Thirty K

How much does it cost to transplant hair from the back of your head to your face? Today, I learned the answer, it’s a lot of money. Thirty thousand ringgit to be exact. Well, that’s if your face is as sparse as mine and you have dreams of rocking a full beard like you front an easycore band.

Beard Game Strong

How did I find out? If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, you would know my obsession to look like a pirate. On a side note, it’s unfair to call it an obsession since I didn’t try every single thing — exercising and diet are a thing. But I did try Minoxidil and if that didn’t work, nothing else will. I don’t have any more hair follicles on my face.

A couple of weeks ago, I googled facial hair transplant and stumbled upon a website of DHI Malaysia. It was “the best hair transplant clinic” according to its listing on Google Maps. I dicked around the website, and there was no mention of pricing. Saw a form to fill up for a free consultation and I did.

Earlier this week, I received a text from the company asking me when I was available for a meeting with them. I had completely forgotten about the clinic by then so I thought it was spam. I had to go back to the website to remind myself why I gave up my phone number.

Curiosity got the better of me and I set a date for the meeting, which took place this morning. The consultation went well, with the doctor telling me that Chinese men usually weren’t there to get a beard (I laughed). It was straightforward and they explained the process thoroughly — if you’re curious you can read about it here.

They extract hair follicles from another part of your body (the back of my head) and implant them where you’d like the hair to be (my face). The whole process takes a couple of days because it is done by hand. Imagine planting thousands of hairs by hand, I can’t.

Then for a few weeks, you’ll need to take care of your scalp and face while you recover. If everything goes well, you’ll have a glorious beard for the rest of your life. They had a surgeon come in to draw lines on my face to estimate how many hair follicles were needed for the transplant.

According to them, my ideal beard would require me to move 6,000 follicles. At RM7 per hair, the process would cost RM42,000. But they were willing to give me a big fat discount if I did the operation in June — from RM7 to RM5 per hair. 30,000 bones to look like a rock star with none of the talent.

I thanked them for the free consultation and went on my merry way. Am I willing to spend the price of a car on my face? Not right now. Maybe one day I’ll hit the lottery I don’t play and secure enough dough for the procedure.

Either way, it was an interesting morning I don’t regret. It’s always cool to learn new things. Thanks for reading my blog.

You Have A Lucky Face

“You have a lucky face,” said the stranger who approached me as I was walking out of Suria KLCC.

He was an Indian man, in his early thirties, dressed in a white shirt and jeans. I stared at him, puzzled.

“As if,” I thought to myself, adjusting my face mask while checking to make sure it was still on.

How would you know what my face looks like? You haven’t seen it before.

“Huh?” I said, pretending I didn’t understand him.

“Do you speak English?”

Fuck, I could have pretended not to speak English, I guess I’ll use that next time.

“Yeah”

“You have a lucky face.” As if saying it twice made a difference.

“It’s okay,” I waved him away before he could continue his next sentence. “I’m not interested.”

The man walked away, defeated.

I assumed it was a scam from the get-go and since learning my lesson, I’ve had no time for scammers. Nothing good ever comes from talking to strangers.

I shared the weird exchange with my friends and promptly forgot about it – until today. Seng Yip said the same thing happened to him in Publika this afernoon. No fucking way it wasn’t a scam.

I looked it up on the internet and found a bunch of results, including a blog post dating as far back as 2011, with a comment in 2017 about the same thing happening in KLCC. The biggest article I found was a news report from Australia about victims who fell for it.

This is how the con works: they approach you with that opening line to get your attention. They then talk to you, ask you questions, and deduce your answers by using mentalist tricks.

After using these theatrics to gain your trust, they pull out the big guns. They tell you that they need money for an orphanage back in India – preying on your sympathy. Or that you’ve got bad luck/health problems and if you give them money they’ll help you out (with their powers). If you refuse, you’ll die in a year. Sounds just as ridiculous as kickstarting a rap career, oh wait.

