Monday, August 30, 2004

Blog from Japan - Part II

by Fazurin
Berjalan Menengadah ke Atas - A Tribute to Kusumoto-sensei

I was standing on the platform of Kamakura train station, waiting for the train back to Tokyo. It was already dark. It must have been around 19:30 when I heard it.

Ue-o muite arukou
Namida-ga koborenai-youni
Omoidasu natsu-no hi
Hitoribotchi-no yoru...

Right across the rail track, on one of Kamakura's streets, there stood a group of people, holding candles in their hands. Under the flickering flames, they sang.
The song they were singing, "Ue-o muite arukou" (or better known as "Sukiyaki" in the Western world) was popularised by Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto in the 1960s. More importantly it reminds me of my Japanese teacher, Takahisa Kusumoto.

It must have been more than 12 years ago, when I first flirted with the idea of learning Japanese in secondary school. Maybe a brief background is necessary. In my former school, when new students enter the First Form, they are asked to take a third language (in addition to Malay and English) as a subject, and at the time I was there, we could choose between Arabic, Japanese and French.

I chose Arabic. I suspect the fact that my mum and several aunts and uncles graduated from a religious school at one time or other had something to do with it. (I also felt compelled to make use of a tattered, yellowing copy of Kamus Marbawi that had been handed down like a family heirloom to me through a few generations of Arabic scholars.) And I thought that was that.

However, some time into Form 2, the itch to learn Japanese came upon me. Fadli, a batchmate of mine, who was a French student - as in he studied French, not that he was French though knowing him I wouldn't be surprised if he might sometimes like to think so ; ) - was already getting his hands dirty with hiragana and katakana. So I joined him. The problem was, since both of us had Arabic and French classes respectively, we could not attend the "official" Japanese classes.

This was where Takahisa Kusumoto came in. Freshly arrived from Japan as a volunteer to teach Japanese to scores of wide-eyed Malaysian students in the quiet town of KK, Kusumoto-sensei, as we came to call him happily offered to give us separate Japanese classes after school hours.

Those classes were fun. There was the staple offering of grammar and vocabulary, but there was a lot of excitement too. I still remember the day when Kusumoto-sensei let Fadli and me have a go at writing kanji using authentic Japanese calligraphy brush, calligraphy ink, calligraphy paper and ink mixer. We must have used up reams of paper that day, putting to paper any Chinese character that came to mind. Looking back, the results were aesthetically atrocious - the ashes of hundreds of generations of Japanese calligraphy masters must have been swirling in their urns - but did it matter? We were happy. It was one of those moments when we savoured that child-like joy of discovery.

Kusumoto-sensei's going out of his way to give us private lessons didn't seem like much at that time. Somehow when you were fourteen, teachers giving extra classes after school hours seemed like a perfectly normal thing. Teachers love teaching, so it's natural that they offer to give classes after school hours. No big deal, right?

But now, after starting to work myself, I really couldn't imagine how Kusumoto-sensei did it. On a salary of RM900 a month (this is what he told me, if my memory serves me well), thrown into a sleepy little town in Perak where everyone and everything was foreign to him, he still managed not only to do what was expected of him, but in fact to do way much more than that. The fruits of his labour helped shape the lives of those he touched - such as me - till this day. Looking back, Kusumoto-sensei gave us more than just grammar and vocabulary lessons on those quiet afternoons in the language lab. He showed us the joys of selfless giving, the bliss of being able to spend your life doing something that you really like. And in the process, he helped us see that there is big world out there for us to experience and discover.

It was thus that standing there on Kamakura train station that cool summer evening, listening to Ue-no muite arukou, surrounded by Japanese sounds and writings - some of which I recognised again like some long-lost old friends - that I thought of him.

I still remember the day when he gave me the Malay translation of that song, the underlined title in Malay, "Berjalan menengadah ke atas", vividly imprinted on my mind.

(I've always found this translation disturbing. You mean, it's possible to "berjalan menengadah ke bawah?")

Wherever you are, Kusumoto-sensei, domou arigatou gozaimasu.

Friday, August 27, 2004

As you can see, I don't do much work today - too close to weekend.

