Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Still waiting...

I've seen a few of these posters hanging around; at the restaurant where I have breakfast, on the pedestrian overpass on the highway and at the entrance at my nephew's school. They're all different in design but they have the same basic message. Pray for MH370. And for the families of those on that flight there is little more that they can do.

Last week a friend suggested that I write a post about the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. I decided against it at first because Flight MH370 was still missing at the time. I didn't think that we would be where we are today. It was/still is a pretty depressing story. And almost two weeks later the news hasn't improved much.

After all the press conferences, we still haven't been left with much useful information. So far the only useful piece of advice has been “not to speculate”. And of course that's the first thing everyone does. The ever hungry 24 hours news media has managed to contribute even less and have only added to the speculation.

There have been numerous theories put forward as to where the plane crashed and to how it may have crashed. Various “experts” have come up with many opinions explaining the disappearance of Flight MH370. The first theory that I saw said that the plane might have crashed due to a explosive decompression. Later a different “expert” said that the plane may have experienced a slow decompression instead. And then someone said that the passengers with the stolen passports may have been involved and that was quickly ruled out.

The most elaborate theory I've come across so far was put forward by “a self-identified hobby pilot and aviation enthusiast” (that right there should have raised a few red flags.) Keith Ledgerwood claims that Flight MH370 could have hidden itself by flying really close to another Boeing 777, thereby masking its radar signature and was able to fly over India and Pakistan.

Sigh..seriously expected better from you. Even I'm embarrassed to have repeated this stor..“theory.” A spokesperson for the Taliban in Pakistan told Reuters that they weren't responsible for the missing flight and he also added “We wish we had an opportunity to hijack such a plane.” I'd never thought that I would trust the words of a member of the Taliban over anyone else's. Sorry Keith....

The Daily Mail published a story about a flight that took place several years ago when the co-pilot of Flight MH370 had invited her and her friend into to the cockpit and according to the story published in the Daily Mail they had “smoked, chatted, and took photos with the young women.” The woman also claimed that the pilots weren't even facing the front of the plane; I'm even less of an aviation enthusiast compared to Keith Ledgerwood but I'm pretty sure that's what autopilot is for. What does this story prove? That men tend to use poor judgement when dealing with women? Maybe..but it's not news. And neither is the Daily Mail as some might say..

You'd think CNN might have some better material. But you'd be wrong. On one particular news bulletin they spent a few minutes talking about Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah's Youtube page. He had uploaded a few videos explaining DIY projects. And that proves what exactly? Other than the fact that he seems to be a really nice person like his friends and family have said. What did it have to do with the missing flight? I can't answer that, you'd have to ask CNN. Seems like they're grasping at straws, in an attempt to stay ahead of the competition. And according to the New York Times it's working.

Besides, how much can you tell about a person just by looking at their social media? If you went through my Tumblr or blog all you'd see is that I am a fan of Luclyn, Animals wearing clothes and funny Gifs. Hard to even judge the cover of a book with just that..

Lately the news has been focused on the home “flight simulator” found in Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah's house. So he liked to play Microsoft Flight Simulator X? (Other flight simulators are avialable.) I hope the investigators realize that you can buy most of the parts to create home flight simulator on A pilot who likes to spend his time on a flight simulator doesn't seem so strange, at least to me. I happen to be spending most of my free time playing a “combat simulator” a.k.a “Planetside 2.” It doesn't mean I'll to be going to war any time soon. But we'll just have to wait to see where this investigation by the police leads.

I've seen a few comments on Facebook and news websites where people have said that “they're embarrassed to be Malaysian” which seems a bit over dramatic. They're entitled to their opinions of course. I'm by no means a patriot or a nationalist but there are numerous things that embarrass me; like the time I walked around a shopping mall not realizing my fly was open. But being a Malaysian hasn't been one of those things.

Plus it's not like you can really do much with your nationality, at least when you're born. I guess when you were in the womb they missed the memo about wanting to be born in a different country; to avoid future potential embarrassment. Your parents just happen to be where they are when they had you. Don't be too hard on yourselves guys..

It WAS slightly embarrassing/funny when that shaman turned up at KLIA to “help” find the missing plane. I'm no expert on such things so I'll just say that his methods were very..interesting. He did tell a local online newspaper that “he thought MH370 was either still in the air or had crashed into the ocean.” Well, that helps narrows it Earth.

The Malaysian government has come under heavy criticism from U.S. And Chinese officials for not being secretive and not transparent in communicating with both countries. Again they're entitled to their opinions and I happen to share a few of them myself. But isn't this the pot calling the kettle black?

