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Little Stories 66 : University Studios

While riding a bus to work in the morning, an Indonesian conductor bus came to me for a ticket. I took time counting the money to give to him and at the same time he waited. He saw my black tote bag next to me with "Universal Studios, Singapore" printed on the bag. 

He slowly read, 

"U-ni-ver-si-ty Stu-dios", and whistled, *impressed.
"You studied there?", he asked.

I managed to answer a confused, "hm?" and he pointed to the bag.
"No, no, I didn't".

"Oh, I thought you studied there to become an actress".

And I smiled and he left.

I should have said that "Yes, I studied at University Studios, and want to become an actress". 
That would be a story :D

Review : The Great Gatsby (2013)

Top 3 movie list this year :
3. The Great Gatsby

I am glad that among over 30 movies I watched this year, I came across these 3 powerful movies; Life of Pi, in early this year, Darjeeling Limited in the middle of this year and The Great Gatsby by the end of 2013. 

I was speechless when I first finished watching The Great Gatsby and had taken time to watch it again to churn every bit of feelings I had. Among bad critics that I've heard about the movie, I can only say that it was no less than a great story. Maybe over-rating a movie is not a good idea for readers that have not seen the movie yet - but seeing that I am completely left speechless twice, phew, I just think I need to exaggerate a little bit more. 

I consider The Great Gatsby novel as literature because it was written in the 20s, and I avoid reading literature *after those early years of trying to self-learn literature, instead I waited for the movie. I do that to all literature - skip the reading part and just watch the m ovie.


On Movie Theme Song : 
The movie was directed by Baz Luhrmann, the same person who famously directed Romeo & Juliet and Moulin Rouge. He is also famous with his way of producing movies among great song list. What I was excited about before watching The Great Gatsby was its song choices. This time, he collaborated with Jay-Z in choosing songs for the classic literature movie which for my personal opinion, was an interesting mixture.
There were songs from Lana del Ray, Gotye, The XX,  Florence & the Machine, Beyonce & Andre. All those singers and bands were not from the mainstream list, so I was beyond excited to watch the result of that. And it went well, although there were many critiques on that issue, for me, mixing alternative modern songs with a classic literature is something new and fairly different, and Baz did so well. Curi2 dengar.

On Narration :
I love movies with narration, and it is possible that my thought on the movie was highlighted with the fact that Nick Carraway (Tobey M.) narrated the movie by reading the book that he was writing. Or for me, I imagined I was reading the book instead of listening to the narrator.
Paragraphs and excerpt by a classic writer is so much different than our modern language, so for me it was beautifully written T^T

On the Movie Effect :
The movie was beautiful and vibrant. But it used exaggerated effects for my liking, the green screen set-up was a bit obvious in several scenes, so it disturbed me a bit. But all in all, I always thought watching a movie should be like watching a movie, and so those exaggerated effects was acceptable for me. I recommend watching the HD version.

On Story Line and Message :
I hate to spoil any movies, so I'll try to be short.
In my opinion, the movie was a great movie, not because it was a love story with an awful ending, but because of how it was told and the message it brought. 

It seemed to me that Fitzgerald (the book's original writer) created the story based on how their society was in the 20s. Fitzgerald wanted to tell something 'big' to the readers; that resulted the valley of ashes between the city and West Egg. Because for me, the valley's existence was odd. Why creating a desolated land between those two places instead of just show how they separated the lower and upper class society in the same city instead? What's with the eyes of Doctor. T.J.Eckleburg ? Those eyes was disturbingly out of place. There must be something in the 20s that triggered him as a writer to write it in symbols. Ditto the mention of the green light across the river.

Other than that were the love story between those two main characters, love and hate, betrayal, first love, expectation, hope, dream, and everything. One gave too many while the other gave too little. Why love had to be so hard and so easy both at the same time? I was touched by Gatsby undying love and I was also surprised by Daisy's materialistic mind. 


I'm going to rewatch the movie and update this review later when I have the time.

