Tuesday, October 02, 2007


An article was emailed around that the Israelis have found a way to use Lemon Grass to prompt cancer cells to commit suicide!

Finally there is something good that comes out of Israel, the Country-That-Is-Not-A-Country or as I sometimes call it "The Stolen Land". They have found time to focus on killing something other than the Palestinians.

And where did they obtain these lemongrass from?? The Mossads must have tortured some makcik at a Pasar Tani to give them a batch not realising that it is easier to just buy them .. but then again they are Jews so its a bit difficult for them to part with a few ringgit. Am I Anti- Semetic??
And the irony of calling Israel a Mecca!!!!

The next thing they should focus on is to learn how to spell their towns in a more user-friendly manner so that people can actually pronounce them.

The Article is set out below. Why don't they realise that its the depleted uranium they have dropped on their neighbour Lebanon that is causing the cancer? The wind blows it back to The Stolen Land.

"Lemon Grass prompt cancer cells to commit suicide!Fresh lemon grass fields in Israel become Mecca for cancer patients"
by Allison Kaplan Sommer - April 02, 2006
"A drink with as little as one gram of lemon grass contains enough citral to prompt cancer cells to commit suicide in the test tube. Israeli researchers find way to make cancer cells self-destruct - Ben Gurion University.

At first, Benny Zabidov, an Israeli agriculturalist who grows greenhouses full of lush spices on a pastoral farm in Kfar Yedidya in the Sharon region, couldn't understand why so many cancer patients from around the country were showing up on his doorstep asking for fresh lemon grass. It turned out that their doctors had sent them.

'They had been told to drink eight glasses of hot water with fresh lemon grass steeped in it on the days that they went for their radiation and chemotherapy treatments ,' Zabidov told ISRAEL21c. 'And this is the place you go to in Israel for fresh lemon grass.'

It all began when researchers at Ben Gurion University of the Negev discovered last year that the lemon aroma in herbs like lemon grass kills cancer cells in vitro, while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
The research team was led by Dr. Rivka Ofir and Prof. Yakov Weinstein incumbent of the Albert Katz Chair in Cell-Differentiation and Malignant Diseases, from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at BGU.

Citral is the key component that gives the lemony aroma and taste in several herbal plants such as lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus), Melissa (Melissa officinalis) and verbena (Verbena officinalis.)
According to Ofir, the study found that Citral causes cancer cells to 'commit suicide: using apoptosis, a mechanism called programmed cell death.' A drink with as little as one gram of lemon grass contains enough Citral to prompt the cancer cells to commit suicide in the test tube.
The BGU investigators checked the influence of the Citral on cancerous cells by adding them to both cancerous cells and normal cells that were grown in a petri dish. The quantity added in the concentrate was equivalent to the amount contained in a cup of regular tea using one gram of lemon herbs in hot water. While the Citral killed the cancerous cells, the normal cells remained unharmed.

The findings were published in the scientific journal *Planta Medica* , which highlights research on alternative and herbal remedies. Shortly afterwards, the discovery was featured in the popular Israeli press.
Why does it work? Nobody knows for certain, but the BGU scientists have a theory.

In each cell in our body, there is a genetic program which causes programmed cell death. When something goes wrong, the cells divide with no control and become cancer cells. In normal cells, when the cell discovers that the control system is not operating correctly for example, when it recognizes that a cell contains faulty genetic material following cell division - it triggers cell death, ' explains Weinstein. 'This research may explain the medical benefit of these herbs.'

The success of their research led them to the conclusion that herbs containing Citral may be consumed as a preventative measure against certain cancerous cells.

As they learned of the BGU findings in the press, many physicians in Israel began to believe that while the research certainly needs to be explored further. In the meantime it would be advisable for their patients, who were looking for any possible tool to fight their condition, to try to harness the cancer-destroying properties of Citral.

That's why Zabidov's farm - the only major grower of fresh lemon grass in Israel - has become a pilgrimage destination for these patients. Luckily, they found themselves in sympathetic hands. Zabidov greets visitors with a large kettle of aromatic lemon grass tea, a plate of cookies, and a supportive attitude.

'My father died of cancer, and my wife's sister died young because of cancer,' said Zabidov. 'So I understand what they are dealing with. And I may not know anything about medicine, but I'm a good listener. And so they tell me about their expensive painful treatments and what they've been through. I would never tell them to stop being treated, but it's great that they are exploring alternatives and drinking the lemon grass tea as well.' ......
Wandering in the Paris market, looking at the variety of herbs and spices, Zabidov realized that there was a great export potential in this niche. He brought samples back home with him, 'which was technically illegal,' he says with a guilty smile, to see how they would grow in his desert greenhouses. .....

His business began to outgrow his desert facilities, and so he decided to move north, settling in the moshav of Kfar Yedidya, an hour and a half north of Tel Aviv. He is now selling 'several hundred kilos' of lemon grass per week, and has signed with a distributor to package and put it in health food stores. .....

Zabidov is pleased by the findings, not simply because it means business for his farm, but because it might influence his own health. Even before the news of its benefits was demonstrated, he and his family had been drinking lemon grass in hot water for years, 'just because it tastes good.' "

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Chapati Moments

There is a new chapati at Navel Gazing. I can't get into the blog right now so I can't post a link here (you should know by now I'm not computer savvy). Go find your own way to Navel Gazing and look for Chapati Moments: Maya and the Fire of Love.

Ok ok, some of you are just soooo spoilt. Here's the link:

http://thegazerofnavels.blogspot.com/search/label/ Chapati%20Moments

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Toade News: Black Hawk Down

Al Jazeera Wednesday 22 August 2007 reported that a US Helicopter, the UH-60 Black Hawk, has crashed in Northern Iraq, killing 14 soldiers on board.

Americans must thank their President for more deaths in the US Military - collateral damage eh Mr President.

The Black Hawk came down during a night operation on Wednesday. A statement said the aircraft experienced mechanical problems and that there was no sign of hostile fire. The soldiers killed were with Task Force Lightning.

