Monthly Archives: July 2012

Ramadhan Al-Mubarak

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This weekend marks the beginning of Ramadhan for Muslims all over the world. For Muslims, the next 29 days will mean refraining from consuming food and water during the day, and putting in more effort to think, say and do nicer things to the people around them as a mean to build on their spirituality and be ‘closer’ to Allah S.W.T. In a simplistic way, at least that is what this coming month will mean to me.

A friend of mine, Stu, whom I had met during my post-grad studies in Brisbane is currently attempting to observe Ramadhan in exactly the same way as all Muslims do in an effort to raise funds for the KNM Tanzania, a women’s organization in which he had spent some time in the recent years volunteering. For someone who does not claim himself a Muslim and thus is not ‘obligated’ to observe such refrains, I admire his determination to see this month through, wholeheartedly and willingly, all in the name of charity. He will documenting his experience on his blog here.

A lot of people I’ve encountered seems to view fasting as an extremely difficult and challenging thing to attempt. Especially over a month. Coming from a family that has instilled fasting as a religious practice as soon as you are able to (I started at 5 observing it for half a day at time, working up to a full day fasting by the age of 7), this annual occurrence is something that I have gotten used to. It is an expected event. One that I intermittently look forward to (for the value of detox, giving your digestive system a much needed break and hence allowing the rest of your body to adjust and eliminate the unnecessary stuff, and of course for the value of self reflection, and spirituality) but also look onto with a slight worry as I watch some of the weight that I desperately try to hold on to slip off within the one month.

For those who have never attempted to do so, I can perhaps understand how difficult it is to go without all these throughout the day, for 29 days straight. But for Stu, it is even more admirable as what he is doing is both to challenge himself and reap some human kindness out of it at the same time by encouraging people to donate towards his chosen non-profit organisation. Which reminds me of an important part of Ramadhan, and that is to remember the sacrifice of others, and to persevere towards our intended goals.

Slow down, and the world will slow down with you

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I was late for work earlier this week and was driving down the same route as I had been taking since January to go to the client site. In my hurry, I remembered thinking WHY is everyone driving slower than usual today? And whilst trying to prevent myself from zig-zagging through the lanes so I would make it to work on time, it occurred to me that when you are rushing, and wishing things/people would move faster, everything and everyone around you will always seem to move slower.

I had this conversation with a friend and she agreed that this could be true. Colors, situations, and conversations turn out to be much richer when people slow down and take the time to enjoy each of this activity on its own. Besides it’s been scientifically proven that multitasking reduces ones productivity.

Now that’s one thought to sit with. But what does it mean by “slowing down”?

Our conversation went on around the concept of returning to yourself. When the world around you gets chaotic, when things disappoint and refuse to go the way you want it to, when everything that is happening around you becomes draining rather than sustain you, that is when you look inwards and return to yourself.

Chill. Breathe deeper. And do the activities that enriches you.

Last weekend I took the plunge and participated in a photography workshop. At some point I figured I needed to learn how to work the nifty gadget I bought earlier this year for my Italy trip. Off I went into the heart of Kuala Lumpur on a Sunday morning, armed with Google Map and walking instructions which was useless because I ended up lost. Trying my best not to look like a tourist so I won’t get mugged in broad daylight, I stopped at a nearby bakery to ask for directions.

And he nearly got me lost too.

Anyway, I eventually found it. In some instances, I had to love the Malaysian Timing concept, because at that time, I wasn’t even late considering there were so many others that got there later than myself. When practical time came, we were set loose on Petaling Street to walk freely for an hour and take photos.

Subject out of focus, but I still like it anyway!

During this time I took to follow one of the expert photographers from behind, short of stalking him, I wanted to pick his brains on what gives a photograph the WOW factor.

“It’s all about the timing. Sometimes you have to sit there for a while, and wait for your subject to come into the frame, or for them to move in the way you want them to. The difference between drawing on canvas and photography is that you start on a blank canvas. You add things in by drawing them. With photography, it’s the opposite. You have to learn to take away things from your frame until there is one meaningful subject to focus on”

Then it occurred to me, why most of the photographers I see possess some sort of zen-ness about them. Photography slows people down. It forces you to stand there and wait for the right moment to capture that awesome photo. I think I have a new hobby.