THIS IS AN ORDINARY TITLE

VERY GOOD, YOU COULD READ.

Now that I have your attention (or annoyance), I would like to talk about migrant workers. Yes, I’ve put away writing long enough and the first piece I’ve decided to write on is about migrant workers – exciting, i know right.

If you’re a Malaysian (keep reading even though you aren’t one) you’ve probably heard about the thing that our beloved deputy Prime Minister had signed with the Bangladeshi government in Dhaka – to bring in 1.5 million workers to work in various industries. They are to be placed in sectors where the locals deem to be “Dirty, Dangerous and Difficult”, well, according to him anyway.

With the social stigmas surrounding migrant workers as pervy, greedy and dirty – sure enough it caused a huge outrage among the citizens, no surprise there. People are already condemning the larger possibilities of future social problems with the sudden influx of more than a million Bangladeshis.

Jesus Christ, get a grip man. These men came in as workers because, just like you and me, they have families they need caring- kids they need schooling – cats they need feeding. If they could find decent jobs back home that earn them a good enough income to sustain his/her family, do you think they want to travel thousands of miles just to be dehumanized by you?

I’m not saying all of them are saints. Sure enough there would be one or two fucked up ones that would steal your kids and threaten you for money; there would be one or two terrible ones that would fuck someone’s daughter just cause they felt like it. God damn it, these things happen everywhere and it’s not because they’re merely “migrants”, they’re assholes, simple as that. There are Malays who rape children, Chinese fuckers who rob in broad daylight – I don’t see you criticizing that. Bad apples, we have them everywhere, just keep an open mind, Jesus Christ. If you want to educate someone, educate them on not raping – and that would contribute to the overall well being of the country. Stop complaining you idiots.

Jesus Christ, talking about this upsets me greatly. Our government isn’t very helpful either. With their shady dealings and non transparent work ethic, it’s no wonder the people resent their decisions so much. Hey now, I don’t want to pretend that I know a whole lot about politics, I know just enough for me to start a yelling match with old people. Point is, it doesn’t take much for one to recognize the dire state that is the political situation in Malaysia. I couldn’t count the times where I just sat in front of my tv/newspaper/news portal completely baffled by the sheer distasteful ways our officials handled situations. We elevated the word embarrassing to a whole new level.

Before you start lamenting, “Oh come on, Zhen you’re just another one of those kids who think the government is completely fucked up, what’s your solution eh eh?”, let’s get one thing straight. Let’s face it, we are looked upon poorly within the international community for obvious reasons; and two, I don’t just point my finger at the government, I point my fingers at everyone. I complain about everything. When life gives me lemons, I complain about lemons.

For God’s sake, I’m not anti-government, neither am I pro-government. I didn’t go through those Godforsaken PKR internships, I don’t worship Anwar Ibrahim like many do. I do not raise my UMNO keris and shout Allahu Akhbar. I hate everyone equally. Point is, if we, the people, kept pointing fingers and play the blame game, NOTHING is ever gonna change.

Shaping a nation isn’t easy, if you’d make me the President I’d probably fuck it up just as how George W. Bush did (top 3 worst US President in my opinion, a complete idiot). The power of a nation should belong to the people. When the leaders of the country become too powerful, that’s when it’s no longer a democracy. Blinded with the power, wealth and unlimited possibilities, the country can only head toward a darker future, that’s WHEN the people have to put a stop it.

I kept saying we the people, we the people as if I’m American, konon. I’m just part-time Asian, to be honest. Vera Tan always reminded me that my duty as a journalism major is to keep the people informed and help the country – as she persuaded me to become a journalist. To be honest, I couldn’t care two cents about Malaysia, but the people gave me something to think about.

Citizens always cry out that our beloved governing party leaders are racially-driven, bla bla bla whatsoever. What makes you different than them, when you’re putting on negative connotations on the 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers? Are they not humans? Are they any different than you? Do they not have a heart like us?

People please la, be objective, keep an open mind. I’m not saying I would love 1.5 million more people to enter this already crowded city. Jesus Christ, imagine the traffic and crowd it’ll cause, I’ll hang myself just thinking about it.

While I’m still heated typing this furiously, I questioned, what is the purpose in bringing in all these workers, we are a self-sufficient nation (wtf hahaha)? IT’S OUR OWN FUCKING PEOPLE WHO DON’T WANT TO WORK THESE DANGEROUS, DIRTY AND DIFFICULT JOBS. Why not? Pay is terrible, benefits are terrible, hours are terrible, “Eh I have a degree in mathematics you want me to go wash bathrooms? Did you knock on your head or something?” INDEED I FUCKING HAD KNOCKED ON MY HEAD WHEN I WAS A KID (that explains everything). That wasn’t a joke, but on a more serious note, they are not wrong.

With the terrible pay and benefits, how can anyone support themselves, living in this highly inflated, horrible dollar-to-dollar value country? Economists can say all they want, the poor-turn-rich can advise us to save up all they want but the truth remains – how difficult it is to live on a menial job’s wage in this expensive Malaysia.

