Thursday, 25 December 2008

The End Of This Blog

So I know I started First Steps a few months back but lately life had become so hectic that I could barely keep up a blog. Here's why.

On September 17th, I participated in a contest where you're supposed to submit idea for a TV show. All you had to do was write five sentences about your idea and if they like the idea, they will call you and give you RM 3 000 but with the condition that you will present the idea to them. I sent in two ideas. Barely any thinking was involved. Within 5 minutes, I sent in both ideas. I could barely remember what the titles were. I saw the ad for the contest once only on TV3 btw. I don't even normally watch TV3. LOL.

On the first week of October, I was asked to emcee this Hari Raya event which would be attended by the Malaysian Ambassador and the managers of Mitco Japan (a Petronas branch in Japan) and other Petronas scholars. This was my first time hosting an event with a script so I didn't do very well. I HATE scripts. LOL.

On the second week of October, I found out that I was among the 20 shortlisted people for the TV show idea competition. The best part was when the lady told me the title of my drama, I could not even recognise it. As I thought of the title in a hurry, there were no memories of it. As it turned out I named my drama A Rojak Life.

Excited over the prospect of creating a TV show, my brain went into overdrive and I called Iman to tell her the good news. That day, I had to go teach English to some fellow so during the one hour train ride, I began to scribble down the ideas. Before I knew it, I had the titles of 13 episodes and had the draft of 6 episodes already. On the way back from teaching the fellow, I managed to finish the remaining 7 episodes. Later that night, I began typing the first episode. As I had to present in the second week of November, I knew I only had 1 month to juggle school, script and work. So every night, I worked on one or two episodes. At times, I was so overwhelmed with emotion as some of the scenes in the drama were extremely personal.

On the second week of November, after one week of script writing, one week of falling ill, one week of getting feedback, I headed back to Kuching. As I had RM 3000 just from being chosen as the finalists, I didn't worry that much about the flight cost and stuff.

The funniest thing was that the cheapest ticket back to Kuala Lumpur transited at Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. Vietnam was a crazy-crazy-crazy place. People were honking left and right without a valid reason. I thought I was a courageous person until I arrived at Ho Chi Minh. I didn't have the guts to cross the road as there were no traffic lights and the vehicles kept moving. Finally, I muster my courage and cross the road with the other Vietnamese. I thought to myself even if I die, at least I have company to heaven. Or maybe we'll accompany each other half way until the junction to either heaven or hell. And if I don't die and do get involved in an accident, at least I have someone to chat with in the ambulance. LOL.

So anyways, after Vietnam, I went to KL then back to Kuching. In Kuching, I began my hunt for the clothes that I was going to wear to the presentation. I had a specific idea in my head what I wanted to wear. A sweater on a long sleeve shirt with jeans. Looking for the sweater was difficult as while that fashion is currently the trend in Japan and US, it's still not that popular in Malaysia. I finally found an Emilio Valentino sweater though. I also found a backpack that I liked.

Knowing that a script with 13 episodes wasn't enough, I knew I had to come up with a teaser. I was however, extremely realistic and didn't want to be too ambitious. I finally managed to come up with an idea that was do-able and wouldn't be too time consuming. I finally came up with the idea of just focusing on the different aspects of Daniel's life and how he struggles to stay true to his identity. within three days, I managed to come up with two posters and one teaser. The teaser took almost 100 takes as my cousins (aged 11 to 15) could not stop laughing. Sigh...never leave a job meant for pro to


November 13th, I was supposed to arrive at 0001 am but thanks to the efficiency of Air Asia, I arrived at 0101. The best part was when I reached my hotel I had fever and was hallucinating already. And I still have to figure out what I was going to say in 9 hours time. After taking a short three hour nap, I woke up still dizzy and stuff. I had to prepare the handouts and stuff so it took me a good two hours. When I arrived at the hotel which was freaking freezing cold, I was surprised to see that the people there were extremely interesting. None of them were shy and all of them, had a solid idea. Shivering in cold, I drank lots of coffee and tried to thought out the script.

By the time it was my turn though, the script completely went out the window and I presented from my heart instead. Hehehehe..that has to be one of the most cliche sentences ever...I went overtime..No, that's not accurate. I ran two laps past the clock, instead of presenting for 5 minutes, I presented for 10 minutes. I thought to myself, crap. There goes my chance. But at least I still had the RM 3k.

