The warm embrace that no one knows

He said he’d pick her up and was his punctual self. What she didn’t expect was his mode of transportation, a brand new superbike.

“Nice ride. Not something I’d expect you to have, though.” He smiled at the comment.

“Thanks. I’m still getting used to it myself,” he admitted and then produced a second helmet for her.

“I hope you know what you’re doing, dude,” the nervous laugh gave her away and made him grin wider.

“Everyone keeps telling me that!”

– – –

While they were on the road, she kept wondering if he could hear her heart pounding, feeling alive and glad to see him again. She felt the wind on her face, partly hidden by his warm back. The journey was no more than 15 minutes and she wished it could go on for much longer.

– – –

“I didn’t say it earlier, but you look really good with your hair like that.  It suits you.”

“Thanks, but I’m actually in the phase where I’m starting to miss wearing it long.”

“Try it out for a while lah. I really like it,” he looked like he wanted to say something else, but stopped himself.

She forced her eyes to look at the menu instead of his face, but not seeing any words written on the piece of laminated cardboard she was holding and stuck to her usual order. Which led her back to the problem of not looking at his face.

“Is there someone joining us?” he asked.

“No, why do you think that?”

“You’ve been staring at the door for a while now.” She smiled and apologised.

He must have sensed her uneasiness and started telling her about his latest sea adventure, a month of patrol duty.

“I’ve made the ship 90 per cent rust-free,” he said proudly. She could only imagine the ‘happy hour’ sessions his crew have had.

“The sailors must be really happy that you’re on leave for a week.”

His laughing face slowly dissolved the tension she felt. “Almost like old times,” she thought.

– – –

Another bike ride and they were at the marina. She thought they were headed for his sailboat, but instead he led her to a bench facing the pontoons.

“I’m selling the boat.”

Her eyes went wide and searched his face, unable to believe what she had just heard. He sat and tugged at her sleeve to do the same.

“I know that I was wrong for wanting to start something with you, not like that,” he spoke softly, eyes looking ahead at the nearby boats.

“After your last letter, I realised that I had hurt you and I’m really sorry. I’m also grateful that you kept pushing me away, even when I felt that you didn’t want to.”

Tears. They came unbidden as always.

“You were an asshole, I’d give you that.” Her shaky laugh was at odds with the emotion he had heard in her voice.

“But what does it have to do with The Duchess?”

He turned to her then, a sad smile.

“Too many memories.”

They had competed in three races on the boat and had won twice. He said she was his lucky charm. Oh how she fell, swift and hard. As fast as she had pulled away, when he told her the truth. She left the team soon after, and it has been almost a year since she last sailed on any boat.

– – –

The rest of the afternoon was a blur to her. She remembered the ride home but not much of the details. The only clear memory was walking away from him without turning back. She knew then that she will be fine. Eventually.

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Sentiasa yang terbaik

Dislaimer: aku biased, sebab terlibat secara tak langsung dalam pembikinan filem PASKAL The Movie.

– – –

I have not written here in ages but I felt compelled to do it after the premiere of the film. This is obviously not a proper review, I just need to let it out of my system. Here goes…

Although people who have seen the early screening of the movie gave mostly positive reviews, I half dreaded watching it in a cinema full of Navy people. Takut ada yang bangun keluar sebab tak puas hati. But then, with a few admirals (past and present) in the audience, I don’t think anyone would.

The opening scene was based on true events, with the real characters watching with us in Hall 13. Cue real Navy pilot acting as a pilot, complete with lines. If this was Hollywood, he’d have his Actors’ Guild card already. My first thought was, “those are OUR chopper and ship!” Although pride had started to cloud my judgement, I tried to be objective and looked at the story as it unfolded.

There was a proper storyline, with a bit of drama and loads of action. It established the protagonist’s choices in career and life up until the present day, and the dilemma he faces. The back story could have been developed a little bit more, but it was not integral to the main story.

I love Jeb as the antagonist. His Jebat-like (Jeb, Jebat. coincidence?) point of view of a so-called ‘broken’ system as opposed to Arman’s honourable stance much like Tuah was believable and got through to me as an audience. I think Jeb had some really great lines. And the one-to-one showdown of knife fight between Jeb and Arman – favourite scene.

The military assets were a big part of this movie, they are no bit players despite their brief on-screen appearance. In droves the assets provided the impact needed to show how PASKAL are able to operate on land, at sea (above and underwater) as well as in the air. Yes, pride did colour my view of the movie. Memang aku bangga bila tengok kapal selam naik dan masuk balik bawah laut.

In an ensemble cast like this, the co-stars did well to support the main story. Cerita askar, kena la ramai kan. Had a bit of laugh watching real Navy people I know on the screen. Heh.

Technically, this movie had quality equipment and very capable director of photography. The POV angle during a certain scene was awesome. The CGI crew did well on most of the scenes, a few were so-so.

I was on location on the first day of shooting. My colleagues and I followed them to all the naval and air bases. We saw first hand how the film was made, about 70 per cent of it at least. I remembered some scenes, how painstakingly long the shoots were and how brief it ended up on the screen. At one point, I remembered shouting at people to go change their attire at six bloody am or else they won’t be working that morning. I remembered the headaches and the stress of being on set. However, I am touched that the crew still came up to me earlier, despite the things they went through with me during the shooting. Haha. Even got a hug from the military consultant, which was really sweet. A true professional and a great guy.

As an end product, I am happy with what I saw. I might go for a second viewing once it is officially out.

In the past month-and-a-half, I have watched five movies at the cinema, four are local films. Pulang, Hantu Kak Limah (way out of my comfort zone but I did enjoy it), OneTwoJaga and now PASKAL The Movie. Malaysian films are awesome this year!

– – –

For visuals, check out the movie’s official IG

Keep on hiding so you can’t be found

I caught the final bits of Some Kind of Wonderful while changing channels yesterday.  Mary Stuart Masterson was awesome in it.  And the script too.

It’s better to swallow pride than blood

Oh, and Elias Koteas stole the show with his lines.  Hilarious.

– – – – –

I re-discovered Damien Rice earlier this week and went through his song lyrics whatever I could find.  I love The Greatest Bastard  I could think of a couple of people who should sing it to me.  Hah.

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When you know you just don’t know

I got to spend a night onboard my favourite tall ship a couple of nights ago. Dapatla mengubat rindu.

After almost two years, I am feeling a little bit more comfortable doing this job. Experience helped, as well as the connections I have made. Still, there is a long way to go in this new journey. October 2020. That would be the finish line. For now.

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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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