Wednesday, June 29, 2005

My Bintulu Routine

Sending Babang to school and fetching him back at noon time is now a routine, not by choice, but imposed on me by the kid himself. He refused to come out of the school when Mini went to fetch him one day and only after much persuasion he came out. When he reached home he said to me, in a most confident manner:

Babang: Tok Bah please send and fetch Babang every day.
Tok Bah: What happens if Tok Bah cannot fetch Babang?
Babang: Noooo. Tok Bah must come and fetch Babang. Not Mummy or Daddy.
Tok Bah: What happens if Tok Bah is late?
Babang: Babang wait
Tok Bah: Ok. But what happens when Tok Bah go back to KL?
Babang: Then Mummy or daddy can come.

Very sure of himself. But this is one chore I gladly do, otherwise I will get bored in Bintulu.

After sending him to school in the mornings, Ram and I will go to the park for our morning exercises. On a working day, the park will be quite deserted and it is nice to have the jogging track to ourselves mostly. I like the morning smell of the park. The rustic smell of fallen leaves, wet tree bark and flowers. The sound of birds chirping and singing, the odd insects, and the rustling of leaves swaying in the morning breeze. The sound of waves lashing at the beach, trying to reformat the sand or misplace the odd logs or plastic bottles or some rubbish it carries along each time. The damp earth and grass opening up to the rays of the sun flitting through the trees, branches and leaves.

We will spend about an hour or so at the park in the mornings before heading home, or to the market or supermarket for the odd stuff required. The major marketing stuff are usually bought once a week by Shaffik. We only need to purchase the supplementary stuff now and then, and also to have an excuse to go downtown.

In the evenings we will again go to the park and more often than not the kids will follow us. In the evenings the park will be quite crowded and one can then spy all sorts of behaviours of people using the park. It is always very interesting to observe these people, the various characters, as I slowly jog along. All of them I see every day. Some very intent in their exercise routine, some very casual, and some unconcerned of the needs of others around them, as though the park is made just for them. There are also the picnickers, the family groups and others sitting around having fun. Then there are the young couples, some still in school uniforms, dotting the secluded parts and the heavily shaded parts of the park, oblivious to, no, blind to, the world around them. Observing all these people makes me forget the jogging efforts I have to make, and makes it less tiring too. It becomes a fun jog for me.

The park, as a recreational outlet for the Bintulu community, is a very useful place for the locals to practice healthy activities, as they say, for the mind, body and soul. Necking young couples aside, the place do infuse pleasant relaxation atmospheres for the people, encouraging healthy living. Sadly though, not enough of these sorts of facilities are provided for the people in this beloved country of ours. Every piece of vacant land available in housing estates, and complexes are usually taken up for commercial gains. Parks will be the last consideration. I have also seen a number of designated parks redeveloped into other commercially valued development. Young and not so young children have no parks to go to and we, adults lament at them hanging out in shopping complexes………

MKI Ramblings Unlimited

See... what I can do.... Posted by Hello

How not to be amused!! Posted by Hello

Hey brother! what are you doing? Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 23, 2005

With The Kids In Bintulu

“Never a dull moment” they say, when there are little kids around, and it is true with my three grandchildren in Bintulu. They are always up to their tricks, playful antics, and demanding ways. Even the 5 month old girl knows how to shout, as loud as the brothers too.

The first time that I took them out to the playground Babang asked me whether I remember how to go there. I pretended that I don’t remember. So, he gave directions.

Babang: Turn left here and then turn right there. Then you go straight Tok Bah.
Tok Bah: Ok. After go straight go where?
Babang: After go straight you go the round and around road. (That’s the roundabout)
Tok Bah: Round and around road? Where?
Babang: There near the KFC.
Tok Bah: Where got KFC?
Babang: Yes, there got KFC, with Tok Bah’s picture there.
Tok Bah: Tok Bah’s picture, where?
Babang: Yes, there at KFC on the top. Wait Babang show Tok Bah.

Ohhhhh my! Is he equating me with Colonel Sanders???? As we approach the roundabout he proudly announced….

Babang: There there, Babang can see Tok Bah’s picture on top there.
Tok Bah: That man wear spectacles, Tok bah don’t wear spectacles
Babang: If Tok Bah wear spectacles that is Tok Bah’s picture
Tok Bah: But that man has moustache and beard, Tok Bah got no moustache and beard
Babang: No that picture when Tok Bah got moustache, now Tok Bah no moustache.....

