The one where I bought an Islamic book


Once in a blue moon, some one would mistake me for a Malay (don’t ask how or why, I don’t know). And so, the other day I was walking across the road from the hospital back to the campus when I was waylaid by a Malay Muslim man clutching several books in one arm who addressed me with the customary Muslim greeting (I can’t repeat it here because in this land, some greetings are deemed the sole propriety of people of selected ethnicity or religious belief).

I smiled. We shook hands. And he asked if I would like to purchase one of his books. “It’s for charity”, he said in Malay.

Without a thought, I said, “Sure!”, and fished out RM 20 from my wallet and passed it to him in exchange for the book (below).

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The book seller’s eyes eventually rested upon my very-Chinese name tag and, probably realizing the faux pas, became momentarily speechless while smiling sheepishly.

“It’s quite alright”, I reassured the man. ”I’d like to read the book and see what it says”.

Much reassured, he shook my hands, thanked me profusely and we parted ways.

I’d like to see this become a norm some day in my country.

Why you should not lose your wallet


walletI lost my wallet two days ago. An idiot broke into my gym locker and stole it. I call him an idiot because the gym was in a private club where EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE A MEMBER AND ENTER WITH AN ACCESS CARD! So he wasn’t very clever to steal from a fellow member of the gym!

Anyway, his mugshot (via CCTV) is with the police. They have his details as well (a 20-something, Chinese dude, with a dragon tattoo on his back, and works as a chef). I even have his name! Too bad I could not troll him on FB – he doesn’t seem to have an FB account. I will let the police handle his case.

What I did lose? Everything! :(

My ID card. My driver’s license. Several loyalty cards. Two ATM cards and two credit cards from two different banks. And about RM 300 in cash.

For the past 48 hours I have been doing what needs to be done – cancel or block all my cards, and start the process of reclaiming my stolen identity. For the first 2 hours, I was numbed with shock and anger. The last time I had my wallet stolen was when I was a house officer at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital where I literally wrestled with the intruder. Nevertheless I was calm and composed enough to call the call centres of the banks and cancel my cards; after which I dealt with the club management, and made a police report on the first day. The next day (Sunday), I managed to apply for a temporary ID card from the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negeri. Today, I applied for emergency leave and did the rest.

I want to blog about my experiences with each of them under 4 headings:

1. Who were they.
2. The good.
3. The bad.
4. Quotable quote.

1. The Maybank call centre

The good: Prompt answer to my phone call. Very pleasant receptionist. Cancelled my card and ATM before I can say ‘I’ve been robbed!’, assured me that no transaction had taken place in the last 2 hours using my cards, and informed me that a new card will be sent to the branch nearest to my home within a week.

The bad: None

Quotable quote: None

2. The CIMB call centre

The good: Prompt response to my phone call. Pleasant but not as pleasant as the Maybank fellow.

The bad: The CIMB fellow insisted that I “settle all outstanding debt on your card before I can block or cancel it”. That really pissed me off royally and I gave him a royal sounding – emphasizing that I had my cards from Maybank cancelled/blocked just minutes ago without any fuss. This was followed by silence……and then, the fella got the message and promptly blocked all my cards.

Quotable quote: Oh, I thought you wanted to close your account! *facepalm

3. The Club Management

The good: Extremely prompt response from the person-in-charge (PIC). He contacted his boss, gave me access to the CCTV, advised me on what to do, etc etc. He even replaced my membership card without charge.

The bad: Horrible response from the lady-at-the-gym-counter (LATGC). She just sat there for an eternity or two looking like she just ate 2 really-badly-preserved-Chinese-century-eggs when I first alerted her to the theft. Later she returned to earth and alerted the good bloke above.

Quotable quote: (from LATGC) Oh, you lost your bag is it…..(silence)….oh…(silence)…oh (silence)…your bag is it?…silence ad infinitum

4. The Police Station (Seremban 2 Police Head Quarter)

The good: Police report made in a jiffy (once I found the place – see below).

The bad: You need a map or GPS to navigate through the HQ. The signage were appalling. The police woman who first attended to was curt, almost to the point of being dismissive (oh, just another theft – more work more work for me…..) but immediately turned into a sweet helpful young thing once she discovered she was attending to a physician. *weird isn’t it, the double standard?! Same with the Sergeant who was assigned to my case, initially he grumbled that he was already “on his way home to Port Dickson but have to turn back”, but he mellowed considerably later.

Quotable quote: None

5. The Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara Seremban (to replace my ID card)

The good: It’s open on Sunday (9 am till 2 pm)! Hurrah! The whole process was a breeze although I had to wait two hours to get the temporary ID card (the permanent one will be issued 10 days later). I gave the two officers who attended to me ‘Excellent’ on their ‘Rate my service’ devices on the desk.

The bad: Queue jumpers. Correction – CHINESE queue jumpers. CORRECTION: Loud, unscrupulous, Chinese queue jumpers. No wonder people don’t like Chinese people (I’m Chinese by the way and even I find some of my fellow Chinese people’s attitude obnoxious). Shame on us!

Quotable quote: None

6. Aeon Counter, Seremban 2 (to replace my Aeon loyalty card)

The good: Quick service. No fuss.

The bad: The woman could at least smile right?

Quotable quote: None

7. Starbucks, Seremban 2 (to replace Starbucks loyalty card)

The good: Quick service.

The bad: You gotta pay RM 30 (it used to be RM 20) but the amount is credited to the card.

