Followers

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Young And Malay [Book Review Script]

Young And Malay book review

Assalamualaikum wbt and hello there

in this video i’ll be reviewing this book right here

[what is the book about]

Young and Malay: Growing Up In Multicultural Malaysia is an essay compilation book that was edited by Ooi Kee Beng and Wan Hamidi Hamid, published by Gerakbudaya Enterprise.

Inside are nine essays from various writers who are young-ish and identify as Malays.

In the introduction, one of the editors of the book tells us what the book sets out to do, 

and what I understand from it is that they wanted to collect some essays about these writers’ experiences of growing up in Malaysia.

From reading the book, it became obvious to me that they weren’t given any strict guidelines or rules to follow,

So we get everything from one writer’s experience as a Malay boy in a Chinese school to another person’s critique on Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s 1970 book, The Malay Dilemma.


[what i liked about the book]

With an essay compilation like this, one cannot expect for all of the pieces to be amazing, but I did appreciate a few more than some others.

I like that this book tries to get the malay people of Malaysia to tell their own stories of their upbringing and their roots. 

Reading about these writers’ experiences growing up in different parts of the country, and even growing up outside of the country was great.

It allowed me to gain a better insight into what other people’s lives were like and the kinds of thoughts they had as young Malay people, and I appreciate this book for that.

I also liked that a lot of these writers picked apart the mainstream narrative and were critical of what they were told as young people. 

They go in depth into what formed their views of what Malayness has become and analyse why it has turned into what it is today.

As I said earlier, one writer even put aside sharing stories about their upbringing altogether and instead criticised The Malay Dilemma for the length of the essay.

In and of itself, it’s a worthwhile read, especially if you’ve never found any reason to doubt The Malay Dilemma.

But I have to admit that I don’t see it being a great fit for this particular collection. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed the essay.

[what I didn’t like about the book]

One particular essay, however, I did not enjoy very much. 

It didn’t fit into what the book said it wanted to do, nor was it all that interesting to me.

The second essay in the book started off with a review of a punk rock show they attended once.

Then continued to list down all their favourite punk rock bands of the past.

Then started recommending the reader some other books to read.

It was as filler as it could get, and people could skip that essay without having missed all that much.

Another thing I found lacking about the book was that all the contributors of this book were very much opposed to the way the country was run.

Not that I’m disagreeing with their views in any way, but I do feel like it made the book lean heavily one way politically, without having any voice to balance it out.

I would have appreciated the book even more if the contributors were from a wider array of political views.

That way, a clearer picture of Young and Malay people could have been portrayed.

[nak rekemen buku ni kat sapa]

I would recommend this book to people who are interested in alternative narratives. If you don’t understand why anybody would dislike Dr Mahathir Muhammad, then this book is a great starting point.

Overall, I like the book and I find it interesting 

I hope a newer volume will come out some time in the near future because I want to read about more Malaysians talking about being Malays.

The book we’ll be discussing next week is Gantung by Nadia Khan.

If you have any questions, you can send them to my email iniuntukakusahaja@gmail.com or tweet me @inianwarhadi


And that’s it for this video, may peace be upon you!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

My (Limited) Experiences With Theatre So Far

So through participating in this play that I’m in the middle of getting ready for, I’ve been able to meet actors that have been in theatre for a lot longer than I have. One has four years of experience, with more than twenty plays under her belt. Another has been involved in theatre for six years. How I got to find out these things is by asking them. I have found that I have been curious about other peoples’ experience in acting. And through asking them about their experiences, they have asked me about mine, because they’re good at having conversations. And so I’ve had to answer that question more than a couple of times now, and I still struggle with my own story. In this post, I shall write my own story with theatre and the stage, so that my own version of my own story is clearer to me.

I don’t remember exactly how, but when I was in Form Five I found myself involved with some older people who had experience in Kelab Kebudayaan. They were Form Sixers who were from a different school. I think they were the ones who got an acting coach to come to our school and conduct acting classes. This was my starting point. I struggle to remember what my thoughts were at the time, but I do remember being enthusiastic about it. I also remember there being very few people who shared my enthusiasm. If I remember correctly, the training sessions were held weekly, and we started with nine people, and as the weeks went by, nine turned to seven. Seven turned to six. Six turned to four. I guess people didn’t see the point of it all. After about a month or two, the coach stopped coming, and understandably so because there were just too few people who were interested.

