Saturday, May 24, 2008
Kolej MARA Banting: The Epilogue

27th June 2006 – 23rd May 2008. So the two year journey has come to an end. I am now writing in the comfort of high-speed wired internet connection in the place called home. And just hours after I unpacked my stuff from boxes full books and bags full of clothes, I start to recapitulate the memories I had in Banting, precisely Kolej Mara Banting, or simply KMB as we called it – hence the epilogue.

I can still vividly remember the very first day I step into this place, I mean THE place – when I wasn’t really excited about going to college, given that it had been six months of fun at home; futsal, friends, late-night sleeps, late-afternoon wake-ups, you name it – all were the rituals during the post- SPM interlude.

It was not really a smooth ride from KL, where my dad had to go a longer way to get to Banting via Nilai, where it was actually a shorter way if you pass through Dengkil, exactly 100km away from Ampang. It was the first time, at least for me being to maybe the remotest area in Selangor – or maybe it was just me who didn’t aware of this attractive pocket of traditional charm in the most-developed state in Malaysia, until MARA sent me here to further my study. Palm plantation, tempe selling stalls (where else in the world you can find people selling tempe goreng instead of pisang goreng) and Javanese speaking community summed up the divergence of life I’m about to bear for the next two years. But not until I went through the gate of Kolej MARA Banting. If my short two years stint at Malay College taught me the word ‘respect’, Kolej MARA Banting spelled the word ‘truth’ to me – of life, how lovely life can be with the presence acquaintances and links, and on top of that; how cruel life can get at times.

SPM was a delightful history to go over again, being one of few thousands Malaysians who scored straight As. To embark on another educational journey called tertiary education was easy-peasy, I thought. Not until Kolej MARA Banting slapped me with a harsh reality check, and sent a strong message that tertiary education is not like any piece of Secret Recipe’s cake. I was not up to the snuff during my first semester and failed to meet the so called easy MARA requirement. Prolonging euphoria of SPM success need to come to an end, as I contemplated whether to continue with this program (International Baccalaureate it is anyway – google for more information, as it is not as posh and popular as A-Level I suppose) or not. It was a nervous moment for me, as hope was far above the ground back home. The likes of Mathematics HL, Chemistry HL, Business & Management SL, all of which shared almost the same degree of complexity, among others were all too foreign and hard for me to appreciate.

But being one of the best IB school around (not Malaysia, world), Kolej MARA Banting would never let student like me to tarnish their enormous reputation (having top the list of IB school for many years now). There were lots of efforts put by the management and the teachers to get me and others ‘scapegoat’ back on track and grab the grades. Tutorials, tests (which are all common for other colleges as well – but the level of recurrence in KMB would make you go crazy) and mocks were on the list – and it proved to be valuable as I climbed back the ranking ladder. I have to thank my teachers who were there during my ups and downs. Maybe the very reason I would go back to the place is them, whom dedications are second to none – and sometimes I wonder whether they are paid enough or not, similar to a World Cup winning-team player who play for a club in Sierra Leone, unappreciated and unacknowledged.

Anisah Ibrahim (Biology HL), Salma Ahmad (Chemistry HL), Aida Sabli (Mathematics
HL), Nursaidah Tahir (English B), Azhana (Malay A1), Sharidho Pardi and Rozana
(Business and Management SL), Yazid Yahaya (Pengajian Islam) and Jarini Jusoh

Thank you very much. You guys are my prayer answered. I just hope my kids would be blessed with wonderful people like you, as you did to me all this while.

When all's said and done, Kolej MARA Banting did excellently in providing me with world class education.

(Coffee break) This post might get too long for a blog post isn’t it? Swallow it.

