Sunday, 27 November 2011

NZ travelogue: Cardrona in the middle of nowhere

Anyone making a hurried trip along the Crown Range Road that connects Wanaka and Queenstown in New Zealand's South Island will very likely not miss seeing the front of the iconic Cardrona Hotel which is located about a 40-minute drive from Wanaka.

In the 1860s, the whole of the region was in the midst of a gold rush and Cardrona as much as Arrowtown saw an influx of Chinese workers and gold prospectors. There aren't any gold prospecting here nowadays - perhaps all the nuggets have been dug up and the original prospectors had left for greener pastures elsewhere - and Cardrona is left as a sleepy little township.

I suppose there is more to Cardrona today than just the front of the hotel. Maybe further down this Crown Range Road if we had bothered to investigate, we could have found some sort of daily activity in the small township. But we did not.

All we did was to stop the car for about 15 to 20 minutes - remember, we were rushing to Queenstown - and walk around the Cardrona Hotel compound. This much we had to do because I had been intrigued by some of the images I had seen on the Internet.

So this is it from afar, from the car park on the other side of the road: the front of the hotel (actually it's a pub or restaurant because the reception area turned out to be located behind this building), the vintage car that's parked permanently outside, the general merchant store that doubles up today as a post office, the old telephone booth that's more of a curiosity and the quaint disused Caltex petrol pump that's more suited for a museum. But then, the whole of this place is a living museum. And just next to the telephone booth is a gift shop.

It did not surprise us that the whole place seemed pretty well deserted. We expected it this way as Cardrona was actually in the midst of nowhere if not for the main road. We didn't bump into anyone. Even when we wandered round to the back of the general merchant store and we saw this signpost pointing out to various places near the hotel, we didn't see a soul. We caught glimpses of a double-storey building in the background - possibly the guest house itself - but we didn't detect activity of any sort.

As I said, we spent about 15 or 20 minutes here before going off on our way, but not before we decided to have this obligatory picture taken to show our kids that we were here, not as olden-day gold prospectors but just ... modern-day tourists.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Gibb brothers

Sad to hear that Robin Gibb is seriously ill and putting up a brave front. We are losing the Gibb brothers one by one. Really, nobody is getting any younger.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Best episode of Hawaii Five-0, so far...

This week's episode of the second season of the new Hawaii Five-0 certainly ranks as one of the best that I've watched so far. It was not so much as a stand-alone weekly police procedural show to find out who-killed-who in Oahu, Hawai'i, but rather, a foray by the Five-0 team plus extra help into the deep jungles of North Korea on a rescue to extract their gung-ho Fearless Leader Steve McGarrett who had fallen into a trap by his sworn enemy, Wo Fat, who used Jenna Kaye as the bait. Never mind that the storyline was incredulously thin but the action throughout the show was enough to keep me watching this episode a second time and a third time today. Phew! My best moment in the show? When The James Gang's Funk 49 began playing from the cartridge player as the helicopter took off. Thanks for the memory!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

OFA coffee table book, Part 3

I see that at long last, the OFA admin office has released this announcement of the coffee table book project through the ofa-penang mailing list. It has been a long time coming, you know, almost three weeks after I had told the OFA president that I wouldn't mind coming on board the editorial team. Still, better late than never.

What this announcement hopes to achieve is to encourage Old Frees from anywhere around the world to contribute their stories to the project. We are soliciting their goodwill to write for the coffee table book, and the topics must touch on their own lives or that of other living Old Frees elsewhere. I really am not sure what sort of response we'll get. So, it will be a matter of waiting to see what comes up. Will the contributions come in a trickle or will there be a deluge of stories?

