Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Monday, February 27, 2006
I learned about the names for the various shades of colours when I got my first set of water colours. On the tubes were names like Prussian Blue, Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna. Very much later, I was educated further when I peruse car and paint brochures where more names of colours were coined. My first Proton was "Perawan Yellow". I am still wondering which jaundiced virgin they were thinking of. I must ask fellow Terengganunese Dato' Wan Nik, the then CEO. A few Protons CEO's later, we are offered Racing Red, Midnight Blue, Apple Green and other colours while Perodua entices us with passionate Ozzie Orange, Olive Green, Glittering Silver, Ebony Black and Klasik Gold. I am sure your own car has a colour name less mundane than just red, black or white. We have come a long way since the Ford Model-T when Henry Ford told the buyers "You can have any colour you want as long as it is black!"

The people of Terengganu, though as passionate as any Myvi buyers are somewhat down to earth when naming the shades of colours. They use nature as a common reference. Whenever necessary, the shades of green are distinguished by ija palla itik (duck head green) and the lighter ija pucuk pisang (the light green of the young banana leaf). Whatever shade of green in between is of no consequence whatsoever and thus unspoken. Political development in the state added another shade to green. Now we have PAS Green.

In Terengganu, red is either meroh daroh ikang (red of the fish blood) or meroh jambu. Others might call the Piscean red maroon, port or even Dunhill Red. Terengganu being a fish producer would have seen a lot of fish being cut and bled to make this particular shade of red easily understood. There is no record whatsoever to back up the claim that meroh daroh ikang was coined after menstruating mackerels. The other red, very much lighter in colour is meroh jambu after the Malaysian Water Apple (Eugenia aquea) that you find in some salads or rojak.

Look at the succulent pink fruits. Now you know why some young people are described as jambus. Incidently, pink is also called meroh samor in Terengganu. As for traffic light red, I have no idea what red it is in Terengganu. I only know that people stop when they see it.

Blue is a colour that is quite ambigous in Terengganu except biru nila. Nila is ultramarine used in laundries. Nila is a true-blue blue. Other than that the definition of blue will give the colour purists the blues. Biru butir stor (stor rhymes with "store") is actually more to the purple side although not as much as biru bunga kedudok (senduduk). Even biru air laut can cause trouble. Depending on where the sea water is and the time of the day, the sea can be turquoise or blue or even green. In fact there is a colour called sea green. Confusions between blue and green might be the reason for the change in government in the state.

Finally, we have yellow. The various shades of yellow are kuning kunyit (turmeric), kuning bata (bricks or tiles), kuning lemok ketang ( another confusion over crab roes ) and kuning raja (Royal Yellow). There is also kuning taik minyok after the solids at the bottom of the pot when you make coconut oil. I shall leave other kuning and kelabu to Derumo and other commentators. Before I leave, I just want to ask the question again: What is brown called before cocoa and chocolate came to Terengganu? Chew on that.

Earlier Colours of Terengganu here.


Friday, February 24, 2006
An item in TV1s Warta Negeri yesterday about people not taking good care of toilets prompted me to volunteer this primer. I wish some kind of primer were published long long ago. Then maybe we would not have problems of horror toilets in the country. You are most welcomed to add to the text.

See the picture above. See the oval thing on the left. It is called a toilet bowl. Sit on the toilet. For gentlemen using the bowl as a urinal (next pic), lift the lid and the seat first. The Management aims to please so you aim too, please. Otherwise, sit, sit, sit. Ladies, please remain seated throughout the entire performance. Put your feet on the floor not on the bowl. If you insist on squatting, use the squatting toilet which many people feel should be phased out or eliminated completely. Leave nothing after use, except your sense of relief. Flush, flush. Wipe, wipe.
See the bidet on the right. We do not see bidets in our public toilets yet. Maybe we can see them in the 9th Malaysia Plan. Hope, hope, hope. Bidets will help to keep our toilet floor dry. Bidets are French inventions to wash backsides and front sides. Waggle your tongue for the French. Remember not to splash when using the bidet. It is not a jacuzzi nor a swimming pool.

These are urinals. They are designed mostly for men. Men should go closer to the urinal. It is usually shorter than you think. Muslim men should choose a urinal as close to the wash basin as possible. Non-Muslim men should shake excess urine inside the urinal. Wringing it is not necessary. See the cigarette butts in the urinals. Bad bad people. Ever see them pee in an ash tray? These people should see the dustbin in the last picture.

