Out Of Touch With Reality…

It’s been almost six months since I last ventured along Orchard Road. Funny how come it took me that long since it is after all, the premier place to go for shopping in Singapore. But then again, everything seems to be the same there with the same boutiques you get every few spaced shopping centres, or so it seemed. But those precious few months away did give me and the wife some unneccesary hassle when we spent the time there last Saturday (24th November 2007).

We were craving for some pizza after doing a spot of shopping at Paragon Shopping Centre. So we headed down to Centrepoint, since the Pizza Hut outlet there was bigger and also because I wanted to head to the Best Denki outlet in the same building. To our dismay, the Pizza Hut outlet had been replaced by another non-Halal restaurant and that Best Denki had closed down. Even the Adidas boutique had closed down! Though there is a new wing added to the building and more food outlets as a result, we didn’t stop for lunch as we both were craving for pizza. So along with Syahindah, we walked all the way back to Lucky Plaza, where there is a Pizza Hut outlet.

Throughout the afternoon, we learnt that Orchard Cineleisure had also gone through some changes with the KFC outlet gone and Adidas taking over the previous Sembawang Music Centre premises. As for The Heeren, HMV has become smaller and shops like Levis boutique has taken over its previous space. And we did not even get the opportunity to venture Takashimaya nor Wisma Atria to see the changes, as we had a wedding invitation to attend later in the evening. Personally I felt like a damn tourist who got lost that day.

Actually the main reason we were at Orchard was because of this:

DSK Repackaged

Yes people!!! It’s finally out, the highly-anticipated repackaged debut album of Imran Ajmain‘s Dengan Secara Kebetulan. Those who had emailed their pre-order CDs were to collect their copies at The Lab building at *Scape Youth Centre, which we all know as the Youth Park at Somerset. Collection was only able to be made from 4pm onwards, so the extra time prior to that was spent gallivanting Orchard Road.

Well, what do I personally think of the album??? Like any repackaged albums (KRU‘s “Empayar KRUjaan” and Innuendo‘s self-titled album comes to mind), one would expect new and improved sounds to be added to the original versions. This album is no different, though it is to be noted that the songs that have been given “tweaks” are those that you seldom hear being played on air, save for “Taurus (Penawar Rindu)“, which was given an added boost with Altimet‘s punchy rapping towards the end. The more haunting hits like “Seribu Tahun“, “Ghaibmu” and “Sudah Tu Sudah” remained intact.

But of course, my personal favourite has to be the new-and-improved “Compromise“. In its original composition, it sounded too close to Justin Timberlake‘s “My Love“, with the electronica sounds in the background, which I felt kinda killed the mood to a song that is meant to be sappy. This latest version more than made up for it and is currently on repeat mode on my iPod. It’s a killer song which I first fell in love listening to it when Imran performed it at the Esplanade back in early March this year.

What is a repackaged album without new additions??? Imran has taken the trouble to include a new track “Abang“, which was recorded live acoustic, and two separate singles “Bahasa Menjunjung Bangsa” (in conjunction with the Malay Language Month) and “Tidak Lama Lagi” (his Hari Raya single found in the Fitrah – Hazir Lebaran album launched a few months ago). “Abang” is unique in that it gives advice without the need of a Nasyid singer to get the message across. One line that sticks to mind is “Jadi jangan engkau lupa lima waktu sehari…” which of course translates to please do not forget your five daily prayers. Subtle, yet effective and expressed without sounding like a typical Nasyid song. “Bahasa Menjunjung Bangsa” brings back lots of unforgettable memories for me as it reminded me of the Malay Language Camp I attended at Jalan Bahtera Camp in 1990. It was there I learnt how to sing this song and it has been given a new lease of life by Imran.

So should you spend your precious $18.00 on this album??? You bet!!! With 21 tracks and practically every one is of a high quality, it’s value for money. And anyway, you’re doing your deed to support one of your local acts. Please do not download his songs on the Net if you happen to see them. Our local acts are not like those in the West where you download their songs, but they still rake in millions. Do have a heart and be more responsible yah???

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I don’t normally talk about local football nor give any of the players some added limelight in my blog but something happened over the past weekend which appalled me to no end when I read reports of the violent behaviour of one Mohd Noh Alam Shah during the RHB Singapore Cup Final at Jalan Besar Stadium between SAFFC and Tampines Rovers. For those who are unaware, this sorry excuse of a national player lost his head (what’s new about him???) and kneed his international colleague Daniel Bennett on the head when the guy was already floored. He even came back to rain more kicks and blows on the poor guy, causing him to lose his memory temporarily. Add to that, he also tried to attack a photographer on his way back to the dressing room after being sent off.

