Monday, October 29, 2007

In Reuters

In Reuters

One of my photos is currently being feautered on Reuters. I am over the moon - coz I thought I missed the week. you can find it here

Friday, October 26, 2007

freerice.com

Fancy making a difference and learning at the same time? Then head over to Freerice.com and play the word game - define words correctly and the sites organisers will donate 10 grains of rice for each correct word.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The preferred meat!

p1 : I’m cooking tonight
p2 : you should make Chihuahua soup! hehehe
p1 : I rather cook vis then cook my dog.
Me: hoi your dog’s more important than me?
P1 : of course! hehehe
me : bah dowanna friend you
P1 : how to cook my dog its all bones!
me : lol so how long have you had carnivorous thoughts about me?????
P1 : hehehe

Ps : no animals were harmed or will be harmed from this conversation. Only vis suffered heartbreak at landing in the hotpot ;p

Yeah right!

Goodbyes are never easy. You understand the circumstances. You understand the necessity. You know what you have to do. But the moment the time comes hell breaks lose. It drains the very soul out of you and you thought you were prepared. Yeah right!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saraswathi Namasthubyam

After years of promising to put up a song sung by me - today morning i finally managed to record one of my favourite songs - kurai ondrum illai. call it sudden inspiration to sing or something - it was the first thing I did today.

I guess its a navarathri special ;p



ps : never claimed to be a great singer and i don't wanna hear a single thing on pronounciation ;p

Friday, October 19, 2007

Wrath of Durga

Demon vanquished


The wrath of Kali The form of Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight the demon mahisasura. Mahishasura had the boon that he could not be defeated by any man or god. He unleashed a reign of terror on earth, heaven and the nether worlds with his newly found powers.


Eventually, since only a woman could kill him, the trinity bestowed a dazzling beam of energy upon the Goddess Trinity of valour, wealth and knowledge - transforming them into the goddess, Durga.








Navarathri marks the 9 days of war where on the tenth day of the waxing moon, goddess Durga killed the demon Mahishasura with her trident.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Two sides of a coin

The bill came to RM 50.97.

He hesitantly took out a crumpled RM 10.00 and slowly handed it over to the cashier.

It was the eve of Raya and I had to buy a few grocery items for the long weekend. I was standing in line behind a group of foreign workers from Indonesia. I scanned the items he had purchased. There was a small pack of coffee, half a dozen lemon like citrus fruit, a box of cup mineral water, rice and a box of biscuits.

They must have just received their paycheck for the week. Away from family and friends, they were making the best of the situation as they got the basic necessities to prepare for the celebrations. Funds are low yet they seemed contented with their purchase. I guess they were going to meet up together at their makeshift barracks or overcrowded rented homes to celebrate with their family away from home – other foreign workers in the same predicament.

That morning a bike laden with a basket full of live chicken had driven into the construction area just in front of my office. That was the last thing you would expect to see but if you thought about it, it isn’t really as odd as it seems. Most workers live at their working areas in makeshift barracks. Every evening I’d find them sitting by the side of the dimly lit street waiting to break their fast or silently munching into their packed food.

Most of them come from middle class families, some even have degrees to boost. Unfortunately the economic instability in their countries leave them with no choice but to leave their families and live meager lives as laborers, maids and waiters to support their families. Their degrees remain worthless papers as the economic situation in their countries. The irrelevance of their degree have turned their qualification into nothing but an initial behind their names.

We are in many ways lucky. We live in a nation that has a somewhat balanced economic and a stable political scene. At times the market does tremble and memories of the economic downfall resurface but even then most of us managed to enter the job market and today hold successful jobs. Very few of us realize the importance of a stable economy and political scene. Any ripple in the thin glass surface and we could be in the same shoes of foreigners that we often shun. I’m no saint to claim I’m not wary of them but I do try to remain as humane as possible with the few I meet on a daily basis.

Little do we realize that as much as they need the money, we need them as we lack the labour force to support our industries. The only thing that separates most of us with them is the profile of our countries. If situations were reversed, where do you think the bulk of us will land?

I watched them walk away as I contemplated their situation.

I will always remain thankful for what we have. Lets hope it remains for our lives to go on as it is.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pleasures for the soul

Krishna won't you come ....

