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Books : March List


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9. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

This reading took almost 3 weeks, longer than I intended. More than 600 pages long, with small text beautifully aligned near each other. My colleague asked me; "Is this your first Murakami's book?", I said it is my third. She said she will only read one book per author to know the writing style. I wanted to disagree but decided to only let this thought silently echoed in my mind : "You can't judge a writer by reading only one of his/her book."

If Zahir is about an obsession of finding a missing wife by Paulo Coelho. Then the Wind-up Bird Chronicle is an obsession about finding a missing wife by Haruki Murakami. They are almost alike in the theme and main focus but with a totally different lesson to be learned. 

With Haruki, it's always dream-like, ambiguous, seemingly lost in the character's thought, stories in stories, and most of it doesn't even make any sense at all. Sometimes I got short "hm" while reading, in the random odd chapter of one of the unimportant character's letter or childhood experience, imagine for the whole one chapter! The story doesn't even relate at all, except to vaguely explain certain behavior or is it?

I always wonder, what makes him write about random people in his own story? He makes all characters, even the one that crosses the road or work at the laundry have their own life in the story. He is that detailed to the bones.

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10. What we talk about when we talk about running by Haruki Murakami

For anyone who wants to understand why some people love running so much, this book might give you a glimpse of what a long-distance runner feels about running. He wrote it to understand about his attachment with his routined life and while learning about himself in his running journal that he kept, he shared with the world about himself.

True, it isn't much. It is more or less like reading an informal journal. I learned about him, his routine, and his obsession. Anything to give me a glimpse of who he is as a real person in a real life, that is more than enough. I highly recommend this to people who love running, and writing.

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11. Short Sufi Stories by Mohamad Yasin Owadally

This reading took less than 2 days on the train. A compilation of short stories for wisdom and guidance. The story that you heard when you were around 7-12 at sekolah agama. A light reading, I enjoyed putting yellow stickers on useful stories that I could use in the future. One of my favorite :

You've no idea how hard I've looked for a gift to bring You. Nothing seemed right. What's the point of bring gold to the gold mine, or water to the Ocean? Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient. It's no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these. So - I've brought you a mirror. Look at yourself and remember me. O love, O pure deep love, be here, be Now, be all; worlds dissolve into your stainless endless radiance. Frail living leaves, burn with you brighter than cold stars: Make me your servant, your breath, your core. 
Rumi says, "God is your mirror in which you contemplate yourself and you are His mirror in which He contemplates his divine attributes." 
Ibn Arabi says, "I won't serve God like a labourer in expectation of wages". 
- Love of Allah & Remembrance ( page 48 )

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12. Langit Vanilla by Wani Ardy

I bought this book, among other books from independent poets.
I loved it ! I love how clean and neat her language is. The way writer writes things usually reflect how he/she thinks.

In my opinion, there is this trend of writing self-expresion in the form of so-called art. Even though art itself can be anything and everything, without any limitation. I strongly believe that art should be beautiful. Be it in words of poetry or story, or painting or photography. It should be beautiful. We might see things differently; some people think death is beautiful, some people don't. Some people use bad words in every breath and feels nothing, some people never even said the word "shit". So I guess we can't really put a real definition on that, huh?

To conclude this, I don't prefer to read any written books with obscene and vulgar language, even in a manner of speaking. Independent writing or not, just be aware of your language. We have enough dirts and rubbish in life.

Hati manusia itu sesuatu yang rumit, sulit. Sepuluh orang boleh melalui peristiwa yang sama, tapi belum tentu dua orang merasa perkara yang sama. - Pemuja Rahsia.
Kau manusia, kau tak boleh ada semua.  
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Little Things 119 : Designers vs the World

01 :

One of the editor came to me and asked me to find a suitable image for the latest article. We have accounts for Shutterstock and Bigstock, so finding images aren't so hard. 

He stood next to me while we both searched for suitable image in Bigstock. But none could be used. So he said to me;

"How about Shuttlecock?, 

I looked at him, "Sorry?".

"The other account. Shuttlecock."

I looked at the computer screen and smiled to myself. 
"Oh, Shutterstock".

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02 :

A journalist came to me and informed me : 
"I have new photos that I found suitable for the article. 
Can you do your magic and make it usable for us?".

I sent her the edited version of the images and she said :
"I have no idea how you guys did that".

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03 :

I heard a journalist commented on our work :
"These infographics you guys did are really nice. 
Too bad people don't read it".
=.=
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The great thing about working in a place with a mixture of people from different field is how interesting every one of us can be. There are writers, reporters, editors, translators, designers, web-masters, photographers, videographers, and other people from sub-departments. 

