Thursday, April 28, 2005

MCKK Treasure Hunt 2005

The MCKK Centenary Celebrations Treasure Hunt will be held on the 18th and 19th December 2004 from Kuala Lumpur-Ipoh-Kuala Kangsar.

Entry fee is RM160.00 per person, with a minimum of two participants and maximum of four in one car. The entry fee covers participation fees, buffet dinner and one night stay at Ipoh on day 1, a buffet breakfast and lunch on day 2, as well as t-shirts and goodies.

Entry fee for children under 12 years old is RM100 per child. Participation is limited to 100 cars. Registration closes on 11th December 2004.

Entry forms can be obtained from the MCOBA Penthouse. Enquiries can be directed to Sdr. Sam Rahman at 017-338 2389 or 03-7781 7159.


This is my last day at this office, in this job. Tomorrow until Monday, I should be resting to recover from the madness of working around the clock non-stop, for a meagre pay.

But no. Tomorrow and the day after and the day after I still have to come to this desk although officially I am no longer here.

Why do we put up with such crap? I don't even know, but we have to do what we have to do.

This is the second time I am moving on. The last time was the same - had to work till late until everyone gathered around my desk and I didn't even realise it was really the time to go back. The partner came and gave a pat on the back - and I thought deservingly too given how I was squeezed throughout my stay there.

But at least it was nicer, I went back to stay with Fadli and Allen and spent the last few days of my life in London with them, which was fun. There was a long break before I started working again (well by long I mean 2 months), so I was really looking forward to it.

Not this time. Before I know it it's time to report for duty and this routine starts all over again.

Why do we put up with this kind of crap?

I wish I have the courage to say "no I am not going to do this, tough luck mate". But no. Still have not attained "Tahap Keberanian Tujuh Petala Langit Empat Penjuru Alam" ala-ala Alam Perwira.

Officially this is my last posting from this terminal.

It is insane to willingly work yourself to death and then complain about it. If a lady would have done that, I would have called her "bitch".

* Apparently cheering is back although it is regulated now.
** I have decided to get married finally. Whoever wants to get married to Noni, please drop by (Noni + getting married -> lesbian wedding?)
*** Was spending time with Sherry the other day and the amount of lewd jokes that I blurted out and she laughed at - amazing, I felt liberated to be able to share dirty jokes with an ex-teacher ha ha

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Final Tally

Class of 94 @ CCD 2005:

1 - moi
2 - allen
3 - fazurin
4 - chamat
5 - jita
6 - suri
7 - ska
8 - mpro
9 - bobo
10 - sharap
11 - syed asrul
12 - sheppe
13 - idzam noor
14 - champ
15 - auzir
16 - chibix
17 - badut
18 - wong
19 - gadap
20 - mumtazi
21 - ayien
22 - kalai
23 - taufik hishamuddin
24 - belly
25 - toy
26 - cop
27 - awie
28 - loque
29 - musyuk @ azrin @ bruce
30 - pyan (sampai hati lupa pyan)
31 - picca
32 - dzul atfie
33 - shahid
34 - syed khalid
35 - tungkid
36 - pejal
37 - syam
38 - hazerk
39 - radin
40 - peah
41 - datuk fadhil datuk hj azman
42 – kuchai
43 – arape
44 – rizal
45 – ikram
46 – wawan

If I left out anyone, pandai-pandailah korang tambah sendiri. To make sure that our class photo did not look too minute, half of them volunteered not to be in the class photo, lest the lense could not cope with what might appear 100 people cramped into a space fit only for 46 people!

Half of Class of 94 @ CCD

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Lord of Sampin(g) and Olliphants

Finally, I am in the mood to write about our trip to KK for the 100 Years Celebration (more commonly known as CCD), although to be frank I don’t have the time (but who cares, just not in the mood to do anything else). It’s always bad to write about something way after the event has passed as you are more likely to forget the minute details that you want to include, but what to do.


We had planned for the trip as far back as November. I initially thought I couldn’t be bothered to go back. My recent trips to MCKK did not bring out any sentimental feeling about the building or the town, though it’s always a pleasure to meet the teachers who have become good friends over the years. My attachment currently is to the boys we are helping, not so much to the school. So given the busy schedule, the chore to drive all the way to Kuala etc. etc. – most of us wrote off the idea of going back earlier on.

