25 September 2009

Probably the most memorable bedtime story ever

I am sure many others have had this once-in-a-lifetime experience before. An unforgettable experience that burned into our mind that left a permanent scar, embedded throughout our entire mortal life. At first I just hope it was just a dream. Another one of my childhood's bad dream. But when I open my eyes I was still in the same freaking oblivion. I woke from my deepest slumber, feeling very much groggy from the sedative effect and I found myself still in bed, in a hospital and strong chlorine smell stuffed my nostrils.

That was three days before Raya. The night of malam tujoh likor. I barely could walk and drag my feet to the hospital with the help of my other half. My chest cavity felt so constricted depriving of air and congested with pain I felt like to explode. But I took it as a blessing. God probably gave me another rare opportunity to experience the second spiritual cleansing episode during the last leg of our holy month of Ramadhan. Only this time it was much intense and much complicated. To cut the story short, Alhamdulillah everything went on smoothly - for the time being.

So instinctively when I heard the first takbir on the telly that was hung in front of my hospital bed, I felt a gush of mixed feeling flooding the inner me. I must get out from the place and be at home, celebrating the day with my family and not rotting in the hospital bed staring at the empty ceiling. If not because of the mere sanity that still left inside me, persuading the doctor to discharge me, I would have still in my hospital bed celebrating Raya with the other homeless citizen.

The first day of Raya turned out to be not as quiet as I expected. I didn't go to the masjid for the prayer as I was still very weak. I thought to just lay in my bed and savor the serene moment in the comfort of my home. However, my kampungless neighbours who noticed the unusual movement in my house and my cars that were not supposed to be in the porch on the first day of Raya, came to check and they finally ended up in my kitchen table having a sumptuous dishes of nasi hujan panas, daging gulai darat and nasi himpit my other half cooked earlier that morning. My BIL from Sepang also came and my younger sister from Klang came, en-route to Kuala Trengganu stopping by later that evening, topping up the the dishes with many more traditional culinary.

Another family friend, we first got acquaintance while in the UK long time ago, who doesn't has any close relative in KL and purposely didn't go back to their kampung in Johor because three of their kids are having exam this year, came to visit us (actually they thought I was still in the hospital) and we had a lot of thing to catch up. I almost forgot my dire condition, the first day passed by and sliding smoothly almost unnoticed. It was quite a Raya after all. I ended up spending the whole first week of Raya in KL. The first time ever.

Thank you to my fellow bloggers who sent beautiful Kad Raya throught snail mail and all the Raya wishes through this blog, email and sms. Finally, I would like to wish my fellow countrymen, especially my friends and family in the keropok lekor eating nation, in Kg. Sg. Derhaka, Kg. Bukit Bayas, Kg. Atas Tol , Kg. Pulau Rusa, Marang and Setiu who celebrate Hari Raya Nam (enam) as meriah as the Hari Raya Aidil Fitri if not more colorful this Sunday- Selamat Menyambut Hari Raya Nam folks! Sorry I can't make it this year.

p/s: I shed 7 kilos of my body fat in two months. At last...my ideal BMI. You don't need to diet really, a stone in a gallbladder will do :)

15 September 2009

Reminiscing Malam Tujoh Likor

Neither do I know the origin of this most anticipated night nor exactly why we celebrate it. But we celebrated the night with lots of joy and happiness. It was the night where we, the kids have a bit of freedom from the other nights in Ramadhan to venture far into our neighbouring territories, and feasting our eyes with the glitter of flickering light from the many pelita on fire.

It was the 27th. night of Ramadhan. To most of the generation who spent most of their time playing PlayStation or indulging themselves until the wee hour of morning with facebook, we called that nigh Malam Tujoh Likor. This is the story of many years back, a story of a night, which suddenly became lively when the dark befall and the atmosphere became shrouded with smoldering smoke and thundering sound.

A day or two before the night, you can almost sense its present with a hive of activities. Kampung folks started the preparation by collecting used 'tin susu' from the coffee shop (kedai kopi) and for a more creative citizen like my tokki, he cut down a bamboo which is abundance, around the village to make 'pelita' and also our cannon. The 'tin susu' will be cleaned, fitted with a 'sumbu' normally made from old rugs or jute straw. The bamboo will be prepared the same way, either as a single 'ruas' (joint) or a series of one long bamboo consisting of up to 10 'ruas' mounted and supported on two sticks, and both were filled with kerosene or cooking oil (minyak kelapa). That was how the pelita were made and they were now ready for the grand finale.