My favourite time of the year is back. Its an absolute pure joy to the senses. You could close your eyes and listen to music that resonates your soul, watch vibrant colours and movements that excite your eyes and instantly elevate your mood.



I hold the moon 3 days of such interesting performances. One visiting dancer has totally blown me away. She is amazingly beautiful but most interesting is how every single photograph of her has turned out brilliant. I watched her perform 2 days in a row in 2 different styles of dance – bharathanatyam and kuchipudi. Both were executed brilliantly.



Joy Her expression is pretty perfect, a sweet smile is constantly etched on her face and her confidence and poise is awe striking.



Grace It was nice to meet old friends. See children who I once taught, blossom into beautiful artists and striking teenagers.



Love in my soul There used to be 2 naughty siblings in one of the classes I’d often take. There were 5 and 6 respectively. They never practiced, often had no idea what they were singing and were so mischevious, I often had to punish them. Wherever they were you would know it was them as they could never stop talking. Yesterday I saw the now 10 year old reprimand a child who was about his age then for talking during the performance. Oh how they have grown. Time has flown just in a split second.



Fondness Its been wonderful company as well, took a few friends to watch the performances and they absolutely enjoyed it.




BewitchingTry as it might, the cheeky rain gods couldn’t get us to leave, we just ended up getting slightly wet. Sadly won’t be able to go daily, don’t have the time nor will traffic help.



NamaskarThis event really showed how much I have grown as a photographer, the photos, composition and quality have turned out so well, I’m beyond excitement.

Where are the mention of sundals you ask? We can get those every Fridays at any temple! ;p So the highlight of the week will solely be the arts.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Salam Raya

Beyond the barrier

Wishing all friends Selamat Hari Raya and Happy Eid Mubarak.

Also Happy Navarathri – don’t think I’ll be able to go daily with work being so far away from everywhere but there’s still weekends ;)

Will be away for the holidays. Have a safe holiday guys

Blog on print





Few months back I did an email interview for a magazine. It finally got printed this month in Cleo – a women’s magazine. The interview was about my blog ;) Thanks to the mag and writer ;)



Ps : this is the 990th post on this blog ;p whoa ;p

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Majestic Angkor

Serene

Siam Reap is home to an ancient town made of about 30-40 temples. While most of the temples are amazing in stature and grand in their execution, it does get to you as after a while some of the temples get repetitive. While I've written about the Bayon, here’s my account of our visit to Angkor Wat the jewel of Cambodia.

Dreams are made hereWe ended up going to Angkor Wat three times. Early on the first day to catch the sunrise and then we were misled to believe people can’t go in so we left and got back there the next evening to discover heck you could go in but it was already closing time so we actually came back early the next day evening to finally climb the famous steep scary stairs of Angkor.




Sunrise at AngkorAngkor is majestic no matter what time of the day. Each different hour promises something different. In the morning watching the sun rise over the towers and capturing the reflection in the pond is an amazing opportunity. Stepping into the temples you are amazed once again with its size and how beautifully carved the temple is. Apsaras dot the walls of the temple. One thing I noticed was each one was carved differently and no two were the same.




Sleeping on the stairs?As we climbed more steps into the inner temple area, we had no idea what was waiting for us. We stood transfixed at the sight in front of us. There stood the 5 famed towers of Angkor majestically overlooking Siam reap above the steepest flight of stairs I had ever seen. The bravest of visitors were seen crawling up the stairs. And we had thought the steps we climbed to reach the top oh Phnom Bakheng were the steepest!





We just sat down at one of the pillars watching people climb up, slowly building our guts to crawl up the stairs. People were basically lying flat on the stairs and they had only the stairs to hold. Yikes! There were 2 guys trying to prove to the world how brave they were, actually he looked like a monkey climbing up the stairs and he was pretty fast too – show off! Angkor in my eyeThere was one photographer who was climbing the stairs while holding 2 slr cams. Man there was no way I could do that. My camera remained safely inside my bag throughout the climb. Oh yeah we did climb. No way were we coming all this way and chickening out! Plus heck I’m not scared of heights (well that’s what I thought all this while!)

