Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to Make 40 Billion Euros and Keep Your Day Job

There comes a time in your life, when you need to streamline your goals and really focus on what you ultimately want out of life. The time is usually around 3.30 am.
Once, at 3.30am, I decided that the only thing I want out of this wretched existence is 40 Billion Euros. And VENGEANCE! 
The next step is to say it out loud. Announce it to the universe.  For example, if like me, what you ultimately want out of life is 40 Billion Euros (and VENGEANCE), then you have to find a group of people who are not hard-of-hearing and say to them, “I WANT 40 BILLION EUROS. And when I get my 40 Billion Euros, I will [insert whatever little things you like here]” Now, the first time you say it, it might sound like a joke. That’s because you’re a joke. And it can’t be helped. But make no mistake, this is a very important step. If you don’t do this, everyone from your mother to your manager will tell you that your problem is that you don’t know what you want out of life. No, your problem is sweaty feet. An itchy, sensitive scalp. Side parking. angrybirds. Humanity.
Repeat the aforemetioned step, even as you move on to the next one:
Study your role model. Do some research and if possible, stalk the people who already have what you want. Unfortunately for me, Forbes Magazine says that there is no individual in the world who is worth 40 billion Euros (yet. Soon, I will be). Mexican telecom magnate, Carlos Slim Helu comes close at approx EUR 38 billion. So I started thinking about what I know of telecommunications. Well, recently, someone went through the contents of my bag and stole RM150  (approx EUR 35) from my wallet. The fucker didn’t take my phone. You know why? Because even desperate, lowly, petty thieves already have fancier phones than I do. So what do I know of telecommunications? I know that my phone is worth less than 35 euros. 
I then got to thinking that maybe, I wouldn’t actually have to run my own business to make 40 Billion Euros. There is another, more traditional, time-tested way of becoming rich and that is to marry someone who is. Alas, I don’t have serious daddy issues and Carlos Slim Helu, at 70, is too old for my liking. My dad is 62 this year, and I prefer someone younger - like, in their 50s. Which brings me to the 2nd richest guy in the world (again, according to Forbes), William Gates III. Everyone calls him ‘Bill’, probably because he has no problems paying his. He’s worth about 37 billion euros - not bad for some IT tech support guy. How many IT tech support guys do I know? Just the ones at work and they hate me. 
The girl who occupies the cubicle next to mine, all she has to do is accidentally press CAPS LOCK and three IT tech support guys instantly show up at her desk, ready to do her bidding. She’s Gen Y and has a background in software programming mind you, so I don’t really think she needs a trio of nerds to hold her hands as she navigates the big scary world of computers. And yet, her IT needs are supported, more than a bra made out of prison fencing wires support your boobs. My former line manager thinks it’s because she’s single, cute and gives away free cookies. Like, real chocolate chip cookies - not internet browsing history capturing-cookies. Me, I have to cry for three days for half an IT tech support guy to show up. I’m single, I’m somewhat cute but I already ate all the cookies. The half an IT tech support guy, he said to me once, “But I heard you were getting married.”
Reports of my desirability have been greatly exaggerated and “WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING?!!!!!!” I asked. Don’t let the Caps fool you. I asked very politely. 
Heh heh, was the Muttley-esque sound that Half-An-IT-Tech-Support-Guy made in response.
“JUST DO YOUR JOB AND FIX MY COMPUTER, NERD!” I said, in a polite tone, as always. “I’M GOING TO GO FOR A SMOKE ,AND IF MY COMPUTER ISN’T FIXED BY THE TIME I FINISH GIVING MYSELF MY MORNING DOSE OF CANCER--” I grabbed the cookie out of his hand and shoved it down my esophagus. “NO COOKIE FOR YOU!!!!” 
Come to think of it, I really shouldn’t compare the IT guys at work to Bill Gates. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nasihat bagi Mamat Sekerja

