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Play, Rewind, Pause: The HI5 Experience

Northern Quarter

It’s a rather new discovery this part of me I just got to know. Probably a little less than a year and having to move to Manchester just amplified that notion about me being an introvert. My tendencies have kept me questioning about myself more since I’ve moved here. Of the things that I am more comfortable with versus the things I should be doing.

It hasn’t occur to me what culture shock feels like until I removed myself from the environment I’ve built for a lifetime. It is then that I am able to see the other side of myself without trying too hard.

First week at Hyper Island made me feel like I have a mental disorder. Of course, I meant it in a good way.

I liken the first day as my bubble bursting in thin air the moment we were meant to mingle with other people in Hyper Island. As with every other first day, I know how I will be – awkward. I’ve always thought of myself as somewhat socially inept. Not on an extreme level but to a certain degree, I lean towards it.

For that, I played along where I could but then Hyper Island one-up their game by getting us all to do a personal presentation about the 3 events or people that had impacted us. Each of us, including HI managers and facilitators did it.

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“It’s an equal level playground this new school of thought,” I told myself.

Everyone had something to say, something to ask, something to answer yet there I was shutting it all down as fast as I could. Well, I tried to and felt guilty thereafter and what an odd sensation to feel – a deep conscience telling me what I did was wrong and it carried on till the next day.

Hyper Island went on another level and kickstarted a Reflection Session after we “check-in”.

It’s funny that there were two running themes that went on prior to my departure and here I am diving head first into it and unearth the very core of my emotions based on these themes (self awareness and reflection).

Wait, what am I doing in Hyper Island you might ask? Masters in Digital Marketing Management is what I got myself into and what’s better – it’s a super accelerated course. Somehow, I have a knack for getting myself into madness no matter where I go.

Piccadilly Gardens

Hyper Island Crew 5_3

Hyper Island Way Week taught us all to be aware and reflect on our actions individually, small groups and eventually to the entire crew. Imagine how nerve-wrecking that experience had been on the second day itself (and will continue till the end of the program). It’s no wonder I needed 3 days to recover from all that “therapy” when we first started. Yeah, I excused myself from the after-class outings because I was emotionally and mentally exhausted from all that digging and thinking. It doesn’t help that I’m really loving the apartment I’m staying too.

Hyper Island Crew 5_2

Brilliant way to kickstart though. Brilliant indeed to break our walls on our very first week.

Even my past therapy sessions didn’t feel as intense as this.

But, on the upside, it taught me to make improvement every single day. Just one thing at a time. It was what I had got myself to do the last 6 years on a personal level. This time, it’s on professional AND personal level. Oh boy.

I knew everyday that I’m thankful for this diversion He got me to do. What was known as my back up plan is now my primary plan and I’m grateful for the opportunity. I know now that, I had to be here right now at this moment because I’m ready on all level. It might tear me apart and stitch up together but I will not be able to appreciate the greatness that HI delivers if I wasn’t where I am today.

Yeah, this is where I’m suppose to be and I better make sure to do the best I can.

Two weeks ago, Max, our program manager asked us to write a letter to ourselves and sealed it in an envelope. I suspect it’s for time capsule but anyways, one of the things I wrote to myself was about making a deal with the introvert side of me. I may take any one weekday off to recharge and any one weekend for the same reason but the rest, I need to make effort to join the crew for whatever they intend to do, as long as I’m ok with it. Everyday since then, I do my best to push myself from falling back to my comfort zone. To others it may seem almost insignificant but an effort is still an effort.

Hyper Island Crew 5_4

Hyper Island Crew 5_5

I’ve enjoyed my time so far. I really have. The people are fantastic. Crew 5 (that’s what we’re called) are from all sorts of background and countries. It’s amazing to know how other people from other parts of the world think and feel. In such a short time, they have shaped me to be a better person one way or another. Truly an amazing chapter in my life even if I don’t even know what’s ahead of me for the rest of the year but with open mind comes with an open heart.

It’s refreshing to not know what other people’s religions are or races for that matter. Malaysia has been so accustomed to pigeon-hole humans into different sectors and lifestyles – they are either Chinese, Indians, Malay or others who believe in Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam or none of the above. That itself sort of become our crutch in the real world. Everything has to fit into some kind of stereotype and it’s in HI that I learned none of these really mattered.

None whatsoever. Zilch. Nada.

Hyper Island Crew 5

Everyone respected each other. If you happened to say something insensitive, you can be sure that feedback will be given from the horse’s mouth. We’re wired that way in what I would call the Hyper Culture. It makes us more productive, effective and human in so many ways.

