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The Epitome of Love is Food

The Hundred-Foot Journey

My favourite scene from the movie, the most moving one for me.

Since the day The Hundred-Foot Journey trailer premiered, I’ve resoluted to watch it by hook or by crook and when it was shown at Odeon all over UK, I somehow missed the chance to catch it! Given that the cinema is only 4 minutes walk from my place is not an excuse either.

Since I got home early today, I pre-heat my dinner I made yesterday and watched it for two hours.

Deep in the recesses of my brain, I somehow knew there has to be a reason why I didn’t see this movie when I should’ve – I wouldn’t have been ready for a tsunami filled with nostalgia crashing over me. That much I knew.

I was flooded by memories of long forgotten person in my life and the moment I saw Om Puri playing as Hassan’s father, I’m immediately reminded of my late granpa. Of whom I only spent 6 years knowing.

The essence of Om Puri’s character struck a chord in me and the floodgate opened like there’s no tomorrow. I haven’t missed him in the last 10 years and suddenly today, I’m back to being heartbroken again. A decade ago, I wrote my first ever monologue dedicated to him and read it out loud in class. A monologue meant as a closure after his 13 years absence. And then, I pushed it so far back in my mind, I don’t have that attachment memories to him as much as I did.

I feel somewhat guilty after realising it now. The first person I was thankful for existing in my life (no matter how short it was) who embraced me for me. My granpa who didn’t have qualms getting his little grand daughter her very first train set, a string aeroplane and entertained me with car rides to meet his friends, inviting me to sit outside of the petrol station to keep him company selling newspapers while my late granma attended the cash counter in Penang. That was how I remembered my early childhood of me and my grandparents from different culture, ethnicity, countries and at one point, religion too.

Part of the reason why I have this constant battle being different is because in Malaysia, you’re in one of this boxes to tick – Malay, Chinese, Indian or Others. My fucking problem (pardon my French) is that, I’m all four, for god sake. I’m not just one or the other. On face value, many Malaysians will say to you that they are not racist by nature (sure..) but when it comes to cursing or making comments, you can find every derogatory words describing one or the other so offensive, it makes me wonder what does being racist truly meant to them?

There is a point to this post about The Hundred-Foot Journey.

The scene above is the most powerful in the movie for me. It captures what Asian values are about, especially when it comes to the food they present. It’s this family equation that makes their food so rich and captivating.

Sure, there’s a reason why Michelin awarded restaurants exist for a reason and they do make good food. The amount of insanity they put in to create a dish to look so delicate, refined and complex yet simple is commendable. It might justify the price we pay to dine in as well and I’m all for the theatrical elements in fine dining cuisine but watching this movie reminded me why food is part of my life. Part of me.

If you’ve known me long enough, you would know that I’ve got this sick obsession with (good) food and more often than not, Asian food ranks the highest for me. Malaysian food is ace for me because we have chinese, indian, malay, thai and every other cuisines mixed into the pot. The only problem with Malaysia, like most things – we don’t know how to market ourselves and own it. It pisses me off a lot of the times but oh well, that’s Malaysia.

There is a line in the movie when Hassan repeated what Marguerite said when they were picnicking,
“Food is memories”.

That’s spot on for me, like I was hit by a lightning. It got me thinking about my memories of people with food and for my granma, it would be her winter melon and ham choy soups. One time when I was sick for about a year, she flew all the way to take care of me and I would remember going to the pot every time to have a peek, to see if I could have another bowl. My mum on the other hand, while isn’t the best cook but there’s one particular dish I love from her and always look forward with a plate of hot rice – fried assam fish. I remember the briyani I tend to eat with my granpa back then but I don’t think I was old enough to remember the food he cooked (many people told me of his infamous dishes). I have more people I go to for a specific type of food they do very well and it’s what makes me feel connected to them.

Food to me is not just food. It’s the hard labour of love consisted of blood, sweat and tears when cooking up a storm for a family. It’s that essential ingredient that makes what you eat heaven in your mouth. That’s where I put my money mostly. The smallest, corner shop making home-cooked meals. Yep.

There’s just something about food and me that’s inseparable. Sometimes sickening but more often than not, I find joy when I discover a new eatery worth my tummy singing.

