Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Yvonne and I

"Yvone who?" you ask. Yvonne Ridley, that's who.

"Yvonne Ridley who?" another ask. Sigh...

Hang on, I'm in two minds already. Should I continue writing this, I would have to put my silly mug up for display. Hmm...let me just 'lat tali lat tamplung' with myself awhile.

Ok, I lost.

In May 2006, the Islamic Information Services, together with Saba Islamic Media, organised the International Islamic Fair at PWTC, KL. The fair showcased a host of Islamic products from several countries in an effort to promote products which are suitable for the muslim community worldwide. Apart from that, seminars were also held as well as an Islamic concert featuring some international astistes including Sami Yusof (if my mind serves me right). For the seminars itself, several big names were invited to speak which, among others, include : Tun Dr. M, Dato' Mustaffa Ma, Ustaz Nasharuddin, and Yvonne Ridley.

As I was then still a volunteer with wtv8, I negotiated a deal with IIS: allow wtv8 to shoot some footages and make several interviews. In return, wtv8 will give a copy of all raw footages to IIS for their disposal. Alhamdulillah, they agreed. And soon, there I was with a colleague with our newshound equipment. Nothing so grand as most of the money for the equipment came from a single well-wisher with the rest chipped in be the members of the wtv8 team.

My colleague - Wak Kasiran - and I, did turns being the cameraman. As for the reporting, interviewing, driving, PR, and even equipement handling, most mostly handled by this wanna-be reporter, that cakapaje bloke, that is.

It was our 2nd major assignment. The first was in February which was Kongress Ekonomi Nasional 2006 held in Subang Jaya. But then, the whole team plus some extras were there. This time, it was just the two of us.

The 1st day went fine. We even managed to join Tun's Press Conference, mingling with the big boys of media. Cakapaje even managed to throw in a few question, though the rest of the media team did not take it kindly. Oh well, what do you expect from a couple of 'bidan terjun' journalist.

On the 2nd day however, I stuck to my guts ( and thick hide) to hound Yvonne Ridley for an interview. Though the international media has played her interview numerous times, this was a first for wtv8!

For our purpose, we were given the exclusive use of the VIP Room. Or so, we were told. But halfway through it, a rather noisy lot entered the room and had Yvonne quite bemused.

A lady reporter from an Islamic magazine asked permission to join in. I didn't mind. To be honest, I was getting some butterflies in my tummy then. I mean, there I was, a wannabe journalist, trying to interview an internationally reknowned journalist from UK; just what exactly WAS i thinking of when I requested for her time? But as it was, she was kindly accomodating and we managed to wrap it up within the hour.

Now, for those not very familiar with Yvonne, kindly permit me to bring you slightly up-to-date.

During the Toliban rule of Afghanistan, Yvonne and several of her colleagues sneaked up the border from Pakistan, to make a reporting on the 'evil' regime. They were caught and held in a prison for a period of time. They were later allowed to go - with apologies from the government! They were thought to be spies! When the Toliban realised they were not, they were given safe passage to the Pakistan border. However, prior to their capture, they found out some interesting facts:

1. Yes, the Toliban did not allow women to go to school. But, they also did not allow men too! The country was reeling from the effects of infighting between the various factions and situation was quite chaotic; all schools were closed - male and female!

2. The women of Afghanistan were treated equally in accordance to each faith.

3. The Toliban were not barbaric and cruel. In fact, throughout the captivity period, the Tolibans were kind and polite.

Before her release, Yvonne made a promise to the Toliban that she will study the Quran. Though it took her a while keeping to the promise, she did so and soon after became a muslim on her free will and 3 years after release in the safety of her country of origin, England.

Sometime later, Yvonne performed the Haj. Now, her exact statements here was something that astounded me:

"I was in my hotel room when the azan was said. Knowing I was already late, I rushed down the hotel into the streets to head towards the mosque. The street was already packed with people with the same intention, and we all jostled one another to get ahead. As we neared the mosque, the Takbir was heard. Immediately and all of a sudden, all those jostling people including myself, stopped in our tracks and began standing in line for prayers. I looked around in total amazement and wondered alone: This (muslims) has got to be the most disciplined army in the world!"
The interview ended soon after that and wtv8 played it for a whole week - minus the statement above as the person who edited it could not make heads or tails of the content...sigh.

