Sunday, January 31, 2010

Believe in Dreams

About two weeks back, I got a chance to finally see these two incredible movies based on true stories. Being a real-life movie junkie, I was thrilled to watch it and even more so after I had done both of them. Just don't ask me how I managed to get hold of them okay *wink*. Hint: Technology.

I started off with Julie & Julia, a movie about a woman named Julie Powell (played by the incredibly talented Amy Adams) who started a blog back in 2002 with a very specific mission - she wanted to try each and every single 524 recipe in the famous cooking book of American cooking legend, Julia Child (played by Meryl Streep) in 365 days a.k.a a year.

She was not a stay-at-home wife. She has a full time day job in the civil service, helping those affected in the 9/11 attacks regarding their insurance claims. Yes, she's a wife and has a cat. Yet, she wanted to do something more. She wanted to prove to people that she was more than just a poor 30-year-old woman, sitting in a cubicle handling complains. She decided to challenge herself, above all especially after not being able to complete the book she was working on with no publishers willing to publish it.

Being an avid fan of Julia Child, whom she never met even until Child passed away in 2004 at the age of 91, she decided to cook. She decided to try all 524 recipes in Julia Child's famous cooking book 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' in a year and blog everything about it.

So she did it. She tried every single one of it. Her mom called her many times asking her to abandon the 'silly' project and she got no comments whatsoever for the first few weeks but she was so persistent.

The most inspiring part is that, of course, her effort paid off. People started to pay attention to her. Housewives all around the world (or her readers) could easily relate to her way of writing when she confessed everything about it through her blog including her meltdowns, the blowups she had with her husband due to rising tensions, her failure at some of the recipes and others. Interviews started pouring in, she landed numerous book deals and people easily loved her.

Wasn't that something? Don't you feel how things would have changed should she stopped in the middle and abandon the whole thing by giving in to the people who had said she wouldn't make it? Things would have changed significantly. Very significantly.

How many times in life have you ever felt that way? Like you've found the niche of what you should've been doing but you didn't because people around you told you that you couldn't? Well, I don't know about you but speaking for myself, I've encountered those times before and regretfully, I gave in.

But not anymore I hope. This living example is truly an eye opener if you happened to be in the same boat as me. I must say, Meryl Streep did an amazing impersonation of the late Julia Child. After all, it's Meryl Streep. Need an elaboration? Don't think so.

Then came movie number two - The Blind Side. Another movie based on a true story. Another great selection for a true-story junkie like me. Another piece that almost made me cry. Almost - because I'm a tough cookie *ehem*.

This one is great because if you're like me, avoiding the newspapers everyday because you can't stand how cruel the world is, this movie should lift you up. It shows you there are still some good people around, doing good things to other less fortunate people. And these good people are rich too - that's what makes this movie interesting.

Sandra Bullock plays a rich, rich interior designer Leigh Ann Tuohy and wife to the 85 Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut chain owner living in Memphis, who saw a homeless African American boy wandering around on one night and decided to offer him a place to sleep for the night. The boy, Michael Oher goes to the same school as her kids but the only black student there and have slow learning ability in classroom.

However, out of the classroom, he has a gift. He's an excellent American football player due to his extraordinary abilities and great physique. On top of that, his greatest gift is by bringing more joy and happiness to the Tuohy household. They bonded so well, he called Mr and Mrs Tuohy as her Mama and Papa, which later became his legal guardian and stayed with them as his family. He's now an offensive tackle for Baltimore Ravens in National Football League, NFL.

This makes you think, how one person's fate can flip just like that. This world could use more people like those Tuohys and everything would be just fine.

No need telling you more about it. Go and see both of the movies for yourself and be inspired. You'll be entertained, yes, but in a larger scale, it would leave a great mark on your life - a positive one. My bet is on Sandra Bullock triumphing over Meryl Streep in this year's Oscars for Best Actress.

PS: Can you believe Sandra Bullock is 45 this year? Holy mackerel. She doesn't look a day over 30.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Best Friend's (Coming) Wedding

Have you ever watched a chick-lit movie when a girl got a new guy and they're getting serious and started introducing him to her friends over a proper dinner-cum-night out? Like the ones in Sex and the City or Clueless. I totally had that moment last night and I was pretending to be Carrie Bradshaw - with a goatee.

Sakina decided to invite the seven of us for dinner in Chilli's, Mid Valley Megamall to introduce his new Versace-wearing Kuwaiti beau Yusuf, which also happened to be her soon-to-be fiance and husband - in a matter of months.

It was an impromptu rendezvous but surprisingly all of us managed to be there and get to know him, as well as their *ehem* future planning.

It's so good to see your dear friend being happy with her man and will be getting hitched soon. Like, so soon. It's also a reminder on how old we already are. I've known Sakina for about five years - still remember being in the same class with her, walking back from our class to the 11th College during our Asasi UM days and other numerous fun outings we have had with other friends.

