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Saturday, July 31, 2010

-AkMaR- http://nur-akmar.blogspot.com

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Just Some Thoughts

Assalammualaikum.
My holiday is coming to an end, urrggh...
Starting from next week, I'll have to go to hospital every weekdays, to fulfil the syllabus requirement and also to get my own scoops of experience. =)
Although the classes will only be officially starting 3 weeks from now, I already have to bid goodbye to those free weekdays I had.

I had more than 10 books to be read for this holiday, but I've managed to finish only 2! =.="
The latest book was The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards.
Although the book has a very slow moving plot, it also comes with wonderful descriptions of the atmosphere, the settings and the emotions.





Let me just type out a paragraph of the novel,
But then he noticed the error, the dull truth rising up and fitting just where he'd expected it, in that hollow place just below his ribs: the name on the letter was not his. The address was right, and every other detail from his date of birth to his social security number - all these were correct. And his first two names, David for his father and Henry for his grandfather, those were fine as well, typed precisely by a secretary who had perhaps been interrupted by a phone call, by a visitor. Or maybe it was only the lovely spring air that made her look up from her work, dreaming herself into the evening, her fiance there with flowers in his hands and her own heart trembling like a leaf. Then a door slammed. Footsteps sounded, her boss. She started, drew herself together and back into the present. Blinking, she hit the return carriage and went back to work.

David Henry she had typed already, correctly.
But his last name, McCallister, had been lost.
He had never told anyone.........................
Got what I meant? The author even described how the typist came to write the main character's name wrongly, and how the mistake was carried on till the last breath of Dr David Henry. And she did it so beautifully, it didn't bore me at all, it fascinated me instead.

This story was about Dr David Henry, who was forced to deliver his own wife's twin in a snowy night in 1964.
The first baby was a healthy boy, but the second one was a girl with Down's Syndrome. As a doctor himself, he spotted the classical Mongoloid features at once and knew the prognosis of that girl; flaccid muscle tone, delayed growth and mental development, possible heart complications, early death. And so he decided to send that baby away, to a centre where at those time all the other kids with the same syndrome are sent to.
For him, he was trying to save his wife from the grief of rearing a retarded child, what more with the high possibility of heart defects. And so he told his wife that their daughter had died, as a blue baby.
And he had to live with that dark secret of giving their daughter away for the rest of his life, tearing apart his family, affecting his wife and the growth of their normal son.

It was no doubt a heart-wrenching story but I was gripped to it even from the very first chapter.
It may be because the main character was a doctor, that made me felt somewhat attached to him.
Or maybe the character of Dr David Henry resembled so much of someone I know, but yet at the same time was different from him in a lot other ways.

I often found myself absorbed in the stories I read. It's fascinating to know that there are lots of stories out there, and even though all these novels I read were written by someone, an author who made themselves money while writing, it certainly is not impossible to have someone who really have that  kind of life.
There are hundreds, thousands, millions of people out there.
We would never know if there is a Dr David Henry living out there, or Kezia St Martin from Passion's Promise by Danielle Steel or even Emma Corrigan from Can You Keep A Secret? by Sophie Kinsella.

And it was often hard for me to not bring the story into real life.
Sometimes, I even grieved for the death of one of the characters, the grief of the people in the story, or regretting the mistakes the character in the story did, for days or even a considerably longer period after finishing the story.
And I know this does not happen only to me, but to every passionate readers, and even actors and actresses of emotional movies, as proved in one of question asked in an interview with Kim Edwards, the author of The Memory Keeper's Daughter.

Q: The Memory Keeper's Daughter, while ultimately redemptive and hopeful, reveals much of the dark side of the human experience. Actors often talk about how working on a very painful role can affect their psyche; others speak of being simply able to let it go and not have the work affect their daily lives. As a writer, how does working on such a heart-wrenching story affect your own state of mind? When you stop writing, are you able to let it go?
See, even writers might find it hard to let the story go after writing it.
And that explained why I kept thinking of what Dr David Henry did wrong, and what was the consequences of him giving his daughter away; it made him live in guilt. He can't face his wife and his son, and his secret created his wife's.

