Monday, December 17, 2012

Pulau Pemanggil - The Journey To

This is a long overdue chapter, a continuation from the 1st part that was written almost one and a half year ago.

As the boat slowly left the jetty, we sailed through the shallow river towards the river mouth. I could see the water has receded because some of the boats appeared to be driven ashore at the river bank. Not much activity, perhaps the daily fisherman had already settled down at home. It was pretty much quiet except for the sound from our boat's engine which had me praying it was powerful enough to sail us safely for the next 48 hours at sea.

Before we reached the river mouth, I recalled an old memory from a trip back from Pulau Perhentian almost 10 years ago. Just before we reached the river mouth of Kuala Besut from the open sea, we had to sail through rough water because of the intersection between water from the river and water from the sea. The boat I was sailing in rocked wildly before we finally managed to enter the calm water of Kuala Besut.

Hence, as we were reaching the river mouth of Mersing, silently I braced myself for what was expected to come. However, after minutes of having myself in a state of alert, I realized that we had sailed far from the land as the city lights were slowly becoming tiny bright dots in the horizon viewed from the stern.

As we sailed further out to open sea, the water became rough and we started to feel sudden gush when the boat hit the rough waves. The mood began to change from the joyous crowd to almost silence. Some started to show the seasick symptoms so we started to pick a spot each for us to rest our dizzy heads. Since the boat is relatively small, some of us ended up laid down on the boat deck with our bag as the pillow.

Though I've sailed at open sea as a young boy but it was on a big ship. A reality check: I am now sailing on a small fishing boat to an island 60 kilometers away in an almost pitch dark night, with the seawater started to occasionally splash onto my face as I laid down - it really scared the shit out of me. With the fact that I don't know how to swim if the worst happens, I started to locate the life buoy and did a quick analysis of who were close to it if in any case that I need to put up a struggle to fight for it.

I thought I would be fine but even with my prior experience, it still didn't help much as I started to feel dizzy too. Only hours later that I found a way to overcome it - I have to position myself in relation with the horizon. But it was pitch dark. After hours into the situation, my eyes managed to adapt to the darkness around me and I was able to see 20 to 30 meters beyond. That helped in easing my dizziness. But with that vision clarity, it also further justified my fear because now I can see how high the waves were.

A dear friend became really sick. He walked and swayed across the deck to the side of the boat and vomited to what appeared to be out into the sea but then just to be discovered by me and another friend in the next morning that he had threw it all out onto the boat's deck. Despite that, what worried me most was that he might be unlucky and get thrown out into the sea due to the nature of the heavy rocking.

After about four hours into the journey and almost everyone was fast asleep (or still fighting over the seasick), suddenly I heard the boat's engine started to slow down. I was not asleep and so did the organizer but we kept quiet. With the silence, the sound of the waves dominated the atmosphere. At that time, the clear magnitude of the waves were clearly understood when using all sensory. It was indeed very scary.

Suddenly, the captain appeared. He asked whether either of us had noticed the lights of Pulau Tioman. He mentioned that by this hour of journey, we should have seen the lights of Pulau Tioman from our left-front side. And with that, we should have seen the lights of Pulau Pemanggil on our right-front side. What worried him though, he had not seen any of those lights and he feared that we might have by-passed those two last islands. Damn! We probably had hit the far open sea of South China Sea!

The captain returned to his bridge, revved up the engine and continued the journey. I and the organizer exchanged mixed looks. We both lit up cigarettes and puffed away our worries out to the sea. We didn't want to wake up the others.

I looked up to the sky and couldn't see any stars. It must have been very cloudy. I tried to locate the horizon but to no avail when again, suddenly the captain stuck his head out of the bridge yelling he had seen the lights of Pulau Tioman. Slowly I pulled myself up, strongly holding to the boat's structure and peeked out to the left of the boat. Far in the distance, a few very tiny dot of lights visible. I felt relieved and exchanged a smile with the organizer who later lit up another stick and puffed away the reliefs.