 Anyway, this is the message itself. Please read and send it along to other Old Frees you know:
The Old Frees' Association of Penang is in the process of publishing its 1st Coffee Table Book 'FIDELIS'. It will be a pictorial record of the history of PFS and OFA as there is no such book available in the bookshops so far. This is sad as PFS is the oldest school in South-East Asia with a great heritage to be proud of. In fact there is hardly any information compiled on OFA and the great Alumni of PFS anywhere else. The most ‘complete’ information so far is in Wikipedia. 
As stated in the attached file, PFS will be celebrating its Bicentennial Anniversary in 2016, so it is timely that OFA should publish this commemorative Coffee Table Book which will be launched before the next AGM in March 2012.
The 120 pages OFA-CTB (in A4 Landscape layout) will be divided into 5 sub-sections:
1. PFS - We will begin with Penang Free School in Penang Education history before going into the history of the school itself, the old school which is now the State Museum, Present School, Blazonry, School Anthem, HMs and School Traditions.
2. OFA - History ( there were 4 Clubhouses before this present building), Blazonry, New Annex OFA in Queensbay, OFA Facilities, Activities and Events, Past & Present Presidents, Management Committee, OFA Singapore, KL and maybe London, Hong Kong & elsewhere if they exist.
3. PFS Alumni - So far, the Editorial Board has decided to focus on past Alumni only, not on those who are still around. This is because we only have limited funds for this huge project and there are too many Alumni around for us to be fair to everyone.
4. Contributors - This is the section for Old Frees to contribute inspirational Photo Essays (not long articles as this is a Coffee Table Book). They could reminisce on PFS days and write on what they have learned to help them be who they are today, great Alumni who have served faithfully in their calling to make their part of the world a better place or any photo essay related to PFS or OFA. There's not much writing involved for photo essays. Old Frees  could also write poetry instead of prose.
5. Press releases (especially really old ones) on PFS, OFA or great past Alumni.As a member of The Old Frees' Association, you are invited to contribute a photo essay, photos or relevant materials on any of the topics in sub-section 4.
Thank you for being a part of this momentous OFA Coffee Table Book.
Yours sincerely, 
M.S. Rajendren  
The Old Frees' Association

Monday, 21 November 2011

OFA: 1922 or 1923?

When exactly was the Old Frees' Association in Penang founded? The year is commonly accepted by all and sundry at the Association as 1923. The present OFA logo is simply that of the badge of the Penang Free School contained within two concentric circles that proclaimed the name of the association and the year of its founding.

Earlier today, I was reading a short account of the OFA's history, written in 1966 by Mr Tan Kiar Lew, himself an Old Boy and a former teacher at the School (and, as I understand it, also a former headmaster of Westlands School), from which I'd like to reproduce an excerpt.

"....Apparently nothing happened till six years later when a meeting, held on 20th February 1923, attended by over a hundred Old Frees and teachers of the School adopted a resolution, moved by the late Hon'ble Mr Yeoh Guan Seok, and seconded by the late Mr Quah Beng Kee, to form the OFA confining membership to Old Frees and teachers with over five years' service in the School. A committee was then set up to draft the rules of the Association, Messrs HR Cheeseman, Khoo Heng Kok and Tan Kiar Lew were elected members of this committee.

"The second meeting was called on 17th April 1923 when the rules recommended by the committee were adopted with some amendments. The following were then elected to serve till 31st March 1924: The Hon'ble Mr Yeoh Guan Seok (President) Messrs Khoo Sian Ewe and MHM Noordin (Vice-Presidents), Mr Khoo Heng Kok (Hon Secretary), Mr Tan Kiar Lew (Hon Asst Secretary) Dr Ong Huck Chye (Hon Treasurer) Mr Ooi Thean Soo (Hon Auditor) Mr E Mohd Hashim (Sports Captain) and Messrs HR Cheeseman, HH Abdoolcader, Quah Beng Kee, Lim Keong Lay, Ong Boon Swee, SM Joonos, Drs Lim Guan Cheng and AO Merican (Committee Members)."

"No. 10 Leith Street (next door to Sin Pin Jit Poe) was occupied by the Association as the first Club house officially opened on October 21, 1923 coinciding with the 107th Anniversary of the School...."

