Tuesday, July 8, 2014

60 Inspirational Quotes

  1. You cannot change what you refuse to confront.
  2. Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
  3. Don’t think of cost.  Think of value.
  4. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.
  5. Too many people buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t know.  Read Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
  6. No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
  7. If a person wants to be a part of your life, they will make an obvious effort to do so.  Think twice before reserving a space in your heart for people who do not make an effort to stay.
  8. Making one person smile can change the world – maybe not the whole world, but their world.
  9. Saying someone is ugly doesn’t make you any prettier.
  10. The only normal people you know are the ones you don’t know very well.
  11. Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it.
  12. The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.
  13. It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.
  14. As we grow up, we realize it becomes less important to have more friends and more important to have real ones.
  15. Making a hundred friends is not a miracle.  The miracle is to make a single friend who will stand by your side even when hundreds are against you.
  16. Giving up doesn’t always mean you’re weak, sometimes it means you are strong enough and smart enough to let go and move on.
  17. Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresea, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein, etc…
  18. If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
  19. Don’t choose the one who is beautiful to the world; choose the one who makes your world beautiful.
  20. Falling in love is not a choice.  To stay in love is.
  21. True love isn’t about being inseparable; it’s about two people being true to each other even when they are separated.
  22. While you’re busy looking for the perfect person, you’ll probably miss the imperfect person who could make you perfectly happy.
  23. Never do something permanently foolish just because you are temporarily upset.
  24. You can learn great things from your mistakes when you aren’t busy denying them.  Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  25. In life, if you don’t risk anything, you risk everything.
  26. When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.
  27. Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
  28. There isn’t anything noble about being superior to another person.  True nobility is in being superior to the person you once were.
  29. Trying to be someone else is a waste of the person you are.
  30. You will never become who you want to be if you keep blaming everyone else for who you are now.
  31. People are more what they hide than what they show.
  32. Sometimes people don’t notice the things others do for them until they stop doing them.
  33. Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do.
  34. Being alone does not mean you are lonely, and being lonely does not mean you are alone.
  35. Love is not about sex, going on fancy dates, or showing off.  It’s about being with a person who makes you happy in a way nobody else can.
  36. Anyone can come into your life and say how much they love you.  It takes someone really special to stay in your life and show how much they love you.
  37. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.  Don’t save it for a special occasion; today is special.
  38. Love and appreciate your parents.  We are often so busy growing up, we forget they are also growing old.
  39. When you have to start compromising yourself and your morals for the people around you, it’s probably time to change the people around you.
  40. Learn to love yourself first, instead of loving the idea of other people loving you.
  41. When someone tells you, “You’ve changed,” it might simply be because you’ve stopped living your life their way.
  42. Someone else doesn’t have to be wrong for you to be right.
  43. Be happy.  Be yourself.  If others don’t like it, then let them be.  Happiness is a choice.  Life isn’t about pleasing everybody.
  44. When you’re up, your friends know who you are.  When you’re down, you know who your friends are.
  45. Don’t look for someone who will solve all your problems; look for someone who will face them with you.
  46. If you expect the world to be fair with you because you are fair, you’re fooling yourself. That’s like expecting the lion not to eat you because you didn’t eat him.
  47. No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life.  Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs.
  48. The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.
  49. Many people are so poor because the only thing they have is money.
  50. Learn to appreciate the things you have before time forces you appreciate the things you once had.
  51. When you choose to see the good in others, you end up finding the good in yourself.
  52. You don’t drown by falling in the water.  You drown by staying there.
  53. It’s better to know and be disappointed than to never know and always wonder.
  54. There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn, and people we can’t live without but have to let go.
  55. Happiness is not determined by what’s happening around you, but rather what’s happening inside you.  Most people depend on others to gain happiness, but the truth is, it always comes from within.
  56. If you tell the truth, it becomes a part of your past.  If you lie, it becomes a part of your future.
  57. What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while.  Read The Power of Habit.
  58. You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.
  59. Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.
  60. If you don’t like something, change it.  If you can’t change it, change the way you think about 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Remembering Almarhum Sultan Azlan Shah (28-5-2014)

I first met Tuanku in 1983 when I was serving in Rome. He was then Lord President and came for a few days visit with a senior officer and I was assigned to accompany him. I practically spent the next three days with him from breakfast to dinner. He asked me to find the best restaurants in Rome for our meals. And I was privy to his exquisite taste when he went shopping for clothes. Once he commented why I was not dressed in a full suit when I turned up for dinner with a jacket and pants of another colour!!

I remember him being very kind and caring; I was nursing a cold and he always reminded me to take my medicines. He even wanted to see how I lived and popped into my apartment for a few minutes.