And the variables that add multiplicity to KMB element is in its people – where you can’t expect a bunch of top-scorers and people with three brains to be all rigid, nerd and such a bore - well, you can definitely find genus like that here of course. But what is so special about them is that they are very very unexpectable, which makes them a species to be reckoned with. They changed almost everyday, where you can’t expect them to be the same person talking to you the next day, or worse the next minute. Maybe the brutality of never-ending assignments and projects make their considerations preoccupied, just like the mode of action of any excitatory psychoactive drugs. It may stretch to the extent of getting work done or getting ahead in whatever they are doing in the expense of others. Well, I tried not to use the word but the ever proverbial word ‘Kiasu’ would enlighten the order better. Every KMB student, (well I am sure this happened in other institution as well) probably have their share of dealing with this type of parasite, or should I say, bloodsucker, or should I say additionally, motherfucker. I have mine to, but as they say, let bygone be bygone, and I am sure they are just another lesson for me; to stay away, deal or not the like anyone of them.

Their obsessions of gossip and tittle-tattle annoyed me in the same manner John Arne Riise scored an own goal against Chelsea in UEFA Champions League semi-final. It is a dismay to see an effortless chitchat turned to be a vilifying reason to put friendship and relationship on the line. It wounding tentacle could spread without we realized it, until at one point, a person dignity is tarnished, and side view badly misunderstood.

Prejudice is profound, especially when people with three brains are around to give opinions. If you are a guy, a Malay who doesn’t speak fluent English, walk in group and who doesn’t really make the grade, you are a slob. And slobs don’t deserve a place here – which I don’t really give a hoot about. What I care more is the amount of respect every person is entitled to. It is very easy to label a person as slacker here, especially when you don’t warrant the ‘requirements’ stated above – and usually, persons who label would keep themselves anonymous, and let the force of wind to spread the harsh aphorism. And usually, the person they labeled don’t even know them – or worse, best of friends.

I have told you, they are unexpectable bunch of top-scorers, afterall they are the future of the country, my country.

On a personal note, I had my shares of first-rate camaraderie experience. They exist in the form of smokers and underachievers. First thought? Bunch of slobs. Judge as you may, but they are FRIENDS – the capital letters serve a purpose, not typo. Having them around made me realized just how wrong prejudices and tittle-tattle can be. Sometimes I feel bad for letting others to brand good people like this. Vilifying assumptions should be put on hold if we don’t understand a matter enough – I told myself everytime, and I hope I can cling to this principle forever. Thanks Kolej MARA Banting for this lesson.

I have been blessed with some talent in football, which made me captain for the college team. I believe responsibility is not a right, but a privilege for me to contribute more towards the development of my favorite sport here. And football is the highlight, or the reason why I survived the two-year ordeals. Football is like an enzyme that made a reaction faster, even if the need of the reaction is high. I appreciate every second of playing in the green pasture of KMB field – although in some occasions, when push come to shove, and tackles come to shouting and even worse hatred took over. This is part and parcel of playing the beautiful game, where relationships are built, and strengthen simply by kicking a ball. That is how a simple mechanism of trust and sincerity works in football – we shout, we fight, we resolve and we have fun. After all, after grueling games and in-off the field conflicts, we still played on the same pitch and shared the same ball to kick and pass about – shows that football might repel ourselves away, but never break the bond we created the first time we played together. And that is why I love football people, anyone who played football, who break into the college team or not, to bits. Thanks KMB, for this breathtaking experience.

Without realizing it, the assortment of people I observed during my time in KMB was actually teachers who guided me to be a better person. Thank you very much to you guys, no matter how rich you are, how educated you are, how good-looking you are, how fluent you are in English, how cool you are how and effective you deal with your own inferiority complex. You are indeed lessons to me.

Kolej MARA Banting might be a reflection or case in point of the world I am living today, as I prepare to step out into the real world, where there will surely be another sets of bizarre and different people. This place might give a hint of a more cruel reality outside of it. But the most important thing is how I fill the space between the big world outside and the small world inside my heart, and Kolej MARA Banting did brilliantly in providing me with the basis and the harsh reality check as well.

It might not the nicest place to live in, but this is the place I learnt how cruel life can get at times. Thanks for the experience, anyway.
posted by Izham Ismail at 1:06 am | Permalink | 7 comments
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I have a friend, Jinggo, whom I secretly kept and openly put on show, on futsal turfs. He passed away today. For the record, he was with me when I lifted the ever-dramatic MARA College Banting Futsal Tournament 2008 trophy and was loyal enough to hang about with me every evening on the sacred turf, or should I say cage. Rain or shine, he was there to keep me in company and was there to cheer me up when push come to shove. Thanks for the memory, Jinggo.