And most of the time I found myself equating the people I know in real life with the characters, just so I can understand why did these people in real life acted the way they did. Lucas John in Passion's Promise served years in prison and it turned him into a fighter, someone who had gone through the worst days in his life, and a bitter, secretive person too. And whenever I came across anyone, whom I think had gone through awfully bad times, I remembered Lucas John and wondered if this same person I met would act like how Lucas John acted; bitter, closed up, accepted the way his life was but in the same time longing for a normal life.

Sometimes I think I'm living in a fantasy world, a world of stories and novels where everyone knows exactly what they are doing. And sometimes, tried to react to an issue like how the characters reacted; building my personality based on the novel. And I couldn't find anything wrong with it. I mean, most of the stories are logical, they might be people like that in this planet, we'll never know. Very rarely, the stories are fantasies eg the Twilight Saga where Edward Cullen, the handsome vampire do not live in this world, and there are no Bella Swan torn in between a human-wolf and a vampire but I know, there certainly are one girl out there, whose parents have divorced and she moved to live her father when her mother has a new boyfriend. Though she might not meet a new classmate as mysterious and cool as Edward, neither having an old friend as warm and pleasant as Jacob, she faces just the very same conflict Bella is facing, the divorce of parents and having to move into a state she really hates.

At 14, I did not want to drive at all. I said I prefer taking public transport EVERYWHERE I go, it was safer for me. I had too many experience of car accidents with my mum (thank God those were all minor accidents). But at 19, I was driving everyday to and from campus and almost everywhere I go, and I only take public transport when I do not know where to park eg when I go KLCC, as the parking is so so sooo expensive.

So now at 20, I'd say life is just like a novel. There are a lot of teachings in a novel where one can learn from, and not repeating the same mistake. There are also lots of examples one can follow in novels, like Aisha in Ayat-Ayat Cinta is a good example of a Muslim lady, facing the cruelty of the false accusation towards her husband.
And I'm glad I like to read, because it teaches me how to live in this world.
But who knows, a decade from now I might say novels are just fantasies, written by people who just want to earn their livings by putting up an imaginary lives which most people yearn for but will never happen in reality.

With this, I end this post.

p/s: I have a lot more to say, but can't seem to put them in words. And I think this post is already long enough. =p

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Vacation Trip Part III

Assalammualaikum.
Please spend some time read the part I and II first, thank you. =)

Well, in the first two parts I talked mostly about facts. They were almost like my online daily journal. In this part, I'll be reflecting my visit to the land symbolised by Garuda, Indonesia.

POPULATION
Jakarta, being one of the most populated cities in the world was totally different compared to Malaysia. Jakarta itself has 22mil population while the whole Malaysia has only 27mil. I can't really find the exact ranking of Jakarta in the list of densely populated cities (bcos different sources gave diff ranks) but it is still densely populated. There were huge number of motors in the city. At a traffic light, within one minute, the front line will be full of motorbikes, and I really mean FULL.

TRANSPORTATION
As told by my cousin, statistics showed that each family in Jakarta has an average of 3 motorbikes, and motors are the main form of transportation over there. And really, i take my hat off to the bikers in Jakarta. They can ride the bike in a straight line. The houses there have narrow roads in between them, and cars could not go in. Even to walk two person side-by-side is considerably difficult. But the bikers there can easily ride on the narrow lanes without putting their feet on the ground, not even when there was a pedestrian they have to share the lane with.

And there were really lots of taxis and vans as public transport. I couldn't remember having to wait for a long time for public transport, unlike waiting for bus in Malaysia where you could stand for 30mins waiting for bus. Even though the condition of the public transports in Malaysia is better (most of the seats in the bus there have holes in them) but there were a lot more transports there). But I'm not comparing with the LRT system we have here, I know those are very fast and far better.

And there really weren't many sedans over there. Most of the vehicles were either motorcycles or MPVs. Grand Livina, Avanza and Innova are popular there. I've never spotted any Kancil or Kelisa. Not even Proton Saga. But I saw one Proton Waja made as taxi.

TRAFFIC
My my, the traffic in Jakarta is very very heavy.
There wasn't one place that I visit without undergoing a traffic jam. Though I might once in a while complaint about the heavy jam in KL, I'm glad that it's not as bad as in Jakarta.

And people say the traffic in the morning and evening, at the commencement and ending of working hours were horrible. Cars may get stucked in the jam for hours. And I somehow managed to avoid that. Mainly because I wasn't on the road at peak hours.

