Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Friday, October 28, 2005
Most of you would be on the way home by now. Have a safe journey and have a wonderful raya. As the custom requires, let me take this opportunity to ask for forgiveness from any of you inadvertently slighted or worse, hurt by this blog. Maaf Zahir & Batin.
To the few visitors who celebrates Deepavali or Diwali, have a happy holiday.
Last night my surau had its only Berbuka Puasa do this year. We had rice. No kuih. Not even kurma. Even then, it was meaningful and we were thankful.
One of our tabligh friend was observed licking his fingers at the end of the meal. This, I told my meal-mates, is one of the Prophet's sunnah which is not widely followed unlike sporting a beard,wearing a robe or marrying more than one wife. I explained that licking the fingers at the end of the meal has its health-benefits. Otherwise KFC would not have copied it.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005
In my younger days in Merang, Terengganu, nobody sells seashells by the seashore or anywhere else. If you feel like having seashells for lunch or dinner, you go get them yourself.
During the long monsoon, we did not have fresh fish unless we go fishing for freshwater fish. We did not have the luxury of fridges or good roads where fishes from non-monsoon seas can come rolling on vans or small lorries. We had to make do with eggs, dried fish, fermented fish (ikang jerok) with the suspicious smell of carbide or sardines in cans (Morjon brand, from South Africa). We had live chickens in the gok (chicken coop) but chickens were usually reserved for special occasions, like when visitors drop by for meals. When we get fed up with this fare we put on our kain sahhang and headed for the beach for remis-picking.
Remis (see pic) or if you prefer its scientific name Pacific Bean donax Donax faba lurks in the sand at the water's edge. When the waves come and withdraw, you can see the remis upright in the soft sand with part of their flesh sticking out like miniature sails. You have to mark the spot before the remis disappear into the sand. Then you use your feet to locate them. Do this a few hundred times and you will get a basketful of remis for lunch or dinner. Remis are usually cooked in their shell as soups. Sometimes they are stir-fried with vegetables. There are not many things you can do with remis although I came across a recipe for spaghetti using remis flesh.
Another shellfish used as a break from the usual monsoon fare is lokan (Polymesoda expansa). Lokan is far bigger than remis, some are as big as an adult palm and with thicker and heavier shells. They lie in the thick black mud of slow moving rivers. If you chance upon a group of people waist-deep in the middle of Sungai Setiu, chances are they are looking for lokan. Chances are most of them, even the women, would sport a temporary moustache. They would squish the river bed with their feet. Upon feeling a lokan, they would use their hands to dislodge the mollusc from the black mud. Their face would be underwater for a brief moment. Then they would wipe their mouth with their hand, leaving a black mark. It is like the "You Got Milk" ads, only it is black. Anyway, it has been ages since I had lokan so I have forgotten how they are cooked apart from being fried with longbeans. You are welcomed to refresh my memory.
The shell of a certain sea snail is also used, among other things, to gloss songkets. Songkets are usually silk cloth woven with gold threads. They are rarely washed. To make them look crisp and shiny again after the last raya, they are sent to Tukang Gruh. I remember one at one end of Paya Tok Ber. Somehow, he did his work at his front door. He had a long pole fixed to the beam of the door frame. The end of the pole nearest to the floor was buried in a big shiny conch shell. This shell would be drawn and rubbed vigorously over the songket to give the cloth that ironed look. How did they come up with this idea? What did they use to subsitute the conch in places far away from the sea like Kuala Brang? Did they use tortoise shells?