We have this space to make mistakes, forgive ourselves and other people for it and make it better. What has been playing on my mind is, now that we’ve created a whole different bubble for ourselves, by the time we get back to real world, that bubble is going to burst and I look forward to see how we can apply all these methods and culture to other people.

To summarise our program, it’s about cultivating some form of leadership qualities in all of us and take ownership of the consequences we are about to cause. I hope you don’t think we’re going do things quietly without any impact..because we will.

Last week was the start of the incredible journey of masters with real clients and mentors from all kinds of industry. I don’t know how to feel but naturally, I’ll give all I have to be better as solo and team player.

 

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Back Against The Wall

Under Construction

At this point in time,
the road is unseen,
unwritten and unimagined;
Yet here I am standing,
heart and soul exposed
with everything to lose.

I want to answer,
I want to say,
Most definitely to scream
“It will be okay”
but I never convey
Never reach for that day.

Honestly, I am too afraid
Don’t know what to do
With this grenade,
ticking away minute after minute
“Just throw it to me”,
whispered a voice I never foresee.

How can this be?
So far from any possibility.
I see that charming smile,
the one that’s capable
of undoing everything
I try very hard protecting.

It’s always gonna be like this,
One moment I think I’m done
And then I’m hitting home run.
Someone tell me what’s going on,
‘Cuz at this rate, I’m so far gone
I don’t know what I should hold on.

“What about the adventure you speak of?”
Oh, how I long for those days my love!
He took my hands and shove all insecurities,
Writing our story with so much purity
“I’ve always been here, only a lot less gutsy”
“Welcome home”, I hand out his old key.

 

I wrote Under Construction a month ago but had pushed it aside because I didn’t think it had any place here, or in my point of view, I don’t know how it could fit in this little world.

I don’t know any other way to write but to tell it from the way I feel deep down. I think because I felt that my back is against the wall more times than I like it to be, whether on my own doing or otherwise..it’s been a struggle to push back.

So I stay put for a bit. Praying for the calmness to arrive after chaos.

To be frank, I don’t know how to move forward from here. Maybe once I get this phase over and done with, I’ll get that release I’ve been longing for. Excuse my incapability in writing something important right now. There’s a time when the need needs to be met before crossing over to the greener pasture. This is that.

When I face a wall, poetry and art manage to depict my emotions. There is no better way to describe the feelings I’ve been going through than Pablo Suarez’s Exclusion masterpiece which was exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Pablo Suarez Exclusion Argentina

 

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Down Under Healing Formulas

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I’ve been trying to write, every single day. Not because I had to in order to get this place active but because I want to.

Too many words, phrases, emotions..all boiling in one pot in my mind. Yet I don’t know what to do with it.

So everyday I sit, I pen it all out but at the end of the day, it’s left hanging. Either unfinished or I’m not satisfied with the delivery.

Today, I scrap everything off. Starting fresh. Still don’t know which direction I’ll be taking but I hope to end up with something closer.

I’ve always written about travel as a means of searching for something. More than anything, searching for myself. A bit vague to go places to look for something you don’t know what it is yet for some reason somewhere somehow you manage to findit. Whatever it is.

Since Australia happened, all that searching sort of stopped.

Like I’ve completed my rounds. I call it a full circle.

I could go as far as finding my closure.

And that’s silly, what on earth do I have connection with Australia to have closures anyway?

My past.

That’s what it was. Everything Australia held were my past and I finally returned after 17 years because I’ve got my head straighter. Feet firmer on the ground.

I have gathered a bit more knowledge about who I am and what I’m here for by Him.

So this task in Australia, as grand as the continent itself; it also buried so many memories inter-related to all the things I’ve done and met. While some of it are ghosts to my memories, I have to face it up front in order to move forward.

And that’s exactly how it turned outwithout planning to.

My late grandma’s memories were one of the biggest culprit to this self discovery journey. The thing is, I still do push any thoughts of her at the backof my mind, so far behind, sometimes when it pops up, I get a sudden surge like it just happened yesterday and get overwhelmed by it.

And then I shove it back again.

My first trip to Australia was with her. One and only trip with her. So having to fly on my own this time was somewhat strange to me..I guess. Despite flying solo many times before, this was different. Don’t know why.

It being Queen’s Birthday the day after I arrived, Syiks had a day off and we spent the entire day and night out in Sydney doing the things we love. Whale watching was one of the agenda I was really looking forward to. She didn’t know there was such a thing so close to her and I’m glad we did it for the first time.

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So many childhood memories crashed over me like a tsunami the whole time but I tried to keep it at bay. Somewhat hard but eh, just enjoy the ride.