Until it dawned on us that it is an historic event that we should not miss. After all we were a part of the school as much as anyone else and we have earned our right to be there as much as anyone else. Once a few people made up their mind to go back, it wasn’t long before the rest followed.

In my group – which was referred to by Bobo as “The Nerdies” since most of us were in Science 1 – were Allen, Fazurin, Chamat, Jita, Suri and initially Bobo (he didn’t want to be in my group but he had no choice, as he planned to travel from Terengganu with me). Later on, we joined “forces” with the Klik Utagha, who decided to stay at the hotel we were staying (of which I will write about a bit later).

Travelling arrangement and lodging were arranged from November onwards. Fazurin had to delay his holiday trip to Bali in order to catch the celebration, after much persuasion.


I decided not to drive this time around, having been driving to and fro KL for the past few weeks. So the initial plan of driving in one car from Kerteh to KL with Bobo and the rest of Kerteh guys had to be abandoned. Luckily Bobo did work something out at the last minute, so he drove with his wife to KL and would join Mpro and Co. from there onwards.

I decided to take a bus ride to KL, so that I had some time on my own and hopefully (which was later proven an ill-thought proposition) could do some readings. As I reached the bus station, I saw Byn (Hazizi Hassan, Deputy Headboy Class of 2001) already there. As there was only one bus going to KL at that hour, I supposed he was on his way to KL for the celebration too. He did not recognise me initially (maybe I have put on another 10 kg since the last time I saw him), but it didn’t take us long to recognise each other.

An hour before we reached KL, we had a non-stop chat which must have annoyed other passengers. I have met Byn before – being the only junior from Kemaman who still lives there – and we have had teh tarik session, so it wasn’t that difficult to catch up. He was also in UKEC in the UK for a while, so there was more than enough common ground.


When it comes to the question of “who would be late”, Fazurin’s name always came top. Somehow being passionate about Malay language and culture may also mean the “jam Melayu” habit might rub off to you as well ha ha (though I am sure he would disagree with me). He had improved a lot since he started working, but the reputation stays.

About an hour before we were supposed to meet at KLCC, SMS began to circulate (I can tell it originated from Chamat) that Fazurin might be late – to which I hurriedly sent SMS for him to get his butt out of Bukit Kiara immediately. In the end, it was I who was late since I got stuck at Pan Pacific signing some papers – a topic which Fazurin no doubt would use over and over again to get back at me.

By the time we left, it was already about 7 pm.

Fazurin, Knoe (Class of 93) and I were in Allen’s car, while Jita, Chamat and Ska (a late comer) were in Suri’s car.


We had planned to gather as many CDs as possible from the period that we were growing up for a karaoke session. My car had Fazurin, a master karaoke singer – so I did not expect to get a quiet sleep during the ride anyway.

Allen and Fazurin actually bought new CDs just for the ride to Ipoh. Since Allen was driving, he got the upper hand in choosing which CD we would play first, which obviously was his. Unfortunately (or rather fortunately ha ha), the original CD that he bought for RM30++ jammed after the first few songs. I was laughing throughout because there could only be 2 possible reasons why it jammed – whether the original CD was faulty or his CD player did not work. Either way it was his. It turned out later that the original CD was faulty – Allen vowed not to buy any original CDs ever and to join my ranks in supporting the CD “copyright” (a polite name for CD haram) industry ha ha.

As for the list of songs, I’d rather not share it here, for fear of incriminating ourselves or disclosing how old we are to the rest of the world.


The hotel was suggested by Bobo and Suri. I had never heard of Grandview Hotel, however since Bobo and Suri had vouched that it was a new hotel and the room was OK, I did the booking in November. When I called them for booking, the amoi was surprised that I did the booking 4 months in advance. According to her, that was the first time it ever happened – which prompted me to suspect this must be a “cho-kia rumah tumpangan” equivalent to Tin Hiong that we once stayed in KK, let alone that the rate was really cheap.

But luckily Suri and Bobo were right (lucky for them too otherwise I would go on and on about it forever) – the hotel was new and nice and cheap, but..... (there’s one big BUT which might explain all).