Btw, this is my second post for today, a first since a decade ago (when my first blog was set up, I used to blog daily, sometimes twice or thrice a day) :) I guess, I just need to get it out about missing my granpa.

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Saving the World Business Love Affair

One of my favourite discoveries in Yorkshire

One of my favourite discoveries in Yorkshire

Eye rolls, grins and that typical look I get whenever someone ask me about what I intend to do.

I have to admit, whatever I end up saying or plan to do will most likely sound like I’m trying to save the world. So I get why I get those looks from people most of the time. I really do.

Because, if I was them, I’d do the same too.

I don’t know what is it with me and the idea of doing something that resonates with this superhero complexity I have. Maybe, a part of me wants to undo the past, of what I didn’t have the power or wisdom to do anything then but today, given the knowledge and experience, perhaps I can right the wrong somehow. Give other people the opportunity to live in better state of mind.

I have roughly 9 days before my adventure with Hyper Island in Manchester comes to an end. Yesterday marked our sixth month residency in this city that I’ve come to find comfort in and I realised that being in HI has elevated my determination to do whatever I want because they allow us to do what we want. Therein lies a crux for some of us, well more for me really. I’ve been giving it a lot of thought, what is it about HI that made me be the way I am today? How is it different from the rest? Am I looking at the rose-tinted glasses that I’m potentially setting myself for some kind of down fall once the bubble burst?

To be honest, I don’t know.

It could be a long love affair with my life of fighting against the current since the day I was born. There is always something I had to pull out of the hat to prove that I’m here, alive and relevant. It was also part of the 10 year love affair with the black hole I spent spiralling through my growing up years.

So yes, being in Hyper Island wiped off all that history of breaking walls and burning bridges with society back home. I may be one of the weirdest alien in Malaysia but over here, HI forces us to go deeper and embrace our differences. That, my weirdness is not weird enough to be called weird.

Wait, does that even make sense?

Essentially, that freedom to explore all corners of my interests, fascinations and weirdness have made me felt like I’m normal. So normal, I need to kick myself to push harder. I don’t know where Be Autistic, my industry research project will be taking me to..because I’m setting myself so freaking high, I’m hanging onto anything at this point.

I wonder if one day I’ll wake up feeling “Yes, I’ve conquered my confidence!” and be done with all the insecurities. Then, I remember, confidence is a work in progress, it’s not something we can overcome once and for all and move on from there. There’s always something to shake it up, to make things even.

For now though, I’m done feeling inferior with myself. I’m ending this turmoil about feeling like I’m so different that I’m never gonna figure this life out because.. as Tash once told me at a party we were at (not sure if she even remembered), I’m not that different as I thought.

Seriously, coming here really opened my eyes about myself. I may have been fighting an endless battle all my life because back home, whoever I’m suppose to be is not yet an “accepted” concept but over here, you have to fight harder to stay true to who you are.

Fuh, that’s a lot of battles but without them, I don’t think living is worth it at all. We just have to pick the right battles that will enrich our mind and soul. If anything, it should empower us to do things differently (in a good way, of course). And if it doesn’t, there’s always tomorrow to change that.

I’m not looking forward to moving out of my apartment in Manchester. Not even sure if I’m ready to leave Manchester yet. I hope somebody from some company will see a potential to bring me in somewhere. This adventure is only the beginning, I have so much more to learn! Argh! The agony.

And strangely, while walking back to my place earlier, I don’t have that “homesick” feeling for as long as I’ve been here. I don’t know why (there’s so many don’t knows in this post, it’s driving my mad). I know I’ve always felt more home away from home. Over here, I just feel like I’m free from my inhabits that I am able to just be me. That and I have so many amazing people all over the continent, they make me feel like part of this giant extended family network too.

I just don’t want to see this end without a proper conclusion. At least not anytime soon.

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Different but Not

Often, I might come across as some arrogant dweeb because for some reason, I just know.

I can’t prove that it will happen but I know it will.

I don’t have special powers that allows me to see the future, I can’t predict it nor do I have premonitions about the future but when I do see a trail coming, I can see the outcome.

