The first of May might not have meant much for most people out there.

But Greeks held that day to their utmost importance this year, as riots took place to demonstrate against the government for the country's bankruptcy. And on 5th May, they held a nationwide protest.

I have been following the news just to find out what will happen to Greece if it does go bankrupt. Who will own the country then? Will it be wiped out the map? Will the people turn into slaves? Or will some Arab or Russian billionaire buy the country? Yes, i am THAT naive in world economics.

It comes to a boring conclusion. A bail out. Well, of course i expected Superman to come and rescue the Greek people and expel the perpetrators from the country, but he the man who wears his red spandex outside was nowhere to be seen.

So what really happened? To explain it in simpler words, the Greek government overspent in some large scale projects (in other words, profligacy of the government), such as the Olympics in Athens in 2004 which went over the budget according to the BBC, just to state an example, and was not able to repay the loans and bonds, made easier to borrow due to Greece's membership in the Eurozone, which had swelled due to the increasing interest rates. Plus, tax evasion cost the government about 40 billion euros, a white collar crime committed by the higher hierarchy of society ; doctors, lawyers, engineers.

The economy downgraded Greek citizens to the point of being peasants for the government. Pay cuts, tax hikes, pensions reduction were some of the austerity measures planned by the current government. The hardworking people of Greece who had done nothing wrong are suffering while those criminals run away without any trace of evidence. I've got sympathy for the current socialist ruling party of Greece because the dirty job of overspending was done by the previous government, the New Democracy.

Owh Superman or maybe Supergrandwoman did arrive in the form of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. However she is working with an indifferent partner, something like a Superman-Lex Luthor partnership. Yes, it's the IMF. IMF disguises as a friend who comes to you and asks you, 'You look rather penniless, want some money?', only to stab you with a high interest rate later. Ah long, big time. As a result the public sector is affected. For example, the south American countries and some other countries which have resorted to the help of IMF have higher cases of tuberculosis due to the impairment of the health system which are not rich enough to supply adequate medication to save the population.

So the German parliament have decided to fund part of the bailout of Greece, along with the IMF which in turn angers the German population. Why? Because it's the taxes of the hardworking Germans which are being used to rescue Greece. And what if Greece won't be able to pay them back? Would Germany itself become bankrupt in the future? Greeks are also against the help of the IMF for it would only result in higher debt.

Angela Merkel said they have no choice. Anyone could turn a blind eye on Greece but the risk of Euro collapse would be higher if they did so and a chain reaction of economic breakdown would ensure. Germans have lambasted the move, while some other people have lauded the approach. Some Germans want a return back to Deutschmark, so that they won't be responsible the next time a European country goes bankrupt.

This event draws parallels with the American economic crisis 2-3 years ago. However that was worse. The story is too long to tell but i will try to sum it up in 2 paragraphs. Mortgage loans or housing loans were on the up in the early half of the decade, and as a result a lot of houses were built for the anticipation of the same trend in the next half. Banks invested by buying theses housing areas but this oversupply of houses resulted in a reduced value or price of these settlements. So banks started to give out subprime mortgage loans, loans given to those who have an unfavourable credit ratings (poor earners who were tricked by these money moguls) with adjustable-rate mortgage in order to sell these houses. So in the long run, they are paying more than the initial value of the house due to the hikes of interests.

Banks do that to cover their own faults in finances and their debts, and certainly, in order to earn more. As expected, these people are not able to refinance their loans as they were tricked by the banks. Banks take back the houses and made them theirs but at the same time, the banks were running on empty as their initial investment or overspending of the housing areas were at a loss. So here comes Captain America, George W. Bush to the rescue!

He sanctioned a $700 billion USD bailout of the banks that were affected in the crisis and whose money is that? It's the money of the hardworking people of America. Some of the people involved might get a slice out of the deal. One of the banks, AIG, which sponsored the best club in the universe (Manchester United) decided to hand out part of the money as bonuses to its financial service division. The criminals ran away, again.

