Christmas Story

I was doing some shopping rounds down at Ace Hardware when I spotted their traditional Christmas setup: a miniature village situated around snowy mountain caps. The handiwork was quite admirable; it was obvious that a lot of effort had been invested in the creation of the little village. Having changed my mind on what I wanted to do with my custom-made gifts for this year, on my way out I decided to take some photos with my phone of the setup. Later that evening, in a café , and while shifting through the photos, a story started to build up in my head. Though uploaded on Facebook at the time, I thought I’d share the narrative with you here as well. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!



Our story begins on a fine White Christmas morning in Nomsburg, a calm village cocooned between Mt. Nomsingheim and Mt. Table Nom. Little Johnny, like all boys his age, is being dragged by his mother, Alice, to visit the family. “Holidays are all about being with family,” she says, trying her best to keep hold of Johnny. “But where’s dad! He’s not coming! And neither are Charlie and Jen!” Sad little Johnny; he woke up late this morning.



Robert was busy with his choir, singing all sorts melodies in an attempt to instill a feeling of warmth in the bitter, cold day. Robert is no stranger to bitterness; he’s not leading the life he aspired to live, but has to. Often, he parallels his life with that of Alice whenever she comes to church, carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. Everyone in Nomsburg knew of her marital problems; her husband, Tim, has pretty much been the catalyst in creating everyone else’s marital problems. Only problem with Robert is that he has to keep his problems to himself.



Meanwhile, Charlie and Jen are having a blast at the local fair, the only place in Nomsburg with a green patch of land. “Glad we woke up early,” cheered Charlie gleefully at his sister, “Imagine having to go see Aunt Betty.” Who would blame them? Aunt Betty is not exactly a role model for anything that’s good in the world; the only reason she’s not dead is because God doesn’t want her up there. “I know, good grief I would murder myself,” Jen replied dismissively. “Now give me that popcorn.” Fun times for Charlie and Jen. Sad little Johnny.



Stumpy (yes, the Gnome — you think I’d keep the little guy out?) has a nice life. Though everyone looks down on him — more than looking down at him — he’s actually a happy midget. He has no debt, he quarrels with no one, he has no Gnomette to make his life miserable, and more importantly, no one gives a shit about him so no one ever meddles in his life. Lucky midget.



Tim. Classy man with a refined taste in china, tea, tobacco, and hats — but not in women. He slept with everyone in Nomsburg except Alice… well of course he had to when Charlie and Jen had to be conceived. Not Johnny though; that sad little kid is a bastard. Poor little Johnny. Anyway, Tim had no intention of going to see Aunt Betty either; he believes she should stay in an asylum. Probably why she lives in Nomsburg.



In the bigger picture of things, though, Nomsburg is a charming, peaceful little place… until Johnny finds out who his real dad is anyway. But no one cares about his dad. He’s just a Gnome, after all.

Why I HATE Maths

Maths. It’s one of those subjects that strictly revolves around a love or hate reltionship: You’re either wired to love it or you’re not.

From what I have seen, most of my friends love maths because, according to them, solving a linear equations is like mental masturbation. They’re entitled to that and I have absolutely nothing against them, as long as they don’t try to inseminate my life with their shit.

I myself, if confronted with such a linear or polynomial problem, would resort to my iPhone.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am sure Maths has its uses, like waterboarding, and clearly it is the key selling point for calculators and Microsoft Excel (the latter of which can also replace waterboarding).

A little overdue history: I studied under the British system – that’s O and A Levels – and things were going well pre-O-Level years. Things were so good, in fact, I remember vividly in 8th grade I used to help students with their class problems after the teacher explains the lesson. In fact he got used to explaining rather quickly to sit down the remainder of the class while I jump from desk to desk helping students out with their Maths problems.


Then, by 9th grade, my life became a nightmare as my school rotated, within one year, five different maths teachers. That blew everyone off-course, and suddenly trigonometry stopped making sense. I managed, however, to pass, like most others.

By then I was required to “pick my future” – the medical field or the engineering field, and I picked medical. I wanted to be either a micro biologist or a geneticist. Out with all other subjects, I studied biology and chemistry, exclusively, and in excruciating detail, up to college.

Two buildings fell in New York and my parents decided not to ship me internationally, so they sent me close by to the UAE, and undertook computer science.