Monday, October 24, 2005
When I was young, which was a very very long time ago and learning how to fast during Ramadhan, Mok (mother) would likened the fast to climbing a hill. Everyday we would get higher. By the 15th of Ramadhan, we would be on the top of the hill. After that, we would just coast downhill and there will be less (or no more) whining.
By today, the Faithful would have fasted for 20 days. The ibadah would be doubled during the last 10 days of Ramadhan in the hope of chancing upon the night of all nights, Lailalatul Qadr - The Night of Power.
By this time, in Terengganu and most places in Malaysia, most houses would be decorated with homemade pelita (lamps) or store-bought blinking Christmas lights. Some would opt for chaser lights, Vegas style. I shall not bother with the whys and wherefores of these lights. Enemies of Islam joked that the lights are to guide the angels down while some Muslims thought that the practice is too much Hindu-like. Both thoughts did not cross my mind when I celebrated Malam Tujuh Likur together with millions of other kids in Malaya and later, Malaysia.
Until today, I did not bother to find out what is this likur stuff. All I knew was, when we jumped up and down and waved our tanglong (lantern) or a reasonable alternative on the evening of Tujuh Likur, Raya is only 3 days away. That would be Sepuluh likur for likur is from the way the Javanese count. 21 is selikur, 23 is telulikur, 26 is nemlikur while 27 is pitulikur.
In the town, I remember celebrating Malam Tujuh Likur with Chinese lanterns and some carbide. The carbides were for the bedil buloh (bamboo cannons) when we were older. Bedil buluh were used for friendly duels with the boys in the next kampung. In Merang, where Chinese lanterns were not readily available, we used coconut shells. Nek (grandmother) would have stockpiled a pile of dry coconut shells in the front yard since the first day of Ramadhan. The bulk of the tempurung (coconut shell) was spiked on a long upright pole much like a kebab and burnt like a bonfire. Some tempurung were used as lanterns. Just stick a candle inside the shell, light it up and it is safe enough for excited young hands to carry it around. These crude lanterns were enough to entertain us until the candle burned out.
When my children's turn to celebrate Malam Tujuh Likur came, lanterns were commonplace and so were accidentally setting them on fire. We had to have spare lanterns to spare wet eyes. By this time, crackers and sparklers already appeared and the night was filled with the sound of screaming rockets and the smoke of burnt sparklers and firecrackers.
I am glad to announce that none of my children lost any finger during Malam Tujuh Likur.


Friday, October 21, 2005
Many people seem to be excited about "Desperate Housewives". Some even missed terawikh (extra Ramadhan prayers) just to catch it. I would suggest these people get a Torrent client like Azureus, BitTorrent, BitComet etc. so that you can download the episodes that you missed because you were doing the terawikh. The latest issue of CHIP gave away a CD full of these programs. CHIP can give me some duit raya for plugging the magazine.

I tried Azureus a while back but gave up for some reasons or the other. Impatience being one of them, I think. Hey, I am old and I do not have much time left. I salute Farris and Sham for having the patience to wait for their Naruto anime files to finish downloading. I only reinstall Azureus after I bought the magazine a few days ago and I taught myself not to bother watching the files trickle down. I kept telling myself that a watched pot never boils and downloading is not so bad. I stopped pulling my hair even when I see that a file's ETA (Expected Time of Arrival) is 64 days and 13 hrs. My first successful download was an e-book "Side Effects" by Woody Allen. No, it is not about the side effects of dumping Mia Farrow and marrying a younger girl. Mr. Allen can write good, humorous fiction. "Side Effects" is a collection of short stories.

In another effort to fill up my new hard drive, I downloaded and installed Blogger for Word. I didn't know how long the link stood there in the Blogger Start page before I caught sight of it. I needed a spell checker and Blogspot had none. So this Blogger for Word is the next best thing. You can edit your posts and publish them direct from Word. The only glitch that I got was I could not load the last 15 posts. Blogspot said it could but I couldn't. I would like to hear from people who could. Tell me what you did.

With this Word Add-On, you have no fear of losing your posts because you can save them on your hard disk. Losing them later is of course a possibility but let's not be so gloomy. Blogger for Word is free. Check it out if you haven't got it yet. Be careful of some Word characters though. They might look strange in the published post. Oh well, edit them in the old way.

Have a good weekend!


Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Thanks to all who gave helpful advice and comments on my Streamyass problem. Nothing worked. The line drops as often as a randy nymphomaniac drops his pants. I am trying to send back the 4 year old modem that came with my account and buy a new one.

My Latah post somehow was read by a researcher L.K. Tucker in Georgia, USA. He (or she) sent me an email giving me a web page where other Culture Bound Syndromes are explained as part of a psychology project. Read the webpage here.

According to the page, latah is linked to Jumping Frenchmen of Maine Syndrome although I must say that not all that latah in Malaysia jump. As the story in my post illustrated, latah may be triggered by vision but most start to latah by an unexpected tickle or a slap on the back.

I also find that the findings on latah in Malaysia concentrated too much in the longhouses of Sabah and Sarawak. There are afflicted persons all over the 13 states of Malaysia and most of them do not live in longhouses or in cramped condition. Villages in Malaysia are hardly cramped, unlike the squatter areas in urban centers.

I wish I can point Mr (or Ms) Tucker to some psychologists or psychiatrists in Malaysia to get more information on latah. Anyone that can shed some light on this should contact Mr (or Ms) Tucker at this email address. I would like to add that latah is not considered a disease or even a mental illness. I have found no one in Malaysia that sought treatment for latah. Now, latah has crept into the media as melatah, a knee-jerk reaction common to politicians and government servants. It is not as funny as the original latah and those afflicted with it should seek mental treatment immediately.