Sure, we all remember that time when President Obama called Chancellor Merkel to tell her to watch what she said over her phone because it was being bugged. As for China? Well, it's so transparent it's like looking through a glass menagerie. Governments make mistakes, not everything is a slam dunk. Can't we all just get along? Seems the only person in government who's not good at keeping secrets is Mayor Rob Ford.

Sadly this blog and blogger is guilty of the same thing as the news organisations mentioned above. Apart from some sass and snarky opinions it doesn't add anything to the fact that the Flight MH370 is still missing.

I guess all we can really do is..

Here are some links to check out:

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Let them eat mamak....

I think it's safe to say that Malaysians are obsessed with food. And that may not be such a good thing, considering the expanding waistlines of many Malaysians (including myself.) But I'm not here to lecture you on healthy eating habits; at least not this post, this week. That can come later.

What I want to talk about is the one place that bring Malaysians together. The humble “mamak” restaurant. While there are many other food establishments to choose from I'd like to think that the mamak restaurant is unique to us. Kinda like fish and chips in England. Now you could probably open up a fish and chip shop in KL but it just wouldn't “feel” the same.

As someone who lives in KL whenever I'm in doubt as to where to have my next meal the mamak is where I turn to. Especially since I'm that type of guy who can't/won't cook. This is slightly off topic but while I do subsribe to a lot of cooking channels on Youtube I can never seem to bring myself to actually cook the meal. C'est la vie....

There are certain things that I find endearing about eating at a mamak be it a stall, van or proper restaurant. First of all the mamak is a place where all Malaysians converge; we may worship in different places but whether you are down-and-out or well-to-do, you will visit the mamak at least once during the week. Unless, of course you're a yuppie/hipster; in which case you'll never find yourself outside a Starbucks. Gawd those people annoy me...

Another thing that I quite like is that everyone is called "Boss", from the server to the customer. When you want to order you just raise your hand and call out “Boss” and when it's time to pay get called “Boss” as well; it's almost utopian. Why should we have to use names?

And the mamak is a cheaper alternative compared to some other food outlets, though that's not always the case. Once I got charged RM7 for a mee soup which is scandalous. These mamaks are what we call "cekik darah" and must be avoided at all costs so that they will die out.

The standard meal at any decent mamak is roti canai and teh tarik. Just to illustrate how important roti canai is a few years ago when the Government was planning too reduce the subsidy for flour the mamaks were threatening to stop making roti canai. And over the years the menu at a mamak has diversified, you can now find Thai and Western dishes on the menu. There is even a variation on the basic foodstuff like roti tisu, roti milo, naan cheese, naan keema and many more.

It's not all great. Service and cleanliness can be a factor. The standard excuse at a mamak is 'It's on the way'; once it took forty five minutes before our food arrived. A girl I knew in sixth form told me that once she saw the waiter at a local mamak drop a fried chicken drumstick onto the floor, he then picked it up, brushed it off and put it back on the plate. Another negative in my opinion is the yuppie culture creeping into the mamak (many now have wi-fi). Occasionally you can find people with laptops sitting there (it's amazing that they get upset when you look at their screen); personally I think they should just stay at Starbucks.

Sometimes you can find mamak culture abroad, a friend of mine living in Sydney (Rachel Kelapakepala; that's her actual name) went to a restaurant called "Mamak". She ordered a rojak and paid AU$12 (total rip btw) and she says that over there they eat roti canai with Vegemite; it's not the same. I'd just like to point out that Australian mamak culture doesn't even come close to MALAYSIAN mamak culture which is the best.

Above all else the mamaks serves an important social function as a place where people gather to meet with one another. One of the most frequent sights you see at the mamak are many "Shadow Governments"; these are small groups of mostly retired men (with nothing else to do) sitting at tables discussing how the country should be run. Now I'm not the one who is in a position to judge whether the various ideas on domestic and foreign policies are infeasible or otherwise.

But seriously, when you spend most of your time at a mamak you're probably not going to effect government decisions very much. The mamak also plays an important role during live sporting events; this is because they usually have satellite tv and there is the added convenience of having food and drinks just a few feet away. So during this years world cup you can expect many people to spend their nights there.

My favourite mamak is near Masjid India by the river, it's very small and basic compared to most mamaks but it does very good business. As far as I'm concerned it has the best teh tarik and I do enjoy having a "roti special"; what's so special about it? I guess you just have to go and find out yourself.