Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
And I'm determined to collect the entire series.
Available at Times bookstore.
It was a book which I wasn't planning to read because I'm not one who will support over-commercialized publications. Eat, Pray, Love was on everyone's lips and every magazine's book reviews, peppered with sprays of praise. Sheesh, I thought.
When I was in Auckland, I spent most of my evenings, waiting. Not the kind of wait that makes you bloat with redness in your face. But the pleasure-is-all-mine kind of wait. And one uneventful evening, in one of my 'waitings', I picked up this book at the local bookstore, picked a good seat and started reading. I decided to challenge Elizabeth Gilbert and see what she has to say about eating, praying and loving. And two pages after that, I was stuck. And that was the last night I waited in the bookstore. Because, every night after that I found myself waiting anywhere and everywhere with the book. And then magical conversations happened.
Two things which struck me was Gilbert's most approachable writing style. She's funny, witty, intelligent, curious, innocent, sometimes quite a doofus but in a good way, kind of way, and it captures you like a friend with the most listening ear. And she speaks to you as if you guys have known each other for years. There was no double meaning, no guessing, no wondering if you-could-have-meant-this-instead-of-that kind of situation. It was honest and the brutal truth about a woman who at the turn of her 3rd decade in life started going berserk because she wasn't sure if she likes to be who she was. Hmm. Sounds dramatic right? But show me a person who has never been at this crossroad before and I'll show you whatever you want to see in your life. Sometimes, some people pause for a long time, questioning the journey, wondering if they should get off the next stop. But sometimes, they only pause a second long enough before snapping out of it, returning to their joyous or monotonous life. Nevertheless, they paused.
The other thing which struck me too was, her audacity to chase after her directionless dreams albeit what society pressures her to be. And I think all of us can relate to that. It's almost like giving a voice to our subconscious to those of us who don't have the balls to face facts, own up, stand up and needless to say, who aren't blessed with New York Times-worthy English to have narrated like how she did in a book. Her life story, compiled and compressed in between two covers. I loved Elizabeth almost instantly and because it was a good ending, I'm assuming it must have given millions of other wondering and wandering souls (women or not) a kind of hope that if you are still living and breathing, you can always get off the next stop, buy another ticket, go the other way, go round in circles till you figure where you want to head to, or just be still at the station. And that will be okay.
You should read this. And you should get all your friends whom you suspect may be in a crossroad too to read this. And you can start by borrowing it from me here. Today, I'm no longer waiting. I'm actually going somewhere. Good luck ;)
Who else will fit such a role if not Julia Roberts? :)
Sunday, July 18, 2010
The Sustainable MBA is easy to digest with straightforward facts and ideas written in point forms to avoid the lethargy of needing to digest overly technical business jargon that would put any MBA potential to 'Z' land. Though its flow is simple, nevertheless after every chapter, it inspires you to reassess current business situation and question how better things can be done now. While I don't think anything written in this book is rocket science but it does provide an extremely holistic view on how to operate a socially and environmentally conscious business in the 21st century. The problem most managers are facing is the inability to see the big picture simply because the sustainable canvas is too wide for a single perspective. But without viewing the situation in whole, it becomes a real challenge in trying to convince upper management or even stakeholders (external or internal) on why change is imminent and instead of reacting to it via 'bolt-on' tactics which only provide temporal results, we should be responding and even capitalizing on it for the sake of the future. Not everything is accounted in dollars and cents. Like Mastercard so thoughtfully put it: Somethings are priceless.
Long gone are the days of unprofitable social business. For business to stick around for years to come and reap profits, it now needs to consider the social side of things. Whether in terms of investment or returns, it's high time we all learn to steer in the right direction before it's too late.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Beatrice and Virgil is about Henry, a successful writer who hit a road block in his creative endeavor. While trying to deviate from the reality of not being able to complete his task, he was half hiding and half in denial when he found himself mysteriously drawn to two fictitious friends narrated by an equally mysterious taxidermist who stood no where near Henry when it came to writing fame. The enigma of mystery finally brought Henry lessons in life that should and could never be forgotten.
