Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Despite getting seasick most of the time (even on the river), I love boats and In Terengganu, where I grew up, at one time, there were more boats than automobiles.
The first boat that I was on was not really a boat. The English would call it a dugout canoe. The Terengganu folks, being more generous call the dugout perahu jalor. It is a poor man's aquatic runabout.

Here is a picture of my father (in dark glasses) with his friend Tok Kobi, a kadhi back from a hunt. See how low the perahu jalor sits in the water. My father must have great faith in his boatmen because he never learned how to swim.

The perahu jalor is never designed by a naval architect. You simply choose a log and hack away the parts that do not look like a perahu jalor.
Perahu jalor, as I remember it was always manually powered. You either paddle it or punt it. You can't even put a sail to it.

You can however, use sail on a sekuchi. There are no hard and fast rule on the material you can use for the sail. I saw plenty of sekuchi using sails patched together from flour sacks. I have yet to see sekuchi sails made of kain pelikat or kain batik.
Fishermen friends in Terengganu told me that sekuchi are good for fishing in the river or, if in the sea, close to the shore. Apparently, sekuchi boats do not handle waves very well.

A close cousin of the sekuchi is the kolek. The prows are longer and higher and these make the kolek handles the waves better. The kolek is also sail-powered and it was popular with the freelance nelayan (fisherman) of Merang and other parts of Terengganu. Koleks can go further out to see than the sekuchi although it would not go as far as Australia as this young man in the picture discovered.
I would think that a payang would make it to Australia. Payang boats are at least twice as big and higher than a kolek. Payangs were used by the pukat tarek fishermen and they were rowed like viking ships, somewhat. I could not find a picture of perahu payang on my pc. Putrajaya residents can pop over to the lake and see a modified payang taking tourists on a cruise.

The boat that can really take you places would be the bedor. There was anok bedo that looked like the one in this picture. I used to hitch a ride in one of these to get from the Customs jetty to Seberang Takir. I had to wait for the wind though because it was wind-powered.
Bigger bedo (was it ibu bedor or ayoh bedor. I am not sure) complete with a toilet at the stern once made the journey from Kuala Terengganu to Thailand bringing back stuffs such as terracota tiles or whatever that floats the boats of the traders at the time.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There could be a time in Terengganu when parents had to decide who should be their son-in-law or , as the case maybe, daughter-in-law. When that happened, a couple of words describing the qualities of the prospective new member of the family would be bandied about.

The prospect would be good if the candidate is described as jurruh. A jurruh person is someone who is morally straight, upright,trustworthy and can be counted upon to do the right thing. A jurruh person is less likely to run away with the mother-in-law's subang bung and other jewellery. The kind of person who would do that is dak jurruh. He or she would not be the kind of person that semayang bang (prays) or posa re er (fast).

Another phrase that goes well with most jurruh person is tertek terning. Tertek terning is a description of how the person speaks, sits, eats and acts. Somehow, there is an unwritten Terengganu version of "Miss Emily's Book of Etiquette " that every Terengganu child is taught to comply with. Loud and ungraceful children would be admonished as kasor gegor (rough). These kids, if they do not change their ways, would grow up to be rejects when considered as prospective in-laws later.

There are persons, usually females, who do not achieve tertik terning but somehow does not fall into the dak jurruh or kasor gegor category. By disposition, these females are a bit bolder and outspoken but still graceful and pleasant. They are described as lepah laku. A lepah laku person will be at ease in any gatherings. You are welcomed to give your own definition of lepah laku. Mind you, lepah laku does not mean "beyond bought" as in dak laku. When considering daughters-in-law, there is a group of girls very low in the list. Terengganu folks call these kind of girls tinna garrek. Tinna is betina and garrek is maghrib. Thus if a girl goes out at maghrib time and not to the surau or mosque, she is not daughter-in-law material, even if your own son is a jinn.

Talking about choosing a life-partner made me think of the movie "Some Like It Hot". Most of you were not born yet when this film came out. The movie is about 2 musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon) who had to disguise themselves as girls when running away from murderous gangsters. Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon became Josephine and Daphne respectively and joined an all-girls band where Tony Curtis fell in love with Marilyn Monroe and a millionaire (Osgood Fielding III, played by Joe.E.Brown) was smitten by Daphne (Jack Lemmon). Daphne was trying very hard to convince Osgood that "she" was not the right girl for him:
" I cannnot have babies!"
"That's ok. We can adopt"
Finally, Jack Lemmon told the truth:
"Oh, you don't understand, Osgood! Ehhhh... I'm a man."
"Well, nobody's perfect"

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009
In the 50's, Terengganu folks listened to the radio in groups. The government had a special broadcast called " Siaran Ke Kampung-Kampung" where news and other radio programs were specially tailored to kampung folks all over the country. There was a designated place in the kampung where villagers can gather, lay down their pandanus mat and listen to the broadcast through one long horn speaker hooked up to the village's only working radio receiver. Villagers flocked around the horn speaker to listen to "Warta Berita", "Bangsawan Di Udara", "Sandiwara Radio" and later the series "Kebun Pak Awang".

