(Note: Get a copy, you’ll enjoy reading about Malaysia from the eyes of a foreigner who have come to know us so well. Some chapters will shock you too!).

I have just finished reading * Ioannis Gatsiounis * latest book of fiction “Velvet and Cinder Blocks” – a collection of 10 cleverly crafted and engaging short stories which centers around the quest for a sense of belonging in a world that is fast collapsing due to intense polarization and politicization despite years have passed since the 9-11 tragedy rocked our lives.

[Here, I must thank Lori Lee from ZI Publications for contacting me and sending the book my way for review].

He doesn’t say it often but the events in this book is mostly based in Malaysia, or deals with Malaysian characters and centers around relationships between the different identities, communities, and ethnic groups.

I felt, in a most intimate manner, how through the events and characters in this book, Gatsiounis confides in his readers his personal discoveries of the various facets of life in this previous British colony, once occupied by the Japanese during World War II.

Having known the atrocities of war, have we learned to cope with its tragedies and terrorism, or allowed our prejudices to divide and dissect us further, mar our relationships with others? Did this happen to the Americans, too, post 9-11? Gatsiounis will show us that we are not very different from the rest of the world.

In most chapters, I can feel quite clearly that Gatsiounis is telling us through his fiction that he is equally astounded or confused sometimes at the sheer hypocrisy of our so-called Asian/Malaysian/religious values. But that, there are some individuals who are courageous enough to challenge the boundaries of race and religion to make life better for themselves and others.

In his interview with PopTV, Gatsiounis explains that in his debut fiction, he attempts to explore the concept of 1malaysia, or lack thereof, and how it figures into people’s lives. How it causes them to behave, and react to the world around them.

He has tailored it in a very interesting way so that you, whether Malaysian or not, will be able to recognize some of the individuals types, the struggle they are facing, the struggle we all face when dealing with them, and the way these individuals and people around them resolve the issues that affect their lives together.

Of course, there are some raunchy, sexy episodes, too, which you will have to find out on your own, so please buy the book 🙂

Meanwhile, many of his characters are Malay Muslims, who does what is unexpected of them, or does what Malaysians do not hear about in the local papers or news, for example, Muslim women facing abortions or practicing sex outside marriage; a rape survivor, who overcomes her trials in the aftermath of tsunami by going beyond her faith.

There are disturbing stories, too, like a young painter who follows a false prophet deep into a desert only to feel sexually harassed. Some are simply just creative, like the character Basel in the final story “Guesthouse”, who performs karaoke in his very original style, and finds that he can save himself from his insecurities. He could even overcome the fact that he was no longer wanted by his employer, a elder Chinese woman, and continue to survive despite the limitations of his race and religion.

But not all stories are about Malayness or Muslimness, for example, there is also a rather humorous story about a Chinese-American’s Chineseness being put to the test in multiracial Malaysia. His depiction of the characters in his stories are so familiar, that I must congratulate Gatsiounis for having lived truly well in my country!

While Gatsiounis attempts to clarify all this in his fiction, I felt he was also trying to tell his readers, us, that we are not so alone, that the world around us are facing these realities too and the sooner we acknowledge this, the better.

His stories also show that while the entire world is polarized and politicized, family, kinship and friendship can help people rise above the difference. Although some of the stories may begin on a somber mood, where the focus are failed relationships between fathers and sons, or brothers, or lovers, it does have an optimistic ring at the end. That at the end, like everything else in life, things get sorted out and time heals. There is nothing political about this, just a fact of life.

* IOANNIS GATSIOUNIS* is a New York native who has worked as a freelance foreign correspondent and previously co-hosted a weekly political-cultural radio call-in show in the US. He has been living in Malaysia since the early 2000s. He is the author of a new collection of stories, Velvet & Cinder Blocks (ZI Publications, 2009). He is also the author of a nonfiction book, Beyond the Veneer: Malaysia’s Struggle for Dignity and Direction (Monsoon Books, 2008).