Little Stories 65 : What is in a Name?

On the first day of my new work in Damansara, my supervisor asked me to create a fake Facebook account for us to communicate among our team members. I asked him, "I shouldn't use my real name?" and he said "Just create anything-lah. Make it fast."

I didn't know creating a fake account with a fake name and a fake picture profile would take time. I was left staring at the monitor for awhile and came out with a name, "Aliya A.". Since then, I've heard several people called me "Aliya" or "Liya" - in conversation, each time,  I looked twice to make sure that they were talking to me.

I feel like a stranger. 
Who is this Aliya ? 
But then again, what is in the name that take a hold of our life? A sign of recognition ? A glimpse of existence? Being in a name other than mine created a whole new surrounding of total invisibility. No one can Google my name and learn about my life on the net *except for the HR people I guess, they called me Azah and I cringed each time. It almost feels like liberation. This time, I don't want to be known by what I did, but I wanted people to notice me by what I designed instead.

Little Things 104 : Imbalance

At one point when you can't focus, because of whatever reasons, don't think. Take out your earphone, go to 8tracks , choose a track and listen. While doing so, continue with your works, or go out for a run, or do stretches. And only focus on the sound of the song instead of those jumbled up sounds of your unstable emotions. 

Create your own diversion. 
Distract your attention.

Sometimes you go up and sometimes you are not that high anymore.
Sometimes you are so happy and sometimes you are sad beyond words.
And maybe you don't understand why - that's alright, the point is to be aware of your emotions but not entirely controlled by it. Being off track is something acceptable once in awhile, after all we were made beautifully imperfect.

Books : On Rumi & Poetry

I personally love Rumi's work, I have two of his translated book : 
Rumi - the Book of Love translated by Coleman Barks


In my personal opinion, I like the classic Dover's version that was translated by Professor R.A.Nicholson - he died in August 1945 and left the manuscript of the book, and later the book was compiled by A.J.Arberry. Knowing he died without publishing his manuscript of research make the book much more personal to me. Imagine working on a book for years, those time spent to read, learn and translate all those works of Rumi. + I love academician & wise people.

The language used in the book is a bit tedious, but beautiful nonetheless. To make a comparison, if you have tried to learn Shakespeare before - you'll find no problem understanding it. Basic thing about reading English literature is knowing when to change classic words into modern words. Thou = you, doth = do, art = are, canst = can, thine = yours etc. 

The book was printed in the US, by an earth-friendly publication company, using waste recycled paper, and it only cost $3.50 USD = around RM 10 *bought the last book in Kinokuniya KL. But here is the online link - not sure whether they do international shipping to Malaysia. I personally recommend this book if you are eager to read beautiful translation even if it's classic.

Since thou canst not bear the unveiled Light, drink the Word of Wisdom, for its light is veiled.
To the end that thou mayst become able to receive the Light, and behold without veils that is not hidden,
And traverse the sky like a star; nay, journey unconditioned, without a sky.


The Coleman Barks' version is the one that commercially sold in most bookstores, he used modern language, simple and almost direct. I don't understand the original language that Rumi used, I know for sure that I shouldn't make this comparison. But knowing that translating thing is an art itself - one need to learn, to read, to understand the content and translate it using his own word, *which is the hardest part.

Coleman also wrote it in Haiku version. Some might love haiku, but not me :
Birdsong, wind,
the water's face. 
Each flower, remembering the smell :
I know you're close by.
And in the preface of the book, Coleman wrote :
I have sold too many books. Rumi translations have no business cresting in a wave of over half a million. It's like selling picnic tickets to an unmarked minefield. You wouldn't expect there to be a rush, but somehow there is. I may have left out something big and basic, like lowercase Islam (submission). This love poetry is meant to obliterate you lovers. Rumi wants us to surrender. I bow to the grandeur of his full protration. I never want to diminish that. 
As a reader, I love reading something beautiful and personal. I don't want to read something like : I have sold too many books, on the first page of a book. It destroys the whole point of sharing something so beautiful and it sounded like something a writer shouldn't boast about.

