Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Thursday, June 30, 2005
First, read the news item here. You might have caught it in Wednesday's Malay Mail. The news had one Arab with what seems to be the highly unlikely name of Abu Faraj. It could not be a typographical error because it was spelled the same on all the sites.
If you are still mystified, faraj in Arabic, as learnt in religious classes is vagina. Vagina is not uncommon in the Arab world but naming someone "vagina" is definitely uncommon. And this Abu Faraj is a male to boot. People who knew him might be so pissed at him at times. In anger, they might call him a twat or a c*nt. But to have that name in your passport boggles the mind. Thus, when my eldest daughter chanced upon the news and brought it to my attention, we conjectured that:
1. The news was cooked up by somebody who knows nuts about Arabic.
2. Abu Faraj has parents with twisted sense of humour.
3. Abu Faraj has parents who wanted him to grow strong as The Boy Named Sue in the Johnny Cash song.
4. The Libyan who wrote out Abu Faraj's birth certificate had an axe to grind with Abu Faraj's illiterate parents.
5. Faraj means something else in Libya.
6. Abu Faraj is not his real name and Al-Qaeda ran out of noms de guerre simply because there were too many of them.

Whether Abu Faraj is a top-ranking Al-Qaeda operative as Bush and Condolezza Rice wanted to believe does not interest me as much as whether Al-Jazeera carried the story. If they did, how did they pronounce the name? I remembered, a long time ago, we had to purposely mispronounce the name of Zulkifar Ali Bhutto. While BBC and other broadcasters used boo-toh, we were told to say it as ba-toh. Same thing with a town in Sarawak. It gave problems to newsreaders, especially the ladies until the Sarawak government took pity on us and renamed it Sri Aman. The original name, if translated into Arabic would mean faraj too.

I wanted to get to the, er, bottom of this and Googled for the word. Boy, do I feel like an idiot.There seems to be other meanings of faraj. There must be because there is Doa Faraj although I am not sure what the supplication is for. Then, there was an Arab village by the name of Ummi-al-Faraj before it was destroyed. If you tour Egypt, you might want to visit the tomb of Sultan Faraj ibn Barquq. There is even an Arab poet named Faraj. The list goes on.
Just goes to show you that our ustaz and ustazah didn't tell us everything.


Wednesday, June 29, 2005
I thank all those who commented on the last post even though all of you (who commented) are under 50. I was hoping to perk up some interest among the Senior Citizens because I do have some good news for them after I met my new friend Dr. W.H.
As pointed out by Derumo in his comments on the last post, MEN NO PAUSE. To some extent, this is true. Only in most cases, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Most would think that sex to old people is confined to one place - up in the head. But only if the head is not nyanyok (senile). Before Derumo go to Jalan Bukit Ubi and celebrate with 2 helpings of Hassan's famous roti chanai, let me remind you that there is such a thing as a Male Menopause. A recent medical talk in KL called it andropause. It is also called viropause. Whatever it is called, it is not a Pause That Refreshes like Coca Cola. Male Menopause (or whatever you want to call it) involves hormonal, physiological, and chemical changes happening in men between 45 to 50. Sometimes it happens to men as young as 35. It is a physical condition with psychological, interpersonal, social and spiritual dimensions. Now I see Derumo getting a bit worried. Fear not my friend.
Some say that Male Menopause is a sign that you are at the end of the First Adulthood and at the beginning of the 2nd Adulthood. I didn't even know that I had the first one. I grew old but never grow up. Ok, ok, I will be serious.
What do you do in the 2nd Adulthood? Heres what they say about what you can do after Male Menopause:

(1) Prepare for Second-Adulthood.

(2) Move from the pressure of sexual performance to the joy of sexual fulfillment.

(3) Focus more on being and less on doing.

(4) Change from having a career based on necessity to a calling based on soul-work.

(5) Relate to other men as friends and allies rather than as competitors.

(6) Lay the foundation for becoming healthy, wealthy, and wise.

(7) Become a mentor to younger men.

(8) Learn to be a respected elder in your community.

(9) End the battle of the sexes and find the intimacy, joy, and passion with your life-partner.