Noh Alam Shah

Those who watch local football on a regular basis would know, Mohd Noh is a hothead and a very physical player to play against. Citing pressure and tiredness are lame excuses to give for losing his head in that match. And to think Cristiano Ronaldo was made public enemy number one in England for “helping” Wayne Rooney get sent off, that too by running to the referee and complaining about the latter’s challenge on his colleague, when their countries met at the last World Cup. This guy should be banned from football and made to learn that it doesn’t pay to use physical aggression on a fellow professional, what more his own international colleague. His actions actually justify some lawsuit to be made on the part of Bennett and because of that I believe he is culpable of being tried in court for unlawful assault.

Yes he might have been the hero at the last ASEAN Cup by being the team’s top scorer but it should be noted that he has been sent off for violent conduct almost every season in his 11 year career as a professional footballer. You would expect a married man with kids to have that wee bit of patience no matter what he does in life, but this shocking behaviour speaks volumes of his immaturity to handle pressure.

It certainly is a shock to read this kind of behaviour being executed by a senior member of the national team. Saying sorry to his victim is not enough. He had let his team, his international colleagues, his fans and the rest of the nation who respect him, down. I have no sympathy for him and I certainly don’t buy his crap about being tired and being under intense pressure. Too many people would like to be in his shoes, play football as a living, yet he thinks he’s too big for his boots. The authorities would be wise enough to mete out the proper punishment to him and I for one am hoping he’s banned for life!!!

My Princess Walks & About A Dumb Fiancee…

Visitors to my blog who hope to read of any new updates on my little princess, Syahindah Adawiyah, will be pleased with this entry cos I always hear people complaining that I don’t post enough photographs or videos of her. I see my fellow peers and bloggers uploading photos or videos of their little bundles of joy in their respective blogs and domains, but I’m not one to jump on to the bandwagon, knowing the non-conformist that I am. I prefer my readers to wait and anticipate and surprise them when they least expect it. Not that I’m not proud of my little one, but I just don’t want to over-expose her yet. It’s still Pujangga Malam‘s blog after all, not Syahindah Adawiyah‘s… LOL!!! But seriously I think it’s just a guy’s thing…

My little princess is nine days short of her 1st birthday as I type this entry. Her growing process and progress has been very good. I’m pleased to say that at 11 months and 13 days last week, she finally made her first little steps without the help of any support. Her steps are still shaky and resemble that of penguins, but as parents, we’re just happy that she’s finally learnt how to walk. And what’s more, she hates it when someone wants to help her, showing what a determined and independent person she is. Enjoy this video clip below…

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Overheard on Fiza O‘s “Girlfriends” segment on RIA 89.7FM on Tuesday, not the actual quotes but a summary of it…

Guy is in a quandary. Even though he is already engaged to be married, the fiancee insists on having a marriage proposal (like bending on the knees and proposing with the ring in hand at a restaurant or through adverts whilst watching a movie at the cinema)…

Is his fiancee dumb or what??? What is the point of the guy proposing to you when you are already engaged to be married??? It’s like you’re expecting to be asked a stupid question which you will most definitely say yes to. And these kind of proposals take up lots of time, effort and money spent just to get it right. Those time, effort and money spent can be put to other good use, like learning your roles and responsibility as a future husband or wife, or saving the money for a rainy day cos believe me, I’m sure any of you married couples out there would agree that money is never enough, what with our cost of living forever rising.

Somehow I feel this dumb fiancee of his is too Westernised with her way of thinking. Someone should knock some sense into her bimbotic head. Expecting to be proposed again only invite people to think you are an exhibitionist and want to show off to others, if your idea is to be proposed in public. Even if you are expecting it to be a private affair, it still doesn’t make sense. I’m just glad my darling wife is not as stupid as this person, whoever she is…

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On a happier note, I would like to congratulate Natasha Nabila Muhammad Nasir for being the top PSLE student this year, thus adding another feather to the cap of our community. Reading her secrets to success – reading from the age of 2 – it kinda inspires me to start inculcating this habit of reading to my kids at a young age. In fact, this habit was already taught to us in the very first Surah that was given to our beloved Prophet (peace be unto him), Surah Al-‘Alaq. Reading widens one’s knowledge and I can’t agree more. A truly inspiring story which I hope would also spread to other kids and their parents. Let’s hope Natasha now goes on to greater heights and carve a name for herself and bring more glory to the community. In times like these, it makes you proud to be a Malay, not that I’ve never been in the first place…

Tattoos – What Purpose Does It Do???