I think Malaysia has overspent in the Dr M regime, only to be saved, according to Tengku Razaleigh by the money generated from Petronas and its petroleum industry. It was risky but how else could you describe Dr M.

Believe me, Dubai will be the next to crumble. Not that i pray for it, but their finances have been unstable lately and the fact that they are working with American 'financial experts' is a big risk for their economy.

In other unrelated news, the deputy prime minister of the new British government, Nick Clegg decided to give power to the people by allowing them to name the laws which they want to be scrapped. So if you don't like this or that particular law, drop the new government a message and they will scrap it. However i think this is just ridiculous. It's the case of the new government trying to give that first impression on the people. If a law were to be scrapped, then it has to go through a bureaucratic process, i would think, before it is finally dropped so that they could discuss the pros and cons rather than practice a veto power in the parliament which requires 2/3 of the votes of the ruling party.

Secondly, some might have an impression that a government which needs to be told of which laws that need to be scrapped is a lazy and incompetent government. Why couldn't they think of it themselves?

It pains to be a European at this very moment. In the United Kingdom you can express your views on the laws.

While in Malaysia, the people are so rich they are allowed to gamble in the world cup. I can't understand the logic of 'legalising' gambling. Why would they want to curb 'illegal gambling' during the world cup only to allow a 'legal form' of gambling? Why don't they just curb gambling all together, because these gambling addicts will eventually go gambling on the internet? By allowing only one license to that tycoon to handle world cup gambling, it means that all other gambling businesses, big or small for the world cup may be sued as they will be qualified as criminals. This is a monopoly of business which is punishable under US laws (Microsoft was sued once for this).

But in the end, Malaysians are not allowed to tell the government of the laws they want to be scrapped. So live with it. Gambling is legal for the world cup if you've got license.

PS : A rather incoherent post with a rather unrelated title. I hate editing, that's why i haven't written for a very long time because i don't want my articles to be as lengthy as this one. It was partly due to some other commitments too :). However i hope you are able to finish reading it.

PS : I highly recommend watching Michael Moore's Capitalism : A love story.
Although World Teacher's Day is celebrated on the 5th of October, it is celebrated on the 16th of May every year in Malaysia, coinciding with the date the Razak Report, which according to Wikipedia was one of the four documents that reformed the Malaysian Education system, was announced. It included the formation of a single system of national education, Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction, formation of national and national-type schools (sekolah jenis kebangsaan).

That's a piece of history for you, if you were, or are a part of this education system.

I would imagine that the ideal situation for a teacher is for him or her to teach an elite school with good or even excellent students, where the facilities are A++ and the food are great. But of course, there are those stuck in rural areas where teaching is made hard due to the lack of basics of pre school education among students and an uncomfortable teaching atmosphere. I would certainly opt for former.

Regardless, teachers are the ones who can boast of producing all the talents you see around you.

But teaching these days is regarded as a second rated profession, a profession that earns little, so on and so forth, as all the stereotypes go. When it comes the time to choose a profession, of course the 'first class' choices would be these : doctors, engineers, lawyers and accountants. I would put teaching on par with those professions, as educating people is no easy job. The process of knowledge transmission of course requires you to be the master of your own circle before you could pass it down to others, and additionally, that process requires a methodological approach in order for them to understand.

There have been ups and downs of education in Malaysia. I still remember when i fully supported Dr M's suggestion of PPSMI and was very disappointed with the final resolution. Then i asked a friend whose mother is teacher in a rural area and he told me some of her students can't even understand the subjects even when they were taught in Bahasa Melayu. So how could they possibly understand Maths and Science in English? By saying that, i don't mean to belittle them but some of us are luckier to have come from families with an educated background.

Of course, the main goal you often hear of teaching is the 3M policy. Membaca, Menulis, Mengira. We are still a developing country so i guess it's better for us to stick to BM as the medium of teaching. It is important for the government to stick to their principles as frequent policy changes might affect the quality of teaching itself.