Also read Eric Forbes interview with Gatsiounis in his blog: Book Addicts Guide to Good Books: The writing life.

34 responses »

  1. wits0 says:

    Susan, 9-11 was not a tragedy but an act of terrorism.

  2. sloone says:

    Tragedy and Terrorism, Wits. I agree.

  3. wits0 says:

    Tragedy tends to imply less planning and more unintended happening in human affairs. Terrorism requires elaborate planning and willful murderous effect.

    Mixing up tragedy with terrorism is not good. Writers of books should be more alert and wary(if they’re actually honest, i.e.)

    Romeo and Juliet was a tragedy. With 9-11, it was terrorism first and foremost.

    We can get s*ckered when writers use words loosely, intentionally or otherwise.

  4. monsterball says:

    Some consider 9-11 a victory well planned act…not terrorism.
    Regardless for or against the interpretation…the tragedy is that thousands innocent people died.
    That we all know….USA make sure of that.
    Millions innocent people died in uncalled and unjust wars….all because of wanting to control oil of lack of interest to protect the innocent…makes tragedy and terrorism a joke…sometimes.
    Freedom fighters are also known as terrorists.
    What is Chin Peng…terrorist or freedom fighter?
    It that not a tragedy for him too?
    I feel very sad for those 9-11 victims…but if it considered a warfare…..like Perl Habour…..then we can say…in wars .there is no terrorists nor tragedy. It is killed or to be killed.

  5. monsterball says:

    If one takes Osama bin Laden..act as a sign of war against America….then you can understand those who agrees with him…do not call that a terrorist act.
    I sincerely believe many poor countries …especially Middle East …Muslim countries..do agree with Osama but dare not oppose USA as they depend so much of USA aids.
    Therefore politics d make people toe the line…or else……
    I do believe millions of humans all over the world…secretly admiring Osama bin Laden.

  6. Five Star Kopitiam says:

    Good morning,morning,morning,,
    ((Wah lau eh))) Tragedy or Terrorism !!!!!
    To kill someone that was not suppose to be killed !!!!!
    Now this goons are in deep trouble by waking up lots of sleeping dragons,,kakakakakakakaka
    The death will not die in vain until the killers is caught and put to jail or hang them,,kakakakakakakaka

    Night interrogation : Higher Courts to ‘rescue’ MACC ?

    Have a warm coffee and your morning breakfast as usual but remember to drive carefully with full concentration on the road,kakakakakakakakaka

  7. october22 says:

    It sounds like an interesting book but how long before the 1Lembu in the Home Ministry bans it? He has to protect kancilandak`s morals esp. with

    “for example, Muslim women facing abortions or practicing s*x outside marriage; a rape survivor, who overcomes her trials in the aftermath of tsunami by going beyond her faith”

  8. whispering9 says:

    Okay….I will buy a copy this weekend. Thks.

  9. kahkahkahkah says:

    “NOV 20 — Khalwat and durians are a steady presence in my new short story collection, “Velvet and Cinder Blocks.” In one story, a KL taxi driver recalls an overbearing father who threw durians at him as a form of punishment, or sometimes just for the heck of it.

    Elsewhere a chef-turned-journalist-turned-chef again invents a durian-based fish-head curry that wows the critics. In a draft of the closing novella, “The Guesthouse”, a young Malay woman and expat bond alone over a durian in the jungle.

    Never, though, in extending my imagination to the 10 stories set about kampungs, KL and New York did I think to make durian a key ingredient of a khalwat raid, as happened last month at a condo in Prima Damansara.

    I wish I had. We fiction writers love our irony. And the stranger-than-fiction case in question is dripping with it, perfectly tailored for Malaysia.”


  10. kahkahkahkah says:

    Another JAIS bite:

    “Last month in Prima Damansara, the durian was bringing Malaysians together once more; the five “sinners” who were about to munch on the king of fruits comprised men, women, Christians and Muslims.

