Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Monday, November 28, 2005
Beginning Friday, I had a hectic weekend and as usual could not think of any mind-stirring, thought-provoking insightful things to blog about - not that I ever do anyway. So I shall bore you with what I did the last few days.
On Thursday, I got a brand new digital SLR as a belated birthday present from Number One daughter. TV Smith helped to get a good price for it and Farris was the bodyguard. We got the SLR on Thursday and by Saturday I was comfortable enough to take it to Kuala Kubu Baru for the wedding kenduri of Zainal Osman's daughter. Zainal Osman is a good film cameraman and also a very good singer. He sang like Tom Jones. Apart from RTM pensioners like me, Zainal has many friends in the entertainment world so I saw a few local luminaries at his kenduri.
Before I could rest from the slow trip back from Kuala Kubu Baru, I had to meet up with 3 classmates from Terengganu who came for Ir. Usop Hj. Ibrahim's sambut menantu reception on Sunday. I took them to dinner and later burned them some DVD which they requested. Unlike previous reunions, we didn't dwell much on old times. Old as we are, I guessed we were just thankful and happy that we are still alive although a few of us had many teeth and lots of hair missing.
The happy pa-in-law (in baju Melayu) posing with Terengganu classmates at his reception on Sunday 27th. November.

Popular actor Rosyam Noor obliging his fans at Zainal Osman's kenduri.

Zainal Osman's new son-in-law coming to claim his bride.

As evident from the above snapshots, I still have to spend more weekends learning about metering and composition. I have to admit though that these are an improvement over those pics taken with the PDA. Alhamdullillah.


Friday, November 25, 2005
The monsoon has arrived in Terengganu in time for the heavily publicized Monsoon Cup. I remember being cold and sometimes miserable during Museng Boh as we called the monsoon season. During Museng Boh, diets change. A favourite food to cheer up cold and miserable boys would be ubi kayu rebuh cicoh nyo (boiled tapioca with grated coconut.) Thus it was a pleasant surprise for me to discover this plebeian offering on Aseana's menu. I haven't had ubi kayu (boiled or roasted) for a long time so I ordered one.
The best part of ubi kayu (boiled) to me is the endmost part which is the slimmest. I hope they served me that.
While waiting for it, I thought of the pantang larang (taboos) that goes with eating ubi kayu (boiled or roasted). I was told that I shouldn't take any medicine like Aspro (the forerunner of Panadol and Paracatemol) before or after eating ubi kayu. I could not think of any scientific facts for this taboo but I heeded it anyway. I guessed there were ubat (medicines) that reacted strangely to some type of food. Medical doctors out there, please enlighten us.
Talking about doctors made me think of the word ubat in Terengganuspeak. Ubat does not necessarily means medicine/cure/panacea all the time for in Terengganuspeak there is
ubat lapu
ubat nyamok
ubat cacing
ubat kuat
ubat gegat

Ubat lapu (lampu) is not a medicine to cure lamps. They are batteries for lapu pecet (torchlight). Of course ubat nyamok is not designed to cure mosquitoes but rather to kill them. Ditto for ubat cacing and ubat gegat. As for ubat kuat, I will leave it to Derumo to elaborate.

When my ubi kayu rebus came, I still felt miserable. It looked more like mashed potato. At RM7.50 per plate, it was a "regret dish" and I left it after a mouthful. Lucky Farris came and he tried his best to finish it. I guessed ubi rebus is not very common in Alor Setar and Farris for once let a dish go to waste. So the ubi rebuh failed to buat ubat for my longing for the Terengganu monsoon.


Friday, November 18, 2005

We do not have Thanksgiving Day in Malaysia but every day, all Malaysians who believe in the Supreme Creator should give thanks or as the Muslims say it, "Bersyukur".

Thank God not just for the bounty given or for giving you good health or at least for letting you live this far. Thank God that you have members of your family who still care for you. Thank God that you have members of your family who know that you are still alive. Thank God that you have a family. Are you so miserable that you have nothing to thank God for? Then thank God for making us the way we are. Can you not think for a moment how convenient things are? Imagine if God made your ears somewhere else. It would be difficult for us to wear glasses. If your ears were somewhere else, say under your armpits, would there be people wanting to whisper sweet nothings to you?
And have you noticed that we are symmetrical? The length of your body from your navel upward is equal to the length downward to your toes. See da Vinci's drawing and you will know what I mean. God made you balanced. If you are unbalanced afterward, blame no one but yourself.
Next time you are on the toilet, think how convenient everything is. Gravity is considered. Just imagine if your genitals were placed somewhere else. Thank God they are not on your forehead. For the men, you would get constant headaches and I can't imagine what kind of underwear we would be wearing. Circumscision would be very risky. The chances of the Tok Mudin slicing off part of your nose is very great. Sex positions would be more awkward than they already are. Head to Head would have an entirely new meaning.
Thank God for everything that you take for granted. I pity the atheists. They do not have anyone to thank although one of them said "Thank God I am an atheist."

