Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Michael Jackson makes me smile

So Michael Jackson was buried yesterday (early this morning Malaysian time). Finally, we could say our farewell. Finally, it was time to let go.

Yeah of course I like his songs. I grew up listening to them. I especially like 'Man In The Mirror'.

I'm gonna make a change, for once in my life
It's gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right

But it's not just his songs that make me smile: Michael Jackson was also a big part of how I ended up working at NST today. I am not kidding!

In 1996, I was a freshie at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. As with most first-year students, I was looking for a scholarship.

One day, I chanced upon a walk-in interview for an NST scholarship.

I gave it a try. One guy interviewed me. Two things I remember from that interview: first, the guy was all smiling, all laidback and made me feel at ease.

Second, I was the only computer science student who applied for that scholarship.

Soon afterwards, I was invited for a second interview at Balai Berita. This was when it got interesting.

There were five NST executives in the room. Five pairs of eyes looking at me.

One guy, who was sitting in the middle, said nothing throughout the interview. All he did was stare.

I was pretty sure that I didn't impress any of them.

To make matters worse, towards the end of the interview I was asked a current issues question.

"Apa dia event yang sedang berlaku sekarang nie yang orang betul-betul nak tahu, kalau boleh setiap minit kita nak tahu perkembangannya?" asked one of the execs (the interview was conducted in both English and BM).

I thought for a while, then suddenly remembered something and blurted out:

"Michael Jackson nak datang Malaysia ke?"

I must've seem so earnest, because immediately all of them, including the middle guy who said nothing, burst out laughing!

There was nothing wrong with that answer, because Michael Jackson really was coming to Malaysia. But it wasn't the answer they were looking for.

"American presidential election lah. Apalah kamu nie," said the exec, still laughing.

I think when I left the room, they were still laughing.

And I thought well that was it -- I just blew my chances at getting an NST scholarship.

Which is why, it was indeed a pleasant surprise to learn some time later that I actually got it!

Thirteen years down the road, I am now working at the best job I can imagine.

Somehow, I felt Michael Jackson had a hand in it.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Varsiti Kita

Found this video on YouTube today. Varsiti Kita is one of two official songs of my alma mater, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

For most students, the orientation week is perhaps the only time in their life that they get to listen to this song performed live.

It is a soothing experience. Just before the choir starts singing, there is pin-drop silence and calmness descends on the fresh-faced Dectar assembly.

As the performance gets under way, your spirit gets lifted when the group reaches crescendo and sings, "Bagai tanda perjuangan kita".

After the performance, you are left with this inexplicable warm and fuzzy feeling that makes you want to weep and hug your lecturers.

When I enrolled in UKM in 1996, Varsiti Kita was about the only part of the orientation week that I enjoyed. Becos the rest of the week is chaotic and stressful. Bangun pukul 2-3 pagi la, pakai baju busuk la. Benci, BENCI!

Varsiti Kita trivia: Did you know that the multiracial choir group used the word taqwa (God-consciousness) long before Saudara Lim Guan Eng started using it in his speeches?