Lex Petros: June 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008

Rendezvous with friends from a distant land called "Male"

A surprise visit from a friend from far away. Got a call from Ambe (Ahmed Naseer) couple of days ago, whom my good buddy, Aindhy had introduced when I visited the Maldives back in 2006. I made postings on each day of my 8-day trip there (check out my archives - September 2006).

Ambe and wife, Saanu had just returned from a chilling trip to Cameron Highlands. Prior to that, Ambe had just left the US after a 10-month academic stint. I picked them up at the Legend Hotel. We had a good time catching up at the Victoria Station. He was my conduit to goings-on in the tiny but memorable island of Male.

Looks like the population density in Male had just gotten worse. Housing is turning into a serious problem. When I was there, I was running into people (literally) at every corner. Believe you me, Male makes KL seem like gargantuous.

Everyone walks about the 'spacious' 1.5 km2 island. 'Micro-scale hustle and bustle'. The reclaimed island, called Hulumale, once an initiative to ease the acute housing shortage and land area scarcity has taken a set back. Property prices are astronomically high that no one can afford tenanting, let alone purchase any property. Just to give you a picture, a square foot in Male would costs anything between USD2,000 to 3,000 psf. Imagine Hulumale's dollar psf! Apart from affordability issues, many funding banks have declined to extend bridging facilities for development for 'environmental' reasons. As a result, recourse need to be had with commercial banks and they would charge something like 18% per annum in interests alone!

Ambe thinks someone should initiate development in the northern and southern atolls, which relatively has larger land areas. Any of those islands are inhabited by 1000 to 2000 locals over an average land area of 2-5km2. I am in full concurrence. Conquer and divide. That worked well for Alexander the Great. Centralisation by condensing the population is like capping the lid on the pressure cooker.

Ah! regardless...I was enthralled by the island and its life. I wish to go back there in the near future. Missing those 'roshi' (Maldivian Chappati) and 'Mahsoni' (grated coconut with tuna) and the evening swims in the lagoon near the pier, the one with the big, wooden pontoon in the centre...

Anyway, it's always good to see my Maldivian friends every now and then. I missed Mazlan the last time, but I'm glad I could catch up with Ambe this year.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Happening

After a hiatus, M Night Shyamalan delivers yet another good thriller. This is one of those movies which makes you think, "Hey, doesn't this flick seem like crossing over 'The Signs' and 'War of the Worlds' ?"

I think this movie will leave you disturbed for a while (I guess Yee Boon was right). But there's no overtly, horrific violent deaths or extremeties like that...although, there are several disrturbing parts (relative term for me). Having said that, I noticed that this movie is rated 'U' ...which puzzled me. I think an 18SG rating would be more like it.

The undertone of the movie: natural elements coming to life, compelling inhabitants of the US East Coast to lose their self-preservation, resulting in mass suicide.

Mark Walberg appeared opposite to Jooey Deschenal, playing a husband and wife whose average lives turned chaotic after the entire East Coast in the US is plaqued with a mysterious and seemingly insidious "event" leaving people with an uncontrollable desire to end their own lives. And watch for John Lequizamo. He plays Mark Walberg's queer-looking colleague in the movie. Suffice to say, his character didn't last too long...

As the title of the movie suggests, the first few minutes of the movie would have left you a good hint of things to come. I won't go into any details for the sake of those out there who hasn't watched this interesting flick. I actually loved it.

Apart from being a fan of Shyamalan, I occassionally have a morbid desire to dwell into the surreal and supernatural. This movie would set that mood for you.

Go watch it...and don't kill any bees (you'll know what I mean once you've watched the movie).