Yeah, Task Force Lightning indeed. They sure went down like they were struck by lightning.

The report went on to say that it is the deadliest crash for the US Army since January 2005.

Hmm... deadliest crash and it wasn't even hit by anything .... Force Majeure ... An Act of God, perhaps. And our Government is considering buying these Black Hawks to replace our Nuri helicopters which are nothing more than glorified flying scrap metal.

Friday, July 13, 2007



Suvarna Fine Arts presents a Bharata Natya dance feature in praise of Shiva and Shakti featuring Shri Ajit Bhaskaran Dass and the Suvarna Dance Company with live music accompaniment. About Ajit

Ajit was trained as a lawyer and left law practice to focus on his passion - Indian Classical Dance. Ajit has performed in Germany, New York (Lincoln Centre), Los Angeles, India, Bali, Singapore and Malaysia. He was invited to perform for UNICEF in New York in July 2005. Ajit spends 6 months in a year in Los Angeles, teaching and performing there. For the rest of the year, he is based in Johor Bharu, teaching at his dance company Suvarna Fine Arts and in Singapore.

The Los Angeles Times described him as follows after one of his performances in Los Angeles:

"The brilliant Bharata Natya soloist, Ajith Bhaskaran Dass, who with his "Nureyev appeal" has been clebrated for his skill in bringing out the technical glory of Bharata Natya while evoking a remarkable depth of feeling transcending all boundaries of gender, space, style and form with spellbinding dexterity."
Performance Time and Venue
14 July 2007
Malaysia Tourist Centre (
Kuala Lumpur
Auditorium Dewan Tunku Abdul Rahman
109 Jalan Ampang

Invitations will be issued for donations of RM100, RM50 and RM 30.
Please contact Mrs Madasamy at 019 399 9418
or Ms Chelvi at 012 710 1900

Dear Friends,
I know I have posted this information rather late. I have been very busy. If you manage to read this on time, please do come and watch this utterly mesmerising dancer. I'm just lost for words on how I feel every time I watch him perform. He transports you to another world which I dare say is nothing less than divine. Not many Malaysians know of him, which is a great shame. When he performs in Los Angeles, his fans include people like Ravi Shankar.
When he dances, you will clearly see his passion and love for his art. It is not just mere entertainment or technical perfection. It is a form of worship and those who are spiritually inclined will be able to feel this in his performance. So do not miss this rare opportunity. My friend Tempias has just flown in from New Zealand and will watch the show with me. My American friend (yes, I do have American friends!) watched his last performance in KL, Echoing Anklets, and was amazed at his talent, choreography, costumes etc. Ajit choreographs his own shows, composes the lyrics for the songs, designs the costumes and chooses the fabrics in India himself.
Ajit combines intelligence, extraordinary talent, deep spirituality, breathtaking creativity and absolute sensitivity in his performances.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Friday Ramblings

Hooray its Friday! Am going for a Balinese Spa tomorrow. Its been so hectic at work that I felt I need to relax at a spa. Am also looking forward to going to Cherating at the end of the month.

I have posted a new chapter of Chapati Moments in Navel Gazing. Here's the link:

This one is very different from the other chapters. Though its done in my usual tongue in cheek, irreverent style, the information in it is extensively researched. Sources are The Times, the Guardian, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, JUST, John Pilger's website, Seymour Hersh's articles in the New Yorker, Global Research, Michel Chossudovsky's book "America's War on Terrorism", Matthias Chang's book "Future Fast Forward" and various other human rights websites. Do try to read it and post your comments there or here.

Yawn, am soooo tired. Ciao people! Have a great weekend.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Had a lovely weekend after the Hammam. Lunch with Daef & Art on Friday was excellent - didn't notice the food as the company was great fun.

Then I set out for my mini adventure at the Hammam. What I described earlier (last week) was pretty much what happened there. I was in this hot bathroom with this Moroccan woman giving me a bath and a good scrub. There was a communication problem at first - ie there was no communication because I don't speak Arabic and she doesn't speak English. At one point I desperately wanted to ask her something about my hair treatment (some rose mask they massage into the hair) and to tell her to be careful about massaging my head as I had cracked my skull in a horse riding injury when I was a kid.

Sign language led to a lot of confusion. Then a thought struck me ... countries in the Middle East and Africa were either colonies of the British or the French. So I asked her in French whether she spoke French. There was a look of delight on her face. Sigh... that was the first hurdle I got past. Thereafter I had to dig deep into my memory bank to recall my French lessons at boarding school in England with Madame Currie (my French teacher, not the scientist!) scolding me in French. Oddly, French was compulsory in an English boarding school despite the fact that les Francais tres deteste les Anglais and vice versa. The Moroccan lady asked me whether I went to school in France so I replied "Non, l'Angleterre" ie England or better known by the French as "the land of people who don't bathe very much". Then I proceeded to ask her about my hair treatment and to explain to her that I had fallen of my horse and hurt my head. That led to a lot of confusion as the word for "hair" and "horse" is quite similar in French. I can't for the life of me understand how I remembered those words in the first place. Cheveux (hair) and Chevaux (horses). She thought I pronounced hair incorrectly as she did not expect me to talk about horses whilst pointing to my head. After five minutes of excitement in the steaming hot bathroom with me gestulating furiously to make myself understood whilst in a state of near nudity (apart from the protection of a flimsy paper panty provided by them), she finally understood what I was trying to say. Then we burst out laughing - in relief. Thereafter, we managed further conversation on her life in Morocco, her family and sister and her marital status and mine. I was quite amazed at myself. I guess the heat in there brought out all French I thought I had forgotten.

