Sunday, July 29, 2007

Saturate My Saturday

"Requesting help from Chinese guys and girls for four volunteers. Dr. Manjunath needs your help. He wants your presence tomorrow at Room 5 at 2.00 to 2.30 pm at the dental clinic."

Inn Shan, in a mass-sent SMS

I woke up this morning at about 10.30 am to the din of my dastardly doorbell, which had conspired with forces unbridled with a sense of propriety and the concept of privacy to ensure that my weekend sleeper-inner would not extend beyond midday. I can't remember when was the last time I truly lazed in bed beyond all natural hours - it must have been a Saturday so long ago that nothing remained of it but a pathetic whimper in the big photo album of happy memories. Two Saturdays ago, it was my birthday. Last Saturday, it was the despicable evil known as the Persistent Encyclopedia Salesman (who nearly had butt-sex with the rusty metal tip of my umbrella).

This morning, the Stone-for-Brains-of-the-Week were a couple of Indian blokes in white coats, sporting name-tags which proclaimed smugly that their bearers are students of the Kasturba College of Medicine, a sister college of my school. I was informed that they were distributing medicinal freebies; prophylactic drugs against filarial parasitic infections. 3 little pills. To be downed at one go. After meal.

As a kid, I was taught never to accept candies from strangers - and I obeyed like the model child I was. If I wouldn't take their candies, I sure as heck aren't going to start popping their pills.

But that wasn't the only reason;

See anything wrong?

It struck me immediately that the centre pill is different from its other bunkmates. Upon closer scrutiny, it was obvious that the packet had been tampered with, and the two side ones have been switched. I looked up the inscription on the middle pill on the internet and found that NVBDCP stands for the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme - all apparently legal and aboveboard. Did someone stole the real stuff and replaced it with duds? Or with something more sinister?

Perhaps some people thought that they can make a bit of cash by stealing government-issued drugs intended for the protection of the rural populace from filarial worms. After all, why give a flying fuck about those poor uneducated peasants, right? Corrupted bastards.

I'm showing these pills to one of my Pharmacology lecturer on Monday to see what he or she make of it. If any of you reading this post right now received these same drugs, I advise you to refrain from eating them.

If you already did, you have my sympathy.

Moving on, regarding Inn Shan's SMS announcement;

Ugh! Hwa' huh huck? Geh id owt! OHW! Tha hucking hhhurkh!

The lesson to be learnt here is: Never agree to what Inn Shan want you to do.

"This is going to be painless," MY ASS.

Leh meh goh!!!

Dr. Manjunath is a faculty member of the Forensic Medicine Department from the Kasturba College of Medicine (yeah, where those blokes who gave me the dud filarial meds came from) and he is doing some "very important" research on palate prints. Run your tongue along the roof of your mouth behind your front teeth. Can you feel the rough, ribbed surface there? That's your palate "rugae", as the good doctor call 'em. According to him, they are as individualistic as fingerprints.

He said that they would be of immense value in identifying char-grilled air-crash victims when we asked him about the practical implications of this research.

I hate to break it to the guy that dental records are already employed pretty successfully these days to the same end.

Torture Dungeon
Check out the huge hall decked with dentist chairs! I call it the Dungeon of Dental Horrors. Oh, that's Jun Man in the chair, by the way. On a good day, screams emanating from this establishment can be heard in the next town.

Anyway, my palate print was lifted by pressing a pink putty against the roof of my mouth with a steel, spade-shaped thing that the contours of my teeth and gum are suppose to fit into snugly. The orthodontist working on me must have inserted it off-centre into my mouth or something because the friggin' thing scraped my gum nastily on the right side and drew blood. Plus, she was pressing pretty hard on it, digging the metallic edge right into the cut. I thought I was going to fucking die.

Then, after a minute, she wiggled the metal watzisname, trying to loosen it before pulling it out. Scrape. Scrape. Scrape. I wanted to scream my head off but I couldn't because - well - why don't you try screaming with a spade-shaped dental thingamajig full of pink stuff with the consistency of shit in your mouth?

That's mine on the left.

I was test subject number 33, Chinese Male.

Lai Yin, Jun Han and Yin Yee also volunteered for this gig but the lucky trio were pronounced unsuitable in the end because they all wore braces. But they did stick around to watch Jun Man and I experience Death by Play-Doh.

Damn, I feel like I'm on fucking CSI!

The above picture is proof of the god-awful torment I experienced on the chair. See that exposed metal bit not covered with putty? That got me good. And if you look carefully enough, you can also see my blood.

Yes, blood. You heard me.

A plaster model crafted from the putty mold.

A boxful of 'em.

Dr. Manjunath giving us an impromptu lecture on palate prints. It was about as interesting as it sounded.

After I got home from the dental clinic, I immediately tossed a notebook and a tape recorder (which I borrowed from Ilyani) into my messenger bag and headed out again. This time, I got business to attend to at Sonia Clinic;

Ooh, blue.

Remember that I mentioned in passing in my last post that I was intending to interview someone there?

Well, I finally did it! Stick around for my next update, okay? There's a lot of stuff I need to iron out before can I put it up.

Till then.

Recently rendered odontophobic,
k0k s3n w4i

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Feast on Friday

"God will provide the victuals, but He will not cook the dinner"

An English Proverb

Luckily, I know some people that will do something God won't.

Last Friday, I was invited to a dinner party at Yin Yee's nook located in some very out-of-the-way and creepy neighborhood near Sonia Clinic (where I'll be going tomorrow or the day after to interview someone for my next post, by the way).

