Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Thursday, September 30, 2004

There seems to be an abundance of movies/telemovies/series from ASEAN countries on Malaysian TV these days. Flip the channels and you might catch a few Philippine soaps before you can finish saying Dahil Sa Yo. The same for Thai and Indonesian offerings. I am not sure whether this is an ongoing exercise in ASEAN solidarity or just an economical effort to fill airtime.

I never voluntarily watch these soaps unless my friend Razak comes to visit. Then he will stick around until 5 pm when "Kay Tagal" or whatever is currently on starts. Most of the time, I will watch the soap with him.

Filipino movies reached our shores as early as the fifties. The Malay word remos (slick hair style, men's) is probably a throwback to one of the Filipino stars named Ramos.
I can only remember 2 Filipino movies that I saw. One was Darna the other Wan Malas.

Darna was the Filipino version of Wonder Woman. It started as a character in a comic series. A young girl found a meteor, read the word etched on it (Darna) and changed to Wonder Woman (or a female Captain Marvel, if you want to nitpick) and fought all sorts of enemies.
DARNA POSTER Posted by Hello
The movie was directed by one Fernando Poe. Probably the same gentleman who lost the recent Philippines Presidential Election. Darna -The TV Series is in the works.

Wan Malas was about a lazy villager. All I can remember about the film was the part where Wan Malas had to do marketing. He bought crabs for dinner. He was too lazy to bring the crab home. Instead he told the crabs to find their own way to his house. He got home first and after a while the crabs arrived. He scolded the crabs for getting home late.

If you want to know more about Darna, I found a website. Enjoy!


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

I was inspired to write this by my daughter's post (Wow, 28 Sept) in her blog as well as Daisyboo's (What Dreams May Come) . Both wrote about wanting to do something that they really wanted to do. Elisa hinted at it while Daisyboo listed her choices over the years.

Elisa and Daisyboo, this post, hackneyed and stale as it may be, is for you.

Be whatever you want to be. You can. (Terengganu people, say "You keng"). There are enough stories written and told for you to believe this. Ignore the skeptics and the septic. You really can. InsyaAllah, next year, I will prove it to you. Old as I am, I have dreams too and the dreams are taking shape. It will be easier for younger people like you. All you need is A.S.K.

No, it is not Amanah Saham Kemamang but Attitude, Skill, Knowledge.

You have to posses all 3. You cannot afford to miss any of them, especially Attitude.

Attitude is the power and the key. It is how you see and face challenges. It is how you see yourself and your consequent behaviour. You don't get the proper attitude at any schools or universities. You have to believe in yourself and your dreams before you can make anyone else believe them. I can't teach you your attitude. I doubt if anybody can. Not much anyway. The most I can say is do something that you are capable of. Something that you will be good at. This will be good for something that you want to do in the near future unless you want to be a rocket scientist and can spare the time learning to be one, which, of course, you can do too, if so inclined. Thus, being realistic is a good attitude to have. Dreaming the impossible dream is good sometimes but the dream might take a while to be realized.

Skill is just knowledge practiced over and over. Writing, cooking, kissing or whatever that needs to be done skillfully takes a lot of practice. So, whatever skill you need in your endeavour, hone it constantly. Sharpen it until you can do it with your eyes closed or with your hands tied behind your back, if necessary.

Knowledge is the easiest part. You can learn it if you haven't done so already. It is easier to acquire knowledge now than ever. The Internet is one vast library and there are no shortages of gurus in any subject you desire.

So if you think you are capable of doing what ever you want to do and have the skills and the knowledge to do it well, go for it girl. InsyaAllah, success is yours.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Today, while getting "safe" food (non-spicy and non-agitating) , I decided to try registering for Internet banking from one of my banks. I am not that rich to merit so many bank accounts but I get moved around so much that I collected a few bank accounts from different banks.
I am all thumbs today and still under the influence of Limotils, charcoal pills and black tea, so registering with the ATM didn't work. I decided to ask Customer Service.
I know that this particular bank is the slowest among many. Even cashing a cheque will make the paper yellow by the time you get your turn. Customer Service is no different. I suspect that this particular bank assigned the slowest people to man the Customer Service Desk. You know the type - Anjang Aki, constipated and "I have all the time in the world and you should too" kind of person.
I left after 30 minutes and tried my luck at the ATM machine again. Success this time. But when I registered online, I was told to contact the Customer Service Hotline.
After endless commercials, a live person spoke to me, asked for my particulars all over again and then put me on hold. Another round of commercials.
Finally, I was told that since my account was opened using my old identity card number and my Bank Card was issued using my new identity Card number, they could not process my registration right away. I have to register again in 2 days.
I was going to tell them that I used my old identity card number because that was the only number I had then. The new ic was not yet in existence. The fact that I am a very old customer is lost on these guys.
Anyway, what kind of computer programming couldn't match new ic numbers and old ic numbers to the person? Lots of other establishments found this not a problem at all.
With this kind of banking service, it wasn't surprising that my mom prefered to keep her money under her mattress.


Saturday, September 25, 2004

Saturdays get me thinking of fishing.
The earliest time I can remember fishing was with my maternal grandmother who took me fishing for small fishes called daung mengaba I think in the mengabang where Aryani Resort is now.
Then my maternal grandaunt, Tok Selamoh took me on her perahu jalor ( dugout) to fish in the Merang River. I made the mistake of lying down and she told me that her boat was not the Queen Mary. She never took me fishing again.
I got the fishing bug when Bah (my dad) lost his gun. His double barreled shotgun had a crack in one of the barrels. Friends in the Police Armory wanted to fix that quietly for him but Bah decided that the right thing to do was to surrender the gun and apply for a new one. He consulted the OCPD (Officer in Charge of the Police Department) who assured him many times that he will get the permit to buy a new gun. The permit never came. Bah nearly went crazy but contained his frustrations by fishing. He occasionally took me with him and I was hooked.

I prefer to fish in the sea rather than in the river. I didn't have much luck in the river. Once, before Kenyir Lake existed, a few friends and I went up to Sungai Terengan by Land Rover. They told me the fish there will even jump at rocks thrown into the water.

The water was clear and we saw a few kelah (masheer). First we tried the spoons. Didn't work. Then we tried the lures. Didn't work either. Mat Jali, the most experienced fisherman of the lot suggested ulat kekek ( white thumb-sized grub found under rotting tree trunks or in the ground). That didn't work either. Then Mat Jali told us to look for buah temarih that grows along the river bank. Kelah are known to eat this. We found the fruit but the haughty fish still didn't bite. I asked Mat Jali to shoot the fish with his shot gun but he declined.

We had grilled baung (sort of catfish, mystus sp.) (see pic below) for lunch courtesy of a non-sporting friend who used jala (casting net) to vent his frustration.

Posted by Hello

Another time, we stopped at every bridge on the road from Dungun to Kuala Terengganu, fished and didn't even get a buntal (puffer fish).