Now keep in mind my last exposure to Maths was 9th grade.

I struggled valiantly in college, I even almost failed PRE-Calculus, completely failed Calculus I and barely made it in Calculus II. The only reason I managed to pass Computational Methods (a course where you apply a formula 40 times) is because my professor’s daughter passed away before the final and he explicitly told us that he doesn’t want to see us in the following semester.

The only course I got a grade that’s not a C in Math was Discrete. Somehow it made perfect sense and I managed a B+.

So the question that begs to be asked: How did I manage to survive?


Instead of investing energy of trying to understand differentiation and integration, I managed to be able to deduce answers through observation. How I did this was as follows. I would look at solved problems in the book and through the notes. I would then form in my head a visual presentation of the symbols and the numbers. I then look at the next step in the solution, and visually map the symbols and transform the numbers from formula A to formula B. I do this with the next step, then the next.

I practice solving problems that are similar, using visual mapping to solve instead of actual how-to. I would look at different kinds of problems, with different number of variables and length, and make a mental map of how formulas transform.

Once in an exam my mind mapping failed, as there was an extra variable that I was unable to map. After mapping what I could, I came to a step and wrote in the exam: “imagine this chunk of formula is represented as X”. And then I continued solving LOL! I got partial marks and a smiley face on that paper.

And this is my short story of why I hate maths. And statistics of course, though I doubt that subject makes sense to anyone.


Jarjuiciyyat Vol. 3

The Grasshopper Incident

Me: O_______________________O
Sis: *walks in* what’s the matter?
Me: *points*
Sis: O_______________________O
Sis: Ok KJ we need to kill it.
Me: NO WAY! I am NOT going to kill that thing!
Sis: It’s in OUR BALCONY and I don’t want it IN MY HOUSE!
Me: FINE! But I am not going to squish it.
Sis: Whatever.
Me: *gets room scented spray*
Sis: What the HELL are you doing?!
Me: What if it smells when it dies!
Sis: It’s a GRASS hopper, it will just smell of GRASS!
Me: Psht! well then, I have an idea
Sis: What?
Me: You know cans, if you keep pressing, they get cold, and the spray gets cold
Sis: aha…
Me: so we will just FREEZE it! Then throw it outside to thaw and resume its life.
Sis: you want to freeze a grasshopper with a scented spray…
Me: think about it! It will not harm us, it will live, AND it will smell nice!
Sis: suit yourself…

the grasshopper died.

Finding a Home

Me: look what I bought! *points to brand new bicycle*
Sis: Where on EARTH are you gonna put it!
Me: here, in the kitchen
Sis: no no, no no no no no, this goes downstairs in the storage
Me: But it’s DARK down there and COLD!
Sis: KJ this is not the time for you to be you.
Me: What if Charlie gets –
Sis: Charlie? It has a name now?!
Me: What if Charlie gets a cold and he breaks down while cycling.
Sis: It’s a STUPID BIKE!
Me: O_O
Sis: And what the heck is THAT! *points to green ribbon*
Me: It’s a ribbon.
Sis: Why did they give you a ribbon!
Me: I asked for it.
Sis: O___O
Me: Well they didn’t wanna give me a discount so I said the least you could do is give me a ribbon!
Sis: Just… put it in the kitchen…

Plumbing Lies

Sis: *after 15 minutes of driving* um KJ
Me: yup?
Sis: I think the flush in my washroom is not working
Me: What?!
Sis: yeah water is always running it’s not stopping.
Me: You’re telling me this NOW?
Sis: I forgot I am sorry! Anyway it’s ok.
Me: What do you mean OK!
Sis: Well it’s not gonna flood the house!
Me: Well even if it doesn’t we will just waste gallons of water till we come back!
Sis: Ok “Mr Environmentalist”
Me: gsdkuhfspiuy! *drives back*

back at home

Me: It’s fine! It’s working fine!
Sis: Oh, sorry then, my mistake..
Me: *notices something different*
Sis: what?
Me: Did you… just change your shoes?
Sis: huh? Oh… tee hee!

