Friday, March 27, 2009

On The Train, Mar 26, 2009

Since I was not going to cycle I left the office a bit late to avoid the crowd. My timing was perfect when I walked down on the platform slightly after 19000 the train arrived. Once seated inside I booted up my laptop and started blogging. It was decent commuters today where most were the usual characters save for one or two. So we did our own things. Some would either have their ears plugged, fingers moving like mad texting, reading or just seating shivering like the young lady sitting next to me on my left. Yes it was a bit cold tonight and just imagine how it was in the morning. The glass panes were actually frosted this morning he he he. Well all the glass panes were misty creating a Siberia inside the coach he he he. Even a Mat Salleh would be shocked.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

On The Train (The Economic of Taxonomy?), Mar 25, 2009

Before I left the office I saw the train waiting on the track down below and the train stood there for more than 20 minutes. The service got back to it worst again I said to myself and I was right when reached the platform. The Seremban train was already there on the platform and I knew instinctively I did not have to rush. Once inside, the train had to wait for another 10 minutes or so below it was given permission to depart. No announcement, probably I had missed it, and I just assumed they had a electrical ‘technical problem’. The best and often used taxonomy that KTMB had ever came out with. Soon the term going to be its middle name - Keretapi Tanah ‘Technical Problem’ Melayu Bhd.

Technically, no pun intended, speaking that technical term is misleading term to generalize every problem that they faced. And I would like to suggest for them to break it down further to create better understanding to their stakeholders. Let me suggest this:

Service Interruption (Main Theme)
Breakdown (2nd L evel)
Technical (2rd Level)
Service Delay

You see based on my suggestion Technical problem is not even the Main Subject Term. It is only the third level and if we look closely we could even break it down further. Well, based on KTMB’s performance that would not be too difficult to list down. See not only KTMB limitation is their quality of service or competency but their issue is also their classification of issues that must make them difficult to understand the difficulty faced by their stakeholders. How could they understand the problems if they themselves could not classify their problems properly. When they generalize the problem to ‘Technical Problem’ they will think that is normal and because it happens too many times it is no big deal. Analysing the problems also would be difficult that could lead to wrong analysis and eventually decision. This is what I call they have problem with the Economic of Taxonomy. Ha ha ha is there such a term?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why Am I Cycling?

I have decided to consolidate all my writings about my cycling activities into one blog. So go here if you want to read them.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On The Train, Mar 23, 2009

A colleague of mine asked recently what makes me want to blog. I can understand the question perfectly as to some people it is not comprehensible to think that someone would want to write something almost personal and publish it to the whole world. Yes, why do I blog then?

Primarily I like to observe and write about human behaviour. If you are observance enough you could see a lot of things and I find how people react to certain thing so interesting. Further more I love to write as just like teaching the more I write to more I understand things. Somebody today remarked that when he writes his thought it brings structure to his thinking and understanding. Which I totally agree. However, I do know the limitation of writing that I could not possibly write down all that I know. Today I have also decided to consolidate my writings further by moving all my cycling related writings to another blogsite. Probably I’ll just revamp the one on cycling that I already have. Just watch this space for new updates.

The 1800 train was solid packed again today but most were subdued which told me the majority of people on the train were the usual commuters. A lady who was standing in front of me got to sit next to me after the guy disembarked at MidValley. She was at the last two chapters of her novel. A guy down to the left of my row was talking loudly to his handphone. Well, not really loud but loud enough for all of to hear his conversation. Just after Serdang the lady with the book decided not to finish it and put the book inside her knapsack.

Another thing that I observed today was that there are three types of sleepers on this train. The first type is those that sleep in the morning on the way to work. Second those that sleep on the way home and the third type those that would sleep both ways. They must have their own reason and I could only guess.