Who is there to blame for such terrible living standards? The government? Oh come on, that’s cheating, we’ve already blamed them for most things, let’s just give them a break this time. Who else can we blame? The employers? Fuck yeah. Don’t be such a cheapo, pay your locals more to attract them to work for you, instead of being a loser and hire cheap migrant work force. They might argue, “Oh then, who’s gonna pay for our loses then, we have our families to feed too.”

Oh fuck.

CAPITALISM.

The moment we equate any societal value to money, we have already reduced ourselves below humans. The more we indulged in worldly attachments (aka money), the less human we become. In order to get more dough for ourselves, we compete with each other to reach the top; while the ones on top would compete with each other to remain at the top. It’s a vicious cycle, endless and inhumane.

After rambling on and on, here we are snickering at how stupid we all are – ideas and concepts and morality and politics and life became obsolete instantaneously when money is put into the equation. It’s the one factor that us human, can be swayed by. No matter how good a person you are, when money is involved, you’d change, one way or another – don’t give me your Mother Theresa bullshit.

As I sat here writing and thinking (for once) – what the fuck am I writing, do I even have a point?

I actually do. I want everyone that have lasted this long reading this to hear me out – to keep an open mind, to love people, to be a human. Of course, I’m being idealistic, but if we as an individual, can contribute bit by bit, the world would be a better place to be in. Be it to that cleaner you see every morning, or the Nepalese security guard you see at your complex, or that fucking noisy neighbor kid, or the cat that always shits in your yard – take a step back, relax, forgive them.

As for this country that I don’t give a fuck about, I might start writing again. I’ll write for those that care to listen, and to those that needed listening, write to me, I’m only an email away (ngaww gayyy).

As I hit publish, I hope my two cents can give people a better sense of social judgement. Judge all you want, but hey, if you’re in the other person’s shoes, do you want to be seen this way?

 

 

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Destination: Comfort

My love for food is unquestionable.

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” – George Bernard Shaw

I budgeted my travels in Seattle, but I spared no expenses when it comes to dining.

There were four different sensations to the food experience I had in Seattle.

Food is love, love is food. To live is to eat, to eat is to live. Blaming my Malaysian background, I can eat. And mind you, I do eat.

So, I went to Pike’s Place Chowder.

A place where they proclaimed to have the best New England Clam Chowder in the country.20140316_121201

It was a small little outlet. Crowded with customers I managed to sneak my way in and got myself a taste of what many called, heaven.

It’s refreshing, creamy but it wasn’t, the best. It has to have something more to be crowned the best. As I was dipping my sourdough into the concoction,  raindrops were gently tapping on the window.

Creamy clam chowder with bits of bacon in it
Creamy clam chowder with bits of bacon in it

It’s not just what was in the chowder that made it amazing. The atmosphere, the tradition, the passion these guys have are all part of what makes this the best in the country.

I slowly finished the remaining chowder.

There, I experienced aspiration.


Later in the week, I stumbled onto the doorsteps of a restaurant that serves Malaysian side dishes. I had broken shoes. Rain droplets seeped through the holes of my soles, wetting my socks.

By the time I reached the restaurant, I was cold, I was wet and hell, I was hungry.

Tears almost rolled down my cheeks when two pieces of roti canai were placed right in front of me. It has been almost two years since I last saw one.

Heavenly dough fried on a flat top served with curry
Heavenly dough fried on a flat top served with curry

Comfort. It was un-fuckingbelievable.

There, I experienced home.


A couple of days later Seattle was blessed with some beautiful sunshine. I took the opportunity to visit a nearby Bainbridge Island.

The welcoming sight of the little getaway island 35 minutes off downtown Seattle
The welcoming sight of the little getaway island 35 minutes off downtown Seattle

Completely on foot here on the little island. I made way past a good part of the island on that particularly sunny day. I made it a point to have good seafood while I was there, preparing to splurge.

Not only was I unable to locate a seafood restaurant, most of their restaurants were closed on Mondays. As I wandered around disappointingly, a bustling cafe came into sight as I walked around the corner of Wislow Way. Entering it, I found an American diner worth checking out.

Eyeing the first sign of Pacific ocean produce, I picked the fish and chips right off the menu.

Crisp, tasty and juicy. Just the way fish and chips should be
Crisp, tasty and juicy. Just the way fish and chips should be

It was excellent.

Contrary to the fillet we have back in Wisconsin, this was actual fish. I’ve never imagined I would be that excited to see this. The Pacific cod had soft flesh and it the fried, breaded fillet made it succulent as well.

Comfort. Here, at that moment, that was fulfillment.


The  last stop before I made way home was an obligatory Korean place. I don’t remember the name of the store but the warm food was very welcoming.

Spicy tofu served with rice and fragrant tea
Spicy tofu served with rice and fragrant tea

That was my last night in Seattle, I took my time eating. A book in my hand, a fork in another. It was a perfect ending for a cool, rainy night.

There, it was closure.

