Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hey there Constant Reader!
Those of you who know me personally will know that Farah’s coming home at the end of April. *Sigh* another two whole months of eating my own cooking. *sigh*

Anyway, I’ve recently started scouting out potential cars to buy in the next 6 months. Well, she will be needing a car by the time she starts working in September, and I thought it’d be nice if I could buy her a car as a birthday present sometime in August.

Since she wanted something small-ish, sporty and in her own words, “bukan macam kereta roti ban” e.g. Kelisa, Suzuki Swift etc. I’ve somewhat narrowed down the criteria to these:

1. Priced up to MYR100,000

2. “Bukan macam roti ban”

3. Safety features must include airbags, ABS, EBD.

4. Sporty

The cars I’m thinking about currently are:
Peugeot 308 VTI
Honda City i-VTEC
Honda Civic & Civic Hybrid (okay, these are above MYR100k, but they’re an exception!)
Fiat Bravo (no idea what the price is)
Proton Satria Neo CPS
Toyota Vios
Suzuki Swift (despite the ban-ness)

So today, I trundled along Jalan Bangsar after Zohor prayers, and decided to stop by the Peugeot showroom. Seems I’m in luck: a couple had just finished with the test-drive 308 VTI model, and in the space it took to say, “Man, that car’s bigger than I thought it was”, I was strapped in the driver’s seat, grinning from ear to ear.

I can’t help it. I love European cars. I know the resale value is pretty limited, but heck.

First impressions were good. The car’s a bit bigger than I had expected from the pictures I’ve seen. Sliding effortlessly into the driver’s seat, it seems that the dashboard was pretty well designed, conveying an impression of sporty elegance and spaciousness. AC vents (five of ‘em in front, two at the back) were well-styled, reminding me of a Mini Cooper. Speaking of Mini’s, the engine of the 308 VTi is the same as the latest-generation Mini, due to the engine being a collaboration between Peugeot and BMW.
Coming back to the driver’s seat perspective, the seat position was pretty high, making me feel like I’m driving an SUV. This allowed for a clear view of the road, and I did not notice substantial blindspots during the test drive (unlike the massive B-pillar obstruction on my BMW 118i). I’m sure the seat is adjustable for those preferring a more “cockpit”-ty feel, but for lady drivers, I think they’d appreciate the extra visibility one gets from the 308. Especially when parking the butt-heavy beast.

Speaking of safety, the 308 VTi’s packed with what I need: 4 airbags (front only), ABS, EBA & EBD, auto rear-hazard lights on emergency braking & 2 ISOFIX points (The saleswoman claimed there were three ISOFIX points for baby seats at the back, but I noticed in the official specs brochure that there was only two. Still, it’s better than most cars).

The drive was smooth, with the engine purring through the KL roads. At 120 hp @ 6,000 rpm and torque of 160 Nm @ 4,250 rpm, it was no slouch, but still it struggled a bit going uphill at Bukit Pantai (compared to the Beemer). Mind you, most cars in its class would struggle there anyway. Having said that, one would have to keep revving the car at a pretty high rate to enjoy the torque; I didn’t get the chance to drive the Turbo version, but with a whopping 240Nm of torque @ 1,400 rpm, I think it’s safe to say that performance-wise, the Turbo version kicks the VTi a$$ big-time.

Steering was nice and tight; it did not feel too light, although I did not feel much steering feedback as I would have liked. Braking was also too light for my liking, and I had to adjust my usual braking style to the 308: my usual leaden-footed gimme-all-you-got braking manoeuvre would have resulted in a messy rear-ender in about 5 seconds flat.

Rear seats were sufficient. Definitely bigger legroom than my current car. Rear AC vents is cool: no longer will I hear requests like “can you adjust the AC to the back, please?” Bootspace is a substantial 430 litres, smaller than the City, but sufficient for most purposes.

Overall, I like this car. The VTi may be underpowered to a certain degree, but maybe I’m used to more powerful cars. It’s all subjective at the end of the day anyway. I think the resale value for this car is going to be better than most Pugs, given its increasing popularity... more so the Turbo version than the VTI, I think. And at MYR96,500 on-the-road price, it won’t burn a hole in your pocket (financing package: up to 90% loan @ 2.5-2.7%).

Well, not as big a hole as a Jazz anyway.

Next up... the 2009 Honda City!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

.:Time for a revamp:.

Dear Constant Reader (are there any of you left by now??),

After all this time, I've just realised that I have not blogged for more than a year. Good grief. Where have I been? Truthfully, many things have happened. In what seems to be the blink of an eye (albeit one very long, drawn-out, super-extended.. err.. blink), I got married, went on a honeymoon, sent my wife back to Dublin (okay, only as far as KLIA...), moved to Standard & Poor's, picked up my wife from Dublin (okay, only as far as KLIA...), went to China, came back from China, sent my wife back to Dublin (okay, only as far as... wait... stop pointing the gun at me), joined a gym and tried (very hard) to play futsal last night.

I've also discovered how supremely unfit I actually am. It is hard enough trying to kick the bloody ball when you lack the basic eye-to-feet-to-teammate coordination (in my case it usually turns out to be eye-to-feet-to-grinning-opposition-at-the-expense-of-glaring-teammate coordination) and all the general trappings one would require to be a decent futsal player. It is pretty near impossible when you're trying to breathe through the equivalent of three blow's worth of snot stuck somewhere between your heaving, screaming lungs and that gob of meat between your watering, squinting eyes.

They must've invited me to play simply for the sheer comedic value. Yes, that must be it.