But it's very perplexing, you know. I've just uncovered a newspaper item that appeared on Page 8 of The Straits Times, 25 October 1925 edition, which reported: "On the 109th anniversary of the Free School and the third anniversary of the Old Frees' Association, Old Frees from all parts of the Colony have been holding a re-union at Penang. The premises No. 10, Leith Street were dressed with flags and bunting, and illuminated with myriads of coloured lights. Mr. Khoo Sian Ewe, the President of the Association, was the host at a dinner on Wednesday."

The meaning of the word "anniversary" as I understand it from the dictionaries is that an anniversary is "the date on which an event had occurred in some previous year." Now if 1925 was considered the third anniversary of the OFA, why, was the Association founded in 1922 and not 1923? Surely, some records may be wrong somewhere? Can Mr Tan Kiar Lew's written account be missing something or could The Straits Times be mistaken? Problem was, even until 1930, this anomaly was not cleared up because in the Malayan Saturday Post of 8 November 1930, it was reported that the eighth anniversary of the Old Frees' Association was celebrated on "Tuesday 21st Oct, 1930." There was even a photograph to show the "8th Anniversary" clearly.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Old colonial headmasters

The Penang Free School and the Hutchings School shared some common interesting bonds. It is a shame though that I'm unable to uncover more information of the Hutchings School apart from the facts that the school was named after the Revd Robert Sparke Hutchings who founded the Penang Free School in 1816 and that the Hutchings School took over the old premises of the Penang Free School in Farquhar Street after the latter had moved to bigger premises in Green Lane in 1928. i did hear that the Hutchings School occupied this building until the start of the Japanese Occupation in 1941. The Japanese destroyed half the building during one of their air raids on the island.

The names of the personalities common to both schools were that of LW Arnold, PF Howitt and HR Cheeseman, after which the sports houses in Hutchings School were named, but I'm sure there could be more.

Harold Cheeseman founded the Scouts movement in Penang at the Penang Free School in 1915, while both Arnold (1928-1929 and 1934-1946) and Howitt (1950-1951) were the headmasters of Penang Free School. Despite not being a headmaster at the Penang Free School, Cheeseman was such a respected character that the school had also named a sports house after him.

Interestingly, Arnold was Hutchings School's headmaster in 1931-1934 before his transfer to the Penang Free School. He was also a headmaster of the Malacca High School in 1931 while Howitt was a headmaster of the Victoria School in Singapore in 1941 and again 1946-1948. There was also D Roper who was a headmaster of both the Penang Free School (1947-1950) and Victoria School (1941). I'm sure in time, more people would unearth more information on the connecting histories of the old schools in Malaysia and Singapore.

Marathon stragglers

Nuts. I woke up too late this morning to go into the Penang Bridge live webcam website.

I had hoped to be able to catch some glimpses of this year's Penang marathon. Instead, it's already 6.38am when all the main action's long been over. All I could see were the almost completely empty bridge and one or two stragglers who were still gamely running jogging walking.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The dumberer

The blithering idiot who doesn't appreciate the value of money and can still smile as if nothing has happened even though he has lost STG197 million. 

Thursday, 17 November 2011

GS Reutens and the PFS School Rally

Would anyone have any idea of the background of Mr GS Reutens? What I remember about him from my schooldays was that he usually wore his big khaki shorts to school. You know, the old fashioned khaki shorts that sort of flare and reach down to the knees, something akin to the modern-day cargo pants but without the unsightly side pockets. Reutens would have corresponding white socks pulled up almost to his knees too. Typically, he didn't wear ties in this set-up; he would be topped up with a bow tie. The only teacher with a bow tie. I didn't interact with him at all and I believe he left the Penang Free School as the senior art master in 1968, either retired or transferred elsewhere. 