Grandview Hotel is actually located in what can be called Ipoh’s red light district. It’s very close to COCKMAN ROAD, which is full with prostitutes waiting to be picked up at night (they sure know how to pick a name for a prostitute’s street ha ha). About a few streets away was the meeting point of the “mak nyah” of Ipoh – so after a while I began to understand why Suri and Bobo were really excited to stay here.

The hotel was nice enough that I didn’t have any complaint given the rates – but the sights of prostitutes sitting on the pedestrian walk, wide open (if you know what I am talking about ha ha), waving at you – was a new experience for me.

Later on that night I brought them to Medan Gopeng where once I had a nice steak. That was one of the biggest mistakes I did during the trip – for the food was really crap e.g. ostrich steak which tasted like a stale chicken wing, fish fillet the size of a fish finger, beef steak which was actually a badly burnt small piece of meat etc. etc.

For the dinner on Saturday 26th, Suri brought us to Cockman Road’s KFC, which he said offered the best chicken in Malaysia. I had my usual snack plate and did not notice anything great about the chicken there – I think Suri tasted a different chick altogether and got confused it with Cockman’s KFC.


There were too many warnings and dos and don’ts that were issued to the group (which Fazurin referred to as “BN’s scare tactics”) so that we could have a smooth trip tomorrow.

One of which was that KK food outlets would be full tomorrow, so we had to eat quite a lot that night in order to prepare for it. Initially some people refused to eat since we just had our KFC at Tapah (it’s a custom; we must stop for KFC at Tapah. We met Champ and his wife there), but after taking into account the warning on full restaurants, every one had a second helping that night.

The next morning, it turned out that there were ample spaces for everyone at all the food outlets and we managed to secure prime seats at Rahmaniah – so much for “all the restaurants will be full so you’d better eat tonight”.

Another famous myth which turned out to be untrue was that the road will be jam packed the next morning and we had to walk for kilometres to go to koleq. We were advocating of leaving at 5 am, but in the end we decided to “take the risk” and left at 6.15 am after Subuh.

By 6.30 am Pyan and Picca were already there and we were told that the place was deserted. By the time we reached KK at 7 am, there was no jam or congestion to be seen anywhere. In fact, we managed to get a VIP parking space reserved at Ridzwaniah – so much for “all roads will be closed and jammed by 8 am”.


We arrived really early (due to the myths) and there were not many people yet there at 7.30 am. I had to go and meet Cikgu Umi first to pick up 6 sampin(g)s for some people who could not locate their sampin(g)s anymore (I also became the standard measurement size for sampin(g) – “if it fits him, it fits us” kind of thing).

Since the place was still empty, we went for breakfast at Rahmaniah. I supposed they were ill prepared to accept the number of crowds that day, so breakfast was really late. By the time we finished, a large group of later days old boys (I guess Class of 2002++) were already congregating in front of Rahmaniah. Looking at them made me feel really old – because they spoke, they dressed and they behaved differently from us.

We then walked to Padang Big School, where the real event would be held. I did meet a few people and got the shock of my life to meet a few people whom imagine differently all this while ha ha. Anyway......

Our batch booked a tent besides Class of 62’s tent – but it wasn’t long before we slowly left the tent to converge on the field, paying no regard whatsoever to other people with our cheers and loud jokes.

The worst joke was when Chibix when to greet his late father’s batchmate in kopiah, to which the whole batch shouted to him a few tents away “main jambu....”. I wonder what the pakcik in kopiah would have thought – “ni siamang mana pulak bising-bising ni..”. Class of 90 was nearby, but they were relatively quiet and more civilised compared to us.

The greatest shock of the day was seeing Taufik after all these years. He had lost weight that when he came to see me whether I still remembered him, I really thought he was from the Class of 90. We had a nice time catching up with each other and I was really glad to have met him, since he was one of the 2 best friends I had when I was in Form 1, although we parted different ways after that.

Azrin Madin was also there, all the way from KK (bukan KK Kuala Kangsar).

The real ceremony was short – we waited so long for the Rulers to come. When they were all there, the ceremony proceeded smoothly and I have to say it was a sort of anti-climax as suddenly all was over. If there was any consolation, I’d say the declaration was worth the waiting and wrote off any inadequacies elsewhere – but declaration will remain a declaration without any meaning, unless those parties in a position to do something about it take actions that suit the gravity of the declaration.