Then there's the issue of lack of male teachers in Malaysia, with a possibility of going extinct in 20 years time. This was in last year's News Straits Times, around August, which became one of the talking points with a friend in a Yellow Cab pizza restaurant in KL. According to his blog, it is understandable that males are traditionally the bread winners in the family, and a teacher does not earn much and therefore it becomes rather unpopular among males. A government spokesperson commented that a fresh graduate could earn up to almost RM2,600 in the link i gave you. The question is, would there be a side effect of having only female teachers in school? Would all the male students become girlish after their 11 year study in the Malaysian education system in the future? I don't know the answers, but i do want the presence of male teachers around schools just for the balance of it all.

The title of this post is dedicated to this above paragraph. Completely misleading title if you had expected something else.

For a comeback, i think i just blabbed too much. I am lucky to be taught by excellent teachers all my life compared to others who never went to school or have to stop due to financial constraints of their families. Education is everything and informally, it is a life long process from birth to death which starts from the basics taught in school.

To all my teachers, the human engineers, although i doubt there are any reading this, and to all the teachers out there, happy teacher's day.
Deep inside the hearts of inhabitants of any tropical or hot country lie that childish wish for snow; to be sunk in the depths of waist level thick snow, snowball battles or quite simply to catch a gaze of icy flakes falling down from the gloomy sky. I was practically a snow virgin when i arrived : never been touched, kissed or hugged by snow, and so were most of my friends. It's just one of these images hung inside the head of those wanting to study overseas. The other image is probably the picture of yourself, feeding pigeons in a large city square somewhere unknown, somewhere foreign with historical buildings as the backdrop. Well, i saw the snow and even got bored of it at one stage, but there were no pigeons here in Volgograd, probably because there are no city squares to feed them.

Me? I imagined watching my beloved Liverpool FC at Anfield week in and week out. I would describe that as a 'not-so-noble' intention to study overseas and eventually i got to study here in Russia. Of course i would have loved to study in Liverpool, but i am lucky enough to be where i am today.

After 6 years of Russian winter, it should be enough to qualify us as modern day eskimoes. They should hand me a certificate or something, with such proclamation :

‘Congratulations for being part of the Eskimo brotherhood. May the thought of the extreme weather remind you of us wherever your legs take you to on this planet.’

The sun becomes a little shy and the rays of light penetrate the clouds only a few hours a day. At times the sun ablazes itself on a cold winter day, but even the slightest slice of warmth could hardly be felt.

So you have a Malaysian trying to adapt himself in an alien environment. He wears a thick jackets to make himself look extra cuddly. He fashions a snow cap to so that his brain won't freeze. Earmuffs don't apply with his taste. Gloves and socks to prevent the frost from biting his fingers and toes. A decently thick pair of shoes And that custom made beard would be an extra help to make yourself warm, well a bit at least. He steps out of the hostel, and the breeze enters his allergic rhinitised nose, and that makes it extra hard to breath. Some surfaces are better left for skating purposes, but he has to try to balance himself on them because at times it's the only route.

At times, it was pretty much challenging to go to class, but it was all compensated by the beauty of observing the seas of white and the endless stretch of snow. There was this moment, in my last winter when the snow, trapped and hanged on tree branches melted and afterwards crystallized to become tree shaped diamonds glistening, reflecting the sunlight as it stood there in between the seas of snow. Unfortunately, i forgot to bring my camera and the crystallized trees disappeared the next day. And if you are observant, you will realize that the snowflakes have different shapes, as if there were thousands of moulds for these snowflakes up there in the sky.

However, winter has always been pictured as a time of distress, the delicate balance of night and day lost with a predominance of the moonlight over the sunlight. But it's actually a 'spring' for Muslims, as mentioned by the Muslim theologian Hasan al-Basri, “the best time for the Mu’min is the Winter. Its night is long so he does Qiyaam, and its day is short so he fasts it.” As a guy who loves his home more than the outdoors, i can't give a better reason of not going out for any kind of invitation while winter's pouring through the window pane. Hibernation is the word commonly used.