Seeing how it’s been going on for so long and is still around today, it must be a pretty successful tactic. It’s an elaborate scheme and requires a decent actor or conversationalist to pull off. Doubt it would work for uncharismatic people. While it takes a lot more effort than begging, it is actually scummy.

In this post-pandemic world where everyone has a face mask on, they’ll need to come up with better opening lines if they want to thrive. Perhaps something along the lines of, “Your hands are too big.”

“Too big for what?” you’ll ask.

“To hold deez nuts!” then they drop their trousers to show off their massive balls. While you stand there stunned, they grab your shit and run off. Not before pulling their pants up because they might trip otherwise.

Sea of Bodies

When I was younger, my family and I went to a New Year’s Eve party in the city. I can’t remember what year it was but it was long enough ago that I didn’t have a cellphone of my own (remember those days?).

Anyway, for some reason I let go of my mom’s hand in the sea of people at the countdown. Within a matter of seconds, I was lost in the crowd. A tiny young boy, all alone but surrounded by people. I wasn’t tall enough to see past the hundreds of heads around me to find her. There was nowhere to climb for a better view.

I cried my eyes out. Eventually I borrowed a concerned stranger’s phone to call my mom. Couldn’t get through to her phone (there were that many people in the area, the networks were overloaded) so that was futile. I had no idea what else to do. We didn’t agree on a meeting point in case any of us got lost. I didn’t even know the way back to the car to wait for them. I thought I was separated from my family forever. I can vaguely remember what that felt like.

I returned the phone, thanked the stranger, and started wandering around, looking for a familiar face. At this point, fireworks were going off, welcoming the new year. While everyone around me cheered and celebrated, I didn’t revel in their joy. I was just a teary-eyed boy stumbling through the crowd, lost and miserable.

I didn’t know how long it took, but by some stroke of luck, I found my aunt in the crowd. She didn’t even know I was missing! I held on to her until the end of the night when she brought me back to my family. I had never been so happy to see them again.

Because it all ended well, my family didn’t think much of it. To them, I had only disappeared for a brief moment. To me, at that time, it was one of the worst experiences of my life. Maybe I’m being dramatic, but I was just a kid.


I’m not sure why I decided to recount the tale, but it came to mind today as I was making my way through a crowd of people at a night market. Was that incident so many years ago the first manifestation of my disdain for crowds? Possibly. At least it’s not so bad these days. I’m now tall enough to look over other people’s shoulders and I usually have a cellphone with me. I still stand at the back of the hall during gigs – not because I’m too cool to hang with other kids – I prefer the space a lot more.

An Ear Full of Wax

Last Friday, I woke up in the morning with my right ear muted. I had no idea what caused it – I only know that there was something wrong with it. Sound was really soft in that ear. I initially thought that it would go away after a few hours, but nothing changed. In the afternoon, I visited a doctor who had a look inside my ear and told me that it was blocked with wax. Strange. Especially since my left ear was clear, and I had been cleaning both the same way ever since I was young (using cotton buds).

He recommended that I visit the pharmacy to pick up some drugs to soften the ear wax in the ear so that it can be washed out. I listened to his advice, so on Friday night, the whole of Saturday and Sunday, I kept using the ear wax softener. Unfortunately, it didn’t help. There were occasions when yawning would bring temporary relief to my right ear, but a few seconds later, it was back to being muted.

I was getting really annoyed by it, so when Monday came around and it wasn’t any better than it was on Friday, I decided to pay an ENT doctor a visit. He plopped me down onto a chair after I explained the situation, and he turned on a monitor in front of me. First he stuck this microscope into my left ear to see if it was fine – it was. Perfectly clean. No traces of wax stuck inside my ear hole. At this point, I was thinking to myself – what if there was nothing in my right ear hole and it was just damaged? Would I have to spend the rest of my life being deaf in one ear?

Boy, was I relieved when he plugged the camera into my right ear to show me what he suspected it would be. And boy, was it disgusting. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the inside of your own ears before – for me, it was an eye-opening experience. I wouldn’t recommend you google it but I won’t stop you if you want to.

