The innocent can never last

We are volunteers

10 days in Langkawi as a volunteer for the SEA Games. The experience was mostly good, I was doing the same things I did for the Monsoon Cup, just in a different capacity. I wrote daily reports but instead of having them as press releases, it got posted onto the official website’s news section.

My team was very small, just four of us. The manager is a big outdoor enthusiast, the other two are young students. We worked well together, and I am grateful to have these ladies for support. We could laugh off almost everything, while enduring the administrative chaos throughout our time there.

I learned more new things about how a regatta is held and had a refresher on things I have forgotten. Like how the race officials are the most hardworking lot apart from the athletes. I don’t think Cik Burn spent more than an hour on land everyday as he had to oversee not one, but four race courses while the PRO even had time to do a ‘wind dance’.

As media volunteers, we assist in ensuring coverage goes smoothly for the press people. Daily routine included boat availability check, updates on results and for me, making sure that they actually know what was going on out on the water. And I file stories with the hope that people would want to read up more about the sport.

I would love to see sailing being in the mainstream, for sailors like Fauzi, Wanie, Latif and Lin to have the same opportunities as athletes in football and hockey for funding and sponsorship. I also want them to have the chance to make use of their talent to move upwards, turn professional. Like Ben Ainslie or Peter Burling. I don’t think my stories would get them there, but some attention to them is better than nothing at all. These kids do not have a trust fund to finance their careers or have a wealthy backer to set them up with a team. At least not yet.

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Under the light of a thousand stars

We were winding down at a cafe one evening when the topic of individuality came up, about not being swayed by our peers and being comfortable in our own skins.

I think it was the first time I said it out loud to others about it. About how sailing had a big impact in my life.

I was 14 when I learned to sail. A nerd sailor, I felt that I was cooler than the cool kids at school. Although I never had a problem with not being a cool kid, it was a nice feeling. It made me realised that I can be a different kind of cool and even if I was the only one, I am okay with it.

Ever since then, path has always been different from the ‘majority’ of my contemporaries. Japan was my country of choice for my undergraduate studies. Journalism when most of my friends ventured into the corporate world. A naval reservist.

Travel is another big influence in shaping who I am. The shoestring budget kind of travel, where each decision made is mostly based on cost and making the most of what I am able to afford. The kindness of strangers I have received, especially in 2010, made me rethink my priorities in life. It’s not about designer shoes or social status. It’s about passion and realising my dreams, it’s about giving back and living life to the fullest, despite the challenges that may come my way.

For the life that you’ve led

I saw my dad last night.

Yeah? How did it go?

It was ok.  The sisters and their families were there so I did not have to even make small talk.  Mostly observed.

So no drama? 

Haha.  Nope.

How do you feel?

I can see that the new wife is nice and I think she might be good for him.  I just hope he is the same for her.

Ok, but how do YOU feel?

I don’t know.  Nothing, I guess.  It was like being at a familiar stranger’s place and having no desire to deepen the connection.

Still indifferent, huh?

You remembered.  I guess I still am.

And the dragons fly

Sri’s latest Puteri Naga Tiberius is the second Malay language fantasy novel I have read.  Her previous offering of Odisi Tanah Kencana was my first.

I was sucked into the story from the first pages of Puteri Naga Tiberius, it reminded me of my first encounter with the fantasy / sci-fi genre when Aniza lent me her copy of Raymond E. Feist’s Magician back in form 5.

Sri’s world had structure, its own language and lores.  I liked how she blended western and local elements to include the orang bunian and dragons in the same magical world.  Familiar traits of different beings such as the orang bunian brought to mind the elves in Magician as well as Tolkien’s fair elven folk.

Puteri Naga Tiberius is different from Odisi Tanah Kencana in the sense that the latter had a very Nusantara feel to it, and also because of the target audience being the YA segment.  But both had the elements of adventure, family and comradeship weaved into the respective tales.  And magic, of course.

My only complain about PNT would be that it was only 400 pages long!  Haha.  Indeed, the story could be longer in certain parts, such as the battle where the Crown Prince Basilius managed to emerge triumphant or the confrontation in the tombs of Kings or a slightly longer storyline for the Queen Elemina and Basilius’ uncle Angas.

However, I am hoping the publisher would decide to let Sri write the sequel (or four!) for her fans to reconnect with the world she had created and learn what had become of Sula and Basilius after their final encounter in PNT.

Make me better

Title of a song in James Blunt’s new album.  A very personal song and stripped down to the basics.  Pure music.

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Watching Grimm and Sleepy Hollow reminded me again of why we should keep a record of the things happening around us.  They ALWAYS go back to books, journals, letters.  I write crappy stuff in my journals, but there are some useful reminders of significant events and milestones too.  Of happy moments, of heartbreaks and valuable lessons.  Maybe not much of the last part, though.

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I am reading stories written by people I know this past week.  So different in style and genres but that is what makes it amazing.  Their personalities and characters are inside their books, sometimes in a word, an expression or even the names chosen to inhabit the world they created.  Local publishing houses, especially the new ones, should realise the importance of EDITING and PROOFREADING a product.  Typos can be a big turn off when you are caught up in the pages.

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Yes, I should write.