Legend has it that during the second world war, the Russians were up against a much superior force in the form of the Nazi army. They were no match for them in terms of war machines, the Germans were more sophisticated, equipped with weaponary Russians could only dream of having at that time. But winter struck, and it was a wicked winter in Stalingrad (now known as Volgograd), which the Germans were invading. They never had such extreme weather there and with nature's help, the Russians fought back and eventually the Nazis were defeated. It's amazing how weather is able to affect such an outcome in history.

Above all else, i remembered a khutbah in the mosque a few years back here in Volgograd, of the allegory of the four seasons to life itself. Spring is compared to childhood when everything starts to bud out from the trees, summer as adult life full of responsibilities, and autumn as the time when we are already old, waiting for the death to come, which is winter, when the nature appears to be dead. So if you have not prepared yourself for the impending winter; by buying jackets, gloves and thick socks, you will be facing winter with difficulty. The same goes to life. If you're prepared thoroughly by performing the good deeds and leaving the bad aside, then God willingly, you will have a good time in the hereafter after death has been prescribed upon you. Winter is followed by spring, when everything will come back to life again. The trees which were better prepared, the ones that stored the bulk of food for them to survive the winter comes back to life happily.

Of course, death is not the end of the journey, and it's the same for us humans, when we will be raised back up to face the Creator after death, to be judged by Him, whether our lives were fruitful or we were just quenching our desires. Most people question the realities of life after death. And it's nothing new. There are verses which the Prophet Muhammad would have probably recited to the unbelievers of life after death, of resurrection, for them to reflect and think.

41 : 39 And among His Signs in this: thou seest the earth barren and desolate; but when We send down rain to it, it is stirred to life and yields increase. Truly, He Who gives life to the (dead) earth can surely give life to (men) who are dead. For He has power over all things.

Another verse which interests me regarding the resurrection is the Prophet Ibrahim A.S and his request to observe resurrection directly from Allah.

2 : 260 And (remember) when Ibrahim said, "My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead.'' He (Allah) said: "Do you not believe'' He (Ibrahim) said: "Yes (I believe), but to be stronger in faith.'' He said: "Take four birds, then cause them to incline towards you (then slaughter them, cut them into pieces), and then put a portion of them on every hill, and call them, they will come to you in haste. And know that Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.'

There are a few theories of why the Prophet Ibrahim would ask such a favour. Some say he stumbled upon a dead body or a donkey carcass or a dead fish; some theorize that it was because Namruz or Nimrod had denied his claim of life after death. But humans are reckless beings, and some would not believe that such event would take place. And regret would eventually engrave them when the time finally comes.

32 : 12 If only thou couldst see when the guilty ones will bend low their heads before their Lord, (saying:) "Our Lord! We have seen and we have heard: Now then send us back (to the world): we will work righteousness: for we do indeed (now) believe."

Some things happen for us to reflect as to why God had planned something in a particular way. And in this case, we could take heed from nature's advice, that's spring comes after winter. That life exists after death.

I am obliged to say sorry to those who frequently visit my blog and found nothing updated. I have been busy, but i don't think that's a viable reason for me not to update my blog.

Actually i have a bulk of ideas ( cliche) which have been jotted down some ways or another. I have written some half way, so i need some editing perhaps. All in all, i am just making up excuses and not getting the job done. I love to write but i don't like to edit. So here's one i spent time writing on a few hours ago, unedited. So if there are any grammatical errors, or spelling or whatever, i just hope you understand what i am trying to convey because it has been awhile and the writing engines have dampened a bit.

Hopefully i will update my blog consistently.
"How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?"-Bob Dylan , 'Blowin in the wind'.

What defines a man? Is it due to his ever growing beard or the receding hairlines? Or is it because he reads newspaper and is enthralled by politics? Or because of his voice, when he talks and everyone else listens to him?

There are clear signs which signify the metamorphosis of a boy to a teenager. Voice becomes husky. Hair starts to bud out in barren places before. And you start to have a hobby; collecting stamps, reading, music, you know, the cliche stuff. The pimples. Hormones go haywire and you start peeking at the opposite sex. However, the jump from being a mere teenager to a man is a mystifying leap in a boy's life. Generations after generations, the baton is passed down from the grandfather to the father, and the father then passes it down to the son. Like a 4x100m relay.

