28 August 2009

Only fools wanted to erase their past

Our ex-headquarter cum Gothic-style dungeon near Jalan Jelatek, Kuala Lumpur (that was the first impression of our previous CEO on the serene and ethereal atmosphere that clouded the remaining few laboratories and offices there - but what do you expect, a laboratory is not a fish market) is going to be gazetted as a National heritage with its old charm and beautiful iconic art deco of french architecture design from the colonial era. The most outstanding feature that really impressed me is the murals that lined the external wall of the old library (depicting the story of rubber) by an Italian artist Rudolfo Noli. He is also well known for his artistic work on Singapore's supreme court. That was a good move by the higher authority and I fully support that noble effort to add another collection into our national heritage coffer.

Being captivated in an open museum type-of-style and spending my entire adulthood in an almost prehistoric place like that, which dated as early as 1920s giving me ample opportunities to stumble upon many ancient relics from the past. While I am not stationed at Jalan Jelatek, but its main experimental station (set up earlier than the one in Jalan Jelatek) which is situated 35 km away near Sg. Buloh, the chance to step onto hidden treasures is of equal likelihood.

From time to time, during my leisure time in between mixing volatile chemicals in the test tubes and peeking into the intimate world of plant cells, I will scour the abandoned storerooms, old cupboards and cabinets scavenging for the past secrets. Depending entirely on luck and my gut feeling, I may find some interesting items that day. Some have been left unnoticed, collecting dust for many years. And some have been write-offed but left in its original place to be disposed away.

The above photo was a good example of such items in my ever growing archive. The brown and cubical shape box is not my lunch box. No...no...no... but actually a tape recorder. The item is still in a considerably good working condition (if I can find the manual and know how to operate it) but time has rendered the item not so fashionable anymore (and not practical either because it is quite heavy to move it around) and becoming an obsolete electronic marvel. The silver colored and smaller item at the bottom of that big box is its not-so-up-to date successor. Notice the size difference. Everything has become smaller these days (except men's greed). Some of the artifacts are still not being 'cataloged' yet especially the written documents, old manuals etc. (though most has been sent to our National Archive).

So it is quite natural for me to almost puke and empty my stomach in a nearby dustbin when I read not in disbelief, but in sheer disgust by some nickampoo out there (alamak... some could be my distant relatives) with their destructive and inconsiderable behavior. As many might already known, a nickampoo may behave like a monkey, and monkeys never appreciate anything even 'bunga tahi ayam' (as in jangan memberi bunga kepada monyet).

I don't want to write in lengthy on the subject matter as others (Abang Awang Goneng, Adik Ahmad Ali Karim, Adik Aiman Amani, here and probably many others.) have really done one good job in conveying the important message to the whole world and pleading everybody to help not only the keropok lekor-eating nation but our country as a whole in preserving the remaining heritage from their premature extinction. Insyaallah, I will do my small part (sending appeal letters - already compiling the list of recipients, campaigning, soft-talk to some old-buddy-now-ADUN friends and of course the doa).

It is very easy to build new buildings and big monuments, but almost impossible to create our past. The best is to preserve it!

The much talked about row of heritage shop lots that is now close to extinction (photo was taken from the opposite Kedai Payang's car park in 2007). I have many fond memories here. Kedai buku Alam Akademik (previously and famously known as Kedai Pok Loh Yunang) is where I could spend many hours browsing the books whenever I go to 'Kuale'. I got my first Enid Blyton's from this bookstore and straight away fell in love)

Another view of the same row. At the far side of the photo is Masjid Putih (not very clear in this photo as it is so putih and blended well with the sky/background).

note : photos of murals are courtesy of En. Salim Hamid (our in-house photographer)

25 August 2009

Let's graduate with flying colors

Among the most anticipated family activities during this holy month of Ramadhan is breaking the fast or having iftar with the whole family. With our busy schedule these days, it is not so often we can do that, having a full corum on the dinner table. Thus it is very timely this year as the schools' one-week break happen to be a day before the first day of Ramadhan, giving the opportunity for my family to perform one of our religious observances in this special month.