On The Train, Mar 19, 2009

It got even worse today. The pathetic KTMB for whatever their short brain think was best decided to take out one of the service run from the schedule making everything else late by 40 minutes. Not only a lot of people left stranded on the platform the commuters inside were suffering cramped. Naturally as the train stopped at the next stations people would want to squeeze in to go home. Tempers flared followed by shouting of angry hot bodies. Who could blame tem to react in such a way? Only KTMB would do so. Yes, I am being very critical now as I have suffered long enough with no chance of things getting better. Year in and year out KTMB ditched out the same reasons and excuses, never seems to be offering solutions. Have all the complaints gone to deaf ears? Or are they all playing deaf? My guts feel say some, if not all, of the complaints and reports are bottlenecked somewhere as if trying to save somebody’s ass. There were promises and certain actions taken but our happiness is always shortchanged not long after that.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Kayuhan Sawah Padi, Sg Sireh, Kuala Selangor, Mar. 8, 2009

It has been slightly more than two months since I had my last serious cycling and the Kayuhan Sawah Padi was supposed to be my reintroduction. So I was a bit unsure of myself the day before the ride. Furthermore it was a three day weekend which I could easily find many good excuses for not going. I nearly did. Deep down I knew I can’t do that as I really needed this ride. I am glad in the end I decided to go.

I woke up at 0500 and straight walked into the bathroom to shower. My wife had been saying that she wanted to go to Kuala Selangor as well days before. But then she also said otherwise few times as she was not feeling too good. So I was not sure if my wife was coming along so I woke her up to ask. She said yes which means Mar had to come as well as we could not leave her with Baqir and Kakcik..

I had everything prepared the night before so I just collected everything and carried Mar inside the Ranger and we were out at 0530. The RV at Elmina R&R was at 0600 and to me it was too early and if indeed that was the intend I was confident I could make it there in 30 minutes. I did not floor the accelerator instead had a nice drive on the ELITE highway towards Shah Alam to connect to the Guthrie Expressway. Of course Elmina is the R&R on Guthrie Expressway that I reached at slightly past 0600. To my surprised everyone was there already waiting. They must be very discipline with timing or excited to be there earlier . My guess is it was both as I knew they are always on time. I came down straight away and said my salam to all. Col Azudin told me they left Putrajaya at 0515. Just a few minutes after I arrived we heard the muaezin calling for suboh prayer not far down across the highway.

After we said our suboh led my Dr Azmi we convoyed to Kuala Selangor and arrived at Sg Sireh homestay 10 minutes before 0800. Without any prompting we got our bike readied and prepared ourselves for the ride. It was a glorious morning at Sg Sireh and we really like it. Dr Taufik, the organizer, had managed to prepare us light breakfast at the nearby stall and all of us sat there to eat. Before we got there I already suggested to my wife, Sam, to follow us at the back. I told her that Dr Taufik’s wife would be doing just that as a support car. So our Ranger became the second support car which proved to be useful later.

As everyone still excited meeting and talking to each other I was already anxious for us to start. I was eager and maybe a little impatient because I just would want to start my ride. Also the day is getting hotter as it would be nicer to start early to enjoy a more beautiful morning sawah padi. But of course we had to go through the customary short briefing, led by Col Azudin and Dr Taufik, as well as our photography session. In the end we rolled off at 0840. Altogether there were 30 or us comprises of the season and new cyclists. About 5 of us were on road bikes (RB) and the rest using mountain bikes (MTB). Out of 30 there were 4 ladies (two of them powerful riders), a thirteen year old girl and a boy age around 10 or 11. We were to cover 30km, I presumed, a flat tarmac and dirt road. 30km was fine with me but I was expecting and eager for more off road track on the paddy ban.

I started at the back with Col Azudin and Bro Samad (I think), the days sweepers, and maintained a normal relax speed. I had to pace myself properly if I were to have a good ride and with that speed I eventually caught up with the last palaton and stayed with them until I saw flocks of cranes on my left in the paddy field. I saw them when we drove in so I was excited to take a few shot of them. When I saw that I turned to my left at the next ban dropped my bike and stooped low to get a good angle and frame. There and then I wish I had a long lens with me. Looking at my collection after the ride I decided to buy one soon. I managed a few shots before the cranes realized I was there and flew away. I got back on the main track just to discover a few meters away a group of cyclists resting under a shade not sure whether or not the immediate junction was the one we supposed to take. At the same instant Dr Tauf8k zoomed in from behind to indicate it was the next one. So I continued cycling until the right junction and I think I was the first. Ahead of me was a long stretch of road with new planted paddy on my left and empty just recently cultivated fields on my right. On my left also was the water ways making up the irrigation system (tali air) for the fields. I really just was enjoying my cycling most of the time and looking for opportunity for nice shorts. A quarter ways I stopped by to photograph the fields and the places around me. I thought I had enough but later I realized I missed a lot other opportunities. Again making the mistake of not being observant. Soon few riders started to come into view and I started to photograph them. After the last rider in the group passed me I got on my bike and cranked hard to catch them. I stayed at the back of the group until we reached our first official rest point. As usual I photographed them riding from the back as well. Then it was 0917 and due to the open plain very hot already. When we started out we were riding against the headwind and I was surprised it was almost a still air on the second stretch. Or was I really hot and did not notice the wind blowing.