We headed to one of the staircases and started climbing. Yikes each step was not only huge in height but as it got higher the steps width was getting smaller and steeper. I managed to climb most of the steps. Just as I reached the last 4 steps, this guy who was watching me climb from the platform above calls me out and says something (I can’t remember) and somehow I made the mistake of looking down. Holy sh*t one slip of the foot and I’ll fall some 90 steps down! I stood on the last 4 steps to the top panicking. It took all my energy and courage to get up that last 4 steps. I was shaking like a leaf by the time I reached the top.


Brave?If you’re planning on going there make sure you do not look down no matter who surprises you! Just tell your self you’ll be kicked if you ever tried to look down.

Oh the best hasn’t even been told. The temple above ground is a huge courtyard with some wonderful carvings. Met this cute little boy who happily and at times cautiously smiled into our cam. The view from above is amazing and the best part people look like ants. Now there is one easy way to get down. One of the steps had been altered to have less steep wooden stairs with side railings. However the queue was 3 lines long.



DistanceWe went off to another flight of stairs to asses the situation. AND we thought climbing up was hard. Standing at the platform near the stairs we couldn’t see the stairs – it just seemed like there was nothing below. My friend bless her for being so brave, crawled to the edge and finally confirmed hell yeah there was a stairs! That just got to us. We quietly sat down and contemplated our next move. Yes I know admit I have a fear of heights – there I’ve said it – you can laugh now! Seriously I never knew!




DawnWe sat and discussed that this should be on the next amazing race asia’s challenge. Heck if we could climb down we could do any of the other challenges but then the food grosses me out! Overhearing our conversation, two gentlemen joined us. A Singaporean residing in London and a Londoner residing in Malaysia. The first thing the Londoner asked us was you’re Malaysian aren’t you? We were like yeah – how did you know?

Amazing race? ;p




Angkor watWe sat there talking about the trip. He agreed no where else in Asia was like Malaysia. No one bugs you to buy stuff, you could walk around as if you were home, and most of all people were really friendly.





“That’s why I’ve been here for the last 5 years, Malaysia’s like home.”

Anyway after discussing how to get down the guys climbed down first and we decided oh yeah we were going down as well.



Oh dearThe trick is to sit on the stairs and take your time going down. But I warn you the first 10 steps are the steepest and smallest of the lot! You’ll be freaking your heart out climbing down. The nicest part was the Londoner actually waited and gave us encouragement as we frighteningly made our way down! Yeah he was one of the few sweet people we met on the trip!

Touching ground was the sweetest feeling ever. You could say we conquered our new found fears – but heck I’ve climbed the steepest stairs in the world! Yippieeeeeeeeee ;p


Angkor at NightRemembered I was telling you we were too late to go in on the 3rd evening well the visit wasn’t a waste. They were trying out a new attraction for the first time that night! Angkor with colourful lights. All the while I was wondering why I had brought along the tripod. It finally became useful! These should be one of the first few shots of Angkor with coloured lights. God it was awesome to just sit by the lake and enjoy the play of lights albeit getting bitten by mosquitos but it was worth it.

Angkor remains ever majestic.

Read the previous posts on Cambodia below
You want photo? 1 Usd!
Siam Reap
Travelling in Siam Reap
Bayon
20th Century's Hell on Earth
Majestic Angkor
Temple circuit : Siam Reap

Monday, October 08, 2007

20th Century’s Hell On Earth

20th Century’s Hell On Earth We often remark we have never seen such brutality or what is becoming of the world. Sadly madness has always been part of history. While we watch Burma shut itself from the world, arrogantly telling us “You can do nothing!”, I’m reminded of madness that took form in its neighboring country.

Will we see the emergence of a 21st century’s Hell on Earth?

Can lessons from Cambodia help Burma?










(ps : some of the images are graphic so continue reading only if you think you can)


Visiting Phnom Pehns depressing memoirs

In memoryThere’s an eerie silence as you approach the sole building standing in a somewhat empty groove. As you look further you realize the groove is filled with large holes. The Choeung Ek Genocidal Center which is referred to as ‘Hell On Earth In 20th Century’ was the center of the centre of Cambodia’s genocide.




Victims of war 129 mass graves and about 8000 skulls at the site bear testimony to the unspeakable crime that were inflicted on the people of Cambodia by the Ultra Communist Khmer Rouge Regime (UCKRR) between 1975 – 1979. It was the final destination for many as it was known as the killing fields, no one returned alive.

