Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Wednesday, August 31, 2005
When this country achieved independence in 1957, I was in Kota Bharu, Kelantan. I did not understand yet the political significance of that day even though "Merdeka" was shouted years before throughout the Malay Peninsular. It was even shouted in Merang, my mother's village and where I was born. One of the local politicos was a friend of my father. This gentleman, for one reason or another, could not straighten his arm - a condition diagnosed as deko in Terengganuspeak. So, whenever he exhorted the people with shouts of "Merdeka!", the response was always a resounding "Deko!"

On this year's Merdeka's Eve, I was switching channels to follow the live coverage of the concerts in Dataran Merdeka and in KLCC. At one point, Dataran Merdeka had music and dances that Malaysia can proudly claim as hers. When I switched to KLCC, I would be forgiven if I thought the concert was to celebrate the Fourth of July. I saw young people singing rap and break dancing. Some of them were wearing shirts with American states like Arizona and Indiana on them. Call me old-fashioned or out of date but Merdeka to me means having your own mind and your own culture and being proud of both. The only explanation that I could find was maybe the American culture was in deference to an American company that was one of the co-sponsors.
Do not get me wrong, I am not against anything American. I enjoyed my swig (and burp) of Coke now and then. I also enjoyed the Tex-Mex food at Chilli's. But to have rap and break dancing at a Merdeka concert is something that I have to accept slowly, if at all. It is perfectly alright to have Bhangra or to have Hilmi singing a Chinese song because some Malaysians are Punjabis or Chinese and we are proud of our heritage and our cultural diversity. Where does Afro-American street music figure in this equation? Let me remind you that long before rap came on the scene, we already had our own rap. It is called Dikir Karut or Dikir Barat.
As a person born before Merdeka, I am proud that our country is no longer colonised by any foreign power. We should do our best to be "Merdeka". This includes not being colonised in spirit and in mind. By all means adopt or adapt all the good things that the rest of the world can offer but we do not have to be like them. Let us march to our own drums, to our own beat. Unless we forget that we are Malaysians or , worse, we are not proud to be Malaysians.
I guess those people in Merang were right after all. Our arms are still not straight after all these years. So, "Merdeko!"


Monday, August 29, 2005

We are in the season where you can see more Malaysian flags than usual. If you have inquisitive kids or grandkids and they ask you about our country's flag and you are not too sure about the facts, this post is for you. As a former scout and scout master, I know a bit more about the flag than is necessary. We were tested on our knowledge of the national flag (and state flags too) and we flew it more often.
Our national flag was without a name for 40 years. USA has her Star Spangled Banner or the Old Glory, Britain has her Union Jack and France has her Tricoloeur. Even our neighbour Indonesia has The Sang Saka Merah Putih. So in 1997 we stopped calling our national flag "the flag, bendera Federal" or "bendera Malaysia". The PM, with the help of Tok Mat and his people, named our flag "Jalur Gemilang" the Glorious Stripes.
As any scout worth his tenderfoot badge will tell you, the 14 stripes on the Jalur Gemilang represent all the states in Malaysia plus the Federal Territory. The colour red signifies courage while white is for purity. The dark blue canton symbolizes the unity and solidarity of the people while the yellow of star and crescent symbolizes the sovereign monarch.
Fly the Jalur Gemilang with the canton (the blue rectangle) on the left i.e. the closest to the flagpole as in the animation above. If you stick it up on the wall, the blue will be on your left.
Flying the flag upside down will indicate distress or that we are at war. The flag can only be flown as early as at first light and must be lowered at sunset. Jalur Gemilang can only be flown at night if there is suitable illumination.
The flag should be treated with great respect. When lowering the flag, care should be taken not to let it touch the ground. The flag should not be used a table cloth or a picnic mat. I am not even sure if it is appropriate for it to be fashioned as the cap for waiters in Mamak restaurants even though Sudirman used it once. The waiters would not be Malaysians just by wearing the caps.Of course to wrap the Jalur Gemilang around a naked model is unforgivable.
Now, there were grumblings heard and read about people not flying the flag especially during August. I guess people have other ways to show their patriotism or their love for the country. Some people are not overly demonstrative and might not want to show their feelings. As long as they don't use underwears with the Jalur Gemilang on them, I guess it is ok.
This blog has always been non-political and non-partisan. Please refrain from racial comments because I have friends from all races. Direct all relevant grouses to the proper fora because I can't help you. IP addresses are recorded in Haloscan and would probably be noted. Thank you.