Remaining November, while waiting for the result, I continued to work at the Malaysian restaurant ( I quit the post office job). After working there for a month, I was promoted to become hall chief in November. Being the youngest person there, people found it difficult to take me seriously. And some of the more experienced workers were annoyed at me being promoted but it's not my fault they never bother to learn the management stuffs. I took initiatives and my actions paid off. I however, began to change my method with them. I tried the inspiring them to work method. It worked. If you want them to do the job, do it yourself, get down and dirty and show them that they are not working for you, but working with you. Damn, those cliche sayings are actually true.

Early December, the drama class I took began practicing full swing for the year end drama that would be performed in front of a live audience. We were practicing for about 3 to 4 hours everyday. The teacher chose California Suite by Neil Simon and I played Billy while this other Chinese foreing student played Hannah in the first scene. I was also responsible for the brochure, invitation card and also, sound effect. After months of intensive practice, finally a week before the play, posters were put up around campus.

On the actual day of the drama, we had about 30 audience on the first day and about 40 audienec on the second day. Everythign went smoothly and after the play on the second day, which was the last day, we went for a drink.

Third week of December, I dont't know how but somehow I ended up being responsible for organising a year end party for the foreign language lounge members at my university. Never planned a party before, I began to freak out but luckily one of the Japanese girls who was studying Bristol but was coming back to Japan for the holiday, assured me everything was fine. As it turned out, on the actual day itself everything was indeed fine. We had a first party (一次会)at a Japanese restaurant. Then we had a second party at 10 pm at a British Pub. Then we had a third party at 11 at a Japanese karaoke. One of the Japanese fellow could not catch the last train back so he stayed over at my place.

The day after the party which was yesterday, the result for the Big Idea (the tv show idea) contest was announced in a ceremony in Sri Pentas, Kuala Lumpur. I could not go so instead Nadiah's mother went on my behalf. I was told by the organiser, Zher Peen to prepare a webcam if possible, just in case I won, which I thought was unlikely. I bought one that morning anyway. The ceremony started at 10 am. At that time, I was eating instant noodles while watching Friends' bloopers on YouTube.

After 1 hour, I still have not received any call so I immediately assumed that I lost. However, just as I finished my noodle, Ina Mora (a person who I don't know) messaged me on Skype and asked me to call Zher Peen. I called Zher Peen and she passed me on to Nadiah's mother. I FREAKING WON THE DAMN THING!! I WON RM 20 K !!! What the fuck ( i use fuck only on big occasions) !!! At least two television stations were interested. WOAAAA!! They interviewed me live through Skype. We had some technical (actualy a lot of technical problems) at first but eventually we got the conversation going. I immediately told all those friends who believed in my crazy idea and thanked them. Iman, Nadiah, Yin Nin, Ihsan, Muz (could not contact you were in UK) thanks man.

I don't know if I will be involved in the development of the drama series but I sure hope I will be. Anyways, this coming Saturday, I'll have to host this grand Malaysian night with Iman so I am pretty nervous cause I haven't figure out what to say yet. With all this going on in my life, I don't think I have time to blog anymore.

In 2009, I will write at least one more script and will try and produce the music I wrote. I also plan to quit my job and change to something different for the sake of experience. I also want to apply to be on the Amazing Race Asia and lots more. I'll also want to visit Manila and Jakarta (which I will in February and March), Yangon, Brunei, Phnom Penh and Laos as well. With that, I would have stepped foot on all Southeast Asean countries except for East Timor.

Crap, 2009 is going to be the year, I'll be slammed in the face by many doors, but at the same time, I hope, I sincerely do, that at least some of the things I plan will come true. To come to think of it, this time last year, I was feeling down when I found out that I had an elder sister that was given up for adoption. But I moved on and I made the best out of what I had. Thanks to all those who have been very supportive and I hope you'll hear more about me in future. Alrighty, with that, this is the end of this blog.

Thanks guys. Bye.