The inclusion of olliphants was grand although it all happened very quickly that we did not really feel the impact – or maybe we were too busy making noises.

It was all over by 12 pm and too quick I might add – the only casualty by then was our skin. I should have used a sun block to avoid sun burn, which featured prominently on my face for the next one week.


After getting hold of whatever souvenirs left, we adjourned to Smash’s house. Everyone melantak as if it was no one’s business and we had a long chat with Smash, always eager to welcome us. He was with us at our batch’s tent throughout the ceremony. We then left for Ipoh.

That night, after a short tour of Cockman Road he he, we drove back to KK to have a glimpse of the Garden Party (Shahrol was a committee member). Unfortunately, the downpour started earlier on and they had to cancel the whole celebration by 10.30 pm.

But they did continue with the fireworks show, which was really weird since we were all gathered under the tents listening to the fireworks.

I spent the first hour with Haqqa, Bucks and Helman at East Wing’s Common Room. The boys were watching TV and were looking after Haqqa’s little siblings.

We did toy around with the idea to take the big banner on the lamp posts, but couldn’t be bothered. In the end my big belly won the battle of will against sentimentality.


The next morning was uneventful (or so we thought). We woke up, said good bye to the hotel, the prostitutes (they were no where to be seen) and Cockman Road and headed south. I travelled with Allen in one car, Knoe joined Shahrol in Shahrol’s.

At Tapah we met Pojue (Class of 2004, ex debater) while we were having ice creams.

We originally thought it would be fun to convoy with Pojue, but he was driving at 90/100 kmph (biasa lah baru sebulan dapat lesen!). After a while we decided to abandon Pojue and sped off towards KL.

The plan was to meet at Knoe’s place before we headed home separately, but that was not meant to be as Allen and I became the sitting duck for a very silly accident. We were waiting at a junction when a car in the opposite direction did not stop where it should and rammed an oncoming motorcycle. The motorcyclist flew and landed on Allen’s windscreen, his leg all broken. The motorcycle hit Allen’s car’s right side, before the stupid car came crashing in head on. We were OK, but the car was totally wrecked.

Allen had to spend the next 6 hours at a police station to give his statement, since it was most likely going to the court.


Frodo Majid was not at all hurt throughout the journey, though he was quite shocked. He has since recovered and did not have any plan to sail to the West.

The olliphants had a huge erection while walking and this was captured on camera – presumably Miss Thailand was riding the olliphant (you would too if it were you ha ha).

More pictures here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

So Near Yet So Far

The image of the kids holding back their tears and putting up a smiling face on stage in front of the crowd who for the past four days never failed not to clap for them or boo them, is still the freshest thing in my mind even after I am slowly settling down in office again after the hectic 5 days at UIA. The silent tears that they tried to hide when they finally made to the group were the most heart breaking experience any coach would have to bear.

I suppose it’s a sign of ageing that as you grow older, the fatherly and elderly instinct also grows stronger in you. I felt this when I started to have nephews and nieces, that somehow I no longer look at children in the way I used to look at them. They were no longer the insufferable, annoying creatures who turned my house or my room upside down, but loveable, cute creatures who somehow had strong grips on you that when you were away for long, they were always on your mind.

Back in koleq, if I were to cry after a defeat in any competition, it was because for koleq’s sake I wished the result would have been different. It was a totally different feeling yesterday – I was really crushed not because koleq did not win but because I felt so strongly for the kids. It was too poignant to see them smile with tears in their eyes, knowing they had put so much hard work for this and have never complained, have never rebelled, have never disobeyed us despite how much we drilled them, despite how much we put them under pressure. It was really sad that in spite of how proud I was of them to have come so far in such a short time – I still could not congratulate them on getting the labour of their toils.

It is pretty obvious that the coaches are getting a bit too attached to the kids. When we agreed to commit to their coaching back in 2003, I had always intended it to be a quickie – coach them for a month, let them go to PPM and win, and I would have done my duty and honoured my promise to the teachers.

But those who have watched Mr Holland’s Opus would understand that teaching or coaching never works that way – “life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”. Slowly you become very absorbed with the people you coach and in no time they become attached permanently to you. Maybe it’s like raising children, to watch them growing up and to share their joy and sadness is the best gift any parents could have.