Everyone of them are passionate about what they do, working on one single thing that matters to them. And I feel inspired by their energy. 

PS : Writing this on my Wednesday day-off while eating 'pau kacang' and getting ready for a jog.

Excerpt 04 : Missed chances and Regrets

Norwegian Wood ノルウェイの森 (1987)  -- by Haruki Murakami
"But who can say what's best? That's why you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness where you find it, and not worry about other people too much. My experience tells me that we get no more than two or three such chances in a life time, and if we let them go, we regret it for the rest of our lives."
I think I missed all my chances and I'll live in certain unavoidable regrets throughout my life.

But oh well, it's life.

Little Things 118 : Why interns need to be paid?

The cost for a student to pay for an internship costs around RM2k in one of our local private university.

I exclaimed, "That's expensive! Why the university asked students to pay RM2000 for a course that they are not even included with, except for the 1 hour session of coming to the office and meeting the supervisor to check them up?". That's absurd. 

This is a life of a student. They don't make money. They take bus/train/taxi rides to work that costs money. They need breakfasts and lunches, that cost money. They were asked to bring their own laptops because the company decided to make them feel unwanted and unimportant that they just need to come and be there just to work, free labour. They have to buy suitable working attire. Those are all money. 

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1. The university charges RM2000+ for an internship course. 
2. An internship usually takes around 2-3 months, so it is not included in the PTPTN loan.
3. The company usually don't pay much or 'at all' to students. I'm not sure why, I guess there's some issues of : "Well, they come to learn, so we have the right to not pay them but use them instead, after all, they wanted it". 

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Imagine they need RM 10 for daily commute to work : 
RM 10 x 6 (days a week, including half-day on Saturday) x 12 weeks =  RM 720

Imagine they are all so 'kesian' and only use RM 10 for breakfast, lunch and dinner :
RM 10 x 7 (days a week, including half-day on Saturday) x 12 weeks =  RM 840

The room they need to rent for the whole 3 months :
At least RM 200 - if lucky, in KL x 3 months = RM 600

Fees for their course :
RM 2000 

That's around RM 4000 +.

And the company they work for pay around RM 300, if they are lucky. 
If not, they don't get paid at all. 

How on earth did they think the students get their money from?

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Companies need to at least provide breakfast and lunch for students. Also travel allowance. That much is more than enough to help a student building up his/her future. Just support the student's life for several months while they are working for you, it's a win-win situation. You are not teaching them rocket science, after all you are using them with their tiny bits of experience to complete small tasks. 

Universities need to stop taking money from students. What's with RM2000+ for an internship? Those "we can't change the fees, the system is fixed" is ridiculous. Forcing students to go for an internship is one thing, forcing them to pay so much is just unacceptable.

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Little Things 117 : Maps


"It's this way, yes, trust me", and we hit the wrong way.

"Okay this time, I think we are right, go this way", and again, nope.

I am bad with maps. I have no idea where to go while looking at maps, even using the high-tech voice-out Map from Google. There are too many roads, too many junctions, which one is the right way? How many times did my mom scolded me for taking the wrong turn? Or how many times did we need to fill up the gas because we keep on using the farther way?

I can't read maps, that much is true.
I am one of those woman who can't read maps, even how structured they are. 

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But trust me when I say, I am good in remembering roads and places. 
Give me once, or twice to navigate around the area and all those visuals will be stored in my mind. I can even imagine the whole area that we covered from a bird's view, in my super-awesome-brain. I don't need to know how to read map. 

You navigate, I'll be your co-pilot, 
and we'll be those super-awesome duo who travel the world with both wings.




Little Things 116 : Detachment



After reading 3 of Haruki books : IQ84, Norwegian Wood and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, I can see a huge obvious pattern about Haruki, as a person. He is not only an introvert, it is more than that. He can't connect with the human, so he watches from afar, he learns human. That explains his detailedness.  

I know that, because I am like that. I understand the detachment, I understand the failure to connect and unwillingness to commit with other human beings. We understand human because we want to learn and try to be involved in this seemingly interesting social life, but it's like a plug with a different socket, we just can't connect. I can merely look and learn and understand, but it is not the same way as how it works with me. 

I tried. Really. Sometimes I am even pretty good at this whole drama. But the truth is, I just don't get why certain things are like that. Not that I don't feel sympathy, or sad, or angry, I do. But there's this invisible wall that keeping me inside, and I'm not sure whether it is good or bad. It is not protecting me from being hurt, because oh boy I do feel pain - I am overly sensitive being after-all. But with human, I feel the barrier. 