Sincerely Naza / Nicky

Friday, 10 October 2008

First steps S01E04 : Circumcision / かつれい

September 22nd, Monday (Afternoon)

After returning from the cyber cafe, where I spent the night as it was raining way too heavily to walk back home, I was all worn out and extremely tired. I had to get going in three hours time, so in Naza style, I took an hour nap which turned out to be a two hour nap. After I woke up, I proceeded to take a free shower at a nearby dormitory as my water supply has not been reconnected yet. The little things in life that you take for granted...sigh....

Anyways, after a nice shower, I went to school to meet Lily to practice our script for the drama camp we were having today and tomorrow. After about an hour of practice, we went to the university's K2 House which is located half an hour away. It's sort of like a summer house where students get to stay the night to practice for events and what not. There were 9 of us, that attended the drama camp. Six boys and three girls, including one teacher. The boys bunked in two separate rooms, divided by age. The older boys who were in their fourth year and the the younger boys, me included who were in their second year. The girls bunked in one room while the teacher had a room all to herself.

Personally, I enjoyed camps like this cause you get to socialise outside of the classroom but the main problem I kept having in such camps, is that language is constantly a barrier especially when you're talking about things outside of class where the vocabulary is so random. Most of the time when the Japanese joke, all I could do was smile and pretend I know the joke. It definitely takes a toll on your self esteem but I guess that is what most people go through when they are communicating in their second ( in my case, fourth or fifth) language. Wouldn't it be nice if all of us were to be programmed like a computer where we can just insert a chip and we'll be able to communicate fluently in a foreign language. Lol..wishful thinking I guess...

Anyways, after 6 long hours of script rehearsal (we're performing the play on December 18th and 19th in front of a large audience (when large, I mean 30 to 40), the play was written by Neil Simon and it's entitled California suite), where for the first time in my life, the teacher actually taught the students how to swear properly (??), we went for dinner. At dinner, like always, I'm blur when it comes to half the topic of conversations but I held strong although half of me is dying to go back home and curl up in a nice comfy bed. The nice thing about the dinner though was that for the first time, we get to learn something more about each other. Not as a student, but as a person. They asked about my reason for coming to Japan, how I fit in to Japanese society and stuffs. It was nice to have people wanting to know more about you, I would think.

After dinner, we had the infamous 二次会 (which is a custom in Japan, something like an after party) at the K2 house. We played games, talked and laughed. The highlight of the whole party has to be the two hour conversation on circumcision. The Japanese were so interested in the whole Jewish and Muslim circumcision process that they actually spent two hours talking and laughing about it. The girls actually participated actively in the conversation. It felt like for the first time, it didn't matter whether you're a foreigner or Japanese, man or woman, everyone could talk freely without fear of being judged. Even in Malaysia, I never had a conversation on this topic before so it was interesting having to talk about this in what is supposed to be a conservative, traditional Eastern country.

After the after party, all of us went to bed at about 2 am. Before going to bed, me and this other friend from the same faculty talked about travelling to different countries. Hearing his stories on his travel to several countries in Europe made me reminisce about my trip to Bangkok. I began to long for an adventure. So I asked him if he was interested in having a road trip to the southern island of Japan (Fukuoka) and from there we could take a ferry to South Korea. Surprisingly, he was up for it and we decided to carry out the trip in February or March. I am not sure if he rememebered the trip as he was half drunk. LOL. I'll ask him again sometime in December.

The night ended in a high and three days back in Japan, I felt satisfied with what I have accomplished. My water supply will be returning tomorrow and owh before I forget, I got reply from one of the jobs I applied for. It's the one for the Malaysian restaurant. I am expected to have an interview this coming Friday. Hope it goes well cause God knows, I don't want to get back to the post office.

Coming up next :
Job interview reveals something about the job that gets Naza wondering where his moreal boundaries are....

Thursday, 2 October 2008

First Steps S01E03 : Shower and Rain

"I am prepared for the prospect of having to fight for my extension contract with the post office. It I had to, I guess I would. But I am still having my fingers crossed"

September 21st, Sunday

I must admit that after arriving in Japan yesterday, life here has been rather lonely. The one good thing that I am looking for is the drama camp I'll be having tomorrow, which happens to be compulsory, which is the only reason why I had to come back to Japan this early instead of spending extra days in Malaysia to celebrate Aidilfitri.

