Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Fahmi,Amir Etc and a non-blogging friend Zainaldin Zainal sent me SMS wishing me a blessed Maal Hijrah. Thank you friends. In the excitement of the new Lunar Year, not many people remember Maal Hijrah. Somehow, the Muslim New Year does not create as much excitement as, say the Gregorian Calendar new year's day. There has never been a countdown in Dataran Merdeka for Maal Hijrah. There are no new year resolutions. Maybe this is because the closing of book and opening another is usually made during Nisfu Syaaban. Resolutions, if any, will be made during the night.
But it is perfectly alright to make resolutions for Maal Hijrah.No ministers are going to send you memoranda if you do. What kind of resolutions should you make? Well, you can promise to be better muslims. Resolve to be a mukminin. Do what the religion wants us to do.
For a start, practise cleanliness. We are told to be clean before we pray, we are told to eat clean and healthy food and of course live a clean life. So, take care of our toilets and take care of our environment.
Islam also teaches us to be caring persons. Somewhere in the good book it is mentioned that you cannot call yourself beriman if you let your neighbour go hungry. This year, let us not hear anymore of any of our brothers or sisters (and their children) resorting to eating slugs to survive.
Contrary to Western labels, there are no Extreme Islam or Liberal Islam. Islam is what is spelled out in the Quran and Hadith. The Prophet (peace be unto him) taught us to do everything in moderation. This does not make us Moderates. Wherever you are on the spectrum, this year you must try to be a living example of what Islam is. Do not do anything that will make other Muslims be ashamed and make the non-Muslim friends lose respect for your religion.
Finally, do your best to explain what Islam is. People fear the unknown and sometimes ignorance make it worse. So, as Muslims, let us try to learn as much as we can about the religion. Then you can explain better. Please be careful though not to create the impression that you are trying to convert your non-muslim friends. Islam does not need the numbers and never forces anyone to be Muslims. People who converted did so without a senapang gajah held to their head.There has never been any Spanish Inquisition thing in the history of Islam. Do not mess with history.
Hijrah means "move". Let us move to better things in 1427. Amin!


Friday, January 27, 2006
In Terengganuspeak, when you mock or make fun of someone or something in a negative way, it is called menganjing or ngangjing. Somebody tell me about this mocking dog because dogs are not known to mock. This is something that cats do.
Dogs have been a part of people's life - some physically, some just in words. Dogs pull sleds, guide blind people, herd sheep and watch properties.
Dogs are supposed to be man's best friend but when a man's date is less than pretty, she is called a dog. I don't know why. The question has dogged me for a long time There are other words that are not flattering to man's best friend. Things that became so broken down are dismissed as "gone to the dogs". "Running dogs" has a negative political connotation, depending on which side you are running.
Even sex features dog. Ok, doggie, if you want to nit-pick. I wonder if dogs ever do it human-style. If you are in trouble with your wife and probably don't get any sex at all, they say you are in the dog house. Even though every dog has his day, your day will be wasted because you are always dog-tired.
To be fair there are famous dogs. We learnt about the anjing and bayang-bayang in primary school. The story taught us not to be greedy. When we grow up, we read about top dogs getting rich because they are greedy. They became rich and famous.
If someone comes up to you and says that you remind him/her of a film star, please don't ask "Who?" The answer might be "Lassie".
Before I start writing canine doggerels, I would like to wish all my Chinese friends a happy and prosperous Year of The Dog.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006
In times of stress or distress, sing if you can. When I was very young, my father could tell if I am recovering from whatever that floored me. He would tell my mother: Your son is getting better. I heard him sing.
So all my fellow Malaysians, whatever your beliefs and however you want to live (or die), here is the lyrics of a song that I found on a Karaoke cd. Somehow, it seems appropriate:

No matter what they tell us
No matter what they do
No matter what they teach us
What we believe is true

No matter what they call us
However they attack
No matter where they take us
We'll find our own way back

I can't deny what I believe
I can't be what I'm not
I know I'll love forever
I know, no matter what

If only tears were laughter
If only night was day
If only prayers were answered
Then we would hear God say

Repeat Chorus

And I will keep you safe and strong
And shelter from the storm
No matter where it's barren
A dream is being born
No matter who they follow
No matter where they lead
No matter how they judge us
I'll be everyone you need
No matter if the sun don't shine
Or if the skies are blue
No matter what the end is
My life began with you

I can't deny what I believe
I can't be what I'm not
I know, I know
I know this love's forever
That's all that matters now
No Matter What.