About half an hour, I started to notice another few tiny dot of lights on the right-front. That must be the lights of Pulau Pemanggil I presumed. Now, after hours out in the rough sea, the glimpse of lights appeared as a big hope for me. Since then, I locked my eyes to that lights with one of it beaming much brighter than the others. Later I found out it was the light of the only telco tower on the island.

As we were slowly reaching the island, it was weird because I was unable to distinguish the silhouette of the island in contrast with the night sky. The only clear visibility were still the lights. Nothing else. As we came closer, slowly and slowly the shape of the island appeared, out from the mist. Apparently, the island and Pulau Tioman too were hidden from visibility behind the mist. My eyes began to distinguish its shape and without realizing a certain chill creeped inside me. Under the dark silhouette, the shape of the island is monumental with only a small part of the island where the lights were, is inhabited. The rest of the island is dark. In darkness, I could see palm trees dominates the island's landscape.

I thought that since we had been through rough waves at sea, the captain would sail to the small settlement area and dock at the jetty to wait for next morning. My hope was crushed when our boat slowly sailed to the other side of the island and later, those lights were none to be seen.

I have studied the geographical shape of the island on the map prior to the journey. Logically, the settlement (and any other coastal settlements) would have been built at a location protected from the danger of the sea. Therefore, when the captain decided to sail to the other side of the island, I concluded  that we were heading to the side of the island that is exposed to the open sea of South China Sea. I became worried. Why we did not dock at the jetty and why were we heading to the side of the island?

Only when we reached the side of the island that I realized that the sea was much calmer. Though, the waves were still high but it's a lot better than before. I could spot another two vessels with their lights on and from that lights, I could notice that those boats, and ours, were still experiencing high waves but not as rocking as what we had been through the past six hours.

The captain released the anchor, it's time to have another puff and to get some sleep. The dawn is near and later we're going to enjoy our time fishing.

Yes, the hope was still there.

To be continued.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Corporate Chickens

In recent weeks, I was all stressed up due to my works in the office. I've been working for the same client and the same project for almost 2 years now. The client has been difficult since the beginning and I've been living with these difficulties ever since.

One day, that was after few days of thinking, I thought that I've had enough. I need to talk to my boss. I have been drafting the words that I'm going to use when I meet him - "Firstly, I love working here together with those wonderful friends and secondly, quitting is the last thing on my mind. But, in between there is this problem...".

The client is a very reputable developer in the country. They are refuted as being the number one in the industry. They built good townships, sometimes with refreshing concept to what is available in the market. Their sales are always good except for one commercial development, perhaps due to their lack of experience in developing one. With all these, comes the reputation that they must maintain. To stay as a leader in the industry, maintaining alone is not enough. They need to grow that reputation. They need to come out with something new.

Now, that is the problem. The main problem.

To be able to come out with something new, one needs to understand few things. In my opinion, the past achievements are important because now what they need to do is a tricky balancing act of connecting and disconnecting with the past at the same time. They need to connect to know what has been done that contributed to the success and later to ditch it totally when exploring for the new future. Finally, a delicate balance between the two to create an ideal product that will show the market of what is their direction for the future, and at the same time bridging it all with their glorious past.

I was instructed to come out with something new and locally radical. I wouldn't call it revolutionary because it is not totally new. Other people have done it elsewhere but not here in Malaysia hence it will be easily perceived as radical in the local context. To the client, when it's radical, the 'wow' factor will always come with it. They want to wow the market and their competitors.

To make matters worst from my point of view as the consultant, it's not just the external competitors that their trying to beat but the boundary has dissolved to be within their own - between their subsidiaries, townships and senior execs. It is widely regarded that competition is healthy but in a way here, most of the time it has become a personal agenda for them to climb up the corporate ladder. It has turned into the devil within.

I have to deal with few devils of various ranks. Imagine the last person sending out instruction to me has at least more than two tiers above him to get the approval. I assume with his authority to send out instructions, he is equally accountable and responsible for whatever decision he makes. He should be able to make the best decision that in general not only will benefit the company, but in particular to the immediate boss above him, where in return will favor the boss above his boss, and so on. The chain is long but the void of this capability in making the best decision (not necessarily the best, at least to make a mere decision and be held responsible for it) has made the design process a big joke.