The 8000 skulls that were unearthed are now placed in the memorial house.

More than 3 million victims were killed through execution, starvation and forced labor by the Khmer regime in just 3 years. This was a civil war, the regime were killing their own race, people who had their own features, people who could have been their own brothers or sisters by nation.

In memoryYet they killed without mercy.

"To keep you is no benefit. To destroy you is no loss."


That was the motto of the Khmer Rouge. Anyone who fitted the categories below were arrested, tortured and eventually executed.





• anyone with connections to the former government or with foreign governments
• professionals and intellectuals - in practice this included almost everyone
with an education, or even people wearing glasses (which, in regime logic,
suggested that
• they read a lot)
• ethnic Vietnamese, ethnic Chinese, Cambodian Christians, Muslims and the
Buddhist monks
• "economic sabotage" for which many of the former urban dwellers (who had not starved to death in the first place) were deemed to be guilty of by virtue of their lack of agricultural ability.


Pain While the killing fields in the outskirts of Phnom Pehn served as an isolated witness to the killings. A former high school in the centre of Phnom Pehn, the capital of Cambodia was turned into the Security Prison 21 (S-21) concentration camp by the communist Khmer Rouge regime. It has been conserved as the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in memory of the torture suffered by the Cambodian people.





The torture

Behind wiresUpon arrival at the prison, prisoners were photographed and required to give complete biographical information. Then they were shackled against walls or on the floor in large mass cells. The prison had very strict regulations, and severe beatings were inflicted upon any prisoner who tried to disobey








The sufferingPrisoners were tortured with electric shocks, searing hot metal instruments and hanging, as well as through the use of various other devices. Typical confessions ran into thousands of words in which the prisoner would interweave true events in their lives with imaginary accounts of their espionage activities for either the CIA or KGB. This was possibly the only incidence in the Cold War when both intelligence agencies were considered enemies as the Soviets were aligned with the hated Vietnamese. The confession of Hu Nim ended with the words "I am not a human being, I'm an animal." The vast majority of prisoners were innocent of the charges against them and their confessions produced by torture

The gruesome

After the interrogation, the prisoner and his/her family were taken to the Choeung Ek extermination center, fifteen kilometers from Phnom Penh. There, they were killed by being battered with iron bars, pickaxes, machetes and many other makeshift weapons. Victims of the Khmer Rouge were seldom shot as bullets were viewed as too precious for this purpose.









Survivors of Tuol Sleng

Behind the warmth Out of an estimated 17,000 people imprisoned at Tuol Sleng, there were only seven known survivors. Only three of them are thought to be still alive: Vann Nath, Chum Mey and Bou Meng. All three of these men were kept alive because they had skills their captors judged to be useful. Vann Nath had trained as an artist and was put to work painting pictures of Pol Pot. Many of his paintings depicting events he witnessed in Tuol Sleng are on display in the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum today.











Tuol Sleng Genocide MuseumBarbed wires greet you as you walk into the school area. A seemingly serene courtyard greets you only to have behind its veneer, rooms that served as torture chambers. The rooms that served as torture chambers have been left as it was during the regime. Metal beds and iron shackles, skulls of the victims, stains of the torture, torture devices, everything remains in place.







Looks can deceive Bigger classrooms that had served as mass prison cells bear now house rows and rows of photos of the victims that passed through the gates of the former school. The rooms house stories of the struggles of the people, photographs of the gruesome period, skulls of the victims, pages of confessions extracted from the victims, photographs of the victims that were murdered or left to die before the place was found and the most eerie paintings I have ever seen.





Slow death The paintings by Vann Nath one of the only 7 survivors of Tuol Sleng depicts the torture methods and life at Tuol Sleng. The photo I have here is the least graphic image of the sufferings. The rest were too horrifying to photograph. At one point it became too unbearable to look at the paintings.




If you ever drop by there, do watch the video that is aired at the centre. This was the time where love letters were looked upon as the working of the devils and people were tortured for it.



The end? Words cannot explain what those people went through, neither can photographs. Yet here we are about to witness what could be the rise of the 21st centurys hell on earth in Burma.

Lets hope history does not repeat itself and Burma can be saved!

Thursday, October 04, 2007