I will miss you. And thanks for the prize money as well.

P.S. It's time for a new one. E-mail me for donation.

posted by Izham Ismail at 9:06 pm | Permalink | 3 comments
Friday, May 16, 2008
Title – nickname of Malay College Kuala Kangsar as a way to tell itself apart from many other colleges in the world – and it is pronounced as core-lack, not core-league or core-lake.

A friend asked,

Awat la hangpa dok pakai necktie skolah lama hangpa tu? Lawa sangat ka?

I believe there is something to the Malay College. Maybe, it's the tradition. When you are in a school like that, with all that history behind it and all the people who have graced its hall, you do feel that this is no ordinary place. Perhaps, this is what inspires its alumni not only to be proud of the college but also to conduct themselves in an appropriate way. It's a privilege.

And stop asking why I wear the necktie every Wednesday – it’s not just about wearing it for it is cute, it’s about conducting myself in an appropriate way as not to tarnish the image Koleq had built all this while, and as doing justice for what Koleq had taught me when I was once there.

I walked away, meekly whispered,

Hehe..jeles lah tu.

Budak Koleq pun boleh jadi promoter burger jugak.

P.S. Hang tanya, aku jawab lah.

posted by Izham Ismail at 9:07 pm | Permalink | 3 comments
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Cepe wrote this on my Facebook profile.

Oi pegi study la. Aku tgk budak KMB lain sumer senyap, kau sorang je yg aktif online. Hahha.

Spending two years here doesn't make me a 'typical' KMB student, you see.

P.S. It's exactly 8 days away to delete this memory, and to disappear from those people.
posted by Izham Ismail at 3:34 pm | Permalink | 3 comments
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Ta Ta Futsal

It’s official – I am set to miss the annual MCOBA Futsal 2008 for Kursus Kenegaraan or BTN. I was dreaming in donning the soon-to-be materialized Class of 2005 shirt, thanks to Erare, when the harsh reality came knocking my door as I read through the official letter from MARA.

Tarikh kursus : 31 Mei – 4 Jun 2008
Tempat Kursus : Kem Bina Negara Lipis, Pahang

Sekian, terima kasih dan Selamat Maju Jaya

Knocked for six.

I miss Sports Planet damn much. Anyway, good luck guys. My pray will always be with you. Yes, pray (the schedule requires us to wake up as early as 5 in the morning for Subuh prayer and kuliah pagi okay). Anyway wish me luck for the course; I heard lots of not-so-good stories about it.

P.S. I am still paying for the shirt tough.

posted by Izham Ismail at 8:24 pm | Permalink | 2 comments
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The race is finally over – and it took the 38th game to settle the year long war. Obviously I am not talking about Malaysian Super League, even though Malaysian football season kickoff shares the same date with other European leagues, particularly the Barclays Premier League (maybe a desperate move to liken the football ambiance, after our own import-players quota policy and league system seem to be futile).

Manchester United, Man U, MU or whatever you called it, crossed the finish line victorious. However, it was not Wayne Rooney who caught my attention and it didn’t take the penalty taken by Ronaldo, or his inexhaustible footworks to mesmerize me. It was the old man in Ryan Giggs, who came on as substitute later in the game.

It was nice to see Ryan Giggs get himself on the scoresheet, a reminiscence of his golden days, which should come to an end anytime now. Actually, he was the reason I adored Man Utd a decade ago – much to the annoyance of my brother who is a life-time Liverpool supporter and the one who loudly denounce my Man Utd spirit by saying that if you are a Man Utd fan, you are new to football. It was when the cute David Beckham and nice Umbro jersey were still around. All of which worked well as attractions and reasons to say it is cool to support Man Utd.

