Saturday, May 14, 2005

Room Service Deliveries

For the past week or so there’s a group of people dressed in red T-shirts and black trousers pestering people about at the Putra LRT KLCC station. I usually ignore these types of people because this kind of behavior could only come from people looking for donations for the poor and disabled or trying to sell you something which you never heard of before but somehow “essential” to your needs. But there’s something different about this group of people. They appear somewhat more professional and organized. Plus there seems to be a Caucasian being the head of things. That is always a good indication. However, they only appear during the evening rush hour which by then, I am in a naturally exhausted state and just want to get home before being further sandwiched in the passenger car of the train. But I managed to get a peek at one of the brochures they were handing out and they read ‘Room Service Deliveries’. That got me thinking. If it is what the name suggests, then I am really impressed because the idea behind it is just absolutely brilliant. Room service for the masses.

Profoundly curious, I intentionally allowed myself to be held up by one of these people in red last Thursday just to find out exactly what they are offering. And my suspicion were proven. Basically they have come to an agreement with a few restaurants around Kuala Lumpur to be the delivery folks for whichever customers, who are just painstakingly lazy to move their ass around to get a decent meal, have them delivered right onto their doorstep. But the best part is, those restaurants I mentioned earlier, are not your regular mamak establishments or Kg. Baru’s Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa cliques. Oh no no, to illustrate, let me entertain you with a list of their known current associates:

  • Alexis
  • Bangles
  • Chili's
  • Chinoz
  • Dome
  • La Bodega
  • Modesto's
  • Planet Hollywood

You catch my drift? As you may realize, these are not calang-calang restaurants you know. These are fine restaurants offering fine food. And to have them delivered right to your front door? Call me painstakingly lazy too but to ditch KL traffic and parking fees out of the equation and treat myself to some Chili’s Cheesesteak Sandwich and Molten Chocolate Cake in the comfort of my living room? Hey, I’d give my vote anytime. But one of the few catches is you have to place an order amounting more than RM50 to be qualified. But as they their target market are “medium and high income earners”, who’s trippin’?

But one monumental sad fact is, for me at least, they don’t deliver all the way to Gombak. Sad but true. They deliver to Wangsa Maju though but Batu 6 is tad bit out of reach. It is one of the few instances where living in Gombak disappoints me. I love the quiet environment when it’s nighttime and traveling to Genting Highlands is almost no hassle at all but I just can’t order Dome from my own bed.

But seriously, even though I am geographically incapable of enjoying their services I still think this thing has a tremendous potential. It’s one of those ideas when, upon hearing it, you go, “Now why didn’t I thought of that?”. The same case when RotiBoy exploded into the scene. The secret behind their success is so simple it’s ridiculous. They just make buns for crying out loud! But one thing they got right is the aroma. After a tiring evening shift and 6 hours after you had your lunch, the heavenly fragrance of a freshly baked Mexican bun from RotiBoy is much too tempting. You only remember your diet regime after you finish licking bread crumbs from your hands and mouth.

Final word: for those of you living in the center of the metropolis which is Kuala Lumpur or its immediate vicinity, be it known that I envy you beyond words. So if one day, I somehow stumbled upon your lovely home and ask the question, “Can we order in?”, don’t be surprised if I don’t dial for Pizza Hut or McDonald’s.

Chelsea: El Champione

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This is a piece that I should’ve done weeks ago but here it is, finally, the tribute to the new champions of England, Chelsea Football Club.

It is a very satisfying feeling indeed to be finally crowned Premiership champions. It’s been a long time coming, oh believe me, a long time coming. I’ve waited 9 years (a joke compared to those original supporters who waited 50) for this to happen. I knew it would come one day since I said to myself, “Hmm, I think my uncle mentioned something about this Ruud Gullit being a great player or something. I guess I’ll take this club as the English club I’ll support. What’s the name again? Chelsea?”

From that moment on, I never looked back. Along the years I was at the receiving end of friendly insults even when amazing players like Gianfranco Zola, Gianluca Vialli and Marcel Desailly donned the blue colors of London and graced the field majestically because unless Chelsea win something significant, they always be associated with the words, ‘so close yet so far’. And as far as Manchester United, Arsenal and co-evidently Liverpool are concerned, the Premiership and the Champions League are the only two to be qualified as significant. Well, now we have one in the bag. And the duel at Old Trafford recently was truly an icing on the cake. Not only did we comprehensively beat them 3-1 and dominated the game, we also broke their previous record of most points and clean sheets gained in a single Premiership season. To add insult to injury, there was no Terry, no Duff, no Robben, no Drogba, no Bridge and no Ferreira while theirs’ was at full strength. They can argue that the 5-3 drubbing at Stamford Bridge a few years back was purely bad luck and a certain Massimo Taibi was the epitome of all faults on that fateful evening but last Wednesday, the sky was truly grey at Manchester. And glorious Chelsea stood out like sunshine.

