Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ferragamo Kicks

When I said I was going to up the ante for my 25th birthday, I didn't mean ONLY getting that Louis Vuitton sneakers for my birthday. 

Instead, I got TWO brand new sneakers! *Grabs wallet and laughs*

I have to admit, this purchase was quite inadvertent since I only had my eye on those Acapulco sneakers. But, a quick detour into a Ferragamo boutique proved to be a successful hunt when I saw these hi-tops.

Say hello to the Italian craftsmanship wonder named Colonia from the house's Fall/Winter 2011 collection. 

This baby is encapsulated in dark leather, canvas and suede finishing with the the house's monogram at the hind part in nylon fabric. The shoe laces are in black but there's an extra pair of laces given in white (ick!). I think I'd go for the black one, all the way.

What I love most about this pair is the attention to details given, as in any other Ferragamo shoes. The stitching were immaculate, the fitting were superb and the small monograms here and there added that touch of Ferragamo-ness in every pair (like that metal top shoe lace holder and the white rubber sole). Tres chic.

This pair of Colonia retails for RM2030 but I got them at RM1400 after a hefty 30% discount. This was the last pair available in Ferragamo at Suria KLCC.  

Come to think of it, I used to drool over its predecessor exactly a year ago whenever I passed by that window display in its Pavilion KL store. Now, I proudly own one. 

Patience, baby. Patience.
Twitter: @kyeberry

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Vuitton-ed Again

For my 22nd birthday I received a pair of gorgeous white Louis Vuitton sneakers. For 23rd birthday, I received an iPod Touch (it was the in thing at the time, alright). For 24th birthday, I received an iPad which did lots of good things to me. 

For the upcoming 25th birthday, I decided to up the ante once more. 

Since everyone knows my undying love for good shoes, it came as to no surprise when I decided to get a pair of sneakers for my 25th birthday. So I did some homework - flipped through the magazines, browsed the net, running through online catalogues. Finally I made up my mind. 

I want a pair of Louis Vuitton Acapulco sneakers. They are gorgeous, rugged, masculine and a little too much. 

One of the perks working in Bukit Bintang is that you can just swing by the Louis Vuitton boutique in Starhill Gallery during your lunchtime and browsed through the goods. I saw three Acapulcos - in white, black and navy blue leathers proudly on display and I felt all giddy inside with excitement.

The next day, I dropped by the boutique again with my hommie Ayi and purchased the navy blue one.  

I prefer this one to that of the other two because the leather is thicker and (I believe) more fitted for someone  who doesn't really know how to take a good care of his shoes, not to mention a clumsy one too. 

What I love most about this pair of sneakers is the profound leather texture, it just exudes truckload of masculinity besides just being a pretty pair of footwear. There is a monogram on the side with labels printed on the tongue and the hind side of the sole. I don't think it is hard to see why I fell in love with these babies. They are just gorgeous.

They are available for RM2600. Thanks to Ayi.
Twitter: @kyeberry

Friday, November 25, 2011

Le Conseil de Mortier

After what seemed like 20,000 light years, I finally graduated, officially. 

Frankly speaking, it felt mighty good to wear that indigo robe with silver lapel and being surrounded by my loved ones. It would be even better had my 'bontots' joined me in Dewan Tunku Canselor, UM that day (good God, I miss you guys). 

I even received a huge casablanca bouquet from Ayi and Mie. They certainly knew my favorite flower (thanks guys).

I won't detail on what went down that day - it was the same old routine every graduates had to undergo for convocation. But I would tell how important that day was to me. It marked a milestone in my life - all the way from there to here, with all challenges, sadness, difficulties, downsides and painful times which I had never fully disclosed nor confided to anyone. 

Each step I took toward that scroll reminded me my journey since 4-5 years ago - for that one scroll. God knows how painful it was but I guess up to this point, I'd say it was all worth the agony. The unbearable pain seemed to have dissipated.

As graduation gifts, I received a gorgeous ck Calvin Klein white dress shirt from Mie (which I couldn't stop wearing again and again) and a BlackBerry PlayBook from Ayi (which I recorded this Super Bass video with).

I thank each and every one of you who wished me well at any point of time, for your prayers have certainly did me good.

As I walked away from the stage, I turned my head to the thousands of guests but I only saw one person - that 18-year-old Khairizan who walked into Dewan Tunku Canselor for the first time during his Asasi UM orientation week and dreamed of walking on that stage, wearing that graduation robe.

I'd say to him, "You'll make it through but you need to persevere big time, man."
Twitter: @kyeberry

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Another Two Got Hitched

Congratulations to my close and awesome friends, Zafirah and Imran on their marriage.

Having being friends for six years, it was a real pleasure for me to see them taking their courtship from Asasi UM to the dais last week. They are the epitome of unconditional, real love - through thick and thin. 

So here's to Firah and Imran, may you both have a pleasant wedded life from this moment on. I can't wait to be Uncle Kye to your future kids.

Like Beyonce said, if you like it then you should put a ring on it. Guess Imran really liked Firah then, winks. 

Congratulations again, my friends.
Twitter: @kyeberry

Saturday, October 8, 2011

An Impulse Buy

While I was strolling around Suria KLCC the other day waiting for my movie, I stopped by a gadget shop on level 3. A cool-looking Jabra headphone caught my attention. 

The headphone was cordless and in simple plain black. I liked it, but I didn't dare to enquire further after looking at its pretty hefty pricetag.

So I went for my movie (it was Fright Night - a quite entertaining flick, just to digress) and I still lingered around that gadget store afterwards. After some 'Oohs' and 'Aahs', drooling over the headphone, I made my move - before stopping abruptly and heading back to the store for the third time.