See this wash basin or a sink. It is for you to wash your hands or your face. Do not pee inside the sink. Do not climb up to wash your backside. This is not a bidet. Neither it is a dustbin so do not throw remains of nasi lemak, wantan mee or other food inside.

See the nice dustbin. It is for you to throw rubbish inside instead of into the toilet bowl, bidet, urinal or the sink. Use it well as you use the toilet well and you will not see our national pride and dignity inside the rubbish bin.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006
I didn't have the heart to disappoint my daughter and my son so here goes:

Four Jobs I've Had
Temporary Teacher at Grammar School Kuala Trengganu
Teacher and Senior Assistant at Kuala Brang
Announcer, Producer, Manager at RTM
Part-time business-owner, Part-time lecturer and Part-Time husband

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over
This is a tough one because I like most movies (even Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gam) so I will list some memorable ones:
Crash ( Paul Haggis directorial debut)
An Unfinished Life (Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, J.Lo)
12 Angry Men
Pedro Alomovar's Matador (Pierce Brosnan's The Matador is good too though)

Four Places I Have Lived
Teacher's Quarters at Sekolah Tengku Ampuan Intan, Kuala Berang, Terengganu
Kuantan (Medan Tok Sira & Tanah Putih)
Orange Grove Rd. Singapore

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch
Travel & Living Globe Trekker
National Geographic Channel (Whatever is on at the moment)
David Letterman
Tech TV (alas, gone)

Four Places I have Been on Vacation (and would like to return to)
South of France (ok, I went there for work but would like to return for vacations)
Merang & surroundings

Four of My Favourite Dishes
Nasi Dagang & Nasi Kerabu
My Spaghetti Bolognaise
Capati and Sardines
Lunch at Berjaya Bangsar (asam pedas & dendeng)

Four Websites I Visit Daily
The Blogs of family and friends
Piratebay.org (for the latest torrents)

Four Places I'd Rather Be Right Now
In Terengganu with my family; doing Terengganu things, speaking Terengganu and eating Terengganu things.
In the middle of South China Sea, fishing
Mekah & Medinah (need to renew my haji membership)
The resort in Karambunai - just to see if they have learnt to replace used towels.


Monday, February 20, 2006
The news today reported that Malaysian business people are a stressful lot. They ranked 7th on the world's stress list. Taiwan is on the top spot.
How do you fight stress? Here are my suggestions:

Try more love and less fighting. Confound your competitors by loving them.

Eat and drink right and regularly. Swallowing the competition doesn't count.

Find a hobby and share the passion (either with cousins or friends)

Pray more. You need all the help you can get.

And learn to laugh more.

No cucus were harmed during the production of this post.


Friday, February 17, 2006
My friend Ravindranath Nair succumbed to lung infection on Wednesday. He would be 66 this year.
I knew Ravi 40 years ago when we were both teaching in Kuala Brang. I was in Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Kuala Brang and he was in Sekolah Tengku Ampuan Intan. Both schools were so close to each other -cheek by jowl, if you like, that teachers from both schools even share the same living quarters. Ravi did not have to share rooms with us because he was assigned to the hostel as one of the wardens.
Ravi could have been a brilliant lawyer. In fact he was a law student in Singapore from 1957. He was 17 then and probably the youngest that the Law Faculty has ever seen. He did not complete his studies not because of his lack of endeavour or his intelligence. He was like under a very strong spell which was cast over all the sons in his family. Fortunately, the spell could not travel far and Ravi was able to graduate as a teacher from Brinsford Lodge, United Kingdom.
Ravi and I share the love of the English language although he is better at it than me. He encouraged me constantly by reminding me of things that I said which he thought was fairly witty.
Ravi: When we were in Hotel Primula and I asked your opinion about the singer, what did you say?
Me: I honestly couldn't remember. It was some years ago!
Ravi: I remembered. You said if she were to sing for her supper, she would not starve but she would suffer from serious malnutrition.
Ravi, as an English teacher encouraged countless students to learn the language well. Even after retirement, parents pleaded him to teach their children English because they know there is no better teacher of English in town.
And there is no better friend than Ravi. Ravi's friendship is best experienced than explained. When help is needed, he would do whatever he can with utmost sincerity.
I am indeed privileged to be counted among his friends. My only regret is I could not convince him to get a computer so I can introduce him to the wonders of the Internet. I could get him a computer of course but he refused to install a phone in his house. It was a wonder that he was persuaded to get a cellphone recently.
Rest in Peace Ravi. I shall miss you.


Wednesday, February 15, 2006
I received an email from a reader of this blog, T.M. Sabli Awalludin today. Sabli was kind enough to send me some relevant photos that I should share with you.
Thank you Sabli. WELL done!