Quite some time later after lying down on those hot tiles for what seemed like ages and feeling like (and probably looking like) a hot freshly steamed dim sum ... just when I thought I was going to pass out from the heat, she came back in to splash some hot water on me. Then after being towelled dry, I went off to another room for a massage. Oh, whilst waiting in this cozy waiting area, drinking Samarkand tea and eating baklavas before my massage, I sat opposite this woman who reminded me of my roommate at boarding school. She said I looked familiar too. But we realised we didn't know each other after introducing ourselves. She is English. Married to an Malaysian Indian and she was complaining about her in laws.... haahhhaa, wait till I tell my friends... my Indian girl friends that is ... who are always warning me about the perils of getting involved with an Indian man who are always Mummie's boys for the rest of their lives!!

All in all it was an absolutely lovely self indulgent afternoon/evening.

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Hooray, its Friday and I have taken the afternoon off!! Am going to have a long leisurely lunch with fellow bloggers from Navel Gazing at Cilantro. Apparently they have a set lunch with free flowing wine. Well, since I don't drink I'm just there to enjoy the company of these witty friends.

Its been a really hectic 2 weeks at work, rushing for a signing and new projects coming in. Its also been a trying month or two. One of my closest friends in the Firm left - She Who Should Be Blonde. Just as I was getting used to not having her around here, another very close friend resigns ... 2 days ago.... She Who Is Already Blonde. Here I am, alone again. The last of the Renegades. I was just sooo tired, crawling home at night after work that I decided that I needed to go to a spa of some sort. That's why I have taken the afternoon off. In fact, I have been rather self indulgent this week. She Who Is Already Blonde and I are making the most of our time together. We have been working in 2 firms together - gosh I guess, its over 10 years of our working lives together! This week we had lunch at Zipangu (Japanese) and then on Wednesday when she tendered her resignation, we went out to celebrate at Lafite. Both restaurants at the Shang. Today I'm having lunch at Cilantro with Daef and Art, who are always good fun to be with. After that comes my self indulgent afternoon. I am going to a Hammam. Its a Moroccan bathhouse. She Who Should Be Blonder set out earlier this week to check it out as she is made of sterner stuff than me and not likely to break when being tossed about and pummelled at a bathhouse. She came back glowing and with glowing report of her experience. You enter this hot room (bathroom) with literally no clothes on (maybe a paper panty is allowed) and this Moroccan woman with bathe you, scrub and polish you. Then you are made to lie on some hot stones or a hot tiled surface. After that you will be splashed with hot and cold water. (Geez... why don't I just check into Abu Ghraib for such treatment and I don't even have to pay them for it!). Ooops, I have to go for my lunch appointment now. Will tell you all about my Hammam experience next week. Hey, Tempias! I'm sure you would love to come to the Hammam with me. When you are in KL next we will go together. Ciao! Have a beautiful weekend everyone!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Toade News

Anyone of you who are still not convinced how dumb the Americans are, please read this article from the Guardian. Note the intelligent comment by the FBI Agent that Arabic writing are full of squiggles and can thus easily hide messages..... errr ....??? I rest my case. Should these dumb people be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction?

Saturday, the Guardian
"No Fairy Tales Allowed

Lawyer Clive Stafford Smith has 36 clients in Guantánamo and has visited many times. In this powerful extract from a new book he argues that secrecy in the camp is a disease. I had visited several times and there was something nagging at me. I could not work out what left me uniquely unsettled about the place. It was not the depressing environment; few prisons are inspirational. It was not the occasional intimidation. Eventually it came to me: I could not remember being lied to so often and so consistently. In Guantánamo, lying was a disease that had reached pandemic proportions. Former "detainee" Binyam Mohamed [British resident arrested in Pakistan] viewed the whole military commission process as a con, a lie that was meant to deceive the world. In June 2006 the supreme court said the same, in more temperate terms, and struck down the commissions as illegal. It rejected Donald Rumsfeld's assurance that the trials would be fair, accusing the administration of "jettisoning" legal rights. In Guantánamo, the military began with smaller lies and worked upwards. I was visiting Camp Echo one day and they had messed up the visitation schedule. The client I was meant to see was not there, although I had sent the schedule for my visits several weeks before. I thought I might as well go ahead and see Shaker Aamer [British resident captured in Afghanistan], whom I was not meant to meet until later in the week. So I asked the SOG (the sergeant of the guard, in charge of the camp) whether Shaker was in his normal cell. "No, he's not here," the SOG replied. I settled down for another wasted hour, waiting for the military to bring over someone I could see. It was hot even under the umbrella at the "picnic table" - the area behind one of the cells in Camp Echo where they made lawyers wait. I watched a lizard crawling up the green mesh on the wire fence. I thought about the spider in Robert the Bruce's cave, continually battling to spin its web and teaching patience to the early Scottish nationalists.