FOOD
In my housing area in Malaysia, one will have to start the car engine and drive out to find food. But in my cousins' houses, food stalls are everywhere. One just need to walk out of the house. They have lots of little food stalls selling variety of food.

Stall selling Siomay Bandung

And there were lots warkop (Warung kopi) @ coffee shop, warteg (warung tegar) @ simple eating place and some other roadside stalls. In Malaysia, there are not many eating places by the roadside, unless you go to Chow Kit or Kg Baru or anywhere that area. I'm not saying which is better, this is just a difference.

LANGUAGE
I was the only Malaysian in the society I mixed with over there. Thus, all of us needed to put on our "understanding" mode and try to understand each other. It's funny whenever Verni said something in Indonesian and I don't understand that, she'll have to find all other synonyms and if I still do not understand, she'll find the English word for it or if she couldn't find one, she'll just act it out. And I need to do the same. When I told my aunt that my mum and brother had flu (selsema), she couldn't understand the word "selsema". So I sneezed a few times to act it out then, she understood. Though it's difficult, it's actually fun and enjoyable!

And when we do our shopping, I didn't say much. Because I know once I open my mouth, people will know that I'm not local. And I might not get the best price. And this beloved cousin of mine, Verni is a killer in slashing price. So she did all the talking. And she managed to get very very cheap things for me. She can pretend to walk off the shop then the salesgirl will desperately call us back and say she'll give us that price Verni asked for. Hahahaha... How nice!

There are a lot more language differences but I don't think I can write them all here. It's best to experience it yourself. =)

FRIENDS
I tried to find time to visit my INTEC friends studying in Jakarta Barat but due to the lack of time, I couldn't get to visit them. But nevermind, I can still meet them when they come home to Malaysia insyaAllah =)

And Verni brought me out for an outing with her friends to Puncak. I get to know Idam, Adit, Anti, Dedi and May. Well, I'm not sure if I spelled their names correctly but I'm glad I get to know them. Though mostly I don't really understand them and they don't understand me. Hahah...

There was once, while in traffic jam someone came to our car window and tried to sell his cookies (yes, there are people walking around selling food in the middle of traffic jam over there) and I sincerely thought that person was selling nuggets! They all laughed at me. Apparently that man was selling "Gemblong", a type of traditional food that looked exactly like nuggets, colour and shape alike.


FAMILY
Now, this is the best part.
This 12 days trip of mine allowed me to re-connect with all my families which I have only be contacting via internet all these while.
I've been only seeing their faces in facebook, chatting with them on YM, or maybe sometime video calls.

But seeing them in reality was a totally different issue, and feelings.
I can't deny that I was feeling really really nervous even few days before flying to Jakarta. I was worried if I can't communicate well due to the language barrier. I was worried that my attitude might not suit them. I was worried I might not have anything to talk about.
I was also worried I might turn into a shy, quiet girl over there. And my mum cracked into laughter at that worry of mine. She said I'll NEVER turn shy and quiet. Ugh, mean!

When I landed in Soekarno-Hatta Airport, I was worried I might not recognise Verni because the last time I saw her was almost 10 yrs ago and I've only been seeing her through monitors ever since. Luckily she recognised me and waved and I walked to her.

I went to my second aunt's hse on the first night and I didn't recognise my aunt! I felt so bad and made the excuse of it being dark thus I couldn't see her properly.

Meeting my other cousin brothers was another thing. I've never met some of them and it was awkward. In Malaysia I'm the eldest grandchild. I have lots of little cousins under me, who during Raya will call me "Kakak". And I have no elder brother or sister, I've never had the feeling of having someone older than me. But over there, I am the second youngest. I have 4 elder cousin brothers, Verni's slightly older than me and Zora is 4 yrs younger than me. So it was a whole new thing for me. And when we went out together, I felt so proud that I wanted to tell everyone "This is my elder cousin brother!".
Ugh, what a freak.

From left, Abg Hendra, Mamayang, Me, Ibu Tety and Uda Ramon


And not only that, even my grandfathers brought me out.
I get to know families I've never known I have.
I get to know Teta, Tante Rany and their children, whom I've never dreamt of meeting.