A telaga with a metal timba

A timba upih

A brass timba at a surau in Tanjung.


Monday, February 13, 2006
Even though we are having floods in parts of Malaysia now, it was very hot in Kuala Lumpur for a while. The recent heat wave made me think of wells. I did not think of cool mountain streams or copious streams of cooled air but wells.
How many of you ever bathed at wells? You have to be in a certain age bracket to experience wells. Most of my cucus have not seen a working well. They grew up with piped water and unlike their parents, completely missed the well. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, only they can tell.
In Terengganu wells are called telaga and never perigi. If you go asking for perigi in Terengganu, you might end up unbathed. In spite of the rapid development, there are still telaga in Terengganu although many have and will be out of commission. Many will be telaga burok - disused wells.
Wells in Terengganu range from just a hole in the ground to elaborate fenced cement structures. Some wells can be intimidatingly deep. The well at the old Istana Kota Lama at the foot of Bukit Keledang was the deepest that I can remember. I remember peering over the ledge and could not see the water below. It was so deep that timba (bucket) was not used. Instead, water was hand pumped up. Other wells did not have this luxury. Timbas (buckets) were used and they came in various shapes and sizes. There are timbas made of upih pinang. I have a temporary brain fart and I can't remember what the English word for upih is. It is not fronds because a frond is pelepah. Anyway, you tell me. Back to timba, the standard, off the shelf bucket is a wedge shaped container made of galvanized iron sheet with a wooden handle at the widest end. There are also timba made of cooking oil cans. These are usually box-shaped. The handle has a hole somewhere at midpoint. You fastened a length of coconut coir or tali timba through the hole. You draw the water out of the well by dropping the timba into the water, scoop a bucketful of water and then drag the bucket up using the rope. In Terengganuspeak, this is called kara air. Even though you do it alone, this drawing of water has nothing to do with sebatang kara. Sometimes the knot in the hole came undone or the coir broke and you have to retrieve the timba with a hooked pole which would be a standard telaga accessory.
There was a timba which did not use ropes of any sort.. The bucket itself looked like a brass cooking pot and could easily hold five gallons of water. The bucket moved up and down into the well by the use of a wooden crane-like contraption. Like a crane, it can also move sideways to pour the water into the koloh for ablution. I am talking about big bucket at Mesjid Putih in Kuala Terengganu. After I saw this big bucket, I finally understood what Mr. Verghese was talking about when he spoke about fulcrums and levers.
My well of memory has run dry except for a silly story about the 3 wells. Have you heard it?
The story goes like this:
"Well, well, well!"
I told you it was silly, didn't I?


Friday, February 10, 2006
Radio DJs and announcers are expected to pronounce stuffs like names and places properly. That was how I knew names like Dag Hammarskjold, Dvorak, Aung San Suu Kyi, Burkina Fasso and Harare should be pronounced. Radio stations take great pains to find out the correct pronounciation of these names. When in doubt, they call up the embassy concerned to confirm. There are exceptions of course.
When Zulkifar Ali Bhutto (and later his lovely daughter) was in the headlines, Malaysian newsreader deliberately mispronounced his name as "batto" as a matter of policy because the proper pronounciation would sound vulgar to some Malaysians.
Apart from this, we spoke out names and places as they were spoken in their native land. Thus, we hear Copenhagen as it was uttered in Denmark and Leicester as it was called in England. When we hear somebody on air pronouncing West Bromwich or Greenwich like pronouncing some sort of sandwiches, we laugh at the ignorance. Yet we accept "clang" for Klang and various interpretations of Kuala Lumpur.I am sure you can cite other examples. Given the fact that it is a fad now to hire non-Malaysians as voice-overs, DJs etc., these people should be made aware of the proper way to say out Malaysian names. I am sure, if say, Fly Guy were to be hired by a Sydney station, he would be taught how to pronounce Dubbo, Tullamarine etc. properly. Yet we hear "clang" repeatedly- even by Malaysian djs and announcers.
Many years ago, before Manjung became official, some people who read the English news on air pronounced the place as "ding ding". Even though Dinding (now Manjung) has many people named Ding, the proper way to say "Dinding" is "din-deng". However brassy or metallic you think the Royal Town of Selangor (not se lay ngor) is, the name is Klang. It almost rhymes with "lung" and it won't break anybody's tongue to say it properly.
While you are practising that, practise calling that island in Terengganu "ray-dung" instead of any other pronounciation. After all, if you can learn to be as French as possible when talking about Grand Prix, why can't you call the island the way the natives call it?
For those stubborn people who insists on calling Klang "clang", I give you a somewhat rude classic limerick to read aloud:
There was a man from Madras
Whose balls were made of brass
During rainy weather
The balls clanged together
And the sparks flew into his arse.