On the day itself, the old surau or masjid was full to the brink of almost kissing the ground. The 'moreh' was exceptionally special that night (Malam Lailatul Qadar could fall on the same night - you'll never know). The kids after the isya' prayer and probably a few rakaat of terawikh - killed their time playing 'police sentry' or 'hide and seek' close by before the main event - firecrackers, carbide cannon and touring other neighboring villages in a big group.

After the terawikh, we hurriedly back to set up our battle arsenals, which were 'meriam buluh' or 'meriam tanah'. The girls and the unadventurous lads were just settled down with firecrackers and making sure the pelita won't die off during the night.

We, the more daring and 'lasak' guys straight away went to our specially chosen spot for our long awaited and anticipated activity. Meriam buluh was made from a special thick-walled bamboo (buluh duri) and not the normal bamboo used to cook lemang. The bamboo will be bored (normally my tokki did this few days earlier) and filled with carbide which later mixed with water. To strengthen the bamboo my tokki wrapped it with steel wire. The 'meriam tanah' on the other hand was actually another version of cannon, made from a square mold (normally from used cooking oil tin) in an elevated ground, under a house (imagine kampung houses with lots of wooden tiang) which strategically face a paddy field.

My kampung buddies and siblings - brothers-in-arm in the battle, placed the cannon in a row, facing the other villages. It can be a tough competition, because our rivals were aiming the cannon toward our village as well and ready for a good melee. My tokki watched his grandchildren enjoying their time in a safe distant. We were ready to rock. You can hear the distinct hissing sound from the chemical reaction which tell you that it was just about time to light it. Fire in the hole....Kaboooommmm! Kabooommmm! The night then filled with continuous hair-raising sounds. We didn't stop until we had run out of our carbide supply. Which was normally past the midnight. As if everybody came to an understanding, (sort of mutual MoU I guess) the sound died off suddenly and the night became eerily quite and serene again.

With ourselves strongly smelled with carbide, we then rode our bicycle to our neighboring villages scouting for their battle secret and at the same time feasting our eyes with their creative light decorations, which by now glowing and flickering brightly and beautifully. Occasionally we stooped to greet them and they treated us with some sweets. The night end when we have no more energy to cycle or our tummy has started to grumble, longing for our take away food, normally tucked safely in our sarung which was taken from the moreh earlier that night.

That was my Malam Tujoh Likor...

14 September 2009

Meme : Save Yvonne's sight

Madam Zendra has tagged me (I still 'hutang' her one tag though, in fact I have a list of 'hutang' tag long overdue from other bloggers...insyaallah ye) for Save Yvonne sight's meme. So as a caring citizen I am, here is my small contribution.

Yvonne Foong, 22, has neurofibromatosis type II, which has severely affected her sight and hearing due to tumours in the brain and spine. She is scheduled for an operation between 1 and 4 December 2009. The cost of surgery is USD44,000 or RM154,770, and the cost of staying in hospital for two weeks is USD915 or RM3219.

She has raised about RM10,000 of this and is hoping to raise the rest by republishing her book I'm Not Sick; I'm Just a Bit Unwell in English and Chinese. The books are now available in Malaysian bookshops and from her web site store. She is also selling T-shirts at bazaars and via her web site store. You can read about her surgery and donate to her fund here.

You can also help by sending on this meme. If you do, please follow these meme rules:
1. Create a blog entry titled "Meme: Save Yvonne's Sight"
2. List three things you love to see. Add in the picture of Yvonne's book cover. The URL is http://www.yvonnefoong.com/images/banner/my-story.jpg
3. End with the line, "Yvonne Foong is in danger of losing her eyesight thanks to neurofibromatosis (NF). Please find out how you can help her by visiting her blog at http://www.yvonnefoong.com.
4. Tag 5 blog friends. Be sure to copy the rules, OK?
5. If you have a Facebook account, please check out Ellen's new invention, a "feme" pronounced FEEM, a meme designed for Facebook here. And if you want to blog about NF, that would be great too!
Three things I love to see :
1. Motorist stop at a zebra crossing
2. More green areas and less chopping down of trees
3. An M3 park in front of my house

Bloggers I'm tagging are:
Faisal Admar

"Yvonne Foong is in danger of losing her eyesight thanks to neurofibromatosis (NF). Please find out how you can help her by visiting her blog at http://www.yvonnefoong.com."