Anyway, enough of my ramblings. My reason for writing this - apart from wanting to share the experience - is that I have just only received the still photographs. That's my mug up there, mind you. Wanted to put it below, but just did not come out that way...sigh

Monday, September 25, 2006

Early morning ramblings

Its 1.11am Monday morning now. Can't go to sleep. May be had too much of it earlier in the day. But there was a time when I hated the very idea of sleeping - sometime between the age of 17 to 23. No, I did not have imsomnia, just hated to go to sleep. To me then, it was a real waste of time. In fact at one point of time just after MCE, a buddy and I went 72 hours without sleeping. But off course, on the 73rd hour, we were a total knock-out and slept for more than 12 hours. Yup, we were plain crazy.

Also then, I was slightly on the mushy-mushy kind of guy. Usually at this time, my mind would begin to make poems and those sort of things. But, that was then. Now, I think its a bit dried-up up there.

There was also a time then, when I would just get into the car and drive aimlessly in KL. I do love drinving especially when alone and doing long distances. To me, the solitude gives the mind a time to think and reflect on oneself...amid all the din of the radio, I must add. But then...

This 1st Ramadhan, I had the urge to press the accelerator pedal to the floor. I did, though only for a short while. Then I was suddenly reminded of the many road fatalities and the two I nearly had. Well, actually, I've had several close calls. But these two were the ones that crept into my mind today.

It was around dusk and I was near Taman Mayang on my way to my brother's house in Taman Tun at what is now the LDP; it was a dead-end there then. The traffic light had just turned green and I begun moving. On the left lane was a Daihatsu Charade. As soon as we entered the now LDP, my eyes picked-up something wrong on the curve ahead. The lights of the opposing traffic seem to flicker. I could not make out the actual cause. Little did I know it then, but I was soon to find out.

The divider of the road were cement slabs which the road contractors could move according to their - it seems - whims and fancy. On that particular day, the contractors had moved the slabs to facilitate their work. But like any other driver, I hugged to the rightmost to prevent my car from accidentally jumping lane, especially at the curve. To my horror, there stood the culprit of my suspicion earlier.

Not 25 meters after the the curve, my mouth was agaped at the sight of a lamp post that stood in the car's path! I really cannot remember what transpired, but my right leg must have jammed the brake pedals even as the occupants in my car was screaming. Still, the car rammed into the lamp post, climbed up some several feet, and did a 180 degrees, turning to face the direction we had come from. By the time my mind snapped to reality, I could see people rushing to the scene to assist in whatever manner they can. My two cousins at the back was groaning in pain as did the other on the front passenger seat. I was like, dumbfounded - in a momentary state of shock.

The rear left passenger door was forced open by someone and both cousins were dragged out. Then, they assisted the other cousin in the front. All I could do then was...watched! It was when all 3 passengers were out did they come to my door and tried to force it open. But I could see the door would not open as it was slightly bent in the middle. Calmly, I told them to leave it be as I tried to crawl out through the passenger's door. It was then I felt a sharp pain on my left ankle. Somehow, the crowd got to the other side and pulled me out to the grass.

Moh, my fat cousin, had fainted, while the other two were eerily quiet. I could do nothing but kept apologising to them even as I was clasping my left leg in pain. I looked at the car and realise it was a total write-off. How, despite all the damage done, did we survive, I totally have no idea. Later, I had my first ambulance ride to the University Hospital in PJ where the only great damage to my body turned out to be a badly bruised ankle.

The episode did not end there. Some 3 weeks later, I received a letter from a woman demanding I pay a certain amount of money to her for the hardship she experienced from...hitting my car from the rear! Her car, a Honda, was badly damaged and she was trying to sue me! Though I was fined RM100 for damaging public property - though I entirely refuted it - no court in the world would find it the favour of the driver hitting another car in the rear! In fact, I learned later that it was due to her that my car climbed the lamp post and did the 180 degress turn. However adamant she was, I just brushed her off. And the traffice police allegation that I was speeding does not make sense at all. For heaven's sake, I was driving my brother's Mercedes 240D - D marks the vehicle as having a diesel engine. And diesel engines - then - just do not have what it takes to accelerate especially the short distance between the traffic light and the scene, which could not have been more than 150 meters? But, pay the fine, I did.

It was a totaly different story some 3 years back. For one, I was not blamed nor did I have to pay any fines. In fact, this time, the real culprit was identified, though he still does not admit it.

I was driving on Jalan Parlimen heading towards Bank Negara's traffic light/roundabout. My mum was beside me as we were invited to a Buka Puasa in KL. There was a motorcyclist on the left lane. Even from afar, I could make out he was an off-duty Security Officer from the bag he was carrying; it peculiarly long and does not need a genius to note that it was intended to carry a rifle/shotgun. There were not many cars on the road, and as I overtook him, the traffic light turned green. I noted the road ahead was clear and maintained my speed.

