Thursday, November 15, 2012

Crossing Off The Bucket List (part 1)

So, I promised myself I would update more often on this blog....and well, here I am. 

As for those who're not aware of my current whereabouts, I am officially here in the land of the free: the United States of America! And of all places to end up with, I land smack-dab in Tinseltown, the Movie Capital of the World, Hollywood, the City of Angels....LOS ANGELES. Who would have thought....


Fate has dealt me a good hand here. 

It truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be admitted into a prestigious university in the States under a full scholarship no less, and of such, I only think it appropriate that I keep a record of my tales here in this foreign yet awesome land. 

There's so much to say, so where do I even begin? Perhaps a short recount of my escapades in the past year would serve good blogging material. Even with content, there's still the organization and prose to think about!   Gah, the horror! 

But a bucket list would probably be a good idea to kick things off. =) 

A bucket list is usually a list of things that people aim to accomplish and do before they die, so as not to look back and see a life lived with regrets. If it's anything that the people of Los Angeles have taught me, it's that You Only Live Once (YOLO). 


Like so many others, I compiled a bucket list of my own here in the States. Heck, American college life is probably the only time this thrill-seeking, small-town boy from Sarawak can get to live life on the edge. 

Without further ado, a recap of things that I can finally cross off my bucket list. 

1. Hollywood and Beverly Hills! 


Having finally found some respite from a violently hectic and stressful (more on that in a separate post), I rounded up a posse of good friends and set off for the historic avenue at the base of the Hollywood hills. 



Sure, there was glitz and there was glamor to be had with all the Hollywood stars adorning the sidewalk, but the whole affair was diluted somewhat by the overall sketchiness of the place. Roadside peddlers dressed up as famous pop-culture idols like Michael Jackson, Spiderman and Transformers in order to earn a quick buck and aspiring rap artists handing out their B-sides in a brutish manner were just some of the eyesores that dotted Hollywood all over.


The trip was not all a loss however, as I got to visit glitzy Rodeo Drive and the gargantuan celebrity mansions of Beverly Hills only to realize just how poor I really was compared to the local populace. My wallet cried a little that day.


Regardless, the scenic and historic aspects of Hollywood that our guided tour enlightened us with made for a pretty memorable experience, coupled with the sheer exhilaration of cruising down the iconic palm-lined avenues of 90210 Beverly Hills. 

2. First AMERICAN college football game. 

I'm not much of a sports person by any stretch but it was a truly refreshing and entertaining experience to see just how fanatically the locals are with their nation's favorite past time. 



And it helps that the Trojans of the University of Southern California make really good football players, ranking among the top teams in the West Coast. 


Oh, let's not forget the rivalries with our more...inferior peers across town, the UCLA Bruins......whom we beat with a triumphant victory of 50 to NOTHING.


 With all that love and passion going around, it was impossible NOT to root for your very own team. 

3. Disneyworld and Disneyland! 

Let it be said now that Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida and the Disneyland in Anaheim, California will be  the rites of passage for the future offsprings of the Sia family! 



Sure, I was skeptical at first going in there because I've outgrown Disney so many years ago. I was no longer the small little kid that fell in love with all those magical Disney tales of prince and princesses so long ago.


Boy, I was never more glad in my life to be proven oh so wrong.



The whole five day of park-hopping from one Disney-themed park to another was a magical experience unlike any other. Sweet nostalgia and memories lurked around every corner of Disneyworld, may it be the sight of a familiar character frolicking about or the humming of a familiar tune on park attractions and rides. 
  

I'll be proud to admit that tears were shed during my entire time at Disneyworld. Each tear would hark back to a time in my life when I believed magic was real, that princes would always save the princesses and that good would always prevail over evil in an aural and visual flourish. 


The company of good friends who shared my sentiments made the experience all the more unforgettable. 


Similarly, the experience of Disneyland California was made all the more awesome with  my newfound, crazy-ass, over-the-top American friends. Oh, I'll never forget all the laughter we shared and the ridiculous poses we made on each ride. Classic. 


Words cannot express just how glad I am to have found you guys here in the States.


Thank God for coloring up my life and making sure no moment is ever a dull one. 


 4. Fear Factor!! *le gasp*

Yep, that's right, ladies and gentlemen. It was just another one of those last-minute, impromptu decisions that seemed like a good idea at the time. 