The Gunung Bubu Expedition seems to have hit a snag, since more and more are pulling out on excuse that the timing is not right. We'll see how 'hangat' the whole thing will turn out, pity though since Wong has done quite a lot of groundwork.

Came across a website dedicated to MCKK's 100 Year Celebration created and managed by Wawa (Class of 97) and his brother (Class of 99). Good website - although I just don't understand why do we have so many websites for the same purpose. I recall we had Centenary Website before - it's so much easier to have one central website for everyone to go with the news all there.

Koleq Won Pidato Piala diRaja

Zaim (Class of 2005) managed to become the second person ever from koleq to have won Pidato Piala diRaja. He did it nonchalantly in audience of DYMM Agong. Good for the team and it proves our point that this year's PPM was grossly unjust against koleq - the teams that made it to the final to all debating championships this year.

Anyway, feel glad. If you want to watch koleq, tune in to RTM1 on 4 September at 1 pm for the recording.

Gabai's Wedding

Gabai's getting married, sekali ngan Gendut (F5 90). So if you would like to see loads of prefects from Class 0f 90, please turn up at Gabai's wedding. Mpro is the best man.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Blog from Japan - Part I

Fazurin is now in Japan on an assignment. This is note, interesting observation. Will post more as the days go by.

Tea, Coffee & Narita Airport

"Would you like tea or coffee, madam?", the pretty flight attendant politely asked, her English smooth, a hardly perceptible tinge of an American accent on her tongue.

The Japanese lady she was addressing looked at her blankly.

The girl repeated the question. "Would you like tea or coffee, madam?", with more persistence, an edge in her voice.

Still no response.

Barely hiding her exasperation, the flight attendant asked again, louder. "WOULD YOU LIKE TEA OR COFFEE, MADAM?"

The Japanese lady, uncomprehending, nodded vigorously. The flight attendant took the liberty to interpret this to mean "coffee", poured it for her and pushed her trolley to the next row of seats.

I often wonder if only English speakers are afflicted by this. Some of them tend to assume that everyone speaks English, and if people don't understand them, they seem to think that repeating whatever they are saying in a louder voice would help bridge the language gap somehow.

This incident however did not mar the VERY, VERY pleasant flight with Singapore Airlines from KL to Tokyo. I slept like a log (These guys at Singapore Airlines know what they are doing. The chairs are super-EXCELLENT). Woke up just at the right time to take dinner, breakfast or to catch passing flight attendants to ask for fruit juice, among other beverages...

The plane arrived at Narita Airport right on time and after breezing through immigration and customs, I walked up to a counter near the arrival point, mustered all the Japanese that I had in me and asked for the best way to get to Tokyo without paying an arm and a leg. 15 minutes later, clutching a 1,000 yen-worth ticket, I was on a train bound for Ueno station, Tokyo.

It's good to be back in Japan.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Revenge, Sweet Lasting Revenge

Koleq's debater - Zaim Yusuf - progressed steadily to the last 3 of Pidato Piala diRaja National level, the most coveted and prestigious oratory competition in Malaysia, the equivalent of Prime Minister's Cup for debating.

He is in the last 3, which means koleq is guaranteed the top three. Last year, Izzat (Class of 2004) held koleq's banner steadily at the 3rd position. Hopefully Zaim will be better and become the second person ever from koleq to win the trophy (after Ajeez Class of 99 in 1999). From the feedback that I received, Zaim was doing quite well and even when he was not on his top form, he fared better compared to the other 2 finalists.

It was quite meaningful for the team since the representative from Kedah (one SM Sains) was coached by none other than two evil judges who deliberately and unfairly judged against koleq at UIA's tournament in March - stopping one of koleq's teams to go to final. Otherwise the final of that tournament would have seen MCKK A vs MCKK B. We got our initial revenge in UIA when MCKK B defeated that SM Sains' school at semi final - but that's not enough.

This is their second defeat and if I were there, I would have been gloating in front of the two early 20 know-nothing kids who do not understand the meaning of fair competition and sportsmanship to have sabotaged koleq's team back in March.

Cikgu Umi was there too with the team and she sent an SMS asking for prayers so that this team can bring back the trophy, after what had happened in Perlis in June - the judges got mixed up and they lost to a team I swear was no better than MCKK's F1's team!