Friday, August 26, 2005
I caught the above item in the Malay Mail yesterday. The question that begs to be asked is "Does size matter?" No, I am not talking about cars, houses or noses. I am talking about penises even though I am not supposed to talk about these things on a Friday. In the interest of the mental health of Malaysian Males, I shall try to shed some light into this matter. Prudes or people who are easily offended please stop reading and focus elsewhere.
Before all of you guys go grabbing a ruler or a pair of callipers, let me make a few things clear. First, we, unlike the yet unnamed Thai Minister, should be clear as to the function of the penis. It is for peeing and for sex. Nothing else. I understood that it was used as a political statement in one general election but believe me, it was not designed to be used as such. Get a grip on yourself.
For peeing, size does not matter. Neither does length, unless you are in the habit of peeing through a window and you are a bit lacking in height. Otherwise, urinals are designed to stay where they are and you just adjust yourself according to the flow.
For sex, we should get something clear too. I am talking about sex with a lawfully wedded wife. It should be your own and not someone elses, or else your penis and/or the rest of you would be in grave danger. Sex with yourself shall not be discussed here. Suffice to say, there, size does not matter at all. So, we shall only deal with sex with your wife. Gigolos and tigershow performers have their own job description and prerequisites. We shall not deal with those here.
Now, a woman's sexual organ is elastic. It is designed to expand and contract. Think "One size fits all". Again, size does not matter. It is a scientific fact that only the first two and half inches or so of the vaginal canal are responsive and sensitive. Married men usually have more than two and half inches however young they were when they got married. Of course you might want to talk about G-Spots as well as G-Strings. You will get there. Fret not. G-Spots, like Bluespots and Green Spots are not beyond your reach.
How come then some are so obsessive with size? Maybe we fear that we do not measure up. Measure up to whose? Have you been watching those pornographic VCDs? Male porno stars are all well hung. If you watch these pornos on big screen, they might become horror movies. You must remember that pornos started on small screens so everything must look big. Don't get taken in. Those stars were selected from thousands of hopefuls. Size is important to them.They are not making love, they are making a show. Off-screen, they had a survey. Out of 800 odd men - all shapes, sizes and race, the study concluded that the average penis size is 5.5 inches. This was a western study, mind you. We should make allowances for Asians even though I would believe that the average would apply to us too. So stop reading all those Enlargement spam. Do not buy creams or worse, the pumps. They are just masturbation aids.
For those men not yet married, take the advise of the old people. Allay your fears and marry a virgin. Real virgins do not have big expectations and they can't compare. For those already married, believe me, size does not matter. It is not how big or how long it is, It is how you use it. Use it with imagination, with love and with passion and you will never go wrong. Just be a gentleman all the time. Rise to the occasion.
Have a nice weekend.
Measurement taken in erect stage. Hard to measure wet noodles.


Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Sometimes I wish I can grow old gracefully. As it is, I do it very disgracefully. I protested every step of the way, wheezing and feebly kicking. I have now broken the 60 limit. Life expectancy of Malaysian males, according to the insurance company is around 70. Females live 10 years longer. Trust women to have the last word.
So according to the insurance companies my TOL (Temporary Occupation License) has about 9 years to go. Unless I go first. TOL can be withdrawn any time. That I shall not dispute. Neither should anyone. Of course I pray very hard that my license is not expiring too soon. There are still many things to do and many more places to see. Hey, I am old. I am not dead. Not yet anyway.
Let me assure you that nothing is planned. Like my blog, I never planned. I went happily headlong into everything and regret everything at leisure. Just like Frank Sintara, regrets, I have a few. Just like him, it was too few to mention. So, I won't.
I am thankful to Allah for letting me live this long. Syukur alhamdullillah. Like the bumper sticker says " I Intend To Live Forever, So Far So Good". Of course I don't intend to live forever. I would , however, want to live long enough to see Mimi graduating with honours from a university of her choice. She doesn't seem to know this yet. She has enough problems facing her PMR but I am sure one day she will do the necessary things to get there. I would also like to take all my grandsons fishing. So far, only Adam has gone fishing with me. He makes a good angler. He is patient and he is tough. He can teach his other cousins how to fish. I also would want to be around when Aisyah stops punching boys. I want to see her breaking hearts instead of breaking noses. Very soon, I would start understanding what Aliyah is trying to say. That is a potential broadcaster in the making. I also would like to stick around and hear what other gems Ilham will come up with. I started to pay attention when he told his bonda that he forgot what he was going to say because "his thoughts were on a train and the train went away." His brother, Ihsan, who looks very much like me when I was that age, is not a very verbal person at the moment. He likes to solve puzzles. So there will be a trouble shooter in the family. I will make an assessment of Anis as soon as she stopped talking in a foreign language.
Over in Cheras, Najwa is fast becoming everyone's favourite. Pretty, good-natured and smart. In 9 years, Najwa will be 13 and hopefully acing all the tests in her class. Naim, her younger brother would be plucking a guitar by then, suitably cheered on by his cousin Ariff. Syed Ariff is reputed to be the smartest-dressed among my grandchildren. He has so far shown considerable interest in the finer things in life. He would only pull Mont Blancs out of my shirt pocket. He would leave my Zebra or other less distinguished pens alone. Ariff's place as the youngest cucu is threatened by another yet unborn. InsyaAllah, I hope to see the new one in due time. After all, I am just 61 and I still look ok. I even look young enough on the LRT to be ignored by the young punks hogging the seats.


Monday, August 22, 2005
What a week that I went through.
After a boring Monday (and a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) things picked up on Friday when my friend Razak came to pick me up for Friday prayers. I skipped the previous Friday because of the haze. As usual, after our Friday prayers, we had lunch together. I heard Eida (Jiwa's sister) drooling about Nara's chickens so I thought it was worth investigating since we were in the area (we prayed at the new Pantai Dalam mosque.) We managed to locate the shop after circumnavigating one or two blocks of flats. You see, Nara has its sign INSIDE the shop instead of outside. Regulars would have told me to look out for the rows of chickens on spits. The chicken is nice. It is not the usual East Coast ayam percik. You cannot discern any visible sign of santan on the chicken. It is on the sweet side though. Even the dip is sweet. It is good enough for a customer to observe that it can match (if not better) Kenny Rogers roasters any time. Unlike at Kenny Rogers, you cannot order quarters or halves. At Nara, they only sell whole chicken. So be very hungry or bring a friend.
After lunch, Razak dropped me off at the LRT station. Pak Adib invited me to tea at KLCC. In his email, he told me that Awang Goneng, a writer that I admired very much will be there. I don't remember meeting Awang Goneng before but he remembered meeting me in 1961. A few days ago he even remembered the Dikir Barat that I karut when I was in school. Journalists are like elephants, they never forget. Needless to say, it was a wonderful tea with wonderful people.
Saturday evening had me out of the house again. This time to Plaza Pantai (next to Menara TM) for the Korean BBQ and Steamboat. I missed the kimchi and the rest of the family got rather tired of mamak food. If you can eat a lot, try this place. It is called Seoul Bulgogi. You cook your own chicken, beef, seafood either steamboat style or on the bbq plate at your table. They even have ice kacang for dessert. Take what you want but eat what you take. Unfinished food will cost you RM3 extra for every 300 grams. It was almost a year ago when I first tried the place. They have improved since. They have added Hi-Tea on Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays.
It was more than a year ago too that I started blogging. In my first posting, which is now gone, I explained why I use Di Bawah Rang Ikang Kering as my blog title. Many people missed it. I had 3 readers back then. Even now, a year later, I have only 300 hits per day. That could be the 3 readers hitting 10 times each. And they got another 27 people to do the same.
Anyway, for Lucia and other curious people, the rang is what Terengganu fisherfolks call the structure that they dry the fish on. I will try my best to get a picture of it later. The rang is usually erected on the beach and built high enough to prevent cats from jumping on to the rang and filching the fish. Thus they are high enough for a person to sit under one of them (the rang, not the cat), enjoy the shade and the view and probably ponder on whatever that comes to mind. It is not a sophisticated fixture but it is part of the Terengganu landscape. It can get smelly at times due to the nature of salted fish. My blog is like the rang. It is not sophisticated and it is smelly sometimes.