In 1985 Tuanku came to Rome again, by then as the Sultan of Perak, accompanied by Tuanku Permaisuri and daughter Raja Elena. Again I accompanied him most of the time. I got a big 'bonus' when he was shopping in Rome's top men boutique BRIONI; Tuanku asked me to choose a dozen neck ties for himself and then told me to pick a suit for myself! Imagine a First Secretary wearing a Brioni suit!! I was pleased to bits.

The two occasions I spent with Tuanku must have made an impact. A few months after I was posted home in 1985 I was invited to have lunch with Tuanku at his palace in Federal Hill.

In 1992 when he was the Yang Di Pertuan Agong, he made a State Visit to Austria and I was serving in Poland at that time. I was in Vienna then for another purpose and was happy to meet Tuanku at the Ambassador's Reception. The following year I was back in the Ministry again and one of my tasks was the logistic preparations for the Agong's State Visit to the United Kingdom. For some reason only known to my immediate superior I was not included in the delegation. I clearly remember some time later when I met Tuanku he asked me why was I not in the Official Delegation for his State Visit to the UK!

In 1996 I happened to be in the same MAS fight to Seoul with Tuanku, me for a meeting and Tuanku for the World Hockey Meeting. After the plane took off the Chief Steward informed me that Tuanku invited me to accompany him in the First Class Cabin. I went and sat beside him and we were served our dinner and had a long pleasant conversation until he informed me he was going to take his medications and go to sleep. We met again the next evening in Seoul for dinner with the Ambassador.

In 1999 when I had my first Ambassadorial appointment to Peru, Tuanku graciously invited me to dinner at his palace in KL. He teased me about the Datoship I had been conferred by the Sultan of Johor a few days earlier and also presented me with a watch.

I was also once invited to a black tie function at the Istana Kuala Kangsar but was unable to attend.

A few months after my appointment as DG of the National Art Gallery, Tuanku celebrated his 82nd birthday at the Gallery by special request of the Persatuan Anak2 Perak. The sit-down dinner by invitation only was a grand and exceptional occasion for the National Art Gallery. Tuanku was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was the DG of the Gallery. As usual he was very gracious and had always something warm and nice to say to me.

Almarhum Sultan Azlan Shah ibni Al Marhum Sultan Yusuf Izzudin Shah,
may Allah SWT always bless your soul and place you among the chosen, amin.

It is indeed a privilege to know Tuanku personally and I will always cherish his kindness, warmth and generosity to me...

Saturday, July 5, 2014

ALFATIHAH SHARIFAH AINI - A Personal Recollection

I have always followed Sharifah Aini's career from the time she one she won one of the top three placings in the RTS Talentime competition in Singapore in 1968 followed by her first recording with EMI, SERI DEWI MALAM in 1969. I believe I have every songs she recorded though some are in vinyl and have not been issued on CD format till now.

My first encounter with her was in 1977 at the KL Equatorial Hotel Coffee House. We were both having lunch with our friends at separate tables and I took a chance and sent her a note congratulating her on the success of her first English album FOREVER AND EVER. She graciously replied back, both our notes were written on the coffee house table napkins!!

The second time I met her was was on a MAS flight to Amsterdam in 1988, me on my way to my posting in Warsaw, Poland and she to Abu Dhabi for a concert. We sat in 1st Class and I had the opportunity to sit next to her for an hour. We chatted like old friends and even exchanged addresses. There was no follow up to that encounter but a year later I wrote a pseudonym letter to the New Straits Times giving her a boost when I noticed her career was on stagnant mode.

In 1995 I came home for a holiday from my posting in Canberra and attended a live concert by her at the Hyatt in Johor Bahru. Her career then was on the upswing again after a successful comeback concert in KL and her recording of the song SEKSA. She invited me to her table after the concert. A few weeks later back in Canberra, Sharifah sent me a cassette of of the raw recordings of 12 songs for her latest album SELAMANYA, soliciting my comments. The album had good reviews after its release and my favourite tracks were GERIMIS MENGUNDANG and SURATAN ATAU KEBETULAN.

In 1996 back again in KL after my posting in Canberra, Sharifah once invited me to her recording session. It was for the song NOSTALGIA AIDILFITRI. There was only four of us in that old, rickety studio in PJ Section 12, Sharifah, producer S.Atan, the recording engineer and me. To my untrained ears she sounded fine during the initial recording but she was extremely unhappy with the sound quality and demanded another engineer to take over. We waited hours for a replacement and she sent for nasi bungkus!!

