Siti Britney Goes to London

This tiny little book is going on an aeroplane and heading to London! Get a copy now by tweeting @zarn_G, @opzaharin or @studioanaianai (RM20 + RM6 postage).

BeFunky Designlondoncalling

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Filed under food for thought, Ijah's Own Stuff, Siti Britney Sayang, Special Mentions

31 Days (Nights) of Rain is here!

My debut with indie publisher Studio Anai-Anai is (finally) born!

The book is sold at RM20 per copy, please add RM6 for postage (Malaysia only).

To purchase, place your order with:

  • Whatsapp: 0193681917 (Zaini)
  • FB Messenger: Mohzan OP-Zaharin

Or visit Studio Anai-Anai’s booth at Kotakata @ Kota Buku at Parkson, Maju Junction this Saturday (26 March 2016).

You can also purchase limited copies of signed and numbered books (1-100) at RM30nett (including postage). For these, write directly to RM5 will be donated under your name to Cancer Research Malaysia for each book sold. Purchases of 10 books and above will make you eligible for tax exemption.

What are you waiting for, little darlings?

31 Days of Rain book cover


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Filed under food for thought, Ijah's Own Stuff, Pop Goes the Fiction!, Siti Britney Sayang, Stuff For Sale

Siti Britney’s Coming!


You see the book with the umbrella on the cover? That’s Siti Britney’s maiden book under the indie label. It will be launched real soon. Sit tight!

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Eulogy for Phone #59


It is with great sadness that I announce the horrifying demise of phone #59 last night at approximately 7:45pm. I dropped the phone onto the road as I exited the car. I was completely unaware of this fact, of course. The phone was discovered when guests at the CNY dinner heard a loud crack and one of them went to the road to see what was the cause. There, she found the mangled, broken body of the victim lying face down, its screen smashed into a thousand, little pieces. Death was instantaneous.

Previous causes of phone deaths include, but not limited to, drowning in the washing machine, committing suicide by jumping into the toilet hole in Shell Kelana Jaya restroom, abandonement at the immigration desk in Changi airport and, most famously, by hiding in the backseat of various taxis all over the world. However, I must admit that last night’s death was by far the most sadistic in my long and proud history of murdering mobile phones.

Before I conclude this eulogy, here’s some house announcement:

1) As the micro SIM card cannot be inserted into my spare (basic) phone, I shall be incommunicado intermittently until I get a new phone or get a temporary number to tide me over;

2) I am able to use facebook messenger when I am at home or at the office or wherever there is internet access. But, if you call me or text me and I do not respond, it doesn’t mean that I am a snob or that I hate you and I have changed my number in order to avoid you. Maybe I do but that’s a different story;

3) With regards to item 1, I so the very welcome any phone donation, new or old. For the uninitiated, I have ceased buying my own phone since June 2010 due to the fact that I kill or lose them very often. Please note that usually I carry two numbers — office and personal. The incapacitated phone was my personal one. Since I am starting a new job soon, I have yet to be issued an office phone. Til then, see item 2.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the donor who gave me this phone. Despite its gruesome death, this phone lasted a little over 6 months, which in itself is some kind of a record. Bravo.

On that note, please join me in a moment of silence to mourn phone #59. RIP Pink Motorola. May you find peace in mobile phone heaven, if there is such a thing.

(I wonder what phone #60 would look like.)

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Fake Email Warning

Hi guys, if you received an email about this remarkably effective penis enhancement device or that you have won a gazillion kabillion dollars from, please note that ***THIS IS NOT ME***. I do not have a gmail account with this username.

Thanks to those who brought this to my attention but there is nothing I can do about it as I do not own this account so I cannot shut it down or change the password.

Respond to this email address only if you really need the penis enhancement device or if you are totally convinced you have won a gazillion kabillion dollars from an online lottery that you did not enter.

You have been warned. Run along now.

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Filed under Go Grr...

Excerpt from Conversations/Arguments: I Have to be Strong Because I Have No Other Choice

I Have to be Strong Because I Have No Other Choice
Kota Bharu, October 2014

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Today I went to the launch of Rumah Sahabat, which is located in Kota Bharu, at the invitation of Malaysian Aids Council. It is a halfway home that provides shelter, support group and methadone therapy to former drug addicts who are HIV+.

I was greeted at the airport by a designated driver, let’s call him Abu.

Abu is a well-dressed, well-spoken guy who works as a peer counselor with Ministry of Health. His main role is to provide counselling and, I guess the best word to describe it is “pujukan”, to those who are HIV+ to start antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. He also volunteers at the centre that provides needle exchange to current addicts who are not ready to graduate to methadone therapy.

On the way to Rumah Sahabat he told me that he came back to Kota Bharu earlier this year. Prior to this he worked for 4 years with Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (JHEOA) teaching Fardhu ‘Ain to Orang Asli children in Gua Musang.

“It is hard work, kak,” Abu explained. “I worked for 3 weeks without any leave, and then I get one week off.”

“Why is that?” I asked.

“The location is very remote,” said Abu. “It takes about 2 hours by motorbike just to get out to the main road, and then it would be another hour to get to Kota Bharu.”

“So, after four years I took a job with Ministry of Health at its Health Education Division. But I could not get used to living in Kuala Lumpur, so after 3 months I came back to Kota Bharu.”

“Kuala Lumpur is hot,” he said with a chuckle.

After the launch ceremony was over, I decided to try to catch an earlier flight back to Subang so I turned down the invitation to join the delegation for a Kota Bharu food tour. So Abu, once again, became my designated driver.