The next day I saw Shaker. "Were you here yesterday?" I asked. "Yeah, ofcourse. I've been here for weeks," he replied. So why did the SOG lie to me? He could have said, "Sorry, sir. I am not permitted to speak about that," or "Yes, sir, he is here, but I am afraid we cannot deviate from the schedule." Instead he looked me in the eye and lied. It was unsettling. He had seemed a clean-cut, well-mannered sort of person. The dissembling disease got worse as time passed. First there was the effort to suppress the truth, with censorship or silence rather than any overt falsehood. Then there was the lie by semantics, where the US military redefined the language to provide plausible deniability. Finally, there was the bare-faced lie. This kind of culture does not germinate in a vacuum. Rumsfeld is responsible for a reconstitution of the English language. I set about compiling a glossary of the Gitmo-speak. The language was so deceptive that I found it appalling and amusing in equal measure. In a December 2004 press conference, the US navy secretary Gordon England tried to defend conditions in Guantánamo by producing the novel argument that the camp was rehabilitative: "People have learned to read and have learned to write, and so it's not just being incarcerated. We do try to get people prepared for a better life." Prisoners had some difficulty exercising their new-found abilities. Indeed, contrary to England's statement, prisoners in Guantánamo were certainly not considered "people" and the guards were not even allowed to call them "prisoners". One of the escorts told me that, on pain of punishment, soldiers are required to call them "detainees". He wouldn't even say the word "prisoner" out loud. The Pentagon had come to the conclusion that it sounds better for us to "detain" someone for several years, given that he has not been offered atrial. Naturally I set about avoiding the word "detainee". Meanwhile the authorities exercised rigid control over any information that the prisoners received. Each time I went to visit, I would take a suitcase full of reading materials. I maintained a log reflecting the fate of each publication. Magazines awarded the stamp DENIED included National Geographic, Scientific American and Runner's World. On one occasion it seemed justified, since that month's National Geographic had a story about building an atomic bomb, but the editions about whales and African tribes hardly seemed a threat to national security. One soldier explained the censorship of Scientific American to me: the prisoner might learn about some hi-tech weapons system. Banning Runner's World was less obvious, given the naval base was surrounded on one side by a Cuban minefield and on the other three by ocean. I was surprised - and Shaker Aamer was incensed - that they would not let in The African-American Slave by Frederick Douglass. Uncle Tom's Cabin was also barred. I dropped off an anthology of first world war poetry for Omar Deghayes that included Wilfred Owen's poem Futility, about the ghastly violence of war. It was returned DENIED. Omar was born in 1969 and was a British refugee from Libya. His father was tortured and killed by Muammar Gadafy in 1980, and as a teenager Omar moved with his family to Brighton and studied law. He had not completed his law exams, so I brought his books so he could study, ready for his release. Law books, though, were not permitted, least of all a subversive to me about thelegal rights of prisoners. The Save Omar campaign auctioned off an autographed copy of John Pilger's book Hidden Agendas to raise funds. The highest bidder donated it back, soI could try to get it in to Omar. It was written in 1998 and the index hadno references to Islamic extremism. The most controversial statement I could see in the book was Pilger's comment that most of the victims of terrorism were Muslims. It never got through. At this point British political authors began to vie for the status of having a book banned. The New Statesman editor John Kampfner gave me a signed copy of his book Blair's Wars for Omar. Clare Short signed a copy of An Honourable Deception? New Labour, Iraq and the Misuse of Power with a dedication: "Hope you will be back with us soon, Omar.". An inverted snobbery began to develop: if your book slipped through the censors, perhaps that would cast doubt on the credibility of your opinions. I worried that Jeremy Paxman would be disappointed that his book The English was allowed in.

The only Australian left in Guantánamo, David Hicks, was facing a military con-mission, like Binyam, and his lawyer was banned from giving him Scott Turow's legal thriller Presumed Innocent. The basis for censoring The New Dinkum Aussie Dictionary was less clear. Perhaps the strangest decision involved four books returned with the notation: "These Items were not Cleared for Delivery to the Detainee(s)." They were Puss in Boots, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Beauty and the Beast - all in Arabic translation. As one FBI agent admonished me: "You know that Arabic script is full of squiggles, and it can easily hide messages to the prisoners." Could it be, I wondered, that Cinderella was secretly an enemy combatant? Eventually the military barred us from bringing books for our clients altogether. So much for education.

Next there was the senseless secrecy. Every word that my Guantánamo clients said to me was deemed classified and I had to get permission from censors to reveal it. To violate them would be a criminal offence and I could end up in jail. Whenever I met with a client I would take notes, but I could not take them with me when I left. I was obliged to put them into an envelope, seal them with SECRET stickers and give them to the military escort to mail to Washington. The notes went by normal mail, which seemed far from secure. Indeed, the first time I visited the military lost my notes for weeks. This procedure prevented the lawyers from revealing the truth about Guantánamo for a long time after any visit. This meant that I would visit Guantánamo, fly back to England, then return to Washington three weeks later to review my own notes. Meanwhile I was forbidden from saying anything to anyone about what my clients had said. Once the notes arrived in Washington, I would get notice that I could come to the "secure facility" to review them and submit facts for classification review. Even today I cannot repeat some of what my clients told me, but nothing I learned in Guantánamo would be classified in a sane world. I never saw anything that was relevant to US national security, unless it would make the US less secure to admit the truth about torture committed by American personnel. All this was to control the flow of bad news out of Guantánamo. From the beginning Joe Margulies, the other civilian lawyer working for Binyam Mohamed, encapsulated the proper response to this: if we could open up the prison to public inspection, the government would close it down. The awkward truth about what was happening there would outweigh any perceived benefit of keeping the prison open. Meanwhile, the government wrote the rules. The military censor was dogged in defence. It was not his fault; he was merely applying the rules and trying to do it as politely as possible when we met in the secret Washington facility. In November 2004, I met Moazzam Begg in Camp Echo. Moazzam was from Birmingham, and we talked for hours and he poured out his desperate experiences. He impressed me from the beginning with his understated eloquence. He had been with his family in Afghanistan, working on a charitable project that involved schools and water wells. When he and his family fled the war to Pakistan, he became one of hundreds sold for bounties to the Americans. Later, he ended up in Guantánamo, tarred as amajor terrorist. When my notes got back to Washington, in January 2005, I wrote a 40-page memo about how Moazzam had been abused by the US military in Afghanistan. Every word was censored. The way the military had pretended to torture his wife in the next room, even information about American soldiers murdering two prisoners in front of Moazzam, was considered a "method of interrogation" that could not be revealed. I was not allowed to reveal how my clients' mental health was crumbling either. Moazzam had been tortured, then held in solitary confinement for 18 months; he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder; he had nightmares, flashbacks, all the symptoms. But this, the military said, was a privacy issue. The effort to suppress this backfired. Had they come out immediately, the facts of Moazzam's abuse would have soon have slipped into obscurity. The cover-up ran and ran. I wrote one letter to Tony Blair which began with a title, Re: Torture and Abuse of British Citizens in Guantánamo Bay. The next two pages were the highlights of the torture committed against Moazzam and other British citizens. I put in a paragraph saying, "Anything that has been censored or blacked out in this letter, your close allies in the United States don't think you should be allowed to hear." I then attached the 40-page memo detailing Moazzam's abuse. What I got back from the censorwas extraordinary. Every word about torture was declared to be classified, except the title, but the last sentence made it past the hovering blackmarker. By now there were perhaps a dozen on our team of volunteer lawyers and eachone was running into similar problems with the censorship regulations. We tried to press the issues systematically, and eventually the government was persuaded to relax the rules. At last we could get information out to provehow the clients had been mistreated, and the memos about Moazzam's mistreatment were cleared. Indeed, with the threat of this evidence of torture making it into the public eye, the pressure on the Bush administration increased, and at the end of January, Moazzam and the three British prisoners who remained in the prison (Feroz Abbasi, Richard Belmar and Martin Mubanga) were set free. Moazzam and Feroz had been among the six prisoners originally charged in the military commissions, supposedly the very worst terrorists on the base. Their release, and the fact that the British government found no charges to bring against them, illustrated the extent of the US military's delusion.