We waited for the last group to join us and added few more minutes before we rolled off again. As I was cycling earlier I noticed that the ban on my left was running parallel to the road and made up my mind to ride off road style on them on the next one. As soon as I got to the next turn to the ban I turned left but not before the two ladies from the Gedebe gang turned first. So I was not the only one having the idea. Soon a few more followed suit and we were like kids again having fun on the ban. I was so intense cycling on the ban I forgot about stopping by taking few photograph. Luckily Dr Taufik did me a favour by taking a few nice shots of us. The third phase before the last home stretch was a long straight cycling in between paddy field and planters houses. The heat was even worse than before and I was just cycling to finish. I initially rode that stretch with Col Azudin but he decided to crank his Bianchi RB and left me behind. I rode alone almost the whole stretch maintaining a constant speed. Since we were cycling the route in one round back to where we started I thought we were cycling straight back without any more stop but once I approached almost the very end of the paddy fields I saw a group waiting by the roadside. So I eased in knowing another big group still far behind me. Since the earlier group was already happy chit chatting among themselves I did not join them instead concentrated on looking for good scene to photograph.

The best thing about this ride was the willingness of everyone to help each other. Well, a lot of time people would say it was expected and will take things for granted. More so the ride of this nature tends to be cliquey. Not this one as it was obvious in all our conducts. I for one should do a lot more. As soon as the last two riders were in they decided to continue so as to keep the momentum. When I looked at them I knew they were spent and only their grit and will power would take them home. Alhamdulillah there were more than enough riders to prod, encourage and push them. At that point the MTB riders decided to take the inner ban route back and the RB riders favouring the even clean tarmac went ahead as per the original planned route back. I followed the other MTB riders. The thought of riding on a rough surface disappeared as soon as I saw the route ahead. It was the same as the main track only narrower with trees and houses close on both sides skirting the paddy fields. At times we were riding under the canopy of big mango trees. I though I wanted to crank up all the way back but starting from the back I saw a young rider struggling. I decided to accompany him and we rode side by side talking about, what else, cycling. He told me he was more the off road rider that do a short but tough terrain run. I agreed I love to do that too occasionally. Riding under a canopy of trees shielded you from the sun and with more oxygen it is a bit easier and cooler. With that kind of ride the terrain will be your challenge. As for this one it was the distance and speed. We rode slowly until we joined the RB riders on the original planned track home. At that point I saw a group trying to help a lady rider by the road side but seeing there were already enough capable people helping I continued riding and finished the ride at around 1045.

I rested a bit and asked Dr Taufik what was the next plan. He said nothing special just maybe the group would like to go somewhere for a drink or maybe to eat. Since Sam and Mar had been waiting for quite a while I decided to go first.

Thank you all for the enjoyable and memorable sawah padi ride.

You can view most of the photos from the ride by going here, here and here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Friends Like These

I am reading Danny Wallace’s Friend Like These when all he writes struck all the right chords with me. I have written somewhere before as far as friends are concern I have a few classifications or groups of them that by themselves are special to me. The obvious first group is my childhood friends when I grew up in Bukit Galing Camp which includes my primary school mates at Sekolah Kebangsaan Galing, Kuantan. Second is my SDARAs, a residential school that I went, lived, grew up and learnt about life for seven good years of my growing up. The third my college mates and the fourth group of friends that I made during the many years I worked in at least 5 organizations. As I said all the four groups has it own specialty and peculiarity. If I were to rank their importance I could not be fair to all but probably one that stands out most is my SDARAs. Now without realizing it I am back tracking my life.