The past few days when I read the papers, especially the Forum pages, I see more and more people clamouring for some kind of rules to be imposed on tattoo parlours in preventing those below 18 to have their bodies inked. I personally think they should increase it to below 21 cos this has become quite an eyesore, especially when I do my Hari Raya shopping at the Bazaar or walk along Orchard Road and see a large number of our Muslim youths sporting tattoos and proud of showing them.

Youths nowadays are not like those in the pre-Millenium days, where we thought a lot about our future, our families’ reputations, our society’s dilemma, or our religion’s stance even if we are the rebellious sort. I just feel kids nowadays tend to act more on impulse than think of the consequences. While some rebel by inking themselves or doing it out of curiosity, others do that to make a statement that they belong to a certain group. No prizes for telling me what kind of groups they are.

In the long run and religion-aside, what purpose do tattoos do to an individual??? Does it give one a sense of pride??? A sense of belonging??? A sense of freedom??? A sense of style??? I read one of the letters in the Forum page and this lady was lamenting how difficult it is for her son to apply for a job with 5 tattoos on his body. We are not living in the West whereby having tattoos is cool. Our society still frowns upon those who sport them and people will be quick to label you a bad hat for having one, even if you are the most angellic person anyone has known. 

Depending on the work place and their respective stance, even if you are qualified to hold an executive position, your prospective or current employers would think twice about hiring or promoting you. Cos think about it, when you are hired / promoted, there would be possibilities of meeting clients and your outlook would more or less make or break the deal being brokered, even if it’s not the mitigating factor. Remember the old adage, “First impression counts???”

I hope no one thinks I’m going on a one-man outlaw against those with tattoos. Honestly speaking, I have quite a number of friends who sport them, only to regret when they get older. Prevention is still better than cure. If you can prevent the kids from having them as early as 13 or 15, you’ll prevent them from being looked down upon as “society thrash” or have that feeling of regret as they grow older. It pains every parent’s heart to see their kids having them. Why go through all these unnecessary hassle???

At the end of the day, we still go back to our roots, that is our race and our religion, which frown upon them. Removing tattoos from one’s body is not an easy affair, neither does it come cheap. For those who regret having them, I hope and pray that one day you’ll be able to remove them for good and may God smile upon you even if you can’t afford them cos the beauty about Islam is that when you repent sincerely, you start with a clean slate. For those who still think it’s cool, I hope you can give me a beautiful insight on how it serves a purpose to your life now and in the near future.

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Lately I noticed that I seemed to be having a lot of visitors to this blog interested in seeing Rey Mysterio unmasked, based on the search hits that lead to this blog. For those who dunno who is Rey Mysterio, he is a World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler who came down to Singapore in late July for a show. Yours truly of course went to that show and reported about it, complete with photographs of Mysterio in his unmasked glory just before he boarded the coach. I dunno what the fetish is all about looking at a masked man unmasked. I guess I just seemed to have a lot of curious visitors wanting to see how he looks like off the ring…

Hitam & Putih – A Malay Music Retrospective Review…

Actually the above title is much longer with the words “Pesta Raya Festival” omitted. This review is going to be shorter than most reviews I’ve done (maybe!!!), simply because I’m protesting against the anal rules being enforced by Esplanade i.e. no photographies / video recording allowed, on top of not allowing me to queue up to take photographs with the artistes after the show (sounds petty I know!!!), plus I did not jot down any notes on the songs being performed. I’m sure for regular visitors of this blog, you would know by now of my apparent “biasness” towards Imran Ajmain. For those who, like me attended this event, you would agree for sure, this “biasness” comes with a lot of credence and knowing for the fact that this young man is that DAMN GOOD!!! So I’m making no apologies if I were to wax lyrical with every review I make on him.