Obvious enough, the first thing that store owner (I presumed) said to me the moment I stepped foot inside was: "You came back for the headphone, eh? I saw you three times already - checking out this headphone. You must really liked them."

Err... I didn't know it was so obvious.

That guy, Francis, gladly elaborated the specs and features of this Jabra Halo 2 headphone to Ayi and I. I later learned, this headphone was dope, yo - Bluetooth connectivity with corded USB option, inner velvet finishing for comfort, double built-in microphone for hands-free phone calls, able to connect 2 devices at the same time, up to 2 weeks standby time, LED status and battery display, crystal clear sound, enhanced bass, surreal surround sound with noise blackout and touch-sensitive controller (simply slide up and down the right ear piece to increase or decrease volume, respectively, and double tap to change song track).

Whoa. That was mouthful. Oh, it also bends for easy storage. The moment you bend it, it turns off - vice versa. How smart.

So I immediately got one since I'd be needing it for work and travelling purposes. No more wire/corded audio device for me, no more my-headphone-wire-got-tangled-to-women's-handbag-in-packed-train situation.

A week after I bought it, that guy Francis still remembered me while I accidentally passed by his store and he immediately asked me "How's your Jabra headphone? I hope you're enjoying it."

I certainly am. This awesomeness retails for RM548.
Twitter: @kyeberry

Sunday, September 25, 2011

My Silly Attempt on Super Bass


Alright, this was done at 2 in the morning and please pardon my appearance and my kookiness. I only did this because I liked the song, I was feeling like singing to it and recording myself doing so that early morning.

I love this song and yeah, I love it! Oh yeah, just a few disclaimers:

#1: I can't sing and I can't rap. I don't expect a recording deal from this video.
#2: Please ignore my greasy face.
Twitter: @kyeberry

Au Revoir, FSTEP

Six months passed by so quickly and we had ended our training course under FSTEP on 26th August 2011, before having our one-week break and dispersing to our respective sponsoring financial institutions. 

Although it was really dreadful in the beginning, the rest of the journey was an enjoyable one as we became one big family of 110 individuals. Needless to say, some of them - six, to be accurate - have become a large part of my life and I'm proud to call them as my close friends. So, a big thank you to all of you and particularly Zetty, Ekin, Didi, Min, Kila and Iqa. You guys made my days in FSTEP beyond pleasant and many thanks for all of your help and support.

Happy to say, I've made a mark in FSTEP before I left the building - in fact, two marks. One with the article I wrote for FSTEP newsletter and another, err, the scar which I still have when I ate the floor in the auditorium. Both are here to stay with me as mementos of my being there.

Here's hoping we'll still keep in touch with each other and not as another passing acquaintance. All the best, girls and fellas.
Twitter: @kyeberry

Friday, August 5, 2011

CSR Round Two

Somehow, my nine other friends and I were chosen for this second CSR programme, a collaboration between FSTEP and Bank Rakyat. The moment I knew we had to manage about 200 primary schoolchildren from 8am to 4pm during the entire programme, I got weak.

Yes, I do love children but loving and being good at managing them are two wayyyy different things. But as any other Capricorn did whenever encountering a challenge, I rose to the occasion (chewah). I had to, anyway.

The CSR programme was primarily conducted by Bank Rakyat to encourage schoolchildren to save and open a savings account with them (clever). The day-long programme had a number of fun activities for the children including a science show by Petrosains team (in which I had fun watching it too). Us FSTEP participants acted as facilitators during the entire day, helping the children with their tasks and group activities.

Although these kids did get cheeky and fun to mingle with, there were times when I just felt like punching them (slow and hard) whenever they got too excited or simply couldn't take simple instructions, like, queueing up (which was most of the time). Tea break and lunch time were even more chaotic and needless to say, we had to come up with a stricter measure - which shall not be disclosed here *wink wink*. Kidding.

I am proud to say, I have a greater respect for school teachers for having to deal with these issues

Despite that, one or two kids caught my attention that day. They were well-behaved, witty, super intelligent and just awesome to sit down and have a proper conversation with. One of them even became the subject of my oral presentation for the FSTEP final assessment test (thanks Syahmi for the inspiration).

By the time the programme ended, all of us were completely drained of energy. Having to manage and chase around 200 schoolchildren were no easy job, alright.

That night, I slept at 9.30pm.

Huge thanks to Amirrul for the photos.

CSR in Hospital Kuala Lumpur

Initially I was dreadful of the thought that I needed to sacrifice my Saturday morning to entertain a bunch of sick children. Although I have a huge heart about the whole corporate social responsibility/giving-back-to-society thing, I was still not ready to give up one-half of my precious weekend for this occasion (I have a new appreciation for weekends eversince I started working, mind you).

However, once I reached the Pediatric Ward of Hospital Kuala Lumpur that morning, I was overcame with a strange cocktail of feelings - I was happy and felt really privileged to be there with these children, as well as with huge compassion for them.

That Saturday was all about the children.
For some few minutes, on and off, I forgot about my ugly orange FSTEP t-shirt which I had to wear that day.

There was nothing much we could do to entertain this children except by holding a puppet show for them and organizing coloring and card-making activities. We even invited a clown to entertained them with some tricks and jokes, and the children along with their parents and staff nurses were clearly enjoyed.

In between the activities, we did a sing-along of 'Rasa Sayang' under Jonathan's helm with all of the FSTEP participants and the audience.