But hey, I can proudly puff out my chest and say that I emerged as the champion of Fear Factor Live. That's saying a lot given the fact that I had to dangle fifty feet off the ground, dip my hand into a tank full of electric eels and handle disgusting, raw octopus with my bare hands.

But at the end, I came out a champion. Unfortunately, all I had to show for that was one measly T-shirt which didn't even fit me!

And best of all, to conclude my first semester in the States, we saw to it that we ended the year 2011 with a bang. And what better way to go out in style if not in Disneyworld where we celebrated the New Year under a sky lit up with Disney's signature and dazzling fireworks display.

And so, this concludes part 1 of my bucket list. I guess I've pretty much covered Fall 2011. Next up, Spring of 2012!

Stay tuned!






Thursday, March 22, 2012

Distraction. Procrastination......Revelation

It's been almost half a year now since my last blog update on the eve of my departure to the United States of America to continue on with my college education. 

Now, I find myself in Tinseltown, the movie capital of the world. No longer the stranger I was when I first arrived, I'm now proudly able to call Los Angeles my second home! 


So much has happened since, so much so to the point that to try to encapsulate the experience of it all would not do them justice. Nevertheless, I would very much like to keep a virtual diary of all my escapades here in the States for future reminisces and so, I will try my best to delineate the roller-coaster of a journey that the United States have been so far. 

However, I would like to bring to the reader's attention a more pressing matter that has me troubled for a while now. 

A rather pointless and unproductive Spring Break has me realizing that I've come so far in life only to accomplish so very little. Here at the University of Southern California, opportunity abounds at every single corner for me to pursue all the dreams that I've always had. 

There are new languages to be learnt, various American sports to be played and a multitude of extra-curricular activities not found at home. The best of part it all is, the University of Southern California offers me the opportunities to dabble in such endeavors.

Have I taken full advantage of it? Sad to say, I have not, much to my chagrin and regret. Time that could be spent on these endeavors, I idle away in front of my computer monitor. 

As of such, I say no more! I've procrastinated and I've been distracted long enough! It is time that I start being a productive member of the Trojan family here in this renown institution! 

From this day on, I shall dedicate myself more to pursuing my interests in creative writing, and dabbling in other extra-curricular activities! 

I only get one shot at life and were I to return back home to Malaysia without having accomplished anything outside of the classroom, I would be disappointed at myself for having squandered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity such as this! 

So this blog post would be a covenant to myself; a promise to turn over a new leaf and to start making the most out of my life! 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Time: An Oxymoron

As I sit here typing this post, what little time I have left continues to pass me by.

I curse every little strand of it that unravels before my eyes. Yet, I venerate the imaginary hourglass that stands before me, ticking down to that inevitable moment.

Looking back, nostalgia can do wonders in how one views the world.

20 years of my life in this humble abode, within the blink of an eye, gone.

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Time’s running out…….who’s to say it’s something you can’t look forward to?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dad for A Day

 

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Meet Shamkumar. He’s just another 8 year old boy like any other. Blessed with an innate childhood curiosity, brimming with life, and possessing a smile that radiates such warmth, with a super sweet personality to boot too.

However, delve beyond his lovable, crooked smile; sift aside the veils of ideality in a picture-perfect photograph, and the harshness of reality makes its presence known. 

Shamkumar, or Sham as he prides himself, like 17 other children his age, is an orphan from the Precious Children’s Home orphanage in Petaling Jaya. That’s right, he’s never had one to call a dad or mom throughout his 8 years of life.

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Today, the ATUSA Student Council took the liberty of organizing a visit to said orphanage as part of its charitable ventures during the laid-back days of Summer Semester and beyond what words can express, I am infinitely grateful for having been part of it.

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Although the day got off to a rough start, no thanks to some mix-up in the transportation, we arrived at the orphanage at approximately 11 am and boy, were we greeted with the throngs of curious faces and excited cries of joy.

Upon entering the compound, the little bundles of joy soon swarmed around us, eager to see what our arrival entailed. New gifts? Toys? A field trip somewhere? Or just mouth-watering delicacies to sink their teeth into? Suffice to say, we brought to them all of the above.