So where do we start??? It was not too long ago that Imran played second fiddle to Rahimah Rahim at the Esplanade on 19th November 2006, which was also another Pesta Raya Festival affair. This young man has definitely come a long way in such a short space of time (sounds contradicting huh???). If 2006 was a year of introduction to his massive talents, then 2007 has so far been a year of vindication to that. After doing well with his mini-showcase at The Playden on 25th April 2007, he followed it up by nailing two jury awards at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2007. Since then, he has been making waves across the Causeway with his haunting hit “Seribu Tahun” and his hard work has been rewarded with his very own maiden concert at the Esplanade last night. Those in the arts / entertainment scene would know, it takes great responsibility, trust and an honourable CV to be invited to grace the Esplanade and it could not come any better for Imran, knowing he would have good sound system and acoustics in his favour.

This wasn’t just any concert. It was a huge responsibility on Imran to deliver old Malay classics from the P.Ramlee era to the current time, in his own rendition. As someone who did not live through the Jalan Ampas era to appreciate songs in those days, I walked into the Recital Studio of the Esplanade waiting to be blown away and I was not disappointed one bit. Every dollar of the $27 I spent on each ticket was money well spent, and I wished I could pay and sit through it one more time. Backed by the renowned Sri Mahligai, Imran switched from bossanova, mambo, chacha, waltz, tango, zapin, keroncong, asli and even dangdut so seamlessly, you wonder if you had just been watching a multi-talented singer or someone who is on the verge of even more greatness. Pray tell me of any singers besides Siti Nurhaliza who can switch genres effortlessly, even if Imran himself admitted he still sings them with an R&B lingo and for the fact that he did his homework by watching a lot of YouTube clips.

Listening to him sing, I think if he were to make the call for prayer or recite the Holy Qur’an, he’ll still nail it like how easy it is to snap our fingers. Based on yesterday’s concert, I feel that we have just found ourselves the Malay version of Michael Buble, even though Sean Ghazi fans have something to say about that. The rapport with the audience is forever improving, the jokes telling us this gentle giant is a funnyman himself. The only thing he needs to work on, if ever, is his dance steps and that hairstyle which made him looked like Aznil Haji Nawawi. Whisper it softly but I don’t think the two Idols can hold a candle out to him when it comes to being multi-genre. Yeah yeah you guys might argue they had to go through singing different genres during the Idol rounds but back then they were not asked to sing the genres I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

The show was ably supported by Norfasarie and Hyrul Anwar. If there were any doubters before this on the credentials of these two generally known pop singers, last night’s concert was the perfect riposte. They might still lack the cutting edge that Elfee R. Ismail and Haryani Hassan Bakri have when delivering traditional songs but you cannot deny that the potential they showed was very much promising and I for one was very impressed by both their showings, especially with Norfa‘s delivery. She certainly has improved by leaps and bounds from the singer I remembered who was slightly overawed by the occasion at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2003 in Kuala Lumpur. I was thinking throughout the show, these singers should be ambassadors of some sort with regards to introducing old songs to the younger generation. The fact that this concert was a sold-out event speaks volumes of the credentials of these three young entertainers.

Last night’s concert was an excellent showcase of what our younger generation of singers could do to preserve old Malay classics and reintroducing them to those who did not live through that era. Even though they sang it in their own versions, Imran, Norfasarie and Hyrul Anwar delivered them with such panache, that you’ll fall for the songs even if that was the first time you heard them. If Liza Hanim is widely known as the best person to have made a tribute album to P. Ramlee and Saloma, I’m sure if Imran was given the opportunity to do so, he too will not disappoint and he might even win more fans across the Causeway. Hopefully this would be food for thought for him knowing he would be reading this review with much interest…

Thank you Imran, Norfa, Hyrul & Sri Mahligai!!! Thank you for making me fall in love with old songs and appreciating the different genres, especially the traditional ones. You guys rose to the challenge and you guys executed them beautifully. Sometimes I felt, too beautiful than even the original versions…

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O’Glamour Review…

O’Glamour

Last week from 31st October2 November 2007, saw the play “O’Glamour” by Teater Artistik, being staged at The Playden at The Arts House @ Old Parliament Building. The play was adapted from various stories found in Hafeez Glamour‘s book “Diari DJ“. In line with the contents found in the book, Teater Artistik brought to life and revealed what goes on behind the scenes of the entertainment world as well as personal accounts of different characters like a lesbian, an AIDS carrier, a maid impregnated and a con businessman amongst others.

