Mar 13, 2018


There is a quietness in the soul that softens the beats of the heart to bring it near purring stillness. The breath of the air becomes tangible - it runs silky cool all over the body as it washes the very sweat that usually linger with the heat. Time does not slow down as contrary to the popular beliefs. It merely became less important, the mechanics of its passing now turned to abstract, carelessly measured in relativity and its insignificance.

It is a satisfaction that is indescribable and very much unlike other pleasures ever perceived in this Godly earth. I craved for this peace very much more so than the aches that I bear. Or maybe it's the other way around - there must be a dressing for every wound cleaned. The worse it gets, the greater the need for that peace. The dark hollow penetrates even deeper, clawing and gnawing at the roots, slowly loosening the foundation I called desire to love as it sends bitter dirt and blackened soil around.

But it's more than just a peace to get rid of the misery. I had tasted the soothing moment of tranquility. It was instantaneous, fleeting, and gone without the company of time. It was like a gulp from a sip of icy water drank in the mindless strike of heat storm. Thirstily, rabidly, to the point of near insanity - I drank the elusive elixir as much as I could and when it left me, the loss nearly tore my heart into pieces.

I have the map that leads to it, though. The blueprint on constructing palace of peace and the compass that can guide me as I sail across the starry-filled seas. It's not even riddled with puzzles or blinded by intricacies. But the path to tranquility, the journey that it will cost me will take a lot of time and decisions. It might not even come to fruition. But it is alive at the moment, glowing best with possibilities in deep slumber of my dreams and hovering just so, unsinkable still even when caught in the waking moment of tumultuous roaring reality.

I finally know how I am going to spend my life. It will not be glorious, merry, or known to anyone. It will not be shared. It will not be influenced by anyone or anything else. It is not even static. The final end is fixed yet I will make the paths connected from checkpoint to checkpoint of my life to be springy and unbroken. I will wield this spear staff of mine, this way of life that I have chosen, privately and with utmost care. I will protect the happiness I rightly deserved after so long with every ounce of my strength, the tip of the point sharpened and the handle polished.

In the process I will hurt myself. There will be moments of weakness and doubt seeping in. Every weapon can turn towards its master. I might have crisis in the years to come about my decisions now. But in the end, every life will end and so will mine. What miserable short years I think I only have I wish it to be filled with my efforts to search for my own tranquility. For the sake of my life and for my soul in the afterlife. This might be the last time I talk about love and the pain I caused and received, but in the end, we are all just beggars in the world. May Allah blessed this path of mine.


Mar 5, 2018


The first time I've heard of this term when I was in final year of medical school. I naturally didn't understand much about it because it's hard to understand things if you're not part of it. Siapalah aku kan time tu, just a medical student yang blur blur dan tak paham apa-apa. But in essence, I roughly deduced it means someone who when at work will attract incidents that will make their work shift eventful.

Kata-kata orang yang bangga dengan dirinya yang jonah

The term jonah is a slang word used exclusively among healthcare professionals in Malaysia and is very popular among housemen and staff nurses. Medical officers used the term less, and it is almost unheard of among specialists to utter the word in conversations. It is often used to tease colleagues who often appear to have very eventful work shifts when compared to other colleagues. We usually tease them in light-hearted manners, although I've once witnessed a staff nurse throwing a bitchy temper when she learned a 'jonah' MO is oncall during her shift.

As a Muslim we believe in qada and qadar (takdir dan ketentuan) and accept that no such thing exists - no person is unlucky and to truly believe in jonah is a thing of khurafat. To just tease each other with it is fine. No harm done.

In a working environment where there is no consistency in the form of work load, I find that it is peculiar that such a word is coined to describe people who bring 'troubles' to work. If you work in the ward, yes, there are jobs that are a constant - a work routine that we do and follow as standard operating of procedure (SOP). For a houseman, that would be to do morning reviews, trace the blood investigations / formal imaging reports / formal lab reports, follow ward rounds, and performing the tasks ordered by the MOs or specialists. That much is expected.

