Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Monday, January 31, 2005
The Nasi Dagang Party went well. Of course nothing is perfect and I have to apologize on behalf of the harried organizers for not starting on time. Jordan & Mazleen came on time but were not seated until later. Actually, the organizers were there well before 8pm but had to dash home to do solat maghrib and one had to change clothes. I prayed at home but my son who picked me up stopped to pray at his sister's house en route to the Coffee Hut.

I had a wonderful time meeting for the first time the nicks that I previously saw in my comment box except for the Redzuan . But then, I met Redzuan when he was still in Primary school. He has changed somewhat. Redzuan amused the rest by showing the Commodore Users Exchange magazines that I published 20 years ago.

When I was exchanging stories with Pak Adib, Red & Dudae in the Smokers Corner, there were SMS from atok in London and later a call from Sang Kelate who is in Lancaster. Both of them, like all those that couldn't make it, were with us in spirit and thought. They missed the nasi dagang, buah bung, jambu air (with ccolek), kerepok lekor and the best selection of coffee in town. Don't worry; I hope to meet you guys when you are in town next.

I am still posting from a No Smoking cyber cafe so I can't really stay long. I am sure there will be posts about the party. When I post this, there are already 4 blogs (Jordan, Redzuan, Mack Zulkifli and Sham) where the gathering is mentioned. Just let me tell you this, if my cucus weren't so sleepy, I would have stayed longer. I went home whistling "Some Enchanted Evening". That's how much I enjoyed myself. Thank you for coming. Thank you for making the evening enchanting for an old man. Let's do it again.

Red ( a fellow Terengganuspeaker) took some pics and here they are. Thanks Red.


Friday, January 28, 2005
My Internet connection from the house is not available since Thursday morning. I am not sure if the reason is technical or financial. My daughter Elisa is trying to fix things as soon as possible. In the meantime, I will attempt to post this and also to reply to comments on yesterday's post from the nearest cyber cafe. If you see the date and time of this post later than the current time, do not adjust your clock. It would be just me posting this ahead of the usual time.

On a happier and brighter note, the venue for the Nasi Dagang Party has been identified and secured. It will be at the Coffee Hut at Rasta, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail as strongly recommended by Bibi, who is a permanent patron of the place. The nasi dagang is free of course, courtesy of Mokciknab but store rules dictate that you can't bring your own drink. Sorry, no BYO. Never fear, Coffee Hut at Rasta sells the famous Kemaman coffee and also the equally famous Kota Bharu kopi deka as well as other beverages. You won't get thirsty. Just bring some loose change. I also heard that Rasta Hut will be frying some keropok lekor especially for the occasion. I wish I had more teeth though.

I hope to see you there Saturday night. It will be fantastic to eyeball you and shake your hand at last. If you feel like having conversations with me, bring an umbrella for protection. Remember, I have few teeth left. Bring a digital camera too if you like. Our friends overseas and those who can't make it would want to see what happened. So please, somebody, bring a digital camera. Mine is already useless. I will get my son to bring his camcorder.

There will be a sizeable crowd, insyaAllah. Mokciknab told me 40 of you already confirmed. If you haven't confirmed your attendance, there is still time to email Mokciknab. She posted the details on her blog.

See you there!


Thursday, January 27, 2005
I have noticed that the Scout's Honour and the hand sign is sometimes used by non-scouts too.Especially when one is trying to underline the veracity of one's statement or the fidelity of one's promise.

Some of course will swear on their mother's grave even though the mum is still alive and kicking. Others will promise that they will be struck by lightning if they lied.

Terengganu kids (during my time of course) weren't so morbid. Oh, they did swear alright. I can remember that. Even those of us that were scouts had to resort to swearing when faced with Doubting Thomases or Wavering Wans.

I can remember 3 favourites phrases for "bersumpah". One was rekok wok (the wok is nasalised and rhymes with bongok). The accompanying movement was usually the bending of the arm to solemnly swear that if the arm bender lies, the arm will be forever bent and shrivelled. Boys of a certain age believed that the arm won't be only part of the body to be bent and shrivelled. Scary stuff.

Another oft-used phrase was tobat (literally repent). There were two versions. One was tobat pong. The other was tobat yasing. The latter was usually used by kids who had gone for Quran classes and heard about the powers of Surah Yasin. Tobat pong was used in ordinary garden variety situations like:
"Aku dok rajeng setoh pon basika mung. Tobat pong"
(I have never touched your bicycle. I swear!)

The other was usually used in serious situations where stronger affirmations were needed when threatened with bodily injuries or severed relationship or both:
"Tobat yasing aku dok setoh adik mung"
(I swear I didn't touch your sister).

Another favourite was kapir (Unbeliever) before it was hijacked by political parties.
Even though there were no Eurasians for miles around, kids used kapir serani though it was not meant to insult any Eurasian. As mentioned, there wasn't any around to insult in our times. As time went by, we had a couple of serani in town like Cikgu Dennis. They remain uninsulted until today. There were other races who were not Muslims but we never heard of them being invoked.

Of course the ultimate was something like the Chinese "potong ayam". It was usually saved for life and death situations where parangs and klewangs in the hands of doubting people were involved. Usually these people were a bit angry. In these situations, you better be innocent. You had to swear on the Quran.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali

I have to apologize to friends whose blog I haven't visited lately. I am really swamped by work which I hope will ease a bit soon. I know that I have 24 hours like everyone but somehow my 24 hours seems to be used up faster. I am glad I am not teaching Time Management. Don't get me wrong though, my classes went well and at least ended on time. Starting is another matter. I could only start about 15 minutes after the scheduled time after I get about 30% of my class present. Starting on time is impossible because the few punctual ones insisted that I wait for their friends. I did tell them that when I waited, I am punishing those that came on time. They didn't mind. Since I am paid by the hour, I can live with that.