I was partly to blame for that as well. I remember training sessions were from 4pm to 6pm, but I would bail halfway because rugby training started at 5pm. At the time, rugby was definitely more of a priority for me. I had people who depended on me, and as a senior who was also the coach’s son who was also the team captain, I held a lot of responsibility in that team, so I gladly went. But of course that meant that the few became fewer. And I could only imagine how not-fun it was for only two or three people to be around for theatre training. I wouldn’t blame any outside coach seeing it as a lost-cause to drive all the way to a school that apparently doesn’t care.

I continued about my life after that without thinking about theatre or acting all that much at all. Until a couple of years later, when I was in teacher training. A lecturer of mine wanted to stage a play and asked for people who were interested to audition. I knew that I liked being on stage from all the English Club and literature activities that we consistently had during our foundations, so I was excited to have a go at it. I was pleased to find out a couple of weeks later that I got cast as one of the male roles in the play. I played the older brother of the lead character, and I loved it.

Through getting ready for that production, we were exposed to acting training and workshops to help us put on the play successfully. By the end of the experience, I had fallen in love with theatre. My lecturer was very supportive and coached us all very well. She made us believe that we could do it, and defended us against some criticism thrown our way. I’m very thankful to her for presenting me with the opportunity to explore that realm. 

That was my first experience staging a play. I wanted to immediately start working on another play after that. I had one more year before heading off to Macquarie University. There were whispers of there being a musical theatre in the works. I even went for an audition for it. But it wasn’t meant to be. The play fell through, everyone got busy with other things and I didn’t pursue it outside of campus either. I started having thoughts of participating in Macquarie’s theatre club when I got there.

But when I got there, I got scared. I passed by the theatre everyday to and from class. But I never went in. I never inquired. I never put in a serious effort to try out for anything. I didn’t even go to any staging of anything. I got scared, and I stayed in my comfort zone. I hung around people who didn’t want to do theatre. I didn’t seek out any opportunities to allow me to find out more things about theatre. I just stayed away, because I was scared of being the only Malaysian there. Of being around strangers, first language users, people who were probably already friends with one another. I didn’t want to put myself through to awkwardness of being the “new guy” who was also a foreigner. For two years, I was scared.

I came back to Malaysia and spent my final year of teacher training being busy with what final year students are busy with, and by this time, I had been out of theatre for so long that I didn’t spend any time thinking about it at all. I still found myself going to the Penang Performing Arts Centre a couple of times to watch some shows, but overall I didn’t make the time to be a performer at all.

My next opportunity came at the end of my second year as a full-time teacher. A whatsapp group that I was a part of posted a call to audition, and I jumped at it. I went for the audition and got the role. Rehearsals were weekly for three months, and we were getting paid for it as well, so that was good. However, by April I had to end my involvement with the production without ever staging the play because I needed my weekends back, as well as I didn’t feel comfortable with the script. Not because it was against my morals or anything like that, but more like I felt like I didn’t fit in the role at all and it wasn’t a story that I felt very passionate about telling.

After that, I remained out of theatre until this AMUK play came about. I found out about it through an call for actors to audition on twitter, I went to audition and am now part of the cast. If this play gets staged, it will be my first time acting on stage since the first time I did  it in 2009. Eight years separate the two experiences. That’s a lot. Too much. I hope the next experiences will come at a much higher frequency. And I’ll work towards making that a reality.

Here’s to theatre and experience.

When I Do My Thinking

So this week has been a real busy one, and I’m not begrudging it. The main reason for this busy-ness is the theatre rehearsals that I have been attending every night of the week. I enjoy rehearsing, but it takes up the whole of my night. I end up arriving home late and tired, so I’d just end up going to bed without having done any writing. I wake up in the morning both wanting so much to fall back asleep while also having to prepare for school in the afternoon. This is me giving excuses as to why I haven’t been writing on the blog as of late. Bad Anwar, bad.

Yesterday, during rehearsals, a producer asked me what I look like when I think. The only answer I could give at the time was “I do most of my thinking in the shower”. And this morning, while I was in the shower, I thought about that answer. I asked myself whether that answer was actually true. And to a certain extent, I think it is. But the kinds of thoughts I have in the shower tend to stay there. I am aware that I am thinking, but I am unaware of what I have been thinking about by the time I get out of the shower. I never really figure stuff out. I just sit there and marinate with random thoughts for as long as droplets of water are hitting my body.