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At first, I was a bit hesitant at introducing myself, as all awkward first-time meetings always are. However, the little kids soon warmed up to my crazy and wacky antics and to put in Starcraft terminology, ling-rushed me. Questions bombarded me from every single corner and these kids were so adorably cute in trying to outdo one another in impressing us.

To kick off our visit, we played a little meet and greet session to break the ice and cast aside all formalities. Laughs were had, names were exchanged, and predictably, I found myself belting out to the tunes of Justin Bieber’s “Baby” and was stuck with the labeling Muhammad Bieber.

Blardy hell, are these kids creative or what?

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After being assigned our respective ‘kids’ (mine so happened to be the super awesome Sham) and having made a fool of myself, we got onto the next agenda on our list: the making of mouth-watering, nommable sandwiches for lunch!

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As a side-note, we discovered never to let little kids wield knives, our very own ATUSA President makes great sandwiches and also, to never stack your sandwiches 5-storeys high.

Behold, our end product (or rather, Sham’s)

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At the end of it all, I can safely say that these kids are going to become great chefs one day. Having stuffed our faces full with a smorgasbord of bread and KFC chicken wings, I sat down contented while the kids tried to best each other in their repertoire of lame jokes.

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Also noteworthy is the fact that these kids are attracted and addicted to everything that’s a cellphone. It’s like the friggin’ microwaves that the devices emit call out to them like some sort of overlords or something.

But it’s official, like catnip to cats, cellphones were like their fix, although I’m not blaming anyone. After all, who leaves their homes without a cellphone nowadays? Face it, we’re all addicted to our cellphones one way or another, so I’m not gonna be judgmental.

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Next up was definitely the day’s highlight, a trip to the National Planetarium to behold the wonders of the cosmos! Or in plain English, to explore Uranus………and other planetary bodies of course.

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And that, I believe, has to be most exhausting part of the day yet. I’ve forgotten just how hyper and energized these little toddlers were. Bouncing from one display to the next at speeds of light, their attention never more than held for a good minute, it was like running a constant marathon to keep up with Sham. I thank the half hour reprieves in between when we had to sit still to watch the movies.

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I’m only 20, at the peak of physical fitness and yet, I had my work cut out for me when chasing after Sham in pure Tom and Jerry fashion. Therefore, I salute Sean in the picture below, a volunteer at the orphanage, for having to keep up with not just 1, but 18 of these hyper-caffeinated kids.

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Alas and alack, the day soon came to an end and we returned the orphanage, totally exhausted. However, the fatigue ebbed away somewhat to be replaced with sheer awe and wonder at the suh-weet moves that these kids busted out for us.

Holee crap. Their breakdancing skills definitely brought the house down and put mine to shame. Word.

With the giving out of our goodie bags to the kids and caretakers of the orphanage, we bid our farewells. It was truly a great and rewarding day for me to be able to spend it with these magnificent kids from the Precious Childrens’ Home.

Despite growing up never knowing their parents, these kids taught me a thing or two on how it is to live life to the fullest; a lesson I will definitely take to heart. Sometimes, all you need to buoy yourself through a life rife with hardships is a smile and to never say never (and yes, I totally ripped that line off.) A unique sense of familial brotherhood that these children share with one another no doubt helps.

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Although, they’ve always came across as an heartwarming enigma to me, even till today. Without paternal figures to look up to, they’ve developed a sense of maturity and fierce independence uncommon of their peers.

This was especially evident in how they subtly brush your arms off of themselves when you lean in to put a reassuring arm over their shoulders. Yet, at the very same time, they cherish and long for that gesture of protection that a parental figure will no doubt give to them. 

In the end, underneath that tough fa├žade they put up in response to growing up parentless, they’re just vulnerable young kids who drew the shorter straw in life. They just want a shoulder to lean on and for someone to tell them that it’s going to be okay. Which, given the hand that life has dealt them with, isn’t very often.

So, in we come to this picture to give them that reassuring “It’s going to be okay” line and to give them a much needed lift in their spirits to power them onward through life.

All in all, I wouldn’t have traded this day for any other. Special thanks goes out to this wonderful Ivy Bong Pei Pei here for playing my make-believe mom to babysit our little Sham. Lord knows I’d already be dead if it wasn’t for you.

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Now to start wondering if I want to have kids. And if so, how many…….