My best fren Ahmad Shariff aka Ahmad Mon joined SMRT in 1997, two years after me. We were not that closed initially though we reported to the same crew point.
Our friendship only started to develop towards the end of year 2000. It was around that time that the Palm OS was at it’s height monopolizing the entire PDA gadget market after it’s initial appearance in Sep 1996. It’s unique graffiti handwriting system took the world by storm. I’m an expert on that. With three “short-cut” strokes using preset sentences, I could easily compose a standard sms from my Palm PDA sent to a compatible Sony Ericcson phone via bluetooth to a recipient. It heralded the dawn of more exciting technological progress blazing the way for the likes of iPhone and Android devices.
Ahmad Mon and myself became Palm OS fanatics. I was the master and he was my protege. We spent hours on the Internet Forums esp SPUG. My user ID: Gintai is found in SPUG. I was a member there since year 2000.
In those days, Palm OS SW cost a bomb. When people complain that Apple software esp iPhone and iPad need to pay, I say if only they knew how expensive Palm OS SW was then. The latter software easily cost between US$9.90 to US$29.90! There was hardly any Palm SW that cost US$0.99 at all. Virtually none.
I spent tons of money on Palm SW, easily $500 over the years. I used to install a special SW apps that keeps track of all my SW purchased. This is to keep track of updates and registration codes from developers. Other than SW, I also spent tons of money on the many upgraded versions of Palm PDAs ranging from my 1st Palm V, Vx, Palm M500, M505, M515, Sony Clie, Handspring Visor, Prism, Zire, Tungsten X, I, II, E, E2 and Tungsten 3 series etc. I am still using Tungsten E2. I also keep another sealed brand new Tungsten E2 before Palm OS was sold to HP. Now Palm OS is dead.
All my software is registered under “Alan.” I “beamed” all my SW to my buddy Ahmad Mon on one condition that his Palm User ID must use “Alan.” Without entering the correct User ID with a given set of registration numbers, the full version could not be released. It’s only shareware on trial basis with expiry date. It would not work after a while.
I used to give or beam from my Palm PDA to Ahmad Mon’s free of charge. He would enter my User ID with a given registration numbers to enjoy the SW paid for by me. Mainly becuz of this generosity from me, Ahmad Mon and myself became “Abang & Adek!”
Through the years until 6/8/2007, we became very close. We used to go to all the PC shows together. We would meet after work and took a train to Bugis station where we would walk to Sim Lim Sq to shop for gadgets. We were gadget freaks. Whenever, we got a new gadget or new discovery of new Palm SW, we would discuss and share excitedly. Hence, my name “palmuser” is still used on my email and twitter accounts.
“Gintai”, “palmuser_alan” are embedded with many anecdotes and years of history. There are many stories from them. I’ll blog about the origin of Gintai on other time.
Ahmad Mon and myself even been to Batam together. He’s very familiar with Batam. He would arrange everything for me whenever I go over there. We didn’t stay in those expensive hotels but in the backlane and dark alleys of the unknown parts of Batam. He got connections there. Even though I was the odd Chinese out, I was safe and well taken care by his “kakis” there.
I remember one time during our long weekend off, Ahmad Mon just called me over the phone. “Datuk, I already bought a return bus tickets to KL for you. I’m at Golden Mile, Beach Rd now. We leave on Sat night and return on Sun night. By Mon morning, we are back. We go back to work on Tue!” There is a long weekend i.e. Sat, Sun and Mon off in our shift cycle. He suggested sleeping in the bus and toured KL the whole day, sleep in the bus on way back.
I had no choice but to accede to his whim and fancy. That was how close we were then. Ahmad Mon was most happy whenever we travelled out of the country. He became more gregarious. Usually, he’s quite quiet and never spoke much.
Then there was another time, I pillioned him to JB after our post mid-nite shift. I was then riding a CB 750cc motorcycle. I would ride my bike to JB after work once a week to top up petrol and took my supper there. Ahmad Mon used to stay in Woodlands for a period of time. He subsequently shifted to Bedok later. Frequently, I volunteered to send him back home since I was going to JB.
Sometimes, Ahmad Mon would just go back on my bike. If I did not send him back to Woodlands, he would sleep overnight in depot and return the next morning to save the expensive taxi fare. It was one those trips we made across to JB which I still remember vividly. It’s etched on my memory forever.
“Hey Datuk, why that “wongal” at the checkpoint kept smiling at me? She was interested in me isn’t it?” Ahmad Mon always addressed me as “Datuk”. He never called my name. He was relating the incident when we passed by JB immigration checkpoint. Usually, I would pass my passport to him. He would hand over to the immigration officer for our passports to be “chopped.” Ahmad Mon was referring to the young pretty Malay immigration officer with the tudung on JB side.
“Alamak! Datuk Mon (I would usually call him Datuk Mon), that wongal was wondering why one Chinaman and Malay Mat could get along so well. You can hardly find that in Malaysia where they usually don’t mix around. They live separately unlike us! Pls lah, don’t anyhow imagine ok?” Ahmad Mon’s reply, “Langgar!” Yes, Ahmad Mon also used the same kind of language and talked like me.
One day, he msg me and said he was very sad! What happened I was asked him. “Datuk, my O2 Mini is dead. I dropped it accidentally when so and so “tupang” me on his bike. A lorry langgar over it!” OMG!
In those days, there was no Iphone or Android devices. Smartphone was controlled by HTC and O2 Mini then. He spent $1,488 for his O2 XDA Atom mini pro running on Wins OS. It was $1,688 when it was first launched. Indeed, it was heart pain for him. He didn’t want to talk for the next few days. He was in depression mood.
No wonder Ahmad Mon kept eating roti prata. He was trying to save for that expensive gadget. Whenever I go for my meal break, he would msg me to get him three or four roti prata kosong. It’s been going on for quite some time until the day he got a heart attack.
Those were some of the memories I still remember fondly about my buddy Ahmad Mon. Then during one of our long weekend off (We were from the same team), he suddenly collapsed in his Bedok home. He had a massive heart attack. Conveyed to hospital for emergency heart surgery. Cut and opened his heart two times. He never woke up. By early morning, on 6/8/2007, exactly five years ago, he was gone! We lost him forever. Some of the train officers keeping vigil at CGH started sending out sms to others. Train Officer Kassim aka Dr DOS was one of them. We were shocked and sadden by the sudden tragedy. The whole crew room was subdued and in a state of mourning over the next few days.
Over the years since Ahmad Mon’s passing, there were few other cases. Two other TOs of similar nature followed suit. Another Chinese TO from AMK struck with bone cancer and left us after 6 months after first diagnosed. I’m only citing TOs in our dept. Ahmad Mon was then 39 years old. He was cut down in his prime.
I still can’t get over my buddy Ahmad Mon’s passing five years ago. All my colleagues know that we were buddies. We were always together. I would carry him pillion on my bike to places such as depot, Joo Chiat, Geylang Serai, little India Mustafa and JB etc.
We were friends and colleagues for about 10 years. My buddy Ahmad Mon may have left us, but we still remember him forever. May he rest in peace my dear friend. Thank you for being my friend, my dear Ahmad Mon.