Gaining trust is not easy. When we won the right to visit the prisoners the military tried to outflank us. They began by sending in interrogators pretending to be lawyers. They said all the lawyers were Jewish, relying on perceived Muslim prejudices to drive a wedge. The next gambit was arguably even sillier. "They have been saying ..." Usama Abu Kabir hesitates, not wanting to go on. "They say ... " By this time Usama is scarlet. He is a courteous man. "Well ... that you like having sex with men!" I want to say that it should make no difference to him. I can't afford to, as so many of my clients here have been brought up in conservative Islamic countries, and we don't have time for a debate. I have to wave my wedding ring about and issue a denial. There are valid reasons for mistrust. What is to distinguish the lawyer from an interrogator after years of deception? To represent a prisoner here you must be an American citizen. "Hi! I'm from America and I'm here to help you." When a prisoner has a legal visit it is called a "reservation", the euphemism used for interrogation. Some lawyers say the meetings are confidential. The prisoners laugh. Everyone knows that there are cameras in the cell and microphones by the door. There are other problems. One saw a client for the first time with a translator whom the prisoner had previously seen working with US military intelligence."
Extracted from Bad Men by Clive Stafford Smith, published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson on April 26th priced £16.99.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sheikh Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi: 1165 - 1240 AD
'Mystic, philosopher, poet, sage, Muhammad b. 'Ali Ibn 'Arabi is one of the world's great spiritual teachers. Known as Muhyiddin (the Revivifier of Religion) and the Shaykh al-Akbar (the Greatest Master), he was born in 1165 AD into the Moorish culture of Andalusian Spain, the centre of an extraordinary flourishing and cross-fertilization of Jewish, Christian and Islamic thought, through which the major scientific and philosophical works of antiquity were transmitted to Northern Europe.' (excerpts taken from Ibn Arabi Society's website)
The Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabi Society
"The movement which is the existence
of the universe is the movement of love. "
Ibn 'Arabi, Fusûs al-Hikam

"It is He who is revealed in every face,
sought in every sign,
gazed upon by every eye,
worshipped in every object of worship,
and pursued in the unseen and the visible.
Not a single one of His creatures
can fail to find Him in its primordial
and original nature."
Ibn 'Arabi, Futûhât al-Makkiyya
"If the believer understood the meaning of the saying
'the colour of the water is the colour of the receptacle',
he would admit the validity of all beliefs
and he would recognise God
in every form and every object of faith."
Ibn 'Arabi, Fusûs al-Hikam
And this has to be my all time favourite of Ibn Arabi's works....
"O Marvel! a garden amidst the flames.
My heart has become capable of every form:
it is a pasture for gazelles
and a convent for Christian monks,
and a temple for idols and the pilgrim's Kaa'ba,
and the tables of the Torah
and the book of the Quran.
I follow the religion of Love:
whatever way Love's camels take,
that is my religion and my faith."
'Tarjuman al-Ashwaq'. Theosophical Publishing House, 1911. Poem XI.
'We are given a key to understanding, however, in the triple vision of the three great prophets of the Western world - for to Ibn 'Arabi these three bring the same message,the same essential religion of love. He considers all prophets and saints to be explainers of this primordial religion: There is no knowledge except that taken from God, for He alone is the Knower... the prophets, in spite of their great number and the long periods of time which separate them, had no disagreement in knowledge of God, since they took it from God. We are given a key to understanding, however, in the triple vision of the three great prophets of the Western world - for to Ibn 'Arabi these three bring the same message, the same essential religion of love. He considers all prophets and saints to be explainers of this primordial religion:
"There is no knowledge except that taken from God,
for He alone is the Knower...
the prophets, in spite of their great number
and the long periods of time which separate them,
had no disagreement in knowledge of God,
since they took it from God. "
'Futuhat al Makkiyah' II. 290. Trans. W. Chittick, 'The Sufi Path of Knowledge'.
"A thin veil separated me
and him in such a way
that I was able to see him
while he was unable to see me
and ignorant of my presence.
He was so absorbed that
he paid me no attention
and I said to myself
'He is not destined
to follow the same path as me'."
Futuhat I. 154. Trans. C. Addas, 'La Quete pour la Soufre Rouge'
"The Most Merciful looked down upon me
with a look of Benevolence and sent
Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses
to me while I slept.
Jesus encouraged me toward asceticism
and ridding myself of unnecessary belongings;
Moses gave me the 'disk of the sun'
and predicted that I would obtain 'ilm ladunnî
from among the sciences of the tawhîd;
and Muhammad commanded:
'Hang on to me, you will be safe!' "

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Sheikh Qadir Jilani

Anything you call upon, is a god.
Anything you depend on, is your god.
Anything you fear, is your god.
Anyone you implore, is your god.

Look at yourself.

Your heart does not agree with your tongue

And your actions are in conflict with your words.

Say: "Allah u Akbar"

One thousand times in your heart

Before you say it even once with your tongue.

Are you not ashamed of yourself

To say "There is no god other than Allah,"

When in truth you worship one thousand deities besides Him.

Repent to Him from all your lies.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Witch of Portobello

I strongly recommend all of you to go out and buy Paolo Coelho's latest book - The Witch of Portobello.

