Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 Birthday Wishlist - Part 2

It seems like the birthday wishlist that I posted earlier comprise mostly of photography stuff, and most of them are either very expensive or hard to find if you don't know where to look for them. So I decided to expand my wishlist to include ordinary everyday stuff that people might be able to look for in any specialty shops or department store. Plus they are probably more affordable anyways ;) so less pressure on everyone!

1. Neckties - white, grey, light blue or silver colored.

2. Nice looking belt

3. Black slacks - waist size 36

4. Shiny tie clips (not pins!)

5. Smart Tag

6. Casing + non-shiny screen protector for Samsung Galaxy Mini (black, dark grey, dark purple, or dark red for the casing or casings)

I'll probably add more to the list as I think up other mundane stuff I can use that will not burn a hole in people's wallets.

If you want to see the original 2012 birthday wishlist, you can go here: 2012 Birthday Wishlist

Sunday, January 29, 2012

United Buddy Bears - The American Bear

The American Bear is quite straightforward - the bear was painted and designed to look like the Statue of Liberty.

The artist that worked on the American bear was Bill C. Ray, an Alaskan painter who is based in his own studio in Berlin, Germany.

It's quite easy to associate the bear with the Statue of Liberty because the artist did such a good job at making sure the important elements are there.

The  bear has irisless eyes and wears a diadem just like the Statue of Liberty, with spokes emanating out to represent rays of light. The difference is that the spokes are more rounded to make the bear look less menacing (in my opinion), and also there are six spokes instead of the seven on the Statue of Liberty. I have no idea why there is a missing spoke, it was probably an oversight by the artist, or maybe it was intentionally done. I am not quite sure.

The bear also holds a torch on its right hand, but since its left hand is also raised, it does not hold a tabula ansata (tablet) like the original Statue of Liberty.

United Buddy Bears exhibition will continue until the middle of February at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, so be sure to check these bears out if you haven't. Next post I will feature another bear representing another country so stay tuned!

For the first post in the United Buddy Bears series, go here: United Buddy Bears - The Malaysian Bear

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

2012 Birthday Wishlist

January is almost leaving us and February looms. The upcoming Valentine's Day starts to pick people's pockets as couples set aside some finances for surprising and delighting their beloved significant others. For the singles or foreveralones, Singles Awareness Day (SAD) will be a chance for them to get together with other single people to celebrate and cherish their freedom (singledom).

February is also the month of my oft-forgotten birthday, because it falls in the middle of February, it is always overshadowed by VD or SAD, and so people usually don't realize I've grown a year older. Hence I usually receive VD treats more than birthday treats over the years, except from my family, who never forgets my birthday of course, and who always would treat me to a cake and birthday presents.

Anyways, I was told to make a birthday wish list, and so here it is, my birthday wish list for 2012, my final year as a twenty-something guy. Included with the list are related pictures and approximated costs should you actually want to save up or pool some money to get me the stuff...

*EDIT: Some of the items in the wishlist have been crossed off because my sisters have bought me the items during our recent trips to KL and Singapore :)

1. Circular polarizer filter (CPL) 52mm (200-400 bucks)

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2. Square filters and holder with adapter rings (about 100-150 bucks for the set)

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3. Tamron SP AF 90mm Di for Nikon (about 1000 bucks secondhand, 2000 bucks new)

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4.  1 TB external hard drive (about 350-450 bucks)

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5.  Nikon Speedlight SB-700 (about 750 bucks secondhand, 1000 bucks new)

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6. Portable folding reflectors - white and silver (about 100 - 300 bucks depending on quality and brand)

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7.  8 GB or larger SD card for DSLR (100 bucks and beyond, depending on size and speed)

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8.  DEMB flash diffuser (150 - 200 bucks, depending on size)

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9. Malaysian national team football jersey (Yellow-black, price depends whether original or ciplak)

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10.  A basketball jersey (dark blue, purple, black or yellow with no.2 and my name IHSAN, price depends)

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But seriously, I don't mind not getting many presents --- your sincere good thoughts and wishes are always enough to make my any day (birthday or not) brighter and better.

But I don't mind presents though. No, really.

Now start saving up your munny. You have three weeks.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

United Buddy Bears in Kuala Lumpur

Last December I took the opportunity of the month-long break I had from work to do some bit of photography. A Sri KDU student, Zoey informed me that "the buddy bears are at the Pavilion" so I headed over there in the heart of Kuala Lumpur to see what sort of thing the buddy bears are.

So I drove my car and parked at one of those shady unofficial parking spots a few blocks away from the Pavilion, since parking at the Pavilion and any of the surrounding areas in Bukit Bintang is either almost impossible or expensive. Walked my way to Pavilion whilst praising myself for the parking decision I made earlier, the traffic jam going to and leaving from Pavilion was a total nightmare. As I neared the place, I immediately saw them --- the Buddy Bears.

More than a hundred of these colorful bears were lined up on the pedestrian sidewalks and the plaza in front of Pavilion. The bears are part of an exhibition called the United Buddy Bears and they'll be staying in Kuala Lumpur for about two months or so.

For most of the exhibition, the bears are meant to represent a country and each of the bear was painted and decorated by an artist from the country it represents. The motifs and decorations on the bear tell you a bit about the country and the culture it represents. I naturally looked around for the Malaysian buddy bear and thankfully the organizers had arranged the bears in alphabetical order according to the official UN listing of the  name of country, so finding the Malaysian bear wasn't as hard as performing an ant swarm optimization algorithm to pinpoint the location of the said bear.

Anyways, I took lots of photos of the bears representing many countries, but for the purpose of this post, let's start with the Malaysian bear.