It’s a shame the same cannot be said for the Champions League. Last season’s achievement was not bettered. It was disappointing but not really hurtful once you take everything into context. As a matter of fact, it does serve as a kind of a motivation come August. A target yet to be achieved. Should’ve we won the quadruple, it could have been less interesting next season. Certainly winning things for the first time is really exciting rather than defending them. There’s the revenge at Newcastle in the FA Cup to look forward to and Liverpool is just a plain nuisance. I used to like Liverpool because my brother and uncle support them. Well, you count those days long gone.

But, truly, the person I’d like to credit most is the current manager, a Portuguese that goes by the name of Jose Mourinho. Gullit, Vialli, Ranieri were certainly exciting times but it is the Mourinho era that things have become meaningful.

As a final word, I would once again toast a tribute and salute to Chelsea FC, its staff and players for a wonderful 2004/2005 season. May the glory continue into 2006 and beyond. And with Mr. Abramovich’s millions, I wish the excitement will start in summer. Adriano, anyone?

What's In A Name?

Now, I have an interesting story to tell you. This happened last week. You see, it was my sister’s 21st birthday and the whole family decided to go out and celebrate. We went to Maju Palace, a quaint Chinese restaurant at Maju Junction and the meal was surprisingly pleasant. The occasion was, as expected, fun and enjoyable but what really made it an unforgettable event to me that night was the conversation at the table.

I don’t know why but only after more than 20 years did this thing came up. It was the about the siblings’ names i.e. us. The whole quadruple. 3 boys and 1 girl. Our mother finally laid the story before us, revealing behind-the-scenes facts which neither any of us had ever thought of asking about for the past 2 decades.

Fadhlan, the eldest, had his inspired from a legendary Islamic figure. Our father came up with this and it was naturally appropriate that the patriarch decides the name for the first-born. As the name originated from the Arabs thus it too was spelled in their alphabet. There was a indecisive moment initially whether to put faz-lan or fadh-lan on the birth certificate. The latter was chosen because it gave a more sense of power and authority. 26 years later on, we all agreed it is still the right choice.

My sister’s name has a much more colourful background. Her name was inspired from a 70’s Malaysian movie entitled ‘Abang’ and Her Majesty The Queen of Jordan at that time. Our mother played around with those two names and came up with Faradila. Not bad, eh?

The youngest one, Fawwaz, was the easiest. His name came from a book listing Muslim baby names which includes all their wonderful meanings. Fawwaz translates to ‘The Successful One’. Lot less dramatic but admirable enough.

Of course my name is which I am most interested in. For all these years, I have always thought my name originated from the word ‘faiz’ which also translates from Arabic as ‘The Successful One’. Literally this is correct, but it was never the intention when my mother picked the name 'Faizad' for me. I never saw this one coming but my name is actually inspired from, get this, Dato’ Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, current Minister of Women, Family and Community Development.

When I first heard this I couldn’t believe it myself. The story? Well, apparently during her high school years, the then young Sharizat was already a leading character at Tunku Kurshiah College. Being a junior at the time, my mother couldn’t help but look up and admire her. “We used to call her Kak Ijat,” my mother told me. It wasn’t long before she decided to name one of her children ‘Ijat’ one day. Well, guess which bundle of joy that received that privilege? It was due to the fact that our father wanted to maintain all his children to have names beginning with the letter ‘F’ and the name ‘Faizat’ just sounds wrong that I ended up with Faizad. Don’t get me wrong I have no complaints against my name, I practically love it but should I’ve been born a girl, I can almost assure you that I would be named Shahrizat.

As of now, I have to view Dato’ Seri Shahrizat in a different light. Along the years I couldn’t say I’ve always agreed with her on things, with regards to her opinions and principles. She’s currently one of the iconic figures of women in Malaysia and she achieved this by always be the first to fight for women’s right and freedom. Being a man I couldn’t help but come up with a cynical “What now?” response every time she launches a new campaign or seminar on women. Well, I couldn’t now. Now I have to acknowledge and support all of her efforts because, uite frankly, downgrading her would mean downgrading myself. It's just how I see it. I mean, in a way, I am a part of her, albeit only her name. It’s more like an ethical issue for me. My mother respects her enough to name me after her. It would only seem rational that I follow suit. Respect thee. I don't usually grant my respect out whimsically but I couldn't put an argument here. But please, inspired from a woman, my name is, but wear pink and watch Oprah, I still would not.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Hope Springs

When I arrived at class, 25 minutes early, yesterday morning I felt rather ironic because was not supposed to start until 10 am and there I was, unintentionally became the first student to be present at 9.35am. Then I realized I brought the wrong set of lecture materials. The one specifically prepared for that day’s lesson was sitting nicely in my room. I couldn’t help but feel rather stupid while I was banging my head repeatedly onto the table. This is going to be one long week.