But this is a simpler version of Rumi's translation, a bit too simple - in my liking. It worked with my sister, it didn't worked with me.  


I also learned that I am very much interested in poems that touches something on spirituality and wisdom. It's all based on each reader's main interest. Usually in written poems - there is a difference between normal poems and poems that were touched by enlightenment *and this is also my own personal comparison and category that I created myself, it is not a fact or something to be fully accepted. 

On rare occasion, some writers got to 'listen' to something much more divine and will produce beautiful works that can touch people's soul. That's only on rare occasion. Rumi is one example. 

It is something that modern Westerner, or even Japanese and Chinese atheist's poets can't achieve. But even so, most Japanese haikus and Chinese poems focuses on wisdom or what they call teaching, and that's fairly interesting as well. But that's the whole different ideas on sociology. I think if I start to write on that, I'll take another several hours. 

I'll make a list of books that touches my soul and provoked my inner-thoughts later. 
I love my quest on searching for such books :F

Little Stories 64 : Time Well Spent

"Kak, you just finished working?", an Indian girl asked me in the bus. 
The watch stated around 10 pm, and the bus was half empty.

"Yes, you too?".
She nodded.

These days, it is not a norm for our people to greet and make a conversation with strangers. It's either staring blankly at nothing, reading, sleeping or holding your smartphones pretending to make a decent connection with the device while commuting to places. 

It took me several minutes to notice that she did not come from the city, her friendliness is just different. She seemed to be sending a softer vibe than most people around me.

"The city, is different than in kampung. We can go farther, achieve higher, which is good - but we'll lose something important as well. We'll work like machine, we don't make connections with people, we don't communicate and most importantly, we'll lose our family time. I think I need to work and collect all the money, then when it's enough, I'll be with my family again", and I nodded at her.


I just couldn't agree more. 
I don't mind using my time to work, I love working. But what I am concerned about is how lonely I get, the whole day. It's all silence. I wake up as early as 5am, after writing or doing freelance work, I'll get ready to work, 7.30 am to 9.30 am is my time in all the public transports, and I start my work at 10am until 7pm, and I'll arrive home around 9pm to 10pm.  

All silence. 
I hate it when everyone is staring at their phones in the bus or train. What is more important than everything around you at that moment? Why we even let those little thing entertain you for hours? There's nothing much Facebook, Twitter or Instagram's posts worth refreshing every few minutes, or several plays of Candy Crushes to occupy your time. You are idly doing nothing, at all. 

Why don't you read books, or have a decent connection with the nature, start to find interesting things about it or really communicate, instead? Why can't we see, that we are losing it all to the technology. When will you get your time for you and for other people? When will you think using your inner thoughts and reach what's inside of you? If you use all your time for nothing. 

We are getting lost in the silence that we created ourselves. 
How can we all be in the same place at the same moment but totally out of reach ?   

Event : Art for Grabs Dec 2013

It took time, sweat, awkward hellos, and little glances for this.

For two days of meeting people and selling things that we made out of love and inspiration. It was less crowdy than the previous AFG in Sept. I was silently begging for people to come, at one point, there was almost just us - people who opened booths. Or maybe I was just exaggerating :D

A bit calmer. 
But thanks for all the love and supports nonetheless. And those gifts, and random photo taking. Most of all, thanks for buying it all. Those money will be used to pay my loan and support my living for this coming 2 weeks :D

Happy things :
1. I met my old friends from school. It was a good surprise - I've been missing from my friends for years now. I turned sweaty and nervous almost instantly, asked them "How did you guys know about this? I didn't publicly promoted it :F" - that was how I greeted old friends, well done.
2. When a good-looking caucasian man bought 2 of my A3 art prints of The Sleepyheads and illustrated Little Things. He said they were nice and he'll frame it.  
3. When supportive people came to meet me and said they read my blog posts - this feels so good, every single time. 