Then, we distributed the goody bags from ward to ward, meeting and greeting the patients. Some of us went to the pediatric oncology ward, from which they returned red-eyed with tears running down their cheeks. I guess you know why.

Participating in this CSR event opened up a whole new dimension for me in terms of being grateful to my well-being and the capacity to give back to the less fortunate lot. Most importantly, it showed me that each of us had the ability to put a smile of these children face through simple gestures of love. A hug, a smile or simply a light chat with them conveyed the message 'I care about you'.

Would I do it all over again in the future? Definitely.
Twitter: @kyeberry

Sunday, July 24, 2011

RIP Amy Winehouse

Amy Jade Winehouse
(Sept 14, 1983 - July 23, 2011)

It's been quite sometime since I last updated my blog. I've been meaning to do so today but little did I know, for all the wrong reason.

I never liked/loved any artiste as much as I loved Amy Winehouse. I loved her as a singer/songwriter, not as a celebrity. She was one of those few people who really had a knack in writing and singing her songs straight from her heart and needless to say, the songs she wrote were honest, sincere, raw and very poignant - a reflection of her own life.

Today, she was found dead in her apartment at the age of 27 - at the return of Saturn. Too soon, Amy, too soon.

They would never be any perfect word to describe her brilliance as an artiste. Her work of art speaks for her.

I love you Amy. Now, rest in peace and may you find comfort at the other side.

I'll never go back to black.
Twitter: @kyeberry

Saturday, June 25, 2011

May - June Read

Hannibal by Thomas Harris

Okay, first of all, many thanks to Ann Jie for recommending me this book. I had no idea about this Thomas Harris' masterpiece until she suggested me to give it a try (I know, I know, I should be punished for not knowing about this book's existence. Dumb) and just like what she told me, it was full of gore and plain gruesome.

Short, lots of graphic, sadistic events take place in this book.

For the benefit of my fellow few readers who are still in the dark about this book, Hannibal by Thomas Harris is about the namesake, a cannibalistic serial killer who escaped to Italy and being hunted by his rich, surviving victim, Mason Verger with the help of a tainted Italian detective and a corrupt US government official.

At the same time, there's Clarice Starling - an FBI agent who's trying to fix her bad reputation from a raid-gone-wrong by pursuing Dr Hannibal Lecter. Interestingly, the antagonist likes her (as told from previous books and through their encounters) and understands her better than anyone else.

The rest of the book looks into the dizzying parts where Dr Hannibal makes his mark professionally in Italy before escaping back to the United States with all the scheming, hunting and killing take place in between. One can appreciate how Dr Hannibal manages to keep his composure and remained cool (and witty?) even during the most pressing times. That makes him and the book interesting.

However, the movie version of it (released in 2001) is somewhat disappointing, considering you have read the book. It has been simplified to the max, lots of details in the book have been taken out, some characters are not included and the major bummer of all, the ending is not like what's in the book. I still prefer the book's ending as it tells the ultimate connection between Clarice Starling and Dr Hannibal, while the movie's one appeals more to Hollywood.

Think you like clever, charming psychopath with lots of blood and human organs spewing out in a book? Then go and read this one.
Twitter: @kyeberry

Sunday, May 15, 2011

JS Wings Transparent

It's no secret that I love my JS Wings sneakers by Adidas. Starting with the black one two years ago and another pair in grey last year, now I have the third one in my collection.

Meet the transparent/clear version of JS Wings for Spring/Summer 2011 collection.

I had seen this one on the internet a couple of months ago and quickly fell in love with it (as usual). I just had to show it to everyone I knew and even posted it on my Twitter account.

Little did I know Juice KL had brought it in into their store in Bangsar - in April! Gasp!

This baby comes in perforated clear plastic surface with white leather trimming and matching white shoe laces. The sole is of white rubber and the inner sole is white as well.

I personally think this one easily tops the most quirky shoes I've ever owned. I just have to make sure I pair it with the best socks I have as, well, everything is see-through! Ha!

Thanks to my hommies Mie for checking this out for me in Juice KL and to Ayi for surprising me with this as soon as I got back from work. Such a pleasant (and much welcomed) surprise! It retails for RM699 per pair.

Now, what do you think?
Twitter: @kyeberry

Saturday, May 14, 2011

These Shoes are Made for Working

I needed a new pair of black formal shoes for work. The old one was, well, old and in a relatively bad shape (bless those shoes for all these years).

I could spend half of my entire a month's pay to buy a good pair from Dunhill or Hugo Boss (damn those lace-ups looked good), or I could settle for much less with a high-street label instead.

Having used to my Lanvin lace-ups, I really wanted to go for another designer label for my second formal shoes. Trust me, they don't cost a bomb for nothing - designer labels' shoes are so comfortable and fit your feet like gloves. At least, that is what they are for men's shoes.

However, I didn't want to damage these potential new shoes as I'd be using them intensively for work - at least 20 days per month. That kinda defeats the whole purpose of having formal/work shoes, no?

So, I decided to settle with less expensive ones instead.

But, boy, it was SO hard to find a decent pair with a much, much less pricetag. The cheap ones were either too ugly, too bulky, too pointy, uncomfortable or simply all of them at once.

Then, came this pair from Pedro. Quite reasonably-priced, OK-design, quite comfortable and made of leather, no less. So I bought it without contemplating, after doing rounds of checking one store to another.

I thought I looked funny in these quite-pointy lace-ups but so far I got nothing but positive remarks from my friends and other people. I hope they weren't lying, though.

This one is RM319 and available in Pedro, Suria KLCC. They have quite a selection of shoes and I recommend the store to everyone with a strict budget of RM35o and below for footwear.