I have always loved Coelho's books. My favourite is the Alchemist - but of course! The others I loved are:
By the River Piedra I sat down and wept
The Pilgrimage
The Fifth Mountain
Eleven Minutes
I did not like Valkyries and Veronika Wants to Die and I felt that The Devil and Miss Prym was a little flat at the end - that there was much more he could do with that story. I felt that he held back the important revelations in that book - thinking that the world is not ready for it. But I know it was missing.

To tell you the truth, I haven't read a novel for many years. When I was a kid I read a lot, devouring books like a demon. Once I pick up a book, I wouldn't put it down until I finished it - going to school bleary eyed the next morning as I had only finished reading a particular book at 6 am. I would be very rude and read at the dinner table despite being scolded by my mum. By the time I was in University, I was too scared to read novels fearing that I might not be able to put them down and then I would miss my lectures and tutorials as well as deadlines for my assignments. When I came back to Malaysia, I brought back crates and crates of books, some signed by the authors eg John Mortimer (love him!) and some first editions, some gems I found at Camden Market where I used to browse on Sundays, buying antiques, eating a paper bag full of hot mini doughnuts and drinking freshly brewed steaming hot coffee. Yes, I used to do this all by myself ....

There was a point of time when I lived at Notinghill Gate, just at the top of Portobello Road. That was fun! Strolling down Portobello Road on weekends, going to the all day cinema down the road. You just have to pay for one ticket and you can watch several movies, come out, have a bite to eat and go in again whenever you feel like it ... This is where I would watch my arty farty movies, my favourite Pedro Almadovar movies etc. All these things I would do on my own - such as going to the opera, ballet & scouring antique markets. My brother, cousins and friends were ino interested in such activities. They went to Sting , Phil Collins and Genesis concerts. None of them could understand me - thinking that I'm such a bizarre moody person, sitting by myself at home listening to Le Nozze di Figaro or Don Giovanni, refusing to answer the phone or doorbell.... things haven't changed much since then. They still think I'm beyond eccentric.

Now my workmates think that too. Years ago my big boss had a word with me about my anti social behaviour - saying that I'm cliquish and selective with my friends. To tell you the truth, he is right. I can't stand having lots of people around me. I instantly feel my energy draining out. Most people are pretty toxic. And with all my meditation, cleansing and detoxing during weekends, the last thing I need is for these corporate vampires to suck my energy out. I take great heed of Al Jilani's words - stay away from ignorant people, stay away from people whose energy is lower than yours. My Sufi guide told me that our energy is like water. If your energy is high and you spend time with someone of lower energy, your energy will flow downwards to the other person so that your energies will balance. That's why you always feel tired when you spend time with people who have low energy levels and they feel rejuvenated when they are with you. Stay away from toxic people. They are energy spongers. What they should do is increase their energy levels on their own through meditation.

Anyway, back to Paolo Coelho's latest book. Here are some excerpts of some of my favourite passages in this book:
"A curse on all those who never listened to the words of Christ and who have transferred his message into a stone building ..... Today the Church has changed those [Christ's] words to read "Come unto me all ye who follow our rules, and let the heavy laden go hang."

"My way of approaching Allah - has been through calligraphy, and the search for the perfect meaning of each word. A single letter requires us to distill in it all the energy it contains, as if we were carving out its meaning. When sacred texts are written, they contain the soul of the men who served as an instrument to spread them throughout the world. And that doesn't apply only to sacred texts, but to every mark we place on paper. Because the hand that draws each line reflects the soul of the person making that line."

" Elegance isn't a superficial thing, it's the way mankind has found to honour life and work. That's why, when you feel uncomfortable in that position, you musn't think that it's false or artificial: it's real and true precisely because it's difficult. That position means that both the paper and the brush feel proud of the effort you are making. The paper ceases to be a flat, colorless surface and takes on the depth of the things placed on it. Elegance is the correct posture if the writing is to be perfect."

**(Tome this is the same with life: when all superfluous things have been discarded, we discover simplicity and concentration).

"In order to forget the rules, you must know them and respect them."
Paolo Coelho also quoted one of my favourite poets Kahlil Gibran from his masterpiece The Prophet:

"Is there anything you would withhold? Some day, all that you have shall be given. The trees give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish....

And what greater merit shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving? You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give."

In the book, one of the characters is an historian who said "the center of a person is the navel" and expounded on how important the navel is. Then he said "My daughter said that I was behaving oddly thinking only of myself - that I was in short, navel gazing!" Heeheeh, my fellow naval officers Daef and Art should take note of this!

"I spoke only of love. He says the earth needs rituals, well, I can guarantee that if there's love enough among you, you'll have an abundant harvest, because love is the feeling that transforms everything. But what do I see? Friendship. Passion died out a long time ago, because you've all got used to one another. That's why the earth gives what it gave last year, neither more nor less. And that's why, in the darkness of your souls, you silently complain that nothing in your lives changes. Why? Because you've always tried to control the force that transforms everything so that your lives can carry on without being faced by any major challenges."

"I am ... universal wisdom. I came into the world accompanied only by Love. I am the beginning of everything ... For me, love fills everything. It cannot be desired because it is an end in itself. It cannot betray because it has nothing to do with possession. It cannot be held prisoner because it is a river and will overflow its banks. Anyone who tries to imprison love will cut off the spring that feeds it, and the trapped water will grow stagnant and rank."

"Religions will revert to being a refuge for the weak, who are always in search of guidance."

On Sin:

"We all have a duty to love and to allow love to manifest itself in the way it thinks best. We cannot and must not be frightened when the powers of darkness want to make themselves heard, those same powers that introduced the word sin merely to control our hearts and minds .... What is sin? It is a sin to prevent Love from showing itself."