Slowly and without having specific plan I search and visit my friends to reconnect, especially my secondary school friends that once in my life I was willing to die for. My endeavor eventually went on to my childhood friends and finding and tracking them are really difficult. In my days growing up in Bukit Galing Camp there were the Kaliman’s Noi, Inang (arwah), Yah, Zaha, Ecah, and Alin. Their parents are residing in Kuantan now. Ecah and Alin are staying with them. I visited them few times already. The Wan Long’s sibling of Awie, Ama, and Tipah. I can’t remember I met them but I heard about them MA being a successful businessman. Ama from his early days had shown the entrepreneur side of him os I was not surprise. The Kusai’s Nor and Chik. Cik married and I was told living in Subang Jaya. I met Nor when we visited his hometown in Temerloh years ago. But he was a change man then hardly talking and non committal to my jokes and conversation. And many more that I have forgotten. The only person that I have been in touch all this while and closer than anyboy else is Zaha. From my primary school Tajuddin (a medical doctor now at Balok), Shamsuddin, Faridah, Nor Bainah… wow that’s all I could remember. Even sadder I do not have any old photos of them only powerful memories.

Current generation has all the technology in the world to remain connected. They could have a database full of stories, images and narratives. Me, I can only hope and my effort trying to create my virtual present and being a virtual resident wanabee is really just trying to reconnect most of the time. However, I would not expect my generation to be that IT literate to participate and create opportunity for them to be visible. Not once I met my old primary school and childhood friends through the Net. Still I am ‘virtual’y present most of the time and hoping.

On The Train, Mar 18, 2009

Alhamdulillah the train was only late by two minutes today. I got a seat in a coach that was not an ikan sardine tin can.

I have been thinking of resurrecting my life as a PhD student lately and today I made a promise to do just that ASAP as I walked down the stairs. After all I will be doing it as part of work as well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

On The Train, Mar 17, 2009

I am going to adopt a bad attitude of ‘they come when they come and they arrive when they arrive’ as far as KTMB Komuter train is concern. I am that fed up and believe that KTMB really do not have the capacity to improve. Not even an ounce.

I wanted to be early today and came down for the 1800 train but it never came. Instead a second P Klang train arrived after 15 minutes wait followed by an announcement that a technical problem, what else, occurred between
Putra and Segambut stations. As I was very tired I was lucky I got a seat at KL Sentral when somebody seating in front on me disembarked.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

On The Train, Mar. 16, 2009

It started to rain at around 1630 and it continued until few minutes past six. Not wanting to take the risk of KTMB’s failure once again I decided to stay back and go home after maghrib. From my office I could see the train service was like doing it’s normal run but knowing KTMB that could mean an ounce of thing.

I walked down to the platform with just a right time for the 2020 train but what came immediately was the Ipoh shuttle train and with that I knew instantly my train would be late. It rolled in at 2042. Again despite my good intention and trying not to worry about it KTMB still prove to be unreliable. This seems hard if you are reading my runt for the first time. That’s this is not the first time I’ve through this motion of KTMB disservice for the last six years. Can you imagine that, I myself could not believe it had been that long. I am not trying to be dramatic but that is the fact of life. Even now the train is waiting at KL station without us being informed as to what we are waiting for. So it looks like I am going to be late home everyday now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

On The Train, Mar 13, 2009

Again with people cramped in worse then a can of ikan sardine and with a lot more on the platform I could not really understand of how inconsiderate KTMB is. Of course it got worse and worse as we reached the next station. How could they fail to learn as this happen almost every Friday evening. Of course today is worse because of their ‘technical’ problem. But they knew this already as it had been a two-week long ‘technical problem’ for us.

On The Train, Mar 12, 2009

The last few days due to power failures and rain the Komuter service has been bad. The worse part for me whenever I was early my strategy to get a seat did not materialized. Today as the sky became dark with the sound of exploding sky from a far I was expecting the same thing. Thanks to Allah it was not raining and I boarded the usual train at 2040. However when we got to KL Sentral there were a lot of commuters not like it was used to be. With that I knew the train was late – the train I was on was the train that supposed to arrive earlier.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Eagle's Eye Expedition

I wrote this in 1996 for our internal publication when I was with the SC. I left a lot of details then and also it was edited. Last few days I found this piece again and rewrote it. This is my personal detail version of the experience.

Ghaz, 2009

"What in the world am I doing here." " Yeah! you are right on the dot, man.""I feel even worse when I discovered that a lot of us from the original group are not here."