The producer also asked me what I looked like if I were thinking on the sofa (because in the play, I play a character who is siting on a sofa, and he’s supposed to be thinking). So I answered truthfully (?) that I don’t think on the sofa. I watch Netflix on the sofa. And so he asked me to act that out. And it was a fun rehearsal session where we got to explore some things. But then I still wanted to know when I did my thinking, if it wasn’t in the shower. And I wanted to know when I figured stuff out, because it’s rarely done in the shower.

The answer that I arrive at is when I’m writing. Before and while I write, I think. I try to form a cohesive thought, and convey that cohesion (or lack thereof) in the writing. I ask myself, “okay so what am I thinking? What happened that made me think about that? What does this and that mean? Why do I think that? Am I wrong in thinking this? What makes me think that I’m right? Is this or that a problem? If it is, how do I solve it?” and so on and so forth, until I think I have nothing to write anymore about that thought, or at least until I’m too tired to continue typing anything else.

Besides that, I also form thoughts and opinions while having conversations. I find that when I’m trying to hold a healthy back and forth with another person, I tend to examine what I say. I form my sentences in my head and do what I can to make sure they make sense before vocalising them. I self-correct and self-doubt almost everything that comes out of my mouth, so that means thinking is happening. I also like it when people ask me questions. In forming my answers, I think about stuff and get stuff figured out before or while throwing my thoughts out there. Another thing I like about conversations is that I can hear a different (and probably better-informed) perspective to my thoughts so that I can build a more informed understanding of myself and the world around me.

I notice that I like it when I have to materialise my thoughts. That way, I can look at them, listen to them, stare at them, examine them outside of myself and be in a better position to be critical of them. That’s why I make an effort to write my thoughts. That’s why I like it when in-depth, thoughtful conversations happen to me. Because then I get to learn about myself, examine myself and possibly, ideally bring myself to a better perspective of myself and the thoughts I hold.


Here’s to writing and conversations.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Jemputan Membaca Buku 2017 Video Script

Assalamualaikum wbt dan salam sejahtera.

Tahun lepas saya start buat review buku. Lebih kurang sebulan sekali saya akan post satu video dimana saya bincang sebuah buku. Saya cakap tentang apa yang saya suka dan kurang suka tentang buku tersebut serta saya rekemen kat siapa buku tu.

Tahun ni saya akan sambung buat, pasai saja syok-syok nak buat. Dan jugak pasai saya masih lagi rasa macam kita tak cukup sembang tentang buku-buku yang ditulis oleh penulis Malaysia. Saya nak lagi ramai orang bincang pasai pendapat depa tentang buku yang ditulis oleh penulis Malaysia, dan ini adalah salah satu usaha saya kearah mencapai matlamat tersebut. Plus, saya memang jenih buat palataw.

Format review saya most probably akan sama ja dengan yang sebelum-sebelum ni, pasai saya tak terpikiaq lagi macam mana nak buat cara lain yang senang bagi saya.

Saya akan habaq awai-awai buku apa yang akan saya review pada bulan-bulan yang akan datang, supaya hampa boleh baca sekali, kalau hampa nak. Review akan di-upload pada akhir bulan  yang disebut.

Untuk bulan Februari kita akan review Young and Malay, edited by Ooi Kee Beng and Wan Hamidi Hamid.

Untuk Mac, kita akan bincang Gantung, ditulis oleh Nadia Khan.

Untuk April, kita sembang pasai buku Peninsula: A Story Of Malaysia by Rehman Rashid.

Mei, kita akan tengok buku Brave New World, by Azmi Sharom.

Untuk bulan Jun, kita akan try buku Assalamualaikum: Ulasan Tentang Islamisasi Di Malaysia yang ditulis oleh Zaid Ibrahim.

Julai, kita akan baca dan bincang buku Sekolah Bernama Kehidupan, ditulis oleh Asmar Shah.

Untuk bulan Ogos, kita akan try baca buku Alif Lam Lam Ha ditulis oleh Kru Universiti Terbuka Anak Muda.

Dan pada bulan September, kita akan bincangkan buku Anarkis, ditulis oleh Khairul Nizam Khairani.

Kalau saya rajin, saya akan tambah lagi buku selepas tu, tapi setakat ni, buku-buku tu yang saya nak bincangkan untuk tahun 2017, inshaAllah.

Kalau ada cadangan penambahbaikan cara saya buat video atau cara saya bincangkan buku-buku ni, bolehlah tinggalkan komen di ruang yang telah disediakan dibawah.

Kalau ada soalan lain, boleh emel atau tweet saya di iniuntukakusahaja@gmail.com dan @inianwarhadi respectively.

