Lessons 2015
December 31, 2015

I was returned with this collage when I plugged my Instagram username into 2015bestnine.com this afternoon. The website (which I'm positive is littered with malwares) generates your top nine most liked pictures on Instagram, and I was surprised to see none of my selfies made it to the list.

Instagram is great for looking back into the year that has been. Unless you're like my teenage cousins who post 300 pictures a day, a few scrolls down the gallery and you're set on your first post of the year. And these are all pictures so you don't have to wrestle through unwanted Facebook links you were tagged in e.g. hair loss articles.

The year didn't start too well for me. I lost a dear friend to leukaemia. We went to the same boarding school, and you form a special bond going through the experience together. He was the funny one in the group, and we had fun completing each other’s jokes. If I had thought him nothing growing up as friends, he sure did. We miss you a lot, Zack.

It was also the year I went back to school. I didn't have any other resolution going into 2015 apart from not repeating any paper. Pursuing an MBA was never on the cards five years ago, but I guess you begin itching for a challenge once you hit 30. It has been an enriching (and gruelling) Year 1 so far, and I really look forward to Year 2... now that Accounting and Corporate Finance are out of the way.

Come to think of it, I did actually go back to school earlier in the year. A few of us ANSARA alumni were invited to give a career talk to aspiring SPM candidates at our alma mater in Kota Bharu. Walking down the corridors was an overwhelmingly nostalgic experience. It brought back memories of going to class, eating at the dining hall, and running away from the warden. So that was a wonderful reunion.

And I had a second reunion this year. The boys of my high school, SM Subang Jaya, had a ‘football gathering’ to relive our local independent league back in the mid-90s and as a result, the SMKSJ Black Football Club was born. We’ve played four friendlies so far and with a record of two wins, a draw, and a loss, I’d say we’re doing significantly better than Chelsea.

As for my barely breathing musical carer, it has been a rather fruitful year. Minetrane had a record-breaking one gig this year, but on the songwriting front, I think we have built a decent catalogue fit for at least an EP. Just in previous years, January is the time when we usually say, “THIS is our year.” Which is no surprise given half of the band are Liverpool supporters.

All in all, 2015 has been an incredible year of learning. And looking back at my Instagram timeline, I think I’d learned the most from the little girl in six of the nine pictures across the collage above. Despite being less than 2-years-old and just above 2.5-ft tall with limited vocabulary, I keep on learning new things from my daughter day after day.

No matter how long the day has been, coming home and listening to her babbling away about her little world is always fascinating. In her jumbled up sentences are words that make perfect sense. And in her youthful exuberance is the energy that keeps me going and wanting to learn more as the days go by.

Happy New Year, and here’s to a great 2016. 

The Eagle has Flown
December 27, 2015

I remember the home kit City wore when I started following the club. It was the striped-collared Umbro with an opaque crest underneath the Brother logo. This was the Kinkladze era. Our badge was round. It was clean, it was easily identifiable, and it was in your face. I loved it.

This was in the early 90s and a few years later, towards the end of the millennium, I was sent to boarding school. Access to cable TV was scarce so my 'followership' of the club was also significantly dampened.

Not that it would have made any difference if I’d stayed at home. We were lingering in the 2nd and 3rd tier of English league football. No Southeast Asian cable TV would waste airing rights money on City playing Northampton Town away. They’d rather spend it on United v. Liverpool reserves; a sound business decision.

I remained undeterred. I would scour the English newspapers at the library on Mondays to check on results. Although this was no longer feasible when we dropped to Division 2. The page only had space for results up to Division 1.

For an entire season and a half, my access to City news was just through that medium, letters and numbers on the table. One school holiday at home, on 56kbps Internet, I was shocked to learn that the club had actually been using a new badge since the previous season.

I took an immediate dislike of the new badge. Historical reference aside, the eagle felt out of place, and the three stars seemed unnecessary. (We had won nothing anyway... I was already having a tough time at school.)

But it was something that you simply just had to live with. And lived with it I did. I got the blue/maroon away Kappa kit and wore it everywhere. Outings at boarding school, class presentations in college, an Oasis gig in Chicago, I wore that Eagle proudly throughout some of my life’s most memorable milestones.

The badge grew on me over time, and I began to come to terms with it. Kit and corporate sponsors (and owners) changed over the years but the Eagle stuck firmly on each player’s chest; for all of 17 years.

When the club announced a badge redesign earlier this year, together with a supporters survey to provide direction, I felt proud. Proud to have our voices heard, and proud to see the Eagle that has been with the club’s journey up and down the league finally retired for a long-needed rest.

When the new badge were revealed on huge banners across three ends at the Etihad yesterday, a sense of nostalgia crept over me. The Eagle badge has paved the way to the club to be where it is today, and attain further success with the new badge, a mirror of the one I fell in love with as a kid.

But first we need to beat Leicester next week.

Image: mcfc.co.uk

Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

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