Happy 2004

New Year with Gil Katie Sheila Sonu & Monu‘llo all – Happy New Year and all the good things that come with it to you all. Had a great holiday in Malaysia, although far from a white Christmas (much more multi-cultural there. And of course, most of my family are varying shades of brown).

Three main bits to my holiday; Christmas, obviously, New Year, and, on Dec 21st… The Return of the King! The much awaited third Lord of the Rings film saw us check in to the Mandarin Oriental hotel, where my siblings and about 17 first cousins and one or two stray aunts got together and watched The Two Towers, played games, shopped at KLCC (a BIG mall) and eventually got to the cinema for the 3 hour extravaganza that was Peter Jackson’s final instalment in the series. Review coming, no doubt, on my flashy new ‘reviews’ blog (use the main navigation to get to reviews, or click here).

Christmas was a family affair; Christmas Eve at hour house, playing games, singing carols and having Punjabi Claus hand out the gifts at midnight. Arvind, in his MBA-isdom, decided on a ‘push’ rather than ‘pull’ system for gift distribution. That didn’t work too well, but eventually the gifts got around and there was much happiness. My haul included a batch of books, hence my motivation to get the reviews page finally up and running, if only so I can keep a log of my reading and film-watching.

New Year’s was spent with friends; Gil & Katie’s Australasian excursion ending up in Singapore/Malaysia, so, following two days of ‘tours’ around major KL malls, we ended up in Bangsar; an expatriate (and apparently Indian)- favoured drinking area in KL, where we visited a couple of bars and rang in the new year several times with a crew of several thousand crazy Malaysian Indians with spray streamers and other party favours. It was surreal, fun and ended with a slightly scary encounter with a psychotic taxi driver, who kept saying to me (and my Malay is shaky, so if there’s an alternate translation I’m not aware of, please do let me know): “tiga orang dah mati, say tak salah, saya tak salah”. My translation has this as “three people are dead, it’s not my fault, it’s not my fault”. He then proceeded to drive us home at about 120km/h in a 50 zone… Yowza.

So a good season; returned to more job applications, another bout of tonsillitis, and various new year’s resolutions concerned with healthy eating and exercise. Resolutiontastic.

Of course a lot more stuff happened over the holidays; my encore classical guitar was destroyed by Malaysian airlines, a replacement Yamaha C-40 was acquired, my cousins and I performed with professional singers an an orphans charity brunch, the Abbalorious SPSetia dinner, the lambtastic Christmas eve dinner, driving like the devil and shopping like it was 1999… All good.

Christmas Time

James gets funkylicious
Well, the party was a lot of fun. I think everyone had a good time, certainly James seems to have done. No one paid much attention to my Christmas number 2 (Pob has the Christmas number 1 – check out www.melodyfactory.com), but fortunately for the world, you can download it here. I’m off now for the holidays but will be back in the New Year. Have a good one, everybody.

In Absentia

It’s been a pretty busy and stressful couple of months. Job applications, work experience, tidying up the MA, participating in the creation of a whole new language and group-psychology based entirely on injokes: there’s not been a lot of time for even idle blogging.

But, it’s Christmas now, and I’ve been trying to get a rant out onto the site for a few days now; something lambasting the symbolic non-event Christmas has begun, a tool for marketers and a time when innocent consumers get kicked in the wallet for caring about other people, or at least how other people perceive them. I have, however, failed for any number of reasons.

First and foremost among them, though: I am not a cynic. No matter how hard I try to see the world through jaded eyes, my rose-tinted spectacles keep falling over my face and I keep trusting and hoping beyond hope for the best in people. Only it’s not beyond hope, and every year I get infused with Christmas spirit and turn into a hyperactive zealot for (non-denominational) good cheer.

And I’m a consumer, and I know the con, and I still go out and spend money on decorations and booze and candles and presents and Christmas music; I’m throwing a party and celebrating first with my adoptive family – my friends, a substantial number of whom were at College with me – and then with my literal family. When I get back to Malaysia next Thursday, we’re going to spend a lot of time shopping, and singing, and eating, and hanging out in each other’s houses; and watching the new Lord of the Rings movie with about 16 first cousins. It’s pretty exciting.

Merry Christmas y’all. Have some good tidings, yuletide cheer and mince pies on me. There may be more ‘blogs over the season; there’s going to be photos from the part-ay tonight and it might be necessary to put some of them on display. We will see… – Oh, and look out for my Christmas single, coming soon to a website near you!

AFTA all that, 2020?

Warning: this is marginally less egocentric than my earlier posts.