This holy month has also brought back many fond memories of my yesteryear. I remember during my earlier bujang time, staying with my family in my kampung, when it close to iftar, it was the busiest time for the whole family. Ladies will get busy with their chores in the kitchen preparing food and men....err... making themselves busy anticipating the tasteful foods.

Everybody sat on the floor, ladies one dulang and the men another dulang side by side. That was also a good time to all family members to exchange stories. We sat and waited for the signal in the form of a big bang from a cannon on top of Bukit Puteri (close to the town of Kuala Trengganu) for us to start the iftar. The sound could be heard for miles. I was told it reached even Kuala Brang, which is 30 miles away. The cannon will also fire seven round of shots just after the announcement by the Penyimpan Mohor Besar Raja-Raja for the Eid and kids will line the paddy fields (because we can see the smoke from each shot) to cheer for the each bangs.

During this month also, our kampung's masjid will have big iftar gatherings by inviting fellow citizen from the neighboring kampung. It was a tradition. This time we invite you, next time you invite us. The foods were contributed by my kampung's folks - potluck style. I remember once, when my mother asked me to deliver the foods in a dulang to the masjid, my inexperience of dulang-balancing on my head had caused me to be showered by sweet tasting gulai all over my body! Throughout the month, we will be invited to other neighboring masjids for the same deed, of which everybody will enthusiastically complied.

Apart from the small part of iftar, this month of Ramadhan more importantly teaches us about patience, modesty and spirituality. Allah S.W.T offers us this whole month to ask forgiveness for past sins, pray for guidance, purify ourselves by self-restraint and doing good deeds.

Let's pray that we enter and register ourselves in this Ramadhan semester with istiqomah. Let's also pray everybody will graduate at the end of this blissful month with flying colors.

21 August 2009

The legend of three Awang

I was already in a state of half awake and half asleep when it came to the story of 3 'Awang's. The soft and sweet tune of my late Toki's (grandfather) voice had never failed to sedate me and put me into an instant hallucination. Normally that was the last story after so many other stories that I can vaguely remember now being narrated to me. In between those stories my late Toki would also sang the sweet Malay 'gurindam' dan 'syair'. He was very good at telling those stories and sang me those classical repertoire. The stories and the 'syair' became my bedtime lullaby during my childhood time.

In short, the three Awangs in the above mention story were none other than 'Awang telinga besor' , 'Awang tahi mata banyok' and 'Awang jubo tajam'. The last Awang will send my kids to an unstoppable giggling (gelekek) when I told them the story, and they realized the true meaning of that traditional Trengganuspeak. The bizarre but funny names were probably a nom de plume but they were there for a very specific purpose I will tell later. Fasten your seat belt please, the story goes like this (as far as I can remember, probably there are other untold versions somewhere in somebody's brainbox outside there).

The three Awangs lived in the period of gnomes, 'bughong ghede' and probably shared the same era as the more famous Pak Pandir and Mak Andeh. They were a happy bunch of happy-go-lucky wanderers and roamed this ancient land without any particular purpose. One fine day, during one of their long journey, they came to a big river. Across the river they saw a lively marketplace with lot people and most importantly plenty of food. Tempted by all those view plus the empty stomach, they wanted to quickly cross the river. But there was no bridge or sort of to be seen. Luckily, they saw a sampan left unattended nearby. Being the clumsiest and a no brainer, Awang jubo tajam straight away jumped into the sampan and sat on its floor. This is where the fun begin.