(10) Be a trailblazer for experiencing a life well-lived into your 70s, 80s, 90s, and beyond.

As you can see above, sex is not discounted after Male Menopause. You never get discounts on sex anyway because you shouldn't buy sex. Of course, you can't expect an old jalopy to burn the tracks like a brand new hotrod. But you are expected to complete your journey and enjoy the ride. How? Nope, I am not advocating Viagra or Cialis. No doubt both are uplifting medicines, albeit temporary measures, So how? Dont ask me how, tell me when. I will let Dr.W.H. tell you. Only if there is enough quorum (say about 20 people?) You are encouraged to bring your wife so that you can forever stop telling people "It is ok to be a grandfather but not sleeping with a grandmother."


Monday, June 27, 2005
While indulging in a "try to eat everything" buffet at Paya Serai, I was given the following by a new friend. I will share it with you without comments. You read it without prejudice.

At age 4, success is not peeing in your pants.
At age 12, success is having really good friends.
At age 20, success is "getting laid."
At age 35, success is making lots of money.
At age 60, success is "getting laid."
At age 70, success is having really good friends.
At age 80, success is not peeing in your pants.

At 8- You take her to bed and tell her a story.
At 18-You tell her a story and take her to bed.
At 28 You don't need to tell her a story to take her to bed.
At 38- She tells you a story and takes you to bed.
At 48 - You tell her a story to avoid going to bed.
At 58 - You stay in bed to avoid her story.
At 68- If you take her to bed, that'll be a story!!


Friday, June 24, 2005
Last night about 50 people celebrated the 2nd birthday of PPS. Bloggers came as far away as Sarawak to join the festivities. By any standards, it was a successful party. There was even someone dancing on the bar although I doubt very much it was part of the programme.

I didn't feel out of place even though I do not know most of those present. Suanie, Fireangel, Matakecik kept me company until Mack and Aini took over. It was nice to see Mack & wife again. When Pak Idrus arrived, there was a lively discussion at our table. I got to meet Peter Tan, Shaolin Tiger, Tiger Joe, Kimberlycun (with legs covered), Lucia Lai, Minishorts, Andreas and the famous Jeff Oii. I also met the author of Silent Room, a very polite and nice young boy who is an aspiring graphic artist.

Those from the Nasi Dagang Party that came was Jordan and the Doctor, the newly-weds Bibi and Ammar (they left early and not because of malam Jumaat) and Pak Adib. Pak Adib brought his foldable wireless keyboard and shot off a blog there and then.

To the other bloggers I met but forgot their names, one thousand apologies. I had a good reason. I was waiting for my dinner and my stomach hijacked my memory.

Happy Birthday again PPS. Even though I didn't get a piece of the cake, I got a cigar via TV Smith- a Honduran (the cigar, not TV Smith).


Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Pak Idrus (with the finger) & Pak Adib in an animated discussion.

Yesterday I had the longest lunch ever. It was from 1 pm to 4 pm. 4 hours and there were only 4 of us : Pak Idrus, Pak Lias, Pak Adib (or Abedib to some) and yours truly. We were expecting more people and made the NZ staff lugged another table to join ours. There must be a house rule against unpopulated conjoined tables because after a while the NZ workers kept wanting to take the table away even though there were plenty of other unpopulated tables in the restaurant.

When blogggers meet, they have plenty to talk about. When older bloggers meet, they have more to talk about. And talked we did - about blogs, about kids, about communications, about everything and in no particualr order. We talked about ships and sealing wax, about cabbages and kings. We talked like we were old friends even though this is the first time I met Pak Idrus and Pak Lias face to face. I have met Pak Adib previously at the Nasi Dagang Party. This time, I tried to corrupt Pak Adib with a few of my jokes whenever he was not answering calls on his Treo pda phone.

We had to go when zohor almost ran out. Thank you friends for a nice afternoon and thank you Pak Idrus for the kari kepala ikan and telur ikan. Pak Idrus would not let me pay. Come to think of it, the company and the conversations were priceless.