Friday, August 19, 2005

The recent shower was not enough to fill up our reservoirs. Yesterday's STAR showed pictures of reservoirs all over Peninsula Malaysia drying up. The drought even uncovered some graves in Pedu Lake.
To the living, water is an important and precious commodity. Everybody, even the human kambings (those that rarely take baths) needs and uses water. Alarmingly, not everyone is careful with water. We live in a country where water is plentiful so we tend to splash it around. We take it for granted. We brush our teeth with the tap running. We use gallon of water to wash a small cup. We do not fix leaky taps or pipes. We shower our Kancils with lots of water although we know that it would not grow any bigger. We waste water in many ways and we do not realize what we are doing. Before you know it, we have to contend with our version of Nuwater.
We were somewhat frugal with water when we have to kara (draw) water from the well ourselves. Those using deep wells developed bulging biceps pulling the bucket up. Some had to carry the water home too. We have progressed and we now get our water from the tap.
Just because we pay for our water does not mean that we should not use it prudently. Those that endured water rationing in the past knew how to save water. Others will have to learn because water rationing could be imposed if the current situation does not improve.
I am not going to list out the things you can do to save water. I am sure you can think things out for yourself. I am sure Derumo will come up with several panels of helpful hints. One of my former bosses put bricks in his cistern. Everytime you flush a non brick-loaded cistern, one gallon of water goes down the drain.
Beer drinkers have t-shirts and stickers that say "Save Water, Drink Beer" but drinking lots of beer will involve a lot of water too. Beer drinkers tell me that when they drink, they pee a lot. So drinking beer does not really save water. Another sticker is better and probably more fun. It says:
Whether you want to come clean or not, have a good and happy weekend!


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Cik Kieli, one of our chat room regulars, has lived in many cities all over the globe. She is having problems in her present city. She told me she can't open her doors in the evening because of the racket raised by insects, specifically cicadas.
I told her that cicadas make a lot of noise because they want to mate. She was not happy. The cicadas, she thought, should not tell the whole world that they want to mate. Actually Keili, they do not. They do not care about the world. The noise comes from the male cicadas and they just need to communicate with any female cicadas. Voted least likely to need a megaphone. The male cicada makes the loudest sound in the insect world. By vibrating the ribbed plates in a pair of amplifying cavities at the base of the abdomen, the mating sound of the cicada can be heard as far as 440 yards (or in Kieli's case, 5 floors up.) These insect noisemakers are always hamsap and rarely ever stop calling for a mate. The noise from large groups of cicadas can often drown out even the noisiest lawnmower. I wonder if the mat rempits revving up their motorbikes at 2 in the morning are communicating to their mates too. I curse at these inconsiderate bikers but Cik Kieli, you should not curse at the cicadas.
They want to date and they do not have handphones. They cannot take their mate for dinner and dance. I am sure, liberal as we are, cineplexes would not welcome cicadas, so movies are out for them.
Read Cik Kieli's blog here.


Monday, August 15, 2005
Dear Lisa,
You must be missing home of bit, maybe missing me too because you asked me to blog about a few Terengganu words namely bas tunjal and ikan lebong.
I am not proud to say that I have not heard of bas tunjal before. This is not unusual since buses were not around yet when I was born. Not in Merang anyway. I understand that bas tunjal means walking or "leg power" because tunjal or tunja in Terengganuspeak is kicking your feet up and down like a piston. Whoever coined this word is creative and he/she wants you to know that he/she is not taking the bas kompeni (at one time, The Terengganu Bus Company. RIDA buses came later, and only in the boondocks) but moving around using leg power. (Has any of you heard of bas tunja? Let me know, please.)
As for ikang lebong, I must confess that this is another of my created words. When I showed you my Abu Killer, a funny plastic fish with a vicious stainless steel hook attached somewhere near the tail, I could not find the Malay word for "lure". Umpan is simply the bait and not a lure. So I came up with ikang lebong. Lebong in Terengganuspeak means a white lie, a falsehood nonetheless. So ikang lebong is a false fish.
But then, fathers lebong their kids all the time. Remember when you or your siblings banged your head on the furniture or each other? I used to cure your "headache" and the bumps by reciting my jampi which went
Niat inseng mataaa kajji.......
And you guys instantly stopped crying and felt better. Now you know that it is from a P. Ramlee movie. Now I know that it means someone is going to the toilet. Kak Long's maid translated it. Ican't use it on my cucu anymore.
I guess I have to find another jampi. Next time you go to the souks there looking for another veil, shop around for a new jampi for me ok?
My hugs to you all,