So after my part time job, whilst walking back to my home, I recalled the problem of not having any water to shower so I began to panic. Luckily I remembered this student's dormitory for my university which was located along the way from the train station to my house. I thought that a student dormitory must have at least a shower room. Or more accurately, I was praying that the student dormitory would have a shower room. So I went into the building non chalantly, pretending that I was a resident there, and began my search. First floor, nothing. Second floor, nothing. Third floor, nothing. By this time. hope was dying already. Fourth floor, nothing. But wait, there's a floor directory located near the elevator on the fourth floor. As it turned out, on the basement floor, there is a shower room located next to the gym (wait, they have gym too?!!. I should have stayed there). I went to check it out and true enough, they did have a shower room.

Overwhelmed with joy, I proceeded to the closest 7 eleven shop and bought shampoo, conditioner, soap and tooth paste.

After packing my clothes and towel, I went to the dormitory and showered at the shower room. If I had any doubts that I was in Japan, the doubts were all cleared. After my shower, the moment I went out, I realised I was out of place cause I had towel around my waste. Everyone there was naked. I meant EVERY single person there, except me. And yet, most Japanese have problem expressing their points of view despite having to show everything that is on the outside already. Sigh...

Anyways, after shower, I felt refreshed like a brand new person. Next agenda, sleep.

September 22nd, Monday

So after sleeping for about 10 hours the day before, I woke up at around 6 pm on Sunday. Immediately after that, I called up Lily (she`s from China and she`s my drama partner. Each pair were assigned a script for a play that we were going to perform this November) and asked if she wanted to practice tonight. She said yes, I said yeay, mainly because I was in dire need of some form of social conversation.

At around 10 pm Sunday, we met up at the lounge of her dorm. Our practice was way longer than we anticipated. It took us 4 hours to finish half the script. Most of the time, we were laughing and joking about things that had nothing to do with the script though. So as it was already 2 am, and we had to go to our camp at around noon today, we decided to call it quits and meet around 11 the day after.

On the way back from her dorm to my house, which is a good 20 minutes, rain began to pour. As much as I wanted to shower, that wasn't how I wanted to shower. So desperately needing a place to crash, I went to this 24/7 cyber cafe. In Japan. most of the cyber cafes function as a place for people to read comic books, watch videos and everything else. Drinks are complimentary btw. So since I had time to burn, I began to youtube. Then, I googled random stuffs and checked my email. Then, I began to look for job online.

I decided that this time, I would try and look for more jobs that requires English. The problem though was that I am not a native English speaker thus putting myself at a huge disadvantage. Nonetheless, I tried and applied for almost 20 teaching jobs. Some at kindergarden, some at primary school and some as English conversation partners. However, some time near the end of my search, I found this Malaysian restaurant that is currently hiring staffs. Running out of options, I applied for that as well and fingers crossed, I'll get it.

In the mean time, however, I am prepared for the prospect of having to fight for my extension contract with the post office. It I had to, I guess I would. But I am still having my fingers crossed, that at least I'll have options if any of the jobs I applied for is available.

Coming up next
A job is offered but it comes with a compromise. Is the sacrifice worth it or is it better to stick to the post office job.

First steps S01E02 : The Right or Wrong Post for Me?

"The moment I heard the news, all I could think of was do I really want to continue this job or would I be better off elsewhere. Somewhere where I am less miserable"

September 20th, Saturday

So after having a good four hour sleep, I woke up at around 4p.m to knocks on my door. When I opened my door, I saw three perfect strangers (a man, a woman and a girl in her teens, I am guessing that they are a family) standing outside my door. Most importantly, I realised that I was raining and all I could see was my poor pillows wet and my bed sheet soaked. As it turned out, they knocked to tell me to bring in my pillows and bed sheet. As grateful as I was, there was nothing else I could do. In autumn, it's almost impossible to dry your laundry indoors so I placed my pillows on top of my fridge and could bother less about them.