Wait til I get extra cash in hand, I'm going to get one of those ridiculously-sexy Florsheim shoes.
Twitter: @kyeberry

April Read

What would you do if one day you wake up just to find your entire family vanishes without trace and without having any clue of their disappearance?

No Time for Goodbye by Linwood Barclay is a story about Cynthia Archer who found her entire family had disappeared on one morning and left her no notice, no signs of their whereabouts. Twenty-five years later, she still has no idea what had happened to her father, mother and younger brother that morning - until a series of strange things started to happen.

She has a strange feeling that someone is watching her wherever she goes. She bumped into a man who looked like her missing brother a number of times. Her aunt, the only surviving family relative she has, was killed before she could tell her secrets that could changed her life. She claims her father is attempting to reconnect with her although her husband now thinks she's on the verge of becoming insane - or is she not?

The most special part about this book is probably the big question mark about her family's disappearance that keeps me glued to its pages. It's a fast-paced, thriller fiction with enough reasons embedded between the lines to make you stay intrigued until the end.

Well, not really until the end.

Just before climax, you would have figured out what actually happened to Cynthia's family and it just kind of killed the excitement. In my opinion, if Barclay had hold back some of the information and just let the characters spilled it indirectly as the story progressed, it would have helped to keep the momentum alive until the end.

I saw Barclay's other titles in Borders the other day, but having read No Time for Goodbye, I wasn't so sure as whether to pick them up or not. This one itself was good but the final part of the book kind of killed the steam gathered from the beginning - as if he got tired of writing it and decided to end it right away and in the most inglorious manner.

Have it a go and do let me know if you think otherwise.
Twitter: @kyeberry

Sakina and Yusuf's Wedding

It was quite amazing how weddings could bring out the emotional side of you and moved even the most unbelieving person (exhibit one: myself).

Certainly, having known and being close to the person did some justice to the wedding tears shed that evening. Sakina and I both studied in the Center for Foundation Studies in Science, Universiti Malaya, where we first got to know each other and later became friends. A year later, we both changed our degree courses and studied economics together in the same batch, of course alongside our best pals Ami, Fifi and Faris.

Time moved so fast and now, another one has left the nest.

We celebrated the new phase of Sakina and Yusuf's life in Holiday Villa, Subang where their wedding reception was held. The Indian-themed wedding brought back familiar faces from UM and yeah, it was a night we wouldn't ever forget. Our baby girl Sakina, always the darling in the group, got hitched to her prince.

As per requested by the bride herself, Ami and Lia performed some of Sakina's favorite songs during the reception and we joined them on stage while they sang the final song, 'Just the Way You Are'.

The after-party was a different story by itself. We sang and danced alongside the newlyweds to some Hindi and English songs.

As I'm writing this, the new Mr and Mrs Yusuf have settled down in Kuwait City, Kuwait - a place she now calls home. All the best to this new phase and you will always have our prayers with you, wherever you are.

Congratulations, S.
Twitter: @kyeberry

Saturday, May 7, 2011

YSL For Ayi

Can you believe it's already May?

It seemed just like yesterday (or the day before) we celebrated Ayi and Fifi's birthday on the 34th floor of Menara Pan Global. Just like that, a year has passed by and my hommie Ayi is now a year older.

I didn't really know what to get him for his big day so I chipped in some cash and asked him to do the honor of buying anything he wanted. So, he chose to get a new pair of sneakers.

After doing some laps around Pavilion KL and Starhill Gallery, he finally decided that these navy blue suede high-top sneakers from Yves Saint Laurent were the best choice. Trust me, I had no influence on his decision *roll eyes*.

Malibu High-top Sneakers in Navy

I reaffirmed my approval on these sneakers for its super sexy cut, color, the dark blue patent leather trimming, the gigantic tongue with YSL logo emblazoned, the pony hair at the back, padded insole and comfortable rubber sole - what's not to like about this footwear?

Ironically I had set my eyes on it 2,3 months ago and little did I know he would be the one to own it - not me! Talk about being blessed.

Happy 31st birthday Mr Ayi. Thanks for being a close, close person to me of all these years. Now go and rock those fierce YSL kicks.

Yves Saint Laurent is available in Couture Pavilion, Pavilion KL.

Monday, May 2, 2011

February - March Read

I don’t really know how to describe this book but i’d surely try my best.

I had seen this book on numerous bestseller lists since 2007 and on my sister’s bookshelf but I had never gathered enough reason to read it until two people recommended me to do so (thanks Afiq and Ida!). The first few pages were dizzyingly confusing; the next few chapters were intriguing while the rest of the book was painfully long and criss-crossed with one era and the other.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova tells the story of the author’s hunt of Vlad Tepes or the fictional version of it, The Dracula in the 1970s with her father. The quest started off when she found an old book with a woodcut dragon in the middle of the book in her father’s library and led the latter to reveal her how he had accidentally found the book during his student days in 1950s.

Then, we will learn why the author’s father had wanted to keep the book secret for years especially with his professor’s disappearance after he had shown him the same book when he found it. As the author travels around Europe with his father, she begins putting together the pieces of the mystery of Count Vlad the Impaler’s whereabouts to find his final resting place and hopefully, find her father’s missing professor again.

What makes this book a taxing task is the amount of attention you need to give to every page read. The main plotline takes place during the 1970s, as the author recalls her own experience and travelling with her father to unravel the mystery. The next plotline is in 1950s, when her father recalls his own experience discovering the book and up until his journey to the Eastern Europe for the same purpose. The final plotline takes place in 1930s, whenever her father’s professor, Bartholomew Rossi recalls his own experience to the author’s father.