Dedek meanwhile was laughing away saying Tok’s picture ha ha, Tok Bah’s picture ha ha!

So that was that. They have made up their mind that Colonel Sanders is Tok Bah ha ha ha!!

Babang continued giving me direction to the park and running commentaries as we go along. There Tok Bah, is Taman Tumbina, he said. Babang went there with Daddy and Dedek. Babang see many animals inside, and so on. Dedek of course gave commentaries too but I had difficulties trying to make out what he was saying most of the time as he babbles in short syllables when he talks.

The playground we were heading for is one in a public park by the beach and also close to the Taman Tumbina, an enclosed agricultural and animal park. The public park is big and to slow jog once around the park takes one about 20 minutes or so.

I went for my slow jog around the park. Ram stayed at the beach while the kids played with the beach sand. (Ram is not one for slow jogging. The most she will do is walk around and usually when we go to the park, any park for that matter, she will do some Tai Chi and similar exercises). When it was time to go home about an hour later, it was quite a job for us to get the children away from the beach. Had to do a lot of coaxing and pleading to get them to leave.

MKI Ramblings Unlimited

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Another Trip To Bintulu

Four weeks ago I surfed the Air Asia website and found that they were offering seats to Bintulu at RM 49.99 for June 18th and RM39.99 for the return trip on July 4th . The timing was also quite right as according to Shaffik he will be away from Bintulu for about a week, leaving Mini and the kids behind, sometime in between those dates. Ram agreed and I booked the flights on those dates.

Three days before our trip Sita had some work to do in KL and stayed in the Putrajaya Marriot. We went along with her to look after baby Najla while she was away at work. Najla did not give much problem while her mother was away at work. I took the opportunity to use the gym, sauna and spa. They have good facilities there. It was refreshing and invigorating.

On Saturday 18th. Tessa sent us to KLIA for us to catch the Air Asia flight to Bintulu. Sita with Najla followed as her flight to return back to Kerteh was 3 hours behind ours. Our flight was on time. We learnt later that Sita’s flight was delayed by about an hour.

Shaffik came alone to fetch us at Bintulu airport. The kids were apparently having their afternoon sleep. They were awake when we arrived at the house and the two boys rushed to the car to greet us. They helped in carrying the baggage without us asking. And when inside the house they played but kept touching the bags, taking close look at them, asking me why it is locked and so on. I know what they were after and I pretended not to notice to keep them in suspense!! At one stage they quarreled and Babang cried. To pacify him I ask both of them to help me open the bags. Babang immediately stopped crying and both of them rushed to the bags. When I took out the toys (I had bought them a remote control toy car each) they were jumping with glee and immediately tore open the boxes, not open but tore open!! Then began the racing around of toy cars, knocking the walls and furniture!! In one of my previous trips I had bought each of them smaller and cheaper battery operated cars that had wired controls, the type that the kids have to run along with the car. Both cars lasted only one day. This was because the two cars wires got entangled and instead of disentangling them they just pull and snapped the wires. That was the end of it. This time the cars are still operating in spite of the hard knocks and accidents. Dedek seems to enjoy racing the car into the walls and furniture. Accident….. he will shout each time he runs it into the wall. There were a lot of zooming around and knocking into each other the rest of the evening. To get them to eat at meal time was quite a problem!!

MKI Ramblings Unlimited

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Passing Away of An Uncle

While I was in Kota Bahru to attend to a wedding of Ram’s grandnephew, I received a call that one of my paternal uncles, was in a serious condition in the Johore Bahru hospital. He was being prepared for an emergency operation. He had colon cancer and had been operated on about a week earlier but requires to have this operation procedure done for some reason or other. He was 71 years old.

The last time I met this uncle of mine was about a month ago, the day before Ram and I left for Sydney, at a wedding of one of my cousins, his niece. He was his usual jovial and joking self. He did intimated to me a week before this that he has some problems with his bowels and its movements. He has seen the doctor and the doctor advised him to go for detailed test to identify the problem. I agreed with him that he should proceed. If at all there is anything, it is better to find out what it is and then attend to it, rather than wait and allow the condition to worsen further. Later, after coming back from Sydney, I was told that he had to undergo an operation to remove a cyst or growth or something at his intestines. It was later discovered that he had colon cancer. Since then his condition worsened and he had been in and out of hospital. He did not recover fully from the operation and finally ended up in the Intensive Care (ICU) for close monitoring and supervision. On my way back from Kota Bahru, I was on the phone off and on with kinfolks in JB to keep abreast with his condition. The message I got was that his condition was bad, very bad. I prayed to the Almighty to lessen his sufferings and heal whatever his ailment was.