Does everyone feels that? Or am I just traumatized by my childhood experience resulted from my genius psychopathic father? *note this, my dad is not at all violent, but I love to define and categorize human to understand them better. I bet no one can deny my dad is psychopath if they do see him like I do. At certain point, I feel like I also got have these psychopathic behaviours because how else did I noticed him manipulating me. I am aware that only a manipulative person can notice that they are being manipulated by a manipulative person. Eureka ! On second note : the psychopathic behaviors are the ones with incapability of feeling love, guilt, remorse or empathy and really good in manipulating people in getting what they want. They understand human the best. I do feel love and remorse and guilt tho. I'm totally off topic.

The truth is, I believe that I found myself in Haruki's world. I feel like I am not alone. Some people fail to be attached with human, and this is not comforting, but at least we know that we are not alone in this. So I learn him, in helping me learn about myself :F


Fourth Haruki's book : What I talk about when I talk about running. Running is one of his obsession, so let's read something other than his fiction this time. I promise after I finish all his works, I'll find someone else to obsess about ! :D 

Small extra note : 
I read all Jodi Picoult's fictions - that's about 20 novels on various law issues.
I have almost all Shaun Tan's & Craig Thompson's graphic novels and children books.
I read all Mitch Albom's book except the latest one, just because.
I also read all Paulo's journey, except fictions - I think he is not as much as a great fiction writers, he is at his best when he preaches and talks about his journey. 
I also read Cornelia Funke's and Carlos Ruiz Zafon's books, even if it's a young adult's fiction. 

I guess I can be pretty obsessive when I learn stuffs. But that's how I learn, this is totally normal *pat in the back*.

Little Stories 76 : Immature Mean Kids


I'm not comfortable with kids in a certain age of 10-17. They can be a bit mean, and I usually avoid them. *salute all the teachers of the world. The age of immaturity, a sense of wanting to be someone, experimenting with different personalities all in one time. 

I always feel a bit insecure with them. They can be mean and they have their parents to back them up. I'm not fooled by their small features. Sheshh.

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I ran in front of the school yesterday. Kids were walking back from sekolah agama, 'oh how I hate the time I need to run while being surrounded with a group of kids'. So I tried to walk faster, until these two little girls around the age of 10-11 wanted to walk pass me. 

"Oh excuse me, makcik", she said. I cringed.
"Eh tu bukan makcik la. Tu kakak la", her friend nudged her.
"Eh sukehati aku la nak panggil dia apa pun! Makcikkkkkkkkkkkkkk ! ".

=.='

PS : But I really-really love small kids tho.  

Little Things 115 : Connected


When I run, I feel connected with my body. 

The inner strength and physical movement combined to achieve something. I don't like to run, really. I don't like how the hot sun makes me darker, the smell of my sweat dampening my shirt, the huffs of my breath and my aching heart pumping blood rapidly throughout my whole body. 

But it makes me feel connected. 
The way our body says it is time to stop when our mind plead to keep on moving. I love how it makes me feel. I love the silent understanding, when both my mind and body agree that they need to work with each other to finish up the whole session. 

People forget this. 
The good connection that they need between the soul and the physical body. When you run, you'll get the connection. It's your personal time. I can hardly remember how many people did I asked to try running, even for once. I want people to notice this. The first few weeks are always the toughest, but when you get the routine started, it will all fall in accordingly. 

The thought of sitting in front of the computer whole day and night is just, amusingly disturbing.

PS :
I did my 8th run several weekends ago at UPM and just signed up for several more this year. How about you? 

Excerpt 03 : Solitude

“Solitude is, more or less, an inevitable circumstance. Sometimes, however, this sense of isolation, like acid spilling out of a bottle, can unconsciously eat away at a person’s heart and dissolve it. You could see it, too, as a kind of double-edged sword. It protects me, but at the same time steadily cuts away at me from the inside. I think in my own way I’m aware of this danger—probably through experience—and that’s why I’ve had to constantly keep my body in motion, in some cases pushing myself to the limit, in order to heal the loneliness I feel inside and to put it in perspective. Not so much as an intentional act, but as an instinctive reaction.” ― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Little Stories 75 : Compiled


There are 4 lifts in the building I work in.

Only one lift rings a 'bell-like' sound every time I press a button. For the past 2 months, I keep on asking myself, "why does only this lift makes a sound?". Later today my 'eureka' moment struck me. The lift is fully equipped for people with special need, in this case, the bell is probably created for blind people so they know that they had pushed a button in the lift. 

The lower buttons on the side part of the lift, the ringing bell every time someone push a button, the little 'wheel-chair' sticker sign on the lift's door. Why I took 2 months to realize the rationale of such a small thing ?