During the speed boat ride, I manage to spot the hill we once stayed back in the day. I remember being in love with the sight. The cliff. The space. It still looked the same today.

I remember even back then I was struggling to find myself because I grew up thinking I should be a certain type out of a cookie cutter yet deep inside I knew I’m never going to be that. Struggle it was, still is but I’m stronger to fight for it now. Back then I didn’t know any better.

Therefore, I kept doing things the unusual way, say and act differently.

Watching the whales in it’s entirety was a gift from God. It’s so good to know that the Aussies know how to balance developing a country and taking care of Mother Nature. Every time I see a bald patch, it feels like someone break my heart into pieces.

To know that there wereonly 200 whales a decade or so ago left and since then they’ve took every action to stop the killing, today there’s about at least 20,000 over whales. Good job Australia, good job.

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We also spent the afternoon at Circular Quay, where the Opera House is situated. Just chilling out, watching the sun setting two days straight was a magical experience to me. The day before it was on the plane, this time on the steps of the Opera House. My favorite discovery on this day was the Opera Bar. The live band playing contemporary music with a jazz touch was perfect. So perfect, I didn’t want to leave.

What I like about Syiks is that, in some ways, maybe she doesn’t even know it (or maybe she does?) – she knows when to just let me be. Just hang around. If I don’t talk, she’s ok with it too. We sat at the steps of Opera House for at least 2 hours.

I love that. I just love that part.

Being able to indulge without being indulgent and she lets me be.

It’s perhaps one of my best memories for as long as I’ve lived. If I were to stay here, this would be one of the things I would do often.

We passed Manly Terminal and photographs I took back when I was 11 did a slide show on it’s own. I remember posing with my grandma and not so willing to take with her at one point in my orange turtleneck top.

I’m still that – not so willing to take photo of myself. Sometimes, I’m sure it can be annoying.

Australia (it started with the journey from Canberra to Sydney) was also the point when I started film photography. And wouldn’t you know it – after being on hiatus for more than a year since my old E-510 went on comatose, I’m back on the horse again with this trip, armed with a one week old sidekick.

He is quite the mastermind. The Scriptwriter and Producer to my story. All I can do is just bask in His greatness, the only way he knows how. He is my greatest Storyteller. There’s never one point in my life where I’m not mesmerised as He orchestrated my life, leaving trails along the way for me to thread together.

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Since Vivid Sydney’s last night fell on Queen’s Birthday, the entire city lit up vibrantly for the last time. I felt so overwhelmed, what with the memories of the past and to experience what passion can do to a country. God, I’ve never felt so much excitement in my life then to see art taking the stage in all sorts of medium. To see that everyone interacted with it was what gave me so much more inspiration and happiness.

It made me realised that art is not just for the selected few, the elite ones or the eccentric minds. It’s for all to enjoy and when you bridge ideas and public together, you create something so amazing, it becomes an identity. That’s what Vivid was all about. I’m so glad, I managed to fly down and be part of it even though it wasn’t planned.

Here’s the thing, people kept asking me what I’ll be doing while I’m in Australia. Honestly? I have no idea but to chill out. I walked, I took my time, I spoke to so many people I never knew and it was my kind of trip. It was different from any other trips I’ve done in the past. Didn’t have a schedule, don’t have to run for something or be somewhere. All I did was purely going with the flow from the moment I woke up at Syiks’ apartment right up to grabbing dinner with her and exchanged stories about what we did the whole day. Telling her my new found love forAboriginal art was one of the highlights of my museum visits too.

It was just different.

I won’t lie, I did imagine what I’ll be like if I were to move here and this would be it.

That is until our roadtrip to Newcastle happened and I found my exact visual in my mind of escapism. Nobby’s Beach in winter was painted exactly the way I had imagined since I was a kid if I have a place to run to for peace.

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Many a times, I would say that I’m no beach person but I can imagine me coming here just to find solace. Especially when there’s no one. It’s just that piece of heaven on Earth I wish to have close to me.

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In a way, I’m lucky to have known Syiks because Newwie (as I’ve been accustomed to for a decade) is where her family is from. Unfortunately it was a short trip as we had to run back to Sydney the night after to catch a flight to Melbourne early morning.

I named this road trip as my mini Great Ocean Road trip. Each one will be explained better in another post. Right now, I need to settle this tangled emotions that’s been incubating inside.

Having never been to Melbourne before but had more than my fingers could count friends being here throughout my life, I’ve heard so many good things about it. About how I would love it and that it’s so me.

Took me 28 years to be here alright and I can see why I would love it.