The world of politics is as disillusioning and frustrating as ever. Today, there was massive hullaballoo in South East Asia as, amidst high security on the beautiful island of Bali in Indonesia, 10 of the region’s political leaders signed an agreement that promised, amongst other things, an Asean free trade zone by 2020.

The Western Press are presumably unaware the the Malaysian government had promised its people the Asean-Free-Trade-Agreement would be in place by 2005, and with that the implication that the various bits of anti-competitive economic practice would come to an end. (Malaysia’s 300% import duty on cars among other things, which gives the local brand, Proton, a ridiculous advantage)

Instead, we’re all chuffed that at least there’s a promise of a new, tax free tomorrow in 2020. Coincidentally [as if] the same year the current, outgoing Prime Minister of Malaysia wants to see his country enter the first world – given that he’ll be 95 if a day then, it seems unlikely he’ll see a great deal.

Oh, and the buggers, despite having said they’d chuck Burma out of Asean if the Burmese government in June if they continued to hold the democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, don’t think they’ve reached the last resort yet.

I think I’ll join Amnesty. You can donate here if you feel so inclined.

Holy rusting metal, Batman… a song?

Sexy Armand on GuitarYes, folks, I’ve done it. I’ve put aside what remained of my shame, and written, played, sung and otherwise performed a song, which I’ve recorded and uploaded, in a fit of narcissism. Click here to go to it.

Thus, affirm me. Tell me I’m talented and amazing. Or don’t tell me anything, because if you give the song the criticism it probably richly deserves, you’re gravely misunderstanding the reasons I write: for fun, for learning the skills necessary to record, and so people can be polite about it and discretely enquire about my day-job.

Holy mama, there’s a competition

Mmmm. Caramelly
Hey all you big and little dawggs out there, scoping out my site and keeping hip with what’s hip with the aceman, I have a competition now. It’s not a good competition by any means, but it may well provide us all with some entertainment, and lots of silly pics.

The idea is that you email me silly pics, preferably of mutual friends, and definitely where you own the copyright, and also provide a silly caption. Then, at at the end of an as yet undetermined period of time, I’ll buy one of you a mars bar. Or a drink. Or a better prize if I get really bored, decide to turn this website into a career and find a sponsor.

Incidentally, if you thought this site was demonstrative of an unspeakable quantity of self-love the likes of which have never been seen, then you should (a) listen to the Robbie Williams song ‘Handsome Man’ and (b) go here.

What’s there to a name?

BaywatchMy Name, ‘Armand Richard David’, has an interesting and excellent history. How it came to me is relatively simple, and of some interest.

‘Armand’ was selected for its similarity to ‘Arvind’ – the name of my-brother- who-wanted-a-clone – and I think its vague Indian-soundingness must have appealed to my parents. ‘Richard’ came to me, again because of my brother, but this time because of his fondness of ‘Richie Rich‘ – I stress, my brother was only five when I came to be, so let’s not judge him too harshly.

“David” has the best origin. That name came to us, so one of the stories goes, because my brahmin-hindu great grandfather in India converted to Christianity so he would be allowed to trade in livestock.

Of course, my name is not unique. In the 19th century there lived a French priest called ‘Armand David’ – he saved some deer, apparently, and this act of apparently secular environmentalism has left him with a legacy; Pere David’s deer.

My name is not, however, French. Nor is it Indian, although it bears some similarity to the Sanskrit ‘Aman’, in form and in pronounciation, which means peace. Its origin is Teutonic; the old german ‘Herman’ was warped over the years by the Danes to ‘Armand’. Herman, and therefore ‘Armand’ by its descent, means ‘Man of War’ – from the German ‘Her Mann’ (which in modern German would translate as ‘Mr Man’ – a translation I prefer’).

Names, I like to think, have a certain power. I have, over the years, through any number of mispronounciations and vulgarisations of my name, acquired any number of nicknames, none of which have ever lasted. I acquired another name through an arcane Christian ritual; ‘Justin’, too, has not taken to me.

I am thus, and ever will be, Armand.

Egotism 1.0

moi An ego is a precious and delicate thing, and the more arrogant a person appears, often the more fragile their self-esteem. This is slightly true even of one as obviously attractive and talented as I; and the purpose of this website, insofar as it has or needs one, is to provide a vent for those somewhat excessive energies and make me more tolerable in person.

Further, I write fiction and streams of consciousness (‘articles’, for want of a better term), and attempt to compose music, all of which will hopefully find its way onto the site. I will relay anecdotes, sometimes accompanied by photos, always laden with an articulate wit the like of which has rarely been seen.

Who am I? “I’m the Dude! That’s what you call me, you know… That or His Dudeness, Duder, El Duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing…”

Send fanmail or comments to me at website@armand.co.uk.