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Several months ago my Mac Book Pro's internal speaker make a muffled sound when I watch movie or  listen to songs. A vibrating voices, something told me that after 4 years, the speaker might be broken/any other technical jargons that stating my internal speaker is no longer functioning well. 

I took that as a sign of aging.

Several days ago, I found out that when I plug-in my earphone into the Mac, it won't make any sound. Complete silence. Indicating that not only the internal speaker is broken, even the plug-point for the earphone is broken now. No speaker, no earphone.

1. I can't watch Grey's Anatomy. Might as well I learn to lip read.
2. No longer early morning song blasting in my sleepy ears.

Why do all things have an expiry date?
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Books : February List

I finally bought plastic wrappers for all my books. 
Finished wrapping every books I got last year and this year while watching Season 10 Grey's Anatomy. Last night I even slept so late on work night, just because I want to finish off the whole half-season series and continue my busy schedule with no distraction. I haven't looked like a black-eyed panda for so long. Phew. 


I might be taking this too seriously. 
This are all the books and short stories read in February :


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4. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Khaled wrote The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Those two books are highly recommended, he undeniably a great story-teller.

I got the hardcover version as a birthday gift this year, the paperback version that I was waiting for is not even available yet. His third book told another story backgrounded with Afghanistan, about relationships : child and father, cousin and caretaker, foster family, friends and stranger. 

Not the best of him as The Kite Runner, but pretty decent.
Short note : Don't buy the hard cover. It's heavy.

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5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I finally found the cheaper version for this classic 1920s book printed by Collins Classic edition from HarperCollins at Popular - price RM 9.90. That was after several attempts of searching in 1.Kinokuniya - a lot of much fancier versions that cost more than RM60 for a thin classic, 2. Junk Bookstore - tried to find a second hand version, but sold out, 3. Every Popular I came across when I went window shopping for books. Maybe it got a lot popular since the movie. 

On the book -
The writing is much simpler than I thought a classic would be. A bit straight forward, less flowery, quite simple. Comparing with the movie, the book is a bit dull. I loved the movie, that pushed me to read Fitzgerald work. I think this would be one of the rare occasion where the movie is much better than the book. I watched the movie 3 times - in my busy schedule. I can't even believe it.

I think it would be a great book to be in the school English literature list, because it is not too thick, with simple writing but still considered as classic, and a lot of arguments and discussions could arise from the book. Especially on the character's personalities. 

Or maybe I just expected more.
"The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly."
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6. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
I bought this book from the Junk Bookstore for around RM 30, a second-hand, hard cover 2002 version. I love Cornelia Funke, I wish I bought the trilogy of Inkheart way back when I was in school, the hard-cover illustrated version, the one that I used to borrow from Tasya. That version was perfect ! I only got the last book : Inkdeath in my college years as a Valentine gift. Since then, I never found the exact same version anymore.

So when I found the book in the secondhand bookstore, I just bought it.

I want to read every Cornelia Funke's book to my children. 
It is not as extraordinary with a great storyline as Harry Potter, but it's just a book that is fun and easy to read with children. Every time I read it, I'll be thinking the same way. So it might be just a fun read to kill time for adult.
"Children are caterpillars and adults are butterflies. No butterfly ever remembers what it felt like being a caterpillar."
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Short stories :-

7. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
I didn't know the book was written by Fitzgerald. I was using Stumbleupon when I stumbled on a database of online classic literature available for free read, and it was a Sunday at work. The three of us were lazying off that late afternoon and I was bored. So I read, it might took around 30-45 mins for the short story, maybe even less.

The book is 'almost' completely different from the movie, like fraternal twins, born from one source, but look different from each other. I never thought the book was as blunt as something I might write in my SPM creative writing paper. I can't imagine Brad Pitt while I was reading it.
"You’re just the romantic age,” she continued- “fifty. Twenty-five is too worldly wise; thirty is apt to be pale from overwork; forty is the age of long stories that take a whole cigar to tell; sixty is- oh, sixty is too near seventy; but fifty is the mellow age. I love fifty."
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8. All God's Children Can Dance & On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning by Haruki Murakami
2 short stories I found from Scribd. I didn't know they were sharing Murakami's short stories! I read all that I could find, selagi permitted for free reading. Rakus. Like all Murakami's work, it got a little bit of oddness, some were quite straight-forward, it might seem like a writing practice. Not a masterpiece, just an easy-read. 

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At this point, I think I might be reading just like people watch television. Taking every words into my mind and process the story and the message and the person who wrote it. By far, my favorite person to study would be : Haruki Murakami.