Sunday, April 06, 2014

MH370: It's Not, And NEVER Will Be Funny...

A few days ago, the topic on BFM's "Talkback Thursday" was (I'm paraphrasing here): "How soon is too soon to joke about MH370?"

Unfortunately, most callers went off topic when they basically took potshots at the "bungling authorities" who've been responsible for some conflicting info and flip flopping. But those who stayed on the subject basically said that a tragedy is never funny, and that there is no place for humour when the grieving has yet to end.

As someone who very much appreciates humour and deploys it regularly for just about anything, here's what I think: The loss of innocent lives is NEVER funny. For example, we don't make fun of those who died in the Highland Towers incident. It's been years, but when a documentary on it was shown on History Channel, everyone still feels the shock, pain and suffering.

The Tsunami of 2004 will never be "funny". Although the word "tsunami" itself has crept into our consciousness now, and the context of which is often times, inappropriately used; there's nothing funny in how people were swept away to their deaths.

Back to MH370, it's even made harder as we're nowhere near to finding out what really happened. There is simply no closure yet, even a month after it happened. And while it's easy to type #PrayForMH370 on your keyboard, it has not gotten easier for the families of those who're involved to understand and accept this unexpected tragedy.

So really, is it THAT hard to apply common sense in this situation and determine ourselves what's appropriate and what's utterly tasteless?

I was one of those who took potshots at the bomoh and his coconuts, but that was only because I believe the bomoh himself was insulting everyone, including the passengers' families. But really, it's just best for us to shut up and actually pray for some answers (and I mean, actual praying, not praying through hashtagging).

And so, to me.... Chef Wan's Instagram post on finding a piece of debris? TASTELESS.

Hashtag similar to #PrayForMH370, like #PrayForManU? Not funny, and VERY insulting.

But the most insulting I've come across so far is the already-infamous AirAsia inflight magazine article which includes this inset...

Yes, this is indeed beyond tasteless.

The airline though has come out to apologise and say that the whole article was prepared well in advance. As someone who've worked in publishing before, I can confirm that this is true. BUT, there was ample time for the publishers to have gone through the pages again after the incident happened to ensure that nothing sensitive was published. And I sure do hope that this was indeed written well in advance, as a potshot like this, if done intentionally, actually borders on being criminal.

I remember an incident when I was still editing FHM (Malaysia). Now, FHM is a magazine that takes the piss out of everything. Yet, when the Australia edition published some so-called "funny" captions on photos of people being crushed at Hillsborough in a 2002 issue, all hell broke loose. The stunt was described as "sickening" and "tasteless beyond belief", and there was no way to defend it. Personally, I myself wanted to punch the editor in the face.

And that's what people who even think about making fun of this tragedy really deserve...

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Hello 2014!

It just seems like yesterday that… ah, I'm sure you know all the cliches about how time really flies, bla bla bla. It's a brand new year, like it or not, and we can be blah about it or we can take this opportunity to revisit or unleash brand spanking new resolutions.

I've got a few of my own. But let me keep most to myself, and just say that I will definitely be picking up from where I left off as far as my physical transformation goes.

Last year, I started working out on a more semi-serious basis, with the dream of a cover model body as a result. Haha. A big asking, I know. But after I was hit by the running bug, which led me to starting the Larian 40 Taman movement, I felt better than ever and was raring to start something else physically challenging.

So, I started to run less and less in 2013. I probably entered three events and although I registered for a few more later in the year, I was just not fit enough for them, having cut down a lot on cardio.

So instead, I spent more time in the gym. I made the switch from Celebrity Fitness to Fitness First and kept a consistent routine while working on perfecting my form and building my general strength.

Things became a bit complicated after I moved on to a new job, though. I used to workout during lunch time, but it was not possible at the new work place. So now, I usually go to the condo gym 2-3 times on weekdays and hit the FF at IOI mall during weekends.

Overall, I'm quite satisfied with the progress I've made. I feel good, and the tshirts are getting tighter. Haha. So the goal now is just to keep going and see how ripped I can get. Yes, that also means eating "cleaner", which is not always the easiest thing to do.

I must admit that I do miss running, though. Especially running in events where the adrenaline usually pushes you past your limits. So I'm also striving to slot in a bit more running time, although not too much, so as not to lose what I gain in the gym.

Wish me luck and have a great year ahead!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Favourite Moments Of 2013

Every year since the past few years, I've done a year-end list of my favourite moments that I share on this very blog. Although I do the list mainly for fun, it's also a nice reminder of how blessed my life is.

2013 was another year of milestones and moments to cherish and remember. As usual, we had great family vacations, and ventured to a couple of new destinations; Sydney and Amsterdam.

On the career front, I moved on to a new job after more than six years, and even gave up a couple of things I never thought I would.

And there's nothing like the joys of fatherhood, especially when you have a daughter who's growing up fast and every moment spent is special in its own way. Some, you just want to rewind over and over again, knowing full well that she can't stay as your little princess forever.

But 2013 was also special to me because of the spiritual journey I went on in April to to the holy cities of Mekah and Madinah for my umrah. Yes, there was the distraction of the general elections that threw the trip into some doubt, but really, there was no hesitation in my heart that it was what I needed most in my life.

You can read the full experience HERE, but perhaps I can add that months after that wonderful journey, the biggest lessons I've learned and embraced are two of the most basic things in life; redha and syukur.