So ... what are you waiting for? Go get this book! However, even here, I felt Coelho held back and could have done much more with this book. He is just skimming the surface but I feel he did it on purpose to cater to a wider range of people. I understand why he does it. He throws in deep messages which most people would find unpalatable and couches it in an entertaining story so that these people would continue reading it ... and hopefully these messages sink in or provoke them to think and not just accept life as they were taught to by their parents, priests etc. I try to do that with Chapati Moments and some of you have picked it up whilst others are just entertained by this dysfuntional family I write about.... :)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Thank You to My Beloved
by the Anomaly
18 May 2007 night time

I finally passed the test
I finally learnt my lesson
I finally know
How to love myself.
To learn how to love yourself
You must first
Know who you are
You must know your value
and your worth
You must never let another person
determine your worth
and tell you who you are.
So I thank you,
my Master, my Guide,
my Beloved
for leading me to this path
to this knowledge
to this awareness.
To love yourself is to never allow anyone
to have control over your destiny
To never accept second best
To never be second best
Your soul belongs to Allah
Our Creator
Our Ultimate Love
Your life belongs to Allah
Never surrender your love and your life
to anyone else.
Know yourself and you will know Allah
Love yourself and you will love Allah
Love Allah and you will love yourself
It matters not which comes first
By the time you come to this realisation
You are nothing but a mirror
Allah's Beauty
Allah's Light
So learn to love yourself.
Do not accept a tarnished gift
For you are worthy of something better
Do not accept love in half measures
For you are worth
Much, much, much more than that
Do not accept insincere friendships
for they are worth nothing and you are priceless.
It is better to be alone
than to be with those
who do not know how to value you.
It is better to stay away from those
who do not know how to appreciate your worth.
They are not worth a single tear in your eye.
Finally I learnt and practised all this.
I have passed the test.
Thank you thank you thank you
My Love
for leading me here.
My chains are broken
I am finally released.
I finally know:
how to live
how to love
My burdens are gone
I am ready to live
I am ready to love another
How can you love another
when you do not know how to love yourself?
How can you value others
when you do not value yourself?
And today I have proven it
I love myself
I value myself
Thank you my Love.

The poetry above was inspired after going through a tough period for the past 2 weeks. I had come to realise that 2 people whom I am very fond of, whom I trust, whom I regarded as my friends have betrayed my trust and are not sincere to me. I struggled with myself - do I ignore it, accept them as they are and accept the half measures they mete out insincerely?

Then I realised - there is a difference between accepting people as they are and the treatment they show you. Accepting them as they are means not judging them and letting them be who they are and allowing them to find their own way. Eventually, we hope they will get there. But we don't have to suffer in their ignorance and accept their treatment.

So I stepped out of this circle of their ignorance and contempt.

What a release that was. To not be stuck in this vicious circle. I thought I would be upset and distraught over this. But all I felt was a sense of emptiness. I was worried. I thought I must be numb. But its night time now and I still don't feel anything. Just a sense of relief that I don't have to think about this anymore. I don't have to get upset over their behaviour anymore.

Then I realised - I finally liearnt my lesson which God was trying to teach me since 2000. I learnt to love myself.

So thank you God for this revelation, for this gift. It took me seven years of pain to learn. Seven years of joy. Seven verses in the Fatihah - The Heart of the Koran.


I Have Come Into This World to See This

I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of the arc of their anger
because we have finally realised there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our
I have come into this world to see this:
all creatures hold hands as we pass through
this miraculous existence we share on the way
to an even greater being of soul,
a being of just ecstatic light, forever entwined and at play
with Him.
I have come into this world to hear this:
every song the earth has sung since it was conceived in
the Divine's womb and began spinning from
His wish,
every song by wing, fin and hoof,
every song by hill and and field and tree and woman and child,
every song of stream and rock,
every song of tool and lyre and flute,
every song of gold and emerald
and fire,
every song the heart should cry with magnificent dignity
to know itself as
for all other knowledge will leave us again in want and aching -
only imbibing the glorious Sun
will complete us.
I have come into the world to experience this:
men so true to love
they would rather die before speaking
an unkind
men so true their lives are His covenant -
the promise of
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands
even at the height of
their arc of
because we have finally realised
there is just one flesh
we can wound.

More from Hafiz .....

I have learned so much

from God

that I can no longer call myself

a Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew.

The Truth has shared so much of Itself with me

that I can no longer call myself

a man, a woman, an angel, or even a pure soul,

Love has befriended Hafiz,

It has turned to ash and freed me

Of every concept and image

my mind has ever known.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Chapati Moments: Auntie Roopah

This is not a picture of Auntie Roopah. Its just a picture I posted to entice you to read further.

I have posted a freshly cooked Chapati in Navel Gazing:-

Bon appetite! Any indigestion caused - please direct complaints to the chef.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Thoroughbred
by the Anomaly

Only a King knows how to appreciate a thoroughbred
Only a King knows how to treasure it
Holding it high above all else
Only a King can appreciate
the thoroughbred's

A King knows

not to compare a thoroughbred

with a farm animal

A King has no need for a farm animal

What would a King do with a stable full of farm animals?

Likewise, do not give a peasant a thoroughbred

He has neither the capacity nor the depth to appreciate true beauty

For a peasant knows only how to appreciate a farm animal

He cannot place a yoke on a thoroughbred to till his land

The thoroughbred can die under these hardened conditions

Be very careful with the thoroughbred

Place it in the wrong hands and it will wither and die

The peasant only deserves a farm animal

For that is the only thing he knows how to value.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

My Heart
by the Anomaly

I have denied what I feel about you
Counting your flaws
Ignoring your virtues
To protect my heart
Whilst declaring loudly
that I always follow my heart
that I know what my heart wants
And it is not you,
I say to myself
Because you are not worthy of my heart
Nor even my thoughts.

I have even managed to convince myself

that I still love another

who is more worthy

But the truth is,

I realise now that

I have been denying my heart.