I asked him about his education and how he ended up choosing a career as a peer counsellor.

“I went to a religious school,” Abu said, “Then I went to further my studies in Melaka.”

“I lived in my kampong my entire life that when I went off to college I became completely uncontrollable. I experienced an extreme form of cultural shock. That’s also the reason why I cannot live outside Kota Bharu for too long,” Abu explained.

Then he slowed the car and confided, “Kak, actually I am HIV+ too. I was diagnosed in 2007 but I refused to get any treatment because I could not believe it. I only started treatment in 2011, and now I am in a 2-year clinical study for a new combination of ARV.”

I asked him if it was his HIV+ status that made him decide to work as a peer counsellor.

“Not at first,” Abu said. “Working with JHEOA was the best option for me. I get to go to the hospital once a month, and then at the same time I get to do something useful with my life.”

“I love teaching. I did a lot of volunteer work during the one-week leave that I got every month,” Abu added.

“At first it was helping to distribute condoms to sexual workers. Then I volunteered at the needle exchange centre.

Drug addicts have it a lot harder than other high-risk groups. They don’t know how to tell if they are sick; on top of that they have to fight off the addiction. Almost always when a drug abuser discovers that he has HIV+, his CD4 count is very close to 200, which means it would progress to full-blown AIDS soon.

Sexual workers depend on being healthy in order to be able to continue getting customers. So they are the most aware; they will voluntarily get tested twice a year.

I, on the other hand, am in the promiscuous group,” Abu explained.

“Before you say anything,” he continued, “Let me just say it – padan muka saya. Serves me right, right?”

I laughed and said I did not intend to say that at all.

“We have different challenges and carry different burdens,” I said to Abu.

“You are given a second chance at life and are able to contribute back to the society in a meaningful way. Not all of us are given the opportunity, or come to self-awareness, to do so.”

“That is true,” Abu agreed.

“In fact, I knew I was putting myself at risk. I remember saying berani buat, berani tanggung when the people around me asked me to practice safe sex. So, when I discovered I was HIV+, I told myself, well Abu, you got what you deserve.”

“Acceptance took a long time,” he added.

“I waited 4 years before accepting that I need to look after myself and started my therapy. Not that I was blaming God or anything: I just simply could not believe I am HIV+ because I felt completely healthy. But 8 HIV+ tests couldn’t all be wrong, right?”

“How young are you?” I asked.

“I am 32 now. I discovered I was HIV+ when I was 25.”

“My parents still don’t know about this,” Abu said.

“They are nice people. I just haven’t found the right words to say.”

“Is it hard living with HIV?” I asked.

“Not at all,” he answered. “Of course I miss eating sushi and Bliss yogurt (we both laughed), but managing my condition is pretty easy. It is a lot about compliance to the ARV therapy and the usual stuff — eat healthily, exercise, sleep.

There is a lot of support group and the Government is doing a lot of work behind the scenes that regular people don’t see. What is hard, at least for me, is talking to these drug addicts and trying to convince them to take the medicine. Most of them don’t want to because they fear the medicine will interfere with their “enjoyment” of taking heroin. Being a HIV+ person gives me a better understanding of what these abusers go through, and I think I can reach out to them.

It is not easy to be a peer counselor. You need to have a very steady and strong heart and mind because 99% of the time you get defeated. But I have to be strong because I have no other choice.”

We hugged our goodbyes at the airport. I wished him well and told him to give me a call if he is ever in Kuala Lumpur again. I knew now what he meant when he said Kuala Lumpur is hot.

I don’t think I can do what Abu does. I am book-smart, I know how to make money but I don’t think I have the presence of mind or heart to be able to devote my life to saving other people’s lives.

Saya doakan Abu dipanjangkan umur dan dimurahkan rezeki dan diberi keberkatan supaya dia boleh membantu seberapa ramai yang mungkin mengatasi masalah ketagihan dadah dan mendapatkan rawatan yang sewajarnya, Inshaa Allah, amin.


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Filed under Ijah's Own Stuff, Siti Britney Sayang

Back on the Exercise Wagon

Some of you may not know this but I used to be a very keen runner. At one point, I would run 5km twice daily (before and after work) but various injuries in 2012 derailed me. I picked up running again in 2013 as I was living very near to KLCC . The running track in the park is so nice and beautiful. So for about 6 solid months, I ran very consistently every morning before I go to work.

However, once I started with Firefly and moved back to Subang Jaya, I stopped exercising almost completely — it started with a sprained knee at the start 2014 so I switched to swimming but then inexplicably, I just went lazy and did nothing and put on a lot of weight which continued all the way up to about 3 weeks ago. Can you see how round my face is in the 2014 pic?

I had coffee with Carrie just before I started working at the new place; she was so horrified when she saw me that she loaned me her physical trainer (PT) and forced me to go to her gym so that she could whip my ass into shape.

Due to my prolonged knee injury, lots of the exercise that I do for the last 3 weeks  focuses on knee rehab to strengthen muscles followed by yoga stretches and this week, we will be introducing free weights and a 1-mile Walk Challenge to build up my fitness.

It will be a long hard road to get back to my June 2013 form (age is a factor and I eat cake a lot now that I live next door to Empire!), but I am quite sick of being sick and tired all the time so I am posting this pic here as inspiration to get me back on the treadmill. Let’s see if by the end of the year I am able to shed some weight and get a little fitter than I am today that I can (finally) take the 3-mile Walk Challenge and finish it below 45 minutes.

Wish me luck!

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Filed under Running/Walking