To tell you the truth, I’m not much of a theatre person. The last play I watched was way back in 1998 whereby renowned theatre activist Sani Hussin and his sister Rosita captured my imagination with their sound acting through the highly acclaimed “Pentas Opera“. Back then, it opened my interest to the world of acting but somehow the flesh was too weak to follow it up, so it waned as time went by. I gotta admit, the reasons why I intended to catch the show was to support my favourite local DJ, to see how the characters in his book come to life and to see how they portrayed the “Sang Pendita” character found in the book. For those who dunno, this “Sang Pendita” character is actually based on yours truly and how I am as a fierce critic on national radio. Names have been changed to avoid direct references.

Both me and Aida were quite surprised to see the turnout on the opening night (Wednesday 31st October), which was a paltry 26 people. The Playden by the way, can seat 120 people at anytime. Why we decided to go then and not the final night, was to avoid unnecessary attention from other viewers and also because we felt that we wanted to do some last minute Hari Raya visiting on Friday night. I was quite pleased to see a few familiar faces at the entrance of the auditorium. At least I had company to while the time away before entering the auditorium.

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Warna 94.2 FM‘s Riz Sunawan and RIA 89.7FM‘s Nity Baizura lent a touch of glamour to the audience in attendance…

I’m not going to relate vis-a-vis on what happened during the show as I feel that it would be a huge discredit to the hard work done by all the actors. I must say, for someone who is not in tune with the theatre scene, I was very much impressed by the production, simple yet elegant in its own right. The scriptwriter, Hazriemanja, was able to tap into the characters found in the book and bring them to life through the eyes of Hafeez Glamour as well as the perceptions of the radio listeners.

I have to admit my character in the play was a bit exaggerated, as I’ve never felt I was way bigger than other listeners. Neither do I have a great voice or think I looked like Taufik Batisah as portrayed by Tengku Mustaqim, one of the actors in the production. But putting my shoes as a neutral listener, it is easy to hate my character if you do not know me in person and only rely on what you hear on air. Overall, I was fine with the portrayal though I wished I could have been portrayed on a more positive light as depicted in the book, whereby Hafeez said my approach is such that I want to see improvements in the way our society thinks. So as you can see, this portrayal was more of a listener’s perception than my actual character.

But I’ve got to hand it to Haryani Othman for being THE star of the show. Not only did she nailed the character of most listeners’ “hated” persona on air, she went on to up the ante by portraying Sharifah Anu, a parody of Sharifah Aini during the talkshow segment. Speaking of the talkshow, I believe those who watched the play would agree that that was the best segment throughout as it was filled with veiled digs, spontaneity and the actors’ excellent impersonation of Sharifah Aini, Siti Nurhaliza and Anita Sarawak right down to the way they talk, the way they pout and the little gestures that have become their trademarks in the industry. Though I felt Siti Nurhaliza was a bit subdued and too dainty than the real McCoy.

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As for segments that tugged the heartstrings, there were plenty. The ones that caught my attention include Jean the AIDS-carrying ex-stewardess, and Fahmi the vagrant who ran away from home. I was very impressed with Roselaily Ramli‘s portrayal of Jean, in which she laughed and cried effortlessly, thinking of her predicament. I was actually surprised the show was not rated M18, since there was a little part whereby Jean moaned in ecstacy to depict the history behind her ailment. But all in all I felt she was the second best actor of the night as she also portrayed an Indonesian maid named Risca and Siti Nurhaliza during the talkshow segment.

Speaking of Indonesian maid, one of the plays depicted the story of an Indonesian maid who befriended a Bangladesh worker and was impregnated and subsequently dumped. I was totally blown away by Roselaily‘s character “Risca” and Arbaayah Harif‘s character “Anggi“. The two actresses spoke in fluent Bahasa Indonesia, complete with facial expressions. If there was an award I could give for Most Animated Actor / Actress for the night, I would have handed it to Arbaayah. She’s simply out of this world when it comes to facial expressions. She repeated the feat later on in the night by portraying a diva who thought highly of herself.

Overall, I would give this show an 8-star rating. Not only was it easy to digest but the actors were also able to capture the mood and tug the audience’s heartstrings when it mattered. A pity a production of this calibre only received a paltry number of audience on the day I went to watch, even though it picked up in its following two shows. If there was a chance to re-stage it again, perhaps on a bigger scale, with better promotion and at a bigger venue like the Esplanade, I’m sure people would be interested to watch life stories from the eyes of a renowned writer and deejay like Hafeez Glamour. That would be the greatest justice to a well-produced production by Teater Artistik.

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Kudos to all the actors and the people working behind the scenes!!!