Mr (or Ms) Tucker also appealed to Malaysians to shed some light on amok. This is thought to be a peculiar Malaysian thing although we have read of similar incidents elsewhere. Something snapped and people go berserk. It is true that amok perpetrators were shot or otherwise killed simply because in most cases that was the only way to stop further massacre.

Amok reminds me of a story my father told me very long ago. Please forgive the occasional mixup in tenses. First cigarette after iftar tends to give me a confusing high. He told me of a Mat Licing Le'e in Terengganu who was obsessively jealous when it comes to his wife. Mat suspected that his wife slept around whenever he was not around. Not having the benefit of chastity belts, Mat did the next best thing. Every time he came home, he would run his hand over the wife's suspected part. He would then pronounce it "Licing le'e" (super smooth) and went about his business. My father didn't tell me what Mat's business was. How Mat certified his wife fidelity just by touch is something beyond me. I am not a psychiatrist and Mat is mental, remember?
Anyway, one day he found it not as smooth as per his usual standard and he went amok, killing several unsuspecting neighbours and bystanders before being shot dead. Tragic but true. Jealousy is hazardous to your health, and your neighbours health too.

An academician's view on amok (in Malay)


Monday, October 17, 2005
Back in Terengganu, when someone does something for no apparent reason, we would say:
"Hujang tidok, ribut pong tidok" ( There is no rain, there is no storm and yet things happened.) There was no rhyme or reason for things that you found inexplicable. Things like why my Streamyx connection kept getting lost every few minutes. I did not want to call their call center. I would only lose puasa points and most of my patience. While waiting for the connection to be re established, I was trying to find suitable words that rhyme with Streamyx. I wasn't succesful.
I am hoping that Jaring Wireless Broadband will cover my area soon so that my broadband misery will be over.
In the big scheme of things, the Ying and the Yang or what have you, to balance things up, I was pleased to receive some text messages on the phone. They were mostly from friends who sent Ramadhan greetings. People whom I owe money do not have my phone number, though I doubt very much that they would bother with Ramadhan messages. As usual, people who owe ME money did not answer my calls.
So while thinking of how much money I need to get a better connection (like a T1 line) and guessing if I would get another yearly bonus of RM200 in the next Bajet , I got an SMS from Som (not Kelsom but Mohd Som) whom you will surmise later is from Terengganu. I hereby share with you his doggerel whether you like it or not:

Masuk waktu kena semayang
Jangang duduk diang diang
Lepah garrek buleh makang
Nasik lauk ikang singgang
Ikang panggang cicoh belacang

Ramadhan kareem.

Have a nice day folks!


Thursday, October 13, 2005
Lest I lose sight of the original character of this blog (if it had one), let us go back to to the subject of Terengganuspeak.
For a few days now I have been pondering the exact meaning of pele-pele.
Pele-Pele (rhymes with kepala or ubi setela) would have its Bahasa equivalent in alang-alang. So the peribahasa
Alang-alang menyeluk pekasam, biar sampai ke pangkal lengan
if translated (rather carelessly) into Terengganuspeak would be
Pele-pele seluk belara, bia sapa sikku.
Let us not delve (or seluk) into the whys and wherefor of the lack of ladles or spoons of suitable size to scrape the bottom of the barrel (or tempayan, as in this case). Let us be content to learn from this wise old saying that we should not do anything half-heartedly. Do not be "hot hot chicken shit". In modern corporate lingo, total commitment is demanded. Commitment is not mere involvement as our management lecturers are wont to remind us. In a (non-halal) breakfast of bacon and eggs, the pig is committed whereas the chicken is merely involved. But I am digressing, sorry.
I am sure you have heard of, or used
"As long as you are up, get me a cold drink."
Pele-Pele can be used in this situation although it would be more appropriate if the sentence were
"Since you are already up, get me a cold drink."
Fear not if you have no inkling whatsoever of what I am trying to say. Derumo, as usual will enlighten you in his inimitable fashion.
Pele-Pele is an afterthought. It is a word that one would associate with the phrase "in for a penny, in for a pound." Since you are already there, past the point of no return, might as well finish the job completely. The word that can get you into trouble of the first degree is perchong. Perchong rhymes with mercun in Terengganuspeak as does mengachong (inciting). Perchong means purposely or deliberately. Lighting up a firecracker (ngechong) or inciting someone (mengachong) to blow up takes a sense of purpose and prior planning. In both cases, you cannot use "tak sengaja" in mitigation. Perchong has a synonym - sengeleng. Again, I am counting on Derumo to supply the illustrations.
(This post was done without the assistance of tobacco. No cilias were harmed.)