Confused much?

As someone who has never really ventured deeply into Count Vlad’s history (except of some verbal lessons from my friend Akmal who lives in Bucharest, the world capital of Dracula), I found the first few pages quite impossible to read. I almost lost my interest in the book since it seemed the book was written in German – I couldn’t understand a thing!

But as the story progressed, I learned to pick up the pace and my interest slowly grew as I wanted to know more of Vlad the Impaler and why was he assumed not to be buried in wherever he was. I must admit, Kostova’s writing sometimes gave me chills when she described how she could feel the Dracula’s presence whenever she and her father were talking about it. But the rest of the book was painfully long and I had a great relief once I flipped open the final page.

Final note, the book itself is worth reading if you don’t plan on finishing it in a short time. If it’s not for the storyline, you’ll appreciate the history of Count Vlad and its fictional equivalent, Bram Stroker’s Dracula, as told throughout the book. With so many historical events unfolded, intriguing plotline and the surreal sensation thrown in, no wonder the book made its way into the New York Times bestseller’s list.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

One Month with the British Council

Erine, Shikin, Melvin and Zetty: The kookies

As part of our training course in the Financial Sector Talent Enrichment Programme (FSTEP) under the Institute of Banks in Malaysia or IBBM, we had to undergo a one-month intensive English course with the British Council.

Some people beamed with delight upon hearing that and told me how lucky I was to get a chance participating in such programme by the British Council. Yeah, maybe. But all I could think of was how dreadfully boring it would be - learning grammar, vocabulary etc all over again.

Anyway, we were divided into five groups according to our level of proficiency - lower intermediate, intermediate, upper intermediate and two classes of advanced students. I won't tell you which class I belonged to *winks*.

True, we had to learn the basic things in English - pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, tenses etc. Besides that, there were also writing skills session, presentations (individual & group), group discussions, communication and listening classes and many other activities deemed necessary for our work later on.

By the end of the first week, I had to admit I was wrong in assuming the English classes would be one dull and arduous month for all of us. Although we had our textbook provided by the British Council, we only referred to it once or twice every day as our activities are mostly done through presentations, games, casual conversations and sometimes event treasure hunt all over the FSTEP area! Fun as it may sound, all was done for our learning benefit and not merely to kill time.

Our trainers weren't your typical school English teachers, mind you. They were fun, open-minded, flexible to our suggestions/ requests and nonetheless, very knowledgeable in their teaching. For my class, we had two trainers and both were absolutely fun to work with. Miss Jackie Clarke and Miss Iman Sasso, you guys were fabulous.

If you can't tell from the photos, we had so much fun during our one-month intensive English course and needless to say, gained a lot more by the end of the course. Hopefully, the remaining 4-5 months of technical financial class after this would be as delightful as this one.

Aliff toying around with my water bottle

With Miss Iman

With Miss Jackie

Err..igore this photo

Sunday, April 10, 2011

"Majulah Singapura"

Unabashedly, I admit that I've never gone to Singapore. I know, most people will be very generous with snark response to that - saying things like 'Eh, first time in Singapore? LOL'. I'm going to take it with a pinch of salt and shake it off since that's not important - at least now I've been there.

Since both of us hadn't taken the train in the longest time, Ayi and I agreed to board one from KL to Singapore's Keppel Road Station (a.k.a Tanjong Pagar Station). It took us eight hours and needless to say, our butt was sore from the long journey.

The most striking thing about this Lion City was its lush greenery. Despite having a minuscule land size for everything, environmental part was still a major priority. You could see huge trees and shady walkways, up from Woodlands in the north to Jurong in the south. All of the residential buildings looked so livable, be it the flats, condos or the bungalows. I gave my biggest thumb up ever for this.

Our trip here this time was mainly to check out the shopping districts. Universal Studios and Sentosa Island might have to wait for our next visit. First stop: the glamorous, infamous Orchard Road.

The Orchard MRT Station was right below ION Orchard - THE ION Orchard. Man, I was totally spoiled for choice here. The selection was INSANE and some stores were not to be found here in Malaysia. Fashion aficionados should really check out the spacious stores of Dior Homme, Dolce & Gabbana and my personal favorite, DSquared2. Salivate all you want over the goods offered here.

Orchard Road wasn't just about ION Orchard. There were gazillion others of shopping complexes worth visiting such as Wisma Atria, the fabulous Takashimaya in Ngee Ann City (which housed Christian Louboutin), Paragon, Knightsbridge, Mandarin Gallery, Forum, Tangs, Palais Renaissance and of course, Hilton Shopping Gallery.

Hilton Shopping Gallery has got to be my favorite place, offering wide array of stores like Bottega Veneta, Lanvin, Issey Miyake, Louis Vuitton, the quirky store of Comme des Garcons, Marni and many others. The most fabulous part of this place is the Club 21 Men's store where you can find various designer goods over its three levels. Kris van Assche, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent and Jill Sander - to name a few.

And oh, the price was relatively cheaper here than in Malaysia. For instance, a YSL top cost around 600 bucks (after conversion to ringgit) whereas in KL, the same one cost over 800 bucks. Zara was cheaper too.

I chose to abstain from buying designer goods on my first visit for I afraid I might overspend. Bummer.

On a positive note, I've been acquainted to a new high-street brand called Muji, (thanks Ayi!) originating from Japan like its counterpart, Uniqlo and offered great pieces at great prices. I bought a loose cardigan here (since I can't get my hands off it) and I loved it to bits.