Movie : Juno (2007)

I watched Juno last night and instead on focusing on the main storyline, I keep on bugging my thoughts on different side issues.

1. It is not fair to ask a man to grow up, as much as it is not fair to ask a woman to wait for him to grow up. The level of maturity is something that is subjective, and it is different for each one of us. Two person that grew up together in the same environment might not even be on the same ground at the same time.

2. In any circumstances, being cynical is always considered as rude. In the movie, Juno is often cynical on everything, and cynical people are always insensitive to other people's feelings. I don't know how that is related, but I think it is possible that cynical people are afraid of being hurt, so they usually hurt people first, using words. It's almost like an automatic response. 
I am aware that I'm cynical, it's unhealthy and I am trying my best to control it. Plus, I hope that I am not as bad as Juno, I'd probably be the most annoying person in this family if that is how I am. 

3. Juno as a name. 
When I was 10, I learned about : Ceres, Pallas, Juno, Vesta. 
Fiction : Everyone that reads Sailormoon should know those added Sailors in the team. 
Fact : Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta were considered as planets, lost time ago, before the astronomers learned that those were asteroids that orbit the Sun as well as other planets.
Fact/Fict 2 : In Greek mythology, Juno is the wife of Zeus. She was often considered as a very jealous and aggressive goddess, because in the myth, she tried to killed Zeus's children with other goddesses. So in the astrology, Juno takes a sign of someone in need of security in marriage/relationship and need to feel satisfied in their love life. - This probably explain why the main character's name is Juno, because it fits her quite well.

Added note : It was definitely not a comedy as stated above, and nothing hilariously funny about the movie. But it worth watching, of course.

Little Things 103 : For Things Unseen

I woke up quite early this morning, something that rarely happen these days. 

I went to the toilet to take wudu' and did my Subuh prayer. 
I felt restless lately, and there's a feeling of lost and misguidedness in my heart. Oddly enough, I always know where I should go to, but I did not do anything about it. 

Being aware of something but choose to let it be.
How often do we do that? Pretending there is nothing wrong and let our hearts wander in a confusing maze when we know deep down, that we need to find the root of the everything and make amends.

Why we need to talk in riddles?
Why every secret hides in secrets? 
Why it is so hard to reach you when you are the nearest among everything?

And of all the things unseen and those confusing riddles, He gave me something that I needed exactly at the right time, a direct message :
And when My bondsmen ask you concerning Me, "I am near indeed". I respond to the call of the caller when he calls Me. Therefore they should respond to Me and believe in Me, so that they may walk along the right way - Al-Baqarah ( 2 : 186 )

Event : Art for Grabs, Dec 2013

Come meet us at Art for Grabs this coming weekend ( 14th & 15th ) December,
my last booth for the year 2013.

Here is the official facebook page.

The event will be located at Annexe Gallery, Central Market, Kuala Lumpur.
There will be around 50 booths mixed with art & crafts, and many other booth with different interesting projects. This time around, Art for Grabs bringing a theme : " Righting Malaysia ".


PS :
I'll be selling stickers, totebags, art prints and postcards.
Those little zines are currently sold out! :D

This Week's Findings 02

1) Mnmlist : live more, need less , being OK with things as they are.
I know every people has opinion on how they want to live, but this works for me.

2) Paulo Coelho : Renouncing or working hard -
Either we feel that we are renouncing life too much because of God, or else we feel that we are renouncing God too much because of life. 
This apparent double law is a fantasy : God is in life, and life is in God.

3) You need to own a journal/scheduled diary
Moleskine is ridiculously expensive, so I wouldn't recommend you to buy one except if you are obsessed with brand or want to splurge on man-made leathery items. *because although I always claimed myself as a person who don't spend much on things, I do have an obsession on hand-made leathery items.

Read this fun fun writing for writers. Or better, follow Medium.