Anyway, Constant Reader, I'm back. Let's hope it's for good this time.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


An English translation of Muhammad Ubaid's "Ilaika", which is a beautiful expression of love and hope for Allah, in my opinion. This translation is imperfect and does not do it any justice, given it's an English translation of a Malay translation* of Ubaid's nasyeed, which in turn is based on the original Arabic text from Imam Shafi'e's Diwan Al-Shafi'e. Any weakness is on my part alone.

But you get the idea... *sniff*

*Thanks to Mashie for the Malay translation from Arabic!

I submit my hopes to You, O Lord of all creation,
Though I am, O The Provider, Most Generous, a sinner,
When my heart is hardened, and my life is constricted,
I turn to my submission as the way to Your pardon,
Thus when You, The All-forgiving, wipe clean my continuing sins,
Your gift and Your clemency is a boon and an exaltation to me.

Is it not You who nourishes me, guides me?
Therefore cease not your benevolence and bounty to me,
May those who have obtained excellence forgive me my trespass,
And parade not my wrongdoings and things that have passed.

Should You forgive me, O Lord, absolve me of my treachery,
My injustice, that will be pardoned not on the day when grief is recollected,
But should you recompense my wrongs with your torment, still I will not lose hope,
Even as my trespass lands me in the Fire.

He is the one who speaks only in remembrance of his Lord,
And when he is with others in this world, he is silent,
Thus he says, “O my love, You are the One I beseech to, on Whom I place my faith,
Enough is You for those in need for their dependence and their pleas”.

Thus I defend my love, though they be tainted with worldly lust,
Thus I protect this promise of devotion, marred though they may be,
In my waking moments, I pine for You,
In my slumber, I hope for You,
Walking beside me, full of hope,
Thus though my sins are mountainous, then and now,
Far greater and more illustrious is Your compassion to Your servants.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

.:Message in a bottle:.

Dear reader,

I hope this message finds you well and safe. Safe from the horrors that leave me awake at night, every single tick of the clock magnified a thousandfold into the beating of an undead heart, booming, overriding any impulse nor desire for sleep.

You see, dear readers, I am haunted. There. It is said and done. I will now await the men bearing chains and a straitjacket. He is mad! they say. Yet they know not. I will prove them wrong!

Behold, gentle readers! the demon that haunts me!!!

I believe it prefers the shape of a very studious and analytically-minded green frog-thing. As the following picture shows, it started haunting me even back in my old accommodations... always watching, always waiting...

Curse ye! Ye demon from the depths of madness!

Post scriptum: the author of the above note has since been incarcerated for his own safety. Oddly, he keeps mentioning the green demon is awaiting the return of the yellow angel. For some assuredly strange reason. I think.

Reads: Genghis Khan: Life, Death & Reincarnation by John Man

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Hi there Constant Readers!

Hooray!! It's that time of the year again. Yup. Ramadhan. The fasting month for Muslims world-wide. In and of itself, the month is a special one. However, over the last couple of years, it's significance has really grown on me. It is in this month that one recharges one's spiritual batteries for the rest of the year. And boy, do I need some recharging.

Ramadhan Mubarak, dear readers! May this be the best Ramadhan ever for you!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

.:Ships and Power Generators Don't Mix:.

Dear Constant Reader,

How have you been? I know it's been a while since I updated this blog, but in the meantime, a lot of things have been happening. Just so you know, I've settled into my job here at Nomura, halfway through my coverage. Passed my licensing exams already, so should not be long before I get my aforesaid license. Managed to spectacularly fail CFA Level II (Note to self: find your studying hat and dump it on your noggin, please). Bought Farah's wedding ring and other miscellaneous jewellery to go along with it. Moved to a new place (actually just the apartment one floor up), which incidentally has air-conditioning (yay! the marvels of modern technology!)... etc etc.

Oh yeah, I've also bought a house in Rawang.

Now, before any of you decide to pipe up and scream, "Rawang??!! That's like, in the county next to the traffic sign and up the ramp that leads to the middle of Nowhere, Malaysia!!", I do freely admit that it's miles from anywhere. However, I kind of like it that way. I don't really want my children to grow up in KL. I'm a kampung guy at heart, and as much as you try to outrun it, you can never really escape who you truly are. So I long for the clear skies, tall shady trees, streets unspoilt by the roar of speeding cars, open spaces where my children can roll around on the grass and get scruffy while Farah (who will be Mrs Ahmad by then, Insya-Allah) nags them to death for soiling their newly-washed pants while I watch with a smile, knowing that I'll soon have to reproach the boys in front of their mother. of course, I was the one who gave them permission to roll around in the first place, but their mother doesn't need to know that.


Amidst this complex web we weave every single day, with every single person that we meet, I long for a simpler life. I yearn for that which makes me whole. Not money, I certainly have enough of that. Not style, I think I'm adequately endowed when it comes to that. Not love, I am lucky enough to be loved unconditionally by the woman of my dreams.

I long for peace, to be honest. Luckily, Ramadhan is around the corner; a chance to find peace, and seek solace from the Eternal Love, once again.

Reads: The War of the World, Niall Ferguson

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

.:A month of brain-rotting:.

Hey there Constant Reader,

I have officially resigned from Deutsche Bank, although my last day will be this Friday June 29th. Friends & acquaintances who would like to celebrate this closing of a chapter in my life are more than welcome to a round of drinks somewhere in KLCC. But please, bring your own credit-card. =)

By the by, I will be joining Nomura Securities as a research analyst from Aug 1...

One whole month's worth of free time! Actually, when you consider the fact that I have to sit for my SC exams, and also find time to get my wedding stuff sorted (although the wedding itself is due in July next year, this is probably the only window I have to get things sorted before then), and also get up to speed with my coverage, I do not think I'll have that much time to rot my brains away to be honest.

Farah's back in town! Yay!!!

Mood: Happy!
Reads: How to win friends & influence people, Dale Carnegie.