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10 Best Moments With My Best Friend

August 27, 2015

Hilmi & Halim



I joined Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in March 2008, and barely a few weeks later, I was introduced to this wonderful soul with cool spiky hair whom I dearly call Halim (our names – Hilmi and Halim – also rhyme nicely). Since then, we have been close buddies at many levels, both personally and professionally. Here are 10 best moments that I have shared with Halim, my best friend.



1. The PhD Dream

We started off our professional journey at UTM with the same goal in mind – to get a PhD. So, together, we attended many tiring courses and trainings, sat for nerve-cracking examinations, and braved through many other painstaking processes with style and confidence (and some tears too). As it turned out, I went to Australia and Halim chose a local Malaysian university. We didn’t end up at the same university for our PhD studies, but fate and faith surprisingly connected us in a way we had never imagined. We were both living the same PhD dream.



2. The Jakarta Tragedy

Oh, before we began our doctoral pursuits, we travelled to Jakarta, Indonesia to (hopefully) seal our friendship. But, the moment we landed at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, things went awfully wrong. We almost lost each other at the airport and, later, we found out that the hotel that we booked was bogus. Feeling cheated and scared, we were forced to drag our luggage into the street. Our friendship was truly tested, but like many other tests, we endured and smiled to our advantage. It was the moment to cherish indeed, this Jakarta tragedy.



3. The Doctoral Journey

Throughout my four years of PhD struggles abroad, I met Halim only on several occasions. He visited me once in Melbourne and fulfilled his dream of meeting up Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open (yes, he did it!). When I returned home for data collection, Halim was part of the magic, making the saga of my literature-hunting a successful one. We had only other brief encounters during this PhD period, but his cameo appearances were always like Fairy Godfriend who continuously helped me find the light at the end of this doctoral journey.



4. The House Keepers

Happy tears welled up in our eyes, we both returned to UTM at almost the same time and we brought home our own success stories. But more than that, we became housemates! It wasn’t planned at all, but it was the best unplanned twist ever. As (academic) housemates, we set the rules and regulations that complemented each other’s idiosyncrasies. Both perfectionists in nature, we carefully planned and turned our shared house into some sort of a myriad that was neither too personal nor too professional. We were the dedicated house keepers.



5. The Research Geeks

As PhD holders and senior lecturers, the world was now our oyster. Halim was, most of the time, my kind mentor who helped me beat many complicated procedures and secure a number of research grants. Thanks to Halim’s tireless efforts, I was invited to be part of his publication team on academic journals and conference proceedings (our PhD travelog still remains a dream!). I wondered sometimes whether we were working or playing; the work/play dichotomy almost seemed blurry. We were two research geeks who seriously needed a life.



6. The Stress Relievers

But not to worry, we had a lot of ways to de-stress. At the end of the day, we normally sat together and let out anything that came to mind – crazy students, poor theses, demanding seniors, inefficient staff, etc. Naturally enough, we switched these toxic topics into juicy ones – cheesy Malay dramas, cheeky songs, recently-divorced celebrities, over-the-top movies, etc. (but never on politics or sports – two subjects we always found irrelevant). It was always good to have common stress relievers who made me realize that the world was not about to end.



7. The Culinary Planners

Among other things that made us happy were good foods and good coffee. Since both of us were perfect planners, we normally created a grand scheme for our lunch/dinner/coffee dates. We didn’t have a fancy log book for this, but we did make a strong mental note for our dates that could be fully booked up for the next two weeks (Wednesday nights were always reserved for our special Ikan Kembung!). We were two freaky culinary planners who always wanted to be in control of everything that made its way to our jolly stomachs.



8. The Health Devotees

As one can expect, we were both on diet despite our love for foods. There was a time when a fat auntie selling nasi lemak stared at us in contempt when we asked her to split our nasi lemak in half. Her workers complained unnecessarily when we left some food on our plates (how kind of them!). We banned her nasi lemak ever since. On Mondays, we regularly went to a gymnasium, followed by a taste of roti canai at a mamak restaurant (great combination, eh?). We were the health devotees who designed and redefined our own first-world problem of food intake.



9. The Padini Idols

I liked slim fit jeans, while Halim usually went for regular fit ones. However, we did have similar taste in fashion, at least for our office attire. Our favourite brand was Padini and we were regular faces at many Padini Concept Stores in JB. One could imagine the office wear collection in our closets. Many times, we had to plan ahead so we didn’t end up wearing the same polka dot shirt on the same day (it wasn’t unusual though if we did). We were the Padini Idols whose accumulated shopping points were worthy of a return trip to New York.



10. The Dream Catchers

When I decided to move to Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), Halim was supportive. He was there for me, listening to all sorts of stories and twists that caused headaches and heartaches. At the same time, I was happy to be all ears for Halim’s dramatic movement to his own bought apartment. Now that we are worlds apart, I’m thankful that we have had our fair share of God’s blessing – our time-proof friendship. We have both fulfilled our dreams and we can now move forward and start chasing the dreams of our own. Because we are both the Dream Catchers.



Happy birthday, Halim!

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