Setinggi-tinggi tupai melompat
Akhirnya jatuh ke tanah juga
Sebesar-besar motor kau dapat
Kalau hujan, tinggal di office juga

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Box of Boxes Career Guide: Episode 1 - Cubicle Makeover: From Grim to Dream

Considering that we devote a majority of our time to being physically present in our cubicles, my colleagues and I think that it is very important that this place is transformed into something that at least, vaguely resembles our natural habitat; much like the different cages and areas in a zoo. The Lion must have his savannah, just as the Penguin needs his ice. The new guy in my department went home early for lunch one Friday and came back late with a rug - so that his feet will feel the warm, itchiness of sisal instead of the cold concrete floors, while he works. He has already managed to install a kick-ass sound system in his cubicle in his first week at work. Last Friday, I saw another colleague try to pitch up a tent over his cubicle using a large piece of black, velvet cloth that he found in the store room. He figured it would be a good 20 years before he would actually get an office with real walls and a door (I think he’s kidding himself - try never, bro) - in the meantime, a tent is the only way he can give himself some kind of privacy as he watches Maria Ozawa porn films at work. By the way, this guy also  has an aquarium on his desk but all his fish died when he went on leave for a week. Additionally, the guy has an extensive collection of sand from various Malaysian beaches on display - kept in tiny jam jars with neat little labels. We don’t know why he would keep his sand collection at the office but a few of us suspect that great voodoo-hoodoo might be at work here. Apparently, when the boss isn’t looking, he scatters some magic sand in her office which compels her to not yell at him everytime he fucks-up (which just happens to be everyday). And she never does. She yells at the rest of us instead. So you see folks, decorating is not only about form, but function. Jars of sand is not only fabulously boring to look at, it also helps ensure job security!

As for myself and my own cubicle-decorating preferences, I will sometimes arrange the coloured thumb tacks on my cubicle wall to form motivational words and welcoming phrases. Like this:

Yeah, you’ve seen that pic before. Well, for a while, I also started a little mini cactus garden in a corner of my desk. One of the projects I’ve been working on at work is with a tree-hugging NGO and I got like, 5 of those spiky fellas from them. One Friday evening, I threw the contents of my mug over the cactus garden before leaving the office. Because that’s my idea of tending to plants. I thought I had water in my mug. I came back to work on Monday and found my cactus garden destroyed. Ants ate my cacti!!!!!!! It was then that I remembered; my mug was actually filled with sugar water because I had diarrhea that Friday and had been sipping sugar water to stay alive. As Homer Simpson would say, “D’Oh!” 

When it comes to decorating your cubicles, I don’t have any suggestions for good shops where you can source material from. Some folks will suggest IKEA, with its abundance of cute little boxes, folders and other artifacts of Swedish perfection. I say screw that. Corporate offices are filled with accidental thieves and kleptomaniacs-  that’s why you can never find your stapler when you need it. Trust me, you don’t want to be spending much of your own money on sprucing up your cubicle. The best places to source for material are:
i.                    your colleagues’ cubicles. Steal their stress balls. Watch them squeeze their own. 
ii.                   office store room (particularly if you work in the Corporate Comm/ Public Affairs line - your division’s store room will be filled with everything a business doesn’t need).
iii.                 Office stationery supply cabinet (for coloured thumb tacks especially - you need more than the regular amount if you’re going to be spelling all sorts of shit with it)
iv.                Your own home - particularly shit that your spouse doesn’t want around the house anymore. Or your mom. You're not the only shit that your mom doesn't want around the house anymore, you know. She hates that pink recliner your dad bought too. 
v.                  Gifts and bribes from colleagues, bosses, clients and suppliers - they’re usually too worthless to take home, anyway.

This way, you’re also doing your bit for the environment by not throwing out garbage for landfills to deal with and poison your own water supply. My cubicle is also known for housing a replica of the Petronas Twin Towers using empty cans of Coke. It doesn’t actually look like the real thing so let’s not call it a replica, eh? Think of it as an artistic abstract interpretation…..