As we approached the traffic light, I saw this motorcyclist ( and a pillion rider) coming from the opposite direct (Jalan Tun Perak). All of a sudden, he began to turn to his right. As though he suddenly noticed my approach, he tried to make his turn into a u-turn or was trying to bring the bike to a stop. I do not know which nor do I truly care. But his evasive action was far too late.

Exactly just under the bridge, the motorcyle rammed into the front right wheel of my car. The whole episode, though only a few seconds in reality, was etched in my mind like in slow-motion.

I had pressed the brakes then. As soon as the motorcycle rammed, I saw bodies floating. The rider was thrown to the front and hit his head on the right rear passenger door. The pillion rider, flew front across me to crazh onto the windscreen right in front of my mum. He rolled down the front side of the car to land on his buttocks. Miraculously, the car screeched to a full stop only inches from his face. My mum and I were both somewhat shocked. Then, the funny part happened. The part which actually had me thinking then whether or not to laugh!

Its the norm for motorcyclist to come to each other's aid in times of crisis. In fact, they even band together against drivers of other vehicles. Its like a camaderie between them. An unwritten bond that exist and could only be understood only if you happen to be a motorcyclist. Remeber the Security Office I passedby only earlier?

As soon as the accident happened, he rode to my side. My mind was going like: "Oh no! Not another one!" And, it was not. His very first words shocked me more than the accident itself. Verbatim:"Bang! Saya nampak kesemua kejadian ini bang, nak saya tumbuk mereka?" With my mouth agape, my mind was going like:"Huh? Is this for real?"

I later called my brother to inform him of the accident and that we may be able to make the Buka Puasa with him. Oh! Incidentally, its the same brother whose house I was on the way to when I met the earlier accident. Anyway, he came by, took my mum, and left me to clean up the accident at the police station. When it was done, I drove back on an empty stomach thinking of all the good food I had to miss, and not knowing the bill to the damage would set me back some RM3,000 without the paint. Still, something good must have come to even with all these. What it is, till now though, I have yet to figure out.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In the Limelight?


Hang on, foremost, Esah, thank you very much for your comments. I must admit I was flattered by it. Interesting eh? Hmm...that's just like saying Sofian is a one-dimension, politically blurred, full of spite, intelligently charming with ladies, but down on his luck of an ingrate. Incidentally, come to think of it, he is!

Oh! Don't get me wrong! He IS, a nice guy. When he wants to be-lah! Otherwise, he can be a real pain in the you-know-where. In fact, had he not told me about your comment, I would not have known at all. Last I logged-in, I believe, was a couple of months back or so. That was when I was still a volunteer with wtv8. Now, I'm not.

Anyway, even after Sofian informed me of Esah's comment, I've been putting off logging-in. Why? Don't really know. Perhaps, fear. And true enough, what greeted me here was something that shocked me quite a bit. I mean, over 300 people suddenly appeared out of nowehre to view my blog! Shocked and pleasantly surprised, I admit. But hello! I'm a private kind of an individual. Though 300 viewers is just a small number to many a bloggers, its HUGE to me! Furthermore, with all the grammatical errors and what-not mistakes, this can be very embarassing! But if its any consolation - to myself, actually - I don't plan what to write nor do I edit them. I just allow it to flow. To heck with the mistakes, hehe.

Geez...I'm blank now. Really! Cannot think of what to write. And to be honest, this has been the state of my mind for several months. But if you ask Sofian, he'll tell you it been like that for the lifetime he knows me. So, don't ask him.

There' actually a Malay word for the situation I'm in: terkedu - shocked and disheartened, that's what it is.

I had wanted wtv8 to be more than just a politically-inclined internet TV. I wanted to it touch base with the viewers by airing social news such as events at orphanges and such. As we were all volunteers and not gainfully employed, leeways should have been given for us to produce programs which would ordinarily not see the daylight in c0mmercial tvs. What irked me most was when a request to air the latest news during the Israel invasion of Lebanon was denied. An Ustaz had sms-ed me from Lebanon requesting for time and I relayed it. But for some uncomprehensibly unfounded and invalid fear, wtv8 turned it down. To me, its like "how insensitive can you get to the plight of the innocent". Thus, I left them. Eversince then, I've just been wandering my mind. Its like being jilted. Then again, I was the one who walked out. So end another chapter of my life.