Monday, 29 December 2008

Your Inaccurate Perception Can Be Embarrassing

The saying goes: Don't judge a book by its cover. And I'm saying: Don't ever judge a man by his t-shirt, his pair of shoes, his pants, his hair, and his job. I learned my lesson really well but not after the second humiliation.

The first one resulting from bad perception on a person took place in 1984 in Kuching, Sarawak. I was a teacher back then. While doing my work in the teachers' room, I received a call in the morning from someone from BINA (Nahdatul Islam Bersatu) asking me if I wanted to learn Aikido ( a Japanese martial art).

"Mun kitak minat, kelak pukul tiga ada drebar ngambak kitak situk". (If you are interested, at 3.00 pm a driver will bring you here).

The van arrived on the dot. The driver greeted me. Asked me a lot of questions. I responded disinterestedly.

"Kitak cikgu Ishak kah?" (Are you Ishak, the teacher?)
"Auk" (Yes).

"Lama dah kitak nunggu?" (Have you been waiting long?")
"Sik" (No) and silence.

"Udah makan tek?" (Have you had lunch?)
"Udah" ( Yes) ... and silence.

"Berapa lama udah kitak ngajar di sekolah tuk?" (How long have you been teaching in this school?)
"Dua tahun" and again dead silence.

That was probably because I considered myself as the boss and that he was just a driver. He was instructed to fetch me and why should he ask too many questions? Snobbish was the proper term and in the Malaysian language it's called sombong. As an evidence to that behaviour, I chose to sit privately at the back and not beside him. It was really an avoidance. I didn't want to be interrogated by him anymore. I was truly, surely sombong.

For the next seven kilometers, there were no conversations. The driver ceased from saying anything. It must be difficult for him to continue asking questions when I was not responding accordingly enough.

As the van stopped at its destination ( a three- story building in Jalan Satok), the driver told me to proceed to the gymnasium, get the Aikido attire from the staff at the counter and wait for the Aikido trainer. I nodded and did as instructed.

There were four other students in the gymnasium and we were waiting eagerly but proudly for the master. But when he arrived, it wasn't the sight I would want to anticipate. Disoriented, I could not swallow the fact of what I saw. The Aikido Master was the van driver himself! I guess you know what happened then.

When the training was over, the Aikido Master @ the van driver was the one who would send me back home. In the van, I sat beside him instead at the back. With sheer heart pain, I apologized to him. I was extremely embarrassed. I suffered the greatest humility in my life. One ugly perception and I was in deep trouble with a 7th Dan Aikido Master. The pleasure was his at that moment.

"Sik ada hal. memang kamek polah cam ia" (It's OK. I did it on purpose) he said, undisturbed.

"Ngapa?" (Why?) I paraphrased.

"Kamek sik mau pelajar kamek jadi lawa gilak kelak sebab mikir dirinya kuat" (I don't want my students to act blatantly snobbish because they think they are powerful and strong with the skills they have) he explained.

At that moment, it was like receiving a shomenuchi from the master. I learned an unforgettable lesson that day. I became a down-to-earth good guy who perceived everyone equally but that equation only lasted for nine years. Before we go to that get yourself a good mug of teh tarik first. It's a going to be long.




Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Using Nikkor VR 70-300 mm Lens

"Mother and Child"




"Brother and sister"

New Zoom Lens and a New Battery Pack

Bought myself a brand new Nikkor VR zoom lens 70-300 mm. Not sure of the picture quality but you can be the judge. Take a look at these photos of "Working with Loneliness" :

Alor Setar, 30th November 2008.







Sometimes loneliness is but a privacy.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Empati Memang Berjangkit!

Kali ni aku nak tulis dalam Bahasa Malaysia.

Cerita hari ni ialah "Buat baik dan buat jahat adalah berjangkit". Kalau berani cuba buat eksperimen ini: Hari Jumaat nanti selepas solat Jumaat, cepat-cepat keluar masjid dan ambil sepasang selipar seseorang. Kemudian perhatikan dari jauh gelagat tuan punya selipar itu.

Ada banyak kemungkinan yang akan berlaku. Yang ini mungkin satu daripadanya.

