Sunday, May 11, 2008

Chris got married

My friend Chris got married yesterday. I know because I was at his wedding.

This is Chris Chong, I must add. I have quite a number of Chrises for my friend. Chris Chong, Christian K, Christian Berg. They tend to Chris Cross so I do have to be specific sometimes.

The Chris who got married was formerly of Star's In-Tech. Back when we were both in tech journalism, we shared a common interest in Macs. I think we still do.

I went to Macworld San Francisco with him in 2005. It was a trip that I will remember for a very long time.

Chris met and fell in love with Elaine Ho fairly recently, I was told. May last year he proposed to her on Mount Kinabalu. Nothing new there, I'm sure many guys have proposed on top of Mount Kinabalu before. But what was weird about their story is how they never ran into each other despite:

1. living just 5 minutes from each other in PJ
2. Elaine being a friend of Chris' brother since they were kids
3. and a few other mutual friends/connections that I am now unable to tell you because they forgot to give me the Press kit on the wedding day.

One day, one of these mutual friends asked him out for a game of basketball. There, he met this particular girl who plays basketball against the guys. "I must have her!" he said and things moved pretty quickly from there.

What struck me about the marriage is that it seems to be a coming together of two very happy individuals. While I can't say I know Elaine, I have known Chris for quite some time as a journalist and there was never a moment when life was just going through the motions. He was always trying new things, giving 100 percent at work and was always enthusiastic about something.

Chris if you are reading this, I remember clearly what it was like when we first set foot at Macworld SF: I wanted to dance in front of Moscone Centre and kiss the ground beneath my feet for the opportunity that God had given me. Well, today it's more or less the same feeling. I'm very happy for the two of you and that is an understatement.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Could it be the same guy?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a story in NST about gyms, specifically on the techniques they use to make you sign up and then to make it incredibly difficult for you to terminate your membership.

As part of my research, I went undercover. Posing as a potential customer looking to 'bulk up', I visited two gyms in KL, one of which was California Fitness in Mid Valley.

At CF, the fitness consultant/counsellor/salesman (choose one) who attended to me was a guy who only wanted to be known as Amed. Very pleasant guy. He showed me around the gym, answered my questions and later as expected tried to close the sale of the membership. But he was a professional; at no point did I sense that I was being coerced into signing up.

We have not reached the punch line yet. Bear with me.

Anyway, where Amed was a professional, I was also smart so I left without signing up.

The next day -- and here's where it gets interesting because this part never came out in the newspaper article -- I saw a program on TV1 called Tilawah Interaktif.

Guess who I saw hosting the program? I almost fell out of my chair. It was the guy I met the previous day at the gym!

I thought, why would the host of a religious program sell gym memberships? On the one hand, you try to get people to read the Quran properly. On the other, you try to convince people into parting with their future income, often for no good reason. These goals do not go hand-in-hand!

I tried to rationalise it. Maybe he needed the extra money. Maybe RTM does not pay enough so he figured he could put his interpersonal skills to some use. After all, ini bukannya jual dadah.

So was it or was it not Amed? It was a real VK Lingam moment for me. The guy looked like Amed, sounded like Amed, but I wasn't sure if it was 100 percent Amed.

So I waited until the end credit and learnt that the host's name was Hafiz Hamidun, a former singer with nasyid group, Unic.

Aha, so that must be it -- 'Amed' must've come from the Hamidun part of his name! I was extremely pleased by how smart I was.

I decided to call the guy up to expose him for the fake that he was. We reporters love this sort of thing. Twice I tried. The first time, I tried to shock him by asking for Hafiz Hamidun. It didn't work. He just said salah nombor lah.

The second time, I did it properly. I asked for Amed, introduced myself and then asked my question. I got my answer. No, he's NOT Hafiz Hamidun. In fact, he works full-time at CF and sounded quite amused by the whole thing.

Really ah?

Sometimes we tend to believe what we want to believe.