Quotable quote: None

8. Tesco Seremban 2 (to replace Tesco loyalty card)

The good: No questions asked.

The bad: Irritable bored fellow at the counter (hence the ‘no questions asked’ above)

Quotable quote: None

9. The Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalanraya (JPJ) (to replace driver’s license)

The good: I got there first!

The bad: I forgot to bring along my original temporary ID document although I had copies of it, along with my passport, my birth cert, 2 utility bills in my name, 2 bank books in my name. The woman-at-the-counter (WATC) still insisted I produce the ‘original’. I had no choice but to drive home (15-20 minutes one way) to get the document and return to the JPJ. Mercifully she promised I need not get another queue number when I return.

Quotable quote: (from the boss of WATC) In Malaysia, the passport is not a valid document for identification! *yeah, I guess that’s why people can fly into the country undocumented and die in a bomb blast and murderers can leave the country while under trial.

10. CIMB Bank, Seremban 2 (to replace ATM card and apply for replacement credit card)

The good: I got my debit card replaced.

The bad: Counter lady didn’t know what I needed. For my stolen credit card, she suggested “why don’t you just apply for a new card?” *OMG x godzillion times! The other chap at another counter insisted that “your account is coded in such a way that no ATM cards can be issued” and remained unconvinced even after I assured him that I have been USING AN ATM CARD LINKED TO THAT ACCOUNT FOR THE LAST 6 YEARS!!!! After many trips from his desk to the realms behind the door at the bank, he finally emerged and said it can be done (like….duh?!)

Quotable quote: Counter lady: for this, you ask the fella at the counter ya.
Fella at the counter: Oh, this, you ask the lady at the counter ya. >_<!

11. Maybank, Seremban 2 (to replace ATM card and apply for replacement credit card)

The good: I got my debit card! (after ‘The bad’ below)

The bad: The woman at the counter, after realizing that I only have a temporary ID document + passport + birth cert + utility bills; said “Oh, this….for people with no original ID card, you need to get your card replaced at the main branch in town”!

I swear I was gonna blow a coronary or two. I hissed, “Does that mean that I need to drive to town (the main branch is located in one of the busiest street in town and finding a parking there is a nightmare) and over there, they have people and facility to verify that my temporary ID document is not a fake document? (I know, I know, technically it is not possible to hiss so many words in one breath, but hey what the heck, hissed I did).

*so quiet, you can hear the cricket…..

She relented and after a few taps on her desktop PC, remarked “Oh…guess what, it looks like we can replace your ATM card here after all!”

Quotable quote: as above.

12. Petronas Station (to replace my Mesra kad)

The good: Really quick and really friendly. All I needed to do was to pick up a new card and then register it online.

The bad: None

Quotable quote: None

The moral of the story? AS MUCH AS IT IS WITHIN YOUR POWER, DO NOT EVER LOSE YOUR BLARDY WALLET!

As for the thief, I hope the police comes knocking at your door and gives you hell. But then again, in this country it may not happen. So, in case of the latter, I hope your appendages fall off, slowly, painfully, excruciatingly painfully from dry gangrene. And don’t come to the gym again, coz I recognize you. Your stupid action has caused me unnecessary inconvenience and one unproductive work day.

Without grace


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Last week I witnessed the owner of a shop selling drinks at the market in town verbally abusing a family. the unfortunate family had made a wrong decision to sit around the table belonging to the shop owner, an elderly bitter-looking woman; and ordering a glass of soya milk sold by a rival shop! The family consisted of a young woman, with her two children who were toddlers, and an elderly couple, presumably the grandparents of the kids.

I was seated at a nearby table with my family, after having taken great care not to sit at the ‘forbidden’ tables owned by the bitter woman! I’ve had bad experiences with this woman before you see and I never liked to drink sugarcane water (which was her specialty) in the morning anyways. I prefer caffeine.

Anyway, I was close enough to listen in to the unpleasant conversation:

Bitter woman (BW): What do you want to order?
Mum of kids (MOK): Oh, we have not decided yet. Please wait.
BW: Then what is that on MY table? (pointing at an offending glass of soy milk that the MOK had ordered for one of her kids)
MOK: Oh, I ordered that from that shop (indicating with her eyes where she ordered the offending beverage from)
BW (voice several decibel higher now): You cannot order from anyone else but from me!
MOK: Why is that?
BW: This is MY table! If you sit here, you can only order from me! You cannot put other people’s drinks on MY table! (voice now a full few hundred decibels higher)
MOK (quite distressed now): But but but…
BW: No! No! You go away. You cannot sit here!

The distressed mother had no choice but to evict her kids, the elder couple and herself from the sacred table and transplant themselves to another table nearby, taking along the offending glass of soy milk in order to avoid an ugly scene. To her credit, she did not raise her voice nor was she ever rude to the BW, probably out of respect for her age.

The BW continued to grumble and mumble quite loudly while proceeding to forcibly and loudly push away any offending chairs that did not belonged to her from the vicinity of her table.

Another woman asked her why she was unhappy and the BW said, “They didn’t want to buy from me, they don’t like my drink, they cannot sit here!”

She has done the same to me once or twice before. Nowadays I stay far far away from her shop and anything remotely looking like it belonged to her! I wonder what has turned this woman into the ugly bitter, unreasonable, never-smiling, always scowling selfish monster that she is now.

I pray and hope that one day, before it is too late, her life may be touched by divine grace so that she will realize that there are more important things in life than hogging empty tables and chairs.