22 January 2010

Drawn by the legendary sharingan power

As far as I can remember during my pre-adolescence period, my ample spare time was fully occupied with productive activities (by my standard). Such activities could range from getting myself busy running aimlessly around my grandparent's house, looking after ikang skila (fighting fish) that I kept in small used lemonade bottles under the house, spending countless time with cute little cikgu - a small sand burrow-digging creature or playing with little soldier figurines I bought from one of my exciting visits to Pasar Kedai Payang.

The most imaginative thing I did as a growing up kid back then was to form a small band of 'kampung' infantry and we would indulge ourselves in a mock battle using senapang buloh (a hollow bamboo with small semi-hard seeds or wet newspaper as bullet - I thought that was quite an ingenious invention) shooting birds (and innocent girls :) around the kampung.

So apparently I could not complain much when my little juniors, during one of our outings will invariably ask me to buy this and that. I could understand their urge as I've been in their shoes too. The memories are quite vivid it seems. Most of their fancies are toys or memorabilia from their favorite cartoon shows. I didn't mind of their pestering me because that was also exactly what I did to whoever brought me along to Pasar Kedai Payang, long time ago.

The deep interest in those child-play never died off. My significant half would have by this time understood my deep interest in this childish indulgence too. I thought it was a rather peculiar sight for her at first when she saw how I could let myself deeply rooted in my potato-couch watching my favourite Manga movies for hours or standing still and mesmerized staring at TV screens in a shopping mall watching free hi-tech figure-transforming Japanese anime during one of her shopping trips . Did I tell you I pick up Japanese (I mean the language) from these movies too? Well at least now I know what Arigato gozaimasu means :)

Seeing my kids enjoying their toys or anything that fancy them really make me feel very contented. The inherited power of mangaekyu sharingan - the power that controls and distorted time and space dimension, really invoke back my childhood fond memories. In a way that brings out the kid in me as well.

19 January 2010

Almost eaten alive by the greedy inflation

News on man-eating saltwater crocodiles roaming wild and roaming free in the shallow water of Port Dickson spread very fast of late. Several sightings were reported earlier but this apparently did not make into our local tabloid headline because story of suspicious looking creature lurking in a shallow water won't probably land them an extra profit. Not until few weeks back when an unsuspecting local tourist got bitten on his foot and was dragged down into the deep murky water of the strait of Malacca by one of these monsters, the news began to surface. Luckily he survived. The bite was so severe, he almost lost his foot and will spent his entire life, limping like the famous pirate Long John Silver. Even then, no solid effort has been taken by the local authority to warn people of the imminent danger. Bolehland style, everything goes under the carpet.

Whether the news was true or just another smearing-campaign by some irresponsible quarter, I have no way to validate. Since the advent of internet, rumor spread very fast, faster than the speed of a bullet. But ever since last week my email account was bombarded with stories and photos of almost smashed up foot of this unlucky guy. I am more incline to believe the news from the internet. Somehow, I always trust my gut feeling. On second thought, the elusive monsters could also be the infamous local 'skuad skodeng' actively on patrol or look out for their fleshy preys. Anyhow and anyway, just to be on the save side, watch out for any mysterious dark creature that lurk in the water folk!

Back to the main story (got sidetracked a bit by that croc chronicle). I almost had the same Long John Silver experience when I visited our Zoo Negara recently. Well not quite that bad to be frank. It had been almost eight years since the last time I brought my kids to Zoo Negara. So before the end of last school holiday, I bundled everybody into my old jalopy and we gatecrashed into that animal sanctuary very early in the morning. The idea was to avoid the crowd. Yes, we beat the crowd alright but the new entrance fee really beat me flat this time. I had to fork out RM76 for my six excited family members just to see the animals in cages.

If I am not mistaken, last time I paid only half of that amount. That was not all. They charged another RM5 for a ride on a buggy around the compound (which was free the last time) and another RM5++ if you want to enter the insectzoo, their latest attraction. I can't see any justification for those extra charges, in fact the reason to double up the fee too. Zoo is supposed to be a fun place for the public and the whole family. The management can increase the charge but it should be reasonable and affordable, gradually with time. Imagine the lesser mortals with bigger family members. If that was not insulting enough, 'teh ais' in one of the kiosks cost almost the same as the one in a five star hotel. You've got to go there yourself to believe it. I am not exaggerating this time. Doing a simple arithmetic and going by the current trend, I anticipate the cost would be phenomenally outrageous in the next 5 or 6 years time. Now I know the true meaning of inflation. Or was it greed?

I had enough of zoo-keeping to do in my office nowadays. Cubicle-style for staffs' workplace our offices adopted these days resembles much of the zoo habitat. Several office inhabitants even depicting some of the zoo's character - predatory, ferocious, opportunistic and to some extent cannibalistic. So why paying extra for the same show I can enjoy in my own playground. I just fasten my seat belt and finish my popcorn then.