Earlier that day Chelsea had already lost to Liverpool and being somber is the least of my worries. My favorite team lost, I didn’t have enough sleep and I brought along 2-inch thick paper which is going to be useless for the whole day. Fearing the worst, I was expecting something bad to happen at every turn of events. Fortunately however, things turned out better soon after wards.

I managed to get through the day’s lessons without much of a hassle, I reminded myself that Chelsea ARE the Premiership champions and the best news of all, the package is finally delivered. It was obvious on everyone’s gleaming faces this morning.

I still have lot of revision to do but hey, it’s all in day’s work.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


An accounting quiz was to be held last week during class. It was delayed ever since. Today it finally came and after a few quick revisions I was brimming with confidence on doing well. When the marks were tallied in the end, I had the lowest score among the 7 students. It felt horrible. It was like being hit in the gut. Just like when Chelsea lost to then newly-promoted Charlton Athletic couple of seasons back during Vialli’s reign. To top this disappointment off, I have to belanja the lecturer lunch as part of an earlier deal for the lowest scoring student. And guess what he wants for lunch? Chili’s. Chili’s I tell you! Bloody fuckin’ Chili’s! Even I hadn’t had Chili’s for 3 months. Now I have to belanja someone something which I myself crave? Oh ain’t that just peachy.
The only compensation I have is that I like the guy. He’s very laid back and quite a joker. So I really hope that all this is just one mean joke. Nevertheless, I still feel I owe him something for not performing, even above my own standards. Fortunately enough Chelsea will travel to Anfield later tonight for the Champions League Semi-final 2nd leg. Nothing better to cheer up oneself than an enticing football match. I just hope Chelsea wins tonight. If not, then I will be one upset man come tomorrow morning with a bad case of crankiness from a lack of sleep.

Stealing Beauty

I consider myself a man who appreciates beauty. That is why I have a picture of Yasmin Hani coyly perched on a white sofa on the back of my bedroom door. Well, that was last week. Nowadays I have the May and Choy twins locked in each other’s arms in erotic embrace. That is also why when I had the chance to test drive the new BMW 3 series a.k.a. the E90 at Bukit Kiara Equestrian I gave no second thoughts.

Arguably the most anticipated car in the first quarter of 2005 in Malaysia, the E90 is truly a remarkable piece of automotive brilliance. Not only did it have the looks but also the handling and power to match it.

So when I was on my way to a Putra LRT station, my eye caught a 2005 Honda CR-V parked beside the road. As usual I couldn’t help but wonder what could have possibly prompted the owner to purchase such a bland looking vehicle? I admit the previous model was quite a catch and looked very appealing but in all logical sense, the newer model should, must be presented in a more enticing package. Sadly, it isn’t so in this CR-V case. The 2005 version looks boring and the least bit of exciting. You actually have to tell people that it is brand new or otherwise they wouldn’t know. Then I realized something else.

The CR-V is not the lone case in this country. There are many instances where the first time you lay your eyes on them you know it is a horrifying looking car and yet sales continue to venture into the thousands every three months. The best example would be the Hyundai Accent. It is so hideous I would get no nearer than 30 feet of it. How about the Hyundai Sonata? Many people say that it looks like the Jaguar XJ or X-Type. Well, those people are wrong. It TRIED to look like an XJ or an X-Type but failed miserably. It is fair to say the Sonata is for the people who couldn’t afford a brand new Jag but could settle for a poor imitation of it. Although the upcoming model does looks better but one couldn't help noticing too much resemblance to the Mazda 6. Setting Korean cars aside, let’s move to a premium car which in this case I would like to point out the new BMW 5 series. Again, the handling and luxurious features are truly in a class of its own but I must say the styling just couldn’t be more off. It looks so bulky. While the previous models emphasized on sleekness, this one just looks like a Sega Saturn rather than a Sony Playstation. While video gamers have a better sense in preferring the Playstation compared to the Saturn, the same couldn’t be said about BMW enthusiasts. They would buy anything with the BMW logo on it. Regardless of beauty or logical sense. And don't get me started on the 1 Series.