What I also remember most clearly about Reutens was that he composed the rousing School Rally. When was the School Rally composed? Its history is lost in the mists of time and usually when asked, the old farters in the Old Frees Association will just say vaguely that it was maybe in the 1960s. No exact year is mentioned because nobody remembers that far back. Or bothers to remember.

But the clue may be in the verses themselves. More specifically, the third verse which goes:

Let's all then join in this Jubilee,
All with one loud voice to proclaim,
Our true loyalty and our constancy,
To our Mater still remain.

Why "Jubilee"? Because in the 1960s, the only significant event for the PFS was its sesqui-centenary celebration and nothing else. Because of this one word, I believe Reutens had written the School Rally to celebrate the school's 150th anniversary. So if anyone were to ask when was the School Rally composed, I want to put it on record that the year should be 1966. That is, unless anyone can happily prove me wrong.

Anyway, those of us who were in Form One then were attending the afternoon sessions. We wouldn't have had the benefit of hearing the School Rally sung by the School Choir for the first time at the Assembly. But if you have heard of stories from your seniors in the school, please share with me here. I will be most interested to know more about GS Reutens and the School Rally.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

PFS archive rooms

Went visiting the Penang Free School's archive rooms yesterday with my co-editor, Molly Ooi, and the president of the Old Frees' Association, MS Rajendran. I had expected the room to be dusty and musty, and had turned up with some facial masks. Was very surprised to find the rooms to be clean, airy and well-maintained. So sheepishly, I put the masks back into my bag.

Was both surprised and disappointment with the material discovered here. The school even has a copy of "Twentieth Century Impressions of British Malaya," a quite voluminous book that was turned to the page of, what else, but the Penang Free School. There's also a good collection of the medical researches and speeches of Dr Wu Lien-Teh.

However, the collection of past year's school magazines was disappointing. i would have thought that the school would have maintained pristine copies of past issues. Not all the issues but at least school magazines that go as far back as 1950 or thereabout. What I discovered were lots of missing years and it was not until the mid-1980s that the archive room had the past issues. Even the magazines of the 1970s were simply photocopied from somewhere. That was the pathetic side of my visit.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Heritage sites vandalised

I get totally pissed off when vandals deface heritage sites for their own selfish or political reasons. 

Recently, I read from the Penang Heritage Trust website that some thugs had vandalised the exterior walls of two heritage sites and a modern office tower in George Town.

Obviously, the irresponsible person or groups of persons who drew these graffiti have no pride in George Town's UNESCO heritage status or respect for the international community for that matter. Least of all, they have shown their disdain for the owners of these buildings.

One of the walls belonged to the Convent Light Street while the other was the wall of the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. Both buildings are, by the way, located along Farquhar Street and not more than 150 metres to 200 metres apart.

Looking at the photographs of the two walls, anyone can see that the vandalism was perpetrated by the same person or persons. They both proclaimed the same, similar racist message. It doesn't take much to deduce which group of people had carried out this crime against our UNESCO heritage status. No law-abiding Penangite of Chinese or Indian ethnicity would have done this! Never! And neither can this belong to any right-thinking and peace-loving Penang Malay. No, this can only be the work of those vicious Mat Rempit racists in the state who had even dared demonstrate outside the State Assembly building. Full stop! They must be made totally accountable for this outrage to Penang's society.

I reproduce below the statement from the Penang Heritage Trust which they issued on 1 Nov 2011, the same day when the graffiti were discovered:

