Thursday, December 5, 2019


bagai bintang di syurga
dan seluruh warna
dan kasih yang setia
dan cahaya nyata

oh bintang di syurga 
berikan cerita
dan kasih yang setia
dan cahaya nyata

This is one of my favorite Malay songs. It feels like.... the Malay version of The Scientist or Yellow by Coldplay. To me, it's a classic. I was telling Lucas all about the singer, who got caught in a sex tape scandal. This performance also reminds me of Adam, for some reason. It's something I wonder if Adam would listen to and say "this slaps!" Adam and I follow each other on his band's Instagram profile, and I think he has a girlfriend. So I think life is going quite nicely for each of us. What a difference a year makes.

The past three days have been good to me. I've spent some time cooking, swimming, and reading. My current read is Budi Kritik: a collection of essays by and about the Malay community, pertaining to topics such as language, religion and gender, among a selection of others. I have greatly enjoyed the read so far, I think it's important for Malays to read it but also for just about anyone as its principles can translate for any other language or community. Sometimes I do things that are peak-White-Girl, I travel with no regard for my safety and I eat avocado toast for brunch. I will always love my Malay culture though, despite criticizing the insidious patriarchal nature of the decade past, I also love Malay songs at karaoke, and I would feed every stranger in the world my nyai's sambal telur and ayam lemak cili padi. I love codeswitching between Malay and English humor, saying things like “sukati kau la nak.” The pictures are not related except to tell you that my odds are stacked, I'll go back to black. The following is an excerpt from Budi Kritik. Yet, there is something to be said about the uniqueness of a language that makes its loss all the more devastating. The Austrian-born philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein expressed it best when he said, “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” Untranslatable words are the very epitome of this erudite line. Let us consider the Malay word ‘sayang’, once a theme of the Singapore Writers Festival in 2016. The term has no one-for-one English equivalent. It infers intimations of love, yet it can also conjure regret, even loathing. Such were the chatter on the ground as the festival unfolds, but it is also notable that the first to get at its multifarious meanings is not an ethnic Malay (sorry not sorry, ultras) but a Singaporean writer of Indian descent, Gopal Baratham. As so eloquently put by his protagonist Joseph Samy in Baratham's novel Sayang (1991), the word “describes a love bound to sadness, a tenderness trembling on the edge of tears, a passion from which pity could not be detached.”
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I created a trip itinerary on TripAdvisor to try and win business class tickets. I made an itinerary for Old Souls in New York based on my experience. This was what I wrote:
Washington Square Park: You might have seen this park in movie scenes, or your favorite poem could have been written here. Soak up the atmosphere permeated by artsy folk, who have been haunting this joint for centuries, to sing, write and dance in summer. Even in winter, you can feel a buzz of people ringing in the new and inviting fresh memories into their futures.

New York Transit Museum: The entrance to this museum looks like just another entrance to the subway, so be sure not to walk past it! Inside is a collection of all the different MTA train car designs through the decades, for you to take photos and appreciate posters from campaigns past. Don't just do it for the 'gram though, definitely take the subway when in New York to see and interact with the heart of the city: its people.

Brooklyn Bridge: Did you even go to New York if you don't walk across this bridge? No one would believe you did. When I was here, I witnessed a man proposing to his girlfriend, and the entire crowd burst into awwws. There might have been onions around me too. Whatever your expectations are, this city will surprise you in delightful ways. At the very least, crossing the bridge while admiring the skyline of New York City should inspire a little awe, if not a lot of warmth and fuzziness inside you.

The Strand Bookstore: The Strand is a great place to meet other old souls. If you don't like them in human form, then you might want to let yourself get lost in the stories of thousands of books. The book that's been on your wishlist, it's definitely here. That book you've been meaning to write? Could maybe already be found here too. ;)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Millennials know The Met from Gossip Girl. Besides its iconic steps, it holds some of the greatest pieces of art within its towering rooms. You don't have to be someone who's "artistic" or a regular museum visitor to appreciate this place: there's something for everyone and when you've found yours, you might stand mesmerized for hours.

Grand Central Terminal: The first time I was here, I was on a first date. I'd like to think I fell in love on that night, yet I will never know why. Perhaps there's something about a crossroads location where thousands of people commute each day, leaving tiny parts of themselves behind, to intermingle with the souls of yesteryears. Time runs thin here, everyone is catching a connecting train to somewhere but if you have a moment, stand from afar as you guess the lives of all who pass through here.

Central Park: All across Central Park are benches with personalized plaques on them. These plaques contain personal quotes, or descriptions of people who have passed, contributed by family members, friends, and anyone whose life has been changed by the subject. One day, I aim to spend an entire day reading every single plaque there is, but until then, perhaps you will find your favorite before I do.
I am such a hopeless romantic. I really done fell in love with the city. Also its people. I love New York City. The magic is in its thousands of people organizing against the police to protect homeless and poor people of color from being criminalized for not paying MTA fare. The magic is in thousands of people like me, going there to change the world, for a change in their own lives, to create things of their own, all of it spilling into one another's bubbles. I miss New York. I miss the way I felt happy to be alive when I was there.