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Little Things 148 : On death


A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die. - Franz Kafka

1. Franz Kafka is known as a depressed writer, he wrote things oddly beautifully and miserable. But I couldn't agree more with that specific quote that I read several months back, on the wish to die.
= If you start to understand the meaning of life, you'll greet death as your friend. 

2. Something that I also linked with Lucy - *the latest movie starring Scarlet Jo. In the scene when she finally used up all her brain's capacity and understands it all - despite cliche story line (Transcendence + Limitless) the philosophy behind the movie was so intriguing. It captured my heart.
= When you understand it all, you'll see that it is pointless to do anything that we thought was so important and huge in our lives. 

3. And I just finished reading Murakami's - Colourless Tsukuru Tazaki & his year of Pilgrimage, about Tsukuru that wished to die when his 4 close friends decided to stop being his friend entirely, without any explanation. He was depressed and suicidal, which were negative categories of wishing to die, so it is hard for me to relate to this. But, being simply said, it was about accepting death, accepting life. I think I need to reread this book, it seems like I'm missing a huge point here.

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Greeting death as something natural is fairly understandable for me. I reached a certain age where I accept things that I can't control and I am aware of all things in this world with its hidden meaning. I see life and God and creation and the world, as one entity, and I realized that although I am here, physically, I am also not really here at the same time. How can I be exist and not exist at the same time?

Sometimes it is disturbing to think about the day when my very essence in life will no longer be here, and what I leave are just floating memories and consequences of every possible things that I did when I was here. But dying is just as natural as breathing, and everyone dies eventually.

Different roads to the same destination.

Places : Istanbul 4


The Grand Bazaar is a place everyone talks about. A must-go place in Istanbul. One of the largest and oldest market, over 3,000 shops, 61 covered streets, more than 300,000 visitors daily. Fancy.

We got a chance to go there on our last day. I wanted to buy little trinkets that I can bring back home and that was my only chance. My mom was determined to find a good leather bag/s with a great deal because we've heard so much about the place and its leather. 


We went in from one of the entrance. I saw 2 things : people and colours. The over-whelming crowds, never-ending long paths in the maze of items and too many local shopkeepers. I can't buy things in there, that was exactly like the last time I was in Beijing and we visited the huge 5-levels building that claimed to sell pirated stuffs cheaper than any other places or while I was in Pasar Baru in Bandung. 

It's a tourist trap - waiting for people to fall in like a huge pitcher plant waiting for its victim. I knew this by the eager look on the shopkeeper's face and the smell of dishonesty. Call me a cynic or whatever, I can read human by what they portray on their outward attitude and appearance. This is a repetition to every place I've been to. Frustrating reality.



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We went in to the leather markets. Coats, bags, hats, briefcase, hanging everywhere. The place smelled like a room full with animal skins. We looked around, trying to find the price range for those things. 
"Ze bag iz 500 Lira", that's around RM 1,000 for a fake Burberry.
"I want local leather, do you have anything local?", I asked.
"Local?"
"Local, here. Leather, hand-made from here. No brand".
"No brand? No-no. Burberry you no like? Gucci? Ferragamo?"
"No, I want no brand". 
"How much is this one?", showed him the little white bag.
"300 Lira".
"What? No".
"Yes, yes. It iz good quality, see?", he burned the leather using a lighter.
"Too expensive", we walked away from the shop.
"No, no, how much you want?", typing away the calculator fast, "180 Lira, good? Yes?"
"No, no thank you".
"Iz cheap, yes. 150 Lira", he then took the bag and put it in a cheap plastic bag.
"No, I don't want it. 100 Lira?".
Clearly annoyed and started talking in Turkish, "Ok, ok, 100 Lira".
"No thank you".
You see? It's a lying game. We bid the price. Innocent people get cheated, and I hate that. Why can't they just put a proper price tag on each item and give proper discount without having to cheat tourist? 

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I told my little group about avoiding those fake designer brands and try to find anything without those fancy brands. Maybe those things are still real leathers, perhaps local made and tagged with designer's brand just to lure customers or meet the current market's need. They looked, smelled and felt exactly like one - but the fact about buying fake brands just so you can have the tag/name written on your bag, is still wrong. 