Day One, Thursday, 15 Aug. 1996

Well, we were back at Sabha Total Training Center in Sg Lui again. It was the second phase of the training for our group and team-building is supposed to be the emphasis. We arrived as usual lethargic, anguish, angry and some of us even hungry (at the sight of all the trees, no doubt). We were assigned our room mates but this time we could choose our chalet. Immediately we peeled off our city clothes and replaced them with the attire we used last year, some of us anyway, and some even brought in a complete set of Rambo's survival kits. Lessons well learnt. We had our morning tea break first before going for our first briefing.

When we arrived

Dynamic Obstacles, 10.30 am - 12.45 pm.

The first exercise that we had to go through was Dynamic Obstacles. Dynamic Obstacles consisted of 10 obstacles that were easy enough to go through, until we were introduced to the rules.

Rule 1. Do not touch any leaves
Rule 2. Only a maximum of five participants on one obstacle at a time
Rule 3. Any participant that has completed a task cannot help their colleague
Rule 4. One mistake everybody has to come back to the first obstacle and restart everything
Rule 5. No jumping or using both legs on certain obstacles

Well, even with the rules they were easy enough, so we thought. We set ourselves 45 minutes to complete everything. In the end we ended up finishing the obstacles in 1 hour 15 minutes in which we had to restart four (4) times. We began to rediscover the meaning of ' lesson learnt the hard way'. When we sat to reflect on the exercise we realized that we should;

• put our white thinking hat on and get all the facts right. How many obstacles, detail steps to take to go through each one of them, our strength, how many of us and what kind of tool that we can use.
• come up with a proper plan to negotiate the obstacles
• make sure everybody understand and know what to do
• set a reasonable target to achieve our goal
• be prepared and concentrate, especially on the small details. In this case, like not touching any leaves, this small detail proved to be our downfall
• have organised a better teamwork. Work as a group.

This exercise was actually a prelude to the main event.

Eagle's Eye Expedition (more like Owl's Eye) Thursday, 4.00 pm - Friday, 8.30 am.

This was our main event of the course. We were briefed on the whole event, especially on how to use a compass. Some of us have not even seen a compass in their live before let alone trying to learn how to use it in five minutes. Luckily there were a few of us who could really use it.

Making sure everyone knows how to read the compass

In essence, the three groups will have to do a compass marching beginning at 4 pm, stay, sleep in the jungle or march on to the last check point and camp there until morning. Each group would have to trek to the first check point, find a clue for the next bearing, proceed to the second check point, where we have to find our next bearing to the final destination. The second check point was also the place for us to rest, cook for dinner, say our maghrib and isya prayers before we proceed to our final check point. We were given a different bearing at each check point. The trek to the first and second check points were not too difficult, mainly because we were trekking in daylight and they were easy. The trek after the second check point was something else. It was a no man's land, a heaven for leeches, wild boar and the like. The bearing that we took has not been trekked ever before by any human being, we were the pioneer. The jungle was quite thick with bamboo trees all around. To make the trek even worse, we have to trek up and down several hills along the ridges and all of them have 45 degrees decline. One slip means all the way down.

Ready for our night trekking

We started our last phase of the trek from our second check point at 9 pm. We checked our bearing and began our assault, but to our dismayed we cannot even find a way into the jungle to start our trekking. It was climbing up a hill with a thick jungle. Each group sent in two of their best 'commandos' to find a trek to follow. No dice, there was not a decent way in, which means, we had to start chopping our way in. That was when the heads of the groups decided to have a meeting. In the end, because of the resources that each group had we decided to use just one bearing and assault the unknown together. Later on we discovered that that was the best decision that we ever made during the course. Even with one bearing and all three groups going forward together it was not that easy. I knew when we started one small margin or error in our reading would send us, if we were not careful, all the way to Jelebu. In order to manage the risk we had three readers to confirm each other. It was a climb all the way making it hard to all of us let alone the ladies. At that point Nizam the Giant volunteered to be the sweeper at the make to make sure we do not leave or missing anybody. As we climbed further to my surprised the bamboo bushes got thicker and I started to get worried as with the amount of cutting and climbing that we had to do would definitely take a toll on the ladies. Although some of them put out their brave faces I knew they were worried and scared. Furthermore it was Malam Jumaat myth went on in the mind. I thought I heard someone joked about it. Azman took the initiative to head the assault from the beginning but when we reached the two hour mark I could sense that he was frustrated as well. Being a kampong boy maybe he has not seen or been in that situation before. At that point we stopped for awhile to take stock of our situation. I knew I had to be brave and show that I was still not worried in command. Well, for the sake of everyone I had to. But deep down only Allah knows. Thinking about it now my past experience in Semenyih and the area helped me a lot. After awhile I was confident to proceed ahead and told everyone we should just go ahead and trust our reading. Now silently we moved ahead helping each other through the thick jungle. Suddenly things got even worse as the ground became slippery. We were already tired climbing and now we had to be very careful as we had deep ravine on our right. I knew that and since it was dark most of us did not realize it and I kept quiet. Somebody suggested that we use the rope. But what I did not realize was that someone actually tied the end of the rope around his waist. It was a dangerous thing to do as had someone fell the possibility for most of us to be dragged down was a certainty. In any case the rope really help but then the whole process slowed us down further.