Fishing is a matter of rezeki. No rezeki, no fish.
My favourite story heard while waiting for the fish to bite was this:
A young man fishing alongside an older man didn't get any bite. The older man, meanwhile, was reeling them in. The young man asked for the old man's fishing secret.
Old Man: It's easy. Before I leave home, I see how my wife sleeps. If she sleeps on her right, I throw my line to the right. If she lies on the left, I throw my my hook to the left.
Young Man : What if she sleeps on her back?
Old Man: Then I don't go fishing.

Have a nice weekend.


Friday, September 24, 2004
I am having the trots. Actually it was worse, I didn't trot but I ran to the loo. Many many times. It could be the ikan bakar (grilled fish) at the basement of Mega Mall, I don't know. The good ones in Bagan Lalang or Umbai are too far away.
Anyway, I can't sit still to write any post. I read posts though and I came across something that you might like to read.
Rest assured that I am not politically inclined either globally or domestically. I am one of those people political parties ignore in desperation.
The piece is here. Enjoy! Permission was given to circulate it when or if inclined.


Thursday, September 23, 2004
Malay peribahasa (a blanket term for proverbs, idioms, similes, allegories etc.) is probably as old as the Malay language itself. The collection of sayings, truism, aphorisms or whatever you pigeonhole them are concise, meaningful and relate to Malay society and the environment then.

The sayings either literally or figuratively are usually profound, humorous or just plain common sense advice:

Bunga gugur, putik pun gugur, tua gugur, masak pun gugur.

(Flowers and buds fall, and the old and ripe fall. Death comes to all, irrespective of age.)

Apa sakit berbini janda, anak tiri boleh disuruh.

(Why worry at marrying a widow? You will have step-children at your beck and call. A jibe at pampered young man marrying an old widow)

Orang baharu kaya jangan diutangi, orang baharu nikah jangan ditandangi. (Don't lend to the newly rich, don't visit the newly-wed).

Unfortunately, many modern, city-dwelling kids like my grandson Adam are having difficulties understanding the concept and the moral of these sayings. To illustrate, let me pick at random a saying from Winsted's Malay Proverbs (John Murray Ltd. UK, 1950)

Pipit tuli makan berhujan dihalau kain basah, tak dihalau padi habis.

(Deaf sparrows are eating the padi out in the rain; if you drive them away you will get wet. If you do not, your padi will be finished. The dilemma you get when dealing with a stubborn person: to intervene or not to intervene?)

I doubt if the above is in Adam's syllabus but it will do to argue my case (if any).

I have doubts that Adam or other 9 year olds living in the city is familiar with any pipit (the bird), let alone a hearing-impaired one. He might have seen padi fields during his trips out of the city. If the trips were in the right season, he might see stalks of padi swaying in the wind. He wouldn't understand the process of getting a grain of rice from a grain of padi unless it was clearly explained to him. To him, you get rice in bags from Jusco, Giant or the corner mini market and he knows the rice comes from factories printed on the bags. So drying padi would be a bit difficult to grasp unless the teacher asked him to imagine the padi sunbathing. Adam has been to many beaches before.

If I could get into Adam's head when he is faced with this proverb I would hear him thinking:

Ok, now it is raining, why isn't the padi moved to a drier place like what Kak Ti (his maid) always do to the washing? Wouldn't the pipit catch a cold eating in the rain? Would the parent pipit get upset? Why can't the padi owner chase the pipit away without getting wet? What happened to his umbrella or rain coat? Didn't somebody tell him "Sediakan payung sebelum hujan?" (Get yout umbrella ready before it rains).

It's the same for other forms of peribahasa. Tell Adam that someone drives like a pelesit (banshee) and he will get a quizzical look. Tell him someone drives like Schumacher and he will understand. Adam is a great F1 fan. He has enough images of that. Bapa borek anak rintik (If the father is spotted, the children are sure to be speckled) will give Adam a mental picture of a spotted man with an equally polka-dotted son. At least he can picture that. He has seen "101 Dalmatians" many times.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The way things are now, I have the fear that my grandchildren (all 9 of them, so far) will be a bit confused when they grow up. They are nice kids now. Their parents are raising them right. Islamic and Malay values are much in evidence.

Will they change once they get older and start to read western self -help books? Am I just anally anxious?

Parents teach them humility, the success books would teach them about assertiveness, holding your ground, take no prisoners and being visible. I remember one politician a long time ago asking the Malays to be a bit kurang ajar. What's wrong with being polite and humble? Isn't that in our culture? Just go through the Malay peribahasa (the general term for proverbs, similes etc.) and you will find a lot of examples. "Ikut resmi padi, makin berisi makin tunduk" (Be like the padi, the fuller it is, the lower it bows) is one about being humble. Now we hear "If you got it, flaunt it" and conspicuous consumption. Incidentally, consumption is the old word for batuk kering (Tuberculosis).

In Terengganu we have a lot of places named after a feature of the land. A raised piece of land is called a gong. Do not confuse this gong with the the round brass instrument used in joget, dikir barat and silat pulut. Thus, we have places like Gong Kapas, Gong Tok Nasik and Gong Kedak. Gong also means a state of mind. My limited English prevents me from giving you the precise meaning of the word. Maybe I have to wait until beta blogger comes out with a Terengganu-English Dictionary. Until then I will try my best. You are gong if you strut around, full of yourself and being far from humble. So Shel Silverstein, cartoonist/humorist who said " I am so good, I don' t have to brag" would be called gong in Terengganu.
Maybe we should update our peribahasa. May be we shouldn't..What do you think?


Tuesday, September 21, 2004

My first posting as a teacher was to SMK Kuala Berang. The school was new and so was I. I was originally slated to teach in one secondary school in Air Lanas, Kelantan but as Allah willed it, a teacher in Kuala Berang was desperate to return to his home state and wrangled a mutual transfer for us.

The school's building was not ready yet so SMK Kuala Berang used Sekolah Tengku Ampuan Intan's class rooms in the afternoon.

My Bah (father) bought me a Lambretta scooter and on the first day of school, I put-putted to Kuala Berang, 25 miles (40 km) away.

I reported to the headmaster MH who promptly detailed me what to teach (BM, English, Geography, History and Art), where to teach them and when (the time table).

MH, the HM (headmaster) was a very good headmaster and brilliant at maths. He was also an alcoholic. Something must have driven him to drink although I did not know what. I don't normally ask my headmasters that kind of questions. I kept my nose away.

To be fair to MH, he did not drink on the job although my friend in charge of the Science Lab did notice that the stock of lab alcohol diminished mysteriously during the later part of every month.

MH was tolerant of my teaching experiments like the day he rushed to my class upon hearing lilting music. I was asking my pupils to paint according to what they hear for a change.

A few years later, when our school was up and running, MH came to my quarters in his Morris Minor. He thrusted into my arms a bundle of envelopes and a thin book. Although drunk, he announced that I was to conduct the Qualifying Test Examination the next day. It was to be my test too. The first thing I had to do, MH advised, was to deposit the question papers in the strong room of the Kuala Berang Police Station. Then I had to read the book and study how to conduct national examinations in about 12 hours. I was not, under any circumstances to fail him. He then started his Morris Minor and went off to continue drinking.