In fact if anyone else out there would like to meme or feme this - please feel free.

12 September 2009

A scent from heaven

I thought man in general has a very good sense of direction. Especially when driving. He doesn't need a map or even a co-pilot on their side to find certain destination or particular location. Even to find ordinary items like their tie pin, socks, car key or their children whenever they wanted it. They will almost certainly find it with pin-point precision. It is a pure instinct and come naturally for a man. Otherwise how a sperm, man's most potent biological super weapon precisely self-guided and landed on the exact spot, on the correct moment on one lucky female egg if not because they have their own natural global position system (GPS) and probably the head of their own.

So it is quite a revelation to me last night during a hasty preparation to the usual terawikh session, I just couldn't find my 'minyak kasturi' on its usual place. That was probably another dark side of man I guess. Their GPS is totally shut down whenever they are looking for something, especially that some thing is in the house, with their wife around.

In the house, man can never find anything they are looking for even if they are actually looking at it. This is one of a few time I actually if momentarily consider to have a second thought on men supremacy except their sexual libido. I always thought women in general and my wife especially has a very bad sense of direction, but I was wrong this time (this statement is made to save me from sleeping on the couch tonight :)

However, I don't want to indulge too much discussion, fearing the unimaginable consequences from our female counterpart, on the scientifically unproven theory above but on a real subject of interest which is 'minyak kasturi'.

Not until quite recently, I had no idea whatsoever how it is made and what 'minyak minyak' kasturi is all about. In fact, I seldom (read never) used or apply the 'minyak' or their closest attar relatives before. A personal preference really.

We thought we have a cyclopedic knowledge of everything. But we are not. Contrary to popular believe, minyak kasturi or a 'musk deer' as it is known in the other part of the world, is not extracted from any other part of plant such as from bark or flower (unlike any other perfumes), but from a part of the body of a male dear found mainly in a mountainous region close to the Himalaya.

In reality, minyak kasturi is actually extracted from a special gland , a musk gland (the first pic) that is more often than not found in between the genital and umbilicus of this special mammals (Mochus musciferus). As many other glands in other male species, this gland originally is to attract the opposite sex for their intimate companion of course. For animal lovers out there, to get this glands you don't have to kill the animal.

So you can imagine my excitement and interest when Ustaz Malik Jin (he is well known for his ability to dispel and dispose the unseen), who conduct a regular dhuha class and an alternative clinic in Subang Impian, explain in lengthy the heavenly origin, its remedial wonders and a scent of choice for our prophet Muhammad s.a.a.w. this minyak kasturi is. I was actually very excited when he told us that he has in his collection the original musk gland and also the minyak for all the jemaah to see and buy.

So why in the fist place after so many years I've decided to enter a new blissful transcendent phase of my life getting alliance with this gift from heaven? Obviously not because I wanted to attract the opposite sex as the other mammals naturally would do, but purely because I wanted to embrace this new experience and its spiritual benefits.

Minyak kasturi is believed to have many divine benefits. Among others are to sharpen ones mind, asthmatic relaxant, strengthen external organs (need to clarify which particular organ), to pacify anger and anxiety, to reduce nervous breakdown and so on and so on. The list is too long for me to pen it down here.

My last word of wisdom if there is any left inside my brain, before I get ready for another terawikh session tonight - as we are now entering the last phase of Ramadhan trimester, I hope most of us has already done with our lailatul-kamdar, but seriously seeking and striving very hard for the elusive and sought after Lailatul Qadar, the night of Decree, the night where so many sins are forgiven and so many fault are concealed. For it is the night of forgiveness.

08 September 2009

Tangga delapan sembilan purnama

Hari ini kanda tidak lupa lagi
menggapai warna dikaki pelangi
kalungan jiwa sijantung hati
mengalun ingatan sematan sanubari

Ini hari istimewamu
salam rindu salam kasihku
kuntuman bunga sulaman kalbu
ikatan cinta pujangga hatiku

Tiadalah lagi kanda bermimpi
bangun pagi kucupan dipipi
tanda ingatan tulus abadi
kuntuman mawar mekar dihati
seharum kasturi semurni bidadari

Tangga delapan sembilan purnama
Selamatlah sudah 41 tahun lamanya
Dipanjangkan umur murah rezeki hendaknya
Hidup diberkati bahagia bersama
Doa ikhlas titipan dariku - buatmu dinda

07 September 2009

Songket, Malam Namat and Koleh lemok

Few days back, I called Che' (my mom) at my hometown Kuala Trengganu, the land of keropok lekor. My nephew answered the phone and he told me that Che' was very busy at her kitchen preparing a big feast for the masjid. I was told later the feast was for a special occasion in this holy month, in Ganuspeak we called it 'malam namat' with the sabdu at the alphabet of 'm'.