I loved how Singapore paid attention to small details like making sure EVERY single pedestrian button on the traffic lights functioned and providing wide walkways, complete with those jagged slabs for the blind. For Orchard Road, the walkway was extra wide and strolling down the road from one mall to the next was an enjoyable, effortless one.

Since Ayi and I couldn't simply close our eyes and swallow down any food we stumbled into, we chose to head to the nearest mosque and had our lunch there. A cleaner in Mandarin Gallery told us that there were a mosque just beside Paragon but we couldn't see any mosque since we were anticipating something with a glistening dome and some minarets.

No, no. The mosque is a big four or five-story building with multilevel carpark, function rooms and a small eatery at the ground floor - mind you. Okay we were impressed. Just a couple of steps from those posh shopping complexes, you could find this mosque - in this ultra cool area of Orchard. Back in KL, city center was so 'precious' that you couldn't allocate a mosque in the Golden Triangle. If it was not for KLCC, we wouldn't have any mosque in the area.

Ayi enjoying his nasi lemak in al-Falah Mosque

We spent about five hours jumping from one place to another in Orchard proximity before heading to the spanking new Marina Bay Sands. Since the LRT line intended for the shopping complex has yet to be completed, we had to stop at Marina Bay MRT station and walk about 10 minutes before reaching the place.

This expansive shopping mall was a part of the casino and hotel complex under the international brand of Sands. As in any other shopping complexes in Singapore, Marina Bay Sands offered the same expensive designer labels over its three (or four?) levels. Oh, there was an ice rink too near the foodcourt.

At the Marina Bay and Marina Bay Sands

Overall, Singapore was really nice to us and so did the Singaporeans we had to stop and ask for direction whenever we got lost. The trains were insanely-efficient and the escalators throughout the city state were FAST - I like it. I hate slow things and slow idiots, which Singapore had none of the both.

Upon reaching KL, we were already thinking of our next plan to return to Singapore. I have my eyes on that YSL t-shirt and more Muji cardigans :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lust for Lanvin

Calf Trainer Shoes (Trainer Veau Semelle Cuir)

Every now and then, everyone needs that extra push to get through the day.

Some people get it in the form of hugs. Some take comfort indulging delicious food or chocolates. Others simply need a company of their loved ones.

Me? If you have known me well, it wouldn't take long to figure it out.

Yup, shoes. You (or I, actually) can never have too many shoes.

Luckily I had another good reason (or excuse?) to get some new pairs. I needed new shoes for work since the one I wear now are no longer in its top form.

I never really liked this Lanvin pair the first time I laid my eyes on them since it looked rather casual and inappropriate for formal wear. But, after some persuasion from Ayi, I gave it a try.

Oh my. These shoes really enveloped my feet the moment I slipped it on. It wasn't too tight or too loose, neither was it uncomfortable nor painful when worn. It was the greatest feeling one could have when trying on a shoe - a perfect fit. And it looked great on my feet too.

Lanvin is notorious for its simplistic design (and ultra-expensive price tag). I've been an avid fan of this house from afar for quite some years, so you can imagine how thrilled I am to (finally) own its footwear.

I hope these purchases would last longer than a day or two. This better be some extra strong push for work - and I have a strong feeling that it would be. You can never go wrong with a great pair of footwear.

I'll let you wonder about the price tag this time. Many thanks to Mr Ayi for this.

Lanvin is available in Starhill Gallery until May 2011 before moving to Suria KLCC in the same month.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Note to a Buddy

Dear buddy,

It was a real pleasure to meet you earlier tonight - as always. It remind me of how blessed I am to have such a great person like you as a close friend. After we have split the bills and bid adieu, I still thought about you and what we had discussed in the cafe (in between our silly jokes).

Naturally, I will say that I totally understand what you are going through right now while comforting you. But, I know no matter how much you share with me or how long we talk, I would never fully grasp your predicament.

However, as a concern friend, I can only offer some advice and comforting words based on my own experience.

I have had the 'privilege' (if you may) of going through so many ups and downs thus far in my life. Hence, what I am about to say doesn't come from a self-help book but directly from my own self. Who's better to give you some suggestions from the one who had been there and back?

Honestly, I have the utmost respect for your brilliance although I rarely brought that up in between us. I admire your quick-handedness and your ability to pull through even in the most dire situation and courses. I could never do what you have done, be it in school or in college, and why would I lie on that? I can easily pin-point ten people who would die to have less than half of your intelligence and loving persona.

Thus, it breaks my heart to see you crumble into pieces due to some misfortunes you faced recently, though I know it meant a lot to you, personally. I'm so sorry for not being able to do more at that time due to some personal commitments and the most I could do was offer some soothing words through the phone.

If I may say this to you, you have certainly missed out the larger picture. You overlooked a whole other opportunities waiting for you and tapping at your door. A hiccup doesn't mean your speech is screwed. A stumble doesn't mean you can't get up ever again.

You ought to look at the situation this way - 'Okay, I didn't make it. So, what's next?' There's no point lamenting on the past. As I have shared with you earlier, you have to make full use of what you have right now. Damn the people's expectation - they will still eat, breathe and carry on with their life regardless whether you flunked or excelled in your examination.

People can say a thousand and one things about what they want you to be but are you really living for them? Is this what you really want to be - pretending you're happy as long as you're forever applauded for doing what they like?

For a change, why not take a slight detour. Cast away the tears, hold your head up high, get a decent job, excel at it and show them what you're truly capable of. Show them that you can still excel in your own mold. Take some pleasure by doing what you want with what you have without having to worry about others.