Dinner time came but I had lost my appetite. Instead I devoured the pages of the instruction book voraciously. To the Examination Syndicate's credit, the manual was written better than today's pc manuals. I read late into the night.

Early next morning I skipped breakfast and went straight to retrieve the question papers from the Police Station and proceeded to open the examination hall. The candidates (mostly teachers from the Malay schools) came and took the examination. It went without incident except for the grumblings of my stomach.

After I collected the last answer papers and stowed them in a sealed envelope, MH came. He saw and he beamed. He told me to get into his car and he drove to Seaview Hotel in Kuala Terengganu. He wanted to show me his appreciation the only way he knew, by giving me drinks.

My repeated protests were brushed aside and he ordered brandy and ginger ale for both of us. He relished the drink, I didn't. It was my first time (and the last) and it tasted awful. He finished my drink for me and ordered more. Then he decided to move to another hotel in Jalan Banggol where he ordered beer. I prayed that he would order something to eat. By that time, my stomach was heaving and MH was having a buzz. He started phoning the Kadhi and other state luminaries, picking quarrels with each of them.

When he saw me changing colors, MH took pity on me and decided to call it a day and go home. I threw up again in the car and MH stopped at Balik Bukit directly in front of the toddy shop. He called one of the pushcart hawkers (it was the rojak guy), spoke Tamil to the guy and disappeared into the toddy shop. MH had friends in all places. The rojak guy came to the car and massaged my neck and back but it didn't stop my throwing up. I was being punished for partaking alcohol and on an empty stomach at that.

A couple of mugs of toddy later, MH came back to the car and drove to Kuala Berang. The whole way he was berating me for not being able to hold my liquour. To him, I disgraced all anak raja. He drove straight to the Kuala Berang Bridge and wanted to throw me into the river but changed his mind when there was no reaction from me.

Months later, I saw him banging the door of his house calling his wife. He had forgotten that earlier he had taken his family to Kuala Terengganu, had a drinking spree and went home to Kuala Berang. He inadvertently left his wife behind in Kuala Terengganu.

MH passed away a long time ago. We missed him.


Monday, September 20, 2004
Once upon a time, when P.Ramlee was the icon, young men blessed with unblemished skin would poke their face with pins in order to be pockmarked like their idol.

Now that pimples, acne or zits are no longer in vogue, teenagers are bombarded with ads that promise to clear up their anxieties and their face.

In Terengganu, long long ago, we did not have all these panacea. Pimply-faced young men were told to wipe their face with ladies panties preferably without the ladies inside. This was an endeavour fraught with many perils. You couldn't just buy ladies panties, you have to steal them. Then, even if you survived parang-wielding fathers (of the owners of the undies) or brothers with lastik (catapults), you still have to make sure that the said owners of the panties did not have kurap (ringworms) , panau (pityriasis versicolor) or other skin diseases. Or else you would have added problems on your face.

But despair not, there is good news.

My good friend Sevil (Auntie Hoya to my kids) from Turkey told me of thermal pools just outside her city. These pools have fishes that can survive the hot water (32 degrees Celcius). People will go into the pool and the wonder fishes will nibble on pimples, eczema, psoriasis or other skin diseases resistant to modern medicine. The "doctor fishes" will not leave any scar or any reminder of the afflictions.

For erysipelas, a severe skin infection, the patient has to go blindfolded into the pool alone. A white snake will come and somehow cure the patient, insyaAllah. This is somewhat mystical but Sevil believed that it is true. She also told me that someone picked up this snake and took a picture. The snake did not appear in the picture.

So if you have an incoriggible husband who is forever scratching his butt, go visit Kangal springs in Sevil's hometown of Sivas. For serious acne sufferers, you might want to bring your snorkelling equipment so you can stay underwater all day.


Saturday, September 18, 2004
I am sorry that I am in a serious mood today.
I wish to share something that I found. It's a Flash file , so please be patient. It is worth the wait.

Have a nice weekend!


Friday, September 17, 2004

Once, in Joo Hin Jalan Banggol, my favourite electronic shop, a relative of mine caught me admiring a stereo system that just arrived. He remarked loudly that we go through life forever filling holes.

We fill our gaping mouth with nice food, our ears with music and our eyes with visual pleasures. Those fans of scents will of course strive to fill their nostrils and olfactory orifices of others with heady fragrances. Whether you live in a palatial mansion or a hole in the wall, you do these until you are laid in a hole in the ground.

In the pursuit of filling holes, some burn a hole in their pocket. Some go overboard and wind up in the hole. Some borrowed from alongs (loan sharks) and have to hole up somewhere until they are discovered and their legs broken with tire irons or sometimes golf irons. A few unlucky ones get free face arrangement with steam irons.

Talking about golf, let us not forget that all golfers dream of getting a hole in one. Then they will celebrate and brag at their favourite watering hole.

You are welcomed to pick holes in what I have written. I have a hole in my head today.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

Happy Birthday Dolly!

Dolly is my third daughter. Ever since the formation of Malaysia, it is very easy to remember her birthday.

Dolly has no time for the Net so the chances of her reading this are very remote. She is very busy at the Fatt TV where she works. At least her immediate boss there is not her sister like in her previous station. When not at work, Dolly is busy with her new baby, Ariff. Ariff is a demanding baby unlike his mom. Dolly as a baby was almost serious and not demanding at all. Put her on the carpet and she will quietly roll under the coffee table and stay there until retrieved.
Seriously Dolly
Posted by Hello

Dolly was a late bloomer. Like me, she got confused by subjects like Maths. She exasperated and exhausted her mother by forgetting things that were explained patiently and thoroughly to her just minutes earlier. But Dolly remembered things her teachers told her. Whenever I berated some unfortunate drivers on the road Dolly would be the one reminding me of what her ustazah said about the virtues of patience and being kind to dumb animals.

Like all her sisters and brother, Dolly is proficient in English. She even won a writing contest organised by one of the English dailies. She loved English so much that she chose to do TESL in a non-English sounding town, Bognor Regis.

After many years overseas and getting her degree, Dolly came home and promptly decided not to become a teacher after all. She became a broadcaster instead. She still looked serious on camera. Now she is mostly behind the camera and behind the scene.

Happy birthday sayang. I hope you get to read this.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004
I read somewhere that in the beginning, getting out of Australia was a problem. Many years later, getting into Australia is a problem.

The last time I was Down Under was 23 years ago. It was my second visit to Australia. The first was on a MAS inaugural flight to Melbourne where they took us to a restaurant named "Dirty Dick". We stayed at Noah's Hotel. Nope, it wasn't an ark and there were no animals. Melbourne was cold enough for a friend from Terengganu to remark that the "whole country is air-conditioned". I also got to cover a noisy demonstration by masked Malaysian students. I couldn't remember what their grievances were.