Tuan punya selipar yang pertama akan rasa kecewa bila seliparnya hilang. Kemudian dia menyarung selipar orang lain dan beredar dari situ. Tuan punya selipar kedua juga akan rasa kecewa dan kemudian menyarung selipar orang yang ketiga. Begitulah seterusnya pada keempat, kelima, keenam dan silap-silap satu masjid jadi pencuri. Yang kesiannya ialah Pak Imam, balik berkaki ayam sebab dia orang terakhir keluar masjid. Jadi apa sebenarnya moral cerita ini? Buat jahat tu berjangkit!

Buat baik berjangkit tak? Memang berjangkit! Mari Pak Ngah ceritakan pengalaman pak Ngah 20 tahun yang lepas mengenai perbuatan baik (empati) seseorang yang berjangkit kepada Pak Ngah.

Ia berlaku pada tahun 1988, ketika Pak Ngah dalam perjalanan ke sekolah hendak pergi kerja. Pak Ngah naik motosikal Honda Cub C70 yang jarum indikator minyaknya sentiasa tegak. Minyak penuh pun ia tegak, kosong pun tegak. Rosaklah tu. Kalau minyak habis memang tak akan tahu.


Hari tu ialah hari Isnin, lebih kurang jam 7.10 pagi. Pak Ngah bekerja di Sekolah Seri Ampang dan tinggal di Selayang Pandang. Ketika melalui Jalan Kuching di bawah jambatan Jalan Duta tiba-tiba motorsikal Pak Ngah terhenti. Enjinnya mati. Selepas diperiksa, rupa-rupanya kehabisan minyak. Pak Ngah panik. Stesen minyak terdekat ialah 3 km iaitu di Sentul dekat dengan Balai Polis. Jalan pula sehala dan kalau nak patah balik ke Segambut tentu bahaya sebab kenderaan yang sangat banyak mengakibatkan jalan sesak, macet. Teringin juga hendak menahan kenderaan lain minta pertolongan tetapi pastinya akan menyusahkan orang sahaja. Jadi tidak ada pilihan lain selain menolak motosikal itu ke Sentul. Penunggang motosikal lain hanya melihat Pak Ngah dan nampaknya mereka tidak berminat mahu berhenti menawarkan bantuan.

Maka mulalah banyak soalan bermain di fikiran. "Tidak adakah orang yang sudi berhenti untuk tolong aku?". "Tidak adakah orang yang nak bertanya mengenai masalah aku ni?". Fikiran yang negatif.

Tetapi, Eh! MasyaAllah! Ada! Namanya Firdaus seperti yang tertera pada tag nama yang tersemat di saku bajunya. Manusia baik ini, seorang muda yang berkulit cerah, berhenti dan bertanya.

"Mengapa motor abang?"
"Minyak habislah, dik"
" Tak apa bang, biar saya tolong. Letak motor abang sebelah motor saya"

Di bawah tempat duduk motosikal Firdaus ada segelung paip getah (besar sikit daripada penyedut air botol). Dimasukkannya satu hujung paip itu ke dalam tangki minyaknya dan satu hujung lagi kedalam tangki motosikal Pak Ngah. Apa dia nak buat ni? Minyak tu tak akan mengalir begitu sahaja daripada tangkinya sebab paras kedua-dua tangki adalah sama. Setahu Pak Ngah minyak hanya akan mengalir dari tangki yang berada pada paras yang lebih tinggi kepada paras yang rendah. Tengok sajalah apa yang akan dibuatnya.

Rupa-rupanya dia sedang mengaplikasi satu konsep dalam fizik : Tekanan. Dengan menggunakan tangannya dia menutup sedikit lubang tangki motosikalnya dan kemudian menghembus sekuat-kuatnya ke dalam tangki itu supaya tekanan tinggi dalam tangki motosikalnya itu akan memaksa minyak keluar melalui paip getah terus ke tangki motosikal Pak Ngah. Genius!

Tetapi usaha itu perlu dia bayar dengan tenaga dan masa yang berharga. Dia berpeluh-peluh menghembus sekuat-kuat hatinya untuk mengeluarkan beberapa sentimeter padu minyak. Proses ini mencuri 20 minit daripada masanya. Pak Ngah yakin dia pasti akan lambat sampai ke pejabat pada hari itu hanya kerana menolong seseorang yang sedang kesusahan. Dahsyatnya dia!