What is also expected is that no two patients will present identical workload to the doctors / staff nurses. Similarly there is no two days that are identical. We expect that the number of new admissions to the ward differ from day to day and that different patients can collapse or deteriorating at any time. There is simply no consistency in that. We cannot say that a day which has 12 admissions and two patients desaturated of oxygen as a 'troubled' day because no matter how bad any day is, it is all within expectations when working in a hospital. Dey, kalau kau tengah attend CME hospital then tetiba ada orang collapsed kena heart attack itu baru eventful, macha.

Nevertheless, it is a culture I enjoyed to be a part of at work. More than once I have been labeled as jonah (even though I think some people had it worse than me). I used to hate it very much being a jonah when I was in Medical because working night shift in Medical means you will be busy working clerking a handful of new admissions and taking patients' blood for the whole ward. Granted, during my time I always have a colleague working with me and we don't have to rely on the runner for blood taking, but I absolutely loathed it when other things happened like relatives wanting to speak to the specialist to make complaints, patients making a scene or developing blood transfusion reaction at midnight (hence it is imperative to not transfuse blood after 6 pm unless it is absolutely necessary!).

I don't mind if things like patient developing a temperature or a low blood pressure or even an active patient (as opposed to a DIL) collapsed and needing CPR - it is within my responsibilities. But to handle things that are time-consuming and irritating in nature? Things like wrestling with a severe head injury patient to prevent him from yanking out his urinary catheter and failed, then watching in horror as blood dripping out from his penis due to the injury he himself inflicted, or trying to calm a patient down as he angrily shouted at us wanting to sign an AOR (At Own Risk) discharge form (which then my specialist said go and refer him to psychiatrist for delirium at freaking 9pm WHICH IS NOT THE CASE! HE JUST WANTS TO GO HOME, and which we did discharged him close to midnight eventually after calling the patient's whole family for a psychiatry evaluation and conference), or attending a staff nurse who had an ankle fracture after she slipped on the floor in the ward (yes, I even pushed her on the wheelchair to do the X-rays at 11pm, gosh that was funny and annoying at the same time) next to a patient's bed who late at night we heard a loud bang as the patient also fall to the floor as he tried to get up from his bed (and failed). LOL thus an incident reporting was issued.

That is what I personally think what a jonah is about. Sometimes all I could do is to gape open-mouthly at the absurdities of what is happening in the ward. Other times I would find myself grasping at my hair and screamed silently in consternation - being jonah is absolutely a true exasperating moment you have to experience it yourself. You will come to be proud of yourself at the end of your work shift - either because it finally ends or you managed to emerged unscathed with no harm to patients done - and calmly accept the fact that yes, despite dah mandi segala air mandian bunga, avoiding all red undies and clothes, dah sembahyang cukup-cukup siap tambah solat hajat tolak bala - you are indeed a jonah.

Mar 4, 2018


I went to IOI Putrajaya to look for a coffee machine. I've decided that I need to have one after my sister showed to me her French press coffee maker. I had no idea how coffee machine works but I had a rough idea on how it should serve my caffeine needs.

Between HomePro and Harvey Norman, I chose HN in view of them having a coffee promoter who really knows his stuff and can demonstrate on how to operate the machines. I was introduced to the world of espresso coffee machines, coffee grinders, the differences between espresso and latte, and also various technique to brew your own coffee.

Everything that I have come to love, and subsequently that prompted me to embark on the quest to become a barista of some sort, began on this day when I decided to purchase a DeLonghi Dedica EC685 M espresso coffee machine.

Feb 25, 2018

Surviving Medical School: Tips & Tricks

 "Hi, l'm a first year medical student in IPTA. Previously, I was so eager and excited to enter this medical field but now I'm always questioning and doubting myself - Am I strong enough to keep moving forward? I love what l'm doing and studying but somehow the feeling of not being prepared enough or as simply as not being able to answer the lecturer's question always haunt me. Hence, would you please share on how you cope with this situation during your medical school years? Sorry for taking your time and I would be really grateful for your response. Thank you."

Someone actually asked me for advice? I'm totally floored! 