I said yes, naturally. I have never turned down food in my life.

As usual, I was charged with the very important task of providing drinks for the evening (mainly because I am a total incompetent at doing anything else). This time, I received the additional charge of chauffeuring Patrick to the venue because he was still on crutches. No, it's still not a good idea to ask him why he jumped off the balcony.

In addition, I also I received a special request from Yin Yee for the loan of my amp and speakers because hers "wasn't loud enough" - and I was told to bring my camera as well. At this point, I began wondering at what sort of dinner party she was really throwing.

So there I was, with a carton of Activ apple juice and a humongous bottle of 7-Up in my left hand, Patrick attached to my right, and my entire speaker set in a bag strapped to my back - and no idea whatsoever on how to get to Yin Yee's place. We hired an auto and asked the driver whether he could take us to where she lives - but he didn't seem to have heard of Yin Yee or this elusive house of hers before. So in the end, we had to call and ask for her address. You know all those myths about guys being too proud to ask for directions?

Well, they are based on me.

Okay, I'm tired of writing. Here's some pictures for you to ogle at;

See those papers underneath that big, stainless steel bowl? They are our exam papers.

When we got there, they haven't finished cooking yet. Yew Kong was the night's chef-in-chief.

Me, the meat carver. I volunteered for the job so I can sneak some into my mouth while we were still waiting for the rest of the dinner to turn up.

All the pictures were taken by Vincent. I surrendered my snapper to him as soon as I arrived.

I am ashamed to say that he knows how to work my camera better than me. All I know is how to make crappy pictures look marginally passable using Photoshop CS2. I'll have to sit down and have a thorough go-over with the instruction manual one day. As soon as I manage to locate it, of course. You know all those myths about guys being slobs and not knowing where they left most of their stuff?

Well, they are based on me as well.

Here's the menu line-up. Behold and slobber, plebeians!

Crispy chicken with mayonnaise. Lightly and professionally burnt. Me likes.

Eggplant with a generous sprinkling of golden fried garlic.

I don't care what everyone says. Eggplants do not qualify as a vegetable. Why, they are not even green!

Potato, mushroom, onion and luncheon meat stew. I'm making up names as I go along. Bear with me.

Fried luncheon meat omelette.

There's more luncheon meat than eggs in there - precisely how I like it. The red, semi-clotted-blood gloop on it was ketchup, which Yin Yee splattered over the dish despite of my very vocal and vehement protests. I retaliated by eating only the ketchup-free portions, leaving the haemorrhagic nightmare for Yin Yee's dining pleasure.

Anyway, if I was the one preparing the luncheon meat, I'd slice them paper thin and fry them till they are as crispy as potato chips - and burn them slightly for that awesome charcoal taste. You know all those myths about guys being more prone to contracting cancer from eating so much burnt and ultra-barbequed meat?

Well, I am determined to prove it true.

And here's the picture we were made to sit for even though it was already 9.00 pm. We were so hungry by then that we could easily wolf down a couple of zebras and a hippo salad between us - but noo-ooo, we had to pose in front of all these delectable edibles while pretending to look as if we were not at all famished half-to-death;

Vincent actually planned our positions and arranged the dishes for this shot. Now that's professionalism!

Look at Patrick (that guy in white as well, about two heads shorter than me). He's already parked right in front of that pot of peanut-and-something-else-I-don't-remember soup. You may not notice it but my sepet1 eyes were already trained on that pot, ready to snatch it from under Pat's nose and make a break for it.

And the best part was he wouldn't have been able to stop me. His crutches were way out of reach (there, in the left side of the picture leaning against the cabinet).

Vincent, if you're reading this post,
can you please tell me why you quietly took so many pictures of Lai Yin's hair?

People mistake her for Stephen Chow in Kung Fu Hustle all the time.

In fact, if you check out all the camwhore pictures Vincent took in the period of time we spent waiting for dinner to get ready, 90% from the total batch have Lai Yin in them. That sounds migh-ty suspicious to me.

Oh yeah, there are also actually a lot of pictures of me camwhoring along with the gang but don't worry - they will not see daylight, I promise. I'll destroy them as soon as I find the time to do it.

Dinner was AAAWESOME, by the way. We only managed to finish half of everything because our stomachs shrank so much during the torturous wait. I'm not sure whether that is really possible - it wasn't covered last year in our Anatomy lecture classes.

Sooo, when is the next dinner party? I get to prepare the luncheon meat next time, okay? You guys won't regret it, really!


P.S. I still have the rest of the camwhore pictures with me (yes, including that über-embarassing one of Yin Yee and the luncheon meat omelette). Come and get it from me.

P.P.S. My amp and speakers were employed to play a series of sappy love songs all through dinner, much to Patrick's distaste. Also, we used them watch a movie I recommended - and which subsequently caused everyone to fell asleep watching it. Bah

The Charred-Food-Induced-Cancer poster boy,
k0k s3n w4i

1 Colloquial Malay word for the oriental slit-eyes I am bloody proud of, thank you very much.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Kiss the Girl

There you see her
Sitting there across the way
She don't got a lot to say
But there's something about her
And you don't know why
But you're dying to try
You wanna kiss the girl

Yes, you want her
Look at her, you know you do
Possible she wants you too
There is one way to ask her
It don't take a word
Not a single word
Go on and kiss the girl

Kiss the Girl, by Sebastian the crab,
in The Little Mermaid (1989)

Play this song after you have read this post.