Monday, October 10, 2005
Everything goes slow during the fasting month so forgive me if this post seems a bit dated.
I wish to introduce a new reader of this blog, Arthur Avalon (no relations, I am sure, to Frankie Avalon.) Arthur wrote about Kuala Brang, a place that I still remember with fond memories. He asked me when was I in Kuala Brang.
Kuala Brang was my first posting as a secondary school teacher. I was there from 1965 until I left at the end of 1971 to join RTM. I vaguely remember the Bosnian (?) doctor. In fact, a Bosnian doctor delivered a few of my daughters. It was in Kg.Raja Hospital though, not in Kuala Brang. I knew a dentist in Kuala Brang. He was a Malay gentleman from Singapore. We shared a passion for hi-fi. We even swapped some audio equipment. The good doctor was the first to do scaling on my teeth. No ultrasonics then. He removed tartar and plaque from my teeth using manual tools. It took him two sessions. I joked with him that he should be careful because it was the plaque that held my teeth together.
Bergen (no homepage supplied) commented that he (or she) is learning how to write by reading my blog. I am not sure this is wise. I did not learn how to write. I do not know how my children (those who blog and one that does not) learned how to write the way they do but they all write well and I am proud of every single one of them. The only member of my family (so far) who learned how to write is my fourth daughter. She took Creative Writing in Ann Arbor and it showed in her blog. Go read her pieces and be a better writer. You can't possibly learn anything from me. I am being realistic, not modest. And if you want to learn from a pro, I would strongly suggest that you visit Kecek Kecek or Jalan-Jalan. Now, there is a writer that you should emulate.
By no means I am belittling the rest of the bloggers. They are good too. If they can make you laugh or cry (sometimes both at the same time), they are pretty good. Otherwise you would not want to read them, would you? Of course, like all things, there are good writers and there are better ones. Like many things, it all boils down to individual taste. Like they say in Hong Kong, one man's meat is another man's python.


Thursday, October 06, 2005
Fans of old songs will be pleased to know that Radio Pencen is back on air after a long break. The old pc broke down and now that I have a spanking new see-through pc, I have set up Radio Pencen again with the help of djcybersonique. He set up the first one. Thanks Wan!
To listen to Radio Pencen, you need Win Media Player. Load it up and then press CTRL+U.
A box will open. Type http://pokkufm.dyndns.org:8080/ in the box. Then wait for the streaming to start.
You also have to wait until you see me on on Yahoo Messenger. Radio Pencen is not carrying any commercials so the broadcast time is rather irregular. When it is on, message me if you want to listen to a particular song or genre. I cannot promise that I will have all that you requested but rest assured that I will try my best like the last time. Soon, I will know your favourites and will play them without being asked. If your are brushing up your Quran this Ramadhan, let me know what chapters to play.
Insyaallah, I will try to make a proper schedule if there is a reason for it.

Download Win Media Player 10 here.


Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Alhamdulillah we will experience another Ramadhan tomorrow. If you are in Saudi Arabia, you started today.
Fasting is one of the ibadah that is for Allah only. You might pray to impress others or you might donate to impress someone or everyone. You cannot do that with fasting. Only Allah and you know whether you are really fasting or not. Of course, in some places trying to be inconspicous, the shopkeeper will know that you are NOT fasting. If you are not careful, the religious department people would know too and before you know it, you will be on a lorry and your mother-in-law and the rest of the clan will know that you are not fasting.
There are miracles in the month of Ramadhan. No, I am not talking about the sudden inexplicable attacks of gastritis. I am talking about how you manage to curb your urges. Take the urge to smoke. Somehow, you can do without smoking for the whole day. If you try a little bit harder, you can do it for the whole month. Take it from there if you want to quit altogether. There are other miracles too. Just stop and think about them to know what I am talking about.
On my way to and from college today, I caught the TDC commercial on KLfm. It urged people to visit the opening of some Pasar Ramadhan in Kuala Terengganu to sample Terengganu Traditional fare and to "shop early for Hari Raya". How many people would go to Terengganu for this? I do not dispute the fact that Terengganu in the fasting month is something to experience. Go read Beta Blogger's Jalan Jalan archives. Shopping for Raya in Kuala Terengganu is another thing though unless you want to shop for the best songket. For other stuff, stick to Kuala Lumpur for now.
Since it is already Ramadhan, I would like to take the opportunity to apologise to Pak Adib. My new Nokia 6020 sometimes has the penchant to send blank SMS to him. His name and number is the first on the list. I have since learnt to lock the keypad. To make it doubly sure that Pak Adib wont get blank messages from me, I have added a name on top of him. If Pak Adib gets any more blank SMS from me, I will switch to the Motorola even though I have to squint a bit to read the display.
Have a good Ramadhan. To you guys not required to fast, enjoy the kuih not usually seen outside the fasting month.