The second visit was much longer. I was housed in Glebe, an unfashionable part of Sydney then while the course was conducted in Mossman, a fashionable part of Sydney. A coach took all the course participants every morning from South Sydney crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge to North Sydney. This was the first time that I attended a course together with my former PE teacher. Cikgu Razali was with other Malaysians for the Inspectorate Course while I was with media managers from all over the developing world for the Media Management Course. I could remember our "gang": Dorji from Bhutan, Ibrahim Manik (now Minister of Information) from Maldives, Marcell from Gambia, Malakar from Film Institute of India and one amiable Pathan from Northwest Frontier whose name escapes me at the moment.

The Media Management classes were held in the classroom nearest to the beach. The complex was separated from the beach by a barbed-wire fence. We were curious about the beach and during one tea break decided to have a closer look.
We walked to the fence and looked over.

There were a number of people under the shady trees reading or otherwise relaxing, enjoying the sunny morning and the salty air. They were all in their birthday suit while we, on our side of the fence were in full business suit. Except for our Pathan friend. He was in his traditional shalwar baggy pants.

It was only then that we realized we had a nude beach on our doorstep.

It must be noted that the nudes we saw were not the nudes you get on the Internet. These were not the Pamela Anderson or Burt Reynold type. It was like looking at your uncles and aunties naked. They were unperturbed but we were embarrassed. Some were shocked, culturally and visually.

During lunch the same day, Dorji and Malakar skipped sausages.


Tuesday, September 14, 2004

After the "tied-to-the-banana-clump" house, my father rented a house at the other end of the kampong. It belonged to Cek Mang. His son Awang was about my age and the older brother, Hashim created a sensation by getting lost overnight while on a camping trip at Pulau Kapas.

The house was nearer to Paya Keladi and the swampy ground did not seem to get dry. It was perpetually wet like some nymphomaniacs.

The house has a big veranda where on some evenings my father had jam sessions with his musician friends. I remember those sessions. They let me suggest songs to play. I invariably fell asleep long before the songs got played.

Directly in front of the house was Mok Som and Pok Tahir's house. They are my good friend Mat Jali's grandparents. Mat Jali lived with them. A few houses away was Tok Khatib's house. Tok Khatib was a nice old man. I was around when a ripe coconut got loose and fell on his bald head. He survived. I guessed his head was as hard as the head of Mamat Pala Kerah.

Mamat Pala Kerah really had a hard skull. I heard from reliable sources that once a fisherman lost his patience and whacked Mamat on the head with his peranyoh (boat oar). The oar broke but Mamat went on, none the worse, getting free fish from fishing boats that just landed. He would later sell the fish. We remember Mamat in his sarong and his singlet with another sarong hung on his shoulder. He had a haircut like Mao Tse Tung. Mamat wasn't exactly the best dressed man in town. Cek Kaleh was though.

Cek Kaleh was a well known personality in Kuala Terengganu. His job was gohed teksi. Teksi is what Terengganu people call the beca (trishaw). The motorized taxi is called kereta sewa (hired cars).

Terengganu teksi Posted by Hello
Cek Kaleh was probably the first person in town to buy the transistor radio. It was a paperback-sized job enclosed in a leather case. National brand and Japanese made. He hanged the radio to the front fender of his trishaw and had music while he worked. Cek Kaleh loved music and he loved to dance. There are no cabarets or dancing halls in Kuala Terengganu. We did have stages built to celebrate the Sultan's Birthday, Merdeka and other occasions. These stages, made of wooden planks and oil drums were set up on the field called Padang Malaya just outside Istana Maziah. There were stages for bangsawan (Malay opera) and anikaragam (variety show), wayang kulit, makyong and one for joget. On the joget stage, there would be a row of chairs where the joget girls in their modern kebayas sat. Men who wanted to dance with these girls would buy tickets and they would have to give the tickets to the girl of their choice before dancing. There would be a rush for the prettiest girl on stage.

Cek Kaleh somehow would already have a seemingly endless supply of tickets for the joget. He would be the first to get up there, dressed to the hilt with his palm beach slacks, long-sleeved shirt, tie, Barratt shoes and a coat. The crowd would clap and roar in approval every time Cek Kaleh came on stage. They loved to see him do the the joget and occasionally the cha cha (off beat and regular). Other dances that involved hanging on to the partner were not allowed.

It was always nice to see Cek Kaleh, the teksi guy dancing with the taxi girls.


Monday, September 13, 2004

One evening last week, while waiting with fellow parents at the Assunta Secondary School bus stop, I saw something that gladdened my calloused heart.

A toddler with a piece of cellophane wrapper held high over her head was toddling unsteadily towards a dustbin. Her mother followed close behind, encouraging her every step of the way. When the toddler dropped the cellophane wrapper into the dustbin, the mother gave her a big hug.

Regretfully, not all Malaysians have mothers like that. These are the people that littered the nation. They mistook everything for a rubbish bin. They threw wrappers and soda cans in lifts (elevators), unfriendly mail on the sidewalk outside their letter boxes, newspapers and plastic stuffs in public parks and unwanted babies behind suraus.

There are laws against littering but I have yet to read about any litterbug being caught and punished.

Littering is not limited to any particular stratum of society. Maybe on the upper level the quality of the litter is better. The wrappers are those of Ferrero Roche instead of something endorsed by Mat Sentul. But when I was on the highway, I have personally seen Mengelembu Groundnuts packets being thrown out of late model Mercedes as well as very early Ford Escorts.

Talking about highways, remember the "IKUT KIRI JIKA TIDAK MEMOTONG" (Literally: Keep left if not cutting) signs? Rubber tappers and tok mudins (circumcisers) plan to protest that sign. They have to keep left all the time when they are on the way to work.


Saturday, September 11, 2004

They sent me to learn Media Management in Australia. The International Training Institute was in Mossman, Sydney but we were sent for attachments later to Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.

When I was in Australia, they asked me why I didn't eat the beef, lamb or chicken served in the dining hall. I just smiled and didn't bother to explain why. I just took out my sardines or eggs and have them with my rice. Occasionally, a fellow student, Fatimah (a lecturer from USM) shared her serondeng (spiced beef floss) with me. Vegemite (or Marmite in Malaysian market) on crackers helped too.

On weekends, in Sydney, I went out with fellow Muslims like Hj. Abdullah Bolhiah from Sarawak and look for the only Muslim restaurant that we know somewhere on the street parallel to George Street. The restaurant was then owned and operated by a young Indonesian who bought halal meat and turned them into delicious Nasi Padang dishes.

One Sunday, while we were having our lunch, we were distracted by the scene of the restaurant owner explaining vehemently but patiently to a man in a naval officer's uniform. The officer looked and sounded like a Malay. He wanted to be doubly sure that all the food he wanted to order was halal. He was convinced and he ordered his lunch. He also ordered beer.

By the way, when I stock up on my sardines, I was always asked how many cats I had. Apparently, in Sydney, sardines are cat food.

Have a nice weekend folks!