Before I give you my unsolicited advice on how to survive medical school and cope with the stress, let me tell you a bit of my background:

  • I did my two-year A-level program in order to enter uni and my results are not great: AABC. The uni asked for at least AAAB. I still got accepted, but I felt I was not qualified enough to do medicine.
  • Failed my first year final exam in Newcastle and was told to repeat the whole year again.
  • Decided to repeat first year in Malaysia campus to avoid humiliation and to start fresh and anew
  • Almost failed my third year - had to resit an OSCE exam
  • My results are just borderline-pass every year with no distinction or merit at all.
  • Had a major breakdown during final year final exam that I can still remember until now

So despite knowing that, if you still want to know how I did it, I would strongly suggest that after you read my answers, it is better for you guys to ask other people who fared better at medical school on better tips on how to survive the medical school. Also, different people have different studying methods, and ultimately, there are various coping strategies that you can use.

1. Know what type of learner you are.

This is a simple thing to discover yet its importance is something you cannot neglect. Simply put, knowing what type of a learner you are can make your study more effective because you will know which study method is best for you and which method that you need to avoid doing. A short googling led me to this infographic:

This four types of learner can also be further classified whether you are a social or solitary type. A social learner studies best in a group while solitary learner needs to be alone to study.

For me, I can say that I am 80% read/write and 20% kinesthetic solitary learner. Once I resigned to the fact that I literally had to WRITE every single thing that I wanted to learn, the next part is to get organized. I had to find the suitable notebooks, the best coloured pen markers, the sticky notes, etc. I ended up with people borrowing my notes because I had to make my notes easy for me to read and understand (because I am slow to absorb things) and they also found my notes super readable. I am very bad at aural (listening) and visual learning types as I easily will forget what I've heard and just seeing the visuals will not make me understand as much as when I'm reading. 

However, you have to compromise a bit in medical school. For OSCE and practical exams (viva, etc.) a read/write learner like me will definitely fail the assessment if I stick to just read and write. During my final year exam, I'd proposed to my group study (again, I had to compromise my solitary way) that we practiced answering to these practical exam out aloud to each other. We had compiled the whole list of different diagnoses that can come out and we just fire away with the following differentials, investigations and management. By practicing speaking it out loud, you can gain confidence and the first startled block that you always get when being asked a question can be remedied. 

2. Know your academic learning outcomes.

In every module or subject, check with your academic faculty on the learning objectives or outcomes. Essentially, these are the topics that you are expected to understand and be tested on. They will not usually test students with questions outside the learning outcomes. 

Make a list of those learning outcomes in bullet points and paste it on your wall. That way you will be constantly reminded of the topics that you have mastered and which one you haven't grasp the concepts yet. If your semester doesn't have any learning outcomes (which I greatly doubt it), make a list of the lecture topics. That way you can keep track of every topic of the lectures that are scheduled for the whole semester.

You know the transparent plastic sheet that we use to cover our textbooks? I bought rolls of them and I spread it all out onto my walls, sticking them up on the wall with tapes on all corners where now I can write my whole academic year's outcome using a whiteboard marker. People who came into my room would usually stopped and stare at my walls because my room will be covered with a lot of notes and list. They usually will spot me standing in the middle of room, lost in thoughts as I gazed at them every day, trying to think on which topics that I need to brush up on.

It seemed like an eternity to me but I did it for the 5 years of medical school in Johor and it worked for me. Unfortunately I couldn't provide a photo of my room back then to show here as proof. The next advice however, I do have pictures about it and it is about -

3. Plan your study time EARLY. 

You know how people often say, 'failing to plan is planning to fail.' It's kinda true, but not true enough. It should be, 'failing to plan early is planning to fail.' Every semester the faculty should have released the date for your exams, so take note of those dates on your very first day of the semester. Mark it on your calendar (again, paste your calendar on the wall!) as a reminder.

See how early I planned for my final year exam? 15 weeks in advance!

Once the dates for the exams are fast approaching, the study plan should be revised and be more detailed. This is my finalized study plan for my exam in fourth year of medical school. I had divided my study week to three components in a day (morning, evening, night time) - writing notes for the last few topics of the semester (the green colour blocks), doing exercises (pink blocks), and revising the rest of the topics (yellow blocks). You have to discipline yourself and stick with the timetable schedule.