As the saying goes, when life gives you lemon, make lemonade.

I appreciate how you said you always looked up to me for some guidance but I have to warn you, the road towards victory is full of tears, sweat, perseverance and lingering nay-sayers. It is never easy. As I have shared with you, I'm still in the journey to prove some people how wrong they were by saying I had made the wrong decision 4 years back. It's never easy but you have to be strong along the way and please keep in mind how wonderful the place at the end of the road would be.

Most importantly, learn to love yourself. Nobody's going to love you more than yourself. Learn to accept your limits, your flaws, your imperfections and all the less-than-pleasant things about yourself that nobody but you know. Start to care for yourself as only by doing it, you can finally see how inane and wasteful those 'Why me?' moments are.

You are a wonderful person with a disgustingly brilliant brain and such a pleasant attitude. Don't let it go to waste due to some minor setbacks. With all of my love and support, I wish to see you successful, cheerful again and find peace in your next step in life. You can always count on me to stand by you.

Through the darkest night, comes the brightest light.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Pursuit of Employment

Minutes before hitting the interview. I had to tone down and look boring, alright.

I've always wanted to work in a bank. It comes rather naturally, since I am a Bachelor of Economics graduate (God, I love putting down that word 'graduate' - now minus the prefix 'under'). Most Accountancy graduates love big auditing firms (e.g. Deloitte, KPMG, Pricewaterhouse Coopers) and Engineering graduates salivate over Shell, Petronas, Road Builder and Schlumberger (to name a few) - for me, I'd really like to work in a bank.

I love the energy of the bank, the long hours of working, extensive studies over monetary instruments, the complexity of the economic market, ...

Screw that. Who am I kidding? I chose to work in a bank because of the high pay and big annual bonuses. There you have it.

Step 1: Resume Submission
So I applied to every possible banks I found in the recruitment section of The Star newspaper or on JobStreet. On top of that, I applied to other big and medium-size firms as well.

About two weeks later, I got two responses from two different banks with two different positions. One of them is from United Overseas Bank a.k.a UOB for the Management Trainee post - standard post for the fresh grads.

Step 2: Written Essay
Apparently the good news was half-baked since I still had to submit a written essay back to them within a week. I had to write down about the type of people I get along with and why.

Wanting to sound very, very congenial, I wrote how it would be unwise to have preferences in choosing certain groups of people to mingle (which is bullshit, I do have preference) since it would limit my experience and flexibility in work (which is true, however). I tried not to write Pulitzer-length essay as I know they wouldn't read much of it (or maybe they would?) and without much consideration, I hit the 'Send' button.

Step 3: Phone Interview
Few days after I have submitted my essay, they sent me an email saying I was through to the next round of the interview. Seriously?

Now, I had to call them and explain to them - orally - what I had written in my essay and relate it in my own experience. Without much thought, I picked up my phone and called them within an hour after I received the email.

True enough, I was the first person to call. I tried to sound very convincing and relate my industrial training experience to the essay, but less than five minutes of talking, she dismissed me saying she thought she had got the idea. I didn't know whether to feel relieved (for not having to ramble on and on for minutes more) or not (since she sounded like she's ready to hit the snooze button on me).

Step 4: First Interview
The following week they informed me I was qualified for the real, face-to-face interview (finally) in Berjaya Times Square Hotel.

I tell you, that day I wasn't in my top form. It takes a great deal to intimidate or scare the hell out of me but seeing so many people with (presumably) better grades than mine and some even had prior working experience in top MNCs, my confidence was lacking.

After an hour of briefing and introduction to the history of the bank, about 100 something of us were finally called for one-on-one interview. The stern face and voice of the interviewer simply didn't help in boosting my confidence.

Compared to the earlier job interview I attended with another bank (cough, Maybank, cough), this one is the top of the worst. I stammered big time like Colin Firth in The King's Speech. Naturally, I didn't have high hope to be called back.

Step 5: Final Round of Interview
Thankfully, that stammering didn't jeopardize my chance as I was through for the final round of the interview.

However, I was down with fever really bad.

I prayed to God, if this one is meant for me and if this is the best choice among the rest, then by all means help me gather some strength to attend this interview.

True enough, that morning of the interview I was feeling so much better. But as I was waiting for the whole event to start, the fever kicked in again. My hands and feet went cold as ice. My head was throbbing in pain. I felt like throwing out and dropping out of the interview.

Praise the Lord I didn't. I managed to gather the remaining strength I had for the whole 7 hours of the day's event - starting with group assessments in the morning (where we had to perform a number of tasks as a group of six) and individual presentation (in which I had to choose a topic from a list given and deliver a 15 minutes talk in front of five assessors).

I even managed to get into a verbal fight with an assessor during the group assessment as she misinterpreted my answer (here's a tip: next time when people give out his/her answer, LISTEN CAREFULLY). Not cool to mess around with a tired, fever-stricken lad. Not cool.

The Aftermath
After nearly two weeks of waiting, I got a call from the bank to congratulate me and deliver the good news. The first thing to hit me was: that fight with the assessor seemed paid off! Winks.

I don't know how this next chapter of my life will go but I'm really looking forward for it. I believed He has shown me this path and brought me here so, how wrong can it be (can't it?)

Yeah, I'm quite nervous of this new beginning but more anxious to see how it turns out - hopefully well. To see so many unemployed graduates out there and not being one in the statistics is a real blessing and I really hope to make full use of this opportunity.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

January Read

Okay, I've read three books for the past month of January - which is relatively good since one of my new year's resolutions is to read at least 10 books this year. I know that's quite a laughable figure, but I'm taking baby steps here. Is 'laughable' even a word?