Moving back to our local market I would like to point out the Toyota Avanza. For the first quarter of 2005 this is the second highest selling vehicle in Malaysia, inclusive of imported and locally produced cars. The top rank belongs to the Proton Wira Aeroback 1.3 (A). The Avanza effectively beat, never mind the imported brands, but also the Waja, the Gen.2, the Kancil and the Kelisa. You should notice that in the road nowadays they are practically everywhere. And yet, when you look at them, I don’t think that the first thing that crosses your mind is, “Oh look at that! It’s so beautiful! I have to get one of those!”. The wheels are too small, the stumped rear is an eyesore, the bodywork looks more fragile than a Coca-Cola can and the worst part is Malaysians still buy them in the bucket loads because “they’re new”. Well, I’m pretty sure that tagline would only work in the first 6 weeks and then it just becomes another unattractive and uninspiring vehicle count. And when something ridiculous happens at large it is almost certain Americans are no so far off the picture. Chevrolet is launching a direct rival to the Avanza. It’s called the Spark. It’s going to be cheap, practical and hugely successful despite the fact that it looks like a high-strung bug.

After considering all this, I came to the obvious conclusion that Malaysians generally have a poor sense of taste when it comes to buying cars. Rather than accepting this fact throughout, I did a little survey of my own, just to prove my instincts that there are some of us who really know what makes a beautiful and worthy car.

So I began asking around some of my closest friends. The results were more than comforting. Of course, my male counterparts have no problems at all when it comes to automotive pristine. My schoolmate Gambit prefers the Aston Martin Vanquish. Jedeh thinks the Mazda RX-8 and Mazda 6 are a catch. Big Show likes the X5. Tomok fancies the Altezza. So with that settled, I moved to more daring grounds and asked the women. Since I suspect women don’t consider the styling of their vehicle among the top priorities in their lives compared to Dior's new line of make up or Chanel's Spring/Summer handbag collection. Should I come across a dodgy response, it would surely come from this group of people undoubtedly. Turns out I was wrong. Zalina thinks the new Porches were gorgeous. Jes wouldn’t mind driving around in a BMW or Merc Cabrio. Way back I remembered Sasa just fell in love the Porsche Cayenne, Aritha thinks the new VW Beetle cute and Regina practically drooled when the word R34 Skyline is mentioned.

All in all I think I am fortunate to have associates who know and appreciate beautiful cars. But what is the explanation behind all those 4-whell craps scattered everywhere on Malaysian roads? Well, one good reason I can think of is money. Malaysians, in general, prefer to shop, particularly with cars, with monetary factors in their minds. Hence, the Avanzas and purple colored Gen.2s. Also practicality, which explains the cargo-like Unsers. One couldn't really blame them but despite all this I still think Malaysians should improve on their sense of vehicle appreciation because just like any other investments, a good car is worth the money even though you have to spend a little extra for it. I am a firm believer of that. Fortunately, so does my father.

Malaysians still lack the knowledge of reliability, build quality and depreciation value when it comes to purchasing cars. Space and affordability are the ONLY points of concern. Sure, they will argue that all they want is something to get them from point A to point B. But what if after 6 months, that ‘something’ could only get you halfway through to point B because it broke down while on its way? What is by the time you return to point A, you found out the headlights suddenly went dead and you can’t travel around at night during the weekend because the spare parts shop will open only the coming Monday? Then comes the electric windows that wouldn't wind down, the hollow dashboard and the vibrating steering wheel everytime the speedometer reaches 80 km/h.

As a final word, I would like to hand out certain advices for those who are contemplating on acquiring a new car. Avoid the Skodas because they define ugly, avoid French cars because they’ll broke down even before you turn on the ignition, avoid the Hyundai unless it’s the Getz, avoid Chevrolets unless it’s the Aveo, Japanese makes are always reliable although styling can be a hindrance sometimes, Kias are no better than Proton or Peroduas and if you have a problem on how to chose a good looking car, bring along a 12-year0old boy and let him tell you which car he would like to be driven to school with without being feeling embarrassed. Previously owned cars which are more than 5 years old are bound to have problems. Those aged more than 10 years are likely to spend more time in the car repair shop than in your driveway in the first few months should you choose to purchase it. And you can figure out the costs.

Faizad's Mini Cool Wall
Cool Cars
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(Clockwise from top right) Porsche Boxster S, Mazda 6,VW Beetle, BMW 3 Series (E90), Toyota Altezza, Nissan Skyline GT-R (R34)
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(Clockwise from top) Merc CLK Cabriolet, Jaguar X-Type, BMW X5, Porsche Cayenne S, Jaguar XJ
Uncool Cars
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(Clockwise from top right) Toyota Avanza, Chevrolet Spark, Honda CR-V, Toyota Unser, Hyundai Sonata, BMW 5 Series