The horn speaker used was considerably longer than this one. I can safely say that the serombong (horn speaker) was identical to the one high up in the minaret of Mesjid Putih (Mesjid Sultan Zainal Abidin) in Kuala Terengganu.

In Kuala Terengganu and other big towns, those who could afford it bought their own radio sets. The early receivers were bakelite boxes with two knobs. One to search for stations, the other for volume control. There were push down switches to select bands. At that time we only have Shortwave and Medium wave. FM did not come yet. There were no telescopic aerials. The aerial was a very long piece of copper wire strung across the highest part of the house or outside, between two tall bamboo poles.

Usually there was a "lamp" which actually was a valve somewhere in front to help you "tune" to the station.
These radios ran on electricity thus they were confined to the towns where supply from CEB (Central Electricity Board) was available. CEB was changed to LLN (Lembaga Letrik Negara) which some Terengganu wags referred to as "Lenggok Lenggok Naik" when they saw the wireman surveying the electric poles that they were about to climb. As we all know, LLN changed to TNB and charged us more for electricity.

Radio sets (tuners and amplifiers) at that time used valves or electronic tubes that was periodically replaced as part of radio maintenance. There are some hi-fi enthusiasts today who prefer these tubes to the solid-state transistor amplifiers.
Those Terengganu folks without access to electricity bought radios that were powered by their special big dry battery or sometimes by the messy "wet" car batteries.
I could not find a picture of the battery used but instead found one of "lonjong" dry battery. The one I remembered was squarish and had the name of "Berec" or something like that.

Later there were radios combined with record player/changer that looked like short cupboards.

My grandaunt had one more sophisticated than the one in this picture. I learned a lot of songs on her radiogram. I remembered learning to dance too but it was hard dancing alone.

When transistors were invented, we had portable radios powered by torchlight batteries. Terengganu people call this batteries "ubat lampu". The radio is about the size of a paperback. Some came with a leather casing with straps. The famous Cik Kaleh, bought one and hung it on his trishaw to provide entertainment to himself and his customer. The other early transistor radio that I remember belonged to our classmate, Habib Mat, who had indulgent parents.

Later, portable radios came in all shapes and sizes even in the shape of cans of popular drinks.
Now tell me about your first radio.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Terengganuspeakers are familiar with the sentence
Makang sekkuk pak seggi atah sejjid
(Eating square biscuits on the mosque)
This is more of a tongue-twister of sort although I would not recommend it to anyone with a mouthful of crackers whether you are in a mesjid, misjed or sejjid.
Sekkuk pak seggi (square biscuits) are what some Terengganu folks call the cream crackers. Some of my West Coast friends morbidly call the crackers biskut mayat probably due to the fact that these crackers are usually served at funerals by neighbours of the deceased.

Some Terengganu folks also know those crackers as biskut/sekkuk tawor simply because they are not sweet compared to another ubiquitous biscuit - Biskut Marie. Apparently, Marie is not a brand. It is a type of biscuit that is round and sweet. Probably like a Marie that you might know. Whoever makes the Marie biscuits (Khong Guan, Arnott etc.) will have the word Marie in the middle and a design around the edges.
Marie biscuits were perennial in the dining room when I was in STAR, Ipoh for my Form Six. I am sure it is the same with other school hostels. 48 odd years down the road, I still see biskut Marie rescuing hungry children everywhere.

What I do not see is biskut cottek. Biskut chottek is a thumb-sized oval biscuit with a dab of sugar-flower twirled on top. This is the reason they were also called sekkuk bunga. When I was a small boy and I had some coins with me, I used to dash to Kedai Bunga opposite the Kuala Terengganu Fire Station and bought some biskut cottek. They were sold by weight and they were always displayed in big square tins with a glass window. Modern packaging came very much later.

I also remember other stuffs sold in those windowed tin cans.There were those delicious crispy sticks, which, if not for their stick-like shape would be considered biscuits too. We used to bite each end, dunk them in our tea or coffee and used the stick as a straw. We call them sekkut kerah.
Alas, there are no native biscuits to speak of. The closest thing to a homegrown biscuit is something made of sago flour and nissang (palm sugar). It is not as big as sekkut Marie but just as round.Unlike sekkut Marie, there are no letters on it but if you look underneath, you can see imprints of the pandanus mat where it last sat before being baked. Terengganu people call it kerepek sagu and this is one of the occasion where I beg to differ. Kerepek sagu is not like kerepek ubi, kerepek minja or kerepek pisang. For all intents and purposes it is a biscuit and not a kerepek. I hope this injustice is put right.

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