2 hours, twice a week are spent travelling. Yesterday (Tuesday) was an exception. I had an afternoon class but I left the house early because a friend wanted to meet me in KLCC. After picking his watch at the Mont Blanc shop and evaluating a new Canon printer that he is interested in, we had lunch at a crowded food court below Konikuniya. Then we had to wait for an extremely slow lift to get to the car. Then we got into a crawl along Jalan Ampang. Luckily, I got to my class with 5 minutes to spare. I know it is pointless to be early when everyone else is late but, hey, I am Old School.

When I get home, I bone up on what I am supposed to teach next. It was different when I was teaching Broadcasting subjects. I do not have to read up so much. This time it is a different ball game altogether and I have to refresh my creaky memory and stay ahead of my students. I prefer to read blogs, really but I have no choice.

I tried taking naps with books close to my head, hoping for some kind of osmosis. Didn't work. I got a stiff neck instead.


Monday, January 24, 2005
Scene in Kedai Payang, Kuala Terengganu

The realist in some of the Terengganu people will prompt them to be brutally frank. But fear not, they are seldom frank to tourists and other visitors. To friends and relatives, you will hear them spout out their comments which you should very well give some thoughts to.

When pronouncing that something, even an idea,that they thought is very common and mundane they will retort with:
pat sepuloh, paso belambok
(It is 4 for 10 sen and there are plenty in the market).
So be careful when you want to show off something you THINK is unique. If you think your product, your idea can be sold or even your wishes can be fulfilled and your Terengganu friend thinks otherwise, he (or she) will say
lambat lagi
(equivalent to "in your dreams" or "not in a million years/in your lifetime"). This can be a useful response to suitor that you do not like. Use it sparingly though. If your USE BY date is fast running out and you can't afford to play hard-to-get, you might be warned that you might end up
peng lallat
(crowded by flies) , a fate I would not wish upon my worst enemy.

There are several phrases oft-used in competitions, whether sports or otherwise. When boys choose who they want to be in their team, the smallest boy is called
anok wek (small fry)
Two anak wek is worth one regular -size boy. If the team is too inferior and easily beaten, the team is called ayang bute (blind chicken) or worse, ayang mata dene (chicken with watery eyes). Some foreign teams might find this phrase useful to describe our national teams.

Have a Happy Thaipusam!


Thursday, January 20, 2005
To those in the dark, a recap is in order. This blog was voted the Best Malaysia (n) Blog in the recent Asia Blog Awards organised by Simon of Simon World. Thank you Simon for taking the trouble of organising the awards. I also would love to thank in person those who voted for me, especially Mack Zulkifli who volunteered to be my Campaign Manager and was among those who wrote nice things to get people to vote for me. Yes, I meant you too Kervin, Jordan and few others that I may have forgotten to mention. All gave me their support and encouragement.

My daughters of course rooted for me from the beginning. Mimi and Elisa promised their eternal gratitude while Mokciknab promised a nasi dagang party if their father wins.

Well, their father did win and Mokciknab is organising the party on Saturday 29th January. Please come although the venue is yet to be selected. Rest assured that it will be somewhere in the Klang Valley. You will be duly informed. Please read Mokciknab's post about this and email her immediately. We do want enough food for everyone so it is important that we know how many are coming.

It will be our pleasure to meet you and thank you in person.


Reading my SiteMeter report, I have noticed that most of you read my blog from your work place.Some read in the house and a few logged in from both the work place AND the house. Whatever it is, most of you will not log in tomorrow (Friday) since it is Hari Raya Haji or Aidil Adha. Allow me to wish you a meaningful and happy Aidiladha.
Sometimes, Hari Raya Haji is also called Hari Raya Qurban because animals such as camels and other livestocks are slaughtered as a sacrifice to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim's sacrifice of his son, Ismael. This is not only done in Makkah by the haj pilgrims but by Muslims all over the world. Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham)was so obedient to God's command even at the expense of his son's life. And Ismael, his son was willing enough to sacrifice his life for God. At the last moment, Allah substituted Ismael with a sheep.
The meat of the sacrificed animals are distributed to the poor. A little bit is kept by the owner unless of course the animal was sacrificed as a nazar (vow). Then the meat is forbidden to the person making the vow.
When I was small, Hari Raya Qurban will be followed by a few days of meat dishes including grilled beef with "cecah" (the dip) made of tamarind juice and salt. They were enjoyable days. I still have my teeth then.
In my innocence, I asked why chickens and ducks were not sacrificed. That was on the day that I got fed up of beef and mutton I think. I was told that those who sacrificed the livestock would get to ride them in the Hereafter. If you sacrificed a camel, you get to ride a camel. If you sacrificed a goat, you get to ride on the goat's back. I remembered thinking out loud that I would sacrifice a motorcycle.

Have a safe holiday. I might not be able to get online in the next few days. See you soon, InsyaAllah.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Today my only son is 30 years old. He will be celebrating his birthday in Pantai Hospital, Pandan Indah. He is getting better though and he hopes to be discharged in a few days.

When Boy was born he had a chest like a skinned pigeon. My uncle said the baby is going to suffer from asthma or some other respiratory disease.All people with "dada burung", he said, are like that. I am glad my uncle was wrong. When Boy was nearly a year old we found his head covered with sores which the doctors could not cure. The old folks called it "kenan" and pointed us to the proper person to cure our baby son. Alhamdullillah, a relative who lived in Marang (that's another place far from Merang) with Allah's permission and blessing helped to get rid of the sores.

The sores on the head did not diminish Boy's intelligence in any way. He grew up smart and curious. I wished he was less smart though because he got bored fast. He did very well in Standard One in St. Thomas, Kuantan but dipped soon after. Another less than smart decision he made was when he failed to get a credit for BM in his SPM. That made him settle for just Grade 2. Instead of just taking BM again the following year, Boy decided to take the whole examination. He was unaware that by then, they have changed the whole syllabus.