I recently discovered the existence of pattern thinking when Dr. Temple Grandin wrote about it in Drawing Autism and this is what it is (or I like to believe). I can only see when I connect the dots between one piece of information with the other. The more the better. And often, the theories I come up with ends up like a piece of abstract nonsense no one can resonate with. Maybe it’s too farfetched for them to grasp, the idea that I join the dots from no where and have this crazy thoughts presented on a silver platter for them to digest must have freaked them out.

So that’s my problem.

When I can’t explain it for people to understand and I see that they are either confused or not take it seriously, I get upset. This is when some people who experienced it think I’m too in their face. Too much to handle. Then I spiral in that frustration hole because I know that if something doesn’t change, the hypothesis I made will come true. Anxiety builds up, communication breaks down and the bridge falls apart.

“How would you know?” people would ask.

“I just do. I can see it. I just don’t know how to explain. I have this feeling..” I used to say.

And the conversation tend to end with me being weird statement or I just give up entirely trying to convince people because most of the time, I expect things to go the opposite but..more often than not, it doesn’t. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m just seeing things or people just don’t want to see what I see.

Then, there’s the second part I find it most difficult dealing with.

“You can say ‘I told you so’..” they say.

I don’t like saying that. I don’t enjoy being right because I don’t want to be that person who thinks she knows everything. I don’t and I will never be. It’s just circumstances happen to end up like that. It’s as if I’m being put in my place for doing something bad or negative.

I know you will say it’s all in my head. Perhaps you’re right. But I don’t find satisfaction having people coming to me after telling me that I’m right after all. Why?

Because I don’t know to respond.

Am I suppose to say “See, what did I tell you?” or should I sympathise that things end up the way it did? Latter would have depend what kind of situation because …

the third part of my issue is, after three rounds of trying to make things clear and no changes were done, I remove myself from the situation. In my head, I have to make one of two decision – do I stay and get wrapped in the spiderweb of frustration or do I get out before it gets too deep?

The moment I realised what the situation is, I will assess all ways to improve because I don’t like feeling like trapped. If I can’t improve after doing everything I can, I have to make the decision to get out. Otherwise, it will affect my energy, mood and mind. The three elements that makes up my compass and not having control either one of it, I will be screwing myself for something unnecessary that I foresee beforehand.

To me, I break things as logical as possible. If it’s beyond my understanding, I try to look it up and read about it. Find some form of explanation to answer all the questions in my head. The same way when people ask me if I drink. I don’t because I don’t like the taste or smell. Also, I don’t like the effects it gives when I get intoxicated. Using religion as an excuse to me is a copout. Not to say I don’t believe in God but I have my own journey with religion. I look into the details, the reasons because in the end, the religion I embrace is actually logical. People’s interpretation makes the true meaning of religion diluted and superficial. But that’s for another story.

Tash told me that I’m intimidated by the way I think and do things differently but in reality, I’m not that different. She’s right. Just that, I grew up with this perception that I’m such an alien, I don’t belong in this world but being here doesn’t seem like I’m all that different. In fact, I’m quite normal. Nothing special.

Blah. At 29 years old, we all have to grow up every other second. It’s a never ending journey and mine just so happened to have the table turned around.

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Be Autistic

So I wrote “at some point I will dedicate a whole blog for my Industry Research Project” turned out to be last Sunday. That’s where a whole chunk of my data hoarding will be unloaded – be-autistic.com and all because I went on 3 hours of digital detox when I wrote The Future of Autism below.

Yet, I foresee I’ll come to a point when danywhere.com and be-autistic.com will meet in the middle personally. But I’ll cross that bridge when the time comes. Right now, as a surprisingly overachiever and overambitious alien, I’m running two blogs at the same time. Ho ho ho. Merry Christmas to me!

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The Future of Autism Spectrum

I know at some point I will have to write about this. At some point I will dedicate a whole blog entirely to my Industry Research Project (IRP). At some point was suppose to be in January 2015. However, writing about this makes me realised that I need to make this happen a lot sooner than I anticipated.

I need to pour out my thoughts into structured sentences for things to make sense because being analysis paralysis about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is drowning me.