Friday, August 12, 2005
In our chat room yesterday, the lively conversation turned to the subject of islands in the South China Sea. Sangkelate wanted me to blog about the names of the "pulau" in Terengganu. Offhand, I do not recall the name of all the islands but I am confident that our ever faithful Derumo will fill in the gaps, as usual. If not today, tomorrow.
Now where do I start. Ok, lets start from Kuala Terengganu. The capital is always a good place to start anything. There is a pulau right in town. It is called Pulau Kambing even though only one part of it has a large body of water which is the Terengganu river. Probably a long time ago, it was an island and inhabited by goats. Pulau Kambing now is the "industrial" part of the town with factories and godowns. The first ice factory is near here. Further up we have the sweetest island in Trengganu, Pulau Manis. We also have the lightest island in the state, Pulau Sekati. The metric system hasn't affected its name. Nobody wants to call the island Pulau Sekilo. Then we have Pulau Rusa. In the coffee shops of Kedai Payang they are still debating whether to translate this "island" as Deer Island or Lonely Casuarina Island. In the river opposite Kuala Terengganu we have small islands like Pulau Wang Mbong and Pula Wang Mang named after its owner or the early inhabitant. Pulau Duyong, the big island nearby, the famous boat-building place was probably named after the mythical mermaid which Terengganu people call ikang duyong.

Now we go past the river mouth and if you look right, you can see Pulau Kapas and a smaller sibling, Pulau Gemia. There is no cotton grown on Pulau Kapas.the only cotton you can find would be the cotton buds left behind by untidy visitors. Legends has it that long ago, when the people of Marang looked across the sea, they saw the island (which was unnamed then) covered in soft fluffy white foam. They thought it looked like "kapas" (cotton wool) and they decided to call the island Pulau Kapas. As for the smaller island, there was a gemia ( a thumb-size sour fruit) tree on it so naturally it was known as Pulau Gemia. Afterthe resort was built, the island is sometimes called Gem Isle in advertisments. Further right, in front of Dungun, there is a bigger island called Pulau Tenggol. I am not sure what "tenggol" means. I am afraid to ask. The island has nice diving spots although the currents can get pretty dangerous sometimes.
If you look to the left, you can see many more islands. There is Bidong Laut which used to be a center for Vietnamese refugees. Bidong Darat is a big hill on the mainland, facing it. Old people in Merang used to tell me that the island and the hill are part of the stuff carried on the yoke (kandaran) of Sang Kelembai, a giant. Sang Kelembai dropped the load for inexplicable reasons. One became the island, the other became the hill. Right. In front of Pulau Bidong is a small island called Pulau Karah. Turtles that Terengganu people call Penyu Karah used to land on this island for maternity reasons. Behind Pulau Bidong are two islands whose waters are infested by sharks of various temperaments. So, they call the island after these creatures. The bigger one is Pulau Yu Besar (Big Shark) and the smaller one Pulau Yu Kecik. To the right of Pulau Bidong ( looking from the mainland) you can see Pulau Redang. For those newsreaders, Redang is pronounced as ray-dung and never rur-dung. They always make me radang with the wrong pronounciation.If you want to pronounce it the native way, say ghe dang. Redang is named after a tree, so I have been told. Then there is Lang Tengah. There is no Lang Tepi so I have to find out the origin of the name. Maybe it was named after a a midlle-born lang (eagle). Further up, nearer to Setiu, there is a lump of rock in the sea called Pulau Gelok (The Jar Island.) On a hazy day, it looks like a jar. Then nearer to Perhentian Island, there is an island still untouched by greedy developers. I used to fish here. Cik Awang, my guide told me the island is called Susu Dara which may or may not mean a virgin's breast. But I hope and pray the island will remain dara (virginal) for a long time. Then nearer to the mainland, just across Bukit Keluang in Besut is Pulau Rhu which used to be our place to stop for prayers during our fishing trips. Pulau Rhu has a lot of snakes and the beach has a lot of dead corals. The last (but not least) Terengganu island would be Perhentian. Perhentian means a stop, a station. Fishermen used the island as a refuge from bad storms. One of the smaller islands in the Perhentian group is called Pulau Pinang. Do not expect nasi kandar here though.
I will leave the landlocked "islands" such as Pulau Kerengge to Derumo.


