Learning to Let Go

I was driving to work this morning when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a luxury SUV attempting to overtake my car in a dangerous manner. I slowed down slightly to allow the person to move into the space in front of me. A man was driving with the windows down, holding a cigarette in his right hand while steering with his left hand. The plate number was of the single-digit variety, complete with a crest that I couldn’t really make out but which I presumed would indicate that he is a Dato’/Dato’ Sri/Tan Sri. The only thing surprising to me was that he wasn’t watching a video on his mobile phone while driving!

The younger me would’ve been quick to anger in situations like these. Even now I still find it difficult to accept why some people behave they way they do. Why is it that most people can follow traffic rules, but these ‘distinguished’ few drive as if the road belongs to them?

Increasingly, though, I have learnt to just let go. And so, I ease up on the throttle, switch lanes, and carry on listening to the usual podcasts/lectures/calm music that accompany me on the road. After all, my own physical and mental well-being is far more important than ‘educating’ this reckless person. I can only hope that he gets stopped at some point by the authorities, but that is beyond my power.

In Islam, we are encouraged to ascribe good intentions or reasons for other people’s behaviour, even when they appear to be problematic at first presentation. So, when someone is driving in the emergency lane during rush hour (something that is unfortunately very common in Malaysia), we ideally should think that perhaps they have a genuine emergency instead of just acting like jerks! That is waaaaaaay easier said than done, however, and personally, I find it extremely difficult to be so gracious towards others in these situations. But I’m trying, and writing about it is one way to vent my frustration without escalating the matter any further.

In the future, I hope I will not be as bothered by these small incidents. They represent the ugly reality of modern society whereby people think they can do as they please without giving much thought to the safety and comfort of others. As long as the world continues to exist, characters like these will also pop up intermittently in our lives to test our patience. Hopefully, by focusing on more important issues and learning to let go of trivial or perceived insults, you and I can learn to respond better.

Ramadhan Tazkirah by ChatGPT

I asked ChatGPT to talk about the holy month of Ramadhan, in Malay, in poetry format. Here’s what it came up with:

Overall, I’d give the answer a solid grade C, maybe even a B minus.

The ‘pantun’ format definitely needs more polishing. A ‘pantun’ is basically a quatrain using an A-B-A-B rhyming scheme, with all lines being the same length, usually between 8-12 syllables each. It’s clear what ChatGPT was trying to do here, but even the shortest lines are too long, and that last line is practically a full sentence already.

Meaning-wise, it’s not too bad. Most of the verses contain the appropriate advice concerning what to do during Ramadhan. One sentence in particular seems a bit off though.

Lebih baik bersedekah, bagi yang kurang mampu sahaja

When translated, the line above means “It’s better to give alms, only for those who are less able to afford it”. The meaning here is ambiguous however. I think it’s trying to say “give charity to the needy”, not “only the needy should give charity” but that is not entirely apparent from the sentence structure.

Anyway, this was just a fun distraction from thesis-writing. Back to work, Imran!

Salam Ramadhan to all of you, from ChatGPT and me.


Location: Kuala Lumpur


Waking up at 5.30am has it benefits, not least being the fact that you get a brief moment of peace before all hell breaks loose (read: kids waking up, getting ready for school, driving anywhere in Malaysia etc).

I took this photo just as dawn was breaking. You can still see some stars in the middle of the sky, but the line of clouds pointing towards the top right corner makes it look like a page is being turned, giving us a glimpse of the morning light as it banishes the night.

DPhil Diaries #7

I haven’t been writing much on this blog as I’ve been busy preparing for a very important step in my DPhil journey: Confirmation of Status.

According to the NDCN website:

The purpose of the Confirmation is to help you bring your research together and prepare for writing up. The assessment is carried out on the basis that a student should be at a standard that were their experimental work to be complete and written up, they would be in a position to submit a thesis for a DPhil at the University of Oxford. The process can also identify if your plans for completion are not suitable and offers an opportunity to provide additional guidance to help you towards a successful completion.

Well, today is the day of my Confirmation viva. I’m looking forward to sharing my research work with my two examiners, but at the same time I’m also nervous as hell about the process and—like any other PhD student—basically just want it to be over as soon as possible!

This morning, I checked my Inbox as usual and came across the latest version of James Clear’s newsletter. In it was this gem of a quote, which I will put up here to remind me that there is more to life than our struggles:

“The brilliance of the stars would be invisible without the vast darkness of space behind them. 

Do not wish away the difficult portions of life. They provide the contrast needed to appreciate the joyful moments.”

Old Boys Weekend 2022

How do we explain the enduring passion (some would say obsession!) amongst former students of the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) to return to their alma mater?

During my travels, I’ve often thought about the answer to that question. And in my case at least, the answer can be found in the tagline for this year’s Old Boys Weekend which was ‘Back home at last’.


There are many definitions of home, but the one I like the most is this one:

Someone’s or something’s place of origin, or the place where a person feels they belong.

The place where a person feels they belong. That’s my relationship with my alma mater. No matter how far I’ve travelled, or how long I’ve been away, arriving in Kuala Kangsar immediately feels like coming home at long last.

This year’s OBW was a much-anticipated event, especially since the last one we had was way back in 2019 before the pandemic. I had originally wanted to play for the MCOBA volleyball team against the present boys, but was unable to make it to the match on Saturday morning. Nevertheless, it felt really good to be able to catch up with fellow MCOBs, both young and not-so-young, over the course of the weekend. I saw loads of familiar faces, and thanks to the magic of social media, I was even able to quickly look up people’s names before marching confidently towards them to exchange pleasantries!

Nasi Goreng Ayam

No trip to Kuala Kangsar is complete without trying the local delicacies. For some, it’s cendol or rojak pasembor in Lembah, others swear by the fluffy buns that is pau Yut Loy, but my comfort food has always been nasi goreng ayam (NGA). I wrote about the NGA at Restoran Saudiah (a.k.a So’od) previously here, but because I expected there to be a million people eating at So’od during OBW, I detoured to Restoran Shah Reena instead.

Alhamdulillah, the NGA there was just as good as the one at So’od. Incidentally, did you know that you can now order So’od’s NGA on foodpanda? Me neither, but there you have it, the times they are a-changin’…

Kuala Kangsar Town

I wish I had more time to wander around Kuala Kangsar, but I had to leave by Sunday noon. Still, I took the opportunity while I was there to snap some pictures of various locations around town. Places like Kuala Kangsar have their own beauty, history, and majesty. If you don’t believe me, check out the spectacular sunset over Kuala Kangsar, or Masjid Ubudiah with its Moorish architecture in the gallery below.

Last week, my son asked me what I was doing over the weekend. I replied that I will be going to Kuala Kangsar to see my brothers. He looked slightly puzzled, but I explained to him that I’m lucky to have not one or two, but a few hundred brothers scattered all over the world. We may not have the same mother and father, but we are brothers nevertheless.

That is another sense in which MCKK is my home; it’s where I first gained my band of brothers. Who knows, perhaps one day my sons will be able to go through the same life-changing experience too, inshaAllah.