While it’s not exactly a surprise, it still create that “Seriously?” look on people’s face when I told them that my IRP is based on How to Harness Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Individuals’ Special Abilities in Today’s World.

A subject I’m too familiar with.

Why do I think this is an important problem to solved? (At this point, it sounds like I’m trying to save the world..and in a bonkers kinda way, secretly..that’s what I want to do or attempt to at least)

Apart from a personal interest, I have been observing the pool of talents available out there from people on the autism spectrum and a majority of the talents are wasted because most people don’t have enough understanding about autism or don’t know how to communicate with them. It appears that as of 2009, only 15% of adults with autism in the UK are employed full-time. Whether it’s the right profession is another question altogether.

How is this even relevant to the real world, you ask?

Autism Spectrum Disorder individuals have unique ways of processing information compared to the rest of the people in this world. They just function differently from other people but it doesn’t mean that they are incapable of understanding what goes around the world. One of the most amazing people on this earth who happens to have autism, Temple Grandin (a professor, innovator, author, PETA and autism activists) explained it best in Jill Mullin’s remarkable book Drawing Autism that changed my life:

Photo Credit: Dabid Dabid

Photo Credit: Dabid Dabid

” Many individuals on the autism spectrum often excel at one thing, while struggling with something else. There are three types of specialised autistic mind – visual thinker, pattern thinker and word specialist.”

Because their minds are so defined, they are capable of interpreting facts and complex data in ways that normal people can’t. I find the idea of collaborating with their minds exciting because if there’s anyone who is able to be innovative in a world filled with noise, it’s them.

Yet, we are not. Why is that so? Are they so alien to us that we exist in different reality?

Naturally, as a self-professed grave digger (a term I call myself ever since I got into Hyper Island), I dig deeper into why is autism a mystery in the 21st century. It didn’t occur to me at first but I found out that for the last few decades, many assumed autism can be cured but recently, researchers have slowly moved their mindset from being a disease to a way of life.

If more people adopt the concept of autism being all about functioning and thinking differently, perhaps we’re able to break the stigma around autism spectrum.

But for this to happen, we have to first have a universal understanding or definition as to what autism spectrum is truly about because every other year or so, the definition, characteristics or symptoms keep on changing. That itself creates a big confusion for the public to take in.

This is the current definition of Autism Spectrum Disorder by NHS:

ASD is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. It includes Asperger syndrome and childhood autism.

In essence, it doesn’t say much but in reality, the spectrum for autism is so wide! It ranges from very mild to classic autism where ASD individuals might not even know they have it unless they get diagnosed because they found ways to cope (this indirectly make people think autism can be “cured”).

Credit to Cornwall Council

Credit to Cornwall Council

It’s apparent that autism spectrum needs an overhaul. A rebranding from being a disability to a capability.

How is it that, it’s normal for people to say “I’m feeling depressed” in a conversation and not take it too seriously but at the same can’t be applied when someone say “I’m feeling autistic”?

This thought only popped up in my mind when I was trying to talk to people on the autism spectrum. I was so afraid of offending them with my words that I was mentally “paralysed”.

It’s this stigma that’s hindering us from making that connection with autism spectrum individuals and utilise their analytical/technical thinking.

Just imagine what industries like engineering, creative, R&D or business could benefit from their gifts? The moment any one of these industry is able to tap into their skills, they are able to push the envelope to innovate something new and force everyone else to be on their level, or at the very least enable the rest to apply critical thinking in a different way.

Photo Credit: Brandon JP Scott

Photo Credit: Brandon JP Scott

Hey, Tim Burton is believed to be in the spectrum (so was Einstein, Newton, Mozart and Warhol). Look what they achieved with their special abilities?

This correlates to what Google has been doing since late October 2012 when they started Autism Daily Newscast. Their objective is to be the Reuters in ASD and it’s interesting to think why Google is dedicating a whole division for ASD if it’s not to help them identify the talents they can acquire for the company, simultaneously transforming Google to the next level.