For reasons known only to himself, Boy decided to go to work early, skipping a university education. I asked him what had he applied for. He told me he applied to be a stevedore in Port Klang. I didn't think my son was built for that kind of work and a job more suitable to him must be found. I found him a job with a production house in Taman Tun starting as a "gurkha". He changed job many times after that but kept close to the industry because he loved films.

His sister that he teased relentlessly everyday wrote better stuff about him. Read it here.
Happy Birthday Boy!


Tuesday, January 18, 2005
My daughter found me a job teaching at a media institution. She teaches there too. She passed both of us as "industry experts". I hope we don't get sued later for misrepresentations.
Anyway, I start today and last night was a frantic one. I was rushing to finish my PowerPoint slides, prepare lesson plans and hunting for books though not necessarily in that order. I went to two bookshops in two malls looking for a book on Media Planning and came home disappointed. Even a second hand book shop didn't stock any. I guess, I have to borrow one from Mack.

In my frenzy yesterday, I didn't get to think of any worthwhile topic to blog on. To make matters worse, my son and my grand daughter are in the hospital with dengue. The number of dengue cases in Klang Valley seems to be increasing.

Speaking of numbers, here is something I dug up to use in case my students get extremely bored by my lecture. You can use this to amaze your friends or your cat. Tell them that you can read their mind as I can read yours now.

If this is new to you, here's what you have to do:

Think of a 3-digit number. Any 3-digit number. The last 3 digits of your phone number, your i/c, whatever. The only condition is the number must be different when reversed. 123 is ok because when reversed, it will be 321. 101, on the other hand can not be used because when reversed, it will still remain 101. Get it?
Now write that number down (example 123)
Now reverse the number and write it down (example 321)
Next, subtract the smaller number from the bigger number (e.g. 321-123) . Use a calculator if necessary.Write down the result (e.g. 198)
Now, reverse the result (198 to become 891)
Add up the results (e.g. 198+891)

Write down YOUR TOTAL. I know what it is.

Your last total should be: 1089

If your number and my hidden number aren't the same, you must get the steps wrong. Try again.


Monday, January 17, 2005

I am glad that Terengganu was not affected by the latest blackout. As I was sitting on the steps on the ground floor of my apartment waiting for the lifts to be powered again, I thought of the carrok ( swear) words Terengganu people used.

My friend and fellow-blogger Awang Goneng in this post gave two Terengganu swear words nattang and harang jaddoh which are common in Terengganuspeak. Nattang is of course the Terengganu version of binatang or beast, known or unknown. In a cursing mood, nattang anying (literally dog animal) is not the "cursor" just calling the "cursee" an ordinary dog but probably a beast of a dog like the Hound of Baskerville. I shall not add on harang jaddoh because Awang Goneng, hairless as he is, already gave a more than adequate explanation.

I learnt a lot of swear words from the Geng Kayu. The Geng Kayu were boys from Paya Tok Ber who sat on the pile of wooden planks across the road from Mesjid Puteh. In between prayers at the mosque, they congregate on the planks to cook up some mischief. I discovered that most of the swear words are family-centric. They insult your family, mostly your mother and your grandparents. You know how kids are. You might not be too fond of your mother. She rubbed chilli in your mouth for experimenting with swear words. But you are prepared to fight for her honour. Remember this scene?

Boy: (Drawing a circle on the ground) This is your mother's head. (Stepping on the circle) I STEP on your mother's head.

Invariably, a fist fight follows. Gedebuk gedebak gedebuk gedebak.

The verbal equivalent in Terengganu would be:

mok berayok mung

mok mung gendong celoh pagor

tok mung tuyuk

I am giving just 3 at the moment because those are the ones I remember. I know I will be reminded of others. Do not ask me what berayok means. We just knew it was an insult and didn't wait to ask. We just let fly gedebuk gedebak gedebuk gedebak until the stronger older boys pried us apart.

Mok mung gendong celoh pagor could be casting aspersions on how unladylike your mom is. Gendong is going piggyback and doing it between a fence sounds like a hazy version of the Kamasutra. Whatever the picture you might get, you know that it is a big insult. Gedebuk gedebak gedebuk gedebak again. This time it will take longer for the fighters to be pried. The insult is more potent than mok berayok mung.

Tok mung tuyuk can be loosely translated as "one of your grandparents have bumps". It was never specified where the bumps were. Wherever it was, gedebuk gedebak gedebuk gedebak. The cursor and the cursee would end up tuyuk themselves.

(Picture taken from here)


Saturday, January 15, 2005

After the temporary studio was ready and equipment installed we started daily broadcast from the roof of Hotel Irama. As far as I can remember, there was no campaigning for any political party on air. There were guidelines for voters though. Listeners were told to go out and vote on polling day. Even if their lembu or kerbau were missing, they were advised to vote first, search later. This was to counter an old trick whereby livestock of party supporters were spirited away in the hope that they will spend the whole day looking for lost livestock and miss the voting hours. Another trick was to get identity cards under some pretext and then holding on to them until voting hours expired. We had to remind listeners not to give their kad gamba to anyone or else they won't be able to vote.

When voting day was fast approaching, more people came to the roof top studio. There was Sunny Menon from Public Affairs Section, tv crews as well as broadcasters from Kuala Terengganu like Ismail Long and a few others who came with extra Nagras. We needed a lot of people since we had to have reporters from key constituencies. Various Ministers and Deputy Ministers also came and had their interviews broadcast.

Voting day passed without any untoward incident. Reports from various reporters went on air without any problem at all.

After a quick dinner we came back to the rooftop studio to broadcast the results. There were two or three announcers taking turns to announce the results as they come, coloured by the usual live reports from reporters at the various counting centers. The announcers somehow got a bit shy late into the night and pleaded that I be the anchor. Not wanting to argue, I took over the microphone. I didn't know what the rest knew. We were no longer broadcasting regionally but we were on National airwaves. This I knew very much later.