To pen it down easier, I'll give an actual scenario. The product is always a building, be it a house, office, shop etc. The highest management has decided that a sellable product must be available in 1 year time. Instructions passed down until it reached me as the architect. In between the highest management and the architect, all the executives are big cowards in determining the actual description of the product. The product is still left as the 'product'. They did not properly define it. None of them want to hold the responsibility and accountability if the product fails. They passed it down to the architect to formulate the product.

When I start, it was always under big vagueness of what I have to come out with. Constant grey and general instructions such as "it has to make an impact" and back to "it has to be sellable" put more pressure on me to come out with the perfect product.

Definitely, a lot of time consumed in developing the vague instructions. When I have come out with some visuals, there goes the process of gaining approval from the upper layers. Most of the time it was met with rejection, or at least with major modifications required. Blame is always on the architect. Here, time is ripped off me. And the budget too. Surprisingly, they can't afford it. Not because they don't have money but being a pure capitalist, minimum spending of your revenue will in return increase your profit margin.

It is very indeed true. But not when you are inventing to grow. Inventing is investing. Either time, brain source, effort or financial.

So, if they want to continue making profit, they should just stick to the already winning formula. Why bother to be new? From here, what I can see is that the vision of the leaders is lost halfway through the weak execs they employed. The leaders see what the future holds but the execs are well tied to the past fearing their decision making will turn into a failure and jeopardize the good paycheck they're enjoying every month.

In my opinion, the best practice is for the client to come out with a clear brief, a brief that they have to commit to. The architect will work around that. It is the common ground of understanding for both parties. Do not ask for something that you can't afford. Architects are not your fairy goddamn-mother.

As I mentioned above, I am stuck with the same client and the same project for almost 2 years. The loss is to my office, even to any office. Even though the project is prolonged, it is not reflected in the fee. The fee is still the same and will only entitled to claim once the project hit on site. Despite all that, I am still getting paid every months.

However, the biggest damage on my side is the mental stress I have endured somehow has affected me. The full extent is still unknown but there have been negative symptoms. I would prefer a prevention before it's too late.

Sadly, from the third paragraph onwards are what I wanted to say (or something pretty much similar to it) but it didn't happen when I finally met my boss. Understanding his already limited options if I ever to back off and noticing the needs to continue the project for the sake of the office, I realized actually my job is not just to fulfill the client's requirement but the most immediate urgency is for me to recognize and protect the interests of my boss.

With that realization, somehow it frees me up and I will continue on that project with an aim to finish it. I remember a light joke I made to my colleague when he mentioned about the recent achievements by two of our friends. Put aside that foreign award one of them is receiving and a professional title for the other, under current circumstance, my career goal is short termed and that is to just complete this project. At least, having it short termed has freed me up of my worry from the future and lifted the stress away from me. When I walked home that day while listening to a new nice song, the day felt so beautiful. It was also the day my wife received a good news - she has landed a job finally.

Cineplexx - Cosas De La Vida Normal

(seriously, I don't understand a single word. OK, only one - 'normal')

Monday, October 8, 2012

One Of The Sessions

Recently, I began to start playing futsal again after almost a year of hiatus. It was still held at the same venue, as it was 8 years ago. I still enjoy the game as it was.

I am not about to dwelve further on the game but more on the routine we used to have after the game. We used to go for drinks and late night meals at a nearby restaurant and talked about the game. Usually, it quickly turned into a catching up session.

We talked about our career, our life, our ambition - of how much we have achieved so far, or of how much we have gone astray from our strong beliefs, or rather what we used to believe. We talked about the places we wanted to go or already went. We talked about politics though we know little about it. We talked about architecture, the very thing that is running under our skin. We talked almost about everything around us or surrounding us. We cared.

Since I was on a hiatus, thus I have missed the post-game routine for at least a year. Then, 2 weeks ago I had the chance to be again in one of the session.

At one point, a friend recalled of an intention I once had to publish a collection of writings on the dilemma I faced as young architects. ‘The Young Architect’s Dilemma’ as I wanted it to be called at that time, was merely an effort to document my early experience as a practicing architect.

