New Section on Books

I’ve always been an avid book reader for as long as I can remember. I remember how I’d go to the public library in my hometown Keningau, which at that time located on the 2nd floor of an aging shop lot before moving to what had then become the largest library in Sabah upon completion, and I’d spend the whole day there trying to read as much as I could before the librarian shooed me away came 5.30pm. Being a kid that was full of imagination, my favorite books had been those of fairy and folk tales – Cinderella, Hensel and Gretel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Badang, Si Tanggang and so forth.

Then as I grew up, my interests changed more towards traveling, urbanization and geography, so I’d spend many hours looking at pictures of cities and mountains and everything that has to do with geography. I’d try to locate where Iran was in the world map, and Tunisia and even some famous cities in the US that I heard about from movies that I watched and I even had interest in the number of population in each country in the world and made a comparison. That was when I first saw a picture of naked women (and men) on a hard-covered book that featured a nudist beach in Germany. I remember how I was so fascinated by the 7 wonders of the World so I’d look at pictures of Taj Mahal, Giza Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and so forth. Of course at that time, I didn’t see the possibility of me traveling to some of those places that I could only admire through pictures on books that I read at that very library.

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I never stopped reading, starting from primary school to secondary and on through to my uni years. Of course, all throughout the years my interest in books had to evolve with my age. I started reading ‘heavier’ books when I was at the University. I remember buying just about every book by Stephen King that I came upon, usually at my favorite bookstore – the MPH outlet in Section 14 of Petaling Jaya. I started with ‘It’ which I think was adapted to a movie because I remember watching that movie when I was a kid and I had difficulty going to sleep for days.

Then I bought another of his book called ‘Insomnia’ – a book about an aging insomniac who spends most of his time watching over a street from the veranda of his house. Then one night he begins to see things. He’d see a balloon hanging over the head of each person that he sees. That balloon reflects the fate of that person – and he’d even know if the person is going to die soon. Then another book had Salem’s Lot for a title. Damn, that book was about vampires and I can’t believe how I’d skip classes (especially TITAS – damn. I hated that subject so much) just so that I could finish reading it. The story was full of shit and nonsense but still my nose was glued to the book until the very last page. I even re-read it just in case there were things that I had missed out on somewhere between the lines. Erkkk!

Then I began to turn to Sydney Sheldon. It all started with Master of the Game, a book that I borrowed from my dorm-mate so that I could pass my time while waiting for the next semester to begin. Damn, that book really got into me. It was a damn long story, spanning through 3 different generations but I got hooked so much to it that I lost counts on how many times I had actually re-read it. I found that book very uplifting especially that part when Jamie McGregor – the main character for the first generation – traveled all the way to South Africa to find diamonds (he was born into a very poor farming family in Ireland). That time when he squeezes into a tiny mail cart that takes him on a very rough ride – on rough and bumpy roads and across deserts for many many weeks on end. The ride was so rough that even the horses had died so he had to continue his journey on foot.

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“The raced through the long night, traveling over dusty, bumpy roads by moonlight, the little cart bounching up the rises, plunging down the valleys, springing over flats. Every inch of Jamie’s body was battered and bruised from the constant jolting. He was exhausted, but it was impossible to sleep. Every time he started to doze off, he was jarred awake. His body was cramped and miserable and there was no room to stretch. He was starving and motion-sick. He had no idea how many days it would be before his next meal. It was a six-hundred-mile journey, and Jamie McGregor was not sure he was going to live through it. Neither was he sure that he wanted to”

Of course my favorite part of the whole story is that part when he and his friend Banda took a hand-made raft across a raging ocean towards a place called Namib Dessert where they found diamonds laying in the sand. Gosh, I remember pausing several times when I was reading this part because my heart was racing too fast and I had to calm myself down so that I wouldn’t pass out! And it still happened even after I re-read it several times. Yes, to that extent. Heh.