The original story of The Little Mermaid, as imagined and told by Mr. Hans Christian Andersen, was a sombre tale of love – and the lengths someone would go in its name. There was no ‘happily ever after’ ending in it. There was a little mermaid who forsook her family under the surface of the sea. There was a little mermaid who traded a world she grew in and knew all her life to live on land. There was a little mermaid who gave up her beautiful voice in exchange for a pair of legs from the sea-witch and was cursed in turn with the pain of a thousand knives on the soft soles of her feet with every step she took – all to win the love of a human prince she rescued from drowning. Yet in spite of all that she gave him and gave up for him, he wedded another woman, and the little mermaid threw herself back into the sea with a broken heart and dissipated into foam.

That’s the lesson of this tale. No matter how truly, wholeheartedly, painfully you love someone; you can never be sure that that someone would love you back. As a child, this story distressed me in ways I did not understand. Now that I am all grown up, it affects my every judgement and action in giving love to another.

It taught me to give everything and expect nothing in return.

A statue of the Little Mermaid sitting on a rock in the Copenhagen harbour.

Not many people today know this version of The Little Mermaid. The popular perception of that fabled and most beloved of mermaids is one who has a head of voluminous red hair, wears a seashell bikini top, and is named Ariel.

Yes, I was referring to Disney’s adaptation of The Little Mermaid. Ariel did not really care for her life under the sea. Ariel did not feel a thousand knife-points stabbing into her feet with every step she took. Ariel did not lose out to a neighbouring princess in her bid for Prince Eric. And most of all, Ariel did not die without a trace, turning into sea-foam and forgotten even by the man she loved with all her heart and life.

I resented Disney’s technicolor, happy-ending insult to Hans Christian Andersen when I first watched it ten years ago. I hated it because it said; "If you love a person hard enough, that person would love you back."

I hated it because that isn’t true.

A period poster.

Last Saturday, I re-watched The Little Mermaid. As a kid, I never really enjoyed any of Disney's feature films because I found them to be both fallacious and forgettable. They are nothing but a mish-mash collage of funny animal sidekicks, catchy sing-alongs and endings as diabetically sugarcoated as only Disney can manufacture - superficial with as much depth as a shower. I thought I had it all figured out.

We can all agree that I was a pretty creepy kid back then.

This time around, I found myself rooting for Ariel. I felt sorry for her when her father destroyed everything she held dear and forbade her from having everything she wanted most. I felt indignant on her behalf when Ursula tricked her, and understood why she would sacrifice so much for a person she hardly knew but loved all the same. The most powerful scene in this film was the one Ariel and Prince Eric spent on the rowboat with Sebastian's "Kiss the Girl" calypso song setting the mood and they are about to kiss - only to have it all ruined by Flotsam and Jetsam when they capsized the boat. I felt angry for her for that moment missed. And at the end of it all, I can't help but be glad for Ariel when she married Eric, because she simply couldn't wish for anything better than that.

Yes, now we can all agree that I am a pretty creepy 21-year-old dude.

But you'll understand what I mean if you have ever been truly in love before. The true genius and charm of Disney Pictures lies in their sincere and singular intent in not telling us what really happened - but to show us what we all secretly want to see.

I realise now that Disney's The Little Mermaid wasn't saying
"If you love a person hard enough, that person would love you back."

It was simply saying, "Happy endings can happen."

Not giving up childhood without a fight,
k0k s3n w4i

Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Flopper

There are no spoilers in the following conversation.

Krystle: I don't have time to read the book. Why don't you guys just tell me how did it all end?

Shaki: Well, Harry and Voldemort killed each other in a duel.

Krystle: But I thought the prophecy said...

Me: The prophecy said, "neither can live while the other survives". It didn't say "neither can die after the other dies".

Shaki: Then there's that dumb scene with Dumbledore.

Krystle: But I thought Dumbledore was dead!

Shaki: He cloned himself. He was the lead researcher in stem cell technology.

Me: After all, he discovered the...

Shaki and Me in unison: ... twelve uses of dragon blood...

Me: ... so, stem cells aren't going to be much of a problem for him at all. But who you really need to watch out is Snape.

Krystle: What's to watch out? We already know he's the bad guy.

Me: It's much more complex than that. Turns out that it was him who discovered the "neither can die after the other dies" loophole in the prophecy and pitted Harry against Voldemort, making sure both of them perished.

Shaki: He neither worked for Dumbledore nor Voldemort.

Me: He was working for himself all along!

Shaki: Played everyone like Quidditch.

Me: And became the new Dark Lord in the end.

Then Steven, Krystle's boyfriend, chimed in;

Steven: Krystle, don't listen to this two. They can't even summarise a simple children's book for you - so they made everything up.

Me: [looks at Shaki] Yet we did a heckuva better job at telling the story than Rowling did.

Shaki and Me: [laugh very loudly in front of a very bewildered Krystle]

I wondered why I didn't notice earlier that there is someone small holding a sword behind Harry.

First off, I want you to know that I lied when I said there aren't spoilers in this post. There are - but you haven't read any yet. They are near the bottom of this entry. I'll let you know when it starts, okay? So lay down those pitchforks, flaming torches and rolling pins, and read right on (though I'd give the comments section a wide berth, if I am you).