Setelah yakin banyak minyak telah dipindahkan, Firdaus meminta Pak Ngah menghidupkan enjin. Apabila hidup, Firdaus terus meninggalkan Pak Ngah yang melopong tidak sempat mengucapkan terima kasih. Dalam keadaan hairan, Pak Ngah terfikir: Masih ada orang yang baik di Kuala Lumpur dan namanya ialah Firdaus.

Cerita ini tidak berakhir di situ sahaja. Pada malamnya Pak Ngah masih teringat lagi peristiwa pagi itu. Mengapa Firdaus berhenti menolong dan pada masa yang sama mengorbankan tenaga dan masanya untuk Pak Ngah? Pastinya Allah SWT mahu Pak Ngah memikirkannya.

Keesokan harinya selepas sekolah, Pak Ngah terus ke kedai hardware membeli paip getah serupa dengan yang digunakan oleh Firdaus. Perbuatan baik Firdaus telah berjangkit kepada Pak Ngah. Firdaus bukan sahaja memindahkan minyaknya ketangki motosikal Pak Ngah tetapi dia juga telah memindahkan sifat empati dirinya kepada Pak Ngah. Mungkin kerana Pak Ngah tak sempat membalas budi baik Firdaus maka Pak Ngah berpendapat satu cara untuk membalas budi baiknya itu ialah dengan membantu orang lain yang menghadapi masalah seperti yang pernah Pak Ngah alami.

Maka sejak perisitwa itu, sebelum bertolak ke mana-mana Pak Ngah akan pastikan bahawa C70 itu diisi sarat dengan minyak. Jika bertemu dengan sesiapa yang kehabisan minyak maka Pak Ngah akan membantunya seperti yang dilakukan oleh Firdaus. Empathy is contagious!

Tetapi niat baik ini tidak dapat dilaksanakan untuk selama beberapa bulan. Semasa menunggang C70 itu, Pak Ngah teringin betul terjumpa seseorang yang kehabisan minyak supaya boleh ditolong. Allah SWT belum mengizinkan Pak Ngah untuk jadi empatik dan membantu sesiapa pun pada masa itu. Keinginan menolong melonjak tetapi tiada siapa yang boleh ditolong!

Suatu hari peluang itu betul-betul muncul. Pada hari yang sama iaitu hari Isnin, pada waktu yang lebih kurang sama iaitu 7.10 pagi, di tempat yang sama iaitu di Jalan Kuching di bawah Jambatan Jalan Duta, Pak Ngah ternampak seorang lelaki sedang menolak motosikalnya.

Wah! Pak Ngah tak pernah rasa sangat gembira bertemu dengan orang yang bermasalah. Inilah masa yang ditunggu-tunggu. Aku mesti tolong orang ini.

Tetapi apabila menghampiri orang itu, Pak Ngah dapati bahawa dia ialah seorang lelaki Cina dalam lingkungan umur 40'an. Pada masa itu terlintas fikiran yang negatif dan bias. Syaitan berbisik di telinga Pak Ngah. "Yang tolong kau dulu tu orang Melayu, yang ini Cina. Tak payah tolonglah"

Terpengaruh juga dengan bisikan syaitan itu. Pak Ngah terus memecut melepasi lelaki Cina itu.

Tetapi ... "Eh! tunggu dulu. Hari ini hari Isnin, jam 7.10 pagi, di bawah jambatan yang sama! Tak mungkin coincidence ! Allah nak uji aku ni"

Dulu bukan main beria-ia nak menolong orang. Siap beli paip getah. Lepas tu tercari-cari orang yang kehabisan minyak. Sekarang dah jumpa seorang yang begitu. Mengapa tak nak tolong? Mengapa pilih kulit dan bulu?

Selepas persoalan ini berlegar-legar di kepala, Pak Ngah terus berhenti. "Memang aku ni biased!".

Maka Pak Ngah pun berhentilah jauh ke depan lebih kurang 50 meter dari lelaki Cina yang sedang mengah menolak motosikalnya itu. Bila dia menghampiri Pak Ngah kelihatan dia seperti tertanya-tanya apa yang Pak Ngah tunggu.

