Sunday, April 27, 2008

At Nadiah's sports day

Carnival atmosphere at Stadium Bola Sepak Cheras

Nadiah sprinting to the finish line

All hot and sweaty, but happy to win second place for her team

Nadiah receiving her medal from the headmaster

Today we attended Nadiah’s school sports day at the Kuala Lumpur Football Stadium in Cheras.

Nadiah is our youngest. So small and petite, one would never have guessed that she could be a runner in a relay team. Nevertheless, a runner she is. And in so doing, she has followed in the footsteps of her brothers in getting involved school sports.

Hers was a serious preparation. Three full weeks of practice after school. No iced drinks and ice creams (teacher said this is no good for stamina!). Also, teacher has ordered the team to drink lots of 100 Plus during practice, and take spoonfuls of Glucolin right up to just before the race.

And the result? Nadiah’s team won second place.

The look on Nadiah’s face after the race says it all. She was very satisfied that her hard work (especially that bit on keeping off the iced drinks and ice cream) has paid dividends.

As a father, I am very happy for her too. To see her putting real effort, and enjoying the occassion at the same time, is as much a reward for me, as it is hers.

I think getting our children into sports gives them an opportunity to socialize and make friends. They will learn how to interact and work as a team – a trait that will be useful throughout their life.

But above all, sports also afford ‘busy’ parents like me golden opportunities to show our children that we love and support them. Simple acts like showing up to their games and giving them tips will go a long way. I have turned up (uninvited) at my sons’ football matches in Kuala Selangor, track and field meets in Seremban, and basketball matches in Labu, Negeri Sembilan, to name a few places.

The ‘tips’ that we offer might not work all the time – after all we are no expert coaches (and I suspect they know it too). But it is a great means for talking and engaging with them.

Majulah Sukan Untuk Negara.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Blame it on Telekom Malaysia

When I arrived back from Sydney last Saturday, I had so much on my mind to write about my trip Down Under. Alas, when I reached home, I was duly told by the Mem Besar that the PC's modem had gone kaput!

A report was made to Telekom Malaysia (TM) and I was told in a business-like tone that "you will be promptly served within two working days, sir, that's our client's charter".

Well, what do you know. It is only seven days later that they sent around the technician. And even that was only after twelve follow-up calls to the customer service centre.

The excuse given: "we ran out of modems". Can you believe it? Can you accept that coming from TM, a giant of a corporate entity which is supposed to be making Malaysia proud worldwide and earning profits in the billion?

But then, now that I've got my modem, I don't have any excuse not to write do I?

So, write I shall. This ranting is just for starter.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Greetings from Sydney

I am in Sydney to attend the Planning Institute Australia Annual Conference 2008 till this weekend.

Its early autumn. The weather is just nice, around 20 Celsius during the day and 15 Celcius at night. But it gets a bit wet in the evening.

I'll write about my Australian visit when I get back home, insyaAllah.

In the mean time, see ya, and g'day mate!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sidewalks and cycle lanes

Public art along sidewalk

Public art along footpath: Near Tokyo Big Sight Exhibition Centre

Cobble stone footpath: gorgeous

In this day and age of ever-rising cost of petrol, walking and cycling - especially cycling, makes perfect sense. Not only is it kind to one's pocket, these two mode of travelling is a boon for good health.

In temperate countries, town planners have it easier to encourage people to walk and cycle. Pedestrians and cyclists do not have to grapple with the problem of hot, humid weather. So they cycle and walk at every opportunity.

In this sense, the Malaysian weather is so un-forgiving that Malaysian planners have a real tough challenge on their hand.

But let's not take the easy way out and just blame the weather, shall we?

The mean weather aside, we have a lot to catch up with our western counterparts even in the area of basic design and planning for pedestrians and cyclists.

One of the most basic principles for success is surely to connect two points of destination by the shortest possible route. Now, this entails looking at requirements of pedestrian footpath and cycle lanes at the very initial layout planning stage for a residential, commercial or recreational area. Most provisions we see now, especially in old parts of cities, are merely afterthoughts.

Good planning would then have to be complemented by supportive urban design and landscaping programs that would provide the necessary shading and street furniture. All these are essential to make walking and cycling more bearable and pleasant.

In more developed countries, sidewalks and cycle path development have become an art and science in itself. Pavements are beautifully designed and decorated to make the environment interesting and conducive. Detail to designs cater for all sections of the society, including the physically-challenged.