I remember at one of the previous sessions, we were talking about the places I have worked for. I have worked for an award-winning design firm, for a developer, for a big and established practice, and then for the government before lastly at present, I am working for a relatively new setup here in Kuala Lumpur, however with a strong and established base in Singapore. In between, I have returned to work with the design firm for a second time but it only lasted for just 3 months. Also, this is my second employment with my current employer after having a very short stint under different director about 5 years ago. For a record, in the early days of my second employment at my current office, my service was sought for the third time, to work for the design firm.

Leaving the employers were not all smooth. Apart from the normal resignations, there were instances where I was escorted out of the office. The short stint I had at the current office previously was short-lived because I had a heated argument with the director in a coffee shop just below the office. I have once being called into the principle architect’s room and learnt the hard truth about economy recession.

With those, came the despairs but not without the valuable experience. In a way, I am grateful to have chartered those paths and it makes what I am today. Hence, I think it is worth every word I type to have it composed and finally become a series for ‘The Young Architect’s Dilemma’.

Hope not that I need another year lapsed and have another session to remind me of what I have written today.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Kilim Geoforest Park

Kilim Geoforest Park
The day started with the main agenda was to prepare ourselves to be at the jetty at 10am. The night before, the boat operator had contacted me regarding the timing of our trip due to the overwhelming crowd during this peak season.
Getting the kids ready on time was indeed a big effort. Though most of us were already up by 7 in the morning, we only left the place two and a half hours later.
The jetty was on the opposite end of the island where we were staying. We arrived late, which by then, the boat operator was already concerned because there was already a huge crowd gathered at the jetty.
Without any further unnecessary delay, we boarded the 10m boat and once we were all on board, the boat quickly left, to free up the space at the jetty. There were many boats around, getting their ways in and out of the jetty. Once we're in the clear of the heavy water traffic, the boat operator passed the life jacket to each of us. It's a huge relief that the water authority is enforcing a strict safety regulation. I had a big concern over my family safety because if there were any mishaps in the water, there's very little I can do.
At first, the boat gently cruised along the narrow river. However, few boats sped past our boat with their huge waves causing our boat to rock sideways. Our boat operator probably noticing some worrying faces among us, has decided to also speed off, with what I understood from his words was to teach the other boats a lesson. Apparently our boat had a powerful engine and though in no time we easily bypassed the other boat, the action also has caused a sudden caution for all of us.
All that apart, the scenery was beautiful. Personally, it is very rare for me to enjoy the scenery apart from what I normally experienced from my driving seat point of view. Experiencing the nature in this way was quite refreshing.
After cruising past few bends, we came across a big split. The one in the left was full with anchored sailboats while the other seemed leading to the open sea on its end.
We took the one on the left and we cruised slowly past these sailboats. The boat operator informed us that these sailboats came from all around the world. Immediately, I was having this vision picturing these sailboats sailing in rough waters out in the open sea, just like what I watched in the YouTube clips. From my understanding, mostly these boats are operated by a couple or a family. If that fact was true, then it had me thinking that how amazing for them to enjoy the world this way, comparing with myself being a man with a partner, and with a family as well -  just like them. I wish one day, I'll get to go on an adventure like this with my wife.
After we've passed the stretch full of sailboats, we took a turn somewhere and headed to a cave called 'Gua Buaya', or 'Crocodile Cave' in English. It was told that once, the cave was a nest for the crocs. Even at the entrance, there's a rock formation that resembles a crocodile jaw. We were told when the crocs were still around, its sizes were small and though now it's none to be seen, they believe that either it has extinct, or the remaining are in the hiding. He said, those surviving crocodiles in the hiding, if any, surely has grown in size over time. That was a fact best not to be thought over at that particular time and place.
We got out at the other end of the cave and it led us back to the stretch full of sailboats and we stopped by at the floating deck of caged fish. The place was crowded with visitors from other boats and the scorching afternoon heat added up to my loss of interest with the offerings.
Once we're back on board, we headed to a place where the eagle fed. There were already few boats around and at the centre was the main show - around eight to ten eagles, encircling in what appeared to be its target before it dove down in a sharp and precise aim, snatching the food out of the water using its claws. The way the eagles spread its wing encircling the area and aiming at the target before taking the dive - further accentuates the impression I had on them as the most handsome species of bird.
After that, we headed out to the open sea, following the river on the right at the big split. We stopped before passing through the river mouth into the open sea. We were shown of silhouettes from the rock formation at the river mouth. The first was a silhouette of a baby face on the right and then what appeared to look like the face of an Apache. Initially, we were briefed of what to expect throughout the journey. When I first heard of seeing those faces, I thought it was just another marketing gimmick but seeing it with my eyes, the silhouettes were distinct.
Then it was time to hit the open sea where we were shown of an island, that again, from that particular point of view resembles the form of a shoe. Hence, it's called 'Pulau Kasut' or 'Shoe Island'. We went around the island, then stop before a huge signboard of 'KILIM GEOFOREST PARK' installed on one of the prominent cliff for a memorable group photo session on board.
We were then returned into the river back to the jetty. However we didn't stop at the jetty and went past through it to our last stop which was the 'Gua Kelawar' or 'Bat Cave'. We had to experience this journey on foot. There's a ticketing counter at the jetty and at first we thought we had fallen into another marketing trap. However, the charge was for foreign tourist. I lauded this effort by our tourism authority to promote tourism among the locals as I've seen this at other tourism spots in the country as well.
We were given a torch light to navigate through the dark cave. It was a good and worthy experience because at that time, the ceiling of the cave was full with bats. Finally, I got the chance to visit a natural habitat that actually still lived up to its name.
All in all, I think it was a good and refreshing experience. I've been to Langkawi for few times but never had the chance to experience this side of the island. The journey took 2 hours but for the price we paid in relative with the size of our group, it was worth it to get to see what the nature has to offer.
In few hours, it's the time to explore new places, so I better get enough sleep for another day in Langkawi.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Choo! Choo!