With Ungku(means grandfather) Yus and family in Monas

CONCLUSION
The 12 days I spent in Indonesia had gave me uncountable valuable experiences.
And there is no way I can put it all down here in my blog.
I'll keep most of them in heart, to be thought over and over again, as I go through my journey of life.

And I can honestly say I enjoyed my time over there, though I did miss Malaysia and family over here once in a while. =)

And if there is chance, I'd like to visit them again.

THE END.

-AkMaR-
http://nur-akmar.blogspot.com

July 23rd 2010
11.09am

My Vacation Trip Part II

Assalammualaikum. Please read the Part 1 first. Thanks. =)

On Wednesday July 14th, I went to Bandung with my family (2 aunts and 5 cousins)! After lunch and prayers at ITB (Institute Teknologi Bandung), we checked in into Nirmala Hotel and then set off for shopping and walkaround Bandung. The 6 cousins (including me) split into 2 and I followed Verni, with Zora and Rifal. We first went to CiWalk, a shopping complex and then to a long stretch of road with lots of stalls and factory outlets at the roadside. At night, we went to Cibaduyut and I bought myself a sandal and a pair of shoes. =p
Dinner was at Ragi Bakar. It was something like hotplate, but the recipe was slightly different. And that night, we all slept soundly, tired (or at least I did).

Me and my two beloved aunts =)


Shopping for shoes at Cibaduyut =)


After checking out of Nirmala Hotel


The next morning (Thurs July 15th), after breakfast, we checked out and headed to Tangkuban Parahu. My my, I LOVE that place! It was very cold and when we reached there, it was all foggy. When I breathe out, I can smoke (what should I call that?) coming out from my mouth. The scenery was breathtaking and the atmosphere really calmed me. There are no words that I can use to really describe the feeling I had up there. It's just simply, amazing. SubhanAllah (Glorious to God).

My family =)


I felt like jumping around and tell the whole world I was very happy to be up there


I know I'm not a terrific photographer but still, I'm trying to capture the best picture of the scenere up there as good as I can.


Beautiful, isn't it?


After Tangkuban Parahu, we went down to Kolam Air Panas Ciater (Hot Water Pool?). But before that, eheh...we stopped by a tea farm for picture taking session. =p


We bathed at Kolam Air Panas Ciater but the water was really not like normal river water. The taste was horrible (I didn't purposely swallow it, I accidentally did) and it also caused discomfort to my eyes. People say it was because of the sulphur in the water, and sulphur was supposed to be good for skin, since it is the main ingredient in most cosmetics. But still, I enjoyed myself there. =)

Ugh, my eyes! My eyes!


Before going out of the recreational area. We asked some random guy to snap this pic for us.


Goodbye Ciater... I'll visit u next time if I have the opportunity.


We ended the 2 day trip with a meal at a restaurant serving Sunda food. I believe this restaurant was called "Nasi Bancakan", I wasn't really sure of the name.



The next day; Friday July 16th 2010, was the first day I rested at home for the first half a day. Verni brought me out after Asar to Buaran Plaza for a Hoka Hoka Bento treat. I've never seen a Hoka Hoka Bento outlet in Malaysia, or perhaps I was just too blinded by other resto that I missed HHB. We went out by Metro Mini, Mikrolet and bus. Basically, I tried most of the public transports in Jakarta that evening. =) And we dropped by a night market on our way back home that night.


On Saturday July 17th 2010, I followed Mamayang (my first aunt, Verni's mother) to Tanah Abang, but this time, a different part from what I've been to on last Friday. Mamayang sells clothes and she gets her stock from Tanah Abang. Verni and I tailed her along and did our own mini shopping at the same time. But really, it wasn't that mini to me. I spent quite a lot, buying for me and people back in Malaysia as gifts and presents. And oh! We went there by bajaj! Another form of public transport in Jakarta. Being in a bajaj put me on vibrating mode all the way. It was almost like sitting on vibration exercise machine.


Buying mode, switched ON


A bajaj. Pronounced as "bajai"

Coming back from Tanah Abang, after Asar, another cousin of mine, Uda Ramon came and brought me and Verni to Grand Indonesia. And it was like a Pavillion for us here in KL, or maybe KLCC. It's huge, and elite, and of course expensive. We spent most of the time in Gramedia Bookstore and I received a novel from Uda Ramon as a gift. =) After Maghrib, went out to the waterfall for some photo session. =)

Grand Indonesia; Shopping Town


I'm not really sure what the two statues signify. If I am not mistaken, it's something like a fight for Indonesian independence.