The one thing I forgot having after so long is to have a friend who could literally read melike a book front to back, back to front.

Enter my slightly cuckoo, twin friend of mine.

I’ve known Nuddin for 11 years. We grew up being damn close friends because to a certain extend, we do think quite similarly. The one fella I could spend talking on the phone for what? 6 hours was it? One of those record back in the day.

Anyway, so as we grew up, we keep in touch where possible – he still loves giving surprise visits and I’ve been invited to go to Melbourne since forever by so many people. The moment I paid for my Sydney trip, I convinced Syiks to fly down with me to Melbourne as well to see my twin from different mother and father.

Having families all over Australia, Syiks made her plans with her cousins in Melbourne when we arrived. So when I touched down, Nuddin texted me several things and places to do while waiting for him to finish his work. Spent 3 hours at the Hollywood Costume exhibition at ACMI. Didn’t realised how involved Aussies are in the Hollywood scene until then.

Again, I have no idea what to do in Melbourne (not because there’s nothing to do), I just left that job to Nuddin suggesting me whatever works. Knowing him knowing me so well, I trust he has a few of things lining up for me.

The weird part was, I just saw him sometime in January when he came back for a short holiday and to see him in his turf was as if I’ve not seen him for a long time.

He brought me to The Grill’d because we were starving and loved the whole concept of this joint. There’s a solid idea, brought with love through food and then give back to the people again. Things Malaysians wish to do but somehow isn’t like that when it happens.

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It was such a good catch up session for three days. I forgot what it’s like having a friend like him. We could talk about everything and know that there’s no judgement for who we are. The fact that we know each other so well just made it so much easy to fall back into comfort. Finishing each other thoughts and such, dude – you’re like one of a kind in my list of friends. Yes,I just realised that and if he ever reads this, he’ll have the biggest grin on his face I’m sure.

It’s that easiness that I had forgotten. Just be.

Fact that he was so excited to show me his city reminds me of what I do for my job. The thing with him is that, don’t bother asking if he doesn’t wanna tell what he wants to show you when he said “You’ll see”. It’s that joy of sharing part I find most fun about.

And knowing him, when he says “You’ll love it”..I know for a fact it’s true.

We zig-zagged in an old arcade by Flinder’s Street up to the 8th floor and there lies the best view of Federal Square.

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Then, he introduced me to his friend he happened to know when he was exploring this very old building. Stephan Mclaughlan, the gallery owner was quite the man we got to talk to. Never in my days would I see myself listening and talking about Alfred Hitchcock. Stephan’s a big fan and yet another passionate, straight to point man. We even talked about James Bond because he saw the package Nuddin helped carried for me.

We also got to know how the networking works in Melbourne for an artist to be successful. Who he chooses to display and how to tell if it were to be a good show.

I wanted to record every moment of my stay in Australia in tape so I can watch it again but alas, all I could do is depend on my photos, photographic memories and writings so that I won’t forget this feeling.

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I was also delighted to get Yoga and Nuddin meet up for the first time while I was there. Very grateful to have all my friends freeing their days for me. The best thing about this trip is that, all of us got to do something we’ve never done before. Yoga told me about igersmelbourne‘s photowalk happening the day after and I made sure Syiks and Nuddin were to join us. IgersMelbourne stands for instagram melbourne. None of us except Yoga had done this before and it really inspired me to do things better with my work. This photowalk is kinda like an extension to what #TSDayOut is all about, which is awesome – I get to enjoy what others plan with one objective in mind, which is to explore.

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While Sydney was more relaxing for me, Melbourne was go go go because there’s so many things my friends wanted to bring me to. It was a nice balance, a need and away from the reality for at least a little while.

I’m also very lucky to have Nuddin’s girlfriend to not murder me for spending time with him 3 whole days straight. As I’ve been accustomed to the past, I don’t exactly have the best records with my best guyfriends’ girlfriends. But yeah, I’m so thankful this is not the case at all. Thank you for that Kamilah.

I think I know what this is about. This mind had wanted to shout to the world.

I finally am able to be happy with where I am at, enjoy being me and having people around me who allows me to do so without telling me.

I can’t undo the memories of the past but I can make better ones today.

Will I ever return for another trip to Down Under? That’s for another post to reveal what I’ve got plans for.

This might not be your cup of tea, this post I mean. But that’s why I write, why Danywhere exists. It’s the wanderlust theories I come across that makes me want to write. To get it out of my chest. Who reads it does not matter to me but I do appreciate if you happen to finish reading till the end.

Aussie doings will be elaborated further now that I got this out! Phewh. What a rut I got myself into.