Secondly, as you probably deduced for this post's title and the extract of the conversation Shaki and I had with Krystle, I wasn't terribly impressed with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. In fact, I considered it the second least enjoyable book of the entire Potter series, right after Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - while Shaki considered it the very least enjoyable one. If all the previous installments of the heptalogy showcased the best of Rowling's writing prowess, the last book betrayed her very worst.

Now, if you haven't read the 7th Potter book cover to cover, you owe me a thank-you. I have just pruned your expectations down to a bonsai.

The extent of Rowling's genius consisted of combining two extremely popular sub-genres of children literature - English boarding school stories and magic - into one. Anyway, in spite of what many rabid Potter fans like to believe, J. K. Rowling did not invent the concept of a school for magic. That idea have been reused and recycled for ages, and one of the more notable examples is Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea (1968) and other novels of the Earthsea series (which also adapted the concept of magic for everyday, commonplace use to greater believability than Rowling did).

You know, the more I think of it, the more I believe that Rowling snitched from Le Guin's work.

One of the main themes in the Potter books is racism - like it was in the Earthsea books. In fact, the Earthsea series was written with the purpose criticising racism in mind.

Also, the Potter books features a dark wizard who wished to conquer death, same as the 3rd Earthsea book, The Farthest Shore (1972).

And the wizards in Earthsea can change themselves into animals as well.

Damn, I think I'll reread the Earthsea books. I was a lot more impressed with them than I was with Harry Wotzisname.


Why I think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sucked donkey nuts;
  • Almost all the events of the book took place outside if Hogwarts. Like I said, the charm of the Potter books came largely from it being a combination of an English boarding school and magic story. So, having no Hogwarts means that it's only half as fun to read.
  • Hermione is Doraemon. She actually carried a fourth-dimensional, multi-purpose pocket filled with gadgets.
  • A formidable army of Death Eaters under the command of Lord Voldemort - despite being able to infiltrate the highest strata of the Ministry of Magic and finally staging a coup d'état of the magical government filled with competent grownup wizards and witches - failed to capture three snotty-nosed kids who dropped out of school. I mean, even Igor Karkaroff was found and killed in the end (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince). Three teenagers are better than Karkaroff?
  • The break-in into Gringotts by that same three snotty kids was waaay too easy. In fact, it was one of the few parts in the book that promised real excitement though it didn't deliver it in the end.
  • Lord Voldemort is the most boring, one-dimensional bad guy I have ever read about. It's all threaten, torture, murder, Harry's scar hurts, megalomaniac speech, threaten, torture, murder, Harry's scar hurts again, more megalomaniac waffle... Bah.
  • All through the book, you have the impression that Lord Voldemort is a really dumb guy, considering that he was a prize student at Hogwarts and was possibly the most gifted wizard of the age after Dumbledore. Harry kept getting newsflash from that psychic link between him and Lord Voldemort which constantly provided him with clues on what to do next. It makes me wonder why didn't Voldemort use that same link to learn stuff from Harry. I half expected that all the useful snippets of information Harry got from Voldemort were all shams, and that Voldemort had been leading Harry around like the gullible brain-case he really is - but I got really disappointed in the end. I mean, he didn't even know that Harry was hunting down and destroying his precious Horcruxes till near the end of the book. One-of-the-world's-greatest-Legilimens, my ass.
  • Near the end of the book, Harry even managed to willfully look into Voldemort's mind to see where the Dark Lord was - yes, he tuned into Voldemort's mind like it's a radio station. Highly-accomplished-Occlumens, my ass.
  • Too many people died too easily. The only deaths that I felt sorry for was Hedwig's (first blood) and Dobby's. Lupin and Tonk's death was only mentioned in passing, and in fact, I only realised that they were pawned after I read the ending chapters the second time. Fred who?
  • Usage of expletives like "bastard" and "bitch" totally degraded Rowling's writing standards.
  • House-elves are unstoppable. Harry commanded Kreacher to capture Mundungus Fletcher and the little creepy bugger managed to do that without even breaking a sweat. Dobby single-handedly rescued everyone - Luna Lovegood, Dean Thomas, Ollivander, Griphook the goblin, Harry, Ron and Hermione - from Malfoy Manor. I wonder why the Death Eaters didn't just send a house-elf to nab Harry and company.
  • The debt Peter Pettigrew owed Harry was not resolved satisfactorily. I was banking on that figuring rather largely in the downfall of Voldemort. What a disappointment.
  • Lord Voldemort accidentally killed himself with a rebounded spell, just because the Elder Wand commandeered by Voldemort wouldn't act on Harry, its true master. Harry won the wand from Draco Malfoy after he disarmed Draco in that scuffle in Malfoy Manor - and Draco won the wand initially from Dumbledore by disarming him in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I don't know about you but I think that the whole charade felt too deus ex machina-ish. The wand ownership concept wasn't bad on its own but I wished that Rowling had foreshadowed this event in the previous books. That's the problem with this book. A lot of things just cropped out of nowhere, making everything so hard to swallow.
  • Harry left the Elder Wand in Dumbledore's tomb, hoping to die a peaceful death and breaking the wand's power. Won't that mean anyone can simply march up to Harry, kill him, and then retrieve the wand from Dumbledore's tomb? Harry would have nothing extra-powerful to protect him but his old phoenix feather wand. And it's kind of arrogant for him to think that he won't be disarmed or beaten in a duel all his life. What a git.
  • I guessed half of the main plot twists in the book, like how Snape turned out to be a good guy after all and that the death of Dumbledore was staged. I also guessed that Potter will be the seventh Horcrux.
  • Not enough Snape.