'Hey son. Take this baton. You're a man now. Go, and change the world.'

The thing is, nobody really knows when they'll accept that baton of manhood. The borderline between a teenager and an adult or a man is obscured in the clouds.

But really, tell me, what defines a man? Car loans? Mortgages? Can you say that a man is a male who starts paying bills on his own? Or the one who ties the knot and commits himself to a girl? Or is a man the person who summons all of his wisdom to solve all the problems he faces? Or when he decides to have kids of his own?

Those questions were rather rhetorical. Nobody really knows when does he become a man. And Bob Dylan answers the question in the same song, 'the answer my friend is blowing in the wind.'

And as for me, there are certain things which still spark that youthful exuberance, that, of course, excludes my looks because i do look like a man in a midlife crisis; the receding hairline, untrimmed edges of my beard, the thick lens which adorn my glasses. I still support the same Liverpool side, i still listen to some music from my youth, i still waste a lot of my time, which i think a man should not be doing since he knows there are much better things to do, like saving the universe. Well, i still buy S-sized t-shirts thinking that my body is as sexy as it was 4 or 5 years ago. And i only realized that my dream of becoming a musician passed away 3 years ago, all the time i was already deep into studying medicine.

I am still stuck in that man-boy realm, that intermediate stage which neither defines me as a youth nor a man.

Of course, i am waiting for that signal too, the signal for me to take hold of the baton and become a man by heart and by soul. That's the real mysterious part, because the signal almost always never comes. It's just pure instincts, i guess, which make a man realize he has entered a new phase of his life, manhood. The Qur'an states that a man would fully attain the age of full strength at 40, an age where one could assume that he has enough experience to weigh and solve each problem as it arrives at his doorstep. The Prophet received the first revelation when he was forty himself, while meditating in a cave on Mount Hira'.

46:15 We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, "O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favour which Thou has bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as Thou mayest approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to Thee and truly do I bow (to Thee) in Islam."

And as Russia celebrates its Men's day on the 23rd of February (actually it's a day to celebrate people involved with the army, but has evolved to become the men's day), i would like to wish all my male friends, may Allah make us more bold in our judgement, more wisdomful and hopefully more handsome for the years to come. Let us all become better people.

Happy men's day.
At long last, i've arrived to room 92 on Hiroshima Street 8 on a cold, frosty evening on the 5th of February, which was a Friday. My home, my shelter. I've got a good few months left to call it my home, and then i'm off for good. The icy cold air wafting through the scotch taped creases of the old wooden framed windows reminds of the Dublin nights i had in a friend's apartment a few days ago. The cold in Dublin was much more severe since there was no centralized heating system in that apartment, so we had to envelope ourselves in sleeping bags to warm ourselves for dreamland. I've always thought that sleeping bags were meant for outdoors ; jungles or forrests or expeditions, so my first experience of sleeping in those cosy cocoons is actually a contrast to my old presumption. After almost 6 years in Russia, i've finally realized there are better things here, and the centralized heating system is just an example of how some things are more efficient (there's an abundance of natural resources like gas and petroleum here).

After visiting Spain and Italy in 2006 and 2007 respectively, i've lost quite an appetite to travel European cities since all i saw were old historical buildings and i'm not that much into architecture. But it's my last winter, so i thought, 'Well, this might just be the last chance to travel Europe', and so i did go to a few cities in the space of 2 weeks with a few old friends of mine. Berlin, London, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, York, Dublin, The Burren, Belfast. By far this was the best since there's a blend of visiting a country (England) you know so well of, meeting a lot of old friends and seeing new ones, and we not only visited the cities to go shopping, but there's a slice of nature in our visits to the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland and the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. Plus, i really liked the walking tour of Berlin in which we almost froze to death in that cold Berlin winter. The Glasweigian tour guide explained a lot about the history of Berlin and the tour was interesting; both the Scottish accent and the information.