The moment Awang jubo tajam sat on the floor, praakkkkkk....his sharp ass (this is what actually means by 'jubo tajam' if you haven't know yet :) straight away punched a big hole into it, allowing the water to gush in and almost sank the sampan. But help was never far away. With quick thinking, his buddy Awang tahi mata banyok took some of his 'tahi mata' and managed to cover the hole thus stopping the sampan from sinking. I was told that his 'tahi mata' was more powerful that our current superglue. Then they faced another problem. There was no peddle to maneuver the sampan. To cut the long story short, Awang telinga besor, didn't want to be left out of action then happily just stretch away his big ears (imagine elephant's ears) and the boat sail smoothly across the river. the end.

That is the story I still remember until this day. The story that was told in a dim light of 'lampu peliga gas' or 'pelita ayam', with crickets and other nocturnal being serenading in the background. The last time I saw my beloved Toki was when I took a month break from my 'jihad' in 1997, and he waved solemnly from his balcony when we were going back abroad. I've never had any chance to meet him again after that.

During this Ramadhan, there won't be any 'meriam buluh' from my Toki. There won't be any 'pelita buluh' either from him and there won't be any early morning visit to his house in the first light of Syawal. But I will always remember his story and all the love he showered to me. I penned down this story so that it won't lost and my kid can still hear and giggle upon listening to this 'pusaka'. I pray that my Toki will be placed among the Al-solehin.


Note: the above photo was the last photo of my Toki with one of my younger brother.

18 August 2009

An open letter to my beloved wife

Kehadapan adinda yang dikasihi dan diingati sokmo,

Pertamanya dinda, maaf dipinta kerana warkah ini hadir bukan tepat pada harinya. Namun terlewat pun bukanlah sengaja, sehari dua sahaja lebih baik dari terus lupa.

Bersempena ulangtahun ke-17 ikatan cinta kita, buat sekian kalinya kanda meluahkan pendaman rasa kasih sayang yang tidak terhingga. Bahkan hari-hari yang dilalui bersama tidak sedetikpun terasa sunyi dan sepi dengan kehadiran dinda, namun penuh bermakna. Ditambah dengan kurniaan empat cahaya mata anugerahNYA, yang comel-comel belaka, tiadalah lagi bahagia yang dipinta.


Banyak sudah liku ranjau onak duri dilalui bersama. Susah senang bersilih ganti tidaklah terkira, menjadi asam garam hidup kita. Pengorbanan dinda tiada galang gantinya tak terbalas rasanya. Hanya doa mampu kanda panjatkan agar ikatan suci ini berkekalan dan diredhai hingga keakhirnya. Terimakasih tidak terhingga kerana sudi bertakhta dihati, teman hidup dikala suka dan duka penglipurlara.

Akhir kata penghujung bicara. Cinta ini tidak pernah luntur dari dulu kini dan selamanya. Akan kanda pegang erat hingga ke hujung dunia.

Peluk cium dari kanda,


07 August 2009

Revenge of the metal

My long suspicion on the cybertronian activities in this part of the remote universe had caused me to transform myself into a snooping marksman recently. The recent rumbling and the clunking of metal, pounding hard in the middle of the night that caused my bed to tremble like a sweating jalopy has led me to sneak out into a stealth to investigate.

I was expecting to see some jaws dropping action by the Primes and the Decepticons in their epic battle or at leas a brief encounter with the shapely Megan Fox fighting a medusa-like Pretender. To my utter frustration, I was instead greeted with the dormant piles of rustic metals left idle by some unknown being presumably after some inconspicuous activities the nights before. What a turn off.

When I moved into this happy-go-lucky neighborhood and blended in well with the surrounding seven years ago, the atmosphere was so peacefully serene, surrounded with the rubber trees and other lush greenery that provides us our potent life essentials - more like the AllSpark. The air is still thin and kind to the noses and more than often we can even shrouded ourselves in a morning divine fog. However, of late active of land clearance and continuously sand-mining that taking place supposedly to give way to a new shopping mall and other conveniences have undoubtedly caused the residence a lot of unexpected inconveniences.

We are not only have to cope with the noise, the heavy metals that move about, in and out from the epicenter but also the flying microscopic dust that gives a new make over to the furniture, pollute our lung, costly structural damage to the building and mental torture to the many restful souls.