 

Destination: Solo

It’s been a while since I get something on here.

So over spring break, I made my way through this little metropolitan city within the Pacific Northwest. With an estimated 630,000 people living in the urban area, the city offers everything you could imagine.

From arts and culture to fish and chips, you could find anything if you look hard enough.

I wandered around on my own for a couple of days. Doing a little soul-searching in this increasingly hipster-looking city, impresses me. The people of Seattle have such quaint shops on every corner of their streets. Pike Market Place is the epitome of my statement.

Seattle's most famous farmers market.
Seattle’s most famous farmers market.

The marketplace is filled quirky little shops that peek your interest. Small handicraft shops, historic magazines, coins and other crazy little businesses can be found here.

20140316_101221 20140316_101149

It rained and rained. The first two days I was there, I had to walk around with an umbrella in my hand. When I asked the locals when’s the best time to visit Kerry Park (a famous spot that overlooks the harbor of Seattle), they smiled and told me, “It’s rainy and by Seattle’s standards, this is considered beautiful.”

So I went.

Rainy day, from Kerry Park.
Rainy day, from Kerry Park.

No, it wasn’t just beautiful. It was captivating. Standing under my trusty Badgers’ umbrella, the view of Seattle’s skyline took my breath away. Quickly snapping a couple of panoramic shots, I slipped away.

It’s nice to able to walk around without the constant haunting of schoolwork. Without a schedule to keep up, I walked freely those six odd days. I napped when I wanted and slept when I’m tired.

There were no social obligations.

The road less traveled. Cliche
The road less traveled. Cliche.

Walking around casually, looking at things that interested me, stopping to check out shops that attracted me.

Somehow I find this wall fascinating. Beautiful piece of graffiti collection.
Somehow I find this wall fascinating. Beautiful piece of graffiti collection.

“I never found a companion that was so companionable as solitude.” – Henry David Thoreau. 

Gotta let it loose once in a while. Thank you, Seattle.

Destination: Lost

Airplanes, many would associate them with freedom and hope.

“Hope is the dream of a waking man.” – Aristotle

It has been a dark weekend for Malaysians.

MH370 Malaysia Airlines Flight Missing #PrayForMH370

 

How often do you hear planes as big as the Boeing 777 go missing? This happened early morning last Friday, Malaysia time. The connection between the pilot and the control went off without any signs of dismay. No trace of the plane can be found thereafter, gone.

All gone.

It has been more than 36 hours and nothing conclusive can be found.

“Broken bottles in the hotel lobby, seems to me like I’m just scared of never feeling it again.”

Travelers, you of all people should know how excited you get when you stepped into a plane.

This. Is. It.

I’m jetting off. My next adventure begins.

by Alberto Riva
by Alberto Riva
by Alberto Riva
by Alberto Riva

It hasn’t been the same for those on board of MH370.

As searches intensifies, we can only cross our fingers hoping those who are lost, can find their way back home.

Destination: Quiet Escape

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.

– Shirley Jackson

Quiet day at the Ferry Building
Quiet day at the Ferry Building

Once in a while, you should wander off on your own. Familiarity is a good thing, it’s one’s comfort zone.

However, sometimes too much familiarity can be burdensome. The age-old saying, “The more you know about someone, the less you like them.” is a strong punch in the guts. People grow apart, it’s inevitable.

“I made a plan, stay the man who can only love himself.” 

Mayer’s lyrics sums up the sentiment. We are taught to love everyone. The more you give, the more you receive. That’s not true. We, as human beings, saint or lame, are subjected to feelings.

Down the lonely lane
Down the lonely lane

We can never change the way others act. However, we can choose how we act. Take a hike, grab some coffee, read a book. Go out, learn new things.

You deserve a break.

Grab cuppa coffee, unwind.
Grab cuppa coffee, unwind.

While you’re at that remember, there’re still people out there that love you.

This girl
This girl
These kids
These kids
That snowman
That snowman

“The truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”  – Bob Marley

Destination: Vision

“It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.” – Helen Keller

20140105_110727
When you’re so high up, the details below do not matter as much anymore.

Joseph Strauss had a vision.

Long before the Golden Gate Bridge was built, ferries were the only way to commute between mainland San Francisco and Marin County. Experts doubt the possibility of constructing a bridge. Among other reasons, the ocean current was too strong, the wind too ferocious. At that time it cost way too much to build a bridge across those two spots. Having a bridge never became a reality.

Joseph Strauss thought differently.

Joseph Strauss, the chief engineer behind the bridge. Copyrights to San Francisco Historical Photographs Collection.

His proposal cost way less than what the experts thought it would. His ideas were practical and seemingly do-able. And it was. The bridge was erected.

Decades later, the Golden Gate Bridge symbolizes the pride and humble beginnings of the San Francisco people.

20140105_120939

So, next time when you’re in doubt, when your vision starts to blur; remember to keep going on.

20140105_122628

When it’s all over, you’ll be overlooking those blue skies.

“Listen to advice, but follow your heart.” – Conway Twitty

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