The Cities

Of all the cities, Manchester was a bit dull and gloomy. We arrived at around 3 in the morning and a friend of a friend took us to their house for the night by bus. I still remember a half sober guy entering the double deckered bus with Chuck Palahniuk's majestic 'Choke' cramped in between his arm and body, and along the way, the city looked zombified in one way or the other, on the verge of apocalypse. 'It's 3 in the morning, too early to judge', my curious mind whispered. But after a day in Manchester, i realized that the city was not really buzzing, and the only thing appearing in my head was Joy Division's (a Mancunian band) classic song, 'Love will tear us apart', a dark, gothic tune which exemplifies the atmosphere in Manchester. But besides Joy Division, Manchester have spawned other more 'joyful' bands like the Smiths and Bee Gees. Nevertheless, i enjoyed the company of one of my friends currently studying in Manchester and the stretch of road with halal restaurants decorating the streets on your right as well as on your left. The halal food heaven in the UK. We ate a plate of pilau rice plus half a chicken for dinner, but that plate of rice is actually an amount to serve 2 males or 3 females. I even went to Old Trafford on the eve of the Manchester derby and met a friend who was attending the game. 'I've shopped 3 times in 2 days at this Megastore'. he proudly mentioned. That was how fanatic he was. The other cities were typical of other European cities i've been to; old buildings and a lot of history which don't really interest me. All the cities were beautiful, of course and i loved all of them.

Special mention goes to the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant's causeway in Northern Ireland and the Irish countryside (since we travelled by car and were able to enjoy the green fields and sheeps of Ireland!). They were all really beautiful. Nature never fails to amaze me. The marvellous natural architecture, of cliffs and weirdly shaped stones, of the green grass which could be mistaken for an artificial Persian rug, the azure skies with fluffy clouds which were lower than any other clouds i've seen. God's creativity, God's artistry.


There are 2 religions in the UK. The first is divine faith and second, football. I was lucky enough to be in Manchester on the night of the Manchester derby, and there were loads of people parking their cars miles away and others who live in that 1-2 km radius from Old trafford who would walk all their way to the stadium. 'That's passion for you,' retorted my friend after i asked him on why they would do such things as we passed by the stadium on our way back to his house. It's like a communion, a congregation of sorts. It was like a divine event of significant proportions. Instead of singing of saints and prophets, they would chorus about their idols; Ryan Giggs the legendary winger, Paul Scholes who is bad at tackling, so on and so forth. Regarding the divine faith, i was perplexed to find a multi faith prayer room in one of the shopping centres in the UK. It was an empty room with wooden floors and the direction to the Qibla stamped on the ceiling (the direction Muslims pray to, which points to the Kaabah in Mekah), a large cross, a statue of Jesus and an ablution room all inside the prayer room. Obviously, Muslims would use it more frequently since we are obliged to pray 5 times a day. And the room itself was enough to convince me of the level of religious tolerance there in the UK. However, i proceeded to ask my friend whether there's any religious persecution there to confirm my theory and he answered,'There's no such thing as that.' I have to say at this point i could be best described as 'dinosaur masuk pekan' or 'peghak' in my native language. That was really something new to me.

The People

The English people are a really nice bunch. They say 'sorry','hello' and 'thank you' freely and are super polite. Smiles are always on their faces. Well, maybe you've had sour experiences but i never had any with any of them. There were voices in the past that told me that Malaysians are the most polite, but I still have this vivid memory of a bunch of punks in Alor Setar swarming around a tall white man, jumping around him like some crazy chimpanzees and screaming 'White trash' all the while and some other experiences that show that Malaysians are not that friendly and not that polite. It was embarrassing to see such things and i do wonder why Malaysians (including me) could not be that polite like the British are. Well of course it would be easier to appreciate their kindness since there was no language barrier, but i still think they are a very nice bunch. An Italian or a Spaniard might have been much more kind and polite, but i might have been unable to appreciate them. It was also nice to see the parents teaching their kids about animals at the Natural History Museum. 'Marsupials are animals that have pockets in the front.' I would love to tag along with them, but that would qualify me as a stalker.