"Apa pasal towkey?"
"Minyak habis lo"
"Tak apa, biar saya tolong. Letak motosikal lu sebelah saya punya motosikal"
"Jangan susah-susah. Saya boleh tolak sampai itu minyak stesen"
"Eh banyak jauh towkey. Tak apa saya tolong"

Pak Ngah yakin tentu dia berasa hairan dan mungkin sedikit takut dengan gelagat empatik Pak Ngah tu. Tapi dia tidak menolak untuk dibantu.

Seperti Firdaus, Pak Ngah mula mengaplikasikan konsep fizik itu. Tak pernah buat perkara itu sebelum ini cuma andaian yang Pak Ngah boleh melakukannya seperti Firdaus. Hembusan bermula.

Hembusan pertama tidak menunjukkan sebarang pergerakan petrol dalam salur getah itu. Kedua pun sama. Ketiga, naik sikit. Keempat petrol tu turun balik ke tangki motosikal Pak Ngah. Kelima naik balik sikit. Ke enam, jadi balik macam hembusan keempat. Letihlah macam ni! Pipi rasa macam nak kembang! Baju dah basah dengan peluh lebih teruk daripada Firdaus.

Towkey hanya mampu melihat dengan harapan dan perasaan belas kasihan.

"Tak boleh, tak apalah. Saya boleh tolak"
"Jangan towkey. Itu stesen minyak banyak jauh"

Namun sapaan towkey itu membuat Pak Ngah lebih bersemangat nak menghembus lebih kuat. Tapi apakan daya. Setiap hembusan semakin lemah dan tak mampu menolak petrol itu ke tangkinya. Macam mana Firdaus buat, ya?!

Akhirnya Pak Ngah gave up. Memang dugaan. Dulu nak tolong sangat tak ada pulak orang yang boleh ditolong. Sekarang dah ada orang yang boleh ditolong, tak boleh pulak nak ditolong. Macam mana ni?

"Towkey tunggu sekejap, boleh?"

Pak Ngah menung sekejap. "Cara yang terbaik untuk aku tolong towkey ni ialah dengan menyedut petrol tu ke dalam sebuah bekas. Lepas tu terus tuang petrol tu ke dalam tangki dia. Tapi di mana nak cari bekas tu?"

Cari punya cari, nasib baiklah ada pulak tin coca cola kosong yang dah kering di tepi jalan tu. Mungkin dibuang oleh orang dalam kenderaan yang lalu di situ. Hah! Buang sampah merata-rata pun dapat pahala!

Pak Ngah sedut petrol dari tangki minyak C70 tu. Bila penuh terus dituangkan ke dalam tangki motosikal towkey tu.

"OK towkey. Cuba start".

Vrooom dan Pak Ngah segera beredar dari situ seperti Firdaus. Banggalah tu kot! Puas hati dapat tolong orang!

Selepas peristiwa itu Pak Ngah tidak lagi terjumpa sesiapa yang kehabisan minyak semasa menunggang C70 itu. Memang Allah SWT mahu menguji Pak Ngah agaknya.

Walaubagaimana pun, suatu masa nanti jika kamu kehabisan minyak semasa menunggang motosikal janganlah terperanjat jika orang yang menolong kamu itu ialah seorang towkey Cina! Kerana EMPATI MEMANG BERJANGKIT!



Sunday, 26 October 2008

My Worst Nightmare

Up until now (October 26) since last Tuesday, October 21, 2008, I am still suffering from an annoying common illness, bronchitis. Yes, it is bronchitis from the following symptoms that I obtained from the internet:
  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing up yellow sputum

Illness according to many thinkers, is a way the body tells us that we are still very alive. To me, it's Allah's way of telling us that we are His creation and we should seek help from Him to be able to serve Him. Complicated? Just perform the solat!

That Tuesday, I was giving a talk to a group of people from RISDA for their PTK3 (44) course held at the Pearl International Hotel at Jalan Kelang Lama. This is not a hotel you'd like to stay in. It's not even a 3-star, I think. The air quality in this hotel was far from good. I guess this is the place where I contacted the virus or bacteria. The picture below was taken with my Nikon D80 from my room at the 16th floor. Hazy day, indeed.

My son Abdul Hadi was accompanying me since he said he has nothing much to do at school (he’s waiting for the UPSR result). In short, I allowed him to follow me and at the same time play truant for two days. What a nice father!