I ended up not buying anything from the Grand Bazaar because everything was at least 100 Lira after discount - RM 200 for little leather bag isn't what I need. Finally, I bought bookmarks that looked like Turkish carpet from outside of the Grand Bazaar along the corridor of little shops. 
*I still got 1 bookmark left, avid book reader can send a comment down here to have zis. 
Thanks for reading zis long post 

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Little Stories 82 : That blue jogging shirt

I was walking out from my apartment's corridor when the cleaner stopped me at the grill. 

"It's opened. I need to do the mopping".

I smiled. I asked her about her busy day and she explained to me about how the management asked them to mop until the 2nd floor and leave the 3rd floor, but she can't just avoid cleaning up another 1 floor, can't she? - she asked me. I nodded and smiled, mentally unprepared for the long conversation.

Distracted, my eyes can't stop to explore the design on her blue t-shirt. A familiar design of abstract splotchy white and grey. It's the t-shirt I left near our apartment's waste house several months ago, in a paper bag with other clothes I've overgrown to wear.

How many times did I imagined random situations where someone would take those bags I left and chose whatever useful to wear? How many times did I asked myself whether what I was doing is perhaps beneficial to others? Should I throw the jeans I can't no longer wear? Should I just throw the over-worn shirt away?

I was excited. She seemed uncomfortable having my eyes staring at her chest and ended the conversation :F

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It would be pretty awkward if I told her that the shirt she was wearing was my favorite shirt that I used to use to jog every week around the area. Excited tak bertempat, yes I am :D

Places : Istanbul 3


After a long walk, lost in the city of maze, several talks with the locals, a medium-length Metro ride, we arrived at Sultanahmet station. It was raining heavily, we ran to the sidewalk and went into some shops at the corridor near the station. Merely looking at things until the rain stopped. 


People were everywhere. Tourist, locals, faces from all around the globes, variety of languages spoken among those crowds. A pure heart of Istanbul, we were heading to The Blue Mosque, or Sultanahmet. We went to the nearest little mosque for our Zohor prayer - having asked to pay 1 Lira to go to the pubic toilet to take wudu'. Clearly I was annoyed because we need to take wudhu' from little sinks cramped in a small toilet. Old ladies were having a hard time trying to balance of their body. Surely the government thought about improving their Mosque's toilet? After all, the city is crowded with thousands of people daily. 

After the prayer, we walked towards the Blue Mosque. 

The boys bought freshly squeezed pomegranate juice for 5 Lira, seduced by its red ripeness - no sugar, 100% juice, to learned that it does not tasted sweet at all. I challenge all of you to have a taste of it one day, so you would know, how to judge a taste by its looks next time :D


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We arrived at the mosque's area, snapping pictures away. Too many people, too many faces, all eager to take perfect pictures - can't deny that I was overwhelmed by standing so close to the majestic architecture myself. It was a magnificent beauty, and I was speechless. I wish we were more relaxed, slowly sipping in the taste of it, enjoying the view, taking more time, instead of rushing things off. But being in a group teaches us how to be tolerant towards each other, right? And we got countless of explorations to do in the next few hours before the night came.
So I took what I got. 






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And this is what I got, an awkward pose standing in front of the mosque, after my mom forced me to :


Nothing as bad as what I watched in Taken. Everything was light and vibrant, other than random riots, I think this is a safe place to travel alone, strictly using *streetwise 101 rules. Definitely a great place to return to, because it got so many places to be explored, little gems in hidden places and fresh vibes 

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Little Stories 81 : Little Urchin


"A ragged urchin", I silently thought.

In front of me was a boy as little as 5-6 years old, clear brown eyes, messy sticky hair and dirty cloth. He smiled mischievously at me. He spoke to me in language that I can't understand. He was pleading with his eyes, with his eyebrows pointed downward and his lips pursed so I would give him another piece of Batik DIY. I gave him 1 the day before and my mom said not to give him anymore or he would sell those later.