Friday, September 10, 2004
I don't usually write fiction like a few of my daughters do in their blogs. I did write stage plays when I was in Maktab Perguruan Bahasa and when I had to, I write radio drama scripts. I did write something that you might call docu-drama for a now defunct magazine "Business Trends". The following was published in the Business Practice column in the October 1994 issue:

Educating the E.D.

The haze did not come and it was a bright sunny Sunday morning at one of the capital's better-known (and expensive) golf club. The morning was made brighter by the loud red and black plaid pants topped by a blushing pink shirt of one of the golfers getting ready to tee off. He was abetted by a diamond -studded gold Rolex on one wrist and a shining gold bracelet on the other. His partner was more subdued in an anonymous off-white cotton slacks and navy blue shirt of indeterminate pedigree. His only concession to the status-conscious world, it seemed, was a Tag Huer watch that he kept looking at.

"Do you still want to play 18 holes Sam?", The guy in the pink shirt asked testily.
"Yes, Dato' ", replied the partner, calmly. "My flight is at 5. We have enough time."
The Dato' grunted something incomprehensible, tossed his golf club to his caddie and announced brusquely "I'm hungry. Go tell the Captain I'll play later. Let's have some breakfast Sam!"

Sam nodded his head. You do not argue with a hungry Dato'. He was not surprised at this change of plan. The only predictable thing about this Dato' is his unpredictability. He only hoped that the Dato's temper will improve after breakfast.

The breakfast did improve the Dato's temper. He was telling dirty jokes while shoveling nasi lemak and fried eggs into his mouth. The Dato' is not scared of cholesterol. He is not scared of anything. Sam remembered the Dato' telling him one should eat anything one fancies because one will die anyway. So might as well die happy.

"So what is this meeting in Penang all about?" The Dato' asked.
"Meeting?" Sam was shaken out of his reverie. "Oh, it is not a meeting Dato'. It is a workshop. A follow-up on our last seminar."
"Ahhh....waste of time and money", snorted the Dato', "I never send any of my staff to seminars or workshop. What's the seminar all about anyway?"
"Grid Management, Dato'."
"Greed? It teaches you to be greedy?" asked the Dato', his eyes gleaming.
"No, no. Not greed, but grid. It tells you where you are on the management grid."
The Dato' sank back in his seat, a little bit disappointed. "I know where I am. I am the boss!"
"The Grid is not about pecking orders, Dato' " Sam explained patiently, "It is about management styles. Give me a moment. Let me draw you the Grid." Fortunately the golf club does not use regular cloth napkins in all its outlets. Here, in the coffee house it uses paper napkins. Sam unfolded one of the serviettes and drew a square filled with ten vertical lines and ten horizontal lines altogether. Then he wrote some numbers. On the first line at the top left he wrote "1,9" while on the first line on the top-right he wrote "9,9". "1,1" was on the bottom line on the left while on the extreme right at the bottom, Sam put down "9,1". When he finished, Sam's drawing looked something like this:

The Grid Posted by Hello

Sam showed his drawing to the Dato'. "According to GRID, your management style is classified by the degree of your concern for your people and the job. If your main concern is the job and you couldn't care less about your people then you are a 9,1. On the other extreme, if your priority is your people and not the job then you are here, 1,9. The ideal is here on the top right 9,9 and the worst is on the bottom left 1,1."

The Dato' drained his teh tarik and started to unwrap a fat Davidoff cigar. "I know that 1,1 is the worst. I've fired many of those. If they don't care about the job they have no business being on my payroll. I can't stand those 1,9 type either...."
"The country-club managers."
"Yes, those!" agreed the Dato' ", biting of the end of his cigar and spitting the tobacco out. "I have no patience with managers molly-coddling their staff and trying to make them feel good all the time! For goodness sake, we are running a business, not some welfare organizations!"
"There are proof that workers do better and more work if they are happy."
"I tell them to do better work or else!" The Dato' snorted, blowing smoke out of his nostrils. "Being happy about it is optional!"
"Unhappy workers might leave, Dato'!"
"So what? I can always hire fresh workers."
"A high staff turnover will affect productivity Dato'. Fresh workers need time to be trained."
"My workers will not leave anyway. Where will they go? Mine is the only factory of its kind in this country."
"That, Dato', cannot last forever," declared Sam, dodging an advancing puff of cigar smoke. "Sooner or later, you'll have competition. In the meantime, unhappy workers unable to leave will do subversive things that will damage your company in the long run."
The Dato' took a long drag at his cigar, let out a long stream of smoke, dislodged a piece of tobacco from between his teeth and asked "And you say that Grid Management can prevent this?"
"I didn't say that, Dato'. Nobody can say that a particular management philosophy can solve everything or prevent anything. Grid Management is just one of the framework for managers to see how to work with and through one another to achieve the company's objectives."
"People work FOR me, Sam, not WITH me!" retorted the Dato', stabbing the air with his burning cigar.
"Doing business these days requires team-work Dato' " explained Sam, calmly. "Excellence and profitability can be achieved when there is synergy."
"And Grid Management can help you get the synergy?", the Dato' asked without his usual cynicism.
"Yes. Grid Management will help you increase Team Effectiveness, manage Intergroup conflict and develop a better culture in your company."
"Sounds interesting enough. You can tell me more about it during our game. Waiter!"
"I am afraid we can't play right now Dato', look at that haze."
"Blast it! It was fine just now! I shouldn't have smoked the cigar!"


Thursday, September 09, 2004
Yesterday I could not post anything. Even comments did not work as expected. As Beta Blogger put it "Blogger was blogged".
Thus whatever that I wanted to write yesterday went with the wind.
Ideas are not like food. Some food (like pindang ikan patin with tempoyak) gets better when kept overnight. Some if kept overnight like food in certain shops will give you tummy ache. My late father had a simple test for this. He would ask the mamak for yesterday's curry. If the mamak brought it, he would cancel his order and walked out. One shop told my father they did not have yesterday's curry. "Semua sudah campur daa!" (It was already mixed with today's curry).

One place that we were sure of getting hot fresh food was at Pok Kadir.
Pok Kadir was a tall man from Malabar. He had little hair but lots of grey stubbles. He had a stall on the sandy river bank across the road where the old Kuala Terengganu Post Office was. At that time, that part of the river was not reclaimed yet. In our (my classmates and I) opinion, Pok Kadir made the best mee mamak ever. Thick yellow noodles covered with lots of eggs, camboh ( bean sprouts or taugeh), tahu, sotong, prawns and slices of boiled potatoes. Mee Mamak should not be called that without the sliced boiled potatoes. Pok Kadir also served rojak which is still memorable and incomparable. Had he lived today, he would have easily stolen the patrons of that rojak stall in front of the Damansara Specialist Hospital. It is sad that Pok Kadir's culinary secrets weren't exploited by his children. One of his sons instead chose to open a photo shop.