The day after returning from Kota Bahru, I went down to Johore Bahru alone by bus to visit my uncle. Ram was rather tired after the journey and as her sisters were still around to keep her company, I decided to go it alone. I left the house at 6.30 am by train to the bus terminal and managed to catch the 7.30 bus to JB. On arrival, my brother picked me up at the bus station and we went straight to the hospital. My uncle looked drawn out, worn out and thinning. I know that he is a fighter. He is using whatever strength he has to withstand and overcome his ailment. My brother told me that two days earlier, he signaled to my brother to come closer and whispered to him to ask everyone to go home, that he wants to rest!! But when I saw him he could not talk anymore, although he recognized and acknowledged me when I called out to him. He was on a ventilator, I think, and with various tubes and probes in his body connected to various machines around him one beeping, another wooshing, and yet another harping on. I spent about half an hour with him. He could not speak so I spoke for him and he either nodded or shook his head as appropriate in response. His throat was moving and I asked whether he was praying and he nodded, and I said I will continue to pray for him. He was not in pain he said and I asked “really?” and he nodded. His hands were cold, so also his feet but the upper part of his body was warm. I continued the small talk with him telling him of general things with the family, who is doing what, goes where, etc. Before leaving I wished him well, offered prayers for a while for him to follow, and told him that we all continue to pray for him. It was very sad for me to leave him and he being in that condition while there was nothing I could do to help. I felt depressed and sad, and seek the Almighty’s forgiveness on his behalf, seek His bestowment of goodness to alleviate his sufferings, and to continue on his path with ease. Under these circumstances it was only such prayers we could offer. Being in hospital and in the ICU at that, there is no better place to be then. I left with the hope that the best treatment could be offered by the hospital staff for him, to help him fight through……. And I prayed………

From the hospital my brother and I went straight to Mum’s house. My sister was also at home. The main topic of our chat was of course our uncle. They said they knew nothing of his condition until the day he had to undergo the emergency operation. It was not like him to tell people of his problems. Even his children, most of who are on their own now, did not know of his condition. He did tell me earlier, but that too in brief statements and that he was ok, nothing to worry about and could handle it. Mum, being the eldest amongst our kinfolks, were always referred to in family matters and was indeed surprised that she too did not know of my uncle’s condition until he was found to be in very critical condition. Just like your father she said (this uncle is the younger brother of my late father)……..

I took the 6.00 pm bus to go back to PJ and I arrived home at just before midnight. For the next two days I was on the phone often to find out the condition of my uncle. I was scheduled to fly to Bintulu last Saturday and just before leaving I again called JB and learnt that my uncle’s condition had worsened further since the morning. He was not acknowledging people and was oblivious to all that’s going on around him. He was just on the connected life supports. On Sunday morning at 4.30am he passed away. I was informed but I was already in Bintulu. I could only offer prayers for him. My brother kept me informed of the funeral preparations and what goes on until burial. May the Almighty bless him, provides him peace and serenity and place him amongst the chosen ones in His paradise.

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

East Coast Wedding

We were off again to the East Coast for the wedding of Ram’s grand nephew. Ram’s sisters Siti and Rashidah followed us. We stopped overnight in Sita’s house in Kerteh and the next day went straight to Kota Bahru. Sita and Najla followed us too.

I read in my friend’s blog in of a trip he made by taxi from Kuantan to Kerteh. Along the way there were two road blocks. At one of the road blocks there was a hint for palm-greasing, to overlook an offence, but the taxi driver got away and escape having to “grease” the official!! I traveled the same route on that same day and went through the same road blocks. At the second block, this one official walked around my car. I noticed he was looking at my road tax disc (ok there, as my road tax was still current), then he looked at my tyres (ok there too, as my tyres were fairly new) then he grinned (that haa I found something grin!!) and pointed at something in the front of the car happy that he has found something that he can pick on???? I wound down my window and asked him what it was and he said that my number plate does not conform to regulations. It is shiny he said. I just looked at him, gave a wry smile, wound up my window and drove off. I saw in the rearview mirror that he was looking in my direction for quite a while as I drove off but did not see him doing anything else. Ok there I suppose.