It is a sad day when see the treasures within the George Town World Heritage Site vandalised by Malaysians to make racial political statements. Bringing gutter politics into the realm of cultural heritage demonstrates a total lack of respect and understanding of what the world community has acknowledged as worthy of conserving for all humanity. 
The Convent Light Street is the oldest girls school in the country founded in 1852, the school has struggled to collect money from its alumni and others to conduct their own restoration within the World Heritage Site. Since the 1990s, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion has undergone a rigorous restoration at a time when conservation was virtually unknown in Penang and went against public opinion. It has set benchmark standards and helped conservation consciousness to become mainstream. The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion has just been recognised as one of the 10 greatest mansions in the world -  how ironic that it should be defiled so callously. 
The UNESCO World Heritage Listing for George Town is Malaysia's pride and honour, putting us on the same level as historic marvels like Angkor Wat and Rome and the Imperial Palace of Beijing. There would be an international outcry if any of these world monuments were vandalised by ignorant cowards in the middle of the night. The culprits who defiled what we all treasure as part of our shared past should be roundly condemned and brought to account for their actions. 
The graffiti sprayed on the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Convent Light Street and Wisma MWE in the George Town World Heritage Site is an insult not only to the intended, but to all Malaysians and the international community. It is also an illegal act violating the rights of the property owners. What would Malaysians think if heritage buildings around Dataran Merdeka or Jalan Sultan in Kuala Lumpur were spray painted with senseless racist sentiments? A violently-presented racist message that runs deeply contrary to the Malaysian government's promotion of 1Malaysia can only scare off tourists and make Malaysians feel insecure. The Malaysian government can certainly do more to protect heritage properties by sowing awareness and a deep respect for heritage, cultural diversity, and the values of our George Town and Melaka World Heritage Site. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Mikhail Tal and me

Any chess-playing schoolboy in the 1960s or 1970s will usually name Mikhail Tal as one of their chess heroes. I was no different. Mikhail Tal was one of my chess heroes when I first started learning how to play the game in 1969. Like many people, we tried to emulate his style of play but we were never successful. As a result, we were always left admiring him from afar for his verve and nerves of steel.

I finally got to meet my chess hero for the first time in October 1982 when I was part of the Malaysian chess team at the Chess Olympiad in Lucerne, Switzerland. And, of course, witnessed first hand most of his games. The only other time I got to meet Tal was in Kuala Lumpur itself. It was in June 1990 and he was in transit through the international airport at Subang on his way to Manila for the interzonal tournament with other Soviet chess grandmasters. By then, it was well known that he had been seriously ill, moving in and out of hospitals. Still, I was shocked when I saw him. He had lost a lot of weight as a result of his health.

Mikhail Tal, the eighth world chess champion, would have been 75 years old if he were still alive today but sadly, the chess world lost his immeasurable chess talent in June 1992.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

NZ travelogue: Day Three

When I was planning the itinerary of our vacation in New Zealand's South Island at the beginning of this year, I was torn between wanting to stay two nights at Wanaka or spend one night in Queenstown.

Eventually, I figured that it would be more in our interest to just make a day trip to Queenstown. The night life in Queenstown was something we could do without; it wasn't anything essential on our itinerary. Besides, I had wanted to visit the Puzzling World in Wanaka and it would be impossible to cram that into our limited time on the same day. 

So I decided that we could depart for Queenstown early in the morning and return to the Archway Motel in Wanaka as late as possible. Driving at night, according to the proprietor at the motel, would not pose any problem as people do it all the time.

Unfortunately, "early" to my wife would still mean leaving Wanaka at nine o'clock in the morning. I would have preferred to begin our journey at eight o'clock or even earlier but getting ourselves ready took longer than expected. Nevertheless, we were soon on our way and I turned towards the Crown Range Road which is supposed to be the highest sealed road in New Zealand.

This was the alternative route to Queenstown. Usually at the end of May which is the accepted transition from autumn to winter, there would already be warnings to expect frost on the road. But New Zealand had been experiencing some unusually barmier weather than normal this year and I was told that frost wouldn't be a serious problem even on this road.

This stretch of the journey turned out to be one of the most enjoyable rides of our vacation. Especially, as we neared the end of the Crown Range Road and we could stop the car at the Crown Terrace lookout point before the hairpin bends and look down at Arrow Junction and the Gibbston Highway below us, the view was spectacularly beautiful.