When I finally heard her sing again with the new sound engineer in charge I realised the great difference in the quality of the sound and her voice. That was how professional she was; she knew exactly what she wanted. Attesting to her great professionalism, the final recording took only two takes, only once interrupted by both me and S. Atan when she once went off key! NOSTALGIA AIDILFITRI became a big hit and until today is an annual Aidifitri anthem.

During my posting in Lima, Sharifah once wrote me a desperate email saying that she was in the midst of recording her latest album and one of the tracks chosen was a Spanish classic NOCHE DE RONDA (which every blue-blooded Spanish singer must sing at one time or another) and that the musical arrangements were all ready but she could not come up with the lyrics as nobody around her knew Spanish. I had my interpreter Rossana Arakaki-Touzin translate the lyrics into English, which I then translated into Malay and emailed it back to her. She made some changes to the lyrics and and came up with what I felt is a brilliant Malay version of the song aptly titled MALAM GELISAH. I still get goosebumps listening to the song today.She acknowledged me in the sleeve of the CD.

When I went for my haj in December 2005 Sharifah insisted I see her son Aliff who was studying to be a tahfiz in Medina. I made arrangement to see Aliff but he did not show up at the appointed time and called me hours before I was returning to Mekah. I could not see him by then but we had a good long chat and could tell what a well brought up young man he was.

In the last few years I had not much contact with Sharifah but I always keep abreast with news about her. I was very surprised to read about her tiff with Siti Nurhaliza and especially with S. Atan who produced most of her hit albums from the 80s onwards and for whom I had a special memory when we were in the studio together for the recording of NOSTALGIA AIDILFITRI. I am glad she and Siti had made up.

She left us now, Allah loves her more than her adoring fans. But her songs will remain forever. Thank you for the songs Sharifah, which had travelled the world with me and entertained and inspired me from the age of 18. May Allah SWT bless your soul always, amin.


Saturday, October 12, 2013


Two weeks ago I was invited to an hour of video recording of my post heart-bypass surgery experience which I underwent 11 years ago, for a former classmate and renown plastic surgeon Dr Charles Lee to be featured in his HeartTalk Website http://hearttalk.com.my/ . In the afternoon there was another one hour recording session with five heart bypass patients (myself included) and by coincidence my very own cardiologist from our National Heart Institute (IJN). Charles himself had recently underwent a bypass and found the experience traumatic and life-changing and was still coming to terms with that surgery. His aim was to share the experiences of other bypass patients to help/comfort other similar patients and to prepare would-be patients.

One of the panel member was a very strapping, healthy-looking 62-year English gentleman who was a retired American football coach, Alan, who now made Malaysia his home for the last few years. He seemed to be the most healthy and least troubled among the panel when describing his experience despite having had a couple of bypasses.
A few days after the session Alan sms me to say that he was pleased to have met me and would like to keep in contact. I replied that I felt the same and that I would contact him after my upcoming holiday in Lombok.
Yesterday morning (10-10-13) I sms him to invite him for lunch today but did not get a reply. At 6 pm I called his number but got no answer.
An hour ago (11-10-13) I received a sms from his number which said Alan had died on 28 September (the very next day after we contacted each other by sms). He was found lifeless on his living room couch and autopsy concluded he died of a heart attack!
I really felt a lump in my throat and felt tears in my eyes to be again jolted into the reality how precious and fragile this life can be...


Monday, June 17, 2013

Mid Year Hello!

Hello, hello, hello. All too soon it is mid 2013 and I have not made an entry since January. Well I am blissfully retired now and far from my worry about how to spend my time, the hours and days seemed to have breezed by and I still have not been able to do all the things I set out to do or promised to do once I stopped working. There is no end to the domestic chores and I still have not organized many things in the house which I really ought to.

And I have finally embarked on travels again. In April I finally realized my dream to go to Kyoto in Japan (one of the few countries I have never been to) and had a most wonderful week there. I had always been intimidated by the idea of going to Japan, at the back of my mind I was worried about the communication problem having heard so much tales about Japanese not speaking English. Well maybe not many people spoke English there but it was so easy getting around with the perfect transport system and information. In fact it was one of the most hassle-free holiday I ever had, plus the perfect weather and the kindest and most polite people ever. I was also lucky to be introduced to a Japanese friend of a friend who took the trouble to show me around for two full days. I missed the cherry blossoms but it was a blessing in a way as all cherry-blossom tourists had left by the time I arrived Kyoto so everywhere I went - the temples, shrines, palaces and gardens, there were few people only and in some I had the whole place to myself.

Now I am even dreaming of going to Kyoto in Autumn some time!

In May I spent a week in Usbekistan, staying at my dear friend and colleaque Hamidah's house and visiting Samarkand and Bokhara as well . That will be in my next entry.