As I had four hours to waste before going to my part time job at a post office, located 30 minutes away by train, I reminded myself of the changes I promised. One of the changes was to not procrastinate anymore. So UNWILLINGLY, I arranged all the food I brought back from Malaysia which by the way, weights up to a total of 35 kgs. Arranging the food sort of brought me joy to what would have been a stressful day so far (that and probably the some sleep I managed to get) as I got to scheme through the different flavors of instant noodles I brought. It was almost theraupetic. After two hours of cleaning up my room, I sat in my room while staring at the wall, wondering what to do next. As I cannot shower and could not watch TV (cause I don't have one) nor could I cook for dinner (cause no gas), I decided that maybe I should just eat out.

After a quick change of clothes, I went to this tempura shop to have dinner. Ahhh...the few things I missed while I was gone, tempura...Despite the food being absolutely spot on for a good price of RM 24 per bowl, I was still terribly uncomfortable cause I have not showered for one whole day. I never understood how people can go on without showering for days.

Anyways, by the time I finished my food it was already 7 and it was two more hours before my part time job began. In an attempt to waste time, I walked around the area, window shopping and by the time it was an hour before my job starts, I board the train.

My arrival at my baito-saki (Japanese for my work place) was not exactly warmly welcomed. After being absent for the past two months (as I went back to Malaysia), people were shocked to see me. After the initial where have you been conversations, there was that usual awkward silence. This is exaclty why I never liked to take the elevators. You never quite know what to say to the strangers you meet.

Here's a bit of info about my job. I work at a post office where my job were to divide the parcels according to its destinations. I work from 9.45 pm at night to 6.30 am in the morning. I work three days a week, mainly Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. The job itself is not actually that tiring but the social bit is slightly difficult. Being handicapped as you don't speak native Japanese, most of the time, most of the Japanese tend to avoid talking to you. The only few who talked to me were either plain polite or had learnt to speak malay out of interest. I thought of changing my job but the pay was good, probably due to it being late night job and long hours.

However, that night, the guy who spoke a little Malay walked up to me and said that the supervisor had informed him that a letter had been sent to me to inform me that I will be laid off starting October 2008 as I was not around to sign my extension of employment contract. This was a little bit odd to me as I had informed them that I would be back in Malaysia for two months, and if that was unacceptable, they shouldn't have approved it. And if they approved it, then they shouldn't expect me to be around to sign the contract. They should at least wait for my arrival. The guy who spoke a little malay ( as the guy who spoke a little Malay is a little bit mouthful, let's just call him KC, which by the way is his actual nick name), KC, urged me to fight for my rights. He told me to go to the labor union if I had to. I was like...owkieee....I am not sure if I wanted to create that big of a mess...

The moment I heard the news, all I could think of was do I really want to continue this job or would I be better off elsewhere. Somewhere where I am less miserable. I do need the money thought to dig my way out of this financial mess...but would it be worth it if I had to work long hours without any social interaction and be an emotional mess? Hmmm...maybe change is coming to me without me going to it.

Coming up next
Faced with a dilema, I began to seek options. At this point, anything would do. The question, is it really that anything will do?

First Steps S01E01 : Delays and Suspensions

"I was already tired and worn out. I just crashed on my bed and slept on my winter coat. I just have to deal with the rest when I woke up."

September 19th, Friday (1900 hours to 0300hours)

I boarded the flight from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur to wait for my connection flight to Narita, Japan. In the flight, I was psyching myself up for my arrival in Japan. So much that I wanted to do and so much that I wanted to undo. It's time for a breath of fresh air I thought.

However, as life has always been, a curveball was thrown at me even before I arrived in Japan. Upon arrival at KL International Airport at 8.30 p.m., I was told that my flight has been delayed for one and a half hour to 1 a.m. Great, now I have 4 hours and a half to spend in an airport with limited budget. So while strolling up and down that bloody airport, I decided to go back to the information counter for confirmation. When I arrived at the counter, this Indian lady was also asking the counter about the flight and as it turned out, she was on her own. Imagine a poor lady in her 60s having to spend her night at the airport on her own. Since I myself am lonely, it only made sense to wait together.

So as we waited for our flight to depart, I got the opportunity to learn more about her. Apparently, she studied in India and now she is visiting her children who are working in the US. Whilst I only have a 6 hours flight to catch, she will be spending her whole day in a plane. We chatted for quite some time and before we realised it, it was already time to board the flight. Or so we thought.
While waiting at the boarding gate, the worst possible (well maybe not the worst, but the second worst) thing happened. Due to typhoon, the flight was delayed for another two hours. But Malaysia Airlines were kind enough to provide us with refreshment vouchers. However, most of the restaurants in the terminal were closed and those which were still open, had very limited choices. Well, beggars can be choosers I guess.