Thursday, August 11, 2005
One month from today, on the 11th of September 2005 there will be an Autoshow and Competition at Wangsa Maju, KL. Among the competitions will be for the Best Modified Car like this Mini Minor on your left. If you have a modified car (even an air-brushed one) you can enter the competition. There will more details on the show and the competitions in the Official Magazine, Majalah Kereta (September Issue). The judges of the competitions will be from Bee-Tune KL. Car kaki would probably know this outfit already.

I am blogging about this because this event is organized (being organized, to be exact) by students of my Special Events & Risk Management class. If they botched the event, they fail the class. I do not want them to fail and I am helping them as much as I can. You can help them too. You can attend the event (starts at 9 am and ends at 6pm). It is free. It will be held in MIIM's ground. MIIM is across the road from Carrefour, Wangsa Maju. There wil be new cars to look at. You can kick the tyres if you want to. There will be accessories for cars too. I do not know what, yet. When I asked yesterday, they were pretty hazy as the jerebu outside. You can also help your company if you own one. They need more sponsors. If you want to give away samples or demonstrations, this event would be ideal. Drop me an email and I will get them to contact you. Do not worry if your product is not car-related.
The last class organized a futsal competition. It was very successful. This class goes one notch higher and I am sure it will be equally successful. Amin!!!!!
(picture taken from Majalah Kereta, the Official Magazine of Autovision 2005)


Monday, August 08, 2005
Since many of the gang could not (or would not) download Firefox and Chatzilla, they missed the room. I have made a new room so the gang can all meet without downloading anything. Just java-enable your browser (even IE) and click here:

You will be taken to the room. Type your nick and click Connect.
This new room has colours and sound. Come and try.


Oh my poor feet! Last Saturday, I was on my feet a lot and also I had to walk unusually long distances. After sitting on my butt for about 3 hours at the Veteran's meeting, I decided to give the PC Fair a visit.
I left my car at home and decided to take a taxi to KLCC. Getting a taxi at lunch time, Saturday involves walking to the gate which is about 600 yards from my parking lot. I got a taxi but when I jumped in, the taxi driver advised me to take the LRT. He drove me to the LRT station just down the road and refused to take any fare.
The train was full. The sardine cliche immediately came to mind. A bit of the smell came to the nose too. I stood and hung to the strap until KLCC station. There was an unusually large number of people at KLCC. I surmised that PC Fair was one of the reasons. I decided to eat first and trudged up to Chilli's. Chilli's is one of those places where you have to wait to be seated. I saw a lot of Middle Eastern families ahead of me and some of them were on the only sofa reserved for people waiting for their table. I had to be on my feet again until my name was called.
I walked to the KL Convention Centre using the surface (park) way. There is a tunnel connecting Suria KLCC and the KL Convention Centre but I wanted to smoke after my lunch.
On my way to the entrance, I saw a lot of people on their way back carrying boxes of printers, scanners, pc speaker systems and also laptops. PC Fair did a roaring business. It is always a cash and carry business and looking at these people carrying all these stuffs, a lot of cash has been carried.
Getting to the new KL Convention Centre did not end my walking. I had to walk some more to the escalator because the entrance was on the 3rd Level. You start at the top and go through all the 4 exhibition halls. They made sure that you can't skip any.
There were a few things that I noticed in this edition of PC Fair. To my eyes, the female promoters were not as pretty as the previous fairs. Probably this is because the PC Fair was also held at another place at the same time and there was another Expo in PWTC. There were more people though. So many that there were traffic jams in the halls. Booths without "negotiating tables" had people in front of their booths impeding traffic flow. I wish they made the traffic "one way" so we didn't have to take contorting evasive actions to avoid on-rushing mobs with heavy boxes and/or shopping bags. They were not many "new technologies" at the fair. I did see a new "one -piece" pc where the cpu and everything else is inside the monitor casing. Looks new because Apple had this concept for a long time already. There was a new version of the graphic tablet and an electric clock displaying messages that you can write yourself.
As with previous PC Fairs, there were bargains everywhere.There wasn't anything that would merit the use of the word "Fair"- I mean, there were no clowns, no candy floss and no festivities but there were bargains. I nearly reached for my wallet when I saw the Monochrome Laser Printer from Konica Minolta. It was going for under RM300. Vicom at Wilayah Complex wanted RM450 to fix my old HP 4L Laser. I didn't buy the printer because I found out that the toner would cost me more than the printer. Still, you would get a lot for your money at the fair. Just do not get thirsty. I stopped at the watering hole inside the exhibition hall and found out that a small bottle of mineral water cost RM3.50. House brand. It has the KL Convention Centre logo on the label. The water was not from the French Alps or even the Australian Alps. It came from the same place as the RM1.20 mineral water. It came from Lenggeng, Negeri Sembilan.
After traversing the exhibition hall which is as long as 4 football fields (that's what the guy at the ink cartridge booth told me) I found the exit. There was a guy selling computer games. He would have made more money selling foot rollers or setting up a foot massage service.