When it was official that Barisan wrested Kelantan from PAS, we were making frantic calls to get Dato' Hj. Mohamad Nasir, the MB on air. Mahadi, the KB Program Supervisor managed to get him on the phone. The MB was resting in a hospital room under doctors order. We congratulated him on the victory and listened to him comments. He tried to comment on the then PAS President and we had to cut him off. Lawsuits were on my mind then. We apologised later.

Then Mahadi got the hero of the day, YBM Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah. Even though Palm Manor, his residence was nearby, we conducted the conversation live over the phone. After congratulating him on his victory I mischievously asked him about the promise of abolishing the toll at the Sultan Yahaya Petra bridge if Barisan won. He told the listeners that the promise would be honoured as soon as possible.

Barely half an hour later people returning from across the river told us that the toll booth was deserted. They and others after them crossed toll-free.


Friday, January 14, 2005
No, I am not talking about the blackout yesterday, hysterical as it was or even about the Asian Blog Awards which is already history. The nasi dagang party will be historic, I hope. I am writing about Kelantan's State Election of 1978. The exact date escaped me at the moment. I am sure some historians among you will fill in the gaps.

Kelantan was governed by the Alliance from 1957 to 1959. From 1959 to 1974 PAS helmed the state government. PAS joined Barisan Nasional after that and ruled Kelantan from 1974 to 1977. There were some problems and Berjasa was formed. Problems did not go away and somehow the state was put under MAGERAN (National Action Council) from 1977 to 1978. With Hashim Aman at the head of MAGERAN, the state was peaceful enough to have an election.

After the date of the election was announced, my boss decided that I should go to Kota Bharu and organise the special election coverage and broadcast although I felt that the Kota Bharu staff could have done the job themselves.

We needed a lot of phone lines from counting centers in selected constituencies like Meranti, Gua Musang and other districts. The lines were for voice reports from our correspondents as well as "hot lines" to our Operation Room at RTM Studio in Wakaf Che Yeh. I knew the Telecom officer who came to help us. He was Majid Ibrahim, a Besut boy and my senior in Sultan Sulaiman Secondary School. After listening to our request, Majid told us that there were not enough lines going to Wakaf Che Yeh and although he was ever willing to help, there was no way and not enough time to lay the additional lines.

You must remember that in 1978, mobile phones were not around yet. I was stunned and stumped. I thought of runners, carrier pigeons and walkie-talkies. All were not workable. Looked like I had to abort my mission.

Seeing my dejection and frustration, Noh, RTM Kota Bharu's Chief Clerk whisked me to dinner. In the 1997 picture on the left, taken under the porch of his new house, Noh is the one on my left. I just met Noh on this trip but we liked each other like we were old friends. Noh is a "never-say -die" kind of person and I was amazed at his "can do" attitude. He also seemed to know personally, every person in Kota Bharu and beyond. Over dinner, he asked me how to solve the problem. I offhandedly told him if only we could move the studio and the Ops Room to the town center where Majid told me lines are available, everything would be ok. Noh jumped at the idea. He said it can be done. He knew exactly where the studio and Ops Room should be. Noh was enthusiastic and a little bit of it rubbed off on me. I felt much better.

I made a call to the Engineer to check on technical requirements and then to my boss in Kuala Terengganu. My boss agreed to the idea.

We got cracking at once. Telecoms promised as many lines as we wanted. Noh used his contacts to get some workmen to turn the roof top of Hotel Irama into our special studio and Ops Room. We didn't pay for the use of the roof top. The hotel, at the time, belonged to Noh's brother-in-law.

(More tomorrow, InsyaAllah)


Thursday, January 13, 2005

When I was a small boy, ages ago of course, I was told not to

  1. Sit on a pillow or I will get a boil on my butt
  2. Whistle in the house or a snake will come
  3. Eat the crispy fish head or I will be stupid
  4. Point a finger at the rainbow or my finger will be crooked
  5. Cut my fingernails at night or the ghosts will use the clippings as boats and come and get me.
  6. Pour a lot of budu (anchovy sauce) on my rice as if it were gravy or it will rain and flood on my wedding day
  7. etcetera etcetera

I am sure you have similar pantang larang (taboos) in your house too. Some of the taboos are just plain common sense clothed in threats to dispense with tedious explanation. Olden Malays did not have scatter cushions. Those things came later with women's magazines. Pillows are for sleeping, not for sitting. The idea of burrowing your face into a pillow that came into contact with a butt (odourless or otherwise) is not too savoury. It might not be sanitary too. Hence the taboo. Reasonable enough.

Whistling is not encouraged anywhere. I don't know why. Probably the whistler's mother have good ear for tunes and could not stand to hear good songs being murdered. Better stop it with the threat of a slithery snake. Of course, at that time, we didn't know that snakes are generally deaf. The snake charmer has to move his flute to get the snake's attention.

Some of the taboos are for the protection of the young. You know how they are. They would never just accept "No!" They have to have a reason. They won't accept that eating fish head might result in the scale or bone getting stuck in tender throats. Scaring them with the prospect of being stupid did the job. They were stupid alright for not asking how come the parents enjoy the crispy fish head so much. Variations of the same excuse is used for chicken giblet, chicken neck and other delicacies.

It is the same with cutting fingernails at night. The prospect of some malevolent spirits coming to shorten your life was enough to discourage impatient vain pots to postpone their manicure until tomorrow's daylight. The underlying reason behind this taboo is simple enough. You must remember that when this taboo was formulated, Tenaga Nasional wasn't around yet and houses were pretty dimly lit with just pelita ayam (oil lamps). Nail clippers too were scarce then. So, cutting finger nails with sharp objects like parangs or kitchen knives in poor light can cause nasty accidents. Flying fingernail clippings too can cause much pain when stepped on.