From my casual observation, I realise that most people just resort to covering their cubicle with keychains from places they’ve never been to. And I say - boooooooooo. So your Boss bought you a keychain of the Eiffel Tower but tell me, why do you need to be constantly reminded that your Boss went on vacation to Paris while you can barely afford the bus fare home, again?

There are really, many other things that one can do to spruce up a space that is no bigger than a coffin. But dead people don’t decorate. You, on the other hand, my precious white collar slave, have the advantage of having a heartbeat by default. The possibilities are endless - but whatever you do, don’t try to start a cubicle-design competition called “The Extraordinaire”, and insist that everyone participate and contribute RM10 each for the prizes. And then send “friendly” e-mail reminders (CC-ed to the Boss) every fucking day about how the deadline is approaching soon and “those people with messy desks (you know who you are) better take note. Besides, messy desks give a bad impression to visitors. Also, don’t forget to all wear blue on prize-giving day.” One of my former colleagues did that. We hated him. By we, I mean myself and probably one other person. 6 other people loved him. But his boss wasn't one of them. Hence, former colleague.

With that, I wish you all the best with transforming your coffin from grim to dream! Stay tuned for the next episode of Box of Boxes Career Guide - maybe we’ll talk about things you can do to ensure that your Fridays in the office, isn’t wasted upon work.

Sehingga kita berjumpa lagi…………. semoga anda sukses selalu!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

When You've Spent the Day Writing 22,800 words of Corporate Bullshit, it's best to let other people do the talking at night

1: For When They Ask You Why. Again.

“I have always accrued status and validation through my indiscretions ……………………  We all need something to help us unwind at the end of the day. You might hav.e a glass of wine, or a joint, or a big, delicious blob of heroin to silence your silly brainbox of its witterings, but there has to be some form of punctuation, or life just seems utterly relentless.”
-         Russell Brand in My Booky Wook (dear god, why did he call it that?)

Well, at least Russell Brand gets it. Unfortunately, you are not the child of Russell Brand. And even if you were, there’s no guarantee that you would be any less disappointing.

But at least, Russell Brand gets it. You should be worried.

And by you, I mean me. Obviously.

2: For When You’re Sick and Tired of Every Living Soul

Allen Ginsberg shot his famous friends. With a camera, that is. Here’s one of Jack Kerouac, taken after his visit to Ginsberg & Burrough’s Lower East Side, Manhattan pad in the fall of 1953. Ginsberg refers to Kerouac’s expression here as “Dostoyevsky mad-face or Russian basso be-bop Om”.

3: For When Somebody Tells You that Women who wear make-up at work get promoted faster than their bare-faced peers.

And also, for when somebody asks you what the hell is that entitled little, fuckwad of a receptionist is thinking half the time.

Of course, in my case, it would just be “Give Us Money.” Uhm, yeah, that’s it. 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Add this to the list of shit that goes down in Shah Alam

Whatever criticism I level at Shah Alam, there will be those who are quick to come to its defence by saying that the town may not be as lively, entertaining or cosmopolitan as some of the other parts of the Klang Valley but “it’s safe and peaceful.” This statement is usually followed by some other rubbish implying that the rest of the Valley is only filled with hardened criminals, road-raging drivers in day-long traffic jams, and degenerate liberals.

I’m not going to deny that we have a ton of those outside of Shah Alam, but it’s not like Shah Alam is Seventh Heaven or anything where only the righteous and pure of heart and deed may enter. Methinks, that these folks are confusing Shah Alam’s dull facade with peace. Just look at the papers for the past year and you’ll find that all sorts of shit go down in Shah Alam, precisely because it’s so dull – even I’m considering resorting to some kind of crime, be it something as simple as possession of illegal substances or something more exotic - like sacrificing goats to the Death Metal Gods (like they did in Kedah all those years back) just to liven things up. A month or two ago, some guy lost his mind in the neighbouring state of Negeri Sembilan, chopped off his father’s head, placed it in a bag, took the train to Shah Alam and tried to bury it here. Why? I don’t know. Maybe he thought his father could rest in peace here. Geddit, geddit? Not funny? No?