If you know the original singers and the title of the album, give your self a pat on the back.


Monday, January 23, 2006
I was overwhelmed by recent events. Someone told me that opinions are like sphincter orifices - everybody has one. I offered mine (opinions, not the orifices) but bowing to the current trend, I withdrew them.
Now I can only offer you conversion formulae that can satisfy people of all religions.
Go here please.
Have a nice Monday.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006
WOODY ALLEN: That's quite a lovely Jackson Pollock, isn't it?
GIRL IN MUSEUM: Yes it is.
WOODY ALLEN: What does it say to you?
GIRL IN MUSEUM: It restates the negativeness of the universe, the hideous lonely emptiness of existence, nothingness, the predicament of man forced to live in a barren, godless eternity, like a tiny flame flickering in an immense void, with nothing but waste, horror, and degradation, forming a useless bleak straightjacket in a black absurd cosmos.
WOODY ALLEN: What are you doing Saturday night?
GIRL IN MUSEUM: Committing suicide.
WOODY ALLEN: What about Friday night?
GIRL IN MUSEUM: [leaves silently]
"Play It Again, Sam", Paramount Pictures, 1972

The girl in the excerpt above is an Existentialist. Existentialism is a movement in the middle of the last century. Unlike the 2.5 million Muslims who converged on Arafat a few days ago, Existentialists do not believe in God. They have different concepts of right and wrong. They believe that they should live in a way that makes them feel real. The real thing to do is also the right way.
Those people in Seberang Takir and Mengabang Panjang, Merang in Terengganu Darul Iman who cleaned out containers washed ashore by the heavy sea felt that they did the right thing by taking away the cigarettes and frozen prawns and then informing the authorities. I am sure these people believed in God. Some might have thanked God for the unexpected rezeki. A few might have thanked God for not being killed in the mad scramble.
Existentialists, while not believing in God, believed that everyone is responsible for his/her own actions. If one believes that breaking and looting beached containers is right because of some Beachcombers Laws (written or otherwise), then they should not be afraid to face the music should the owners of the containers press charges. That will be the time to stand firm on your convictions, no matter what. At times like this, Muslims will think of Bilal. Bilal is the first black to embrace Islam. People tried to change Bilal's conviction by placing a heavy rock on his chest. Bilal did not change his mind. Cambodian prawns and cartons of rokok Chap Topi are far lighter than the rock placed on Bilal's chest but they managed to change people's beliefs. I guess, mob mentality played its part too.
Following the herd or even giving a damn to what the herd thinks is not what the Existentialists would do. If an Existentialist believes that charcoal is white, and he lives his life accepting that charcoal is white, he feels that he is right. Now, do not go on thinking that those who beat the traffic light are Existentialists who believe that red is green. Remember that they will be responsible for their actions. So, if they beat the traffic light and get knocked down by a JKR lorry, they have to convince the non-Existentialist magistrate that they are right.

I am sure you find many people who think they are right all the time even though you can and did prove them wrong. You might not call them Existentialists or you might call them kerah keng, unshakeable, principled or whatever. Some might just call them assholes.

A warm welcome to another Pak Blogger. Way to go!


Friday, January 06, 2006
Recent events in the country like the right things gone wrong (usual) made me think (very unusual).

Being right is almost as important as being alive. When you are in the path of an fast moving JKR lorry who beat the light, you take evasive action to remain alive. If you insist on your right of way because you are right, you could be dead right or rightly dead.

Being right and keeping it right is a big deal. Righting wrongs, big and small, real or imagined is also big business. Think erasers (roba in Terengganuspeak), correction fluids, spelling checkers and other stuffs to correct mistakes. I am not sure if I should include Royal Commissions, public relation exercises in damage- control and abortion clinics in "the other stuffs". You tell me.