Since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that hit this region, thinking of which I am also suspected from the covert activities of the Decepticons to revive their knock-off leader, Megatron from rotting in the bottom of sea, I noticed the cracks on the wall are getting bigger and longer. The cracks were first noticeable right after the tremor hit our mainland, started with just not-so visible hairline cracks. Since then, I periodically mark and check upon the crack regularly to monitor the progress. Luckily, in my case the cracks are still considered small as compared to my other inauspicious neighbours. Some of them have to spend close to a mindboggling RM10k for the repair because the cracks were so big they can fall down and stuck in between the floors or part of their home is sinking fast into the ground. I suspected the soil under our feet is moving and shifting slowly because of all the hustle and bustle nearby. And the cracks are still re-occuring, even during this writing.

With the above unproven self-profess hypotheses, this has also led me to believe what Optimus Prime was saying "We are not alone in this planet". Using the Matrix of the leadership, I am sending out the signal into the other dimension, beyond our imagination and looking forward for the Autobots to answer the calling. I hope they will visit our neighborhood soon and transform this pseudo-platform into a heavenly sanctuary one more time.

If the sweet Megan fox come along, that is considered a bonus.

03 August 2009

Getting ready for the big day

Seriously I thought it was too early to rush out and wandering helplessly with other bargain-hunters around the streets of Jalan Masjid India shopping for this coming Raya. Furthermore, we don't even subjected ourselves yet to another sin-free month and body-cleansing ritual by restraining from all the forbidden foods that have done so much damage to our body. But my significant half has a different idea, much-much reasonable idea.

Past experience of last minute Raya shopping had caused us to just contented with whatever decently looking fabric available on the street, which ended up so freaking colorful, I think Kumpulan Boria Sungai Pinang would have laughed had they've seen us so brilliantly inhomogeneous.

So a few wonderful weeks back, just before I was kicked out from my noble duty in the rubber estate and embraced myself in the warm hospitality of young and freshly graduated nurses, I followed my significant half to the back alleys of Jalan Tunku Abd Rahman, indulging myself nonchalantly in a lifetime shopping spree.

I then realized the atmosphere there hasn't changed much since my prowling-varsity years. There are still many Indians merchants as usual but there was no more street artisans though, showing off their magnificent artistic skill on the canvases. There was however, many street peddlers from the neighboring countries finding refugees in this Bolehland heaven. I am least surprised, because if you ask them how some of them managed to get a visa, the answer will most probably 'bisa'.

Back to the main story- we ended up in a considerably new textile mall after consulting our shopaholic informer. I think it was worth the visit as their price was surprisingly very un-Malaysianly cheap, I mean reasonable and acceptable (some don't like the word cheapo). Before I can even think and passed out looking at the hundreds metres of fabric my wife happily tuck hungrily in her shopping bags I got mesmerized with so many breath-choking bargains the store has to offer. She even managed to buy 2 pairs of fabric for our bibik's baju kurung. With lightning speed I paid the bill and romantically persuaded her out to breath some fresh air into my congested lung. The mission was however not completed yet.

I was told by my luvly-jubly significant half, some tailors has already closed their book from taking any order for this coming festive season. People in the Bolehland (that include my significant half and myself) got so paranoid these days they even bought their kain for baju Raya way before the Mega sale. But worry not, I know there is one tailor shop in Paya Jaras which has good and luvly-jubly tailors, whom don't mind sleeping in their sleeping bag trying very hard to finish all the orders even before the Penyimpan Mohor Besar Raja-Raja has a peek on the moon. Job finally accomplished.

For all the trouble, hunting high and low in the back alleys for the whole family attires (plus 2 for the bibik) , getting our vital body measurement with the family designer in a prestigious boutique which situated close to a pasar malam, at the end I spent less than RM1K. Not bad isn't it?

By the way, the color theme this year for the whole family is a stormbringer dark purple (again)! Smoking hot...
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