Eventually, after one and a half hour passed by, we boarded the flight. After strutting for almost 6 hours in the airport, we finally left Kuala Lumpur and headed to Japan. Now that we're back on track, I would like to hit the grounds of Japan running.

September 20th, Saturday (0900 hours to 1200hours)

Upon arrival to Tokyo, I had to take a two hour train to the station nearest to my home. It wasn't that bad though as I only had to change train once and I slept through most of the journey. When I arrived at the station nearest to home, I was too damn tired to walk with my two bags home so I took the taxi. That turned out to be a pretty bad idea, cause while I was lifting my bag up to put in the back of the taxi, the handle broke. least, I am almost home, I thought to myself.

After a few minutes of taxi ride, I finally arrived home. I felt a huge relief but that was of course, before I walked in through the door. When I entered home, I wanted to cry. If I could, I would have cried a river. First, my water supply has been temporarily suspended. Secondly, my gas supply was also suspended. Third, my internet service has been temporarily suspended. And fourth, for some reason, fungi were growing on my bed sheets and my pillow cases. I took a deep breath, and called up the waterworks and the internet service provider. As it turned out, it doesn't how advanced Japan is, if it's saturday, it's saturday. I won't be able to get my service back until monday. As for my bed sheets and pillow cases, I placed them in the laundry basket. However, my pillows also smelled funny and there were no chance in hell, I would be able to sleep on it so the only thing left to do was to put all of them out to dry.

As fatigue began to take its toll, I could barely do anything anymore. I had not slept on a real bed for the past 36 hours. I was already tired and worn out. I just crashed on my bed and slept on my winter coat. I just have to deal with the rest when I woke up.

Coming up next:
Saturday's ain't over as problems kept popping up..but with every problem, there is usually a silver lining...usually

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

First Steps S01E00 : Twenty One Years Ago

Twenty years ago, a boy was born. He came into the world with nothing in his hands and he had nothing to lose but his life. Along the road, he walked, he crawled and he learnt about things out of curiosity. However, more importantly, along the road, he changed. At first, he changed to become like his parents. He spoke the words his parents spoke and he ate the food his parents ate. Eventually, he changed some more to fit into society. He wore the clothes the societies thought were acceptable and he did the things the society thought was morally justified.

But, it was not long before he realised that living a world as a fish among fishes had no meaning. It gave him no satisfaction and his life became mundane. And so, as time pass by, he eventually change to become himself, in other words, different, or to use a better word, special. He changed to become special. He attained a new identity. He was no longer a fish. Nor is he a shark. He is himself.

However, things are slightly different from 21 years ago. 21 years ago, he could change and not lose a single thing. 21 years ago, every change is a gain. But now, each change has its price. Each change comes with its own sets of losses and gains. With every change of career, is a change of income and stability. How much is he willing to lose to gain the changes he desires?

My mother used to say a person cannot change who he is. I used to answer back to her, that if that is the case, this world has no hope and I refuse to believe that you are right. And this is me, doing all I can to prove the sceptics wrong.

There are no books in this world that says that a person must stay the same 24 / 7. Life is filled with ups and downs and with each ups and downs, you are supposed to learn something new and become a better person. God has plans for us and until we uncover what that plan is, I would want to equip myself with all things possible. That includes, health, knowledge, conscience, dignity and friends. And I hope you will too.

The following posts will follow the life of this boy as he learns the things he can and cannot change. This following posts will be the things I would look back in many years time. Hopefully, when that day comes, I can read back and feel proud of the things I did right and not regret every little mistake I did wrong.

So here I am. May 2009 be the begining of the many changes I would bring to my life.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

New Look...New Posts...

it's been a while since i last posted anything on my blog.

after few months gone, i'm happy to announce that this blog will be back with more new posts by October 2008. i'll try and blog regularly and as you may have noticed, there will be some minor changes to the blog.

anyways, let's make the remaining months of 2008 the best months of 2008.