That night, dinner was on Uda Ramon and we went to Restaurant Mas Miskun. I ate Nasi Bebek which is simply Duck Rice. It's very
hard to find halal duck dishes in Malaysia but there are plenty around here. It was a nice, and spicy dinner. And we went back by bajaj again that night. =p


I started the next day, Sunday July 18th 2010, my last full day in Indonesia by following Ibu Tety (my second aunt) to her shop in Pasar Enjok. She rented a corner shop lot and sold clothes and tudung, almost the same like mamayang. Then Abg Tedi fetched me to Verni's hse and the 4 of us (Abg Tedi, Zora, Verni and me) went to Mangga Dua. We walked to the nearest busway station and took a busway to somewhere near ITC Mangga Dua. Busway is basically a bus, which has it's own way (lane) that no other vehicle can use. The interior of a busway looked like a Putra LRT coach, just that it's a bus. And some buses have two coaches, with a connector in the middle.

Coaches of a busway


In ITC Mangga Dua


After some more shopping in ITC Mangga Dua, we went to Atrium Plaza for lunch at Rice Bowl . I spent that last night of mine, packing my luggages and I was worried sick that I might exceed my 30kg luggage limit. I even called my mum to ask if she can make some more phone calls to AirAsia to increase my luggage weight limit but she said 30kg is already max.

Lunch with cousins @ Rice Bowl, Atrium Plaza


On my last day in Jakarta July 19th 2010, Verni and her dad sent me to the airport and after checked-in, I was left on my own again, to bid farewell to Indonesian land and hello to Malaysia. When I walked through the scanner gate at the airport security, the alarm went off. So the security asked me to take off my belt and shoes and put them under the bag scanner. Auwwww, so embarassing to have to take my belt off in the public. And I needed to walk bare footed, just because of that alarm. And still the alarm went off again. So the security performed a body check on me. Of course, they found nothing and they let me off. I had a hard time putting up my belt again, since there was no toilet in the waiting room.

Queuing up for check in.


And guess what, my luggages weren't even 30kg! Ugh, I was actually preparing to pay for an extra of 2 or 3kg. Suddenly I regretted not buying more things, because I've been restricting myself telling myself not to buy that or this because I fear going over the luggage limit. Duh! I didn't even get to buy some of the things ppl in Malaysia asked me to buy for them. =(

Few last pics before I need to switch my phone off. Goodbye Jakarta!


I think this is one of the best photo I managed to capture.


And when I saw this, I knew I've landed on Malaysian land. I'm home, Malaysia!


Although this marks the end of my 12 days journey to Indonesia, I'll still write a Part 3. =p
Stay tuned!

-AkMaR-
http://nur-akmar.blogspot.com
July 23rd 2010
9.47am

My Vacation Trip Part 1

Assalammualaikum.
As I've said earlier, I'm going for a vacation trip ALONE and I refused to disclose where am I going except to those close to me. And till now, not many ppl knew where I went to.

I planned to write some notice here on my blog before I set off for the vacation but I couldn't make it since there were a lot to prepare for the trip.

So, for those who still do not know, I went to JAKARTA, INDONESIA.

I flew to Jakarta and arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at 8.05 am (Indonesian time) on 7th July 2010 (Wednesday). I was fetched by my cousin, Verni who has been waiting for me at the arrival terminal for almost an hour. Blame my bag for coming out so late. =p



I can actually write a very detailed account of my journey there, including the 45 seconds the pilot took to accelerate the plane before taking off; yes, I counted how long was it before the plane leave Malaysian soil. But I think i'll just bore the readers if I do really write all those minute details.

So let me just write some little things about my trip there.

I was supposed to be in Jakarta from 8th July to 17th July; 10 days altogether. But at last minute, I texted my mum in KL and she made a few phone calls to AirAsia and I managed to defer my flight back to Malaysia. Thus I went back on 19th July, making my trip over there 12 days in total. =)

One the first day of arrival in Jakarta, Verni brought me to MoI (Mall of Indonesia). This place is something like Berjaya Times Square, there is a theme park in it. Difference is, we pay for per entry in Times Square but here in MoI, we pay for every ride we take.