Dan kalau hampa suka dengaq podcast, saya ada podcast dengan isteri saya dimana kami sembang tentang perkara-perkara berbangkit. Boleh jumpa di soundcloud atau itunes, namanya BuahMulut. Kalau hampa suka dengaq dua orang sembang-sembang kosong saja-saja untuk mengisi masa lapang, boleh la try dengaq.

Sekian saja kot untuk video kali ni.

May peace be upon you.

Good Columnists and Being Sure

So I was scrolling through Twitter the other day (as I do on any given day), and I came across an article that was talking about a joke involving George Michael in the movie La La Land. It's a quick two-minute read, so if you'd like to read it, Here it is:




The full article can be read here.

Through reading this article, I realised why I was a bad columnist. It's self-doubt. Or rather, the way it currently manifests in my writing.

While reading the article, what became immediately obvious to me was the way in which the writer was so very sure of what they were saying, or at least they had the appearance of being sure. There's a certain sure-about-themselves-ness that is present in articles written by "good" columnists. It makes sense if I think about it, because these writers are most probably well-read in their fields and they can write with authority on the topic in which they have been given the task to write, because they studied the subject matter and put in real work that is necessary for a good piece of writing to emerge.

The way I see it work is, a person thinks up of something to write about, or alternatively is given a topic to discuss in their writing. They then study up on that subject matter for hours, days, months, even years to get a firm grasp of what they were about to write about. Then, after that extensive research, they get to their documents and start typing. If any new questions emerge, they'd find material that would help them with being sure about what they had to write about. That's how it works. That's why people are paid to write those columns. Because a lot of hard work has to be put into writing a convincing article.

I have a lot of self-doubt because I am not as learned, nor do I put in the effort to read up on the topic at hand. Take this particular article, for instance. I could have quickly Googled "how do columnists write" or something similar, but I didn't. I just sat down in front of my laptop and typed away. When I encounter a question that I cannot answer, I do not do my research or find the answers through the miracle of the internet. I instead say "I don't know" or something similar and rest at that. Lazy work, I think anyone would agree.

And because I have self-imposed rule to write as many words as I can in one sitting, I end up elaborating that self-doubt and analysing why I don't know the answer to a certain thing or explore why my views on a subject matter is flawed and self-critique, right in the same article, as those doubts pop into my head. Because it's easier than spending time reading up on a subject matter that would require me to learn something new. I choose not to hide those doubts because it allows me to put more words on a page, and that makes me feel good. I can say to myself "ha, tengok tu, boleh pun tuleh banyak! Hang rajin betui Anwat!" when in reality, it's self-deluding to think that.

So for me to achieve the "sureness" that good columnists possess, I will have to be willing to put in the work. I will have to be more rajin in doing my research and find out the answers instead of being okay with just "I don't know and here's why". But I most probably won't, because it's too much work, and the good feeling that I get from putting words on a page is a lot more fulfilling than the work required to actually produce a cohesive and well-written article. So I'll most probably continue doing that until it feels like it's not enough anymore. Then, maybe, I'll start researching things before writing stuff.

Here's to hoping.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Of Lil Yachty and Open-Mindedness

So earlier today I watched a video made by Anthony Fantano on his channel "Needle Drop", and the latest video at the time of writing this is him putting forth the opinion that the rapper Lil' Yachty might be the incarnation of rap's punk phase. He puts forth the argument that Lil Yachty is clearly rebelling against the foundational idea of what makes rap music good and seems to be deliberately doing the opposite of what should be deemed as "good" rap just because. Even if it's not exactly the opposite, I think a lot of people can agree that it's very different.

And Anthony does a good enough job of articulating why he thinks what he thinks, to the point where a person such as myself can follow the argument well enough to think that I understand where he's coming from when he says these things. Kudos to him for that. As a person who considers himself a fan of the music made by acts that are influenced in some way or another by the classic punk-rock acts of the 70s, I got intrigued by the thought.

The classic punk-rock acts were not "good" rock musicians. They had a primitive mastery of their instruments, they couldn't sing very well and their lyrics were as straight forward as they come, and that was what made them great. Because they rebelled against the idea that "good music" had to be a certain way and proved that "good music" could take on a wider definition. even to this day, most acts that would associate themselves with the term "punk" would not pride themselves in technical traditional musicianship, or at least not any "punk" acts I'm familiar with.