Monday, June 20, 2005
Olden Malays used their hands (and arms) a lot to measure things. We have trees whose girth are sepemeluk and depth measured in depa. I imagined a fisherman (the juruselam or diver) being horizontal underwater with arms outstretched gauging the depth of the deep blue sea. Lengths or width of smaller things are measured by the fingers. So, something is 3 jari or 4 jari. Even the Arabs used this method once. Please read "The Perfumed Garden".

When measuring land area, we came across words like sepelaung which literally means "one holler". If the holler stood at one end of the land and hollered loudly, his holler can be heard by someone at the farther edge of the land. This can only work if the hollerer has a good chest and is not suffering from bronchitis or asthma. Do not use Darth Vader. Use Dolly Parton instead. For bigger area, they use saujana mata memandang which probably means "as far as the eye can see". This presupposes that you have good eyesight. Shortsighted people like me will of course be shortchanged.

Sometimes, Malays of old tended to be humble and would say that their land is only sekangkang kera - as wide as when a monkey spread his legs. I suppose they meant male monkeys because I am not sure you can get Miss Monkey to spread her legs to measure your land even if you bought her dinner and drinks.

I wish to thank readers who commented on the last post, especially Ustaz Mat who corrected me on the time of matahari segalah. I was off by 2 hours. Now, be thankful that we have the metric system and the timepieces to use as measuring aids. I wanted to end this piece with a story of how confused a Mat Salleh was when measured by a Chinese tailor for a 24 hour suit. I changed my mind.


Friday, June 17, 2005
I have accepted the sobering fact that I do not and will not know all the answers to everything. You know, stuffs like "What is the Meaning of Life" and "When will the traffic light beaters get caught and punished". But it didn't stop me from asking questions to myself. Autointerrogation? Probably.
So, as I was letting nature takes its course, I asked myself how did my forefathers measure time, distance, height, weight, area and volume without a measuring standard? What did we use before we adopted the Imperial System and later the Metric?
I suppose cupak and gantang would have been around long enough to be able to make their way into that defeatist peribahasa "Kalau rezeki secupak takkan jadi segantang." Fine. We know that Malays of old measured padi,rice, salt,sago with a degree of preciseness using the cupak.
Measuring other things were not as precise. Take time as an example. Before the advent of Baby G, Swatch, Seiko, Tag Heur or Rolex, time was indicated by relating it to the position of the sun and later prayer times . Hence "matahari tegak" means midday because that is when the sun is at its height. We know that at this time, buffalo calves can die if left tethered. Please refer to the pantun "tinggi tinggi si matahari, anak kerbau mati tertambat.." Earlier in the day, there used to be an expression "Matahari segalah" which is roughly 10 am in modern, clock-watching time. Galah is a pole, wooden or bamboo, used by villagers to retrieve lost buckets (timba) from wells or to nudge mangoes from the kerengga-infested trees. If that galah wielding person ever looked at the shadow, he/she would have invented the sundial. After the sun has slipped from its zenith (tergelincir matahari in religious books) the prayer times took over. Appointments were made before or after asar, zohor or maghrib. How the time was decided before Islam came to this country is beyond the scope of this post. So please don't bug me. You might ask how did our forefathers determine points in time after the sun has set.( Incidently "After The Sunset" is a good movie. Go buy the DVD). I guess they did not because without Astro and 24 hour mamak stalls, they went to bed early. But, there is a passage from Malay literature describing what I would guess as the predawn period. I could not remember the exact words only
puntung sejengkal tinggal sejari (6 inches of burning wood now left a few millimeters- this is probably the old version of mosquito coils)
budak budak dua kali jaga (kids woke up twice)
orang tua berkalih tidor ( adults changed positions)
orang muda pulang bertandang (young people came home from visiting. Whom or what they visited was not mentioned nor explained)
There were other lines about bellowing bulls and what birds did to indicate that dawn is coming. Go read the exact words here.
Now, sejengkal, sejari is common among the Malays of old. The arm and the hand were used to measure width and depth. "Kalau kail panjang sejengkal..."
(Continued later)


Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Last Wednesday I was invited to teach again for the semester beginning this month. They must be scraping the bottom of the barrel.
I started with the Special Events & Management class. There were only 8 students. They will have a tougher time organising an event at the end of the semester.
Yesterday was my first Media Planning class for the new semester. At least the students were punctual even though there were only 2 of them. The last batch of students might have frightened off new students with horror stories. In the middle of the lecture, two more students turned up. They told me they just signed up. So I have a total of 4 students in my Media Planning class.
I shared the joke that I got from Wan M. a few days ago. It was relevant to Media Planning.
The joke was about a Market Research interviewer asking a young man some questions. I will share the joke as I told the class:

Interviewer: Can you please tell me what shampoo you are using?
Young Man: Baba's
Interviewer: Ok, what about toothpaste?
Young Man: Also Baba's.
Interviewer: Hmm..ok, what about deodorant
Young Man: Always Baba's
Interviewer: What about aftershave?
Young Man: Baba's.
Interviewer: I always thought that Baba's is a spice company. I don't know that they have diversified, or is this Baba's a new International company?
Young Man: No, Baba is my room mate.


Monday, June 13, 2005
I first came across this puzzle in the 60s. It was in the Reader's Digest. I gave it to the teachers in my school to let them practise some problem solving. I remembered them solving the puzzle in their own way. Mokhtar Abdullah, a maths teacher and fellow Scout Master used mathematical formula to find the answer. I found my answer by the processs of elimination.

Nearly 40 years later, I thought of the puzzle again after watching Madagascar, the movie. I reproduced it here for you to solve. Just remember that how you get the answer is as important as the answer itself. Read the clues carefully.

So, who owns the Zebra?


Friday, June 10, 2005
Ddengo is Terengganuspeak for attending and listening to religious talks. The root is dengo which means listen or hear.
Last night, the surau in my apartment complex held a ceramah ugama right after maghrib prayers. The surau committee, headed by Ir. Latiff organised these ceramah periodically. As with the previous ceramah, only a handful of people attended. I counted 10 men and a slightly bigger number of women in the surau last night. It was disappointing. Those who did not turn up missed an insightful talk by Ustaz Khairuddin from Mesjid Abu Bakar Al-Siddiq, Bangsar on tassauf.
In old Kuala Terengganu, I was encouraged to stay back after isya to ddengo talks by Haji Wan Hassan and others at Mesjid Putih. These talks enhanced your knowledge and understanding of the religion. I was at a loss why the ceramah at our surau was not well attended despite the publicity given.

There are more than 1000 muslims in the 6 blocks of apartment. All, I would say, have functioning ears. Why then wouldn't they come to ddengo?
I skipped the jamuan ringan after isya and hurried home to a late dinner. As I was having my coffee, I speculated on the reasons of the always poor turnout:
a) People are not interested in religious talk
b) People are already well versed in religious matter, therefore not interested in any more talk
c) People just could not be bothered
d) All the above

The setback would not deter the Surau Committee from organizing more ceramah. They do their job no matter what. They have the will, the heart and the time to make our surau active. I just hope that the rest of the residents appreciate their effort and lend their support.
The least they can do is lend their ears for the next ceramah.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005
Every Malaysian blogger would (and should) have known about Project Petaling Street by now. PPS is celebrating its 2nd birthday this month and you are all invited. Just bring cash and your own cigars. Get the details here. Thanks to Suanie for alerting me. I hope to be there, InsyaAllah. I know at least a few people who are going and I have met 3 (Mack & ajinomoto plus Suanie). I am sure Charlie's lamb shank is as good as the one in Cafe' Cafe' even though you won't have Edith Piaf singing in the background.

Now, I must get my teeth fast.


Monday, June 06, 2005
If you think I am turning into a food critique, please perish the thought. I am just making notes on places where I have eaten. One man's meat is another man's poison (or python, depending on where you go) so I am writing this according to my views and my palate.

Where can you go to eat, buy sundries and have your car washed at the same time and place? And if you haven't got a car to wash, you can buy a new car there too. I am talking about NZ Curry house in Wangsa Maju. Razak and I had briyani with fish curry. Apart from the strange colour of the fried chicken ( almost bright red), Razak found the food very agreeable and I finished my rice ( a rare feat). The service is good. No less than 4 waiters asked us if we had ordered our drinks. The place is huge so there are less chances of not getting a table. Following the trend of mamak joints, this place also offers Thai cuisine. They also have other dishes like Otak Otak Kempas.