4) Online resource for student designers & young creatives looking for insider's insight, honest answer & solid solution to help you create your portfolio and apply works properly ! : The Secret Handshake. This is so interestingly resourceful.

5) CafeHop KL - interactive map for coffee addict around KL.


6) 8tracks radio - Online playlist curated by awesome people. You can choose your type of music or mood, and listen to the whole playlist. It's even faster than grooveshark.


7) Easy funny blog to read for pleasure - MatLutfi

8) Place to make an easy online infographic - Piktochart , their editor is very easy to use, just drag-and-drop, key-in data and such. It's a local start-up company based in Penang.


Previous related post : This week's finding 01

Excerpt 01 : IQ84

You’re still young and healthy. Maybe that’s why you don’t understand what I am saying. Let me give you an example. Once you pass a certain age, life becomes nothing more than a process of continual loss. Things that are important to your life begin to slip out of your grasp, one after another, like a comb losing teeth. And the only things that come to take their place are worthless imitations. Your physical strength, your hopes, your dreams, your ideals, your convictions, all meaning, or, then again, the people you love: one by one, they fade away. Some announce their departure before they leave, while others just disappear all of a sudden without warning one day. And once you lose them you can never get them back. Your search for replacements never goes well. It’s all very painful—as painful as actually being cut with a knife. You will be turning thirty soon, Mr. Kawana, which means that, from now on, you will gradually enter that twilight portion of life—you will be getting older. You are probably beginning to grasp that painful sense that you are losing something, are you not? - Murakami , IQ84

Little Things 102 : Royals & Kina

By far, this is the best cover for Royals.
Yeay for Kina !


Little Things 101 : Freelancing

Best things about freelancing at home are :
boleh masak nasi goreng at lunch and eat while doing works, wear anything I want and guling2 when I feel tired. 

The worst thing about freelancing at home is :
people thought I am not working so they will give me so many tasks at home. Trying to work while completing tasks is quite hard. No one is taking my job seriously. It's either pulling up all-nighter or create a borderline between working-time and home-time. 

The most annoying line from people : "kan duk rumah takde kerja". 
If I stayed at home doing nothing in these 5 months, then where did all the money to pay : the house, insurances, loans, bills and monthly needs came from? Do you think I will ask from my parents?


Time management and discipline are two most important things that I focused on. If I don't complete my works, I won't have any money to survive. These 5 months, I've been working daily to keep paying my financial responsibilities without borrowing money. It's not easy, but I managed to learn a thing or two from that.  

But my 3 months reckless life is over, I worked part-time at Liquid Learning for a month afterwards and tried to find any available permanent job as well. In a month, I applied to almost 20 jobs from jobstreet, been to 3 interviews - 2 got rejected, got a continuous freelance job after an online interview from an IT company as well and finally offered a permanent job as a designer last Monday. That took about 1 month. 

Ma is so worried about me not having any permanent job, and started to ask me to find any eligible gentleman that will marry me and let me work at home so she doesn't has to worry much if someone is taking care of me. 
I had to do what I had to do.
I got a permanent job along with freelance job, and I am moving out to taste my freedom.

Read here to learn more about freelancer working at home, to educate yourself.

Little Stories 63 : Run Forest, Run

I signed up for my first 10km run last weekend.

Despite my unwillingness to run that far in one go, after my last 7 km run several months back. I said "no more", thinking I'll lose the main purpose of having fun in a big running event if I can't run along with everyone. But I fought back, I wanted to know the feeling of outrunning my own self-claimed limitation. 

I just wanted to know that it won't be as bad as I assumed it would be. 
And it wasn't that bad. 

1 : 20 : 30,
I was the 168th person from 828 runners. 

If only I could believe in myself for every decision I make and put all limitations behind, maybe I could go farther than where I am now. If I could put all the energy into believing in achieving what I wanted and needed in life, maybe I could touch those dreams and turn them into my reality. 

Because the only thing that stoping me, is actually me.