The other day, the Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Musa Hassan was quoted in the papers saying that Section 11, Section 9 and surrounding areas in Shah Alam have had high occurrences of burglaries (some of them armed, one lady was even killed in her own home, in front of her daughters). Yes, this shit happens everywhere and that includes Shah Alam. Safe and peaceful? No more than the next bandaraya, my friend.

Anyway, some of you can probably guess by now why the IGP was going on about the crime rate in Shah Alam in the papers – it all has to do with the recent fatal police shooting of a 15 year old boy in town.

The boy was on a joyride at 2am when the police caught on to him at Section 11, Shah Alam. The police officer said that it was dark, that repeated orders to the driver to stop were ignored, and that he was driving in a reckless manner “typical of a hardcore criminal.”

He didn’t stop because he was driving without a license and had snuck out his older sister’s car. He was 15. He panicked. He thought if the police caught up to him, he was going to get into so much shit with his parents or something. Maybe get grounded for life. Maybe have them look at you with that unbearable look of disappointment. Maybe take away his PlayStation privileges. Well, I don’t know, but that’s probably what would be going through my head if I was 15 and in that situation. Well, even at almost 25. Okay, so he wasn’t acting with much reason. So as he was driving away, he might have endangered the lives of others with his reckless driving. But let me just say that this is Malaysia. Pretty much everyone in the fucking country drives recklessly – license or no license, criminal or non criminal. Also, 15 year old teenagers aren’t known for their fantastic sense of logic or reasoning; I think even scientist have discovered that that particular part of the brain doesn’t develop until you’re well in your 20s (and even that doesn’t happen for some. Like me.) But I don’t think for one second he thought that it would lead to him being shot by the cops. In the back of the head.

My colleague knows the boy’s teachers, having worked closely with them on one of our community programmes. The teachers said the boy had no record of disciplinary problems in school. He was a fairly good student, and never gave any sort of trouble.

The IGP goes on to say, “The death of this teenager is unfortunate and sad. But how could the policemen have known that he was just a 15 year old on a joyride at 2am?” And he goes on to add, “In self-defense….the rules of engagement. It is not only a  parang or a gun that can be used as a weapon. Even a vehicle can.”

Correct us if we’re wrong but in self defense, the rules of engagement mean that you don’t shoot someone in the back of the head and call it self defence. It means that the person, whether wielding a parang, or a gun or driving a car was aiming and heading away from you. According to reports, the police officer said that the boy had tried to reverse the car into him. Hence a shot to the back of the head. Whether this is true or a concocted cover-up, is not for me to say.

Another colleague of mine, one of those obnoxious law-background blokes, started talking about another accidental police shooting case that happened a while back - an entire family travelling in a van was mistakenly, and fatally shot by the po-po. Extended family members sued the government. They lost.

My manager, who I tend to talk to everything about BUT work, started going off on a rant about “How come everyone’s just looking at what the police officer did wrong and not what the boy did wrong?” Well, mostly, boss, because the boy is dead. And the police officer is alive. What’s the point of harping on what the boy did wrong when he’s already had a bullet in his head? It seems to me, like punishment enough for the most heinous of crimes, let alone, for what began as a misdemeanor; a moment of teenage transgression.  

The Sun yesterday captured the IGP responding to the public outcry regarding the shooting, by saying, “So do they want us to enforce the law? If they don’t, just say so and I will tell my men. So no need to check suspicious looking cars, no need to stop the Mat Rempit.”

Wow, you sound just like my mother when I tell her that I'm almost 25 years old for god's sake, so stop calling me every 5 seconds when I’m out for dinner with my friends. Except this isn’t dinner, is it?