And oh, i really do like the British accent. It still sounds polite even when you try to sound rude. Special mention goes to the Anfield stadium tour guide in Liverpool. I thought he spoke a different language all together. Scouse accent was gibberish and very hard to comprehend, and so is the Irish accent. I've watched interviews with Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher but that was just too hard to understand. I just gave up. I've always preferred stadium tours without tour guides like i had in Madrid and Barcelona.


It was actually a tribal tour of the UK. My tribe was the 'MRSM Langkawi SPM '03'. My travelling mates were all from the same school and we went on to meet our old friends in the UK and Ireland. Something you might label as 'asobiyah' in Arabic. Hilarious, i have to say. But yeah, it was really fun to meet old friends and share our experiences. And while i was about to leave the UK, a friend texted me of his visit to the UK in early February. 'Jom lepak'. But of course, i didn't have time for that. He eventually called me from London today, and had the guts to label my voice as lembut ('hang buat suara lembut apa ni dalam fon', he asked me), in other words, he thought i sounded like a girl or a sissy. To Rashdan Saad, thanks for the tour of Manchester, pilaf rice and faluda, and the knowledge you shared; to Kodiang, thanks for the fish and chips and teaching me that weird pose; to Bett and her friend, thanks for finding a place to stay in Leeds and all the foods-spaghetti and black pepper chicken, popiah, burgers and everything else; to Durar Aqilah thanks for all the foods too-hash brownies and chicken massala helped us along the way; to Aimie for taking us around the cool RCSI campus; and last but not least, to Moke for the sleeping bags and the chicken tandoori. And to Raihan and Nabilah for the foods on our journey (me and Yat) back home to Volgograd. I mentioned food most of the time, but your presence meant much more than all the food put together for a kenduri kahwin (what the heck). Thanks a lot. I really appreciate it. May Allah bless you all. And to the others i met along the way, thanks a lot. I truly appreciate it.

To Raihan, Yat, Nas and Acap, you guys were wonderful travelmates.

And as the cloudless blue skies and the radiant waves of cold air welcome me to Volgograd, i realized that i have only a few months left here. There's a lot of work need to be done.

Of all spectrums and variations of emotions that exist, love remains a strong and powerful feeling which anyone anywhere could relate to.

We are all pumped up, hyped up to believe that love, with all its perfectness and splendour to arrive at our feet, kneeling down, proposing with sugary sweet words, a magnificent 27 karat gold mounted with a blinding bright diamond and to expect a romantic reply as simple as 'i do'.

Awwww. How Schweeeet.

We are systematized to believe that our soulmates would come and sweep us off the ground through various writings, songs, poems and movies. A girl daydreams of Prince Charming or Edward Cullen (just to hike up visitors to this blog), handsome, macho, perfect eyes, biceps and triceps as large as 5 litre mineral water bottles, with six packs worth of abdomen, romantic and all that jazz. While a boy conjures up an image of their fantasy Sleeping Beauty, or Rapunzel, skin as white as snow (no racism here, if your choice is chocolate skin, then make yourself at home), sweet, beautiful, cute, nice, excellent at cooking and all that jazz. There is, of course, that search for perfectness, which i assume is normal, as nobody really wants a semi rotten apple for their dinner.

But of course everything is rosy when you're in love. You imagine the snow falling down as 7e slurpees. You don't mind the sun shining bright and hot and your skin goes all sticky sweaty wet because you believe it's your source of vitamin D. Your finger bleeds, but you say that's the colour of love flowing down. Quite simply, the world and all its inhabitants don't really exist, except the two of you. The hard cold facts of reality don't really bother you. Of course, all that comes before the package called 'maturity' arrives at your doorstep, which will be attained when the right time passes by.

So, what if your partner comes up to you and reveals his or her bad habit honestly. It's like being hit hard with one negative attribute or habit, when you're like thinking the sky is blue all day long.