Resting on a ledge below a bamboo trees

It was already three hours of walking when we reached a flat ground just under a canopy of bamboo trees. We decided to rest there a bit before we proceed. Couple of us tried to recce the area and someone in front shouted that there were tiny dots of lights from a building coming through our sight the in the dark jungle. I moved closer in front and true enough saw lights in line making a rectangular shape down below in the valley. Being a bit familiar with the area I guessed it was either someone’s fish pond or animal farm. Seeing that the other leaders made a suggestion to head there instead of following our reading. I agreed. But doing that meant going down quite a steep ravine. Now the rope had to be used properly and Giant was told to tie the rope around a tree as well not just his body as we went down. Slowly we went with two strong guys at both end of the rope to bring the girls down first. We started to walk down slowly towards the lights and about a few minutes walking we could hear a sound of water flowing indicating a small stream below. I was sure it was a small stream as there wasn’t any big river around that area. When we got down to the stream there was a small manmade collection pond with PVC pipe going down. I knew it was the water system for the farm down below indicating we were close by. Sensing we were almost near ‘civilisation’ the group started to relax a little bit.

We just followed the stream down and as we inched closer it was obvious that we were entering a duck farm that had been harvested. The whole area of the farm was fenced with corrugated zinc. We could see the lighted workers quarters at the other end which was next to the main road which means we had to walk over there and request for them to open the gate for us to go out on the road. We could not walk around the farm. Thus, we walked along the bank of the duck pond and I was walking at the end of the pack just to make sure everyone is alright. However as we walked along the first pond we could hear dogs getting excited and started barking in group obviously aware of our presence. The guys at the front started to get worried and it got worse when the dogs started to run in pack towards us. I shouted to the front whatever it id do not run but either I was too late or those in front were too scared. The just instantly turned their back and started to run back. What they did created a chain reaction and everyone started to scramble back to certain extend a couple of them actually jumped inside the pond. Watching that instead of getting worried Azman and I started to laugh. Primarily because two of them were security guys that suppose to set a good example of being tough, calmed and collected. I just couldn’t stop smiling and laughing after that. It was a bit chaotic after that. Some of the girls were in shocked and because of that I relented by the suggestions by a few to just stay and sleep there until daybreak. We took our tired bodies up the dry rock to find a good place to rest. The rock was cold so the girls huddled together and tried to go to sleep. I could not sleep so I stayed awake firstly talking to Giant and Azman. Later on they also went to find a good spot to rest and I just sat on the rock looking at the stars and reminisced about old times. Sitting in the cold early morning brought the nostalgic fool in me and I became sentimental and sad at the same time. I was so close to tears at times reminiscing on certain things. The ambience around me was really perfect to be sad and thoughtful. Once awhile looking at my friends I could see some of them were restless and cold.

Dawn eventually broke through the sky and I could hear azan being called by a muezzin from a mosque somewhere on my right. Judging from the sound it was from the mosque in Sg Lui. Fauzi scampered to find a place to pray. He asked me but I told him that my pant was dirty. It was really not bersih to use to pray and I decided to qada later. (I could not remember whether someone actually managed to boil some water and make coffee but I remember have a hot drink before we left the place.)

In the early mornings somebody actually managed to boil some water and make hot coffee for us.