No, Musa, Mr. IGP-man, it means that we just don’t want your men to mistakenly shoot another teenager in the back of the head, for the “crime” of panicking and an inability to properly think things through.  It means that if we the civillian public, must answer to the Law, then your men should too. And the Law requires questioning. Being the IGP, you should very well be aware of it. It’s not wrong for the public to question, so stop saying shit like, “The question of police discharging firearms shouldn’t arise…..”

The Law sometimes requires more questions than we have answers to.

The public is angry not because we knew the boy. But because any one of us, could’ve been the boy.

Nobody said being a teenager was easy. No one ever said it was going to come down on you this hard.

I never knew you. But we all could’ve been you.

Rest in peace, Aminul. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Box of Boxes Guide to the Klang Valley: Chapter One - Shah Alam

Chapter One: Shah Alam

Shah Alam is one of many little-townships in the somewhat sprawling area known as the Klang Valley. Most Klang Valley dwellers, particularly those born and raised in old Petaling Jaya, the tripartite of Bangsar/Damansara/Hartamas and the inner suburbs of Kuala Lumpur, are as familiar with Shah Alam as they are with Atlantis and other such mythical places. Yes, you’ve heard several hypotheses on where these places are supposed to be located. In the case of Atlantis, scientists have placed it all over the globe – from northern Europe to the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean – either way; you get an idea that it’s likely somewhere very watery. In the case of Shah Alam, some may place it somewhere beyond the toll plaza on the Federal Highway; the one that marks the end of Subang Jaya, and the beginning of a black hole that leads to an even bigger black hole known as Klang.  Other guide books will tell you that Shah Alam is only about 20 - 30 kilometres away from the heart of Kuala Lumpur. That puts Shah Alam somewhere near the asshole region, or about 30 minutes drive from KL – traffic jam caused by USJ fuckers notwithstanding. Spiritually however, scientists will tell you that Shah Alam seems to not only operate in a different time zone; it might as well be on a separate planet, where the lack of gravity slows everyone’s movement down to a spacey Buzz Aldrin moonwalk. Either way, you get the idea that it’s probably not worth visiting.

And you would be right, under most circumstances. But many long-time Shah Alam residents will insist that Shah Alam actually has many things to offer, especially if you want to get the hell out of Pangkal “Pelle”, Kelantan to a place that sort of reminds you of Kelantan, if Kelantan didn’t insist on keeping PAS in power for the last 20 years. Sure, in the recent elections, Shah Alam, with its abundance of cow-head waving, beer-sale protesting residents, had inevitably fallen under the hold of “Islamic” party PAS but at least they were smart enough to wait until they had good roads in place before voting for the opposition. Shah Alam seems to be one of the last Klang Valley bastions of the conservative right, where Perodua Kelisa cars and Toyota Avanza minivans drive round-and-round the city’s many round-a-bouts with bumper stickers proclaiming “UiTM Hak Melayu”, (err...if you’re going to take that line of thought, what about other Bumiputeras?). Funny, I thought that the whole point of a university education is to “broaden your horizons” and open your mind up to new and different perspectives – but when everyone around you is from more or less the same ethnic background, I would imagine that this would limit things, just that little bit more. You know, I almost ended up at UiTM Shah Alam after my SPM but I suppose Fate was gracious enough to delay my suffering for just that little bit longer. As a Melayu person, I actually did, a long time ago, receive an offer to study Seni Persembahan at the UiTM Shah Alam campus but then, it occurred to me what the fuck would I do with a Performing Arts diploma in Malaysia? God knows I already have a hard time doing anything with a Media and Communications degree (should’ve been a lawyer, they told me. Fuck that, I told myself). Anyway, if I was going to study the Arts, it sure as hell wouldn’t be in Shah Alam. That would be like studying Marine Biology in Bhutan. Good luck finding an ocean! (at this point, I would like to apologise to all UiTM Shah Alam Seni Persembahan graduates. I’m sure many of you are fabulous nonetheless, unless your name is Farid Kamil)