The Malaysian Bear was painted by Mr. Abdul Rahim Muda, the Malaysian artist most commonly known as Imuda. He was famous for his comic strips in Malaysian newspapers since the 1980's until now and for some time acted in some popular Malay comedy sitcoms in the 1990's.

I took the chance to explore the details of Imuda's way of expressing Malaysia through his artwork on the Malaysian bear. And of course, front and center, the image of Malaysia being multicultural is prominently displayed on the belly of the bear.

Cultures / Race represented: Sikh, Sarawakian (represented by the hornbill), Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Sabahan (represented by the orangutan)
Each major race is shown wearing their respective traditional attire, and the bear itself is wearing a Baju Melayu --- either to express that the Malays are the main race of the country, or that because Imuda the artist that worked on the bear is Malay. Either way, it is not immediately evident because that particular detail is not as prominently presented as other ideas in the artwork.

On the left elbow of the bear is a Malaysian traditional kite, the Wau Bulan. This particular type of kite is meant to represent the traditional pastime of the Malays, especially those from the East Coast where the weather can be particularly windy. The Wau Bulan is one of the iconic representatives of Malaysia and is used extensively in many things, such as currency (the Malaysian 50 sen coin and RM 1 banknote) and corporate logos (Malaysia Airlines).

Closer to the um, crotch of the bear is the rafflesia flower, known as the largest single flower on the planet. It is commonly found in East Malaysia, especially Sabah. East Malaysia, situated on north of Borneo island, though separated from most of the mainland states by the South China Sea, is a very important part of the Malaysian multicultural identity, and is famous for numerous tourist and ecotourism attractions.

The underarm (armpit, really) of the bear shows the Malaysian national flower - the Bunga Raya or hibiscus. It is shown here as a motif on a batik cloth, a traditional type of cloth and art motif common to the Southeast Asian region, used extensively in modern and traditional clothes.

The face of the bear is in my opinion a way to show the identity of the artist, as he normally draws his cartoon characters with big round shiny eyes, glowing cheeks and a big smile.

The United Buddy Bears will continue to be in Kuala Lumpur until 15 February, so if you haven't seen them yet, do take the time to check them out. There are more than just country bears, some bears have special dedications on them and some have great messages as well. Don't miss this opportunity to learn more about the world and about the message of tolerance across different cultures and faiths! Check out for more details about the exhibition.

Next I shall feature another bear representing another country, so be sure to stay tuned!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Al-Fatihah : Allahyarham Atok Yah

A few days ago, my beloved grandmother passed away after a long battle with numerous age-related diseases.

The last photo I took of her, about a week before her death
My mom told me that when I was a baby, I was taken care of by my grandmother for a few months because mom was still a university student in Australia and she needed to focus on her studies and final exams. My dad was just starting to work as an engineer in Seremban, so I was sent to Muar to live with my grandparents for a few months until mom graduates and returns to Malaysia.

I was told that I was not an easy baby to take care of and that I cried all the time. Plus my grandma had to take care of my aunt who was a 2 year-old toddler at that time so she had her hands full not just for my aunt but for my constant needs as well.

When I heard that she was admitted to the ICU, I raced to the hospital immediately after work but by the time I got there, she was almost gone. I was too late. She would never regain consciousness after that.

I wish I had the courage to say what I wanted to say to her then. But I didn't and I couldn't. So let me do it here instead.

Dear Atok Yah, 
I would like to thank you for all the love, care and guidance you have given me over the years while I was a baby, a toddler, a kid, a teenager, and a grown up. I have not been the best grandson to you and I'm sure that in the crowd of almost 60 grandchildren you have, I have not been one to have given much to you. I'm sorry for all the trouble, grief and sorrow I may have caused you from the day I was born till the day you left us. 
The night you went away, I stood next to your hospital bed and saw you lying there unconscious. I could see that your breathing were artificially induced by the life support machine. I held your hand and it was totally cold. Your fingers were blue. At that point I whispered to your ear, trying to tell you that I was there, but I wasn't sure you were able to hear me. 
Kim said you were medically gone, that there was no way you can be revived anymore, and what was little evidence of life left in you were caused by the life support system you were hooked into. At that point, I knew that there is no chance I could ever hear you say my name again, which was the last thing I heard you say when you were alive a little more than 10 days ago. 
They had to pull out the plug and you half an hour later left us forever. You left in the company of your children, they silently watched as you went peacefully and the ECG pulse slowly dampened to a flatline. 
I remember helping to carry the coffin that bears you, it was so light to the point I felt guilty for not suffering the weight of helping to lift you to the vehicle that was to carry you to the cemetery. 
I remember the gravediggers opening your coffin so that everyone can see your face for one last time before they lower you into the ground. 
I remember seeing how peaceful you looked, that your face looked like it was smiling in that coffin, and I immediately turned away so that memory of the last time I saw you will forever be immortalized. So that in the end, the smiling face of my beloved grandmother who had been through so much would be my last visual memory I have of you. 
Goodbye Atok Yah. May Allah bless you in the hereafter. Till we meet again, inshaAllah. 
Your grandson,
12 January 2011
I would like to thank everyone for your kind thoughts, well-wishes and prayers when my grandmother was ill and after she passed away.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2012 Aspirations

To explore greater opportunities for self development and a fulfilling career.

To continue pursuing my master's degree in applied mathematics or any other relevant field.

To experience new things, meet new people, make new connections.

To be more physically active and to eat healthier.

To end my single life.

To be a better person to people I care most.

To do more photographic exploration and expand and develop my creative side.

To relearn Japanese.

To be more honest to myself and others.

To be more appreciative of others.

To have more courage in facing confrontations rather than just avoid them entirely like I always have done.

To have a wonderful 2012.

May you all have a blessed year ahead. Happy New Year!

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