As soon as the morning became a bit clear I suggested for us to get moving. We washed our face using the cold water and I led them out of the farm. Once we got near the dogs started to bark again this time I yelled over at the workers quarters and a Bangla came out. I yelled at him asking why he did not come down to help us when we were there in the early morning he just smiled. I knew he was scared then. I told him to call off his dogs or I would whack them all. I was scared as well then but I had to act brave he he he. You do not know how relief we were when we got out and to be walking on the road.

We came out of the whole thing safely at 7.45 am. We were tired, sleepy, aching all over, happy, and relief. As we were walking back we pointed out the place where supposed to be our last check point was. There should be few camping gears for us to use for the night as well. If we were to base it on our bearing that night we would have missed it by a few miles. Thus, stumbling upon the farm saved us from going to Jelebu he he he. Once we were back at our training ground all of us quietly took our bath and rest. The trainers realizing that we were back and not lost came around to ask us. Those that were pissed off with them just answered by stating the fact. Me, being the Penghulu, I gave my politically correct answer. Personally though to me the whole experience was worth it and everyone should be happy that they had gone through it.

I purposely left out all the gory and funny details simply because you cannot really put then into words. You have to go through the process yourself to understand.

The debriefing

To us the whole thing was everything, scary, fun, enjoyable, funny, self discovery and challenging. Really test ourselves to the limit. In the end when we started to think about it we found out that we gained and discovered a lot about ourselves and life.

• We were given a compass bearing to navigate ourselves in the uncharted territory. In live we definitely need a bearing, goals or directions to achieve. Without goals we are heading nowhere, walking endlessly like a bum. We always take this for granted and living live on a day to day basis. What we need to have are career goals, vacation goals, project goals, wealth goals, education goals, social goals, family goals and religious goals. All these will enable us to plan our live better and make sure they are of quality and improve all the time.
• The tools that we brought along during the trekking were mostly helpful to us. Torchlights to show us the way, 'parangs' to cut down trees to create a path, Bygon to repel all the leeches (though not successful), rope to pull us up and down, and food to energize us. In live we also need tools or guides to help us.
• We also learnt the true meaning of team work. Working in a group is not easy and sometimes painful. But, to succeed to achieve certain goals or objectives without doubt we have to work in a team. We have to rely on our group members to help to pull us when we slip, remind us of a dangerous spot and torn, motivate and encourage us to move on and after a thorough planning really corporate with our leader who created a path for us to follow.
• Some of us while sitting on the cold rock waiting for the dawn to break started to think about their parents. How hard some of them have to work to prepare you for the world. You than realize that the hardship that you have gone through was nothing compared to what they have to bear to provide you. It was payback time for some of us.
• Some of us even emotionally began to realize that there are lives on the otherside of the world. Lives that they never appreciate before. How important it is for us to maintain the greenery's and some part of the earth as it is. Really begun to appreciate and understand the environment better.
• Since the first outing this never failed to escape my observation, where people start to reflect on their religious aspect of their live. The feeling of being closer to God. Being in the environment and the situation without failed we in the end solely left our well being into the hands of the Almighty. We began to acknowledge how we even forgot to say thanks to Him after giving us a comfort live.

Day Two, Friday 16 Aug. 1996

Since it was Friday, after cleaning ourselves properly and with groggy head, we just had a lecture session in the morning. Kpt (Retired) Mohan was of no help at all, he even put us to sleep faster with his unconvincing lecture.

After Friday we had games in group and scheduled to have a short water marathon after Asar. The games were interesting, testing our thinking capability.

Water Marathon (Short Version)

What we have to do was to walk in the water against the current to a certain spot in group. The destination was a surprise gift for us. Our tired body, especially our leg did not help at all. We were practically dragging ourselves. But, the end product was worth the effort, a cool magnificent waterfall. No question asked we jump straight in.

Actually, this exercise was part of the activities to recondition our tired muscles. We felt good and cheerful after the swim, which eventually helps us to have a good night sleep.

After dinner I took the dishes to the stream nearby and it was the duty of the ladies to do the washing. But when I was there I noticed at least two lintah swimming closed by so I stayed at the back in case one of them swam over and scared the hell our of the three ladies.