Taboos too serve as moulders and shapers of social etiquette. It is rude to point, whatever culture you are in. There no better time to teach the young how to point than when admiring a beautiful natural phenomenon like the rainbow. As for the budu, Terengganu table manners dictate that it is taken sparingly with a fingerful of ikang panggang (grilled fish). Using it as gravy will deplete it faster, leaving none for the rest.

Of course, if you believe in taboos, you might want to make them work FOR you. Young girls with a penchant for father figures might try singing while frying fish in the kitchen. You are promised an old man as a husband. His financial status however wasn't mentioned at all. Neither was the choice of songs. Singing Hindustani songs might not get Amithabh Bachan as your husband.

Young men dreaming of a harem might do well to change seats many times during dinner. It is predicted that you will marry many times, preferably not to the same person.

Now, for the sake of cultural exchanges and global understanding you tell me the taboos in your neck of the wood.

(Photo from FreeFoto)


Wednesday, January 12, 2005
I am not turning this blog into a photo blog but I must share these pictures with you. I got the series from my friend Santosh from Chennai but the pics were taken somewhere in Ireland. Please supply your own script.

Regular progamming will resume tomorrow. InsyaAllah.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

I have to apologize if you think that this post exploited your indulgence in any way. I have wrestled with this post for a while and decided to risk it.

I am asking for your help in my attempt to sell a piece of land in Merang, Terengganu. It is too small to be given to my 6 children and I need to remedy my cash flow situation fast. I have advertised in Berita Harian and also in Catcha.com without much response. My many brokers were not of much help either. So if you know of anyone who wants to invest in Terengganu, please read on.

The investment scene in Terengganu has changed somewhat. New government, new hopes and also the new East Coast Highway make investing in Terengganu worthwhile. I hope this piece of land will be part of the investment.

The land (marked in yellow) is 1.9 acres with a road frontage. The dotted line you see in the plan is the coastal road going from Kuala Terengganu to Kota Bharu. It is situated next to the entrance of Aryani Resort and not very far from other resorts. It is not exactly beach front because there is another plot of land between it and the sea (blue in the picture). But if you are a beach lover, it is only 100 meters to the sea. The land is about 25 minutes from the Kuala Terengganu airport and about 40 minutes from Kuala Terengganu itself. The area is growing with a petrol station and the National Service camp as recent additions.

The land is flat but not waterlogged during rainy seasons. It is devoid of any structures at the moment. You can build one house of any size but if you want to build several chalets or whatever, you have to get permission from Majlis Daerah Setiu. I don't foresee any problem there because the land is in a belt earmarked for tourism activities. Of course, I will extend any help necessary if you need the permission. At the moment, the property is under Geran Mukim which means that the title can only be transferred to a Malay. But there is nothing to stop a non-Malay from using the land for tourism-related business or any other purpose as long as it is legal.

Let me know if anyone is interested. The forced-sale price for the whole piece is RM 130,000. If you can get a better price than that, you keep the difference. If you want the land for yourself, a bank manager in Kuala Terengganu has promised to help with your loan. You can give 20% down while waiting for the loan. I just need enough to get me some teeth. I am tired of gumming my jagung rebus. And I hate to see my friends opening an umbrella while I talk to them.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Any of you seen this booklet kind of driving license? Not likely since most of you were not born yet when they first came out. I got mine in January 1965 and it lasted until 1973 before it was replaced. The fee also was increased many times. When I first got my license, the fee was only RM5. I can assure you that my license is not the kopi o type. I did my bungling on wheels before I took my test and touch wood (touching my head), I had only one accident. That was on the Federal Highway when a tanker leaked palm oil along the stretch in front of the EPF and my Ford Ghia had minimal "flower" on the tyres. The car spinned and went into the back of a small lorry. My windscreen broke. The lorry's brake light was broken and the school children nearby clapped and broke into a lusty cheer. There were 11 other cars that skidded on the same spot that day. That was what the sarjan at the PJ Police Station told me. Ater looking at my car, the lorry driver decided not to ask me to replace his brake light.

Last Saturday, my car decided to have an accident on its own. While parked in front of Jaya Supermarket, quietly minding its own business, a driver with kopi o license (if at all) tore the back bumper and the right tail light. No notes was left. Hit and run. Such is the courtesy that I got. I was restrained from putting the thousand fleas curse on the offending (and offensive) unknown driver. The driver needs lessons in driving and common courtesy.

I learned how to drive first on a friend's Mini Minor and later on my father-in-law's Morris Minor. The Mini Minor belonged to a friend, Harun Aton elder brother of the SIRIM chief. Harun, also a teacher and a very good musician replaced his Vespa with the Mini. The Mini was designed for the world's worst drivers and Harun thought he should give me driving lessons in it. He taught me the rudiments like what and where the clutch, the gear stick and the pedals are and how to use them. The road test was on the road in front of the school leading to Tersat. It was usually deserted then. I did well until we came to the bailey bridge, high over a deep river. I opened up the throttle and closed my eyes.

Harun stopped the lessons after that.

( To everyone who voted for me in the Asia Blog Award, my deepest gratitude. InsyaAllah, we will get together and I will thank you in person. Tenkiu very mah. Jua kayu boleh samah.)


Saturday, January 08, 2005
I discovered that Amran can drive so he got to drive my car now and then. During the "Bolathon" he was my co-driver all over Pahang because I didn't want to join the gang in the Football Association's bus. It was a "No Smoking " bus. I preferred my Ford Spectron because the trip involved a whole night and the seats flattened down into a big double bed. My friend Dato' Salleh P.A. dubbed it a "moving bordello".

Amran didn't get to drive my car anymore after I discovered that he didn't have a driving license. He had been driving for years without getting caught. Now Amran is driving the RTM Pajero. With a valid license, I hope.