Friday, August 05, 2005
After the recent experiences in London's Tube, many Britons opt to move about on bicycles. There are other cities in Europe where bicycles are the preferred mode of transport. Not so long ago, bicycles rule China's streets. Now that they have gotten rich, the Cherrys, Wulings, Dadis and other marques are taking over. China is getting car crazy and they have begun exporting cars even to Europe.
The escalating oil price makes cycling to work or to market a very wise choice under certain circumstances.
If you live in Seremban and work in Kuala Lumpur, it is not wise to cycle to work. Same goes for people who live in Kelana Jaya but work in, say Wangsa Maju. You have to be fit to cycle. You also must know the safe way to go. Most important, you have to know how to ride a bicycle.
Riding a bicycle is a skill that you cannot forget even if you want to. Once you have learnt how to ride, you can begin riding a bicycle even after a hiatus of many years. Do you remember when you learned how to ride a bicycle? I don't remember when but I vaguely remember how.
We learned how to ride a bicycle long before we owned one. In my time, there was no kid's bicycles. So if we want to learn how to ride a bicycle, we have to rent a regular-sized one. Long before AVIS or Hertz came, there were already rent-a bicycle shops in Terengganu. The rate was 20 sen an hour I think. There was a shop across the road from Mansor Press next to the mosque. It had a collection of Raleighs and Robin Hoods. We paid 20 sen and pushed the bicycle to Padang Malaya, the nearest open field. There your preferred "instructor" will hold the bicycle for you until you are firmly in the saddle. If you are short, you just stand on the paddle, hanging on to your dear life to the handle bar. Short boys preferred to rent ladies bicycles (see picture). They can paddle standing up better. If they use men's bicycles, they have to paddle with the bicycle at an angle which makes falling down much easier.
There is nothing much the instructor can teach you. You have to learn how to balance and pedal (preferably at the same time) yourself. The instructor is there to hold the bicycle upright and when you are ready, launch (or lacor in Terengganuspeak) the bicycle and you paddle, either furiously or wobbly. Once you fall less, you bicycle on the metalled road around Padang Malaya.
The lacor (pushing the bicycle forward, fast) came handy when you clocked more than an hour on the rented bicycle. You do not hand in the bicycle to the towkay lest he ask you for another 20 sen for the extra hour (or part thereof.) You try your best to be as far possible from the towkay. So how to return the bicycle? You just lacor the bicycle so it goes zooming, riderless towards the shop. Some agitated relatives of the towkay will attempt to catch the runaway bicycle, muttering curses under their breath. The next day they will pretend not to recognize you and accept your 20 sen again.
After I mastered the bicycle, I got my own Raleigh. I built up the muscles of my lower legs by cycling the miles to school in Padang Negara. Later, when I was in the scouts, we cycled all the way to Dungun. We wanted to cycle all the way to Bukit Besi but we took the train instead because we never took the kereta lipang before.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Nobody can dispute that the idiot box can sometimes turn us into idiots. Ever since the country got TV service way back in 1963 (and colour TV in 1978) concerns had been raised about its effects on society. Apparently, we are not alone. In many countries, especially USA, where the bulk of the TV programs come from, parents' concerns are growing and they are feeling more and more helpless at what Tok Mat, Malaysia's former Minister of Information called VHS - violence, horror and sex on TV. The latest observation by the Deputy Prime Minister will not be the last. For now, it should be chewed well by all those in the media.
As I have mentioned before in previous posts, TV has many messages. A single commercial can have more than one message. The unspoken message sometimes speaks louder. Let us take a soft drink ad where it showed a young man happily gurgling the drink right from the bottle. The obvious message is "Drink this soft drink and you will be as happy" or whatever emotion strikes you as you were watching. The unspoken messages are: It is ok to drink right from the bottle and it is ok to drink standing up. You might say "Whats wrong with that?" and you could be perfectly right. But to generations of parents who taught their children to drink from a glass and to sit down when eating and drinking, this is far from alright. These are part of the our values that the DPM was talking about.
We have been strict in the past. Movies with messages that "crime pays" were not shown. There were other taboos too. For example, I remember an episode of "Longstreet" was taken off because two of the characters in the episode lived together and they are not married. I guess we cannot ban episodes like that anymore nowadays because in most of the imported TV series, it is considered normal to live together as husband and wife out of wedlock. People forget that it is normal in USA and should not be normal in our own country. The thing is, the more we see it, the sooner we accept it as acceptable and normal. It is just like watching a lot of violence on screen that we are not shocked or appalled at real life violence anymore.
Let us take a trip down memory lane and think of the popular TV fare that you (or your parents) got hooked on. Since there were too many programmes and too little time, let us just take the soap operas. We cannot talk about soaps without mentioning "Dallas". We felt for the Ewings who had their trials and tribulations. We pitied Bobby Ewing for being too noble. Some rooted for the manipulative and wily J.R. I even heard a few people admiring the evil J.R. The most watched episode of Dallas, worldwide was when J.R. got shot. The message, in simple words, was "good always triumph over evil". Many people got the wrong message though. Many wanted to live the way the characters live. Champagne wishes and caviar dreams. The same message were gotten from "Dynasty", "The Colbys" and other prime time soaps. From these we learnt about wheeling and dealing, deceit, betrayal and other unsavoury stuffs. How much unconsciously stuck in our heart and mind and how far they influenced our way of life, we do not know. What I know is nobody wants to have a hard life like Oshin in the soap opera of the same name.
If you think that TV has no influence whatsoever on our way of life, look at how our teenagers dress and listen to how they talk. Where do they copy all these from? What are we to do? Do we throw away all our TV sets? Do we let other people's morality and way of life usurp our own?
One wise person once said that the flesh of the living fish swimming in the ocean will not get salty. Let us not be drowned in the sea of money-minded programmes and become salted fish.