    But that proved too much to bear for several men from the local residents’ association, who reportedly raided the condo and roughed the group up for khalwat, an action beyond their right to carry out as members of the public.”

  11. deadskater says:

    Thanks, I’ll check some of these out this weekend.

  12. kiasu says:

    komen bitterzone:
    2.Ha, ha just read the part of the story where the Datuk turns up with his preg wife at 11:45pm!!! What preg woman goes out at this time, must be superwoman. Any woman who is noticably pregnant won’t be turning up to meet a tough guy at this hour. Might I also add that if we believe that the Datuk, his pregnant wife and Dipshit, sorry Deepak were the only people there with Bala, then I greatly admire the balls of the Datuk. Let’s face it the story says it was an old Datuk, so if big Bala took offence at the Datuk threatening his family and decided to rip Datuk’s head off the only people that could have stopped him were Dipshit, sorry Deepak and SUPERWOMAN the pregnant wife.

    NEVER READ SUCH CRAP IN ALL MY LIFE, BRING ON THE LITTLE GREEN MEN FROM OUTER SPACE. You want my proof, ask yourself if some old man – Datuk- threatened your family would you say “thank you sir, have a pleasant evening” NO WAY. Put it this way if anyone threatened my family, they would be the very last words they would speak, even if Datuk had 20 men with guns and C4 I can safely say that he would not have made it back to his car alive. I rest my case, RUBBISH UTTER RUBBISH. P.s If you believe this then let me tell you George Bush is a muslim!

    Read more: http://www.pisau.net/#ixzz0XOyYOAPq

  13. kiasu says:

    1.This story is rubbish. Firstly, if you are trying to bribe someone you don’t tell them that a car with military people is outside his house watching his wife and kids, any normal person would react very badly to this news in fact I would say that any conversation that began like this would have ended immediately with Deepak taking a violent blow from Bala. Bala then would have gone public immediately fearing for the lives of his family. You either offer a bribe and make a comment about what would happen if it’s refused, but you don’t go in telling the person that you intend to bribe that there are killers watching his family. THIS STORY IS SO BAD EVEN A CHILD WOULD NOT BELIEVE IT.

    But, sorry child you are wrong, monsternoball the bamboo racist believe Bala. Thats why bala came to Anwar!

  14. kiasu says:

    I mean are we to believe that Bala was supposed to meet ASP Tony, but then changed his mind to burn some wires with his buddy, what utter SHITE! I SWEAR I’M EXPECTING A STORY ON MT ANY DAY NOW ABOUT LITTLE GREEN MEN FROM OUTER SPACE KIDNAPPED BALA.

  15. kiasu says:

    Seriously, MT will need to start telling a better story or people will just laugh at these stories. The stories are NOT consistent with human behaviour, just ask yourself if a stranger told you some killers he knows where sitting outside your family home watching your family i.e sounds like a threat that your family will be hurt unless you comply. You would not sit there eating Pork stew, you would drag Dipshit, sorry Deepak over the table and pound his head, before leaving him on the floor within an inch of his life you would then inform him that if anything happened your family, he would suffer worse. You don’t sit back and eat!!!

  16. kiasu says:

    wow… you guys actually believe this? amazing

    i like this part “I said I was not interested in money and so Deepak said he could also organise the release of 5 Hindraf leaders in Kamunting, he could arrange for 528 Tamil schools to become fully-aided schools by the government, that he could get ASP Suresh’s job back and also give him RM4 million as well” .