So I hope Zaim can pull it off, Insya Allah this time it will back in Kuala Kangsar. It would be a good morale booster for next year's PPM preparation.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Leading Up to Gunung Bubu

Have been away from office for weeks, and therefore unable to access office mail, where most of my communications with batchmates go to (yes, we all abuse office e-mails for non-business related purposes). I am sure by the time I am back, it'll be full of updates on Gunung Bubu, so will post updates in case there are people out there who want to contribute.

Was in KLCC on business on Wednesday - my head kept spinning looking at koleq's tie here and there. There was this one F5 97 who I initially did not recognise - and being half blind without glasses - strained my neck to see closely who the hell he was, nasib baik ada Allen jadi tour guide telling who is this and who is that.

Speaking of Allen, he will be in Kerteh for one whole week beginning this Sunday, so we might as well do the McD gathering for this month this Sunday. Allen, after all, need to do some male bonding session with Bobo ha ha

And another thing, can't resist this - someone went to Allen's house a few weeks ago (he was dying to tell me this when I saw him last), after a while chitchatting with the relatives, one of them asked "Ni Allen kan?" - which led to a tearful reunion of two relatives in the same batch....

Dulu we had Picca and Aslam je... now jeng jeng jeng - Allen & Yoe...... They are second cousins....

*Aku ponteng kerja ari ni... konon nak buat kerja kat rumah, ofis banyak sangat meeting...

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Gunung Bubu, Abon Tipu etc.

........ semalam aku jumper Badut... yang dah patah tangan...possibly purposely buat just because nak dapat paid leave from BNM....or nak claim ayien punyer insurance...... he just climbed Mt.Kinabalu last month.... so aku just discussed dengan dia...on possibility nak buat re-union but not actual punyer re-union tapi nak climb Gunung Bubu, Kuala Kangsar......since I know some of us still active climb matter gunung apa pung.....except rough yang membela lelemak...!!!

Actually for Science 6 student, probably kauorang dah try naik dengan Tuan Syed dulu ...but since tersesat kauorang failed to reach the summit... so this time kita panjat betul-betul punyer....insyaalah sampai...

So ada respons tak sesaper nak pegi..... so far aku dengan Badut on...jer... just waiting orang lain kot..kot ada respons...... if we could get more than 5 or 6 pax...then kita on..... kawan..spouse dan sewaktu dengannya boleh join........details on Gunung Bubu..

Gunung Bubu - 1568 m above sea level..

Location - Kuala Kangsar, Perak ( climbing from Air Terjun Ulu Kenas, dekat Kem BTN..epit punyer camp... )... so at the same time boleh balik koleq...

Duration - 3 days ( 2 days up, 1 day down )

Tentative date - Possibly on weekend plus ambik cuti sehari either on Monday or Friday........specific date-to be decided....

Preparation - All camping gears e.g. tents, stove, lamps ...aku boleh carik... so kauorang just bawak badan dan beg...( jangan beg balik kampong udah ler...)

Fees - Tak budget lagi... but would be very minimal since all the camping gears I could 'cilok' from tuuut (tut tut tut) ....unless kauorang nak buat some t-shirt ker apa..........or nak buat BBQ kat atas tuh.......makanan kita..tong..tong.....but if Bocap join...then kita nak kena bawak lori makanan kat atas...........

Any respons...??????

Anyway aku tgh 'active' naik gunung jugak Wong,tapi gunung tu lain skit.

menarik gak tuh...aku pon walaopun bukan kaki gunung tapi kalau ada
kaki, mcm menarik je nak join

Aku pun bukan kaki gunung, aku berkaki seperti manusia biasa
Mumtazi naik gunung Kurpak.

What the hell is Kurpak/Kapruk anyway? I hope it's not Mumtazi's singh

Kalau tak kacau lemak aku tak buleh ke?

Hi hi orang lain pun panjang gunung jugak Wong, cuma a smaller scale punya gunung, with a cherry topping ha ha (although aku tak leh lah claim panjat gunung mcm tu, nanti pencegah maksiat datang raid... but on second thought - sebelum Chamat point out – tetek aku pun dah ala-ala gunung sekarang, don't need tetek orang lain pun...)