Another favourite place of ours was Sumbu's. He sold air batu kacang or ice kacang on the road in between Kedai Biang (Trengganu's Robinson at one time) and the Chinese Temple in Kampung China. For all my 3 foreign readers , Ice kacang is a bowl of shaved ice sweetened with syrup and milk. Underneath the ice are all kind of goodies. These goodies make or break an ice kacang.

We could not determine how this Chinese gentleman got his name. Sumbu means snout and badak sumbu is a rhinoceros. I guessed we were too captivated by his ice kacang to bother about his nickname. His ice kacang had buah kabung (attap seed), red beans, black belde (jelly or cincau), biji selasih (basil seeds), roasted peanuts and other stuff which I now challenge other classmates to recall. The ice kacang was heavenly. More so in hot Terengganu when fridges were not a common fixture as they are today.

A few yards away was Mok Mek Ceranang's. Read beta-bloggers piece on this. What wasn't written was Mok Mek Ceranang's place was also THE place to bring your girlfriend. At that time, holding hands in Terengganu was a big no-no. It was ok for boys to hold hands though. It was not ok for a boy and a girl to meet anywhere in public places. There were no soda parlours or places like the old Green Grove in KL. So Kedai Mok Mek Ceranang was a perfect place for a rendezvous.

Mok Mek Ceranang's place was at the back of a book shop. I got a lot of my Mickey Spillane, Harold Robbins and smuggled copies of "Playboy" there. Thus it was easy enough to stroll into the bookshop and then slipped inside and wait for your boyfriend/girfriend. And it was cheap. Try having a date for tiga rial (RM 3.00) now.

Naaaah... they didn't cuddle or neck there. Mok Mek would be the first to berate you. She was a firm believer in proper behaviour. It was ok to slurp Mok Mek's "air dara" (air buah bidara - the drink that went well with ceranang) but you keep your hands off the virgins.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004
While chatting yesterday, Rosie, a young grandma from Shah Alam all of a sudden asked me if I have any friends suffering from diabetes. She claimed that one of her colleague is now completely cured after drinking tea made from bunga pari-pari.
I am at a loss as to what plant this wonder flowers come from. Pari-pari means fairy. Would the plant be gay?
I immediately thought of my friend Ropa. No, he is not gay but he has diabetes and it would be wonderful if the flowers can cure him, InsyaAllah. Ropa is full of humour and he has been my friend since we were kids. His father and my father worked in the same department and we were next-door neighbours twice. Once in Padang Bongor, Kota Bharu and once again in Setiu, Terengganu.
A few years ago, Ropar nearly had his leg amputated but he escaped and sought alternative treatments. Even if he had lost his leg, Ropa would never lose his zaniness.
Posted by Hello
One afternoon, during a fasting month, we found ourselves in the Sultanah Cinema in Kota Bharu. As soon as the film started, Ropa took out his bag of jambu air (water apple or eugenia aquea - see pic). He tried to persuade me to join him in breaking fast. His argument was "It is already dark!"
Ropa later went to Technical Institute Penang. There he helped himself to the Warden's papayas. He uprooted the whole tree to get rid of any evidence. He told me about this episode via a letter enclosed in what was once the inside wrapper of a Gillete shaving blade. Even though the stamp barely fit the envelope, the letter reached me.
Ropa later became a Settlement Officer. We met again when he was posted to Kuala Brang where I first taught. Ropa didn't get married while my family grew. When pressed for his reason of being a bachelor, his answer was simple: "Tadok orang mari pinang lagi!" (No one came to ask for my hand yet).
He did get married after retiring from Government service. He married an older lady with grown up kids. Ropa told us he had to catch up and needed an instant family.
Recently Ropa suspected he had a growth or something in his brain. A classmate arranged for him to see a specialist in Kuantan. He told me the doctor recommended a treatment that included a number of surgeries over a couple of months. Ropa's reaction was to suggest that the doctor fastened a zipper to his cranium. "Whenever you want to look into my head, you do not have to operate. Just unzip and then when you are done, just zip it back." The doctor terminated the consultation abruptly.
Ropa can laugh in the face of adversity. He is still laughing with his instant family somewhere in Setiu. We promised to go fishing on my next visit. He will bring the jambu.
(Thanks Didee for reminding me how to position the pictures. Hugs.)


Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Yesterday I had a headache grappling with Cascading Style Sheet and html coding trying to come up with a new look for my blog. I am really and truly benok (dense). An old dog trying to learn new tricks. If you see this blog looking and behaving a bit odd, I am redecorating so please excuse the dust. I will clean up in due course. Kohor kohor.

Anyway I powered down the old pc and turned to the Star. After sighing deeply over the fate of Tioman's corals, I spied one item on page 11 of the Lifestyle section titled Acronym angst. The article rued Indonesia's runaway acronym-making binge. This is the country that has Pemilu as an acronym for General Election. It comes from Pemilihan Umum. Pemilu can also mean 'something that makes you sad'. Probably the results of the election.

Acronyms are not new in Indonesia. A long time ago, one Indonesian broadcaster told me what Harmoko (his Minister of Information then) really meant. It was an acronym for 'Hari hari omong kosong' ( empty talk every day).

The acronym bug has hit our shores. Now we see Pulapol, Setpol and Menlu (Pusat Latihan Polis, Setiausaha Politik and Menteri Luar). I am sure you can add more to the list.

Acronym was unheard of when I was growing up in Terengganu except for cakju which was a 'wash-your- mouth-with-chili paste' word. It comes from the word pecat baju (remove shirt). Instead, Terengganu wags had fun with abbreviations.

JKR TR (Jabatan Kerja Raya Trengganu) painted on lorries and other vehicles belonging to the Public Works Dept Trengganu became an exhortation: Jangan Kerja Rajin, Tok Rok (Don't work too hard, you get tired). I can imagine a sarcastic driver of an old Morris Minor skirting potholes thinking this one up.

Before our electricity monopoly became TNB (Tenaga National Berhad) it was once called Lembaga Letrik Negara (National Electricity Board) or LLN for short. To the Terengganu wags, LLN is Lenggok Lenggok Naik (look up and climb up) -aptly describing what they see the wiremen do.

Finally, there is this nightmare haunting parents or wives (sometimes both) of officers from outside Terengganu who served in the state. The ladies pray hard that their sons/husbands don't get SMT. It is not the royal award (Sri Mahkota Terengganu) that they are scared of but rather, unfairly, Sangkut Mek Terengganu (hooked to a Terengganu Maiden).


Monday, September 06, 2004

"Life is filled with secrets. You can't learn them all at once " -Dan Brown "The Da Vinci Code"

My father, for one reason or the other, did not want to live with the rest of the family. I heard whispers that he was miffed at not being found a wife like what they did to his younger brother. Or it might be that he fell into disfavour for not giving in to the repeated requests to follow his grandaunt cum grand stepmother to Mesir (Egypt) and learn how to be a hafiz and reader. The real reason is buried with my father in the compound of Mesjid Sultan Zainal Abidin or better known as Mesjid Putih (White Mosque).