And Lil Yachty seems to be doing the same with his music, says Anthony Fantano. Anthony listens very very widely and has deep knowledge about music in general and also about musical movements and trends, so I trust his opinions when it comes to music, because I know it's coming from a very informed standpoint. Because i trust his opinion, I wanted to listen for myself what ideas Lil Yachty had to offer on his latest solo full-length release "Lil Boat".

I listened to half of it for the first time while on the way to school this morning. I tried to listen from the point of view that Lil Yachty not trying to be good in any way, rather he just wants to express and make a certain type of music that he felt comfortable making. I struggled with it. Through the handful of tracks that I went through, I couldn't quite get why I would want to listen to them more than once. I'm still entrenched in the mindset that the only rap worth listening to was "good" rap.

While parking the car at my school, I started asking myself why it was important for me to "get" Lil Yachty. He wasn't a musician that falls within my tastes in music. I don't find his songs pleasant. But why did I feel disappointed by this fact?

The answer that I have come up with is that I feel like whatever I listen to right now, the songs that I consider "good music", is a sonic comfort zone for me. And by me only listening to the things that I like, I'm afraid that I'm also inadvertently wallowing in my comfort zone, and if I stay in comfort zones for too long, I feel that my mind closes up on me and I slowly but surely lose the ability or rather the inclination towards trying to be open-minded about things.

If I can't bring myself to listen to music that I don't particularly like, how am I going to gather up the wherewithal to listen to opinions and points of view that I don't particularly like? If I lose the inclination to listen to people who have differing opinions and points of view from myself, then I will also slowly but surely lose my will to empathise with people who are different from myself. And I value that ability so much and am trying hard not to deteriorate what little of it I have in me as it is.

So I think there is a legitimate reason for me to try and listen to music I dislike and find out why a person might like it. I don't have to like that music myself, but I think it's important that I put in the effort to understand the appeal of what I personally find unappealing. Because at the end of the day, it might help me build empathy within myself by trying to listen to something as someone else might listen to it. And I think that's a valuable thing to pursue.

Here's to listening to new, "bad" music.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Kalsom-MASCA KKB

So yesterday I had the pleasure of attending an English workshop run by Kalsom-MASCA at a camp site in Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor. Kalsom is a non-profit that tries to help underprivileged secondary school students by organising camps that focus on getting the students to learn about English, History and Math as well as equip them with leadership and organisation skills that they may find useful in their lives post-school. It's been going on for years now, and this year was my second time joining them to help the students out.

The session that I got to attend last night was a role-playing session, where each group was asked to adapt a chapter of the novel that they were supposed to be reading (Dear Mr Kilmer by Anne Scraff) into a short play and perform it on stage. Afterwards, the group was asked to present their discussions about the chapter on stage. Each group had seven minutes to do all that, and I had to evaluate how well each group did and by the end of the 10 chapter presentations, choose the top 3 from the bunch.

Watching all the students work together to put together a workable script adaptation to portray the main ideas of each chapter was great. Some groups really showed that they understood the core of the text and what it was trying to say, and delivered it succinctly and efficiently with the limited amount of time they had. It made me wish that I had a similar opportunity to explore literature in the way that they had back when I was a teenager (ugh, I still have yet to come to terms with no longer being a teenager myself). It would have definitely helped start my love towards the arts a lot earlier than I had, and I would probably set about a different path.

But of course hindsight is 2020 and I have to live with my choices and make the best of the opportunities that come my way in the future, not dread the choices I made in the past and begrudge these other people for the opportunities that they have. That's a very negative way to live, in my estimation, and it doesn't help me achieve anything. Best be thankful for what I have and work towards building a more ideal future for myself with the resources at my disposal.

At the end of the session, the hosts asked me to give a bit of a wrap-up of the evening, and as I was utterly unprepared, I talked about the first thing that came to my head: the importance of literature. I couldn't bring myself to tell these students that literature is important because of this, this and this, so I asked them to use the remainder of the evening thinking about why literature is important. I shared with them why I value literature myself, which was that literature was what started me on my journey towards understanding and practicing empathy. Sure, I have a long way to go on the journey, but if it weren't for literature, I don't think I would have even started the journey and still be under the impression that I understood what empathy meant.

I don't know if they actually went back to think about it. If I were in their position, I would just want to go back to my bed and sleep before tomorrow's activities. Looking back at it, maybe just asking them to think about something wasn't the best way to get them to think about it. Maybe I could have said something more thought out, more thought-provoking to start he thinking process. But as I sit here, typing and staring at my mug of coffee, I can't come up with what that thought would be. There's something for me to chew on for a bit, at least.

Here's to literature and empathy.