Did you know that there are no cinemas in Shah Alam? Not that one can learn much in terms of arts education through Hollywood blockbuster movies like Transformers 2 (Megan Fox’s cup size, perhaps?). But I’m just saying, THERE ARE NO CINEMAS in Shah Alam, or any other type of “entertainment” outlets (you can forget about bars and clubs). It was decreed by the old Sultan of Selangor that Shah Alam, as the site of many universities and colleges and therefore, many impressionable youths, shall be a city free of morally corruptive influences. The current Sultan of Selangor has decided to go on with this, because he’s never in Shah Alam anyway and is free and rich enough to get his jollies anywhere around the world. Yeah, thanks a lot, man, thanks a lot. So you will find that the youths here have turned to other “healthier” forms of entertainment; the most popular one being “staring at people for no good reason.” If Staring was an Olympic sport, Malaysia can count on Shah Alamites to sweep the gold, silver and bronze medals. If you feel like no one ever pays you any attention, I suggest you take a stroll around Dataran Shah Alam on a Friday night – you’ll have many eyes on you, even if you’re usually, not worth looking at. You will find many boys and girls gathered there to watch each other, watch each other, eyes boring deep into each other’s souls and coming up with a handful of sand.  And this is why a large number of Shah Alam youths are very fond of smoking weed; this way, a whole lot of Nothing suddenly becomes Something very interesting. Healthy.

Other folks in Shah Alam might choose to enjoy Shah Alam’s many little parks in their spare time. And for this, I must give kudos to the Shah Alam Municipal Council’s (MBSA) parks & recreation department, whom I’ve had the opportunity to work with through one of my company’s CSR programmes, and who does a significantly better job than their whackjob peers at MBPJ. You would think though, that a city with so many parks and jogging tracks would at least, boast plenty of scenery-enhancing fit bodies. Au contraire, my friend. From my general observation, the Shah Alam population are generally fatter, or more accepting of fatness than the rest of the Klang Valley, and is therefore a good place to heal if you’ve had your self-esteem damaged by not being able to fit into a size 2 at Topshop. Half of Shah Alam’s park visitors forego physical activity in favour of sitting and wolfing down an entire picnic basket, while staring at the still waters of Tasik Shah Alam. 

Since we’re on the topic of food, I should probably take this opportunity to talk about the dining-out options in Shah Alam and they are: Kelantanese food, Kelantanese food and other food cooked by Kelantanese people that end up tasting like Kelantanese food. Think that radioactive blue rice dish known as Nasi Kerabu. While I do enjoy stuffing my face with Solok Lada and lacing my rice with a generous helping of Budu, I don’t enjoy diabetes. You see, Kelantanese people are awfully fond of sugar. They love their sugar so much; they put sugar in their milk, sugar in their curry, heck, they put sugar in their sugar. Have you ever tried Spaghetti Bolognaise prepared by a Kelantanese chef? Don’t worry – just drown your spaghetti in maple syrup with royal icing on top and the effect should be more or less the same. Just another thing to note: it is impossible to find well prepared pasta in Shah Alam. And fast food doesn’t exist either. Don’t get me wrong – we do have KFC, McDonalds, Burger King and the likes over here but there is nothing fast about the food service.  (Also, Shah Alam boasts the SLOWEST Starbucks in the word. I kid you not.) If you’re starving and looking for a quick meal, you would be better off waiting for the eggs in your fridge to hatch into a fully grown chicken. It ain’t going to happen just like that Happy Meal isn’t, my friend. If it’s Sunday morning however, you can pay a visit to the Pasar Tani (Farmer’s Market?) at Shah Alam Stadium where you can feast on something called Gearbox Soup (pronounced Kelantan-style as Sop Gear-bok) with the snap of your fingers. It might sound like boiled motor oil with old car engine parts but really, it’s tasty animal fat floating in water with 11 herbs and spices. You can add some flat rice noodles for an extra carbohydrate boost if you like.