Anyway, back to panjang gunung.

Wish I can join, but tak buleh, and tak nak lah jadi liability for orang lain, kang pengsan or semput tengah jalan, payah nak angkut.

However, I have one suggestion yang future climbers from batch kita buleh buat.

I suggest that after you get a group of people, you go for charity fundraising in the form of sponsorship.


Each person will aim to raise RM200, each sponsorship in the form of RM50. So you need 4 people to sponsor one climber. All the proceeds will go to koleq, in the form of books to library (aku tahu buku kat library dah tak leh pakai langsung!).

So if you get 15 people and all 15 raised RM200 each, you get RM3,000 to buy books for budak koleq. So you enjoy the trip, budak2 koleq dapat buku....

Kalau sorang nak dapat sponsorship RM50 no problemo punya, tu Gadap punya side income dapat kick back sejam je tu...

So? Aku sponsor climber yang paling jambu je....

Good suggestion... so aku nak tengok dulu saper yang interested nak join..... kalau dah ada a group of people..then aku nak kena ler lantik auditor nanti orang kata aku songlap plak....duit sponsorship..muha..ha... anyway... so far aku boleh kata at least aku, badut, fit interested nie...anybody else... ????? aku dah pegi ke Gunung Bubu dah nearly 10 kali dah.... its not that difficult ler.... you don't need to be as fit as Malik Maiden or Mohandas or Muqarabbin ler.... just kalau ada will okey jer....pas tuh for futsal players.. aku gerenti all qualified for this XPDC ......

Rough... jom ler...kau tak payah pegi liposuction, gerenti after this terus kau jadik macam lutfi or selempai sekeping.....

Aku sama macam mumtazi lah... panjat gunung kurpak cukup le.....

aku pun macam tertarik aje nak join, meskipun aku tak reti nak dirikan khemah.
p.S. tak pernah tahu pulak ada gunung bubu kat-kat situ.

dulu kitorang dah pegi dah... buatper nak pergi lagi..
kalau yang lagi tinggi boleh la.. lagi mencabar..

Dulu tak sampai.... nak cakap banyak pulak.... blah la...

Aku kena kurangkan gunung dulu laaa sebelum aku panjat gunung... kau tak nak nya dengar aku membebel sepanjang journey pasal semput etc. Budak2 Sc 6 macam Wawan, Bobo, Bochap, Fendi... KNO, banyak lagi apa? Get these people dulu laaa.... aku bagi sokongan moral dah le...

Payah2 aku just pi visit rumah Zahadin kat Gong Limau... kira panjat gunung jugak le tu.....

Chamat fit giler, ajak laa chamat...

*ps: Auditor diajar untuk songlap duit..... tengok Abon laaa, duit reunion ari tu berlambak2 dia masuk skim cepat kaya... Auzir lagi laaa, aku dengar ari tu firm dia tipu shareholders in collusion ngan client dia... Auzir terlibat ke tak tak tahu laaa....

Selambak je abon, songlap duit reunion.... pulangkan duit kami.... kami mahu duit kami balik......

abon memang selambak.. mpro pun selambak

Wahh... dah pukul 5 baru nak bersuara Joe.... bila nak datang melaka Joe, singgah la rumah aku....

Wei Bobo...Nie lagi tinggi ler.... because previously kauorang just sampai kat Ulu Sungai Gading, kat camp site ada 2 cabang air terjun tuh....because first2 kauorang dah tersesat kat dam yang banyak pacat tuh dgn Tn.Syed.....

So this time kita naik bebetul kat summit....bukannyer kat only stop kat Ulu Sungai Gading... anyway.... if ada dah pernah naik pung...nie re-union and re-climb ler... plus boley balik charity climb as suggested by rough........

Anyway, aku dah count in Fazurin to join this XPDC.......boleh tolong baca doa halau antu....!! (takut lagi datang plak might as well aku get Nik Azhar Kembiri jer to join this XPDC....)...muha..ha..ha...

aku memang nak join pendakian gunung bubu nie..tapi timing kena cun sikitlah. bagitau in advance all the details. sibuk gak sekarang nie. insyallah aku join and aku sokong rough nye idea on the funding and its utilisation...mpro, apa lagi..take charge...

btw, siapa nak main futsal on saturday night (sempat tengok akademi fantasia for sure..). details as follows:

date: 7th aug 2004
time: 11-pm
place: futsal sports centre, pj sect 14

last week dapat 15 orang, buat 3 teams and main 1 1/2 jam..puas giler....this week, amacam?

