a cause for concern for users who do upload worthy content onto the social network. National Geographic for example, has suspended their account in view of this development.

For regular users like myself however, there’s probably not much reason to cry foul over Instagram’s devious deed. They have already provided us with a free app that could make our house cats look like Siberian tigers. Not to mention that RM799 Samsung phones can now take photos like vintage 1965 Polaroid cameras.

But not many saw it that way. Instagram suffered a backlash and people were closing their accounts left and right and venting out about how Facebook, who acquired Instagram in April, was trying to make a return out of their investment -- which I’m guessing was the primary reason of purchasing the company for a billion dollars. Most of these rants, of course, took place on Facebook.

In light of the situation, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has come out to apologize and promise that they will revert to the old clause. (Heck they could have already said that they can sell our photos since the very beginning.)

The reactions to his statement have thus far been mixed. And the saga continues.

With only three followers on Instagram, I’m probably not in the best position to comment further on the issue. But I do hope that this won’t be a trend among app makers. The last thing I want is Draw Something selling my drawings to Badly Drawn Penis magazine.

Why I Could've Been a Better 6-year-old
December 20, 2012

When I was a child, I used to ask the adults around me this question,

"Why are you so tired?"

This includes my uncles and aunts whom I saw a lot at the time. My parents would drop me and my little brother at our grandparents’ place in the morning so we were always there to see people going in and out of the house for work. And they looked tired all the time.

I would often continue, 

"Why are you so tired? You go to the office -- which has air-conditioning all day -- sit on your desk, eat lunch, sit on your desk, and come back. I'm the one who’ve been running in the hot sun since morning. Shouldn’t I be the one lying flat in front of the TV refusing to take myself to the playground instead?"

As you can see, this conversation took place later in the afternoon, when they’d just got back from work, and the last thing they wanted was a kid to pester them endlessly. But I was six, and I had the empathy of a guillotine executioner. Plus to a 6-year-old, spending eight hours in an air-conditioned environment is no excuse to be tired.

So these days whenever I come back from the office, after an entire day of meetings and 17 hours in traffic, practically crawling into the house and onto the couch, I often look back to this period of my childhood and tell myself,

"I hate you."

Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

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