To be very honest with you, when I started reading the book, it was kind of slow. Perhaps of my exceptionally high expectation on this book, thanks to Yann's extremely engaging Life of Pi. Even half way through the story, I was not particularly empathetic towards the characters. Instead, I was getting slightly impatient and was only drawn to the plot only at certain twists and turns. And then *wham*, it hit me right in the face. The crux of the story came and went very quickly but was so powerful that I had to 'rewind'. I leafed a few pages back and re-read the entire scene to fully consume the message again. You've got me, Yann. You caught me off guard ;)
The plot is tight, the climax is short but diabetic-ally sweet and it hits you in the gut. Then this overwhelming sense of guilt suddenly washes over and chide you for being such a lax reader and taking the 'point' so carelessly. It suddenly made me realised that Yann had perhaps intentionally set the pace in such a way that we (as expected by him) would see history as facts that set the mood for a lethargic afternoon, than truly embracing it as part of an important lesson to be remembered and held with such esteem so that we will never, ever allow it to repeat itself.
This book isn't just about words weaved into fiction, aimed at lulling us into another dimension of imagination. That is only half of what this book is really about. The other half is him using words as a technique to relive a part in our memory that has begun to erode...
A must read for all thinkers. And from the horse's mouth (no pun intended, Yann :)):
Sunday, June 27, 2010
In his new book, Jamie's recipes are borrowed from the various countries which he had traveled to, namely Spain, Morocco, France, Italy, Greece and Sweden. He shares on how his perspective had been widen through the different cooking processes that were embraced and practised by all these unique local cultures. Jamie shows us how to steal a great idea and makes it his own with appropriate quotations to what and who inspired him. Never, ever copy someone else's idea. That's just wrong.
Even if you're not a fan of cooking, this book is a keeper because of all those interesting photos that were spontaneously nevertheless carefully captured in the moment. It will spark the travel bug in you.
Now the part which I love love love most that Jamie shared was:
Something France really gets right is the way it fights to protect the heritage and integrity of its food product and producers. So cheeses, butter, wine and other agricultural products with a history and tradition that make them unique are protected by the AOC label (Appellation d’origine contrôlée, or 'controlled term of origin'). This means that the artisan producers who make Roquefort cheese, for example, are monitored to make sure they are making their cheese in the traditional way, using the proper ingredients and ageing the cheese in the same caves at Roquefort-sur-Soulzon they've always aged in. Only then can that cheese be called Roquefort.
Seriously, seriously. It's not just the quality of the product that will be guaranteed, but local heritage, tradition and artisans will also be secured. For example, Ipoh white coffee must:
1) Use beans which have been roasted with palm-oil margarine without any sugar
2) Be served with condensed milk
3) And above all, MADE IN IPOH.
Which means, Ipoh white coffee is protected as a national heritage product which deserves its own patent in this country. Which also means, not every Tom, Dick and Harry can claim they too have Ipoh white coffee. Aik Cheong, Old Town, Ali Baba, Tan Cheong, Whatever and most of all NESTLE. What does a German know about Ipoh white coffee!? You get my point.
Anyway, back to the book. So to widen your horizons especially when we realise that food, travel and culture intermix like a marble cake, this book is a definite keeper :) Enjoy!
Monday, June 21, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Trust me, it only takes 5 minutes for you to finish the book. But another 55 to relish on the intricate techniques done on the sketches. We all want adventures, to venture into the unknown and live in an exciting surroundings. But when all that's done, we think of home and just want to be with people we love. And of course, who can resist the supper that comfort our tummies :)
Monday, June 7, 2010
True to Tim Burton's fashion, Oyster Boy and other stories is indeed... melancholic. It explores the dark side of childhood, only adults will hang their head in shame... because the truth portrayed in Burton's short stories, strikes a chord. At least once in their life, they must have mistreated someone just because he or she doesn't conform to what they think 'normal' is. And it breaks hearts.