I am trying very hard to doze off yet the familiar continuous clanking sound forces me to recall  old memories, the last one perhaps 3 years ago when I headed to the city of Ipoh for a job interview.
Yes, as I am writing this, I am on a train ride to my hometown, Johor Bahru. I am riding on a sleeping coach with beds, since it's a 6 hours journey to my destination. However, this wasn't my preferred option more than 10 years ago.
The first mind-recorded experience of me riding a long distance train was in 1994, when I rode with my newlywed brother for their unofficial honeymoon to Penang. Why was I there in his honeymoon? I just can't remember why. Anyway, prior to that, I only rode the train for short distance journeys to Singapore.
I remember during that 1994 journey, I had an overwhelming impression for the rail service. Before that, all the short journeys to Singapore were on the 3rd class coach, that translates to poor sensory experience. In that journey to Penang, I remember we had evening tea at the canteen coach while enjoying the passing scenery which was a new experience to me. It left an everlasting impression to me that a long journey train ride allows me to enjoy the scenery more than the boring highway ride.
In 1998, while I was still living in Johor Bahru, a scenario occured that made it best for me to take the train instead of the express bus. I had to be at the higher education department in Kuala Lumpur the next morning to urgently resolve an administrative issue for my admittance to the university. Being young with strong sense of curiosity, I spent most of the time standing at the door, wide open, enjoying the scenery naturally with strong wind gushing through my hair. Ever since, I'm hooked.
The next recorded memory was when there was a calling - a calling of the heart when I was madly in love. The love of my life at that time was living in Kuala Lumpur. Whenever the heart calls, off I went on a train. It happened to be that one of the journey, I shared it with my roommate who of course for anybody being a roommate of mine is also a good talking partner. We ended up sitting by the door throughout the whole journey, again, of course the door was wide open, having one of the best conversations I had in my life. And I still remember as we arrived, it happened to be that I was riding on the first train to arrive at the then newly opened KL Sentral. There was a group of press photographers already clicking their shutters as we slowly came to a stop, trying to catch the first batch of passengers to use the new station.
Another good experience was when me and my wife were travelling across Java. The trip from Surabaya to Bandung took 14 hours and we did a return journey.  A cumulatively, we were on Indonesian train for 28 hours. Anyhow, we got to enjoy the landscape of Java in an express way.
We figured out that we couldn't be staring out the window throughout the 14 hours journey, so we decided to drop by at a bookstore in Surabaya the night before and grabbed a few books to read. Incidentally, the book I picked partly told a story of the characters were experiencing a lesson in life while riding in a standard class train, travelling across Java. The way it described the scenery, the common people who use the train as their main mode of transportation and how the atmosphere inside the train somehow felt very much related to what was I experiencing at that time, only, with a very big exception, that actually I was travelling in an executive coach. There's a big difference riding between the classes in Indonesia.
Definitely, if I ever have the opportunity to visit other country, I'd first look for its rail service as I strongly feel it is one of the best way to experience a country.
Present day, here I am 2 hours into the journey still restraining myself from going to the door and open it. There have been many calls for me to take the train ride, be it for my education, my love and even for my career. For now the call is no less important, in fact of the highest priority. I was informed that my mother has been warded. Seriously, I need to catch some rest now.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Moment of the Day - 03/05/12