Another lunch that I enjoyed was the halal dim sum place in Plaza Damas, Yam Cha. I first tried the dim sum last Sunday with my cucu Najwa and Naim. Yesterday it was with Adam, Aiyshah and Aliya. The day before that (Saturday), Adam and sisters had lunch with me at a Japanese restaurant. The dim sum come piping hot. You order them by their name (Hidden Treasure etc) or by the number. Do remember what you like in case you want more of the same.

Dinner on Saturday was in a French place in Jalan Maharajalela. Amber Chia, the model, frequents this place. We didnt see her there that night. Cafe' Cafe' is a romantic place and it has good food. If you want escargot and foi de gras, go there. I don't fancy snails so I had dory instead. The other fish dish is the salmon fillet. I did sample the lamb shank (good) and the sea food spaghetti (spicy). The ambience did remind me of French restaurants in Cannes and in Paris. Wish they gave me real napkins though (like the pictures in their webpages , instead of paper napkins.


Thursday, June 02, 2005
Look at this picture. If you, like my friend Buaya (now turned belacan) frequent shopping malls and other public places , you will find many Malaysian girls dressing like this. I suspect that many young girls want to be like their idol Christina Aguilera or Britney Spears. I don't think they just want to air their navel although some who had their navel pierced would want to show it off. Most, I would surmise, just want to look hip and trendy. A few, I would hazard a guess,want to show off that they have no tell-tale signs around their midriff of ever being pregnant. This explains why you cannot find any makcik adopting this fashion in public. Mothers and other sensible ladies would not want to show part of their pubic to the public.

When Levi Strauss first started fashioning jeans out of tents years ago, his customers were hairy miners and prospectors. These jeans covered the navel. I am not sure which designer came up with this low-rise jeans. These jeans are harmful. These tight jeans squeeze a sensory nerve under the hipbone and cause a tingling sensation in the thighs called paresthesia. That's apart from causing sensations in the bodies of men who looked (present company excepted, of course). Buaya (now turned belacan) call these sensations hampsap. A doctor in Canada traced the cause of paresthesia in several patients to these hip-huggers. He advised the patients to wear not-so-tight clothings. There are other causes of paresthesia. Among those linked to parthesia (or serbang in Terengganuspeak) are obesity, car seat bealts, sitting with crossed legs for an extended period of time and wearing tight corsets or heavy tool belts. Having too much cash can also cause paresthesia. Doctors reported that some patients complained of pain after routinely wedging their wallets into trouser pockets. Thank God I won't have that problem since my wallet is perpetually undernourished.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Even though I am not afflicted with piles, alhamdullillah, I can get grumpy at times. It comes with old age I guess. When I get grumpy, I grumble. I used to bite people's head off when I was younger. Cannot do that anymore. No teeth left.
My gripe today is the apparent lack of standard in eating shops in Malaysia. Forget about ISO, that would be asking too much. Just give me what is usually practised throughout Malaysia.
On Monday, I went to a shop in Mid Valley Mega Mall to get ayam percik. This is the nearest place I know that sells edible ayam percik. I have been patronising them since they opened, years ago. I have dined in as well as tapao their ayam many times. Yesterday, I found out that they had a new name. Same ayam, but a new name. Rebranding. I told the girl who took my order I wanted ayam percik and their yellow rice. I was told that they only sell nasi ayam. Fine, I told her that I would have nasi ayam with my ayam percik to go. I paid for my lunch to the Bangladeshi cashier and waited for my packet. After waiting for them to rearrange chickens in the glass case, I got my ayam percik and rice. I noticed that there was a container of chili but no container of soup. So I asked for the soup. They told me that there is no soup. I asked why? They told me because I did not order it. I did not order the chili sauce too because I expected it to be with the nasi ayam, just like the soup. Would Mok Nik of Paya Tok Ber sell keropok lekor without the sauce? Would Long Selamoh sell bekang without either the kuoh lemok or kuoh manih?
I fervently hope that when the owners of this shop go to buy a car, they would get a car without tyres because they ordered just the car and not the wheels. Pffffffft!