The big advantage of doing a timetable is this allows you to visualize how much time you need to study in order to cover ALL the topics required before your exams. It also allow you to judge whether you have put enough effort into doing exercises (like past-year questions or bank questions test from books) and revisiting topics you have learnt way back during the early part of the semester. 

4. De-stress

A lot of people have a lot of de-stress skills as a way to release the knots of tension in the brain and in the heart. Some people went off jalan-jalan or makan-makan or tengok wayang. Others invest in unhealthier ways like smoking, drinking, partying, and even on drugs (don't be surprised, guys. We are all 50 shades of unlicensed medical professionals here). The main point here is that you have to find a way to de-stress yourself before you feel the burn out or a melt down.

(Aku tengok dia de-stress aku pulak yang stress)

Join the usrahs or a Brazilian jiu jitsu class. Go out and play sports with your friends. You have to do something other than studying medics. God forbid because this is the only time to do so I tell you. Once you became a doctor, you have to be realllllyyyy dedicated to spend your time not sleeping from exhaustion to do things you used to do when you were at school. I wouldn't say it is impossible to do, in fact there's a colleague I know who is deep with cycling, another is with mountain climbing. Me? I'm active in swimming in the bed sleeping HAHAHAH, usually with a PS4 controller in one hand and a McD's triple cheeseburger in another hand. The only constant de-stress way of mechanism for me is here, blogging things away. So find your de-stress mechanism of skill, and then return to study.

5. Reflect and repair

The last bit of advice is regarding how to manage when you have a particular bad day (or a series of days, I know it can get worse sometimes). Studying medicine is like a wheel of fortune - some days you feel invigorated and full of optimism. Some other days you will feel dejected and questioning why the heck you are doing medicine in the first place. That is how life of a doctor is but at the end of the day, you have to think long and hard about your decisions.

Nobody likes it when they couldn't get the answers right or when being scolded for the mistakes made. The point that I always make and bear in mind is that I'm here to learn. If scoldings and humiliation are the ways to get it, that's what I will endure. YES, IT DOESN'T FEEL GOOD, but let the nawaitu of your action, which is to gain knowledge and know things, be the better person. Whenever you get scolded for not knowing things or getting it wrong, think, "Okay, I don't know about this topic. This is important. One day I would need to know about this and when I don't know  things could get a lot worse than just a scolding,".

Write down all the things you couldn't get it right when being asked and look it up when you reached home. It's not easy to force yourself to have a positive mind set, but by slowly reading back on things you don't know you are in a way repairing your foundation. Let it go that you can't answer the question back then. The more important point is that after you reflect and repair, can you answer the question now?

One thing to remember is that different people learn at different times. Person A might know about that topic now and you don't, but it doesn't mean that you will never learn about that topic indefinitely. You might know some other topic ahead of the time that other people haven't learn yet. That's why don't be too disheartened about it. Learn all you can in the best way you can. Medicine is for life, so like I mentioned earlier, if you managed to cover all your topics within allocated time (hence, the timetable), you will do just fine in medical school.

I think that's it for now. To the Anon who asked this, I hope my humble and personal-opinionated tips and tricks I used in medical school will help you through this. Medical school is never easy, but it doesn't mean you have to be so hard on yourself. So all the best and good luck with your studies! 

Feb 18, 2018

Review: Ola Bola The Musical

If you think football is only meant to be played on the field, think again. For those who have watched the movie Ola Bola or are familiar with the 1980's Olympic qualification final match between Malaysia and South Korea, you will be delighted to re-experience the excitement akin to the cheers of the crowd in Merdeka Stadium back then here live on stage in Istana Budaya Kuala Lumpur.

I have watched the movie in the cinema last year and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was one of those feel-good movies coupled with a lot of good moral values like patriotism, sacrifices, and teamwork. As a movie goes, anything is possible. You can bring the camera to the field and deep into plantation forestry but how about a musical theatrical play then? How do they bring football and the world that is revolving around it onto stage? I admit I was a tad curious on the positive reviews regarding the show. Surely how well can the adaptation be?