Lira was trying to play a CD for Dhea using a CD player when somehow the sound didn't come out through the complex connection of the amp. Sufy, being a 1 year and a month old curious little boy joined in to see what was happening. I was watching them lazily from the sofa when suddenly Sufy appeared to have an idea. He turned and walked towards me like a penguin (it's really cute) still with that beaming face when I noticed his eyes were locked to the thing I was holding in my hand. It was the remote control for our pay TV. He grabbed it from me and brought it closer to Lira who was still struggling to get the sound out from the amp. With his unique version for the sound of the remote, he 'clicked' the remote pointing to the amp. He actually thought it was the solution for whatever problem Lira was facing. Oh, my boy. I am amazed.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Online Disease

Without realizing, my social network has turned into a disease, a social disease. A disease where I thought only contained in real world took a short period of time to spread in here.

It is not wrong to update others with one's latest development but there is always a very thin line that separates between pure sharing and pure showing-off.

Disguising behind a title that suggests humility is sickening when all its contents suggest otherwise. Even worst, being thankful to God with attached photos of achievements sent a different message altogether. I still remember a teaching that to do good deeds, it has to be done anonymously to such extent that the other hand would not know of it. Yes, it is to that extent.

My wife has long trying to elude herself from this disease. In a way, by distancing herself from the social network is indeed the very right step for her. The fact that knowing most of her friends have advanced in their career is pretty much depressing for a Master degree holder who is now staying at home, giving the best of motherhood to her two kids.

I am now taking the same step by reducing my online activity. It has appeared to me by getting online, I am actually reducing the quality time I should have spent with those around me.

Recently, I had a conversation with friends about how we were once totally not in reliance with handset as our main tool of communication. We still managed to meet every appointments, at one instance, I managed to organize a trip to Langkawi with my schoolmates even though we were travelling up north all the way from south in different buses at different times. We were there and managed to live through it when communication was considered primitive compared to present standard.

Don't let our priority in life to be shifted due to short excitements of exploring new technologies.

Disconnect to get connected.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Sea, The Ship & Me

There is something about the sea that seems so close to me. Probably the fact that my father was a sailor for all his life with most of my childhood memories filled with an image of a father who sailed in a ship to earn us a living.

I am still vividly remember my experience being on a ship whenever my father's ship docked. Be it at the nearest port to my house - Pasir Gudang or at Singapore's Keppel Harbour, the journeys I went through were always filled with excitement. I remember taking the evening train from Johor Bahru so that we would arrive in Singapore just in time for dinner as the train station was just across the gate to the harbour.

Sadly, Tanjung Pagar railway station is now out of operation and the land is surrendered to Singapore. I am particularly saddened by this event as this is one of the physical form that enables me to reconnect to my past. The long platform with a vista of arriving train from afar held priceless beautiful moments of a little child getting excited to board a train after getting to spend a brief happy moment with his father who was always away from home working at sea.

Arriving at Tanjung Pagar and after passing through the immigration checkpoint, having to see the glimpse of a man I call Abah is one of the happiest moment money can't buy. He would then always brought us to dinner first - having a good Sup Kambing or Baryani meal before we headed to the ship.