Photo Credit: Sesame Street

Photo Credit: Sesame Street

The same can be said about Sesame Street’s See Amazing in All Children Autism Initiative campaign that’s happening in United States. In one glance, you can see who their partners are and it’s no surprise that they come from various background. It’s also interesting to note that BAE Systems (a British multinational defence, security and aerospace company) is one of the funders and imagine what they can do with the data regarding children in the autism spectrum in the future.

Fact that Groupon has joined the bandwagon with Sesame Street to support the initiative through a sweepstakes three days ago made me think about what companies are currently getting by supporting such programs. Altruistically of course it’s a good thing but there’s a bigger goal here that we’re not seeing, at least not with naked eyes. Strategically, having Sesame Street marching in the forefront is the most brilliant move not only because they have a diverse audience, they have a strong voice in this world to command any kind of movement in any community. People will listen.

So, looking back, the tech industry is definitely looking into the future of ASD skills, to prepare companies for future jobs to fill in. Right now though, the focus and message are mainly for families, caretakers, friends of ASD individuals on how to manage their behaviours.

I definitely think autism spectrum in general is the next big thing to disrupt all large industries. Soon, there will be a need for a job agency dedicating to ASD individuals (thanks to Mary, our industry leader for Business Transformation module in Hyper Island, plucking this out among the many information I was hoarding).

A job agency for people in the spectrum is unheard of at the moment and will become my main goal in the Industry Research Project. A purpose I can see that will benefit everyone from the bottom of the chain right up to investors. It will also affect the education sector because this will force the system to re-evaluate and reassess school programs. Indirectly, this will also affect the depression rate among people in the spectrum by identifying and focusing on their strengths. If more people can apply this behaviour strategies, will we be able to create more safe haven places in this world for them? Come to think of it, would the behaviour strategies work on people in general? How will this affect the way we work in the office?

Yes, that grave I speak of is deeper than I can ever imagine but one I’m fired up to do. In the end, if we have to do something that’s going to take a big chunk of our time and energy, it should be towards something we’re passionate about.

But first, a rebranding is needed!

Perhaps the question here is about the way people communicate with individuals on the spectrum.

“Parents, teachers, doctors and everybody who works with individuals on the spectrum need to help these individuals develop their abilities.” – Temple Grandin, Drawing Autism

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A Matter of Perspective

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Everyone has their own expectations and outcomes from things they want to learn. I came to Hyper Island with no clue what I got myself into.

But everyday, I learn something new, from different people, same people, other people or just myself.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m living in the moment, paying as much attention to the little things that my perspective might be somewhat different when I hear what others thought about their experience being here so far.

Maybe because for all my life, I’ve always been that kid who had to figure out how to do things alone. Have to build a pathway so others can see clearer. Pretty much self-learning since I could remember because that’s how I’ve been brought up.

Working with Tourism Selangor, at a time when digital media was the biggest mystery to Malaysia cemented the fact that with a lot of reading, determination, passion and awareness, I manage to make the most of what I didn’t know I had. I spent countless hours to get my head wrapped around this responsibility that could’ve destroyed my career given the politics that surrounded it.

I even remember YB Elizabeth Wong, then one of Selangor’s Exco who kept telling Fazly, my then manager to ask me to not “work too hard” but for a couple of years, I kept at it because there’s so much I needed to learn and it excites me when I found a breakthrough (some experiments didn’t go as we planned but that’s why it’s called lessons).

So being in Hyper Island is no different to me, except that experience is amplified by infinity more. To me, self-learning is the only way I know best. So when people ask if I had learned anything from a particular module even when it’s so vague and abstract, I would say I have.

Different people have different expectations and outcomes.

To me, it might not be something obvious that we can use but I know in the future I will go back and apply it. I wouldn’t say I know everything, because I don’t. Pushing myself to dig deeper is still something new. A better way of doing things.

I’ve written about this for my Design Thinking Critique paper – using my past experience as a case study. It’s just about looking at things from another point of view, another window to see how I can do better in the future.

Business Transformation begins today. Just the thought of going through a whole new group for the third time does scare me a little. Although, I’m very excited how this module takes off from the last module Digital Technology, which happens to be my favourite.

Life is a work-in-progress when it comes to learning. Altering the way we think can do wonders to ourselves.