And the top 3 reasons this book stinks are;
  • Harry Potter didn't die.
  • He had kids with Ginny Weasley.
  • His kids' names are James, Lily and Albus Severus Potter.

Thinks Rowling needs to rewrite the 7th Potter book,
k0k s3n w4i

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Potter Plot Poppers

"Okay, okay, here's the plan. You pick up the 7th Potter book from the bookshop at 10 am and finish it by evening - and I'll get the book from you at that time. Before then, I'll lock myself in my room, turn off my cell phone, and stay offline so no one can spoil it for me."


"No one, yes. Except me - when I pass the book to you."


If you do that, I swear I will hunt you down like an animal and spoil every book you choose to pick up, every movie you want to watch, and every surprise birthday party planned for you! You'll never ever be surprised again! That's a promise!"



Of all the crimes perpetrated by dastardly people in this sick, depraved world, there is none more despicable than child-molestation, wearing socks with sandals and the act of spoiling books for others - and I deem the last to be the most disgusting of the three because I am in constant danger of being a victim, considering the amount of books I read every year.

Fake links, MSN nicknames, harmless-looking SMS, anonymous blog comments, loaded e-mails prank calls, Indian smoke signals - these are the weaponry employed by the spoiler bastards (yes, I call them that) during the Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince worldwide publishing event. Fortunately, I managed to finish reading the book right before the spoiler fest reached a screaming pitch. I did it by reading it during my sister's bedtime, all through the night till the next morning - carefully avoiding human, spiritual and telecommunicational contact with every sentient being in existence (which I achieved by locking myself in my bedroom with a can of Pringles and a carton of Peelfresh guava juice).

This time, my plan is this. I will not visit any blogs or read any of my comments, or for that matter, go online at all. That's right, I will not be available on the internet on Saturday so don't bother looking. I will also be absent from my house in Acharya Compound the entire day, being away in Mangalore to catch the latest Potter flick (and my phone's not coming with me, by the way). After which, I will sneak back to Manipal in the evening to Shaki's apartment, collect Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from him, and hide in my room till I finish reading the book. Almost foolproof. Woe betide any fool who attempts to test its proofness. Lots of woe. Mega-woe. I kid you not.

In fact, the spoiler fest have already started. I received a PDF file some months ago in my mail which was supposed to be the draft of the 7th Potter book. I read the first page and chucked it away on the spot - the ludicrously abominable writing style nearly made me vomit my spleen out. There was no way Rowling could suck this much. It was very clearly a fan-fiction, and an atrociously badly-written one at that.

Several blogs I frequent have already received anonymous comments betraying the details of the plot of the The Deathly Hallows (which was why I stopped blog-hopping for a stint). Luckily, I am perfectly capable of 'phasing out' as soon as I recognize them for what they are - it's like, "yes, I read a bit of it, but it totally did not register at all." I acquired that skill from sitting out boring lecture classes.

Of course, these 'spoilers' might very well turn out to be fakes, but I'm taking no chances - no sirree. Back in 2005, a scanned page of The Half Blood Prince circulated on the internet, detailing the death of Dumbledore at Snape's hand. Fans dismissed it as a hoax - and some even said that it was an exceptionally lousy hoax because, as they insisted, Rowling "could not write such crap". It turned out to be genuine, and the said fans were left feeling pret-ty stupid.


My sister is buying the book in Malaysia and so, buying one for myself here would be silly - and would make a filthy, stinking, reeking rich Rowling even filthier.

Besides, I'm not really that big a fan of Rowling's writing or Harry Potter anyway.

No, really.

But since I consider myself to be a first-class bibliophile, I cannot be true to myself without feeling the buzz of the greatest, biggest, flashiest publication event in history along with the rest of the rabble muggle world.

Yes, it is. The Greatest.

Not too shabby, I think, considering that it's just a kid's book.

P.S. I hope Harry dies. I can't stand him.

Going offline now,
k0k s3n w4i

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Different Kind of Birthday: Part 3 of 2

"Kok, can I find you later at 4.30? I wanna borrow your hard drive. Don pass to me now. Wanna concentrate in pharmac for a while."

Vincent, in an SMS on Saturday

I can't believe I didn't spot the signs in this message.

Most of the pictures in this post came from either Vincent or Lai Yin.

Okay, I think you guys must be so sick of me talking about my birthday that you're puking rainbows and Disney feature films from your guts. But it IS (was, whatever) my birthday, and I reserve the right to protract it for as long as I want to. And there's nothing you can do about it.

I'll wager that you didn't expect a part 3 in a 2-part anthology. Ha!

Me neither.

The set-up was this; Vince told me that he wanted to skive some movies off my portable hard disk1. So he popped up at 4.30 am just like he said he would. He sat down beside me in front of my entertainment station (also known as my-laptop-on-my-desk), asked me whether I've taken any pictures recently and told me he would like to take a look. Vince's like that. He's a photography buff. Ask him to show you his album. His stuff makes my pictures look like kindergarten crayon projects.

I noticed that he spotted an envelope with the words "Happy Birthday" emblazoned across it, but he acted as if he did not see it. That's what I do. I watch people all the time. When they are eating. When they are walking. When I'm talking to them or when they are talking to someone else. I found that I can really learn a lot if I only pay attention.

His reaction did not tally.

I noted that oddity but made no further pursuance of it. I just had lunch with Liv and my brain was still kind of foggy.

Then there was the sound of someone walking into my anteroom. Vince had left the door open for;

Holy Mackerel! It's a SURPRISE! OMGPAWNED!