    – Bala the malaysian indian’s hero; he is not interested in money so deepak had to use hindraf & tamil schools as baits. Ohh… what an irresistable offer. and I really envy that lucky ASP Suresh, just for being there, he got RM4 mil. You stupid Deepak, you just double your cost just by doing the offer infront of another person (an ASP under suspension pending some internal investigations conducted by the ACA.). wow indeed

  17. kiasu says:

    here is another one: “…where a Malay gentleman arrived with his pregnant wife…” and then “He told me he knew I had a family and asked me whether I loved them. I replied saying of course I loved my family. He then told me I should take good care of them as anything could happen to them. He then told me that if I wanted to avoid any problems with my family I should just follow Deepak’s instructions and everything would be OK. He told me I had to retract the contents of my 1st statutory declaration. This Malay Datuk then left immediately with his wife.” again, so stupid of this datuk to threaten other people’s family infront of his pregnant wife. Why can’t he just go there alone and why he had to drag his pregnant wife along just puzzles me. another wow!

    and some people actually believe this tamil movie script? wow! wow! wow!

    wei! mesti lo, if monsternoball the bamboo racist believe it, then everyone must believe it lol!

    montelnoball 12stop using vulgar words???!!! kahkahkahkah

    kapal singh: montaernoball harus bertaubat, anwar ibrahim harus bertaubat, kahkahkahkah

  18. boombang says:

    Blood splattered up to the ceiling, murder trial hears

    KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 – An investigating officer in the murder of a couple on Aidilfitri last year told the High Court today that blood stains were found splattered all over the house, including the walls and ceiling, where the alleged murder took place.

    ASP R. Ananthan said there were also blood stains in the guest room, as well as the main room and on the floor, adding that the stains looked like they had been cleaned.

    He also said that he seized a few things which were believed used as the murder weapon like crash helmets, a piece of wood and a mop.

    He said a video recording from a handphone belonging to Muhammad Nizam Mohd Ibrahim, who is the third accused, clearly showed two crash helmets with blood stains on them, and also a broken table leg near the victims.

    However, when questioned by defence counsel, Supramaniam Kasia Pillay, whether there were finger prints on the items, Ananthan said there was none.

    On the blood stains found in the main room, Ananthan said the blood was that of the couple’s son, Muhammad Kamil Mohd Ibrahim, 15.

    Ananthan, who is the 23rd prosecution witness was testifying in the trial of Muhammad Ilyas Abdul Razak, 22, his brother, Muhammad Fauzi, 21, and their cousin, Muhammad Nizam (the victims’ son) who were jointly charged with murdering Mohd Ibrahim Kader Mydin, 48, and Rosina SM Mydin Pillay, 42, at house No 5-7C, Blok A, Flat Seri Sarawak, Jalan Kenanga here between noon and 8pm on Oct 1, 2008.

    They are charged under Section 302 of the Penal Code which carries the mandatory death penalty.

    Ananthan also said there was a calendar with a picture of a man who looked like the leader of banned group Al-Arqam, Ashaari Muhammad, and two portraits of a similar picture in the guest room and the main room. He also found several books pertaining to Al-Arqam.

    When asked by deputy public prosecutor Anselm Charles Fernandis what his impression was after seeing the items linking to Ashaari, Ananthan said he believed the family were followers of Ashaari’s teachings.

    Hearing before Judicial Commissioner Azman Abdullah continues on Monday. – Bernama

  19. boombang says:

    Sin Chew Daily replies to Ti Lian Ker

    NOV 20 — MCA central committee member Datuk Ti Lian Ker recently made some untruthful allegations against Sin Chew Daily in his article posted on his blog. English-language daily The Star accorded the story significant space and quoted Ti’s statement.

    In relation to Ti’s intentionally misleading statement, our responses are as follows:

    (a) In reporting the MCA power tussle fiasco, Sin Chew Daily has maintained our impartiality and independence, we have not been biased against any factions/individuals, neither have we been oppressive against anyone.

    However, as a fair and responsible media, when faced with any individuals/events that have throughout the fiasco either acted against the interest of the Chinese community or public in general, disrupted peace and harmony of the society, undermined the democracy system or preventing justice through abuse of power, we have to express our views and criticisms.

    Such a role is a form of monitor imposed by the media on any arrogant power; it is also how public opinion curtails abuse of power.

    In times when the public has been confused by various smokescreens, when the truth has been distorted and when right and wrong have been displaced, we, the Chinese press, are obligated to restore the truth, to reveal the facts in order to uphold proper political morality and social justice.