The truth is

when I stand next to you

my heart feels waves of pain

I am startled by that

But my heart does not lie

Only fear makes us deny what the heart feels

I tell my heart repeatedly

that you are not worthy

that there is another

more worthy

Another who would protect me

from your ignorant ways

Another who would not hurt me

like you do with your clumsy manner

Another who would treasure me

more than you are capable of

Who would protect me from


For my Beloved has revealed

that He will only bless my union

with the one

who loves me more

and not the one

whom I love more.

In that way, my Beloved

would have fulfilled His covenant to me

and I to Him

Understand, that I am only allowed

to be with those who are worthy

Understand, that I am not allowed

to throw pearls before a swine

So dear heart,

take heed of my plea

Be strong

Withstand the waves of pain

For the one you pine for

is not worthy of your love

He will hurt you

He will toss you about

with carelessness

if not cruelty

And this is forbidden

For you have made a covenant

to the Beloved.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Sufi Wisdom: Shaykh Abd Qadir Al Jilani

"The Prophet said "Gabriel once came to me and said: "The Lord of Truth has instructed me to tell you:'Pardon those who do you wrong. Maintain a connection with those who would cut you off. Give to those who deprive you. Reflect on the blessings of Allah, on His handiwork and His ways of managing His creation.

If you suffer unjust treatment, do not act unjustly. If you are praised, do not feel too pleased about it. If you are criticised, do not feel too depressed. If you are accused of telling lies, do not get angry. If you are betrayed, do not betray another."

Shaykh Qadir Al Jilani on the Sufis: "In your case, you belong to the group consisting of those who love Allah both through involuntary compulsion and through a process of free choice.

If only you would leave the company of the unbelievers and the hypocrites today, and stay away from them tomorrow. If only you would get up and walk away from meetings held by those who idolise their fellow creatures and material means, and who quarrel with the Lord of Truth. Do not meddle with the treasuries of worldly kings, and do not pry into their secrets.

If a person does not acknowledge his own worth, the decrees of destiny will teach him to acknoledge his own worth. To recognise your own worth is better than refusing to acknowledge you own worth, because an ignorant person is someone who knows neither his own worth nor the worth of other people."

"You must dedicate your hearts entirely to Him. You must turn to Him in humble entreaty, and beg Him to supply you with everything you need. You must apply to Him for all your urgent requirements. You have no other place to turn. You have no other door by which to enter. All other doors have been locked shut. You must spend time alone with Him in lonely places. You must talk to Him and speak to Him directly with the tongues of your faith.

As soon as the other members of your family have all gone to sleep, and the sounds and voices of your fellow creatures have fallen silent, you should cleanse yourself by performing the ritual ablution, then lower your forehead to the ground. While you are in humble posture, you should repent, beg pardon, confess your sins, implore your Lord to grant His gracious favour, and ask Him to supply your needs. You should also complain to Him about any problems that are causing a feeling of tightness in your breast. He is your Lord, not any other, and He is your god, not any other.

You must not run away on account of the arrows of His afflictions. He has treated all your predecessors in the same way, exposing them to pain and suffering, making them experience difficulty and hardship as well as ease and comfort, so that they might acknowledge Him and be grateful to Him, so that they might learn to be patient with Him and entrust themselves to His care.

Punishments are for common folk, while acts of atonement are for the truly devout believers, and spiritual degrees are for the righteous of true conviction, the triumphant champions of truth.

The Prophet has told us: "Of all people, we Prophets are the ones most sorely afflicted. Then those who resemble us most closely, and so on down the scale."

When the true believer is afflicted, he bears his affliction with patience. He keeps it well hidden from his fellow creatures and does not complain to them. This is why the Prophet has told us: "the believer wears his cheerfulness on his face, while his sadness stays inside his heart."

That is to say, he greets other people with a cheerful expression, so that they will not notice what is in his heart.

True believers hide the treasures of their inner beings. They act in accordance with the natural disposition of their hearts. Sadness is the natural disposition of our lower selves. Sadness is a cloud that showers the heart with drops of wisdom and secret knowledge. Why will you not be patient in bearing sadness and broken-heartedness, when Allah has said in one of His utterances: "I am with those whose hearts are broken on My account."

Whenever their hearts are broken because of remoteness [from Him], along comes the mender of nearness to mend them. Whenever they are alienated from their fellow creatures, along comes intimate friendship with Allah to put them at their ease. Whenever they become estranged from their fellow creatures, they discover intimate friendship in the nearness of Allah. Whenever their sadness lasts for a long time in this world, their happiness is of long duration in the hereafter.

The Prophet would often experience prolonged bouts of sadness, and he was always given to contemplation. He would seem to be listening carefully, as if to an invisible speaker who was talking to him, or to someone calling out to him from the unseen. His executors, his representatives, his deputies and his heirs are likewise notable for the long duration of their sadness and the constancy of their contemplation. How could they fail to follow the example he set by his actions, when they are standing in his stead, feeding people with his food and quenching their thirst with his drink, using his horses for transport, and wielding his swords and his spears in battle?

The people of the Lord have inherited the situation of the Prophets and their position in the scheme of things, though not their personal names and titles, nor the special attributes and peculiar virtues with which they never fall short. It may therefore happen that one of them begins to play his role at a very early age, while in the case of another, his true role does not become apparent until the latter part of his life. Transformations are brought about through the presence of such an individual, for he is the friend of Allah in the knowledge of Allah.

The Tomb of Shaykh Qadir Al Jilani

(which was hit by US bombings in Iraq)

Of the ignorant people, the Shaykh said:

"You do not recognise the true condition of the people of the Lord, and you do not acknowledge the truth of what they have to say. Your involvement with worldly creatures is an obstacle that prevents you from getting to know them. Your love of prestige in this world, and the ambitious pursuit of political leadership, these are obstacles that prevent you from getting to know them. If you had been genuinely interested in trying to find them, you would have recognised them by now, and you would have derived complete satisfaction from what they had to tell you. You do not spend any time in the company of people who put their knowledge into practice. You are not like those who drink what they have to offer, here in my presence, so you do not experience the effect of that kind of wine."