Fully embraced, they are truly keys to one's happiness. Well, at least for me. And really, when I look back on 2013, I can only be profoundly thankful for everything that's happened in my life...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Jalan-Jalan Amsterdam

I actually have an "Amsterdam" T-shirt. But it was bought at the Schiphol Airport in 2010 when I stopped over on my way to Cannes. To be honest, it's never been high on our list of must-go places. But while planning this year's year-end/winter holiday, I thought it'd be fun to consider other European cities we've not been to.

Suddenly Amsterdam went to the top of the list, simply because I've flown KLM before and quite enjoyed the experience (seriously lah, the Red Light district and "coffeeshops" NEVER entered my mind). Then we started to consider the second destination; Rome, Barcelona, Milan… but in the end, we couldn't really do without the Xmas frenzy of Oxford Street and having a cuppa at Pret, so London came back into the picture. So finally, it became an Amsterdam and London winter sojourn; ok lah kan.

The flight was slightly uncomfortable as I didn't get a seat with the fam and sat between two rather large European men. The food was so-so, but we got into Amsterdam safely and on time. Which was very early in the morning. We considered the various transportation options into the city but settled on the taxi. I had read that taxi fares could be rather costly, but it only came to Euro37. Plus, the driver was a friendly Turkish muslim guy and we immediately booked our return ride with him to avoid all the hassles.

Our hotel was the American Amsterdam Hotel right smack in the centre of town near Leidseplein. It's only minutes away from the main museums, the shopping district, the park, the Hard Rock Cafe and yes, halal makan places. So, I would highly recommend this place if you're ever in Amsterdam.

Since we got in very early, we had to wait for our room and also daylight to arrive. It was still dark at 8am, but we found a place to have breakfast, and started our jalan-jalan of Amsterdam. And here's where I go into highlight mode. But of yeah, as far as the weather went, it was mostly cold when we were there with temperatures ranging from 4-9c during the day. There were scattered showers over the four days as well, so we were in triple layers most of the time. OK, let's get on with the highlights now...

The city of bikes & canals
We were told of the exact number of canals but I keep forgetting, but Amsterdam's canals are world-famous and simply beautiful. The water's not totally clean everywhere, but more importantly, it didn't smell and actually, the canals keep the city afloat (yes, do look it up).

Amsterdam is also known as a bike city and is extremely friendly to cyclists with extensive dedicated lanes and everything that is required to make it a way of life. So, apart from looking out for the normal vehicles, be extra careful when crossing the roads as it can get really busy with dudes in suits on basikal cabuk zipping through to get to the office.

Rijksmuseum & I amsterdam
Just a few minutes from our hotel was the world-famous Rijksmuseum. And really, it's pretty easy to get anywhere on foot with plenty of accurate signages with distance guides.

Rijks is well-known for its collection of paintings from some of history's greatest artistes, including Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Vermeer. The ticket price was Euro15 per adult. FOC for kids.

We actually came back on the final day to take photos at the famous "I amsterdam" sign. Didn't realize it was there during our visit and only saw it when we were on a tour bus. Nasib tak terlepas!

And oh yeah, the Van Gogh museum's also just a few metres away from the Rijks, but we ran out of time and couldn't squeeze in a visit.

Windmills, clogs & cheese
Of course we had to see some windmills! And for that, I booked a half-day tour through Lindbergh Tours (Euro72.50 for the whole fam), which also provided a hotel pick-up. The tour would take us to Zaanse Schans, Volendam and Markem.

Holland not being a large country, the "countryside" was just mere minutes away from Amsterdam. We got on the double-decker bus, and a few minutes  later, voila!, we were already in the kampung. Haha.

First up was the windmills of Zaanse Schans. We took a nice walk across the bridge and even got to see it going up to let ships pass. The quaint town itself was picturesque and the sight of well-preserved windmills was definitely something to be photographed and remembered.

The coach then took us to the fishing village of Volendam, where we also visited a cheese factory. And yes, they also sold all sorts of delicious Dutch cheese, that I could not resist sampling, despite being lactose intolerant (please don't ask what happened to me after that).

 We also had a nice seafood lunch there that was pretty good.

And finally, we were taken to Marken, which proved to be the most fascinating drive as we cruised along the causeway. The place is a former island and is known for its wooden houses.

 It was also where we got to see clogs made.

Overall, an excellent and rather economical half-day tour that gave us a taste of everything that's authentic about Holland!

City treats & cruise
So, as I was saying, Amsterdam's rather easy to go jalan-jalan on foot. Although honestly, I never even bothered trying to remember the names of the streets. So forgive me for the lack of accurate info in that sense.

Our first "long" walk was to the Central Station which took us pass the shopping districts, flower market and cheese stores.

Then, we stumbled upon Amsterdam's own Xmas market at Leidsestraat! Not quite as magical as Champs-Elysees in Paris, but they did have some pretty good churros : ) And oh yeah, a good halal restaurant along the way as well.

But as usual, we also opted for the City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off bus. It took us to 11 stops, as well as a free tour of the Gassan diamond factory.

It was there too that we took a short walk to visit Rembrandt's House! Complete with an audio guide, it's definitely one of Amsterdam's must-dos.

The tour also included a canal cruise. And I tell ya, it was the perfect way to wind down the day. It was simply calming as we snaked our way along the canals through this charming city.

On the fourth day, we took the Cityhopper fokker flight to London and left Amsterdam with a bagful of  cool memories. And like I said, the Red Light District and the Coffeeshops were not even on the agenda : )


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