'We have been going on for quite some time. I want to let you know something. I am..uh..diagnosed with CFO. That's the acronym for chronic farting disorder. I've been taking medications each time we meet. There are days when it blows like a machine gun, some days it's like the whisper of the wind. Most of the time, it's an atomic explosion. Well, there are of course those occasional engine start up sounds. Occurences coincide with inadequate intake of medications but i've learned to control it throughout the years through farthotherapy, preferring the silent smooth type. Don't get me started about the smell. There was this one night, i couldn't quite sleep, so i forced myself to fart just to make me faint.'

Of course, CFO doesn't exist in ICD-10, which is the acronym for international classification of diseases. It's easy to like someone for their positive traits, but the fact that every Tom, Dick, Harry and Suzie have bad attributes should also be put into perspective.

Whatever it is, love is simply overrated these days. From a historical point of view, relationships of the past have been arranged by parents and surprisingly, although i don't have statistics, i think most of them turned out well and spawned numerous writings of unrequited love of their ex lovers. I try being fair here, by not being a male chauvinist who is often referred to a pinkish animal that feeds on its own excrements or a female activist who screams for gender 'equality', which for me, is such a waste of time. Both contribute to the downfall of the institution of relationships equally because there are desires and the neverending search for the perfect love. Desires, in this context, refer to sex and exclusively sex for men (food comes a close second) and for women, they require their partners to satisfy each and every single need of theirs, according to this Allan Pease guy.

But of course, in the end, the ones with the most desires eventually contribute more to the divorce rates. I have a unofficially weak statistic to prove my theory. In the USA alone, 50 % of marriages end up in divorce, with 70 % of them being initiated by yes, you guess it right, women because the more desires you have, the more unsatisfied you are when they are left unfulfilled. Now call me a male chauvinist, but women are a demanding bunch and i've got statistics on my side! Boohoo! It's a touche too cliche to think of men as playboys but i have to say there are guys who feed on their egos and go on a love rampages, they will never be satisfied with one woman. They like to test their proficiency in the language of romance. These people would marry up to 10 women if the law says so. I grew up living with this fact in my head, too. That's why i found Hamka's version of love from the male perspective to be enlightening and astonishing, since 'Tenggelamnya Kapal van Der Wijck' was written in 1937. Additionally, i found El Sharizi Habiburrahman (hopefully i got that right) to be heavily influenced by his writings. Hamka wrote : -

'Laki-laki bilamana telah menentukan cintanya untuk seorang perempuan, maka perempuan itu mesti jadi haknya seorang, tak boleh orang lain hendak ikut berkonsi dengan dia. Jika perempuan itu cantik, maka kecantikannya biarlah diketahui olehnya seorang..Sebab itu, kalau ada orang lain yang hendak memuji kecintaannya,...semua itu tidaklah diterima oleh laki-laki yang mencintainya tadi.'

Another stupid invention related to the love memorabilia is something called 'prenupts' or prenuptial agreement. It's a pre marriage deal of property division and spousal support if anything goes wrong. My lawyer friend considers this as a 'preparation for an inevitable future divorce'. It's like saying, 'We are going to divorce anyway sometime in the future, why not just sign it so that we could reduce any friction when we go our seperate ways.' Another friend, a law student in UIA is more pragmatic, saying that it protects men equally as it protects women because women tend to demand for everything in a divorce. Men can declare what items are theirs before marriage so that there are no ridiculous demands upon a beak up. I say, it's just stupid. You're entering something as sacred as marriage, and you're preparing for a possible divorce even before you recite the solemn oath of 'til death do us apart'?

No wonder there's a spike of single guys these days, and god only knows whether i'll be contributing to an increment of such statistics. Of course i am not accusing only you of having such desires or motivation to start of a relationship slash marriage slash I have my own preferences, which i'd rather not divulge here on my blog. I keep those preferences to myself, as i am an introvert and that's what introverts do. But the fact is simple, I am not trying to prove there's a prevelant role of either the female or male gender contributing to divorce or a downfall of a relationship. All i can say is, there's no such thing as perfectivity (the word does not even exist), although there are still those who search for that impeccable love.

Fart-all-that. Love is overrated.