Our clerk was Ramunah. She was efficient and helpful. She left to further her education and wasn't heard from since.

Our Telephone Operator was Sallehuddin. Din is a nice wonderful man who got blinded in a football match. He caught the ball hard in the face and gradually lost his sight. Din married Zaharah who is also blind and they had 2 kids. The eldest is a boy, Iskandar. I used to see Iskandar playing tricks on his parents. When Din or Zaharah called out his name, Iskandar would freeze for a few minutes and the parents couldn't locate him. I told Din to fix a bell to the son.

Din has a good memory for numbers as well as voices and hardly uses his Braille typewriter. He reserved that for long messages and to record the daily calls. Din never let his handicap ruin his life. He joined everything we do with much gusto. When we played volleyball, he was the referee. He can "hear" when the ball is out. Of course like all players, there were people who complained. They forgot themselves and shouted out "Oii! Referee buta ke?" before they realized who the referee was. Much laughter followed. The loudest would be from Din. Zaharah passed away after I left Kuantan and Din has since remarried to someone who could see him. Iskandar could not play his old tricks anymore.

The security guards and jagas (jagas were under a different salary scheme) were a mixed lot. Some were good people. A few were hopeless cases. They were the ones who managed to whack the time recorder every few months so that they don't have to register their rounds. Kuala Terengganu gave up giving the money to send the recorder to KL for repairs. I had to move from a nice bungalow in Medan Tok Sira to the small house in RTM compound to jaga the jagas. I do remember the nice ones. Rozani was the one with the green fingers. Our transmitter field is over 4 acres. Rozani and other friends used the nearest corner to plant jagung and vegetables. Pak Cik Razali, a religious man, lived in what Derumo called Snake River. When a vicious looking snake came into our house one day, Pak Cik Razali was the one to corral it. Pak Cik Razali was blessed with many small kids then and he had to augment his jaga salary by tapping rubber before his shift. When our surau was set up, Pak Cik Razali was one of the imams. I always can tell when Pak Cik Razali was on duty. I can hear the recital of Quranic verses from the Guard House in the night.

When I first called the guards for a meeting to know about their problems, the following conversation took place and got forever stuck in my memory:

ME: Ok, kita akan beritau tukang jahit supaya menjahit uniform betul-betul. Ada apa apa lagi? (We will tell the tailors to sew the uniforms better. Anything else?)
GUARD X: Ku, boleh pejabat bagi ubat nyamok kat Guard House?
(Ku, can the office supply some mosquito coils to the Guard House?)
ME: Kenapa? Banyak sangat nyamok ke?
(Why? Are there a lot of mosquitos?)
GUARD X: Banyak Ku. Susah nak tidor.
(A lot Ku. It is difficult to sleep.)


Friday, January 07, 2005
Naval officers remember the first ship they were on as the captain as other people remember their first love and maybe, other firsts too. Broadcasters remember their first station.

Radio Malaysia Kuantan was my first "ship". The transmitting stations in Kuala Lipis and Jerantut were under Kuantan too. Kuantan, in turn, like all the stations in the East Coast was (and still is) under the watchful eye of the Regional Director in the headquarters up on Bukit Pak Apil, Kuala Terengganu. We had a 3 tier broadcasting belts. Local, regional and national all in Bahasa although when Kuala Terengganu started an English belt, Kuantan contributed materials for inserts/reports.

I had no problems with the Programme Section. I knew most of the producers and announcers when I was Head of Programmes back in Kuala Terengganu. The technicians were something else. They were forever under a Technical Assistant and not used to having anyone from Programme as the boss. After a while they came around and I had no more problems with them. When we started building our surau, the technicians joined the rest in getting donations and went all out building and painting it. Later we had an Engineer in Charge (Jurutera Yang Menjaga) to help with technical matters.

In the Admin section we had the drivers, gardeners, one clerk, a telephone operator and the jagas/security guards. The three drivers were Ghaffar, Ghazali and Rashid. All were wonderful people. Ghazali and Rashid were both guru silat. Good thing they were friends. Otherwise I would have known which silat is better. Rashid and Ghazali were in grassroots politics and they gave me insights into every political stories and political personalities in the state. Rashid is now a contractor while Ghazali became an ustaz in Beserah, his hometown. Ghaffar retired gracefully and his son, who works in the Information Department, kept me updated on his health.

The gardeners who doubled as general labourers were memorable characters. Sulaiman, a cheerful person cut the grass, watered the plants, swept the compound and emptied the wastebaskets ever so quickly because he had more important things to do. He had a side business as a wireman. He borrowed my power drill and bits set and have yet to return them. I shall regard it as my present to him now.

The other gardener was Amran. Amran was a handsome bachelor (I think he is still, bachelor that is) who asked permission not to work during normal office hours. He promised to be around during office hours though. Amran felt shy to be seen sweeping the floors or watering the plants. During normal office hours, Amran would be dressed in smart office clothes and impressed visiting school girls with his knowledge of the station. Whenever he can, he borrowed a Nagra (an expensive portable tape recorder) and passed himself off as a producer. Then he got tired of being told off by the real producers who booked the Nagra and got himself a camera instead to take pictures of the groups of visitors. He got tired of that too and began taking pictures of the pondans around Jalan Tun Ismail.

(More tomorrow, InsyaAllah)


Thursday, January 06, 2005

The sambal in my nasi lemak that I had for breakfast today was horribly sweet. Was there a special sale on sugar somewhere lately? Do not get me wrong. Generally, I am not against anything sweet. Whenever I am in Kota Bharu, I would be the first to make a beeline for the stall selling jala mas and buah tanjung. Both are manih leting (sweet until you jump out of your skin). But when it comes to lauk (dishes eaten with rice), sweet is out. I don't even like the satay peanut sauce to be sweet. That's why I prefer Pantai Timor satay over Kajang satay. I heard that they sweetened the peanut sauce to cater for the growing number of non-Malay customers. They preferred it sweet?