Monday, August 01, 2005
Last week there were a few blogs as well as letters to the editor lamenting the brazenness of Malaysian drivers/road users in breaking the law. I feel the anger and disappointment of these bloggers and writers. I see road users flouting traffic rules every day. I was even honked a few days ago because I stopped for the red light. I showed the impatient driver the red light. I used my middle finger.
Are we becoming a nation of lawless people? Why do people break the rules so effortlessly and so often? Don't their mother teach them to respect and obey the law? Do they have a mother to begin with?
I guess one of the many reasons people break the law so easily is because they can get away easily. Real life is very different from Shell Traffic games that we went to many many years ago. There is no traffic policeman at every traffic light. Nowadays, there are far too many traffic lights and too few policemen. Many years ago, they installed cameras to catch those beating traffic lights but the flashes died down. I was told that some of the cameras had no films.
I would like you to ponder a bit even on this Monday morning, do you obey the law just because there are lawmen around? Do you stop for a red light at 3 am in the morning?
The best thing to prevent you from breaking the law - whatever law it is, be it religious, the Penal Code or the Traffic Ordinance- is your own conscience. You must have one. You also must know what is wrong and what is right. I guess, some people are a bit fuzzy on this.
Maybe the other reason is money. People have money and they think they can break the law. When they get caught, they feel that money absolve their sin or they can hire lawyers to get them off the hook. So, is money the root of all evils and traffic offenses?
I hate to be so serious on a Monday, so I better shut up.