Ryan Giggs stood up high than anyone else in the team, although Eric Cantona and again, David Beckham were there in the same picture. Along with his pace, composure and technique, he was the apple of my eye and inspiration for me to play for my school team. Most memorable moment of his prowess was when he single-handedly crash Arsenal out of FA Cup, dribbled past five ke four tah Arsenal defenders (including Martin Keown and Tony Adams!) before fired an unstoppable shot past through the hands of the then England first choice goalkeeper, David Seaman. Although his bulu dada was not that appealing (especially when he took off his jersey in celebration of the goal), he mesmerized me with his technique – and it is certainly one of many great football experience I had.

Dah macam James Bond

And almost ten years after that, it was nice to see him in action again, although I am donning different colour now. It was a priceless moment when he lifted the Barclays Premier League as a captain, not just another player as he used to be when the great Roy Keane and Eric Cantona were still around. 10th silverware with United, and Ryan Giggs or Giggsy as they called it, is a living legend. He is my legend. Thanks man, for the wonderful experience you gave to us, to me. All the best in the future (may you retire soon, as not to be brutally sacked – thanks to the cruel Premier League money-based system).

Oh yes, congratulations Manchester United, Man U, MU or whatever you called it. If Ryan Giggs is still 25, I would say fuck you to Liverpool right away, and of course, if Steven Gerrard is not a footballer.

P.S. If not Liverpool, I’d rather prefer Arsenal to win the league over Man Utd or Chelsea. I am not quite sure why I hate those two teams very much (or envy?). Maybe it’s just a weird sentiment shared by all Koppites, isn’t it?

posted by Izham Ismail at 2:25 pm | Permalink | 3 comments
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Det Blog

I am not quite sure of why, but I knew it is coming. If you ever ramble through my blogger profile, you might notice the line where I suggested few books written by my favourite authors. One of them is The Malay Dilemma, a contentious and revealing piece written by my fourth and maybe my favourite Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. I can still remember the day when I rummage around my dad’s book collection, when The Malay Dilemma quick to grab my attention and left me reading from pages to pages.

He is such a prolific writer. His words are short and snappy, any writer would dream to have that knack. Despite the fact that I may not agree with all the ideas in his writings, I hold high regard to this man who dares to say or write whatever he feels, to the point where he had to put his position on the line.

And just few days ago, blogging community welcomed the illustrious, razor-sharp and probably the most critical voice of Malaysians in the form of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, when he kick-started his very own blog under pseudonym Che Det, the name he adopted from his days as a journalist. Politician and blog quick to become a rather cliché concoction but the arrival of Che Det into the fray is not merely a way to jump into the bandwagon as he is not an ordinary writer – just look at how visitors responded in his first entry, just two days after the blog was online.

Anyway, good luck Tun. I for one will take your blog in my watch-list.

And to other politicians-cum-bloggers, be more honest in your writing please and comments filtering and typical long-winded and boring treatise would just show how hidebound and inept you are.

posted by Izham Ismail at 9:27 am | Permalink | 0 comments
Friday, May 02, 2008
Heartbreak.. again
Yes, again.

I am still recovering from the defeat, with goals from Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard still vividly netted at the back of my mind. Chelsea was the better team that night – provided The Kop lacked depth and composure, especially when playing at Stamford Bridge. But the evident dynamic that stood between both team, which separates the quality of a semi-finalist and a finalist was creativity - and Rafa Benitez really should take note of that, rather than granting his understandable, logic yet fruitless rotation policy.

Nevertheless, they fought like a gang of brisk heroes, desperate to bring back the vital silverware to Anfield, which was clearly reflected on the face of the captain Steven Gerrard. But without Messi-Ronaldo-Fabregas-Drogba-like, fast moving style of play, Champions League and Premier League dream would just be a dream.

Like I said, it wasn't to be, but it wasn't for a lack of effort. You have to give Chelsea credit, they are a good side – you don't get through to European Cup finals unless you are. – Steven Gerrard

Every word of it, captain.

Congratulations, the Blues. Good luck in the final.

posted by Izham Ismail at 8:36 pm | Permalink | 1 comments