Crossing the road there has always been my fear as a little kid because of all the big lorries serving the port would always sped just as the traffic light turned green. Somehow I am always fascinated by those lorries that in my early years it has become the primary subject of my sketches.

As we reached the port's entrance, my father would asked us to wait as he settled the necessary documentation and authorization for me and my mother to enter the port. Once inside, I am the happiest kid on earth and no expensive toy on earth could match that feeling because in a short while, after walking pass a series of warehouse with its distinctive smell of goods stored in it, my father would instruct to take the lane in between of the warehouses that was leading to the ship. As I took the turn, there stood majestically a big structure that has never failed to amaze me until now. The clanking sound of metal from machineries operated on the ship, with the alarming sound of forklift moving around arranging goods in and out of the warehouse and the distinct smell of the surrounding area, all of it fed my sensory stimulation that in present time, I am at times suddenly taken aback by a certain sound or smell that has the same resemblance with that situation. It's a kind of weird that all those worked as my lullaby when it's time for bed and it had never disrupted my sound sleep.

Before going to bed, normally I'd spent some times at the ship's bridge looking through binocular assessing the surrounding - identifying all ships visible and later in the next morning I could tell which ship had sailed away from the port because there was a new ship that had docked and was not in my radar last night. I'd always asked my father what kind of ship were there, what they carried and some times what were their weights.

Being a kid full of curiosity, my father once brought me for a month's sail at sea and indeed, I was full of questions. How did the radar worked? How far could it reach? Perhaps, I could be the youngest radar operator on South China Sea at that time as I constantly been the one who looked at the radar screen from time to time. How are we going to know where we are? How to read the map? To make it more relative to my situation, how to read the map from my point of view - on an open sea and and how to use visible visual marks whether it's day or night? Why there were many flags nicely folded in the shelf and why can't I turn on the lights in my room if the window is facing the frontage of the ship unless the window's curtain is pulled down?

Why at one time, there were many lights outside on the sea when my father answered it was the oil rigs and we were passing through Brunei waters. Why there were boats approaching our ship when we docked at Lahad Datu and to my surprise the boats were filled with kids - mostly younger than me, being an eight year-old at that time? Why my father threw his coins into the sea when much more to my surprise - those kids started jumping into the sea to catch it first?

Most of it, my father patiently explained to me, sometimes in other similar way, metaphorically if necessary when I still didn't get it. It struck me hard now, when my four year-old daughter fired me with never ending questions out of curiosity and at times, I lost my patience. With my past in mind, I am now determined to feed my children with enough information, enough understanding of how things work in this world. However, I wish that their learning process happens in such interesting environment as I once had.

The bonding I had with my father at that time was priceless and weird enough, we are like world apart now. I don't know what went wrong. I am having the same fear between me and my children as I am now constantly under tremendous pressure especially if it's work related. I fear that I might not able to attend to their needs, that is to play a role as a father figure to them.

Looking back and how things have changed, it was about a sailor and his son, and how the son had benefitted from his adventure, and now that the son has grown-up, working his own adventure as an architect (or perhaps it's a misadventure?), having his own kids, the uncertainty of the future sparks the fear in him creating another big question in his life - does the future holds a better life for his family?

Recently, it starts coming back to me why that I like going to the beach so much or why I wasn't too scared when I got caught in a freak storm at sea while going for a fishing trip at Pulau Pemanggil, though it's a fact that the chances of my survival is close to zero if the boat sank due to my inability to swim, it all now comes back to my upbringing years - my father and his work at sea.

However the world changes, be it me being a curious and playful kid who is now a stressful architect, my father who now spent his time at home after years and years at sea, the simple life I once understood and how I am now living a rat race lifestyle - the sea has always be there as it is, at least from the previous 32 years as I started to know it. The sea don't change (that much in the context of our time), the same splash of waves, the same salty water, the same backdrop, the same excited feeling it brought you in a sunny day also the same fear it struck into you whenever it's stormy.

Only the people changed. In this context, considering my attachment to the sea, it's a whole different life I'm living compared to my father's. That's why going to the beach make me feels like going back home.

Me & the sea. Lovely.