A very clear rainbow greeted us as we drove along the Frankton Road into Queenstown, one end dipping into the Lake Wakatipu. Wouldn't it be nice if we could reach the end of the rainbow and confirm whether the pot-o-gold really exists. But of course, a rainbow is only light playing tricks with us. It's nothing tangible at all and a rainbow's position will shift when looked at from different directions.

Our eventual destination was the Steamer Wharf by the lake side where I had earlier booked us for a Real Journeys cruise on board the lake's last surviving coal-fired steamship, the vintage 99-years-old TSS Earnslaw. We were to dock later at the Walter Peak High Country Farm for lunch and a guided farm tour. Interesting spread of food at the buffet lunch but what I really enjoyed was the succulent pork ribs. Utterly delicious.

We left Queenstown at about 7.30pm and drove back to Wanaka in the dark. We didn't go through the Crown Range Road again, but chose the road that would take us through Cromwell except that there was nothing to see, of course, but pitch darkness on both sides of the road which was illuminated only by the reflectors at the roadside and the dividing lines in the middle of the road. I didn't realise it then but this would not be the only time that we were forced to travel under the cover of darkness. Nothing I would recommend to others except the forgetable experience.

Monday, 7 November 2011

NZ travelogue: Pukemara

Erm, I've got very little to say about this sign except that I drove past it and then decided to make a U-turn in order to take its photograph. It's not a road sign but the name of someone's homestead along the highway linking Omarama to Wanaka on New Zealand's South Island. The name obviously meant a lot to the proud owner but you know, to us Malaysians, it meant something else and I'm not even going to give it a translation!

UPDATE: With the help of Google Maps, I have now managed to zero down the location of this place. It's actually along the Lindis Pass-Tarras Road before the junction with Bells Lane. The reason I noticed the sign was because I had slowed down sufficiently to turn into Bell Lane. The signpost may be blurred out in this picture but the row of trees in the far distance on the right is unmistakably clear enough.

And of course, this is the satellite view of Pukemara itself:

Saturday, 5 November 2011

My rare, doubly special date

I was looking at the calendar this morning and was surprised - very pleasantly surprised - to note that today's date, 5 Nov on the Gregorian calendar, coincided with the 10th day of the 10th month on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Rare occurrence. The last time it happened for this particular date was 57 years ago.

Friday, 4 November 2011

What's all the fuss about?

Soon after I finished writing yesterday's story about the Melbourne Cup race at Flemington, Victoria in Australia, I began wondering what all the fuss was about. The mass media seemed to be going on and on about how close the race was, how one horse had just won by a mere nose or whisker, or how it could have been a dead heat.

Melbourne Cup 2011: Dunaden pipping Red Cadeaux by a nose

The way the writers were going on, you'd think that such close finishes had never happened before. Of course, close finishes raise the level of excitement to races, may it be horses running at Flemington or athletes running a 100-metre race anywhere in the world, leading to photo-finishes and the agonising wait for the results to be announced. But please, lah, they are not uncommon at all in the sport world.

Sometimes, I think the professional writers choose to have a short memory. I know that I tend to have a short memory myself but it is excusable because I'm a mere amateur when it comes to writing. I'm far, far from being a professional writer. So for the professionals who write for world renown newspapers, they should have a longer memory than me!

Melbourne Cup 2008: Viewed pipping Bauer by a nose

They would only need to look no further than the 2008 Melbourne Cup race to remember another close finish. Remember how Viewed was almost beaten to the post by a surging Bauer? Viewed just managed to hold off the challenge because the finish post loomed up just too near for Bauer. Given another split second into the race and I'm sure we would have seen a different winner.

Of course, the two races were different, the build-up to the finish was different, but the results were essentially the same. An almost dead heat. A photo-finish. One horse winning  by a whisker.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Pipped to the post

I hadn't forgotten it. On Tuesday, I remembered to switch on the television and changed to the Australia Network about 50 minutes before the Big Race started.