"No", I signaled with my index finger to him.

He pleaded some more and I thought "wow, this boy surely knows how to act", a bit obvious but innocently cute. He reminded me of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain that I've read when I was young and learned the word urchin for the first time.

I told my mom about how beautiful his eyes are. She mostly ignored me and asked me to handle the situation or the other kids will keep on pestering at the booth. I thought about a pack of choki-choki I brought from Malaysia. 

So I gave him one. He took it from me fast, clearly happy and ran off.

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The locals said that those wandering kids were not Turkish, they were Syrian refugees. The government gave a permission for Syrians to come and live in Turkey. 

PS : The beautiful little boy came again later the next day for his choki-choki
Thank God I bought a pack.

Little Stories 80 : RapidBus Driver

Previous posts : bus conductor to Metro's bus driver.

Several night ago, I waited for my usual daily-routined bus in front of the train station. From afar, I saw the usual Rapidbus arriving and when it was near, people crammed to get in like the usual Malaysian way.

From the bus's door, I saw the bus driver with his formal Rapid's shirt tucked in his black pants and his hair tidily combed. I sense some familiarity. You see, when you take the bus everyday for years, you'll come to recognize certain faces. It was the same ex-bus conductor to ex-Metro bus driver, now he is a formal driver for the Rapidbus. No longer in his slipper, blue jeans and t-shirt.

He grinned at me and I smiled back.

All through the ride home, I can't stop thinking about how he improved level-by-level all through the years - being an immigrant must be tougher for him because he has to compete with the locals.
But he made it :D And I'm happy for him.

He honked the bus and grinned at me after I get off from the bus to walk home. 

*PS : I just noticed that I wrote about people I met in public transportation a lot.

Little Things 147 : Being straight-forward


Although most of the time I am pretty soft-spoken, I can be quite straight forwardly rude. Can't blame it on introversion, because I had always been the one that wants to talk my mind. 

Example :

1) Normal question people would ask when someone just got back from a vacation is whether he/she brought back 'ole-ole' or not. I've never been so good with answering small questions, so I would ask "Why? Why would I buy you anything, it's too expensive". - Because I don't normally spend money on things while I go anywhere, that's the whole point of budget traveling, right?  

2) When my mom asks me why I hardly 'like' her images on Instagram, I would say that I only will 'like' images that I really like, but that also means that I don't like her posted images. And she will sulk over my honest opinion. She said I should 'like' it to show support, even if I don't like the image - and I said I call that as hypocrisy. She will sulk even more. 

3) When people say things like "the government doesn't do anything right for the rakyat" - I would probably reply with saying, "and you thought you are doing anything good for the country that deserves the government's attention?".

4) When people say that they look fat and unhealthy. I said then you should go exercise and take up a healthy diet, you are what you eat - it's not rocket science, so stop whining because I don't really mind how you look like as long as you are happy. 

5) When people whine at all, I said : instead of whining, try to settle the core problem. 
You actually already know how. 

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Most people call it rude, 
I call it straight forward.

Sometimes I rather stay quiet and pray that I won't answer anything too straight-forwardly because no one really wants to know the truth and I really need to get the whole idea of social communication - or I'll end up being a jerk all the time. 

But most people trigger my honest opinion, and I don't like to lie. 
Ends up with me as a jerk after-all :F

Places : Istanbul 2


On our 5th day:

At Taksim, we went exploring on foot. We found so many beautiful pathways and alleys, welcoming our exploration. The day was hot and sunny but we were hidden by shadows from old buildings and soothing cold sea's wind. We found a beautiful small bookshop and I asked the owner if he sells any map. With little English understanding, he nodded and passed his last copy of Istanbul's map in English version.

Beautiful place, ain' it?


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We used the map to know our rough location, but we were mostly lost in the maze of beautiful buildings and only aimed to go to the sea. It was enjoyable though, walking on random street, finding beautiful roads and shops, meeting local people. 