At 8.30 am, I delivered a four-hour talk on communication skills. Honestly, I think they liked it. Well! At least two of them later approached me and told me that the talk was inspiring and entertaining. Mmm ... May be they were just joking to cheer me up!

It was after the talk that I realized I was going to be ill. I was coughing and had a temperature. But still I had to go to Ipoh that very same day for another session of a talk with Senior Assistants of Wilayah Persekutuan Secondary Schools, at 8.30 pm.

When we arrived at the Heritage Hotel at 5.30 pm, I was already very sick. The coughing got nastier. My body temperature was ever increasing and worst of all, my voice was denying me of my speech.

So, at 8.30 pm, I delivered like a real sick man. The audience wasn't paying attention to my talk. They were focusing on my fatigue and voicelessness. I know that was stressful for them.

The next day, Wednesday, October 22, 2008, was my worst nightmare. I couldn’t concentrate on the issues I was saying. Instead, I focused too much on my fatigue and aching body. The audience didn’t like the delivery but they were sympathetic enough not to let me know (Trust me, I know).

The picture (right) was taken from my room on the 10th floor of the Heritage Hotel. It's overlooking the race course. You know, the place where people place their bets on their chosen "one", the horse believed to be the fastest and the most reliable to transform them into millionaires. Some people just have no sense of religion!

I think this hotel building is a new venue of the former Heritage Hotel. If I'm not mistaken, the hotel was initially located at a different location in the city. I remember the hotel was formerly very disgusting. When I was a guest a few years ago, the room was terrible, using the lift was a frightening journey, and last but surely not the least, the towels they provided were actually rags with a large hole in the middle. Imagine how it would look like when draped on me. Now the hotel is comfortable and the towels are new and real, no more holes.

And to top all
that , the view of the Titiwangsa Mountain Range was surely captivating turning my nightmare into an indelible dream.


Bravo Heritage!

Symptoms of Bronchitis

Until now (October 26) since Tuesday, October 21, 2008, I am still suffering from a very common illness, bronchitis. Yes, it is bronchitis from the following symptoms that I obtained from the internet:

  • Chest pain
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing up yellow sputum


That Tuesday, I was giving a talk to a group of people from RISDA for their PTK3 (44) course which was held at the Pearl International Hotel at Jalan Kelang Lama. This is not a hotel you'd like to stay in. It's not even a 3-star, I think. The air quality in this hotel was far from good. I guess this is the place where I contacted the virus or bacteria. The picture below was taken with my Nikon D80 from my room at the 16th floor. Hazy day, indeed.


My son Abdul Hadi was accompanying me since he said he has nothing much to do at school (he’s waiting for the UPSR result). In short, I allowed him to follow me and at the same time play truant for two days. What a father!

At 8.30 am, I delivered a four-hour talk on communication skills. Honestly, I think they liked it. Well! At least two of them approached me and told me honestly that the talk was very inspiring and entertaining. Well! May be they just wanted to cheer me up!

It was after the talk that I realized that I was going to be ill. I was coughing and I had fever. But still I had to go to Ipoh that very same day for another session of a talk for Wilayah Persekutuan Secondary School Senior Assistants at 8.30 pm.

When we arrived at the Heritage Hotel at 5.30 pm, I was already feeling sick. The coughing got worse. My body temperature was fluctuating and I got the worst nightmare: my voice was faint and diminishing.

So, at 8.30 pm, I delivered like a real sick man. The audience was not paying attention to my talk. They were focusing on my fatigue and voicelessness. I know that was stressful for them.

The next day, Wednesday, October 22, 2008, was the worst delivery day in my life. I couldn’t concentrate on the issues I was saying. Instead, I focused too much on my fatigue and aching body. The audience didn’t like the delivery but they were sympathetic enough not to let me know (Trust me, I know).

The picture (right) was taken from my room on the 10th floor of the Heritage Hotel. It's overlooking the race course. You know, the place where people place their bets on their chosen horse. Believed to be the fastest and the most reliable to make them richer. Some people just have no sense of religion!

I think this hotel is a new venue of the former Heritage Hotel. If I'm not mistaken, the hotel was initially located at a different location in the city. I remember the hotel was formerly very disgusting. When I was a guest a few years ago, the towel provided has a large hole at the center. Imagine how it would look like when draped on me. Now the hotel is comfortable and the towels are new and holey less. Bravo Heritage!