The family was earlier in Kota Lama where the Standard Chartered Bank and other commercial establishments are now. Then they moved to Dalam Kota Istana Maziah. Even that house was removed and its remaining occupants are scattered all over or beyond Kuala Terengganu.

My father, as a government employee, moved too much to have a permanent base of his own. So, except in places where there were departmental quarters, my father lived in rented houses.

At least two of the houses were in the area behind Mesjid Putih. One was nearer to the mosque and the other further down in Kampong Datuk Panglima Perang. We also lived in Kampong Paya Tok Ber, a stone's throw from the mosque. I am not sure if my father paid rent for this house because it belonged to my mother's sister whose family also lived there.

I tried very hard to remember the exact location of the first rented house behind the mosque. All I can remember are two things. I was in Standard One in Sekolah Melayu Paya Bunga and I was in the afternoon session. One day I had unfinished business in the outhouse (no indoor plumbing then) when I heard the zohor call to prayer. My panicky wailings brought my mother rushing to the jamban (the aforementioned outhouse). She probably thought I fell inside. I was just scared that I was late for school.

The other thing I remembered was being tied to a clump of banana trees in front of the house.

It was Hari Raya Raya Haji. It wasn't a big deal to my mother then because she wasn't a hajjah yet. We went to the well and I had my bath while my mom proceeded with her laundry. By the time I finished putting my baju melayu, sampeng and songkok, my mother have not finished washing clothes. I was bent on painting the town red or whatever colour a Standard One Pupil could at that time and wanted my raya money. My mother told me to wait. My father was away at work, even though it was a public holiday.

I waited for a while, sitting on the steps of the house, my chin cradled in the palms of my hand. It was a long while to a young boy. I couldn't wait any longer. I went inside the house and found my mother's handbag. It was a green patent leather handbag. I rummaged inside and retrieved one ringgit in coins.

I made my way to Kedai Kohtong, a coffee shop at the other end of a row of shops housing Kedai Pok Loh Yunang, Kedai Fernandez, and Kedai Yamada etc. I ordered and had a breakfast of chicken satay. It was my first time on my own in a food place of any sort.

I came home, very much later, to face my mother's Spanish Inquisition. My protestations that the money was due to me anyway were pronounced irrelevant and duly rejected. "Wait till your father gets home" was a promise and not a threat. My father did get home, told of my misdeed and led me down to the nearest clump of banana trees and tied me there. My friends got wind of my predicament and came to gawk. They looked sad but did not dare untie me. Like good Malaysians, they didn't want to get involved.

To this day, I dare not take anything that isn't mine. I also studiously avoid green patent leather handbags.


Sunday, September 05, 2004
Hadap Semangat 1952 Posted by Hello
Elisa would feel less bad about me putting up her baby picture now that I put up mine. I hope now she will give up the idea of hacking my blog, heheh.
This was taken by one of the Redi Photo Studio people on the occasion of our Hadap Semangat thing prior to bersunat (circumcision) or bertindik (ear-piercing) depending on what equipment you come with.
Somehow this picture reminds me of my grandson Ihsan, who in turn, at one time reminded me of one of the characters in "Little Rascals".
By the way, I have forgotten my html commands. I was spoiled too much by Front Page and other web page generators. Can someone tell me how to align the text around the image? "Hello", the program that helped me put pictures on my blog indicated that the image is "inline".
Obviously it is not.


Liza is unfazed by famous faces... Posted by Hello

I don't usually post on Sunday. Never On Sunday and all that. But I will make an exception today. It is my 2nd daughter's birthday. Happy Birthday sayang.

I guess it is not easy to be #2. Number Two Tries Harder.

Lisa was a "full of temper" child. My mother's temper and my temper somehow got concentrated into Lisa. It was so intense sometimes that even my mother found Lisa intimidating. Maybe she saw herself in Lisa. There is a lot of my mom in Lisa. Besides the fiery temper, she inherited a bit of my mother's tomboy tendencies. My mother climbed trees when she was young. Lisa has mellowed now but if you read her blog, you can see her fiery temper surfacing every now and then hurled at sundry idiots that dare crossed her usual good nature.

This daughter of ours was always her own person. I hope she still is. When vans were the rage and MPVs, SUVs or what nots were still to appear, we had a Ford Spectron. Other children preferred falling asleep on the nice seats but not Lisa. She chose to curl up on the carpeted floor.

Lisa had an unplanned nose job when we were in Kuantan. She was then in the primary school. She had a bad argument with the hard cement drain of our house in Medan Tok Sira and cut her nose badly. She was a tough girl. The maid who was supposed to take care of her cried more and longer. I can not remember the maid's name. Anyway, Lisa's nose got more stitches than the audience of some of Malaysia's comedians.

Another unpleasant incident happened when we were in Kuala Lumpur. Lisa joined SK Kg. Tunku and took the school bus to school. One evening we were waiting anxiously for the bus to deposit her in front of our house. It was long overdue. Before I could get the car out to go to the school another came. Lisa somehow missed the bus and two Indian men sent her home.

Lisa was a good student. She did well in school and went on to get her Masters degree. We are proud of her.

Happy birthday again!


Saturday, September 04, 2004
It is indeed heartening for a blogger to have his blog mentioned in another blog. To be mentioned in blogs of your daughters is one thing but to be mentioned in a blog written (in my opinion) by the Master blogger is something else. It is like your Drama Minggu Ini (or whatever they call those soppy TV dramas nowadays) being watched and mentioned by Spielberg. My blog is not even Drama Minggu Ini. It is mostly home movies. It got mentioned in 2 postings in Jalan-Jalan, a blog of the first water written by beta-blogger.

It started after I posted the Extinct Terengganu Food in my old blog. A young Kelantanese living abroad, Sangkelate read the post and asked me in his comments about beluda, a Terengganu muffin-like cake that he read about in Jalan-Jalan. I answered him and went to have a look at the link.

To use modern parlance, it was like "Wow"

Such substance, such style, such craftsmanship and such a wide range of subjects. Thank you Wan for giving me the link.

At first I felt like what any average Malaysian male would be feeling when they watch porno stars in action. They feel like limping away feeling small.

I read on and then it struck me. I know this writer. I haven't met him personally yet but years ago, one of his teachers told me about him. The writer is a pro. And a very good one. I felt much better. I don't compare myself to pros. Heck; I don't compare myself to anyone. I won't be too happy if I do. Never compare your Kancil to the Merc SEL. You will only frustrate yourself. Just drive on.

But I sure wish I can write like him. Right now I will settle for being just good enough to make my blogging kids a wee bit jealous. On my good days at least.

Beta-Blogger and I exchanged emails these past few days. I hope this habit will continue. Maybe one day I will ask him when is he coming back to Terengganu (ok, for you, Trengganu). I don't think I can live for long in England. I managed to embarass myself by just being a few days in London. I spied a couple of Indians selling Pierre Cardin boots along Edgeware Road and forgetting where I was, started to bargain in Malay. The gentlemen of course politely ignored me as they would any crazy babbling tourist.
Pierre Cardin stuffs, like very well written blogs tend to do that to me.