The answer was clear to me the moment I entered the Panggung Sari where the musical took place last night. The rows of seats with two tiers at the back, the blasts of spotlights, the recorded crowd noise from the audio system that stimulated audiences in the hall to clap and cheer; all of these bear uncanny similarities between the world on the football field and the world of theatrical play. It is no wonder how despite being the polar opposite to the form of entertainment - sport and theatrical play - this musical manages to soaked our heart with spirits of joy and sense of nationalism.

And boy, they do play the football on the stage. The choreographed movement of the actors that are fluid and energetic managed to bring the actions of the fast-paced drama the world of football had always been mesmerized with. The use of the lights, the screens, and the props are so well executed I couldn't stop myself from making oooh and wahhh remarks. Truly, they make full use of what Istana Budaya is capable of delivering to the audiences.

Ola Bola The Musical is a musical with famous casts including Iedil Putra, Stephen Rahman-Hughes, Luqman Hafidz, Altimet, and Douglas Lim. With all the sponsors like CIMB, Celcom, and Astro, I would say this theatrical play is a mainstream play where the target audience is bigger, the investment and the return are expected to be much larger, and the response from the Malaysians should be better. This is the first time I ever set foot in Istana Budaya (although I still regretted that I missed going to Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical waaaaaay back when I was in KYS - all because of stupid late fee collection process erghh) and half of my time well spent last night was to admire how grand Istana Budaya is and should be.

I also like the songs from Ola Bola The Musical. One in particular that is still stuck to my mind is the song I Cover You from scene 14 called The 'Altimet' Experience - a pun aptly fitted as the sergeant who train the national squad in the military boot camp is none other than the musician Altimet himself. Actually, I find him reallly cool in those uniform and aviator glasses hahah you guys really need to check out his performance as Sergeant Ahmad in the musical.

And speaking about songs, there is a few actors who really sang well and a few that, well, did not so. Being in a theatrical play has a very different level of difficulty, mainly the noticeable ones are the throw of the voice and the pronunciations. Iedil, Stephen, Altimet, and Abi Manyu are the masters of the stage. They sang really well and what they sing are clear to me. I mean, I can listen word by word clearly from English to Malay no matter in which combination. But a number of songs, whether sang solo or in group are a bit hard to catch to the lyrics because the pronunciations are not that clear. Yes, we are the interracial people of Malaysia, we are bound to have our own accented pronunciation of English but in theatre, if you can't throw your voice loud and clear enough, the songs will be buried by the music and overlapping chorus from other singers.`

Nevertheless, the songs are also accompanied by choreographed dance which, to my absolute delight, has elements of Malay dance and zapin in some of them. I am a bit attuned to the traditional dance and I was really glad I could see some form of it in the musical last night. Some of the songs also are from traditional folk's song melody like Lompat Si Katak Lompat and Bangau Oh Bangau. Notable songs that I'm sure you will also enjoy it immensely are Luar Biasa, Pasti, Juara, I Cover You, Lompat, and All This Time.

To me this musical is a success. The emotional part between Muthu and his father almost brought me to choke a bit in my manly tears - I remember the scene from the movie and in the musical form the sentiment it brings is not lacking at all. I think I teared up a bit from watching that part. The climax of the final match is represented in such a visualized manner and excitement that as the time goes the audiences are slowly turning into the spectators cheering for the Harimau Malaya squad in the stadium. The play ended with the actors taking bow on stage, lauded with applause and standing ovation from the audience.

I'm glad I got the chance to finally step foot into Istana Budaya and watched the Ola Bola The Musical. There is still time to watch the musical, and if you are a CIMB cardholder you have the chance (like I did) to get 40% discount for the seat which you can buy it online here (cehh promo tak berbayar ni). The final whistle will blow on 8th March 2018, so hurry and watch it. You won't regret it!!