I wish I can say that I had cleverly deduced that such a thing was going to happen - but I can't. I was totally, completely, one-hundred-percently gobsmacked. Utterly. I mean, if I expected something of this sort to occur, I would have gelled up my hair, spruced up and stuck a bow-tie at my neck instead of greeting the merrymakers looking like hobo supremo. And, I would NOT have worn that cissy pink shirt2.

My famed eloquence have failed me completely. All I could do was smile sheepishly as half a dozen friends reeled into my really tiny anteroom and sang the birthday song.

This is the second ever surprise birthday celebration I ever had. The first was in 2004; the one I shared with Gee.

An enormous aborted-fetus-shaped cake. See the head and 'ickle limbs? Cute right?

What I noticed immediately was that the cake was enormous. Much bigger than what our little party can safely eat.

Oh dear.

A bad feeling hit me like a salmon.

Trudging off to my execution at the Red Quadruplex. Drama much?

My room was pretty much in the same state as how I looked. Imagine that the five happy gay friends from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy are hurricanes, and that they have just gave me and my pad a makeover. When they are old and myopic. And drunk. And high. That was how my room looked like.

Plus, I don't have a dining table. Or chairs. Or floor space (which was covered on every square inch by dirty laundry, clean laundry, books, things that look like books, and things that look like they came from Venus). So the only sensible (and humane) solution was to move the festivities over to Vince's, Nickson's and Lai Yin's Red Quadruplex.

Check out the photograph above. Vincent called it my "marching off to war" picture. Sorry about how my place currently looks like. I thought post-apocalyptic bomb-shelter chic was in vogue.

Once I was comfortably settled in a chair over at their place, they sprang "The Birthday Tradition" at me. One thing you need to know about "The Birthday Tradition" is that it's not a tradition at all. It's actually any one item from the large recorded compendium of either disgusting or embarassing acts that the birthday kid is suppose to perform (or undergo) to amuse the others. A classical one is the Swimming Pool Heave-Ho. Another crowd favourite is the Remove-the-Candles-with-Lips which is invariably followed by the Confectionery Facial (AKA the Cake Face-plant). Over the years, these "Traditions" have evolved to exceedingly bizarre levels and increasingly high degrees of hilarity.

The one I got was an oldie - the Hand-Feed-the-Birthday-Boy-with-Cake.

Li Lian did it first and I closed my eyes, expecting the very worst - but it went by uneventfully. Yum, noice cake. I can handle this. No prob.

Next up was Lai Yin. I opened my cake-hole for the bite, but Lai Yin didn't like that hole, apparently. So she shoved the cake - strawberry cream and all - up my nose;

Death by Cake
Death by Cake.

I smelled strawberries wherever I went for days after. That was the first time ever I had cake up my sniffer. Cowabunga!

I went through everything with a big, goofy smile on my face, and not much words to say. I was touched that I have such a lovable bunch of friends living next-door3 that would take the trouble to make my 21st birthday special.

And also, having cake up one's nose does not really encourage clever conversations.

Meet the awesome people who made my day.

Of course, all these good feelings made me especially magnanimous that day, so I threw a pizza party that night for everybody. Ho ho ho;

Pizza Party
Was Nickson drinking vodka? If yes, I know that face.

Li Lian produced a bottle of vanilla-flavoured Smirnoff vodka and I believe I got a teeny weeny bit tipsy (not drunk, Li Lian - just tipsy!).

And we played my favourite party game ever; MAFIA! The first time I played it was in Kuching over at Yun's house with my old college buddies - and also in our little wooden lodge during our Bako National Park trip, when Yinn Khurn the Mafioso staged a suicide, managed to convince a suggestible Joo Yin the Doctor to heal him using vigorous hand-signals4 - and yet still lost in the end in an execution spearheaded by Keat Seong and I (the Awesomest Civilians in business!) on the grounds that we just felt like killing someone innocent.

Now, I've added another page to my mental scrapbook;

I haven't labeled a picture this way for a long time now.

Thank you, guys. For everything.


My sort of thing.

Also, a shout-out to Inn Shan, Sze Yin and Shaki, and Abby for this spiffy looking novel. I'll get onto it as soon as I'm done with the 7th Potter book. I'm on a read-abstinence policy at the moment. You know how food tastes better when you're hungry? Same principle.


So NOT my sort of thing.

And when I went out to give Socks the slice of birthday cake that had my boogers on it, this was the birthday present she gave me.

Sorry, Socks. I don't think it's going to work between us. I'm a human. And you're a bitch.

End of part 3 of 2

Happy, happy, happy,
k0k s3n w4i

1 I accidentally typed "hard dick" instead of "hard disk" in the earlier draft of this post. How very Freudian of me.
2 I received it as a parting gift when I left my part-time job at Giordano's Apparel. Honest.
3 All of them live next-door in various other units in Acharya Compound. Except Yin Yee. But she's moving here into the fourth unit of the quadruplex later anyway.
4 Thus clearing his name, indicating that someone else must be the Mafioso.

Monday, July 16, 2007

A Different Kind of Birthday: Part 2 of 2

"Friendship is precious, not only in the shade but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a loving God. Of all things, the greater part of life is sunshine."

Liv, the Look Back Girl,
in the first card I receive this birthday


I don't always believe in God and I don't always believe in miracles. Of course, even if miracles do happen, it's almost always attributable to a roll of chance. The gods of the scientific and unimaginative is a pair of giant dice. Concrete, indisputable miracles like the parting of the Red Sea, or tete-a-tetes with flaming bushes have but ceased completely to occur in our day and time. More the pity.