And now, dear Sakina is getting married and will be settling down in Kuwait soon after she graduates later this year.

Waiting for our table - and for Hana and Dini

They finally arrived

The one-minute appearance of Mr Faris Faryse

My first time eating a fajita which I shared with Didi - a Mushroom Jack Fajita. It was heavenly...

Dessert. I forgot the name

Hana would kill me for posting this pic

As heartbreaking as it may be, above all we are ecstatic for the both of them and wish them a joyful ride ahead. Wherever they may be after this, we want her to know that she will always be the Sakina we have always loved and that will never change. Also, both of them served as a reminder to the rest of us - we need to get hitched stat too!

To Sakina and Yusuf, an early congratulations to both of you. Take a good care of our Sakina, Yusuf. Oh, and thank you for the dinner (I should have ordered that chicken thing if I knew you were paying. Crap. Hehe kidding. Not).

Final photo op for the night

Monday, January 11, 2010

Sick People

It is disheartening to see just how far some heartless people would go to protect their interests and ignite a fire by politicizing everything within their grasp, including the sacred, holy name of God.

I need not tell you how it all went down. You probably know better than me and we are all well informed on how nasty the whole situation is. Demonstrations took place, protesters using vulgar words, churches being blown and set on fire - all in the name of 'protecting' God's name from being 'tainted' by other religion.

Really, is it so? Because if it is, Allah SWT and the Prophet Muhammad wouldn't approve anything like this at all. Everything that had been done regarding this issue is just plain wrong.

Time and again, Allah reminded us through the Holy Quran on how to treat others with compassion and not to resort to any kind of physical or verbal violence:

"And argue not with the People of the Scriptures (Christians and Jews), unless it be in a way that is better, with good words and in good manners, except with such of them as do wrong - Surah al-Ankabut, verse 46."

Even in his day, the Prophet ordered two of his followers, Abu Musa al-Ash'aree and Mu'adh ibn Jabal to Najran (present day Yemen) to speak to the Christians there:

"Najran and their followers have the protection of the God and the protection of Muhammad, the Prophet and the Messenger of God, for themselves, their community, their land and their goods, both those who are absent and those who are present, and for their churches and their services (no bishop will be moved from his episcopate, and no monk from his monastery, and no church warden from his wardenship) and for all, great or little, that is under their hands - From the book Demystifying Islam: Your Guide to the Most Misunderstood Religion of the 21st Century by Dr Ali Shehata"

I am so furious about this whole issue - of people who think they are so pious and with the attitude of holier-than-thou, yet snapped easily when a situation like this occurred. They claimed 'Allah only belongs to Muslims' and those who are against this fight are simply apostasies, when they are the one who are twisted and being paranoid over nothing.

Even after the Prophet's death, the second Caliph, Saidina Umar al-Khattab signed a peace treaty with the people of Jerusalem which reads:

"In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful and the Most Gracious. This is the protection which the servant of God, 'Umar the Ruler of the Believers has granted the people of Eiliya (Jerusalem). The protection is for their life and for their properties, their churches and crosses, their sick and healthy and for all their co-religionists. Their churches shall not be used as habitation, nor shall they be demolished, nor shall any injuries be done to them or to their compounds, or their crosses, nor shall their properties be injured in any way. There shall be no compulsion for these people in the matter of religion, nor shall any of them suffer any injury on account of religion... Whatever that is written herein is under the covenant of God and the responsibility of His Messenger, His Caliphs and of the believers, and shall hold good as long as they pay the Jizya (the tax for their defence) imposed on them"
Even if those people think that it's still unacceptable for Christians to use Allah as reference to God, why put up a fight like this? Is not even a fair fight - using slur words, cowardly using violence to destroy other religion's place of worship. This is simply a provocation. Should the Christians retaliate by bombing, say, mosque(s) I bet those same Muslims would cry as if they were the ones being abused. Stupid retards.

There are way lots of other ways to deal this misunderstanding. Above all, everything must be done with an open heart, well-informed mind and good manners - as promote by the Prophet Muhammad in ALL of what he did. Otherwise, we would just have another bunch of retards who are clueless of what they are doing and joining this and that group (even on Facebook) in order 'to protect God's name'.

Wallahualam (God knows better).

A Classic Case of Pot and Kettle - Only Better

We all know how the original idiom went right? 'Pot calling the kettle black' is an old idiom which means to accuse a person or a thing of being marked with or guilty of the very thing they are pointing out.

In my case, the pot is not only calling the kettle black, but selfish, ignorant and insensible all at one go.

It all started with this one person, asking out my friend and I to celebrate his birthday. When he texted me, I simply replied with a short answer, declining the invitation since I was too occupied with my work then. What, you really wanted to get caught texting away while you're on work?

Then, when the real birthday came, I still sent him warm wishes since we were (somewhat) close friends and he thanked me - all through text. At that time, I was still working part time.