Feb 4, 2018

Review: Mak Yong Titis Sakti

There's a lot to tell about this wonderful / fantastic / mesmerizing "experimental" play that I was fortunate be able to watch last night at Kuala Lumpur Performing Art Centre (KLPAC). Mostly I want to talk about the play itself, about how the Shakespeare classic work "A Midsummer's Night Dream" being adapted so well into one of the more unthinkable methods of performance, about the unfamiliar Mak Yong traditional performance, and bits and pieces here and there to compliment my thoughts regarding the time I spent there.

But is it fair to talk so much about Mak Yong when just before watching the performance I have never heard of it before? Immediately once I get hooked during the first part of the play, I went out during the intermission to buy the play's program book. It was worth it. Personally, I think they should put more about what Mak Yong is all about in the program book seeing that the play manages to get people (or at least, me) to get interested in Mak Yong. So much so that I wanted to google everything I know about Mak Yong, KLPAC, The Actors Studio, etc.

But to begin with, I was first came into notice about this play from my twitter timeline. @asrulmm, an enthusiastic movie-goer and the one who popularized the trending #RekomenFilem (jangan cakap aku tak payung hahah), retweeted about the play. Now, I have been in some sort of a dump this lately, feeling extremely disgusted in myself and was immersing myself in self-pity when I saw the poster and thought to myself, "Why not? I need to do something to take my mind away of things". Exactly after a minute of stumbling upon the poster, I immediately went to ticketpro website and booked myself a seat. Go, impulsive me, well done!

I was asleep yesterday late afternoon (it was a postcall, and I was so dead tired) and upon waking up the Maghrib azan was called. I hurriedly did what was necessary and soon afterwards I drove to KLPAC like a maniac because the play started at 8.30 pm. This is my second time going to KLPAC; the first time was in 2006 during a school visit to watch, coincidentally, "Anak Bulan di Kampong Wa' Hassan", the first play from The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat that became the sparkplug to the series of local performing arts in the years to come.

When I think of it, that play Anak Bulan di Kampong Wa' Hassan was, to my naive and non-existence knowledge of arts, a bit unconventional. The way I remembered it, there's only one performer acting on all roles (including a rooster if I'm not mistaken?), and Kampong Wa' Hassan is actually the last village existed in Singapore, not Malaysia (if I got this all wrong, correct me! It's been ages). I remembered KA, my BM teacher and our school's esteemed rugby manager, told us that performing arts are not for everyone to enjoy and understand. He was referring to our confused Biology teacher who tagged along and seemingly did not understand about the play.

To be honest, I did not get it that much either, and I was a Science-stream student. In all actuality, I really like art to some degree and I wished deeply to be active in something artsy or to be able to craft or perform on stage but I don't have any artistic bone in my body (and not to mention my stiffness and my inability to roll off any Rrr words) so since my brain just barely passed as a minimum for something sciency, I leave that art dream of mine to slumber.

I have no expectation from this play - after all, this was originally as a ticket (haha, pardon me) out of my misery over the weekends. And I couldn't possibly based it on my last experience there since this is only my second time watching a play. 

The seats were almost full with audiences. I did not know what to expect, though. Surprised, that quite a lot of people from various walks of life (I really started to use this phrase quite a lot nowadays, huh) came to watch the play. I was wondering as I stared across the hall, gazing at them all, who were they and how did they come to know this play. I always get the feeling like I'm an outsider - that the rest of the audiences there were a part of an art community I mingled into unknowingly. It's like they know exactly what they were paying to watch, while there I was, sitting like a trapped duck, half excited, half in a dark (no, the lights did went off for the play haha) about the whole thing. There were even foreigners coming to watch, too. 

On the other hand, I also felt a bit pity that the hall was not fully booked; although I am not a patron of the arts, I do want our local art to flourish and popular. I only stumbled upon this play accidentally - that just simply shows how more work to be done to introduce our local work to the rest of the Malaysia.

Written and directed by Dr Norzizi Zulkifli, it was first performed way back in 2009. Mak Yong Titis Sakti is a play based on the Shakespear's "A Midsummer Night's Dream". From the program that I bought (and read), it says that this play is the sole Malaysian work that was selected to be part of the Asian Intercultural Shakespeare Archive and has been studied at the National University of Singapore. This time, Mak Yong Titis Sakti has returned as part of the celebration for the 30th anniversary of The Actors Studio.