The only thing that sets miracles apart from chance is choice.

God, I choose to believe, had sent me a little miracle.


Over the course of an SMS conversation in the evening of the day I murdered suaveness, Liv mentioned right out of the blue that she might not even enjoy her 'big day' because of her demanding schedule in the coming week. I pounced on that at once, asking her what she meant by 'big day'. Could it be? I dared not even hope.

I am a believer of 'moments', and that there are perfect moments when doing something just feels right. They are moments when an imaginary blimp with Carpe Diem painted on it bobs across my eyes. They are moments when a voice whispers "Now" at the back of my head.

In that moment she told me that it is her birthday, I chose to reveal to her that the reason I asked her out was because it is my birthday as well, on Saturday.

I asked her out again, suggesting a small, brief celebration - just us two birthday people - over lunch.

This time, she said yes.


My birthday is usually the most selfish day of the year for me. It'd be the day I would count the cards and presents I get, the online messages my friends send me, and how many people would actually remember that I was born nearly 200 years later after the start of the French Revolution on le quatorze juillet.

This year's birthday is special - more special than the previous 20. I couldn't care less if no one remembered at all. On the eve of it, I nearly forgot it myself.

Liv had kept her birthday, her first here in India, a secret because she was petrified that they'd spring the tiresome spontaneous-whole-batch-singing-the-birthday-song routine on her in class (it's an MMMC thing apparently). I cannot imagine anything more tacky and insincere than that, I am sorry to say. And embarassing. Everyone knows that it's a pathetic attempt (and a half-hearted one to boot) to make the birthday victim kids feel as if that are actually remembered.

I was touched that she went out of her way to make a stranger's birthday a little less lonely.

So I promised myself that I would go as far as I can to make hers special.


I spent a good bit of Thursday shopping for papers and pens. The thing is, whenever I set out to handcraft something, I have absolutely no idea what I am going to actually make. I would buy whatever I suspect I might need, and then sprawl them all on the floor around me - kinda like what those stereotypical, princessey teenage girls do when they try to decide what to wear. It'll usually take me a few good hours before an idea hits me. As soon as one makes a landing, I'll dive in to work like I'm on Speed.

That's why I posted a DNDUPOD1 notice in my weblog on Thursday morning. My room would be in a terrible paper-plastered turmoil. Plus, I can never bear anyone spotting anything I have not finished. It's an artist thing. You wouldn't understand. No, really.

The objective this time is a birthday card with a small bit that would pop-up when it's opened. I have totally no idea how to make anything pop-up from a card - I have never done it before. This promised to be a fun project.

The Card.

I finished it in the wee early morning hours of Saturday, possibly around 3 am or later. Of course, considering what you can see in the picture, it shouldn't take that long at all. It's just the way I work (i.e. very, very slowly). I sort of planned every step of the way as I went along.

I don't like the idea of giving store-bought cards to people with nothing in it but a mass-produced one-liner and my ugly signature.


Next on the list was a present for the birthday girl, which immediately posed to be a difficult problem to remedy. How do you shop for a present for someone you don't even know?

For two days in a row, I took walks around town hoping for some inspiration to fall on my lap. Then a breakthrough - I spotted this plush bugger sitting on the top shelf of the tiny Hallmarks store;

The Present.

For the longest time, the only stuff the gift store carried was teddy bears which look like toy dogs and toy dogs which look like my face when my nuts got kicked. The frog in the picture is one of those bean-bag affairs with smooth, stretchy 'skin'. I liked the feel of it - much more than any of the other taxidermist nightmares which leered lecherously at me from the display shelf. I guessed it was as good as I could get in this middle-of-nowhere town.

There was also a dolphin made out of the same stuff too and was shaped like a bolster. It was about as cute as... err... a blue sausage? Easiest choice I ever made, that.


Two hours before I was suppose to pick her up I scampered around like a chicken with its head cut off to prep everything up. I picked up the cake from Coffee Day2 and brought it, along with the present, to our agreed restaurant to arrange something with the maitre d'. It took me less than a minute to explain to him that when I raise my hand the first time after our meal, one of the waiters was to bring the cake to the table - and when I raise it the second time, the plush frog should make an appearance. Of course, the 20 rupees tip I gave him made him understand what I wanted in record time.

That was a slight unforeseeable inconvenience concerning the festive paper bag I bought to put the frog in; I found a piece of chewing gum stuck on its bottom (on the outside, thank goodness!) and I had to bring it back to the Hallmark store to get it exchanged.

After that, I dashed home to see if I can find a decent birthday song midi file on the net to play during the time-honoured ritual of puffing the daylight out of the candle on the cake (one candle; it's a small cake). The original plan was for me to find the score for the birthday song and key it into my handphone - which seems like a sweeter gesture in my opinion - but I was thwarted by the discovery that my handphone lacked that most elementary of functions. One can argue that singing it myself would be the best solution, but it seemed inappropriate (and cruel) to put the girl through such a ghastly ordeal in no less a day than the day we celebrate her birthday.

So after I showered (for the second time in less than 3 hours) and left my house with my laptop in tow (to play the birthday ditty). I arrived at her place a quarter of an hour early, where I was slated to pick her up.


For the first time ever, everything went according to plan.