However, during my flight to Sydney I manage to write this without having any preconceived ideas about what my trip would me to me.

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Battle Victory

Finally, it feels like it,
Like these demons are taken down,
The warriors are crying for victory.
Is this what it feels like,
When the endless battle is ending?

Oh that closet filled with darkness
Is released from evil tricks and mind.
Reborn with renewed faith,
Today, a new day has begun
For a dwarf finally gets her fun.

It feels strange, alien somewhat;
Where blurred line becomes clearer,
Horizon looking better,
Happier in fact.
Well, here’s to a new adventure.

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Zack Arias & A Sense of Charm in Photography

No matter what I do, I’ll have to inject some art bits in it. Maybe if I can’t do it bluntly but I try to add an art point of view here and there.

To me, art is the essence of life. The x-factor to the things we do on daily basis. Maybe you might not see it that way, but horning your skill, even by sweeping the floor, getting a certain routine formulated .. that is art too.

But I’m not writing about art.

I wanna talk about my fear of going up to people and asking their permission to take photos of them. I have done in the past, sometimes just to challenge myself. And I find joy in knowing that people don’t mind actually. However, I’m still intimidated to go up to people.

Watching Zack Arias doing his thing like it’s no big deal is an inspiration I hope to harness in June. There are two reasons for this,

I: I’ll be heading down under for a break but also to finally come back from the dead in taking street photography with my new sidekick.

II: Enrolling myself for 3 days street photography workshop with Chemat (a living legend in Malaysia) in Penang for Obscura Festival.

So, either ways, I still have to get down on my knees and work on my photography. I’ve been told that Chemat is one guy who takes no-nonsense. Which is good for me but I better know my shit!

I like that Zack Arias isn’t intimidated by people and people are just as fond of him. There’s that connection, that extra zing to capture because he makes them comfortable. Something I want to work on from now onwards.

In a way, it helps build my self-esteem which once upon a time was almost non-existent.

But activities like this, people like him, friends I have make me want to be better for myself. Build myself up because I deserve it, because He obviously has a plan for me for sticking around this long despite me not knowing what it is.

So I think, everything is planned out the way it should be. Just received my new sidekick and it’s time for one heck of a bonding session baby!

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In Waking Up To A Dream

They spoil every romance by trying to make it last forever. – Oscar Wilde

There are millions of nonsense going through my head, it’s like a hurdle on it’s own just to wake up from that place. And I have been stuck in this dark hole for a bit. It’s as if I live in two worlds. 

Then, as I was watching Nat Geo’s Word Travels episodes, it got me thinking (eh doesn’t that happen all the time anyway?) .. in today’s world, we’re more open, more connected to this travel world that I used to remember it was one of those very exclusive/ very lucky people only get to experience. Now, there are more mediums allowing all of us to participate in this worldly adventures; even if it’s at the comfort of your homes.

Which I find very inspiring.

I always kept thinking that being a travel writer or of anything similar to that notion is a one in million kind of job. That it is probably easier to get a PhD for paleontology than to get your hands in travel writing. 

But now, that’s not the case. I have been lucky to meet people who in one way or another have invested in this what I nearly called impossible dream of mine and not to mention Him, who writes this in my book. Indeed, it always starts from you. If you want it bad enough, work for it; the universe will conspire to help you too.

Of course journalism has it’s own levels of appreciation. Like art. 

One can make something out of trash and calls it art. One can write about a place and calls it a travel experience. 

Everyone can be anything they want, create the dreams they see themselves living in. But what sets each and everyone apart is the substance, the personality one carries throughout the journey. And growing up in a society that doesn’t read, it makes that task much harder so to speak. 

Which comes to my next point.

For as long as I’m doing this because (and only because) I love it, then my intentions will always serve it’s purpose. To share with the world about what I see, do, speak, think and touch. Certainly, it’s always nice to know that someone out there among billions of people in this world reads my idiosyncrasies  and make effort to comment; I think I am still in the right place for doing this with the right mind frame and intentions even if I don’t get high traffic. 

I’m a romantic at heart, and I mean romantic in a way that, what I do, it’s something personal and I have to do it because it means so much to me.

Perhaps there’s to many “me” in this post. Although I feel uncomfortable putting myself in the spotlight, this one is exempted. Well, if I’m not doing it because I love it, it would just be another thing someone else is doing isn’t it?

So yes, I’m now revived to be back to write after hiding in the dark. And it feels good too.

I also agree with what Oscar Wilde had said as it is better to live the moment, embrace it and then look back as one of the pages you have made the most in your life rather than brooding about how a moment will have to pass. Because it will.

Therefore, live it.