Now, you all can say that Shakespeare works are legendary and all are masterpiece but for the life of me I have never be able to understand those plays. The written form is very hard to read and as I have no background in English or whatsover related, it rendered my interest somehow limited. I remembered reading the graphic version of the Shakespeare's plays from the KYS resouce centre, though (those books are in Malay language as well, so colour me surprise)

As I grow up, I became addicted with Japanese mangas and as Internet makes everything easier, more Shakespearean resources became accessible and the forms of performing them also changes. One of them is the manga Glass Mask, a story of a young girl named Kitajima Maya (I still remember her name!) who performed as Puck in A Midsummer's Night Dream play set in an open-space park. Nevertheless, both the books I read when I was a teenager and the manga helped me to understand about the actual play, regardless of the way it was presented.

The same can be said with Mak Yong Titis Sakti. A Mak Yong, originated from Kelantan-Pattani, is an old practiced performing art that involves dances, singing, drama, and instrumental music. It is in fact so ancient (one of the oldest in the world), that in 2005 it was listed by UNESCO as one of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. In the beginning of every Mak Yong performance, an offering called semah kumpung is made to pay respects to the spirits (this is way before Islam came to the Tanah Melayu), which at first baffled me to no end because Shakespeare surely didn't have any of that in his time. It sure baffled PAS as well, seeing that Mak Yong is actually banned in Kelantan for its un-Islamic and deities-filled plays.

There are many differences between Mak Yong and the original Shakespeare play that I have found. One of them is that in Mak Yong, traditionally all the performers are female. The only exception to that is that the clowns in Mak Yong are always the male. This is a stark contrast to the original plays  performed at the Globe theatre in London where all the roles were always performed by the males. They would use young boys, generally, to play the female parts.

I came to love every moment of the Mak Yong Titis Sakti. You don't have to know about the Shakespeare play to enjoy this play. Nor do you need to be fluent at Kelantanese dialect to understand what they were talking about. The hall was echoed with hearty laughter throughout the night. It is, in a way, geo-politically influenced both locally and internationally. It makes jabs at our local figures and also at world, encompassing timeless references of both old and new. The absurdness of the acts only make us more entertained. The wilderness of such comic reliefs only make us feel delighted to watch more and more.

Another difference I have found in particular is that the Puck in this play is played by two people - Peran Tua and Peran Muda (servants to the Fairy King). These two are the jesters of the Mak Yong, thus they are played by males. I absolutely love the Perans; after all, Puck is the most interesting character in the whole play. The Peran Muda is so comical and unbelievably a pervert, it makes you doubly surprised that the actor of Peran Muda (Dr Rosdeen Suboh) is actually an academic lecturer and an experienced director. What a talent!

I also love the voice of Raja Besar, played by Mardiana Alwi. The throw of her voice is mesmerizing and I think is best of all the singing of the play. The intermission part is also a really great scene in itself. While the audience got the chance to refresh themselves, in came the Memanda Bijaksana, played by Rosnan Rahman, calling for his missing daughter Cempaka Sari amongst the rows of audience in the hall. He is the sole pak yong performer in the whole wide world, so I personally think that he is a national heritage and broadly speaking, should be listed under endangered species category. 

"Kau ada jumpa anak aku Cempaka Sari?"

Other notable mentions that I must include are the two princes, Iskandar Muda (played by Safia Hanifah) and Indera Putera (Elza Irdalynna). Both performed their roles in English while their counterpart speak in Kelantanese. Their pronunciation is well performed and lovely to listen to. Actually, when I looked up for the performers' biodata in the play program book, I was struck with how all of them are actually so talented. Congratulations to you guys. You guys are all really a riot. Pecah panggung!

This whole unforgettable experience has influenced me to consider spending more time in the future watching and supporting the local art movement in Malaysia. It is indeed a hidden gem that has a huge potential. If a play like this can bring people from all races all in tears from laughing, thundering the hall with claps and applause as the actors bowed at the end of the play, surely with right exposure the whole Malaysia will come and enjoy the art that we can bring.