Actually, this was the first ever I actually had a plan for anything instead of ad libbing everything like I usually did. I realised that I'm not cut for the lovable, bumbling boy part anymore now that I'm 21, and that I should assume a more orderly-minded adult role.

Liv was the most gracious lunch guest I ever had. She's not a dullard and had opinions on every subject we cared to talk about. She responded splendidly to everything in a way which made me feel that my feeblest attempts in making her day memorable worthwhile. I am not at liberty to share the details of our conversation but I'll tell you this; there are things about Liv which took me completely by surprise.
I really like what I learnt about her. Honest. As true as truth.

The Cake.

Liv gave me a card filled with beautiful sentiments of friendship and it touched me that she would consider me, someone she barely knew, as a friend. Against all reason, she agreed to accompany a lonely stranger on his birthday and made his day that much brighter in spite of the preliminary forecasts of bad weather most foul. I said hello, on Saturday, on the 14th of July, to a girl whose name I could not spell - and I said goodbye to someone more.

I was told many times that gifts don't always come in boxes or tied with ribbons or playfully wrapped in a dozen layers of colourful wrapping paper.

This time, I recognized it.

Happy Birthday, Liv.

End of Part 2 of 2

P.S. It felt awesome to celebrate someone else's birthday on my own - to try to make someone else happy for a change.

A friend,
k0k s3n w4i

1 Do Not Disturb, Under Pain of Death (or Disembowelment or Decapitation or Dismemberment or any other 'D' word that sounds equally painful and bloody)
India's answer (and middle finger) to Starbucks and Coffee Bean.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Different Kind of Birthday: Part 1 of 2

"... it feels nice being asked out..."

Her name had been changed to defend her anonymity. So, Liv she shall be for this entire post.

'Defend' sounds way more chivalrous than 'protect'.

Three days ago on a Wednesday afternoon1, I skulked behind a notice board outside of the International Centre of Health Sciences and studied the various bits of announcements and bulletins populously occupying its plastic surface with apparent great interest, though none of them concerned me the very least.

The keyword here is 'apparent'. I'm the sort of person that don't read notice boards even if they are posting the next winning lottery ticket numbers on them. I have a secretary who reads them for me. I call him 'Shaki'.


Three days ago on a Wednesday afternoon, I was waiting for someone (whose name I still could not spell) at the spot where I last met her the week before at the very same time. I didn't have anything planned for Saturday, and after a couple of 'maybe I should', a handful of 'sounds like an idea', and a generous sprinkling of 'why not?', I decided that this is an excellent week to be stupid. I am at liberty to invite whoever I want to to celebrate my 21st birthday with me, am I not? Righto.

For the longest time, 14th of July was a night of casual dining, of delightful conversations and most of all, of the company of just one other person sitting across the table. My ex filled that 'company of just one person' part - it's like a sort of personal tradition. This year, my birthday loomed overhead like a hangman's noose with 'OMGALONE' stamped all over the rope in firetruck red.

As if cued, just when I was swimming in all these unpleasant thoughts, my ex and her smashing, top-o'-the-line, improved-formula, spanking new boyfriend walked past me. Awesome timing. Wow.

That's a bad coincidence.

You know what a good coincidence would be? A good coincidence would be that Liv shares the same birthday as me, and that she didn't tell anyone about it either. Then I can confidently tell her with a roguish smile, birthday boy to birthday girl, that "truly tis' fated" and Providence intended us to celebrate together et cetera, et cetera, et cetera...

But this sort of thing almost never happens.

I thought of asking someone from my class actually, but the threat of a gossip meltdown seemed far too much for me to safely stomach. And asking a guy sounded gay no matter how I looked at it. A stranger is good. The best conversations I ever had was with strangers from halfway around the globe.

Through the transparent bulletin board, I saw Liv heading my way from 12 o'clock. Panic gripped my liver and twisted it like a pretzel - it's been awhile since I've last talked face to face with a girl I do not know, and had never once asked one out in such sudden manner. I mean, when was the last time any of you girl readers went out with a bloke you do not know? Oh my god, what was I thinking! Okay, okay, we rehearsed this before right? RIGHT?! Step one: walk up to her. Step two: ask her out. Step three: pat self on back for a job well done. Just calm down and countdown - 5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 -

Wait for it... wait for it... Go!

I walked down the steps to 'bump' into her. I raised one hand and waved weakly at her with a smile - which she returned - and I proceeded to walk right past her. A whiny movie director with a megaphone was shouting "Cut! Cut! Retake! Retake!" in my brain but I just kept strolling stiffly away. I was on the Please-Don't-Make-an-Arse-of-Yourself Autopilot of Good Sense.

Then something else took charge. It's called the Fuck-It Manual Override.

I made a sharp U-turn right before I almost unwittingly walked into the flowerbed, and found that Liv had totally wandered out of frame. I sprinted in the direction she was heading, nearly running over a certain famously rotund lecturer before finding her again by the Greens. With the slightest hesitance, I shouted her name (which I couldn't pronounce properly either). She turned, looking strangely calm and unperturbed considering a stranger just hollered her name in public. Victorian composure, that - good breeding tells.

"I'm just wondering whether you're free this Saturday," I blurted, or at least I imagined as much.

She replied in the negative. It's a busy week for her ahead.

The conversation then turned to lectures, school life and a lot of other generalities which I shall not bother you with here.

But I did manage to get her number, by the way.

End of Part 1 of 2

21 years old,
k0k s3n w4i

1 Yes, this was how I began my post last Saturday. The symmetry appeals to me.