In these modern days, my kid has to pay some monies even to watch a cow grazing lazily in captivity. In the next 20 years or so , my grandchildren probably have to take a bank loan just to see chickens laying their eggs.

Despite a small setback and the global financial crisis, the whole family were having fun as usual. Crisis or no crisis, we managed to stride joyfully along the path learning the intricate relationship between the animals and their natural surrounding

My youngest feeding the jumbo - trying his best to conquer his fear.

The new attraction to the visitors - the insectzoo. We didn't go inside as this will incur another charge just to see the creepy crawlies in display. The half-day walking around the compound really took away some of the spirit.

These migrating birds were the only animal that was not kept in captivity. They can come and leave anytime they like. Not a bad policy - until H5N1 knock out the entire avian population in the zoo I guess.

11 January 2010

Jangan pandang belakang

Pesan buat anak

hari bersilih
bulan berganti
tahun bersulam
dupa kehidupan terbentang

wahai anak
mulakan langkah hayunan mampan
jangan longlai tawan impian
jalan lurus di hadapan
jangan pandang belakang

bukan senang mahu senang
susah memang susah
hidup susah dahulu
biar senang kemudian
susah dahulu pendapatan

umpama kecapi mengejar mimpi
pusingan roda tiada henti
hanya jauhari kembala Sekendi
yang tersurat bukannya mesti
saudagar mimpi jangan dicari

tapi sesekali
tolehlah ke tepi
takut tersesat terpesong pedati
kenal diri makrifat hakiki
cermin kehidupan kebenaran menanti

peta perjalanan terikat azali
billah bilhak tetapkan qolbi
perlu ingat jati diri

pesanku ya auladi
buat sekian kali
bernoktah di sini

08 January 2010

Looking back at life - A prologue

I was born 42 years ago in a village surrounded by paddy fields. The only detailed my mother told me about my birth was how glorious it was that early morning, with virgin dew dripping from the grass and the sweet smell of the newly ripen paddies waiting to be harvested that season. My mother did not wait very long and started to feed me with 'nasi bubur penyek' in an empty and well polished coconut shell as early as I was few days old. That explained why I was so instrumental with that particular diet until today. And that explained why I was so chubby as well.

My tokki planted paddy. Vast acres of paddy and I had always trying to find excuses and time to spend the whole wonderful day with him in the paddy field, lending my hand whenever I could, even as a toddler. I could spend almost the entire day running here and there, basking and rolling on pile of paddy hays, catching dragonflies and quail while keeping both my tokki and tok busy running after me trying to keep me from tumbling into buffalo dungs. So even as a very young child, I learned to take notice and look admiringly at the world around me.

At that toddler age, I had to move and followed my father migrating all around Terengganu, as my father worked as a 'Renjer Mergastua". Dungun and Kemaman was two of my favorite places and kept many fond memories. This nomadic life brought me even closer to nature. On many rare occasions my father would 'disappear' from home, most of the time without me noticing his disappearance, and he went into the jungles for one of his official duties. This could last for few days or even weeks. When he came back, he would bring back many beautiful animals, some were orphans (siamang, ungka, porcupine, sun bear, mouse deer or even tigers - of course they were babies). He would keep the exotic animals for a while at our house and let me play with those beautiful creatures before he handed them over to the authority. Ironically, these days I am not that fond to keep animals as pets in my house.

We moved back to Kuala Terengganu when I was 11 years old. Once again I enjoyed the serene kampung life. I always welcome the monsoon season as the paddy fields would by this time, again filled with water and brought life to the surrounding area. It was a splendid time to 'berkubang' like a water buffalo, again in the clogged paddy fields fishing for 'haruan' and 'puyu'. My siblings and other cousins would join me, getting wet under the torrential rain, sitting patiently and motionlessly along the paddy field with fishing rod at hand, trembling full of excitement with every bite we had from the underwater creatures. Mamee was our staple food those days. When evening came, we would go out again to the fields putting the 'tauk' in selective spots and left them overnight hoping that they won't catch anything that slithered the next morning.

At the age of 12, solely influenced by my father's early education, I made one of the best decision of my life. Out of the 25 classmates in the Sultan Sulaiman Primary School, I was the only one opted to pursue my secondary education in one of the renown 'Sekolah Arab' in Kuala Terengganu - SMU Sultan Zainal Abidin, Ladang. In fact, I was the only one from the school to pilgrimage from a 'secular' to the so-called Arabic school. I spent three wonderful years there, deciphering the complexity of the Arabic language before I moved on to the newly established college at Gong Badak - KUSZA. Gong Badak was then like a plain Serengeti, void of any development. KUSZA was still in its embryonic phase. My batch became the pioneer. That was actually the first boarding school experience for me, away from the comfort of my tokki's home. It was another phase of my life, worth further elaboration on its own.