Ko salah tu wong, bukan korang... diaorang la.... sebab boboe tak pegi masa tu.... dia gayat....

Sunday, August 01, 2004

BNB Reunion

This is one month late.

We were going our separate ways too quickly that suddenly we thought it was a good idea to catch up and cherish how it used to be back when some of us were still in the UK.

Jita, being the one from the privileged family, never had the hassle of moving from one basement to another to cope with London’s exorbitant property market. Instead, he had a posh apartment in Earl’s Court where we all congregated each holiday season. Even worse, some people (moi included) made full use of the free lodging that we spent more time at the BNB (which the apartment was later fondly referred to) than in our classrooms. In fact, the BNB became the central meeting place for our batch – those who came to London would definitely stay there, and we held our reunion each year at the BNB. I also lost so much of my liquid at the BNB ha ha, but that’s a different story...

The reunion was intended to catch up on those lost days. Some of the regular lodgers (including Fadli, Fly, Bunchit, Madad, Che Tam etc.) could not make it, so we had to make do with whoever we had.

Fazurin suggested that we started with a karaoke session, because back then there were some who adored their own voices so much that we had to live with the constant cover versions every now and then. I had expected that Fazurin would take the centre stage since he was a pro – and not surprisingly, he sang ¾ of the songs that day.

Jita was late as usual, so we laughed our heads off when we came across the song “Janji Manismu” – sung in his tribute for always breaking promises. Some of the efforts were quite commendable (to which Chamat would promptly announced “am quite pleased with that effort”) but some were just horrible, outright sumbang.

So a few tips – first never sing the live version, second “Making Love Out Of Nothing At All” is not to be tested in public, third you need a pro to start a song before you can sing along. Luckily we had Fazurin, whom also had been designated as a back up singer, over and over again usurped the lead singer’s role.

I actually videotaped some parts of the karaoke session, especially the awful awful “Return to Innocence” and Allen and Fazurin’s version of “Kuch Kuch Hota He” (with Allen taking the female part) – but considering Fazurin still has a recollection of some of the most embarassing speeches I had ever made during the AJK Batch meetings, I better keep the videotape, lest he makes fun of me with the speeches.

We were supposed to watch a midnight movie, but we were too tired. Fazurin was complaining of a back ache, I was having the usual chest pain and Allen and Jita were too ready to jump onto the first bed they met. So, Chamat decided not to join us since he had to catch up with something the next morning.

The night session was much duller, since we were too tired and after several games of declare, we thought be better go to bed. Fazurin actually brought a Spidey II DVD, but I mistaken a VHS player with a DVD player.

Back in London, they would have woken me up early in the morning to get me to the kitchen and cook breakfast. My stay had always been welcomed either at Jita’s or Fadli/Allen’s place – I was some sort of a house elf back then, cooking and cleaning was my specialty. However this time around, with so many gerais around, I’d be mad to cook breakfast for them.

Fazurin and Allen – obsessed with fitness and health, started the morning with gym and swimming, Jita tagged along just to cuci mata in case there was sexy lady in bikinis. He did not find any I thought, because he came back early.

We had a final round of declare, this time more cheerful than the night before. Fazurin had improved a lot compared to London when he was the permanently hired shuffler, always came last.

After Kinokuniya and lunch – we said goodbyes to the weekend.

It made us realise a few things – first it was quite pricy, so next time we are going to get a supplementary card from Fadli to charge anything like this to. Second, it feels like ages ago and as much as you like to detach yourself from your current concern and all, you can’t. I suppose it’s a sign of ageing. Third – camera does add 10 more pounds to you.

Lastly, keep your closest friends so close to you and most of the times you tend to take them for granted for they are always there for you unconditionally, but make sure you do not neglect them so much that when you really need them, they are no longer around.

I don’t make much sense.

You can see the photos here.