We stayed at Riverside Hotel together with all other family members attending the wedding. The bridegroom, his parents and his grandfather were already there when we arrived while the others arrived later in the evening. We were all allocated neighbouring rooms on the same floor, and boy was it noisy when they had arrived and checked in. Very very noisy indeed. It was as though we had not met for a long time. It was like everyone was talking at the same time and it got louder to get over the din!!

The next day all were ready by about 10.30am to proceed to the mosque close to the bride’s home. The marriage ceremony was scheduled to be held in the mosque at 11.00am. We were in a convoy of ten cars. Another group was already waiting at the mosque for us with nine trays of gifts including a ring, dowry and other stuff. The bride’s family brought eleven trays of gifts in return. (It is customary in Malay weddings that the bride’s side reciprocates with gifts two more over the number the bridegroom’s side brings).

The solemnization ceremony went without a hitch. It starts with the grandfather, as spokesman for the bridegroom’s side giving the standard address to those present on the intentions of the gathering, the dowry, the gifts, and thanking all including the Imam for making time etc. The Imam then gave a short sermon on the marriage, quoting verses from the Holy Book and the Hadith, etc. Then came the solemnization itself or the marriage vows. Holding the bridegroom’s hand, the Imam stated in a sentence that he offers the bride (name is stated), as represented to him by the bride’s father, in marriage with a dowry of ….. (the amount agreed). The bridegroom has to immediately reply that he accepts the bride (stating her name) in marriage with the dowry (stating the amount mentioned by the Imam). Two witnesses, nominated by the bride’s side attest that this solemnization takes place. Their names and signatures usually appears in the marriage certificate, together with the names of the Imam or whoever performs the solemnization ceremony (it is most appropriate for the bride’s father to perform this but sometimes the father appoints the Imam to represent him. In my case I performed this task when Sita married Fahrul). The bridegroom than reads out the customary vows that he will take care of the bride and provide for her and so on so on. That ends the solemnization ceremony and usually the wedding celebration begins.

Wedding celebrations in recent years had been shortened and simplified a lot. I remember, in my younger days, when my elders got married, the celebration would stretch over a few days. Now it would only take up one afternoon or maybe stretch only to the evening and night. Everyone seems to be in a hurry to get things done with, nowadays. Perhaps it is too costly to have it like the olden days. Those days, the whole neighbourhood would come and assists in the preparations and getting the celebrations going, but now, it is all catered out, pharmed out to marriage planners, caterers, and wedding organizers. These cost money.

After the solemnization ceremony in the mosque, all of us were invited by the bride’s family to the house for lunch followed by photo taking session. Lunch was the traditional wedding lunch of briani rice and the accompanied condiments. Ram and I were extra careful in what we ate and drank, the experience of our previous trip to this part of the country still fresh in our minds, although news had been made that the state had overcome the health problems they had. We were all done by 2.00pm. Our entourage took leave and headed back to the hotel, while Ram and I together with Sita, Rashidah and Siti headed for Kerteh.

All the time that we were with the family members, Najla and two other second cousins of hers of about her age (less than 1 year olds) seemed to be celebrities of some sort with all present including other guests at the wedding. Najla were passed on from one hand to another and she appeared to be enjoying the attention given. Babies somehow attracts the most attention always….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Actual Solemnization Posted by Hello

Exchanging Rings Posted by Hello

Bride and Bridegroom next to mothers-in-law Posted by Hello

Najla do not want to be pictured?? Posted by Hello

The Wedding Gifts Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Tok Mi going home oredi..... Posted by Hello

See ..... I got teeth ..... I bite ..... Posted by Hello

Hmmmm! This is heavyyyyy.... helppp!! Posted by Hello

Najla - baby in drawer Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


I had some discussion on healing with Ram’s long lost nephew when he came for lunch in our house recently. He explained that his healing process is self induced, generated by garnering all the persons inner power to overcome sickness and ailments. To be able to activate this one must go through inner self and mental discipline, observe certain practices and also exercises. There is no need for chemically constituted medicine. One’s inner power if properly garnered should be able to overcome any ailment. He is involved with certain parties including a spiritual leader in Bali on this healing thing. They have certain rituals to go through, one of which is to be at the beach at 5.30 in the morning daily, do exercises for physical and mind control and so on. He seems to be hooked on this and talked highly of this spiritual leader and what he can do.