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I Left Advertising but it’s Embedded in Me

This whole week has been an emotional roller coaster ride for me personally. I did a lot more reflections since my last post, one that I’ve never revealed to anyone but ended up in the cyberspace one fine morning.

That whole revelation about how I treat myself like someone with autistic was not something I had in mind before this. I only realised it when I wrote it here and then more things made sense for me. It’s probably the most accurate description I could tell other people who has to deal with me in the future, like I’m wearing a warning label. 

The thing is, my mind would process logic and facts easily. Emotions cannot be proven, or rather has too many variables to play with and it only makes it too complicated to conclude. This is why Science of Deduction is my favourite go-to method. But this also means I need to spend significant time reading.

And usually, people who thinks logically will eliminate emotions altogether. Often, they are perceive as emotion-less for this reason. I however, function on a different spectrum. While my mind prefers to work with facts and logic, I have very high empathy. That means, I can easily understanding emotions if I put myself in other people’s shoes. The only setback is that, I can’t prove with facts unless it’s been tested already. Because whatever I say would be limited to my own observations and experience

Mind_Heart

This is me figuring out the bridge.



 

My biggest problem for the longest time is to bridge these two and up until two days ago, I’ve been functioning on separate entities.

Jessie tagged me on Brain Picking’s post about Drawing Autism which made me connect more dots about my childhood tendencies. Like a lightbulb, I had my “Aha!” moment lighted brightly. Not that I’m certain about my self-diagnosed but it gave me some form of clarity I’ve been searching all my life. I’m still on that path where there are infinity dots left to figure out but this week really untangled one of my life’s biggest mystery ever.

Which then answers a lot about why I found so much difficulty working in the advertising industry dog years ago. At the time, when I quit the industry, I accepted that I wasn’t fit for the environment, wasn’t as creative as the agency and industry demands and overall, just not awesome. I accepted that as an Art Director, I suck and I’m ok with that because I use my design background to beautify not to manipulate. 

In countries where branding is a strong market, there is such role as Art Director specifically for design and I was convinced, if I were to come back, that would be the role that fits me best. 

Advertising is a dog eat dog world. You have to love it, have passion for it to not only survive when climbing up the ladder but be the best of the best. Because at the end of the day, it’s a small world where everyone knows everyone and words will spread if you’re good or otherwise. 

I started off way at the bottom, from scratch as a DTP Artist in SpencerAzizul Advertising and worked my way up for half a decade. I had some of the best mentors I could ever asked for. Erman being one of the most influential people always sat me down and talked about things that ignite his passion and also which direction I should take. Today, (I feel) he is one of the more prominent minds in the industry and I have no doubt that the Creative Director role is in his pocket sometime soon. Calvin’s another guy who always have this crazy ideas that feels like it’s so out of reach but very possible. Since I was an intern, a small potato – he would go to my table and get me to collaborate with him. I never really understood why because there were so many other talented people in the office. 

“I like your stuff! I think it would be exciting to do this” Cal would say this often when I ask. So did Soon, previous ECD of ours. He used to tell me this a lot but as always, I just didn’t understand why.

Of course, it doesn’t help that I kept thinking everyone’s out of my league in this world. But I worked very hard to be part of this family, at one point I can instantly name the typefaces used (Erman’s very particular about spacing, kerning and typography). I can still name them today but it might take a wee bit more time. 

Then, there’s always the “what’s next?” questions popping up here and there. Slowly this family of 3 years started to disintegrate for better offers and careers. And it slowly made me question where I should be. Naturally, the next step from being a Graphic Designer, especially in Malaysia is to be an Art Director. It’s common sense. There’s no two ways about it when it comes to making a mark for yourself.  

Like his idol Sagmeister, Erman creates typography using anything and everything. I love his instagram feed @ermanbasiron

Like his idol Sagmeister, Erman creates typography using anything and everything. I love his instagram feed @ermanbasiron

Y&R was probably a reality check. Despite spending more than 2 years there, I never really found myself in it. Not because the agency wasn’t good. I just didn’t know how I can be myself in this world. I would dread the word advertising, like a nightmare I had to wake up everyday because it was dissecting one job brief after another, changing campaigns as per client’s request bla bla bla..