For lunch, I decided to try the Chicken Rice at the "restaurant" at the foot of the hill where Language Institute is. When I was studying there, we used to frequent this restaurant when it was just a stall and enjoyed a plate of fried noodle every now and then. Obviously the cook has changed. The rice has no hint of chicken at all and the soup is oily and very briny. I know I am spoiled by chicken rice from Cameron's Coffee Shop (Singapore), the Pulau Kambing shop (Kuala Terengganu) and by the shop in Bukit Bintang (KL).

Lest you think I am complaining too much about my food, the subject today is far more serious. That's not saying that food should be taken lightly. It is about taking pride in your work, be it cooking nasi lemak, nasi ayam or cooking up taglines. Are you proud of your work? Do you do your best every time, all the time? I know of some people who do. A few of them are the boat-builders in Duyong, Terengganu. They build boats without using a single nail and most of the time without any blueprint whatsoever. They never compromised on quality. The boat they built today is as good as the boats they built last month. So will the boats they build next month. You don't hurry them. They won't build your boat faster even if you give them more money. They won't cut corners. Money won't buy their pride. Money won't let them surrender their responsibility. They are responsible people and it is a matter of pride that the boats that they built like the big bedo or the small sekuchi can brave the choppy sea without springing a leak. The bedo and the perahu beso they or their fathers built for local clients made countless voyages to places as far away as Thailand. They also built yachts for foreign clients that went much further.

I am sure there are other people like them in all fields. That would be their fellow professionals who take pride in what they do. Mok Nik, who fried the best kerepok lekor in Kuala Terengganu, tasted the sauce herself after every mix. If she can't produce the right sauce, she would throw that batch away and make another one. She has her pride and a reputation to protect. Today's nasi lemak and nasi ayam sellers would do well to emulate Mok Nik. Have some professional pride.

Sweet nasi lemak sambal and very salty chicken rice soup. I wonder what's for dinner tonight. Bitter gourd perhaps?


Wednesday, January 05, 2005
I got to thinking about taglines after I watched the telecast of the Malaysia-Indonesia Tiger Cup semi-final last Monday. They sure could use one. No, it is not "Malaysia Boleh", obviously. I will think of an apt one by the time I finish this.

What are taglines? In simple terms, they are slogans or catchphrases used as part of branding and selling. I am sure Mack, our Branding Guru could tell us more when we have teh tarik with him. I can only quote you taglines that I can remember. Depending on how long you have lived, where you lived and how long ago you learnt how to read, you might be familiar with:

Big, Strong, Friendly
Just Do It!
Don't leave Home Without It
Put A Tiger In Your Tank
We Try Harder
Say It With Flowers
Diamonds are Forever
Ultimate Driving Machine
Saya Lupa Saya Punya Brylcreem
Cepat Di Masak, Sedap Di Makan

You might have noticed that the taglines are short and meaningful. Most keep to 3 words. HP uses only one word now: Invent. I guess if they are longer they would be a copy and no longer a tagline. Whatever they are, they should be memorable and they say something about the brand. And it better be true. As the tagline of a famous ad agency said since 1900 "Truth Well Told". Let us see a few of those taglines. Let's take "Diamonds Are Forever", the tagline, not the movie. It is true that diamonds don't wear out. They are very tough stones. It is also true that you get to keep them forever. You get diamonds when someone gets very sentimental and you want to remember the occasion forever. Nowadays, it is not easy to sell diamonds. My daughter and her husband found that out recently. So they have to keep the diamonds forever.

The complete slogan for Avis, the car-rental company was "We're No2! We Try Harder". It was brilliant and they did try harder. Soon after, they progressed well enough to change the tagline to "We're No 1 ½". Many companies changed their taglines over time. McDonald currently uses "I'm Loving It!" while KFC keeps their famous "It's Finger Lickin' Good". Coca Cola, after "The Pause That Refreshes" went from "The Real Thing" in 1970 to "Can't Beat The Real Thing" in 1990. In between they had "I'd like to Buy the World a Coke", "Coke Adds Life", "Things Go Better With Coke" and "Have A Coke And A Smile". The local Coke had "Chup" for a while. I guessed that fizzled out.

Movies have taglines too. One famous tagline was Alien's "In Space No One Can Hear You Scream". I made full and frequent use of that in chat rooms. When asked what an old man is doing in a chat room, I typed "In Cyberspace No One Can Hear Me Wheeze".

Oh yes, our football team. They should use the tagline that belongs to a car battery. It can also be used by married men. The tag goes:

"Starts Stronger, Lasts Longer"

Coke ad lifted from here.


Tuesday, January 04, 2005

I had the impression that there was an explosion of new schools in the 60s. There were schools being built everywhere including Sekolah Menengah Kebangsan Kuala Berang where I was posted. It was just being built in 1965 and we had to squat in the neighbouring Sekolah Tengku Ampuan Intan. Kuala Berang then was just a "cowboy" town with development yet to come. The school was out of town in a place still wild enough for a few teachers to come face to face with a tiger when they opened their kitchen window. I kid you not.

When our school was ready in 1966, we had to set up everything from scratch. We set up, among other things, the library, a book shop, a Scout Troop and a cinema club. There were many reasons to justify the cinema club. There was no television yet and the teachers were bored. There was a cinema hall in town that screened Hindustani and Malay films sporadically before it decided to give up. We also found that the pupils needed visual inputs so that they can better understand what we were talking about. Most of the pupils had not even been to Kuala Terengganu yet.