What he explained is to me faith healing, using faith to heal. I have heard many of such practices and even read about some of them. I agree that there is such a thing. Mind over matter. The Holy Book has some verses on this. There is an antidote for each and every ailment in this world. One will have to search and have faith that the antidotes work. Everything in this world is created for a purpose. Every single item, even the smallest speck, has its purpose. They are created by the Almighty. There is a verse in the Holy Book that states that the Jins and Humans are created for the purpose of supplicating to the Almighty. For all intents and purposes the Almighty is the ultimate power and only to Him one should supplicate and seek endowment. However, it is clear in my mind that although one supplicates, seek guidance and request endowment from Him and His bounty, one must never give up. One must continue to put effort, to seek ways and means to obtain His blessings and rewards. One should not and cannot just sit and wait for it to come. It will not come just like that. It will only come after one has put in enough effort, and when it comes, or how it comes is His prerogative.

So also with healing. In life there are ups and downs, wellness and sickness, and so on. All are creation of the Almighty. It is also promised that one who supplicates and put in sincere efforts for His bounty will be given his due. Every sickness has its root cause, and all have antidotes created to overcome or heal. These antidotes comes in various forms, as example, medicinal of either chemical or herbal form, physical of the replacement therapy form, like by-passes, transplants, etc. and also spiritual. In combination, these various forms would only complement and assist in healing. So, to depend on spiritual form alone is I think stretching your option too thin. In the Holy Book one is asked to seek the world’s bounty in all aspect of life. If all the seas are converted into writing ink, it will be dry before all the possible bounty that He has created can be written. What is important therefore is to have faith, apply the various possible variants of healing as according to the needs and yet seek His guidance to achieve the healing. I would not discount modern medicine, neither would I leave aside traditional healing nor faith healing. All are equally effective depending on the sickness and the healing required.

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Friday, June 10, 2005

Ram's Long-Lost Nephew

Yet Another Surprise

Ram and I were having tea in the front patio of our house when we received a call from one of Ram’s grand-niece, the granddaughter of one of Ram’s late elder sister. She very rarely, hardly is more appropriate, call us and when she does it is for some specific information to relate to us on the bigger family. I expected this call to be one like that, that someone or somebody is in hospital, or perhaps something untoward had happened. She requested to speak directly to Ram. I could only hear the one-sided conversation but could make out that she had passed on the call to somebody else to talk to Ram. Suddenly there was excitement in Ram’s voice. A string of questions came from her. She was excitedly talking and only in English, which I found quite odd, as we normally converse in mixed Malay / English banters with kinfolks.

I continue to listen to her side of the conversation and I slowly began to realize who she was talking to. Her late sister’s eldest son, and who is about 2 or 3 years older than us. He had gone to the UK for further studies after finishing upper secondary school in 1959 and had stayed on there since. He had only returned home once or twice in the last 45 years. The first time he came back was sometime in 1972 or so. Tessa was then about two years old. I remember he had very long hair and dressed in the ‘Hari Krishna’ signature dressing, the era of ‘flower children’ and he was clearly into this grouping of young people. I began to wonder how he looks like now. I signaled to Ram to invite him over for lunch or dinner and he agreed to come for lunch the next day. He had just arrived at the airport and was met on arrival by his niece or Ram’s grand-niece, the one who made the call.

All the years he had been away there was no communications between him and the kinfolks here. It was as though he was keeping away from the family for some reasons or other. Even the several times when we were in London we could not or do not know where to look for him.

It was also an opportune time for him to visit us as Ram’s sisters, Siti and Rashidah were with us. They had come up from Johor Bahru the day before to join us in going for yet another wedding in the east coast (the dirty state where, on our previous visit, some family members and I were infected and ended having very bad tummies. My mum was hospitalized even. See my previous posting on this). This time it is the wedding of one of Ram’s grand-nephews. The three sisters were really looking forward to meet this long lost nephew of theirs. They prepared several dishes for lunch and called a few other nephews to join us in meeting him at lunch. Tessa had scheduled for another lunch meeting and thus could not come home to meet this cousin of hers. Perhaps she can meet up with him later. My other children are of course located too far away to join us in meeting him.

Lunchtime the next day came. The other nephews arrived first and shortly after he arrived with his niece and her husband. I looked at him getting out of the car. His mannerism, features, size were typically his late father, and his smile, which was exactly his father’s, confirms that this is really the long lost nephew. Only that this time around, he was the opposite of how he looked like when he came some 30 over years ago. He had shaven bald and was dressed in fitting T’s and casual slacks, white socks, a band on his right wrist, a necklace and a good tan. He was a few years my senior when in school. I began to recall the times when we were in school with his mannerism, the way he talks and gestures. His three aunties and I had so much to talk about with him.