And we did share their joy and sadness – although we laughed more than they do in front of them, at the most heart breaking moment, we have to put a braver face and do our crying on our own, usually in the car on the way home!

We have overcome many things in our life as adults – either at work, in career, in student politics or even in negotiating rooms with leader of political parties, British MPs and ministers, foreign counterparts etc. etc. – but nothing prepares me for the heart break. It’s very difficult to break us in our daily life, but I don’t even have words to describe what I felt upon seeing the kids so crushed like that.

But victory and glory is never easy hence the meaning it brings when we are finally there. The boys have come this far and they have not wavered even once – it is atrocious for the coaches to waver and to give up now.

We shall recover from this heart break; gather our strength and composure and soldier on. The kids will get what they deserve one day – and they deserve the trophies more than most koleq teams before them.

“It is not the hard work and long hours that is most terrible about it, it is the heart break that we get year after year” – Ben


1) MCKK1 and MCKK2 both qualified to the semi final for the BM category. MCKK2 (the junior team) defeated the favourite SAINA to go to the final. It would have been an all MCKK final, but that opportunity was denied. MCKK1 lost to SAS and as much as I know that we always meet with moot results in our debating history, I still feel the result should have been different. The next morning, MCKK2 lost to SAS in the final.

2) MCKK1 and MCKK2 both qualified to the knock out rounds for the English category, making MCKK the only school with all teams through to the knock out rounds (after the first 6 rounds). MCKK2 (the junior team) lost to St Xavier in the octo-final, whilst MCKK1 lost narrowly (and controversially) to RMC in the quarter final.

3) MCKK was the runner ups for both English and BM categories for last year’s UIA tournament. The trophies eluded us once again this year.

4) “still teringat that night English debate between MCKK2 and SMAP Kajang...darn proud watching Ed, Baku n Nabil in action....” – Knoe. The same feeling that most of the coaches and old boys felt seeing our boys in action.

5) My sincerest thanks to all the coaches and old boys who were with the boys – the number of old boys joining our ranks is growing bigger. We could not have done it without you guys and it is during this kind of tournament that I am reminded how thankful and grateful I am that I have had the privilege to be a budak koleq, for you could not have asked or found better companionship and camaraderie elsewhere. My tribute to:

Yusoy (Class of 89)
Ben (Class of 90)
Dany (Class of 90)
Shahrol (Class of 93)
Knoe (Class of 93)
Allen (Class of 94)
Fazurin (Class of 94)
Sani (Class of 95)
Adique (Class of 02)
Amir Zharif (Class of 03)
Izzat (Class of 04)
Afiq (Class of 04)
Pojue (Class of 04)
Emo (Class of 04)
Muiz (Class of 04)
Ami (Class of 04)

6) The kids made a sum of RM2,500 altogether for the tournament – RM2,000 for first runner up and RM500 for semi finalist.

7) PPM is in SAS Putrajaya from 28 May 2005 to 2 June 2005. If you want to see how good these kids are, please be there. They need your support.

MCKK1 BM tengah prepare I

MCKK1 BM tengah prepare II

Kereta Sherry pulak tak nak hidup, tak pasal2 kena jump start from Allen’s car

Coach dalam hati nak nangis, RM750 sekali Ben borong Coke je sebenarnya

Group photo I

Group photo II

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


We lost again in the final, and it could have been an all MC final but we were denied of that opportunity. My worst nightmare came through - for the second time in a row, we lost in the final.

The kids (they were the junior team) couldn't hold back the tears after putting a brave face on the stage. Looking at these kids that we have become so attached to cried just broke my heart. Am so heart-broken - this is just too tiring.

* We discovered a prodigy - an extremely good debater superior in both oratory and thinking skills, not seen since Ben's time. He might not come to Ben's standard, but he would be the closest to Ben. And he's only Form 2.

** Haqqa did well, but I will write about that when I recovered from the withdrawal syndorme and the heart break.

*** They didn't wail (which was good), but the manly tears of disappointment and sadness were so poignant I felt like hugging them and tell them that all would be well and was worth it. It could have been me fourteen years ago.

Friday, April 08, 2005

From The Star: Eleven Teens In Finals For The Best Speaker Title

Haqqa, the captain for koleq's English debating team qualified for the final round of English Speaking Union's Public Speaking Competition - being the only Malay lad selected for the final round. The final is tomorrow at Eastin Hotel, so if you can make it, please drop by to support Haqqa.