So, the bottom line is, I love books. I love reading stories. Just recently I started to read motivational books – something that I had been distancing myself from before somebody gave me How Starbucks Saved My Life. It led me into buying The Man who Sold His Ferrari when I was in Nepal and I believe there’ll be more to come although it has not been easy for me to find time to read since I took up this master’s program that I’m doing now. I try to finish reading a book – and if possible two although it is quite too ambitious – every month.

For the love of books, I have allocated a section of this aging blog of mine dedicating my passion for reading books. I love traveling but there are more to life than just traveling and reading books is just a tiny fraction of them. Heh.

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3R International Marathon 2015

So, I did another run today – in fact it was my very first Full Marathon this year. I could only be grateful that I did Kemensah Krazy Run a week earlier so I could tell myself that I wasn’t entirely unprepared. 3R International Marathon as it was called, although I’m still not sure what exactly it was about. I do know that it had something to do with recycling and saving the environment and so forth so I was actually running for a good cause – a cause that was quite close to my heart. Heh.

So, after eating half a bowl of brown rice and sardine, we drove over to Putrajaya expecting a smooth kick-off. What we did not know was that the organizer had dragged the flag off time to 4.30am, half hour earlier than what was announced on the website. I was in the toilet when I heard the 3 bangs that marked the flagging off and we had to run to the starting point together with some others. I had to run like hell before I could catch up with the pack. Damn. LOL.

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I would say it wasn’t an easy run. Putrajaya has always been hilly and we are talking about a run that takes runners from one corner to the other and everywhere in between to meet the distance requirement. My main problem this time is the lack of sleep. I went to bed at about 11.30 and it must be almost midnight when I managed to put myself to sleep.

Then I had to wake up about 2.45pm and readied myself up before my running buddy KJH came to pick me up at about 3.15pm. Bottom line is, I only had about 3 hours and it was far from enough to be fresh enough to do such a long run. I was so sleepy that I’d doze off several times while running – I kid not! I thought it was gonna go away after awhile but when it wouldn’t go I was beginning to contemplate a DNF.

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But then, as I was looking for the right place to make a silent retreat I noticed that I had actually run quite a distance off and it wasn’t long before I made it past the half way mark. I knew then that I was not going to quit that easily. It was actually my first time of running a full marathon without an MP3 player so I was not sure if running without music on my ears (and head) would sustain me.

Somehow it did, in fact running without earphones made me feel more connected to the surrounding because I could hear everything within my earshot – the conversations by other runners which made me laugh at times – because seriously, runners have some of the greatest sense of humor – and the footsteps, the heavy breathing whether it was from other runners or from within me, the words of encouragement from the bystanders and volunteers and all.

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Another challenge came in the form of heat. Putrajaya is said to be one of the hottest places in Malaysia so running any time after 8.30 am on a clear shiny day can be quite challenging. The heat really got to me when I was in the last 10 km so I was very thankful that there were sufficient drink stations. Some of the volunteers were so cheerful and they’d cheer me on and even gave me a high-five. I used to dislike it may be because I looked at it as more of a distraction but of course that has long changed now. I mean, running is all about having fun so I shouldn’t take things too seriously. In fact, that was all part of the fun kan. :-P

The number of participants was just nice – not too many not too few. I remember how I had to squeeze into the crowds while running at the Penang Bridge International Run last year – also at Singapore Standard Chartered Marathon a few years before – and it really was such a turn-off. This time, everybody had more than enough space for his/herself so there was no excuse of slowing down. Heh.

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All in all, it was a great run. It had a beautiful Finisher T-shirt with a great combination of colors and the medal was cool too. As it had always been in other runs before, my problem was more on my leg muscles – on the Achilles tendons especially – and not so much on my stamina. I think my training of running uphill did the magic for me that I was better in running uphill than downhill.

I have not registered for any other running events yet but I foresee more marathons in the near future. There are just so many runs nowadays and I have learned to be more selective now. We’ll see how :-)

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