Sunday, February 05, 2006
"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."
--From Hamlet (I, iv, 90)
Last Friday, the khutbah at the new mosque near Pantai Hillpark was on Maal Hijrah and not on publications of the offensive cartoons. I guessed the extra-long holidays can be blamed for this. Even our PM issued his statement on the subject only on Feb 4th.
Even though there are Malaysians who dismissed the cartoons as trivial and funny, many are not laughing. To understand this, you need the Point of View Gun from The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy (see pic). The gun will make you see the whole thing from a Muslim's point of view. Mr. Carsten Juste, the Editor-in-Chief of Jyllands-Posten managed to get a glimpse of the Muslim's point of view and issued an apology.
In our opinion, the 12 drawings were sober. They were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims for which we apologize.

There are many things allowed under Danish law, including pornography.
Rubbing salt into the wound, newspapers in France, Holland, Germany, Italy, Spain and Iceland republished the cartoons. One newspaper in Italy, according to CNN, did it to assert freedom of the press and one paper in Belgium suggested the publication of such cartoons everyday "so that Muslims will get used to it". Poirot would have noted that Muslims in various parts of the world are insulted everyday and still could not get used to it.
Meanwhile, in the bastion of Freedom, in the Land of The Free, the Point of View gun worked well. The American, for once had good manners and didn't want to insult anyone. The papers there refused to publish the cartoons. When they stop frisking Muslim balls at airports, I might go there and express my appreciation.
Now, after throwing rotten eggs at Danish embassies and all that, what do we do? Do we react (or over-react as some commentators thought) or do we act? Do we stop buying Danish cookies, B& O hi-fi and other Danish products? Must the solar project in Kemaman, Terengganu be abandoned because the partner is Danish? Must I throw away my Mont Blanc pens and give up dreams to own the latest BMW 740L? Should we boycott French caps and French kisses? Incidently, my friend Razak said we can dispense with French kisses. He advocated Aussie kisses instead. Aussie kisses are like French kisses, only Down Under.
Be cool brother and be a true Muslim as best as you can. While expressing our disgust at other people's ignorance and insolence, we must not forget that ours is a religion of peace whatever the West says. Do not burn embassies or ambassadors however incensed you may be. Our Prophet taught us to do everything in moderation. Think for a moment that the cartoonists live in a very "liberal" country. They might not have a father to tell them what good taste is. Let Allah dispenses the punishment. After all, they said God works in mysterious ways. We might have the last laugh after all.


Friday, February 03, 2006
There is too much hurry in the world today. Even though we still have 24 hours in a day, we huffed and puffed chasing time because, as said often "There are things to do and places to visit.." So, we have a lot "instant" things like Instant Noodles, Instant Coffee, Instant Photos and many other instant things that I am sure you have encountered. This instant things gave rise to the need for instant gratification as well as making us impatient.
My mom scrimped and saved if she wanted something major for the house. Now we do not have to. Walk into a superstore with the right documents and you can walk out with a set of furniture, a big fridge or whatever is on offer. Even buying a car does not entail a sizeable deposit (if at all) nowadays.
I suppose I cannot really blame people for acquiring worldy goods. What I regret is, all these instant gratifications, aided and abetted by merchants of all sorts make us lose our control. They make us surrender to our impulsiveness too easily. They make us not to stop and think what we are doing and what the consequences are. It is like an itch. Everyone has itches, literally or otherwise. Like an itch, it has to be scratched. The problem is, you cannot just scratch impulsively. For example, if your backside itches on the LRT or in some other more illustrious company, you have to be patient. You have to bear and wait until you are alone. Scratching your backside in public, however permissive, is definitely a no-no. Scratching someone else's backside will get you into more trouble.
Not wanting to sound like a khutbah (sermon), even though it is Friday, I shall cut my post short. Derumo, sooner or later, will pick up where I left off. I shall end with a story which may or may not be relevant. You decide.
A gentleman noticed that the waiter who brought his soup got his thumb inside the bowl and the following conversation ensued:
Man : Why did you put your thumb inside my soup? Don't you learn anything at the waiters school?
Waiter: Oh, I have athritis sir. I wanted to keep my thumb warm.
Man (angry now): Oh? Why don't you stick your thumb up your ass then?
Waiter: I did that just now in the kitchen.