Here are the books I've read in January:

1. 'The Lost Symbol' by Dan Brown.

This is another laughable point for this post. I'm about two years late to pick up this book, since the first print was only hardcovers. I can be cheapskate and calculative at times, alright. By the time the paperback was finally released, I ended up downloading it straight into my iPad - better still, it was free. Now who's laughing?

I know most of you must've known how this book goes. Perhaps, a movie adaption was being made while I'm typing this (who knows?). For the remaining handful of people who have yet to read this, The Lost Symbol follows the quest of Professor Robert Langdon (of The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons fame) to save his friend, Peter Solomon who has been kidnapped by a mysterious person known as Mal'akh.

In order to save his friend, Mal'akh wants our protagonist to interpret and solve an ancient mystery, safely kept for hundreds of years by the Freemasonry Brotherhood, in which Solomon is a member. So, the whole story depicts Robert Langdon trying and solving clues and mysteries of the ancient secret, while generously educating the reader about the history, misconceptions, symbolism and purpose of the Freemasons.

Like Dan Brown's previous works, all of the names, artworks, monuments and buildings mentioned in the book really exists (I Googled all of them) but whether they are really connected to the Freemasonry is unclear and needs deeper studies.

Read This If You Like : Dan Brown, symbolism, fast-paced storyline (the story takes place only in one night) and short chapters.

2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

First glance of this book in Kinokuniya KLCC didn't entice me much to pick it up, what more to read. Thankfully my friend Mie bought it, so I just borrowed from him (hehe). I told you I'm cheapskate.

Set in the early 1960's in Jackson, Missisippi, this book is about three women who tried to make a difference in their community. Back in that time when African Americans were still called as Negroes, a white woman (Eugenia Pheelan) decided to stand up for the black people in her community by writing a book about their experience working for white families as housekeepers, or help - hence, the name of this book.

Although many of the black people were skeptical of her action initially, she managed to gain support from a dozen other black housekeepers, with the help of her friend's housekeeper, Aibeleen and the latter's friend, Minny. Together, they record the experiences of the black housekeepers - both pleasant and not-so-pleasant ones.

The hardship the three of them faced while writing the book adds some reality to the story. Otherwise it is another cliche been-there-done-that story about racial discrimination.

Not much to say, since all of us must be familiar with the theme by now. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable ride with plenty of humor put in without overshadowing the values in the book - friendship, courage, loyalty and perseverance.

Read This If You Like: Hallmark channel, Sidney Poitier and everything about Oprah.

3. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith

One word to describe this New York Times bestseller - hilarious!

Like the original one, written by Jane Austen, this book is concerning the love-hate story between Elizabeth Bennett and the dashing Mr Darcy - with a twist of some action, gore, ninja (!!) and of course, zombies.

Although the book still keeps its romance theme, some changes are put to give this book an interesting twist. Elizabeth Bennett is no longer just a pretty, ambitious and intelectual young lady, but a brave one too with great martial art skills.

You won't be able to appreciate this book if you're not familiar or have yet to read the original Pride & Prejudice. The author still maintains the same plot line and the entire book is written in the same 19th century English to give it the same air as the original book but, of course, with a silly and humorous twist.

For instance, originally Elizabeth Bennett's hem was dirty due to her long walk from home to Netherfield park. But in this version, her dirty dress is caused by fighting with the zombies ( or the 'unmentionables') on her way there. You will find numerous of other quirky twists such as this one as you read.

I loved this book so much that I finished reading it within two nights.

Read This If You Like: Jane Austen's works, Plants vs Zombies and Scary Movie.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, January 14, 2011

Oh Man...

Sin on a platter a.k.a the Sushi Platter

...this is so de-waitforit-licious!

Thanks to Firah and Imran for introducing me to this sushi platter from Haagen Dazs. I never knew ice-cream could be so sexy and yummy at the same time.

Everything on this platter is either ice-cream, cut fruits, whip cream or chocolate. All meticulously made to resemble a sushi dish but, yes, it's ice cream.

This one is about 35 bucks. Highly recommended if you fancy ice-creams.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

I'm 24 Now

Ready or not, I've grown a year older. 24 years old to be exact.

For this year around (and hopefully the coming years), instead of talking about me and my resolutions, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the people who have made this twenty-four years journey an enjoyable ride.

Thanks to Mama and Abah for bringing me into this world - this curly-haired, big eyes, big nose, big ears, big mouth boy. I could never repay every single deed you have done to me especially in teaching, schooling and loving me as well as for being patient with me for the past 24 years.

Thanks to my brother and sister as well as my brother-in-law and my sister-in-law for accepting me for who I am, never questioned every decision I made and supporting me all the way.

To all of my friends, you meant the world to me. You made each passing day very delightful and meaningful. Thanks for being my brothers and sisters, my private tutors (whenever I was slow in picking up things), my body double (whenever I was absent for classes), my confidante or simply for being nice people to keep me company all the time. I love all of you.

I don't really give a damn about presents this year but somehow, they keep on giving. Thus, I thank you lovely people for these presents and for wishing me. It's the thought that counts.

Happy new year 2011. May this year brings us more greatness, happiness and other fabulous things. Here's to 2011.

Thanks to Ayi for the iPad, Suhaimi for the white iPad case, Ann Jie for the Zara jacket and Kiehl's moisturizer, Ami for the neck massager and Faris for the card and pink teddy bear (which he said resembles me. Yeah, I'm puzzled too)