So we walked from Taksim Park to the sea port in Karakoy and towards Kabatas. And after half of the day spent walking, we decided to take a train ride to Sultanahmet. All decided randomly without any specific plans. The arguments over which way to go were endless, and we asked people several times to guide us. I don't know how my mom can actually go through it the whole day, but it was super fun. 

We were lost several times, but they were the good ones.
:)

I am pretty good with remembering roads and pathways, and quite good with navigating, so this, THIS experience, having to make use of my super-skill, felt totally awesome :D I need more of this, please.

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Little Things 146 : Random writing in Istanbul




Odd enough, I'm beginning to understand about my little journey in this foreign land. 

Although the first few days were fully occupied with people and work, 
slowly I began to have a clearer view. 

It is not about the place, or the people. It is not about the food or the weather. But it is about how deeply involved I was with the moment, whenever, whatever condition I'm in. If all I ever think of is not here altogether, it feels as meaningless as it seems. 

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06092014, little moleskine.

Place : Istanbul 1


I'm back ! 
I'm quite excited to type down all the things that I've experience so I can get it all out. So I'll write in category : the event, the weather, money, people, places, transportations, little stories, and such. Until I've had enough of talking about Istanbul. 

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About the Event :
It started when my mom received a call from Balai Seni Visual Negara during Eid. She was invited to participate in Malaysia Cultural Week in Istanbul for a week, fully sponsored; food, transportation, accommodation. She was asked to do demonstrations on Batik and teach Batik DIY to people. It was a great opportunity, so we told her that she should go. On one condition that she wanted one of us to go with her. 

On rational mind, I think spending around RM2,700 for a return flight ticket is a bit too much for me. But seeing that :
1) I was the only one with flexible time because I've never used my annual leaves.
2) I was the only one with personal travel fund i.e : money saved for traveling purposes.
3) My mom said she won't go alone - even if it was fully sponsored =.='
4) I only need to pay for the flight ticket. 

So I decided to go.

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Other than helping my mom with the preparation and booth, I taught people how to colour Batik. They were given 10 x 10 inch of fabric with waxed designs. We brought 100 pieces of Batik DIY, and brought back home only 1 piece. So you can imagine the crowd we had on those event days.


Among other participants : kain tenun, wau, potret, water colour paintings, teh tarik & roti canai, anyaman, manik Sarawak, tarian and other local specialties. 



There were people from all over the world; Kuwait, Ukraine, Turkey, China, Indonesia, Singapore, etc. English was not so useful though. Most of people that came by to our booth can't even speak English, teaching only by one obvious word per time and sign language. Kids were really easy to teach, adults can be really challenging. I should do this often.

There was also volunteers from Malaysian students in Istanbul that came to help us during our event. So most of the translations were done by them :D


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On our final day of the event, there was a protest by the local people around our event. I've never seen any live riots before. Things got bad when polices came to control the crowd, we were asked to stay in our booth, protected by the wire fence and security :F Things were hectic afterwards. Helicopters, police fired tear gases and people were running. We packed our things as soon as we can.


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The event was a success, we got overwhelming crowd and response, launching night was colourful and exciting, many new friends. Exhausting - but totally worth it. 


Places : Istanbul


Expensive flight tickets, lost passport, and confusing boarding time. 
If there are still stories for me to tell, I'll be back to write some more.

Behave, readers.
I'm off to Turkey.


Little Things 145 : Independence


Maria Popova wrote an article on The Psychology of Our Willful Blindness and Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril, and in that article, she included a TED session by Margaret Heffernan on the Danger of "Willful Blindness".

During the Merdeka Day holiday I got yesterday, I had several conversations with my siblings on the topic of Independence Day and what it meant to them. Roughly I got the idea that we don't really put much of thought about the freedom that we are having right now because we don't really know how to compare it with 'not-having-it' at all. Simply put, that we are taking it for granted.

From the meaning of freedom to reasoning with boycotting some brands for Gaza crisis. We choose to be ignorant. There was a phase in my life when I chose not to know anything than being emotionally committed by every single crisis in the world, and I understand the ignorance. I needed that, once. Now, I prefer to know and roughly have ideas/thoughts on it. 

Let's educate ourselves.


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