Now, back to the topic of exercise and recreation in Shah Alam - there are no decently over-priced gyms in Shah Alam, blasting shitty dance music. Those who do exercise can take it outside for free, around the many parks, and they usually do so in a sartorially spectacular manner - in puffy, nylon-polyester track pants that makes your butt look inflatable and render you very flammable. Perhaps, if you were pushed or end up “accidentally” falling off the top of a tall building, say, Plaza Masalam in Section 9 Shah Alam, where the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission is located, these pants may act as a parachute and save your life. Well, it has been known to happen. Anyway, back to our Shah Alam Jogger - these track pants are often tucked into white sports socks for reasons that I haven’t been able to ascertain, but my, don’t you look zexxy....... Oh, how can anyone resist you now? On the topic of style, remember that when it comes to dressing up in Shah Alam; you don’t. Just forget about it. Call it a day. Use those pages from Vogue to wrap your Nasi Lemak. Unless it’s Hari Raya. Then Shah Alam offers a great and wide selection of beautiful traditional festive attire, sure to make even the most non-ayu, Grinch-iest among us glitter and sparkle like Siti Nurhaliza on the cover of Nona.

Since my love for Shah Alam is as evident as white mice in a field of snow, you may wonder, why I haven’t made a real effort to get the hell out of the place and return to the dimension from which I came? There are many answers to this question; the simplest one being free and abundant parking space. Seriously, do not underestimate the power of parking space in the Klang Valley. Have you ever tried looking for a parking spot in One Utama on a Saturday? Have you found one yet? How long has it been? 3 years? You’re better off parking your car in Shah Alam and walking the whole 30km to Bandar Utama – you’ll save time that way. My friends who work in KL – either in the Petronas Twin Towers or anywhere around Bukit Bintang spend RM 250 a month on parking alone (and that doesn’t include the toll charges for using the Smart Tunnel and whatnots so they’ll actually get to work in less than 7 hours). I spend about RM50 a year, and that’s only for the occasional parking fines I get for leaving my car in the middle of the bloody road because I suddenly got tired of living my life in an orderly fashion. Not for any lack of parking spots. Of course, the abundance of parking in Shah Alam is probably a sound acknowledgment of the fact that public transport to and around the area is shit, with everything but the armpit-scented KTM Komuter train stopping short at Subang. Even then, the KTM Komuter only passes through the industrial areas of Shah Alam – so unless you live in a tractor graveyard, good luck trying to get home. And you should know that the taxis here refuse to use their meter, charging you an arbitrarily and extravagantly chosen fee of RM20 just to drive a little further away than where you can spit. You end up asking the Taxi driver if he is employed by Satan and he ends up going all Pacino on your ass.

I’m pretty convinced now that the lack of public transport in and out of the area is not due to bad town planning but a devious and diabolical conspiracy, between the Powers That Be to keep Shah Alam people in Shah Alam and the rest of Klang Valley out. They’re trying to isolate us. Maybe Shah Alam was established for the purpose of a wacky, secret social experiment – like the island on Lost. Or maybe they’ve decided to put us under quarantine for general public health and safety – like lepers and tuberculosis patients in the old days, H1N1 sufferers, Zombies!!!!!! You see folks, at the end of the day, Shah Alam is not just a physical and geographical location; like New York, it’s also a state of mind. Well, it’s a state of mind that is a symptom of some kind of infectious disease. Just like people infected by the Zombie virus can’t help but think that they would like to eat your intestines. I’ve been in Shah Alam for 2 years now. It’s too late for me. I feel it, I feel the Shah Alam taking over. I’m staring at you, aren’t I? Save yourself! I don’t want you to see me like this. Leave me to my puffy polyester track pants, my blue rice, my parking spots, my slow-ass movements. Leave and don’t look back. The only thing I ask of you is that you remember me as I was, remember me before this dastardly disease took hold! Remember me as I was, and remember me fondly.

This is not a guide.

This is goodbye.