    (b) Fair and professional editorial content is our constant pursuit. In handling the reportage or commentaries on the MCA power tussle, we have not succumbed to any form of pressure or intervention. Our content and approach are the result of collective decisions made by the editorial team through many discussions or even heated debates.

    Sin Chew Daily, in taking such an editorial approach, is being accountable to our shareholders as a public-listed company and also being accountable to our loyal readers at large. In general, we have the collective interest of the public close to our heart.

    (c) Ti also commented on an article by Rita Sim Sai Hoon, our executive director, published in the News Straits Times. He is of the view that the said article is intended to lambast MCA, and he has implicated Sin Chew Daily in the process.

    In upholding the people’s freedom of expression, we are of the view that Sim is entitled to make her stand in any media of her choice. We respect her view but it, however, does not represent our stance.

    (d) As a member of the MCA central committee, Ti should prioritise the integrity of his party; he should be responsible and honest with facts instead of making biased statements moved by personal interest to mislead the public. — mysinchew.com

  20. boombang says:

    Monday decision on EC’s stay application on Kota Siputeh

    KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 – The High Court (Appelate and Special Powers) will deliver on Monday its decision on the stay application filed by the Election Commission (EC) against its Nov 16 ruling that the Kota Siputeh state seat is vacant.

    Justice Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin set the date after hearing lengthy submissions from senior federal counsel Datuk Kamaluddin Md Said, representing the EC, and Sulaiman Abdullah, counsel for Kedah state assembly speaker Datuk Dr Abdul Isa Ismail.

    The EC filed the application on Nov 17 after Alizatul declared the state seat vacant and ruled assemblyman Datuk Abu Hassan Sharif no longer held the seat after failing to attend two consecutive meetings of the state assembly without leave.

    On Sept 1, Dr Abdul Isa filed for a judicial review after the EC accepted Abu Hassan’s medical certificate for his absence from the sittings and declared that there was no vacancy for the seat and that the BN assemblyman was still a representative of the constituency.

    Besides the stay application, the EC and Abu Hassan also filed appeals to the Court of Appeal.

    In the landmark decision, Alizatul Khair also had ordered the EC to call for by-election for the seat.

    Kamaluddin in his submission told the court that if the stay application was not granted it would result in another costly by-election with the EC already having spent RM200,365 in last general election for the Kota Siputeh constituency alone.

    “It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money, besides it will cause substantial injustice to the commission,” stressed Kamaluddin.

    He urged the court to exercise its discretion in allowing the stay on the grounds that there were special circumstances in the application as there was the possiblity of there being two assemblymen for the seat if the court allowed the EC’s appeal after the by-election.

    He added that besides the EC, other government agencies also would be involved in the by-election and that they would have to bear their own expenses.

    Counsel for Abu Hassan, Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun who supported the EC’s stay application, agreed with Kamaluddin that there was the possiblity of further legal complications if the court denied the stay.

    “If a new candidate is returned as the new assemblyman for the seat and if Abu Hassan wins his appeal, it will result in competing claims by two assemblymen over a single seat,” added Mohd Hafarizam.

    Sulaiman, argued that the court should not allow the stay application since it is against her own decision. He said the matter involved a point of constitutional interpretation where the seat had been declared vacant.

    “A stay of the court’s own order a few days after the order has been made will not be in the public interest,” submitted Sulaiman.

    He added that the EC had failed to show the special circumstances to justify why the stay should be granted and as such, the court should dismiss the application. – Bernama

  21. boombang says:

    Kit Siang demands Najib guarantee PI Bala’s safety

    KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 – The DAP’s Lim Kit Siang wants Datuk Seri Najib Razak to guarantee the safety of P. Balasubramaniam to return home, following the latest allegation by the private investigator that he had met Najib’s brother Nazim as part of the deal to leave the country and retract accusations linking the prime minister with the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu.