Read it, borrow it.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I’ve learned about the significance of Yap Ah Loy in the founding of KL, of which, without him there will probably be no us today. I’m sorry, if the government decides to take offence since it was a Chinese who took the trouble to build the city state from its old tin mining days. I just don’t want this to end up like another case of Hang Tuah’s posthumous disputed identity. So what if he is Chinese!? Yea, Yap Ah Loy is Chinese. As in CHINA Chinese. I am Malaysian, WE are Malaysian. Admit it, thank China instead and move on! It doesn’t matter which race started the development. The more pressing issue is where do we go from here as One.
I’ve learned so much more about the coming and unfortunate going of Bukit Bintang Girls School, as well as the still-in-existence Victoria Institution. I’ve got many friends who graduated from those schools, but I bet they never knew the inside outs of their school. Did you know that VI was the first school to introduce the prefect system? First founding of Scouts in Selangor? First to introduce science classes? And the murderous drama involving the acting headmaster’s wife? Time to pick up this book.
I was amused by how Malaysians always make fun of ‘having curry rice’ in Malaysian prisons. Honestly, till today I thought that was the staple delicacy served behind bars. This misconstrued statement came from the fact that the early wardens had names of ‘Fish’, ‘Curry’ and ‘Rice’. How canny is that! So there. If ever a Malaysian tells you they serve fish curry and rice behind bars, you know better.
I’ve understood that cronyism isn’t a modern governmental habit. They probably picked up from their governing ancestor, Frank Swettenham who conveniently had relatives, close and far, to be part of his dodgy ‘extended’ investment programs while developing the city. So, now we know where the root of the problem is. Then maybe, just maybe, the certain individuals governing this country, didn’t think there was anything wrong with engaging relatives when it comes to executing certain projects. Because it was OKAY in the late 1800s, thanks to Mr. Brit.
I’m awed by Tunku Abdul Rahman’s (Malaysia’s first and highly revered Prime Minister) tenacity when it came to building the National Monument to celebrate the country’s fallen heroes whose relentless fight against communism, provided peace to the rakyat. There wasn’t any ‘national’ budget allocated for even such respected intention, instead he had to (read this) raise funds on his own. Can you believe that!? Talent contests, dance shows, you name it, they donated it. All funds collected were used to build the monument to commemorate those who fell but remembered eternally. Today? What do we have? No proof, but I’ve a knack that sometimes the budget can be misused, or worse, wasted.
I found out that we do have a local heroic criminal who think he’s Robin Hood reincarnated named Botak Chin. He was a hardcore local gangster who have had collected all the accolades to qualify him as the local mafia. I just can’t believe that he mandated a standard of code for his members – liquor OK, cigarettes OK. But no drugs (?!). Killing OK, robbing OK. But not of the poor. Instead, a percentage of his loot was actually ‘donated’ to families who were in dire need of monetary support. When he finally got caught and sentenced to death, he even offered his eyes and kidney as donation to the needy. Honestly, I’ve got strong mixed feelings towards this dude. He’s really as the book says, ‘a misguided genius’.
I pined in heartache to discover so many of our wonderful heritage buildings who once witnessed the glorious colonial days of parties and soirees, are no longer here and some, unrecognizable. I wish someone would do something to restore these historic landmarks that should not be conveniently discarded simply because it’s not according to our Malay, Chinese and Indian heritage. Whatever that made us today, if it was part of our history, it was part of us. The Portugese, the British, the Arabs, the Japanese, the communists – they are all fragments which we should preserve to remind us just how far we have come. Not simply discounted and left to rot. Someone please… do something. Sigh.
What I just shared is only a minute portion of the wonders uncovered by Lam Seng Fatt. Really, it’s time for you to get this book if you consider yourself to be a decent Klang Valley-ite. I totally understand if you know only half of Malaysian history because you either dozed off in class or skipped it altogether. I was there. But this one, I promise you is one of the most refreshing perspectives of things – old and new.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
On radio recently, I heard an announcer talking about little known facts about Malaysia, and after reading some blogs, I realised that a lot of us who claim to be the native of this land, are beginning to go through a wave of discovery and realization. We beginning to care about our roots and are becoming curious about this place which we were born and spent almost an entire lifetime in. This is just the beginning of the social wave. I really hope to see this getting bigger and more Malaysians will be inspired to care a little bit more about this country. I think this book, is one of the best ways to start.