At the same time tomorrow, our teams (four altogether) will be competing in the debating tournament organised by UIA. Haqqa will have to rush from Eastin to UIA tomorrow to catch up with the first debate.

I have seen the schedule and there are 4 debates on Sunday and Monday. I wish those kids in UIA (yeap they might be in uni but they are still kids, if only they realise it) and the lecturers who supervise them weigh the effect of cramping three or four debates in one day on 14 - 17 year old school boys. It was exhausting for us the coaches, let alone the kids, and they have to go back to sit for exams after this.

I know it must feel quite grand to be able to organise a so-called "large tournament involving hundreds of schools", but to do it at the expense of the welfare of 14 - 17 year old school children is pretty pathetic. I have a strong urge to write to UIA to ask them to plan for this carefully next time - if you want to involve hundreds of school, then either do it at stages or over a longer period of time, so that you don't cramp 3 or 4 debates in one day - but thinking of past experiences of how some of the so-called adjudicators were actually adolescents and therefore more prone to punishing my team for my outbursts, I will just make my points here.

Some of us will be around to help and to support - I hope they will do better this time. They have worked really hard all year around.

Anyway - kudos to Haqqa (his auntie actually won PPM in 1994, so debating is not exactly new to his family)

Eleven Teens In Finals For The Best Speaker Title

PETALING JAYA: Eleven youngsters with the gift of the gab will further hone their skills as they prepare to be the country’s best young speaker.

They were drawn from a pool of 37 aspirants for the grand finals of the English Speaking Union of Malaysia (Esum) Public Speaking Competition 2005 at the Eastin Hotel here this Saturday.

Judges selected them at Menara Star here on Monday from a list of semi-finalists who had made it through the preliminary rounds held simultaneously in Kuala Lumpur, Kuantan, Penang and Kota Kinabalu four days ago.

The two top winners of the national competition will earn an all-expense paid trip to London next month to represent Malaysia at the International Public Speaking Competition 2005.

Seventeen-year-old Yap Han Ern, one of those selected for the finals, said he was pleased to go through.

“This is my second year in the competition.

“I hope to use everything that I have gained from watching the winners last year to improve my standing,” said the teenager, who travelled from Johor Baru for the preliminary rounds in Kuala Lumpur.

The finalists included Anushka Ashwini Devaser, Au Yong Wai Nyan, Melissa Long and Suraiya Abdul Munaff, who all from Kuala Lumpur.

The others are Farquar Haqqani and Khor Lynn Ju (from Penang); Anusha Rajadorai and Karen Moy (Kuantan); and Lin Meiyi and Melina Tay (Kota Kinabalu).

Esum chairman Tunku Dara Tan Sri Naquiah Tuanku Jaafar said she was pleased with the growing response to the competition, which is in its third year.

“The standard has gone up by leaps and bounds. If you compare it to the first year, when many were scared to attend the workshop sessions, this is a good development.

“We are also very impressed with the response in Kuantan and Kota Kinabalu as this is the first time we have gone to these places,” she said.

The competition, with the theme Differences and Diversity, is jointly organised by Esum, HSBC and The Star, and is open to all students aged 16 to 20.

For enquiries on the finals, contact 03- 79671236/ 1250.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Reflection II

Nothing changes really:

- still in office without fail to the night

- still not enough time to blog, although whatever I want to write about the 100 Years Celebration has been steadily accumulating at the back of my skull and is now pressing my brain, so it's pretty painful

- still cannot clear all my outstanding work and I am beginning to wonder whether I need all this now

On the other hand:

- Awie is officially a father (and a legitimate one at that)

- More and more people have posted CCD pictures to the batch's Fotopages

- Koleq will be sending 4 teams to UIA Debating Tournament that will start this Saturday 8th of April. If you can make it, by all means please be there to give moral support to the boys. We managed to reach the finals for both the BM and English section last year, hopefully they can do better this year

- **** confessed the gravest sin ever committed by someone in this batch so far - he bought a pirated copy of Butterfingers' album (in hell you will spend the rest of your life)

- this blog has surpassed one year, and the batch's website is going to hit 10 next year. Sometimes in our daily rush we forget how long we have been around (or how big the belly has been growing lately)