Australia Network. Big Race. I can only be referring to the Melbourne Cup, the one annual sporting event that, for a brief moment, can really stop everybody in Australia in their tracks. Everybody in Aussieland freezes up because their eyes are trained on the 24 horses that start the race at three o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon, Victoria time. Of course, here in Malaysia the time was only 12 o'clock.

So there I was, sitting in front of the telly with my son to watch the build-up to the race. This would be only the third occasion that I would watch it. The first time was in a little pub in a hotel in Walpole, Western Australia, in 2009 amidst the locals there. The second time, just like this third time, was in the comfort of my home. Very relaxed, not caring which horse would win, but just wanting to see whether any excitement would unfold.

And yes, there was real excitement as the horses pushed down the final straight towards the finish line. For a short while, Precedence led the field but it couldn't maintain the pace that it had set for itself and almost immediately many others overtook it. As the animals continued thundering towards the finish it became a neck-and-neck tussle between Red Cadeaux and Dunaden. From my point of view - a detached view in front of the television - Red Cadeaux could have been very slightly ahead but eventually, Dunaden came up strongly to just overtake Red Cadeaux by a whisker.

Here's how the race unfolded, as seen on YouTube. Just take a look for yourself and see how close it was.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Driving comfort

I must say that this product makes a world of a difference when driving in the rain, and it has been raining every afternoon for the past month or so.

Just about a fortnight ago, my wife was complaining to me that it was very difficult for her to drive during a rainstorm because the windscreens would be unviewable even when the wipers were pushed to their limits.

This, I can attest because lately I've been having the same problem with the other car. Once, I was driving in Bukit Mertajam and was unprepared for the deluge. It was impossible to see more than 20 metres away and I was reduced to driving at a very slow speed.

So on her urging, I dug out the old bottle of Rain Act from the store room and applied it to both cars. Her response was immediate. I'm happy, and so is she.

But our best experience with Rain Act was in driving along the North-South Expressway at 100kph in the pouring rain AND without turning on the wiper. The windscreen was so crystal clear. The beads of water were just simply pushed away by the wind, leaving me with complete visibility of the road. All the way from Ipoh until the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur when traffic, as usual, slowed to a crawl. Here, without the force of the wind to help, I had to engage the wipers. But otherwise, the wipers could be spoilt for all I cared.

And other discovery: the use of sunglasses especially during rain storms. Definitely recommended. The polarising effect of sunglasses cut off all the glare and ensured good driving comfort all round. Great experience!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

OFA coffee table book, part 2

Oh, what the heck. I've just called the OFA president to inform him that I'll come join his editorial team for the Old Frees' Association coffee table book project. And I've just learned from him that the OFA management committee has decided to drop the idea of appointing the media guy as the new editorial consultant or chief editor. Didn't ask, but I really believe it was because of the pre-conditions.

Instead, the committee has elevated both Molly Ooi and I as the new co-editors of this job. The onus is on us now to see the whole project through. Molly is the wife of Hwang Hong Shi, whom many Old Frees will remember as a former teacher and scout master. He resigned from teaching sometime in the late 1970s and took up a post with a private sports club. Anyway, I shouldn't be mentioning more of him here since this story is more about the appointment of both me and his wife, Molly.

I think we have a big task ahead of us. We've got to think about sectionalising the book, putting in the contents, researching the stories, getting people to write for us (now, that is going to be a tall project) and finally, putting everything together. Then I've got to clear with her on who's going to be responsible for what! We are not being helped by news that the management committee would like to see the whole project finished by mid-February. Personally, I think it is impossible to meet this proposed deadline. But the idea of doing it interests me greatly now.

And thank goodness we have an assurance from the OFA president that there will be funds for this project. It's not for the editors to worry about raising money. We'll just concentrate on the book and nothing more. But of course, they'll may need me to give them inputs on the publishing side. I did tell him that I do know a little about this aspect of publishing, not much but enough from my Ban Hin Lee Bank days.