Monday, February 1, 2010
What is even more amazing is how much more possibilities were unfolding in my head while reading all 8 insightful chapters which tell behind-the-scenes of Planet Google. This is where the wall comes down, its strategies revealed to only those who are apt to catch.
'Don't be Evil' - the main mantra of Google sounds simple but in reality, so hard to achieve especially when money is involved. It must have inspired many which I am certainly one of them. So much learning can be drawn from Brin and Page's founding of the Google empire in a dorm room right up to the building of Googleplex in Mountain View, California. The dream was founded by two engineers who thought that the world's information can be organized better. When data forms a pattern, it becomes knowledge. The more pattern it forms, the better understanding of a subject can be formed over time over multiple (possibly infinite) perspectives. While Google was only in the business of Search but cross-matching information with other information, with other never-been-thought before format, you have video search, the digitization of the world's publications including ancient text, geospatial information, etc. The possibilities are endless.
How do they become so big? One, is because they were at the right place at the right time. So many start-ups in technoville in Silicon Valley flopped because the ingenious ideas did not manage to survive incubation and be born at the right time. And secondly, because they stood for one thing and one thing only - organisation and provision of information via mathematical equations that can not and will not be tempered by human biasness. And they seek to provide that solution to users over seeking profit. Their growth was organic and based on user-learning continuously even up till today. It wasn't profit and business based. The way they had to fight new wars everytime they introduce a new service seems quite endearing. They're full of innocence, not fully understanding and being restrained by 'copyright' issues put in placed by very adult businesses which protects intellectual properties because it's the lifeline to producers. It takes awhile for Google to come in terms with that and navigate around the problem to the best they know how, while fighting deep seated perceptions by cynics and giants and trying to convince everyone around them that 'dreams can come true, just allow me to show you how!'.
This book is well researched and provides a refreshing angle to Google. For those who thought they knew Google as being the David fighting Goliath, suddenly will realised what a mammoth Google has become through the years. And for those who think Google is playing God and do not fully understand why it does what it does, then this book will provide enlightenment. Google is an idealist brand, its innocence hinges on the hope that Utopia does exist and the very fact that it thinks it can achieve it (and actually strives to achieve it) draws much respect and endearment at the same time. Google, like any other product, brand, tool is a means to an end. What you as a user want, in the end, is entirely up to you.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Famed from 'The tipping point', 'Blink' and 'The Outliers', Malcolm Gladwell is an inquisitive writer, investigatively poking into every subject imaginable in the business and social realm to get us to rethink the norm and re-evaluate our judgements. Leaf through the pages and you'll realise more and more questions popping in your mind versus a research that the writer would normally 'report' to you. And these questions don't leave you hanging, if at all, it makes our mind work harder and our moral values stronger because we shouldn't jump into conclusions just because it's a collective result neither should we rely on intelligent people to make intelligent decisions all the time.
I'd highly recommend planners to read all of his books. It certainly helped me to look at things from another perspective. It's not merely about looking in from outside the box. It's about dismantling the box and rebuilding it in a different way altogether. Buy it or rent it. Just read it.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
Although, I have to admit I'm getting a little bored with the LP series. Although, yea they do seem like the most comprehensive travel guide available now. And once you're accustomed it its content structure, it does make navigation and planning a whole lot easier so that you can relax on your journey. I've been researching and planning 5 days a week, so I actually would appreciate less work and planning when it comes to holidays. Maybe I'm speaking of an untapped market here? For executives who unlike the globe trotters on Travel and Living who don't want to think for themselves for a change (or at least for 2 weeks), it will be great to have someone else do the planning. Oh well, Lonely Planet is a good start ;)
Needless to say the artwork which comes with the story is simply adorable. Even if you're not a fan of children books, it's worth collecting as an illustrator's inspiration.
Just remember, sometimes we're not lost. We're just lonely.