Have a nice weekend.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005
In less than two weeks from today, the Swedish Match Tour will come to Kuala Terengganu. It will be the first yacht event that the town will see. It will also be the first international event held during the monsoon.
People in the tourist industry has been trying to correct the misconception that Terengganu during the monsoon is full of gloomy, windy and soggy days. One hotel even offered to to refund its customer the room price if it rained continously for 12 hours. The hotel has not paid anyone yet.
Monsoon days in Terengganu are not that bad. We might have heavy rain "until you can't open your eyes" and roads might get flooded. When the streets in town got flooded, the townsfolk used to go out in their best clothes and walked the length and breadth of the road from Kedai Payang to Padang Maziah. Do not ask me why, I still do not know. I guess for the boys, this would be the time to see some pretty legs.
The yachtsmen will not be able to come to the new airport this year because it is not ready yet. I saw land being cleared and I heard that contracts have been awarded. Finally, Kuala Terengganu will have an airport with aerobridges. At Kuala Terengganu airport during the monsoon rain, the chances of getting on the plane sopping wet are very great. The new airport will make this a thing of the past, I hope.
I also hope that the airport authorities will look hard at the airport canteen/cafeteria. Do not let the place be just a kedai kopi just like any other in Rhu Renggeh or Telaga Papan. Terengganu has special fare. Serve them. It is not difficult to sell nasi dagang for breakfast, nasi minyak for dinner, Terengganu kuihs for tea and laksam, laksa etc for in between snacks.
I could get Sabah prawns at KK airport and yam ice cream at Manila airport. I am not sure if gambir is available at Kuching airport. It would be nice if people can get kerepok lekor right at Kuala Terengganu airport itself to bring home.
The brains of Terengganu thought in the right direction when they came up with the yacht race. Now, think of things to make the visitors come back to Terengganu often.


Monday, November 14, 2005
Yesterday was Mack's Hari Raya Open House and I nearly did not make it.
My car had to undergo a major operation to replace the clutch plate. The engine oil was replaced too. The mechanic came to my place to do the job. Anyway, I thought the event was in the afternoon until Mack told me over the phone it was in the evening. Driving at night with my old glasses and even older eyes is not very safe for me and other road-users so I decided to go by cab.
The first cab that stopped for me had a black and white tv on the dashboard. When I pointed this out to the cabbie, he seemed to be upset that I noticed. He explained later that he doesn't watch the TV while driving. He just listened. Then he received a phone call that he answered rather angrily. It turned out to be his wife who wanted to go out for the evening.
When we got to USJ area, the cabbie confessed that he didn't like USJ and he wasn't too familiar with the area even though he pointed out to me a house where he used to work as a driver. I got to Mack's house after several phone calls and a long detour.
I wasn't sure I got the right house because there was no sign of any party in sight. I saw a lady with a tudung in the house. It was Bibi. The rest were at the back having a cook out and loads of fun. When I joined them, I found that I was over dressed. Most were in t-shirts and shorts. Fortunately, I have old age as an excuse.
Thanks Mack & Aini for the wonderful hospitality. To buaya69, you do look younger than I imagined. But just as nice though.


Friday, November 11, 2005
Primula Hotel in Kuala Terengganu pipes in a few of the Astro channels to their rooms but I did not have much chance to watch TV because I was out most of the time and came back to the room just to sleep. When I got home last night and switched on to CNN I was saddened by the news of the bombings in Jordan. Bombings anywhere shock and sadden me. Innocent lives were lost. Collateral damage was massive.
I got to thinking about members of my family here and overseas. Will they be safe? They are spared the plague of suicide bombers for now but for how long?
I hope and pray those people responsible can find an alternative political statement preferable something that is non-lethal and non-violent. Killing innocent people doesn't seem to get them anywhere.
On the upside, Malaysia has the climate that prevents bombers from wearing too many layers of clothes to cover bomb-strapped bodies. Then again, there are always backpacks.
The only safe place that I can think of that would be free from suicide bombers would be a nudist camp. The only danger here would be short naked people who would poke their nose into other people's business.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Tanjung Kapor (he does not have his own blog yet) in his comment to my last post touched on mazhab (Islamic Schools of Thought) which, in turn, elicited spirited response from Atok and Anisah.