Looking back at those wonderful primordial years, the phases that shaped me as what I am today, I feel the sense of self consciousness. It was deeply personal but full of contradiction. Thus feeling leading me to come to term with the fact that I am old.


tauk = A short bamboo with bait (normally a puyu fish)

06 January 2010

The journey starts with a big bang

This new year surprisingly started with a wonderful display of one of the cosmic wonder, a moon eclipse, which happened at the axis of Cancer-Capricorn. For the avid stargazers the sight was something to behold and worth staring at in the wee hour of the morning - Malaysian time. For the fortunetellers and tarot readers this might be a celestial sign, that a year ahead will be bestowed with full of prosperity and all goodness in life. On that auspicious moment, I on the other hand was still deep in my dream, traveling in another dimension trying to open a gate to my brighter future.

As expected, the first dawn of this year came with many chores that has to deal with, especially with the schooling of the kids. There were however, few unexpected surprises as well. A travel 250 Km up North was a pleasant one as usual, but 'smeared' by an astronomical increase in this year's registration fee. I didn't expect a mere increase of 20 cents in sugar price will increase the education fee by almost three folds - hypothetically speaking. I almost had a heart attacked when I looked at the figure.

Other parents seemed very surprised as well with the unexpected reality that confronted them. Education doesn't comes cheap these days. That is well expected, but not these soon. It should be gradually over time. Probably in the next millennium. In fact it should be free. I personally think education is a collective responsibility of the mighty powers that be. A social responsibility, for education is part of our lifelong journey. It is one of the core building block in human capital development and one of the important pillars for our country to achieve its visions - whatever it may be.

For the lesser mortals this might mean breaking their 'tabung ayam' or their life saving. Imagine if a parent with more than one kids that has to bear with this financial burden. At the same time I was quite sympathetic toward the teachers who were putting their best effort and their best face trying to explain to the dissatisfied and unsuspecting parents. The memo from the powers that be came into the hand of these unfortunate guardian angels a few days earlier, imposing on the new fee. Many parents caught off guard.

Now it seems boarding school has a different meaning all together. This make me wonder what 'asrama penuh' is all about. During my time, going to the 'asrama penuh' meaning entering a selected and prestigious school with 'lenggang kangkong" and almost 'sehelai sepinggang'. Everything was subsidized as it was a privilege enjoyed by selected few cream groups in education. Some might argue, we need to abandon the subsidy mentality and move on to be independent or shoulder part of the responsibility. I don't mind if what we are talking about is that diabetic-causing sugar, but this is education. No education, no civilization. The brain will be dead and we will become a zombie.

In the home front, things progress very well. Even though there was some indication of the first schooling day syndrome (kids sleep like a dead horse and very difficult to breath life to them in the early morning), later on they will get used to it and there is no need to sprinkle cold water on them anymore.

Another annular solar eclipse is expected on January 15, which is happen to be next week. Some part of the world will be partially overshadowed with darkness. A hidden force that controls the celestial movement has once again trying to send a gentle reminder to all of us, the believer. And while Saturn is being located at the beginning of Libra, playing dangerous war games with Pluto, which is being at the beginning of Capricorn, what is to be expected this year?

Once again, my kids journey have just started, mine will continue...with a small bang in my own small comfy realm.

01 January 2010

Lowering down the curtain with Lo' lit

Over a steaming spread of this lo' lit goodness, I laid back and surrender myself to a feel of a zen-like stillness while pondering upon my colorful life in the past years. The overwhelming dose of nostalgia over the many ups and downs of my life journey, has led me to believe that live has many things to offer and full of surprises.

These metamorphosis phase of life, just like lo' lit is another transformation from a natural God send produces and his wonderful creations into a kaleidoscope of edible sensation for his loyal disciples and the one who believe that in order to survive, we have to eat...of course.

Now, if you ask me how these brilliantly transformation takes place, from the basic ingredient into this C4-like wonder, I wouldn't know and not sure myself. The experience has long gone, when I was still a small kid, during a rice harvesting season in Kg. Sg. Derhaka. My late grandmother was the one who dealt with this heavenly crop while me, who was just contemplating to melt everything she generously invented into my eager mouth. For the uninitiated who has been asking this lo' lit recipe, I have to excuse myself and let the others who have a better memory and wisdom to give the answer. And yes, I don't eat recipe, I eat anything that materialized from the good culinary practices. Probably that is the one thing I need to learn this new year. Digesting all the good recipes.

For all intents and purposes, again I am in the center of the universe. My life will seamlessly continue to evolve in harmony with the morphing and ever-changing habitat, blend in well with the natural ecosystem and change to the tune of my insane surrounding. My epic life journey once again begins. Lets start our first step with bismillah and pray to Allah that the days to come will be full of joy and laughter, surrounded with the ones that we loved dearly and most of all, showered with all the mercy and love by the ONE.

Have a great and prosperous year ahead guys!

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