It turned out, he let it all hang out to another friend, expressing his dissatisfaction of me, making a big fuss about my short decline (which happened weeks before that) instead of confronting me face to face. Besides, we were quite close, so why didn't he just said it to me? I could easily apologize for offending him and understand each other better.

Had the friend did not tell me about this, I wouldn't have known right until today. And when he did, I was really bothered, considering I had done way lots of other things to please them before and this petty thing turned out to be a huge fuss for them, particularly him.

Now, I just had my birthday and I loved every single one whom celebrated it with me and wished me on that day. No surprise, Mr Big Fuss didn't even wish me right until today and he didn't have any alibi for not doing so. We have phones, Facebook, emails, snail mail and he even knows where I live.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a fan of people worshiping me. I sometimes forgot my friends' birthdays too. But for someone who cared so much on how people wished him on his birthday, he simply sucked at it. He made such a big hoo-haa about a small, tiny issue, yet, he couldn't even practice what he preached for.

I'm not here to sell him out. If I do, I could just mention his name and start a fight. Because I'm better than him, I decide not to whore out this issue to every other person whom might know him. I'm putting it here anonymously because I want each and every person who reads this to appreciate the people around you and not to make a big fuss over small things because we are not perfect after all to demand something perfect. Rather than airing your dirty laundry to everyone and dropping someone's name at every given opportunity, grow some balls and deal with every issue like adults.

As for you, you're dismissed. You may go now.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Turning Two-Three - Part 2

The next day after my big night of surprise, I had an early dinner date with Ayi and Ann Jie, since the latter insisted on going out and celebrating my day. The place du jour: Bubba Gump Shrimp at The Curve.

It was New Year's Day and learning from precedent cases, I chose not to step into any shopping mall but since they have made their reservation there, I just followed. Traffic and parking was hell, no surprise.

It turned out, Ann Jie had reserved a table for five. I relentlessly begged her to reveal the remaining two people who'd be joining us, but yeah, she was good in keeping her surprise.

Minutes later, three familiar faces stormed in and loudly wished me 'Happy Birthday!'. It was Sakina, Hana and her guy, Firdaus.

What a pleasant surprise man!

So, the five of them happily took time off to come and sit with me at the Forrest Gump-themed restaurant. No need to tell, I was so honored by these fabulous people especially Sakina who had just return from Port Dickson for her New Year celebration hours before the rendezvous.

There wasn't much to tell except how happy I was to be surrounded by these people on my special day. Ann Jie gave me a present which is a body care kit from L'Occitane - complete with a small toiletries' pouch (which looks like a clutch). Thanks dear!

A very big thank you to all of you and those who had wished me. I could never tell you how glad I am to have wonderful pals like all of you and you have certainly proven why you guys are the best. Here's to a happy new year and a new decade!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Turning Two-Three - Part 1

Since I didn't have any plan for New Year, Firah invited me over to her place for a little barbecue with other fellow friends. So, on the eve, I tailed behind Hani and her beau Aizat to Firah's, way in Shah Alam. Beforehand, Hani already reminded me that she had to stop by her 'aunt's' place first so I just happily obliged.

Her aunt? Yeah, right.

When we pulled over her alleged 'aunt's' place, Hani came over to my car and told me that her aunt wanted us to go in for awhile. It wasn't until later when we were about to step into the house when I suspected something fishy. The place was august yet so quiet.

I didn't have the time to think when I went in and was greeted by the loudest birthday cheer ever said to me by my dear friends, complete with the sign 'HAPPY BIRTHDAY KYE'.

There they were, never failed to make me happy and put a smile on my face especially on this very special day. There was never an aunt involved and it was Firah's place by the way. That was a nice one, guys. Real nice, really caught me off guard.

We spent the evening chatting away, catching up with each other and of course, all while eating barbecued chicken, prepared by the fellas. It felt so much better spending the New Year's Eve in this way all at the comfort of being among your close friends.

The rest of the evening, we played Mafia and other games courtesy of Acap and Hani - abundant of laughter assured. Sadly, shortly before the clock stroke twelve, we had to leave since Hani and Aizat had another get-together somewhere in Bangsar. Ayi and I had to leave as well since we weren't too sure of the way back.

En route back to KL, the new decade begun and we pulled over by the highway to admire the fireworks.
Caught off-guard

The fellas doing all the hard work

Firah - the hostess

My pretty pals - Hani, Hana and Mun. All are taken, by the way :)

Playing Mafia. I was the one kicked out first, nice.

To my dear friends Hani, Aizat, Zafirah Al Sadat Zyed, Imran, Mun, Hana, Jern, Afiq, Rashid, Fa, Acap, Illi, Hibat, Fuqaha (almost all whom I'd known from Asasi UM) and others who were there, thank you so much for making turning twenty-three a great moment to be cherished forever. Thank you for sticking by me after all these times and for being such a wonderful bunch.

As Hani would say, "Love you heaps!"