Again, 'mlam namat' brought back many fond memories for me. As we used to enjoy 'malam namat' with all the special and exotic gastronomical delicacies at the masjid, which happens only once a year in this holy month of Ramadhan. 'Gulai itek sekati' and 'khesek' are the most anticipated dishes. But something stuck at the back of my mind and this has really puzzled me. Until now, frankly speaking (and shame on me), I am not sure what 'malam namat' is. I don't have the gut to call my father and ask him what 'malam namat' really is.

Yours truly : Malang namat tu mende Ayoh?
(What is malam namat Ayoh?)

Ayoh : mende mung Awang (nama manja :), besor jalo tue bake pong dok tahu lagi? (What wrong with you Awang , at this age you still don't know what malam namat is?)

The prospect of having reprehensible conversation with him, has led me to call my younger sister instead , Cendawanintim (who was with Che' doing the same kitchen chores) for some clarification.It turn out that 'malam namat' is actually 'malam penamat' or the day to mark the 'khatam' of 30 juzuk of Al-quran, recited from the first day of Ramadhan by the qariah at the masjid. My younger sister told me later that my kampung is among the first to finish (khatam). Bravo and Alhamdulillah.

This afternoon I received a package from a courier service. It was from my Che'. It was a special order from me earlier for the big day. As Che' is also probably the last remaining traditional Ganu Songket weaver, I have the privilege to choose the 'songket' to match with this years color theme. They are for the request and order from my colleagues as well.

I called her again today to inform that the consignment has safely arrived. Again she was very occupied with my other nephews, in her kitchen preparing and cooking a long list of local saliva-dripping kuih, and some are my favourite traditional kuih-muih. Sekaya, koleh kacang, koleh lemok, beker nyor, kuih telinga lembik, kuih bakor, nekbat, kuih tepung bunga, kuih golek abu, tok aji serban, akok and belede. Ahhhhhh.....neleh air liur :)

02 September 2009

Terawikh and tawarikh

I was not in the city center last weekend, when 6000 or so of my countrymen celebrated a scaled down 52th Malaysian Merdeka Day in Parliament square. As far as I can remember, that was the first time one of our country biggest annual festivity was held in that place, with a very limited numbers of people involved.

Actually I was with my family 240 km away from the city center, to be more precise in Kuala Kangsar. We traveled there a day earlier. It was not because I ran away with the fear that the 6000 or so people who mingled freely with other unsuspecting carrier of the dreaded disease will escalate the spread of the already widespread pandemic, but because the school holiday was over and my eldest son once again forgot to remind me to buy him a bus ticket.

On most of the occasion, I will drive up north and come back again the same day. But the idea of doing a terawikh at one of the mosque listed as the most beautiful in Malaysia was so hard to resist. We booked and stayed at Resort Safari Sungai Perak, which is situated closely to the bank of Sungai Kangsar. It was only a walking distance from the bustling marketplace. There was a pasar ramadhan so lively with people and all the delectable choices of delicacies but we decided to have our iftar at the resort as the iftar promotion was very good.

Having an iftar at the resort was quite a memorable experience. The wide selection of traditional buffet was very impressive, tasteful and comparatively cheap (RM15/adult, RM10/kid plus one guess FOC). With our tummy well stuffed, my other half and me finally got the chance to perform tarawikh at Ubudiah mosque.

Indeed the architecture of the mosque was so stunning. If not because the imam beautifully reciting the verses in the Al-quran, I almost couldn't concentrate well in the pray - too mesmerized. We finished the tarawikh with only 8 rakaat. Still donning in my favorite sarong I quickly took the chance to snap some photos of that majestic man made creation (there were few who did the same :)

'Hari ini dalam sejarah'. I was there, 2 years ago on the 50th. year of Merdeka celebration. That was on the rehearsal day (2 weeks of rehearsal and strict practice on 'kawat and tabik spring' under a watchful eyes of 'Mat misai', in the 'terowong' waiting for the procession.

On the day itself with custom made and colorful costumes to mark the different era before the Independence. We marched and marched with pride, chanting with high spirit '..inilah barisan kita...'


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