There are four major mazhabs for the Sunnis namely Hanafi, Maliki, Hambali and Shafie. Most Muslims in Malaysia adopted the Shafie mazhab. For the Shiites, there are three major mazhabs : Jaafari, Zaydi and Ismaili. I am ignorant of the first two Shiite mazhabs and I only know that Aga Khan and his equally famous descendants are from the Ismaili mazhab. I have come across people describing mazhabs as sects. While the meaning is right
A group of people forming a distinct unit within a larger group by virtue of certain refinements or distinctions of belief or practice.
A religious body, especially one that has separated from a larger denomination.
A faction united by common interests or beliefs

I would rather not use sects because it has the connotation of a breakaway group, deviating from the main body. Islamic mazhabs do not differ as far as the basic tenets of Islam are concerned. They only differ in minor matters (furu’) and it is a matter of interpretation. After the passing of the Prophet (pbuh) there was no single person to refer to and the ulamas (learned persons) had to refer to the Quran and Hadith to make a ruling.
When Islam spread to the four corners of the world, the basic tenets remained unchanged although Islam was practiced according the culture of the land. So, in some places, budu is makruh (frowned upon), peacocks are forbidden as food and Qunut (the doa in the Dawn Prayer) is regarded as bidaah (an innovation, hence not allowed.) The ulamas of the various mazhabs would debate until the cows come home on their pronouncements because they would have their interperations on the subjects based on the Quran and Hadis.
I remember when I was young the ladies around my kampong grumbling that they cannot perm their hair because it is haram according to their guru. Probably what their guru taught them was not to look or dress like the kafiruns (Unbelievers).
Even though there is unity in diversity, I wish the ulamas of the world can sit down and decide once and for all the petty differences.. For now, let us not forget that even though qunut is required in some mazhab and not required in others, we must all still pray subuh diligently. And less of the elephant subuh, if possible. InsyaAllah.


Monday, November 07, 2005
Early Raya morning, when you are putting on your baju melayu (Malay Traditional dress), you need your daughters. At least one of them should be around and preferably fully awake.

If you had gone through the struggle of buttoning up your new baju melayu, you would understand what I mean. New baju melayu has tighter holes than Hj.Bakhil's fist. It is worse if your baju melayu is store-bought. You have to widen the button holes yourself using whatever poking objects that you can lay your hands on - ballpens, small scissors or even a test pen. The widening of the buttonholes is best done without you wearing the baju. Otherwise you would be going to the mosque with puncture marks on your chin or throat.

Once the holes are widened and you put on the baju, it is still difficult to button up yourself. You need help. This where daughters come in. Your wife will not be suitable for this job because by this time, you already have air sembahyang (ablution) and the chances of your wife touching you while trying to button you up is very great. There are 5 buttons or studs unless you opt for the Johor baju which uses a single kanching (clasp). Johor men are less frustrated on raya mornings.

After you (or rather, your daughter) have managed the buttons you still have to contend with the samping. Sampings for Hari Raya are usually songkets (woven sarongs with gold threads) and they need to be put on properly. Once you stepped into one, after making sure the back portion is at the back, you hold it up before you can roll the top down. You have to get someone to face you with both hands in karate chop stance. The some one has to use the edge of the karate chop to mark the two folds of the songket. The hands are held there momentarily while you fold the cloth inwards and then roll down the top tightly. Only then you will get a nice, snug samping. P.Ramlee did not use this method and his samping looked somewhat like a fan. It was alright for him because he can get away with most things. Terengganu gentlemen have to follow the sartorial rule as far as sampings are concerned. We also have to make sure the the samping is tight. One Dato' neglected this. When he was receiving his datukship from the sultan of an East Coast state, his samping fell off. His datukship however remained intact.


Thursday, November 03, 2005
Alhamdullillah, blessed with modern means of communication, Hari Raya Terkejut (Surprised Hari Raya) is something of the past.
I remember one morning in Merang when I was about 10 playing happily on the beach and trying hard to fast when suddenly people were running home shouting "Raya! Raya!"
The news must have come over the police wireless as soon as they turned it on. Those days the wireless were not on 24/7. Imagine my mother's agitation. She expected raya to come the next day. Now she has to contend with my demand for food to break my fast, hanging up new curtains and laying out the raya spread. My Bah (father), unflappable as always, took it in his stride. He had his Lemon tea (Lemon Brand tea, not the modern lemon tea), lighted his Dunhill pipe (Old English Curve Cut tobacco) and got himself ready for the mosque.
Now there is an observatory on the hill overlooking my maternal grandfather's grave in Merang. Coupled with Radio, TV and other modern communication, we won't be caught with our pants down anymore. Now, Malaysians celebrate Hari Raya on the same day except a few years ago when there were rumours that some people in some parts of Malaysia celebrated Hari Raya one day earlier. Lucky them.
Carry on celebrating!