The doctor told me that my right ear hole was clogged, so he used a tiny vacuum to suck the wax out of my ear. It didn’t hurt, but man the sound was loud, and the feeling of the vacuum pulling the wax off the walls of the ear hole felt very uncomfortable.

After the whole ordeal was over (I think it took less than five minutes – shorter than the amount of time I had to wait to register at the front desk), it wasn’t clear that my hearing was back to normal. I had been so used to the muted right ear for the past three days that I think my brain just ignored whatever sound that was picked up by my right ear.

What a way to end the year (with another visit to the hospital). Heh. Since that day, I’ve decided to change my ear cleaning methods – no more cotton buds for me. Using your towel to wipe the outside of your ears after showering is good enough, apparently. So that’s what I’ll be doing from now on. Hopefully I’ll never have to experience a blocked ear again.

Music and Memories

Today, I was wondering about how why music can evoke such vivid and powerful memories, so I did a quick search and found this article that I found very interesting. TL;DR: our brains are better at recalling memories when we have something to guide it with i.e. music. It is why we learn through songs as children (remember A-B-C-D?).

One of my most vivid music-related memories – even though it happened so many years ago – was my first dance with a girl. It was way back when I was in GIS, at a school dance. Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On was playing while I was standing by the side of the hall, like a chump, working up the balls to ask my crush for a dance. I managed to do it halfway through the song, after the first chorus, so I only got to dance with her for the remaining half. I was elated that night. Probably the happiest I had ever been up to that point in my life. And now, whenever I hear that song, memories of that night come rushing back, and I can’t help but smile to myself like an idiot.

Another song would be Aaron Kwok’s Dui Ni Ai Bu Wan. I remembered loving the song as a kid. I sang along to the chorus (because I didn’t know any of the other words) every time I heard it on the radio or TV. But that’s not all. There was one time, we had some relatives over, and for some reason I had agreed to put on a show for them. I remember before the performance, I spent a few minutes in the bathroom styling my hair with a comb and some gel. I don’t know why I did it – I wasn’t even dressed nicely. I probably had on some home clothes or pajamas but it didn’t matter. My mom put the song on and I danced my heart out. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t good, but I received applause for trying.

Where’s your mama gone? Where’s your papa gone? Middle of the Road’s Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep evokes memories of a time when my late uncle was still around. He used to take me and my elder sister out all the time and we’d always be listening to songs on the radio. That song was one of the few songs we could sing along to. One of our favorite pastimes would be sitting through those drive-thru car washes. There was just something magical about high pressured water being blasted at you while you were protected behind glass. And then all the washers spinning around wiping the car dry. I also fondly remember watching those little orange balls spinning around at pump stations whenever he had to fill up his car with gas.

Isn’t it interesting how music and memories is an alliteration as well?

Cellphone Memories

It’s hard to get lost anymore. I remember back in the days when we didn’t own GPS devices or have smartphones, finding a place you hadn’t been to before being such a daunting task. You’d have to ask for landmarks, which roads to use, and so on. You’ll even get traffic information to help you plan what time you should leave home. Last time we’d have to meet at a common point and convoy together to a destination. Now, we just look it up on the internet and send the address to people. They’ll find a way to get there.

Before cellphones, we’d have to schedule appointments using our home phone and head to the meeting point at the right time. If a person was late, there was nothing to do but wait around because there was no way to get in touch with them once they left home.

I remember making phone calls to home using a payphone in school to inform my mom I’ll be home late. Sometimes the payphone wouldn’t accept my coins and I’d have to run around scrounging for change from other people or the canteen. If the phone call was unanswered, I would have no other way to inform her.

That was solved when my parents got cellphones, but I remember they charged like a ringgit a minute, so calls would frequently cut off because I didn’t have enough coins. That was partially solved with phone cards. I don’t remember if they could be topped up or you had to replace them. Either way, most of the time I was stuck with coins.