When Sasha and Sathi came on board, that feeling sort of pushed aside. I felt like I could do this again with them around even though part of me still couldn’t grasp this responsibility as an AD. We would brainstorm day in day out, trying to be different but still included in the many guidelines given. It wasn’t an ordeal I thoroughly enjoyed but because I had a kick ass copywriter who I could connect with and a funny group head, I immersed myself in this black ocean. 

Some people isn’t cut out to be something. And that’s ok.

It was a mantra I kept playing in my head because while everyone was rushing to get their scams executed before submitting for awards, I ran away from that mentality. But you see, when you’re in an international agency, (winning) awards is part of that dream and the more great ideas approved for submission, people acknowledge that you’re great. I don’t understand that need nor do I have a hunger for it. 

Yet, in the midst of all of that confusion, I was always attracted to the digital world. I just didn’t know what to do with it. I often go blank and poor Sasha had to help polish me with ideas so that we can just do something for the team. Everyday, I feel more helpless than the day before.

I sent in my first resignation to Sathi but he talked me out of it (much like how it was in my previous agency). I gave it another chance and a year later, that throb kept beating harder. By this time, I felt so detached from advertising like it was a foreign language I could never learn to understand. I felt very sad to leave a team who shaped me but I also felt relieved because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone by holding this title I felt was undeserved.

I went back to basic, to where it all started – design. Only this time, it was freelancing. I did a month or so stint as a freelance Art Director a couple months after I left for a smaller agency because I needed the money but as soon as I woke up into that world again, I began to feel resentment.

“Wasn’t this why I left my job in the first place?” kept ringing in my head. Conscience has a brutal honest voice. That’s my conscience. 

Once that job ended, I felt free again. Lesson learned that whenever I do anything for money, all these negative emotions will be infested in me and for that, it became my compass. The greatest reminder in my professional life.

Then I got to collaborate and work with a state tourism agency. I wrote many things about this chapter in my life here but the moment Fazly gave me veto power to handle the social media, I found my purpose. I didn’t understand what it was, no one knew what to do with it or had any idea for that matter. 2011 was when social media grew very fast in the local waves. I did a lot of reading, countless of hours researching, understanding and mind mapping this unknown world until we came up with ways to change the way tourism industry function in the cyber world.

Despite the (many many many) setbacks in that 3 years I invested to this work, the results were far more than any of us could’ve expected. Especially when it started from nothing. We did something with our hands, eyes, mouth and feet tied. While the visual might seem exaggerating, that was exactly how we felt. But courage, passion, tenacity and motivation to do better and have bigger purpose than what is given, we became better people. 

I merged my knowledge from the ad world. What I know and experienced, I put my entire mind, heart and soul combined with other great souls to achieve what we came to change. It wasn’t easy and it will never be easy but the fact that I found my purpose, obstacles are just hoops we have to jump, run, crawl or push over to overcome.

Coming to Hyper Island was the best back up plan I made. Despite knowing that I would give the same amount of heart being a psychologist, this is something bigger. Design, branding, marketing, art direction and copy will always be my core knowledge no matter what I do but perhaps I finally know why I had a hard time back then was because..

I needed time to read and research about a subject before I can contribute any ideas or find solutions to. I didn’t give myself time for that and that’s why my performance was below par. I kept chasing to be as good as other people but I will never be like most people – I can’t just come up with great ideas without fully understanding what the problems, clients, subjects and possibilities are. I compute differently and way more complex. I need to form a clear understanding before I can jump to the next level.

I asked myself last night with this knowledge at hand, would I make a better Art Director if I was given a second chance? Perhaps. But it also depends on the agency’s culture. 

Maybe service design agency would suit better. 

in the end, no matter where we go, I think this ad sums up everything well and also a reminder why we should be doing what we love more. There’s no perfect world but we can change the way we perceive things. I may have left advertising but it’s apparent that advertising didn’t ditch me, no matter the years that went by.

A very smart classified as for Saatchi & Saatchi done by it's CD, Sathi. (a/l means son of in Malaysia)

A brilliant classified ad for Saatchi & Saatchi Malaysia written by it’s CD, Sathi. (a/l means son of in Malaysia)