So, Bani Hussein, the Science Master was told to include a 16 mm projector in his Science budget. We got a solid state RCA projector which I operated before passing on the know-how to others. Wong Shop Sah, the Industrial Arts teacher was roped in to do the wiring for the sound system and to organise the ticket sales. We rented the films from Kuala Lumpur and they were sent to Kuala Terengganu via Pahang Mail lorries. We screened films such as "To Hell and Back", the Hercules series, the Tarzan epics as well as classics like "Spartacus" and "Ben Hur". The films were screened in the evening at the school hall. They were well-received with even the District Officer among the audience. Later, at the request of those living far from school and could not come at night, we held shows during the day. We had to paint the glass shutters black before we could afford thick black curtains.

Proceeds from the bookshop and the cinema club were used to subsidise the Scouts' uniforms and also for pocket money to some needy students. We collected more money by screening the films at palm oil factories in the district. Before each screening, we announced the time and the place through a horn speaker stuck through the window of my Ford Escort.

Our travelling cinema days came to end when black and white television came to Kuala Berang. The projector went back to screening educational and scientific films.

(Haloscan has been installed. Let's give it a try)


Monday, January 03, 2005

Today is the first day of school for many kids in the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia and in Sabah and Sarawak too. Schools in the East Coast states started yesterday (Sunday).

There will be some crying and wailing today in Standard One. Some parents will hang around the class room ready to pacify their offspring when or if necessary. Scenes of wailing boys or girls at the threshold of their new classroom clinging to their parent's legs at are getting rare, thanks to kindergartens. But there are always exceptions. Watch the TV news.

Some parents are crying too, silently. Some could not accept that their kids are already of school-going age. Some are reeling from having to pay a hefty sum for school uniforms, school bags, school bus fares, school books and later some school fees and maybe, to the anxious ones, tuition fees. And let's not forget the co-curricular activities. There will be other uniforms (Scouts, Red Crescent, whatever) or equipment to buy like rackets and other sports equipment and accessories. Multiply all these with the number of school-going kids you have. It is enough to make parents regret that they have kids, even only for a fleeting moment. To my young married readers, save a lot of money before you decide to have children. You will find them more expensive as the years go by. They are worth every sen though.

Among the noisy and sometimes bewildered children in primary schools today are my grandchildren Ilham and Aishah. Ilham has been briefed on what to do and what not to do in school by his parents. I am sure Aishah was too although I would suspect that Aishah would do most of the briefing. Most schools held Orientation Day for first timers to lessen whatever trauma the first year pupils have.

My own first day was a happy one. My father sent me to the Merang Malay School a year before I was supposed to be in school. The headmaster, Cik Gu Wei, was his friend. My mok's younger relatives were in the same school and they kept feeding me cukelat nissang and saggong. I had a papang slet (an A4 size slate chalkboard as in pic) instead of exercise books and kalang batu ( stone stylus) instead of pencils. We carried a bottle of water and a rag to wipe the papang slet but most preferred to spit and wipe. I also remember that Cik Gu Wei couldn't straighten one of his arms. Terengganu people call this condition deko. Cik Gu Wei was one of the earliest local UMNO leaders and when he led the villagers in shouting "Merdeka! Merdeka!", the villagers wickedly responded with "MerDEKO! MerDEKO!" with unwarranted gusto.

Picture from KUB online catalog.


Saturday, January 01, 2005

Just as our watches and clocks help us keep track of time of the day/night, calendars let us keep track of the days in the year just like it was done by ancient Egyptians, Chinese, Mayans and the Greeks.

Calendars come in many forms. There are calendars that are just one page affair with all the months in the year on them. They can be as big as poster size or as small as credit cards depending on the budget and objectives of the advertiser/sponsor. I am sure you have seen those. Then there are those that have 3 months on a page. Some calendars, like those from ship agents have the current month and smaller boxes for the previous and the next month. I guess it is more convenient that way to track the arrival of ships. Calendars with one month on a page are quite rare nowadays unless they are calendars that are sold or calendars that have horses on them (especially on the Saturday & Sunday columns). Punters like to get this type of calendars. Of course there are the daily calendars, favoured by coffee shop and sundry shop owners. These calendars come in two parts. The pad with 365 dates of the year (one extra for leap years) and the holder (usually a cardboard) where there are two holes. You affix the pad by pushing the two ends of the wire that go through the pad and twist the wire to fasten the pad to its holder. Sometimes, the holder is made from metal.

Calendars can be collected like you collect stamps or match boxes. And there are calendars that are worth collecting like the Pirelli Calendars which even got exhibited in museums. I read about the 2005 calendar from Shell that had reproductions of paintings of corals. That should be worth collecting. I am sure readers who work in Ad Agencies can tell you about other collectible calendars too.

I know of one man in Terengganu who collected calendars. He is the late Awang Itang, husband of Mok Nik. Mok Nik fried the best kerepok lekor in town and made the best sauce for them. Her shop was just across the road from Paya Tok Ber. Awang Itang, a rotund big jovial man used to sit on the floor of their shop and when not admiring Mok Nik frying the kerepok lekor, he admired the numerous calendars hung all over the 3 walls of the shop. There were calendars of the current year as well calendars of the years gone by. He kept them all. Sometimes he showed us small boys the glossy calendars from watch companies. They usually have beautiful pictures of Swiss landscapes or lakes. There were calendars of women in swimsuits too. Awang Itang didn't show us those, either in deference to our age or to Mok Nik or maybe both.

Since I have retired, there are no more people with calendars that want to "bodek" me. This year I only got one wall calendar. It is from Daihatsu Diesel DHN Corp. of Japan. It has pictures of Japanese ladies in kimonos. Awang Itang would have approved.

On another note, on New Year's eve I got an SMS from my good friend Razak. I will share the Curse with you:
"May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the ass of the person who messes up your year and may his arms grow too short to scratch his ass!"

Read about the 2005 Pirelli Calendar
If you want to make your own calendar, go here, here, here or here.