    “There is no other option for Najib to ensure national and international legitimacy as Malaysian Prime Minister, following the five-part publication of Balasubramaniam’s interview,” Lim said in a statement today.

    In the latest installment today of an interview with Balasubramaniam carried in fugitive blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin’s Malaysia-Today.net, the private investigator claimed he had met Nazim, who is the younger brother of Najib, last year.

    Balasubramaniam claimed the meeting had been arranged by the mysterious businessman, Deepak Jaikishan, whom the investigator claimed was a close associate of Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the PM’s wife.

    So far, the private investigator has also claimed returning three times to Malaysia this year since fleeing in July 2008 after issuing contradictory statutory declarations that linked Najib Razak to the murdered Mongolian.

    The former policeman claimed he stayed in Nepal and India while being on the run from authorities but managed to sneak into Malaysia without using his passport through the Thai-Malaysia border.

    He also claimed he only recited what he was told to say to the police in his Bangkok statement when asked which statutory declaration (SD) was the truth.

    In today’s installment, Balasubramaniam said he had only been paid RM750,000 of the RM5 million promised to him for leaving the country.

    “Left contradicted and unchallenged, Balasubramaniam’s latest five-part interview will stand as an indictment not only on the prime minister, but the system of government as well as all key institutions in Malaysia,” said the DAP’s Lim today.

    The Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan had on Wednesday appealed for information on Balasubramaniam’s whereabouts despite the private detective claiming he gave a statement to the police in July 2008.

    Yesterday, PKR MPs had slammed the government in Parliament for saying they did not know the whereabouts of the private investigator.

  22. monsterball says:

    Suddenly kiasu turned.. lawyer burok…and boombang became a reporter.
    Nazri also boastfully said…like kaisu…”Any volunteer to prosecute Lingam?”
    Karpal accepted……Nazri balls shrunk…….empty vessel makes the most noise…saying up to AG to approve.
    Kaisu have never made so much noise….all original!!
    I guess he knows Najib days are numbered.

  23. monsterball says:

    kaisu said to me…’you want more?”….bragging he got a plan……how to get me banned from this blog….with so many nicks from one.
    Even “kaisu ” is a mouthpiece of one….”kaisu” is not original.
    Never mind.. he is a copy…but his bragging did not work…feeling no shame at all…..like Nazri.
    With that reputation….do you take his comments seriously?
    Lets see……how many will say……”kaisu is correct”
    All kopitiam fellas will tell him to koret koret koret whispering9 hole and stop trying to be too clever with us.

  24. kahkahkahkah says:

    “Karpal accepted……Nazri balls shrunk……”

    Nazri creating trouble for AG Najib, Thamby Chik wants Mahathir to be Najib`s Advisor, Mahathir wants to be Najib`s Advisor…..and Najib wants to be Bala`s Advisor

  25. kahkahkahkah says:

    To many people it is perhaps surprising that a belief in Koro can be particularly widespread but this belies that fact that the belief has a long and distinguished history. It is first mentioned in China (known there as ‘suo-yang’) where it is cited in the ancient Chinese text ‘The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine’, a traditional medical manuscript which dates from about 300 BC.

    Najib Kiasu (Kaisu) Cabinet is having a koro panic and they only talk in whispers and dark corridors these days.

  26. monsterball says:

    kaisu may love some shit like velvet….raw..soft and tender.
    Nazri may love shit….roaster with cinder wood.

  27. hanana bt abdulla says:

    What is so hard to believe the story of bala . compared
    to the tv series ‘prison break ‘ bala narration is by comparison highly
    credible. In ‘prison break’ it was alleged that the vice president of the
    USA had to do with the murder of the protaganist wife and was
    also linked to the intended assasination of the protaganist.

    Bala’s story is v mild compared to the story board in ‘prison break’ .

  28. monsterball says:

    hi hanana bt abdulla…’prison break” is a movie sitcom.
    Our Bala is real life stuff.
    Please do not compare like this.