Day Three, Saturday, 17 Aug. 1996

We had a good sleep and woke up refreshed. As early as 7.30 am we had to gather at the physical training site. We loosen up out tired muscles and enjoyed the exercises. This session was apparently in preparation for the next grueling tasks, the water activities at the Semenyih Dam.

Water-Based Activities

We were transported to the Semenyih Dam after our morning tea break. We arrived eagerly, some of us even managed to catch few minutes of sleep while waiting for the rest to get there, and could not wait to jump into the water.

Getting ready to be transported to the Dam

The first activity was a 'rakit' race which we have to build ourselves first. In group we started designing and constructing, the priority was to make sure the 'rakit' stayed afloat. There was this one particular 'rakit' which was beautifully constructed but refused to move when we paddled. So, there and then we decided to donate the whole 'rakit' to Maritime Museum. Since we took too much time designing and constructing our 'rakit' the next activity, which was canoeing had to be canceled. Instead, we did individual activities which comprise of canoeing, boating, trying to learn how to swim and sun bathing for about 15 minutes before we went back to Sabha for our closing ceremony.

Building our water machine

Designing something to stay afloat

This shows how good we were at designing. The drums supposed to be under the water the another way. We made do

Getting ready to cast off

Of course we did not win but we had fun

The Platoon

Just waiting to go back to camp

Approximately, at 5.30 pm the course was officially closed by Pn Rahima Muhammad, Director of Finance, Human Resources and Administration Division.

The Elite Team

Overall Personal Conclusion

I am happy and glad that I had gone through the two phase programme. I actually did not have to test myself anymore as I had gone through worse but it was fun doing all the stuff with new acquaintances in a new organization. Despite everything I have learnt a lot about human behaviour and I thank everyone for that. Hey! At least the programme succeeded in taking two couples to jinjang pelamin. I do not know whether they were already an item before the programme but I am sure if they were the programme strengthens their love for each other.

"It was fun man! should we do this again sometimes?""Yeah! I really am glad to be here.""See you around dude, hope to see you again during the third phase."

The Penghulu having his last reflection

By the The Penghulu

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The ROI of social technologies

It is hard enough to convince any management to invest on new technology what more Web 2.0 or social network tools. The connotation and assumption that such tools are something that nice to play with or tools for younger generations do not help at all. So to present the ROI for introducing such a thing is really something else. In the world where bean counters are the order of the day it is not only a challenge but an almost impossibility. Not only that the idea of the need for organization to embrace socialization as a good strategy would be difficult. No matter how it has been proven it would still be difficult. Research after research has been cited to the effect, just like this one, still it is a hard sell. By no means it is just any research but research conducted by MIT. The only way to do it is just to follow Nike ‘Just Do It’. To quote the report:

‘MIT research shows that 40% of creative teams productivity is directly explained by the amount of communication they have with others to discover, gather, and internalise information. In other MIT studies, research shows that employees with the most extensive digital networks are 7% more productive than their colleagues. Furthermore, those with the most cohesive face-to-face networks are 30% more productive.’

In the world of knowledge management we have to accept that something is just given. We know that knowledge sharing would bring benefit to any organization. The same with creating an environment in what ever form where conversation happens naturally.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

On The Train (The Accident), Mar 2, 2009

I am humbled by HIS blessing for protecting my son from the worst, and my wife and I from further agony of living in sadness. I would have not been able to play or hear ‘When I See You Smile’ ever again. From their description of the accident and pure logic I could not believe it that all the three of them came out of it with only minor injuries. If you looked at the car, I did not and I do not have to, you would even be more amazed. Whatever it is they were lucky and I told them so. I sincerely hope that they think hard to appreciate and look at life differently now. This is one greatest lesson that they have an opportunity to learn from either spiritually, mentally and physically. It is so easy to forget and being complacent again. The trauma would linger on for sometimes.

For a father to have received the news that his son was involved in an accident at 4.00 am I was calmed and collected. My doctor would have approved. Natural or not I had to be as my family was depending on me to be so. Now everyone needs to heal from the shock and trauma. We have to heal together.

I took them to Jln THS Lee police station at 1000 to submit their reports that Sunday morning. Being there and looking from the other side, that I was so familiar with, I was reminded of my younger days living in police quarters. It was the same scene all over again only now I was sitting listening the report being narrated from the victim side of the table.