Avoiding Bride Shopping v2009

It’s like a biological clock that mothers have. Though most women have their brains wired up quite loosely and everything is interconnected (and I am probably the only male like that), all women are born with an agenda that they stick to, regardless of everything. Items on the agenda include, but are not limited to:

  • dreaming of the Big Day with the White Dress
  • driving all guys insane until Mr. Right comes along
  • driving Mr. Right into financial/mental crisis
  • having kids from said man (career women can donate children to Brangelina)
  • tormenting kids through emotional blackmail throughout their lives

Now, I am not saying mom is a horrible person. Indeed she isn’t. Like all mothers, she is the best cook in the world, and the best mom in the world. And like all mothers, she wants to have her son married. Now.


Two years ago I avoided this bride shopping business by claiming that I just started my “career” path (which led me to the Forgotten Chapters of the Abnormal Psychology textbook) and that all the girls I knew were either hitched or a bit too young for me.

Last year, mom didn’t have the time to open the topic – to my surprise – though she repeatedly hinted through the mention of grandchildren or moving into a bigger apartment when I get married or, most importantly, growing up (ie getting rid of Moogle and my Xbox).

Mom was here (woohoo!) and that was the topic I dreaded most. Now that I don’t have a girlfriend it was quite a ripe moment to open the marriage topic. As usual I had to be eating first.

“Mama,” she said, “I need to talk to you… something serious.”

She caught me off-guard, with two weeks without her opening the topic, I thought it was something to do with dad’s diabetes or some terminal disease I have had since childhood. Reluctantly I swallowed what could be my last meal and gave her all my attention (that’s 5% brain capacity, 95% daydreaming of my funeral).


never discuss marriage over kibbeh

“I am just worried about you,” she said in a sombre tone. This was it. I must have been born with a pacemaker of a discontinued model and which batteries were obsolete. My 25th birthday was in a month. It was just like the manual said.

“Lifetime warranty” except that by lifetime they mean the product’s lifetime, not yours. This device’s lifetime was linked to mine and unless I am Iron Man with an extra pacemaker lying in a vacuum chamber somewhere there was no way out of my deathbed.

I shouldn’t have broken up with my girlfriend. At least she made my heart beat!

“Yes mom, everyone is worried about me,” I replied. I wasn’t lying – since I got unemployed everyone was worried about me. Oh dear, all my friends and family and acquaintances knew I was dying in a month and they were worried the post-getting-fired depression (which I didn’t have until everyone’s worrying rubbed off on me) would just stop my heart completely.

That also explained why my trainer did not want me to do lots of cardio. Even HE knew!

This must all be dad’s work. I dunno why or how but I need someone to blame and since my sis didn’t contribute to my birth, dad’s just easier to blame than mom.

“Yes well, I wanted to talk about your love life… are you still with that girl?”

She could have said “Are you still on life support?”

“No, we broke it off…” I gulped. Memories of the breakup rushed back. You know that site, Fuck My Life? If you read it you probably came across an entry that read “Today, my boyfriend called me to celebrate my birthday. Turned out he called to dump me. FML”. That was probably my ex right there posting it.

“Oh, that’s unfortunate,” mom said, “well that puts you in a tough situation…”

I’m dead anyways, what do I care? Right? Let me enjoy this last month of my life and let me be!

“Yeah,” I replied.

“Hmm, well, see, now that you are jobless,” she started, “no girl will ever consider you.” Then she gave me the Traditional Look of Exasperated Mothers. The one which says I cooked for you and raised you all these years so you can be jobless and unmarried!

“huh?” no this isn’t happening! Not again!

“I think you need a job. So we can find you a nice girl to get you married to.” She was quite enthusiastic at this point, equating job with marriage. I thought marriage is a job. Something to add on your CV. Marital status: Single (ie independent, confident); Marital status: Married (ie walkover, may ask for more money constantly to please woman).

“Look at you! You’re handsome, successful, charming, witty, weird, and intelligent. WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU!”


“Well anyway it’s something for you to consider. You should get married as soon as possible, like in two years or so.”

“Well mom,” I said, nonchalantly I might add, “that’s just brilliant, as I would have justfinished my Masters and would qualify for a better job, ergo, I would qualify for better girls.”

“Oh wonderful! It’s all settled then. Looks like I forgot to add black pepper to the kibbeh, I am so sorry! Is it OK? Should I do another batch for you? I need to freeze for you some. How does it taste like?”


“Oh, and, of course this is between you and me. Nothing on the internet like last time.”

“Of course!”