Even though doing the right things and doing things right are not always compatible (ngam in Cantonese), most people do either or both. How do they know what is right? The world, even the underworld have laws that have to be followed or adhered to. We are governed by many laws, excluding in-laws. First, there is the natural laws such as the Law of Gravity. Then we have group rules or cultural rules and social mores. Next we have religious rules and State laws.

Let us take a simple act of drinking soup. If you drink the soup hot off the stove, natural law dictates that your tongue will be scalded. Depending on how you were brought up, your tongue might start producing words and/or phrases that might offend those within earshot. Natural law will also apply if you try to scoop the soup with a fork.

If you drink the soup (suitably past boiling temperature, of course) direct from the bowl and people around you are the doing the same, you are not breaking any rules. In such groups, making slurping noises and later wiping your mouth with your shirt-sleeve or Good Morning towels is perfectly acceptable. But, out of kongsi houses in establishments where the house rules are based on books such as The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette (or national equivalent) you will be well-advised not to drink your soup without the regulation soup spoon. If the soup is really delicious and you want to scoop out every last drop, there is the right way to do it too. If you do not know how, go read.

The soup you drink should also be consistent with your religious convictions. Bak Ku Teh is ruled out for good Muslims just like beef bouillon is not allowed for good Hindus. At times, taking permitted soup by Muslims will make them run afoul of the law. If you drink sup kambing at a stall between fasting times you might end up in a kereta mayat en route to the nearest Pejabat Ugama.

Outside fasting month, regardless of your religion, you cannot drink soup without paying for it. That is not right. Forget the saying that "The customer is always right". Under the State Law, this can be considered as stealing. It is possible to commit an act which, in a stroke or two will break natural laws, social laws, religious law as well as the Penal Code all at the same time. I will leave it to your imagination to name the acts.

In the next post, I shall tell you about people who challenged the above concept of right and wrong. In the mean time, here is an announcement:
Derumo's collection of comments in this blog is now housed here. Go visit.


Monday, January 02, 2006
This is Accapan. He is a waiter at a popular mamak place in Amcorp Mall. You can get teh tarik at this place and Accapan will be very happy to bring it to you. Accapan, however, will not be very happy to hear this piece of news. Many other Malaysians will not be happy too. Many are shocked to know that teh tarik is a killer drink. After recovering from the momentary shock (with the help of another glass of frothy teh tarik, of course) we learnt that it is the condensed milk in the teh tarik that eventually kills. You get diabetes and other related diseases. If you don't die of other causes, like being struck by lightning or fatally injured by loose construction equipment, you might get a stroke and die. Dying first and getting a stroke later is highly unlikely, no matter how much teh tarik you consume.

I have always known that teh tarik is dangerous. First, you do not know what tea they use. Most teh tarik makers use tea dust. Forget about teh tarik with Earl Grey, Fortnum & Mason, Twinings or even Lipton. Tea dust, though not dangerously dusty, uses colouring. Some colourings are permitted, some are not. Short of poking your nose into the kitchen and poring over the label of the big can of tea dust, you will never know what colouring is used in your particular teh tarik. Then, all teh tarik use milk. No self respecting mamak stall owner will permit teh o tarik. You can always try your luck and ask for one the next time you are at a stall. In the meantime, lets discuss the milk in teh tarik. Good teh tarik will have two kinds of milk. Evaporated milk is used to give the teh tarik the lemak taste. Cream would be better but it would put teh tarik in the upper price bracket. The soya based creamer might be an alternative but no self-respecting teh tarek puller worth his koleh would use this powder. Then to sweeten the tea and eventually knock your teeth out, condensed milk is used. This is the culprit. I have used condensed milk in my coffee for the last 50 odd years. No diabetes yet, touch wood (touching my head) but my mouth is rather odd. I have lost many teeth.
Next time I go to see Accapan, I shall not ask for nescafe tarik or teh tarik. I will instead ask for carrot juice. Accapan will invariably ask me whether I want it with condensed milk.
Sigh , sigh. Drink also die, dont drink also die. Might as well die happy.