I remember my first phone that wasn’t a hand me down – the Nokia 3310. Man, that phone was the shit. I think I used it for five years. Snake 2 all day, every day. I was also a fan of customization back then, with phone shells (you literally replaced the plastic of the phone, you didn’t use phone covers to customize your phone back then). I swapped batteries and even changed the LED colors once.

I guess you could say I’m a big fan of customization. That trait has carried on with me throughout my life, manifesting in different forms. Now it’s the homescreen for my Android phone, cosmetics for Dota 2 heroes and keycaps for my keyboards.

The first time I was mugged, I lost my Nokia 7610 – my first color screen phone. It was a hand me down from my sister. I only had it for about a week before the mugging incident. That event traumatized me for a bit (I was constantly looking over my shoulder every time I was walking in public and crossing roads so I didn’t have to walk past strangers). I liked that phone. I enjoyed listening to music and playing games on it. It made Chinese New Year gatherings less boring.

My first smartphone, the HTC G2, was stolen from me. People like my phones? Or thieves aren’t very choosy. I’m not sure. Fortunately my phones haven’t been stolen from me in a while, and I hope it remains that way.

56100 Memories

I read that memories are much easier to recall if they have strong emotional attachments to them. I remember feeling abandoned because there was once, my mom didn’t pick me up on time after school. Almost everybody else had left and I was one of the few kids remaining. I was close to tears, and then my mom showed up. She was late because of traffic or she forgot the time to pick me up.

There was another incident when I left my school bag on the shelf outside the toilet before I went in to use it. When I came back out, my bag was gone. Somebody had taken it. Along with my school books. I felt really sad that day. Being a victim of theft. I’m pretty sure I cried while explaining what happened to my mom.

I remember the feeling of being lost looking for my seat at lunch. Back then, your parents could opt you in for prepaid lunches in school. You’d be assigned a number at a table, and during lunch time you’d sit and eat the food on the table. However, at the beginning of each school term, the numbers would change and your first day would be spent looking for where your seat was. I don’t remember talking to anybody during lunch time though. Lunches were probably unmemorable occasions for me.

When I was in primary one, I remember a classmate asking me, “hey, do you want to see my peanuts?” I was puzzled, and asked him “what do you mean?” The next thing I knew, he pulled up one leg of his shorts and pulled his underwear aside to show me his balls. Due to the pressure of the elastic pressing against them, it made the testicles look like nuts. We both burst out laughing. I guess I appreciated toilet humor from a young age. I’m not sure where he went after school, we didn’t keep in touch. I don’t remember anything else about him, yet I can recall that memory without any effort.

Back when we were kids, it was all about who could run the fastest as a measure of how cool you were. A lot of our recess games involved running. Tag, cops and robbers, fire and ice, and so on. It wasn’t uncommon for kids to challenge each other to races. I have a scar on my knee which is a constant reminder of a stupid downhill race I had with a friend (our school was on a steep hill). I don’t remember winning it, but I do remember tripping and falling, and the aftermath of cuts and blood all over my legs. It was a painful memory.

I remember attending my first funeral. It was my grandmother’s. I don’t remember feeling sad, because I was having fun with my cousins. We played with bottle caps and folded hell paper into airplanes. I also remembered the scent of the joss sticks and the smoke that made my eyes tear. Maybe I was too young at that time and nobody told me what had really happened.

I remember the first time watching the pilot episode of Adventure Time. I was so happy that there was a cartoon I clicked with on all levels. I had never seen anything like it before. I re-watched it many times that week, and recommended it to all my friends. It made me really happy. I think that was also the moment when I realized that cartoons could have jokes for adults without being crude or vulgar.

I remember spending a week in the hospital when my fever didn’t go away for a long time. It wasn’t very interesting. All I did was wake up for crappy meals and medication, watching videos on my tablet, playing a bit of guitar when there was nobody else in the room and going to bed early. I remembered my first cigarette after being discharged. I felt light-headed and couldn’t even finish the stick.