  29. JACKAL says:

    hanana bt abdulla,

    you are right that Bala is more believable than Najib and Rosmah attempted prison break

  30. JACKAL says:

    UMNO Malay Communism

    “We were taught a song with lyrics like ‘the land that you walk upon is owned by others. Lecturers told us the Malays were forced to depend on the Chinese for support after 1998 because some Malays had betrayed their own race,” he recalled.


    That is the work of mother farking Ahbengkia bas tards. For more than 50 years these Ahbengkia bas tards have tried to destroy malaysia.

  31. monsterball says:

    No JACKAL…few years…since he got a higher salary…to do skunk work for Najib.
    That’s why fly here fly there..at short notice..to make sure Najib’s balls are happy.
    Previously very low pay….humble and nice.
    By the way..you are right..he is a son of an ex gangster chief .disgracing his father… having no balls…but a big mouth.
    That is why…he is a confirmed bachelor at the age of 50.
    Others do not wish to get married…treasuring total freedom.
    So many I know at kopitiam …nice and brave..confirmed bachelors.
    This ahbengkia got cheated by one gal..balls shrink…having night mares…nightly..because he play play and afraid police report..by that girl.
    That is why…he is scared of police stations too.
    Now salary increased to play r Najib’s balls……lets see how long he can keep his job.
    If 1-4-C fortune teller is sincere…telling accurare fortune..he surely will know…ahbengkis’s future is as clear as a crystal……will land in the gutter as a beggar.
    I heard 1-4-C is half dead too..struggling t make ends meet….cannot pay this or that installments.
    Ahbengkia wishes I join him or be dead.
    No money tree…talk big..talk kok.

  32. kahkahkahkah says:

    This monk real cool:

    Monk opens plane’s emergency exit for fresh air

    NEW DELHI, Tues: A Buddhist monk who opened the emergency exit of an airplane just before take off because he wanted some fresh air forced the plane to delay its flight for almost seven hours at Kolkata airport yesterday morning.

    As result of his action, the airport authorities evacuated all the passengers onboard and grounded the plane for nearly seven hours until all the safety drills were completed.

    The Hindu newspaper reported that the bizarre incident happened on Air India’s flight IC-727 that was heading to Yangon with 135 passengers on board.

    The monk from Myanmar, a 45-year-old Waza Thunga, believed to be a second time flier, was feeling claustrophobic inside the plane, which was still on the runway, and decided to open the emergency exit next to his seat after browsing the plane’s safety manual.

    “As soon as he pulled the safety clutch, the emergency window opened and the emergency bells rang.

    “The occurrence of such a situation is rare but what can you do to prevent such a thing. How can we control it if a passenger sets off an alarm by mistake,” the airline’s spokesman Pulok Mukherjee told the newspaper.

    It is not known whether the airline took any action against the monk, who spoke very little English.

  33. David baer says:

    Cash Making Opportunities – The Beginning The working life is already tough enough, but the worries of being out of work was even tougher. The unsecured working environment have prompted me to search the internet for an alternative source of extra income so that I could learn how to Make Money Work for me and be Financially Independent. I listed down a number of Free Internet Business Opportunity Ideas while researching ways how people earn money online while working-from-home…….


  34. […] PDRTJS_settings_8569_post_5100 = { "id" : "8569", "unique_id" : "wp-post-5100", "title" : "My+interview+with+Zaid+Ibrahim", "item_id" : "_post_5100", "permalink" : "http%3A%2F%2Fsloone.wordpress.com%2F2009%2F12%2F23%2Fmy-interview-with-zaid-ibrahim%2F" } (Note) I managed to contact Zaid Ibrahim about his book “I, too, am Malay”. I sent him ten questions and he has so  kindly replied to me in a few days. Although Zaid’s replies are short but they are concise and I thank him for allowing his thoughts to be featured in my blog. I must thank ZI Publications too for this book, which Lori Lee has kindly sent me after my review on Ioannis Gatsiounis Book “Velvet and Cinder Blocks”. […]

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