Friday, September 03, 2004

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet" -Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene II)

I am not in the habit of quoting Shakespeare but the pretty picture of Pak Adib's bloom in his blog made me think of the Bard.

A lot of people might not agree with Shakespeare. Misspell or mispronounce a person's name and the owner might be upset to a certain degree. The degree sometimes commensurate with the size of the owner's ego. Verify this fact with chastised MCs, announcers or Registration Dept. clerks.

Whatever name is written in your Identity Card (or now smart Mykad) there is a good chance that you will be called different. This is especially so if you are in Terengganu. In Terengganu, names would evolve according to your physical features, quality, vocation, origin or some stories related to you. This is never done out of malice but just to be practical. Since Mohamad or its various permutations are too numerous in the kampong (village), the name has to have an appendage. Using the bin (son of) will not help alleviate the confusion. In our class we have 2 Mohamad bin Ismail. So, in the class register and subsequent documents one was referred to as Mohamad Ismail A and the other Mohamad Ismail B.

This did not work in villages where the Roman alphabets were hitherto unknown. Appendages work better. We have to be specific which Mamat we are talking about. Specify Mamat Pala Kerah (Hard-headed Mamat) if we meant the village bouncer and not Mamat Lepok (Durian cake Mamat) or Mamat Tukang Gunting (Mamat The Barber). Since every mother North of Rhu Renggeh hoped to have sons who are eternally young, we have many people named Muda. Muda means young in Malay. So one Muda becomes Muda Hendap (Peering Muda). No, he is not a Peeping Tom. He is just short-sighted. Those are examples of appendages related to a person's quality or vocation.
Appendages are also affixed when you have noticeable features. Thus, the shorter Ali is called Ali Sekerat and on the other end, the very lanky Haji Leh is known as Haji Leh Sekateh. As for names like Che' Mat Riau, Wan Muda Barat, Man Paka or Lijoh Siak it is easy enough to surmise where the owners are originally from. Think Siput Serawak or Shariff Medan.

As mentioned earlier, people also get new names because of something that happened in the course of their life. We have a classmate who is called Wei (Ismail) Ler Guard since secondary school days. I am sure you are familiar with head guard, knee guard, wrist guard/wristband so on so forth used by athletes. Our friend, an avid athlete, wanted something to protect his family jewels but was at a loss as to its proper nomenclature. So in one sporting goods store he asked for Ler Guard much to the amusement of his schoolmates and the bewilderment of the store salesperson. Another schoolmate had his ways with Mok Long, the hostel cook. The deed was subsequently discovered and he henceforth had Pok Long affixed after his name until today. I shall refrain from telling you how Usop Ayang (Chicken Usop), Minoh Rakit (Minah The Raft) or Selamoh Merengue got their respective name. My lips are sealed.

Enough name dropping for one day.

(No reputations were harmed or malice intended in the making of this post.)


Thursday, September 02, 2004
Helicopters don't have the luxury of midair refueling. There are no petrol stations up there either. So when a chopper runs out of fuel in midair, it is perfectly natural that its occupants feel somewhat anxious.

When I was seconded to ICU (Implementation & Coordinating Unit), Prime Minister's Department, I had to use a helicopter to shoot footages for a documentary on coastal erosion. The Director of Engineering Division, Haji Fauzi was in charge of the coastal erosion problem and he needed some visual proofs for the next presentation. He chartered one of Mofaz's helicopters and on the appointed day we assembled at the terminal in Bukit Lanjan.

There were 4 of us. Hj. Fauzi, Megat, our betacam cameraman, Yazid (Wak) the still cameraman and myself. I was the director/producer and Hj. Fauzi was the client.

The flight didn't start very well. Our flight plan entailed crossing over Subang airport to the nearest coast. The weather was not so good. Jerubu (smog) hung stubbornly in the air and visibility was rather limited. Control tower told us to wait. Our schedules were tight and we couldn't wait too long. So after about an hour salivating over a few private helicopters parked in the hangar, we suggested to the pilot to take other routes. He agreed. So we took off heading towards Rawang and once out of the path of descending planes, headed to the coast.

We flew over water most of the time and shot parts of the coast breached by the sea. Usually where the prawn ponds were.

We stopped over to spend the night in Langkawi, Johor Baharu and Kota Bharu. We made 4 unscheduled landings. Once in an about to be completed School for the Handicapped's field in Malacca to have kari kepala ikan in a restaurant across the road, another in Mersing town padang (field) to have nasi dagang and the 3rd one in Radio Malaysia Kuantan's volleyball court.. We needed someone to guard the helicopter while we were gone for lunch. The 4th landing was the most interesting.

We flew out of Kuantan heavy with lunch. We were heading home to Kuala Lumpur and was somewhere near Genting Highlands when we ran into bad weather. There were walls of thick clouds all around us. Visibility was very poor. The Control Tower told us to seek alternative routes.

The pilot had to make a detour and skirted the bad weather by going through holes in the fog.

Suddenly, Megat who was in the co-pilot's seat woke up from his slumber. Megat is a burly gentleman and he needed a window to poke his camera out. So he got to sit in front. Fauzi, Wak and I are not so well endowed so the three of us could fit in the back seat. Megat was shouting something. I put on my headset to listen to what he was saying. He was telling me that the fuel gauge showed empty and the light was flashing. I looked at the pilot. He smiled reassuringly while looking for clearings down below. Hj. Fauzi and Wak were blissfully sleeping.

I saw only jungles below until a town came into view.

"Kuala Klawang!" said the pilot, very calmly. "We will look for a field."

We found the field. But there were lots of people in the field. A school was having the annual Sports Day.

"No problem" said the pilot "We will look for another school"

Meanwhile the light was still flashing and Megat has lost his considerable tan. Fauzi and Wak woke up, grasped the situation and began praying. Hard.

I remembered reading about how helicopters can glide down as long as the rotors keep turning. Otherwise the helicopter will drop like a stone. I muttered my own prayers.

To his credit, the pilot quickly spied a vacant field and landed safely. It was a Chinese school somewhere out of Kuala Klawang town. HQ was quickly contacted and the fuel truck promised. We decided to stretch our legs but ran smack into a crowd of excited villagers. They never had a helicopter landing in their village before. Some wanted to take down the numbers for 4 digits or whatever. Some were just nosy.
Relieved to land The fuel truck came some hours later leaving enough daylight for us to fly back to Kuala Lumpur. En route we made another landing in the car park of the PM's Department to offload equipment, Megat, Fauzi and Wak. I got to sit in front all the way to Bukit Lanjan.


Wednesday, September 01, 2004
I found this yesterday in a NOKIA ad in The Star:

Our skyscrapers are getting taller
but tempers are growing shorter

We are acquiring more knowledge
but practising less courtesy

We are slotting in more meetings
but finding less time for the family

We are making more profits
but sharing less jokes

We are always talking
But hardly listening

Comments anyone?