I’ll never forget the first time I consumed ash. It was at my cousin’s house party. I was young and couldn’t drink beer then, only shandy. I saw a can of shandy on the table that I thought was mine. Without second thought, I lifted the can and poured its contents into my mouth. Immediately I could tell something was wrong. Somebody had used it as an ashtray and I had a mouth full of ash. I spat it out and never touched another can of shandy again that day. I felt disgusted.

Latent Rage

A couple of months ago, I was in my car on the way to work when I encountered some obnoxious pedestrians. They were trying to cross the road while they were wrong. Here in KL it’s a pretty regular occurrence, and I don’t have any issues with it because those people usually know that they are wrong. But if there’s one kind of person that’s more annoying than the wrong pedestrian, it’s the wrong pedestrian who thinks they’re right.

It’s kind of difficult to put into words what happened, so I’ve illustrated a diagram to make things clearer:

Full image

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Airport hues

It’s been awhile since I had to spend an extended period of time at an airport. The last time this happened was when I was in Japan. I had arrived after midnight, and there were no more trains and buses out from the airport. I had no choice but to wait until the first bus of that day.

I remember walking around the airport aimlessly. Almost everything was closed so there was nothing much to see. Nobody else was walking around. People were all strewn across chairs or on the floor, sleeping. Waiting for their next flight or like me, a bus out of the airport. I managed to find an open restaurant and bought a bowl of Udon noodles to fill my empty stomach. After that, I just loaded up Twitch on my iPad and watched some games to pass the time.

Fast forward a few years later and we have me in a similar situation. Waiting for my connecting flight to Heathrow, sitting at a Shake Shack, listening to some tunes by Dance Gavin Dance and typing out this post. Dubai’s airport is a hell lot busier at this hour. It is brightly lit, there are tons of people walking around in search of food, a place to rest, their departure gate, or just walking because it’s better than sitting around.

I was sitting alone until 5 minutes ago when this stranger just took up the seat on the table connected to mine. I didn’t acknowledge him. Not that I needed to. He was a person looking for a place to sit, like me. I don’t think I’ll engage in conversation with him. According to my laptop’s clock, it should be 5am in Malaysia now. I would be asleep at this hour. However, I slept almost the whole flight earlier so I’m not tired.

It was an uneventful flight. I watched This Is Spinal Tap for the first time. I fell asleep about 20 minutes from the end of the movie so I’ll probably finish it later. I had the aisle seat, which I didn’t mind at first until I realized it meant that I would have to give way to the two passengers next to me if they wanted to use the toilet. Good thing it only happened once. I would’ve been annoyed if I had to do it a few times.

The food was pretty good. I had some chicken curry and rice. And carrots and long beans. And a piece of chocolate. Oh, for some reason I received two prawn salads. I didn’t complain. Also ate some bread sticks. Had a lot of water. A glass of gin and tonic.

When I was sleeping, I kept feeling my hands getting wet. I have no idea if I was sweating or it was just in my head. But it was a weird sensation. I did drool a lot. One of the passengers next to me had a strange laugh. She sounded like she was going to die. I just put on my headphones to listen to the Giant Bomb podcast and ignored her. I pulled my beanie over my face and fell asleep.

My flight to the UK departs in about an hour. Great. I’m looking forward to freeze my balls off.

Oh, 70 AED = RM85, I found out today. Priciest fast food I’ve ever paid for in my life. At least it’s cheaper than rap CDs.

MPEG-2 Audio Layer III stories

MPEG-1 and/or MPEG-2 Audio Layer III,[4] more commonly referred to as MP3, is an audio coding format for digital audio which uses a form of lossy data compression. It is a common audio format for consumer audio streaming or storage, as well as a de facto standard of digital audio compression for the transfer and playback of music on most digital audio players and computing devices. [Wikipedia]

One of the best things about the internet is the amount of entertainment available for people to consume at any time. With a quick search and a click of a button, your favorite artists’s latest song can be playing in your ears in seconds. Compressed music is one of my favorite things about the internet. Without the internet, my music library would be a thousand times smaller than what it is right now. There’d be so many bands and singers I would have missed out on because they don’t get any airplay on radio over here.
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