And in Indonesia, shoppers need to be scanned before entering big and grand shopping malls like Mall of Indonesia and Grand Indonesia. I think this is mostly because of the few bombing cases happened there some time back.

Verni and Me =)


After some camwhoring and JCo-ing in MoI, we went home and later that night, went to have dinner at my 2nd aunt's house. Fyi, I've nvr met most of my relatives here, and the last time I met Verni was almost 10 yrs ago. So really, this trip of mine also served as long-not-lost-relationship-get-together.

The next day, July 9th 2010 we went to Tanah Abang, the largest shopping place in South East Asia (as told by another cousin sister of mine, Zora). There are about 13 floors if I am not mistaken, and that is only 1 building! There were a lot more buildings around. And I was really shocked to see the business of the building. And there was even a mosque on the top-most floor. Wow!

On the Saturday July 10th 2010, one of my grandfather (it's quite a long story how am I related to him but, he's my grandfather nevertheless), Ungku Sufyan fetched me from Verni's hse and bring me to his hse. We went to Bogor for a lunch in Restoran Sederhana Nasi Padang and that night his wife brought me to PRJ (Pekan Raya Jakarta, I think). It's also knowned as Jakarta Fair which is held every year for a month, marking the anniversary of Jakarta City. There were really lottsss of people. There were almost 10x the visitors of PC Fair in KLCC.

And guess what! I saw Proton being sold over there! Hahahah... The sense of familiarity knocked me at that moment. =p


And oh yes, Upin Ipin is a hit over there. I was dubbed as Kak Ros. Yea yea, Kak Ros is a fierce sister but really, she loves Upin Ipin a lot!


And the next day, Sunday 11th July 2010, Ungku Yus (another grandfather) brought me to Taman Safari Indonesia!!!! It was a splendid and enjoyable day. I've never been to any place like that. We drove into the Safari using our own car, and there were all the animals being let walking freely everywhere. And we brought carrots to feed the deers, elephants and some other animals I do not know the names (all of them looked like deers to me, heh)





We get to watch the hilarious cowboy show and cute dolphin show in Safari Park, after parking our car.

And the dolphin should really be proud. =p


This snake is 10kg, and I kissed it. =)

The next day, on Monday 12th July 2010, Verni brought me to Puncak with her friends. There were lots of exchanging language sessions, since the Indonesian language and Malaysian language were different. We first dropped by Masjid Attawun for prayer and continued our journey to the hilltop.




We reached Cibodas Park but since it was raining, we did not go into the park. Instead we went to eat at the nearest warkop (warung kopi) for lunch up there.



And on our way back, we dropped by Cimory Restaurant, a company specialising in dairy products. It was something like Secret Recipe over here, but bigger. We bought some yoghurt milk and cookies and reached home at around 9pm.

On Tuesday July 13th 2010, I followed Ungku Yus and his family for a walkaround Jakarta. Our first destination was Ancol, it's a beach park but we have to pay to get in. There are SeaWorld (our Sunway Lagoon) and Dufan (our Genting Highland) but we did not go there, only the beach and a ride on a boat.

Next was lunch time! We went to Soto Padang Hj Sutan Mangkuto, a famous Soto Padang restaurant there. And after filling our "sumatera tengah", we went to Monas (Monumen Nasional). Monas is like our National Monument coombined with KL Tower. It was a very high tower with its uppermost point being built from gold. This project was by the infamous first president of Indonesia, Sukarno. The only building at that area was the Monas itself. Thus, when a heavy rain suddenly falls while we were walking at the park, we did not know where to run to. It was all so bare, without any shelter. And the trees were not helping either. Thus, we were all soaked. Luckily, we managed to make our way to the viewing deck of the tower, and I get to see Jakarta from top. It's beautiful.

After Monas, we went to Pasar Baru I'd say it's like the Masjid India for us in KL. After shopping there, we went for dinner at Satay Goyang Lidah, and I ate cow's tongue! Hahahahahah... I didn't know it was tongue until half way finishing my plate. But of course, I finished it.

And this is the end of the first part of my vacation to Indonesia, I'll start writing the second part a little while more. =)

Stay tuned!

-AkMaR-
http://nur-akmar.blogspot.com

July 22nd 2010
6.04pm