We learnt from him that he has one daughter and that he had separated from his wife when the daughter was very small, and that the daughter should be in her early forties now. He does not know where the former wife is neither had he seen his daughter as the wife kept the daughter away from him since their separation. He says he is still trying to find his daughter. He had apparently remained single since. He lives somewhere outside of London he said.

He had dabbled into various things throughout his life. He is now into ‘healing’. He had mentors and gurus to guide him and now teaches others into healing. He is currently involved with a group in Bali on this healing thing. It is something like faith healing, using inner power to heal. I will have a separate post to share my thoughts on healing.

We continued to chat with him and he left after a while to meet his younger brother with a promise that he will try to come and see us more often now that he gets to go to Bali on a regular basis. We certainly do look forward to see him more often.

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Thursday, June 09, 2005


A passing conversation with my brother when I was in JB about six or seven weeks ago led to a protracted discussion between us on a small business opportunity. Some action plans were made and we began executing it after agreeing on who does what. As is always the case, certain aspects of the execution plan need reviewing and revising. This was done accordingly and as the need arises. However there were certain other aspects during the execution that bothered both my brother and I. We had to be sure that the parties we dealt with are genuine, and not mere commission earners out to make just a quick buck, short term gains as against sustained business relationship over an extended period of time. Anyhow, we decided to pursue the opportunity and weigh the risks as we go along.

In the process of executing our plan, we get to hear of other business opportunities and in that process too, meet and hear of many types of people, local as well as foreigners, with whom we have to deal with somehow, to get things going. Amongst those that I met was one key player foreigner, an ex army officer, who claimed to have connections worldwide, and also a princess. Around them were a number of young and energetic local businessmen, who were ready to do what were necessary to execute their part of the deal.

The princess was no ordinary princess you read about in fables and fairy tales. She was down to earth, spunky and full of enthusiasm. She was knowledgeable with the business at hand. Always well dressed, carries herself well and in a dignified manner. She seems to be very close with the ex army officer, who was the one calling the shots in their group. I later learnt and was quite surprised that she has married children. She looked so young, pretty and well endowed. I guess as a princess she has all the right resources to maintain her inner and outer well being, so to speak!!

The ex army officer was a colonel when he left the army to go into business. When in the army he had many international arm forces contacts and many of them had left the army in their respective countries and gone into business as well. This was how he became an international businessman with all the contacts he had. So, it is true that in order to succeed you need to know people. Who you know will be more beneficial for you than what you know although knowledge is as important an ingredient for success. The saying that knowledge is power is true but who you rub shoulders with, who you interact with, is just as powerful in the circumstances. Power corrupts they say and absolute power corrupts absolutely. To me, how you assume and how you use your power matters in the end and you cannot hide it if you are corrupt. History has shown us many examples. If people around us do not see He sees…….

When I first met the ex army officer I was rather put off. We had an appointment for 3.00 pm but he came about forty minutes late. Then we discussed the things we need to discuss for only about 10 minutes and in mid-discussion he excused himself to attend to another matter and did not come back to me until after about two hours later. I began to have negative thoughts about him then. The princess however, and the other colleagues of theirs, were with me throughout that wait all the time, reassuring me. As the wait went on I began to be restless and was thinking of leaving when this ex army officer returned, apologizing profusely for leaving me waiting and thanking me for indulging his “bad showing” (his words, not mine), and explained that there was a separate deal that he was about to close and had no other option but to proceed. He assured me that that deal and also the deal he is looking into with me are both genuine on his part and is prepared to pursue this deal further with me, if I can assure him that mine is genuine too. We continued our discussion, from where we left off earlier and agreed to have another meeting the next day amongst the relevant parties. This second meeting went very well and all had good feelings on the decisions made jointly and the process of execution was then set into motion. More discussions were held as the motion picked up and all involved are looking forward to the success of this deal. Me, I will relentlessly continue to seek the Almighty’s guidance, and will do my part as called upon, to achieve the combined objectives of all parties. I could have walked out on that first meeting, and if I had, there wouldn't be any further meetings. I think I had guidance then........

Meanwhile, the original arrangement I had with my brother is also proceeding as planned, “extremely occupied with preparations’ to quote him, although there were instances where we had to do diversions and alternatives in order to proceed and to meet targets. I believe, these are the guidance from the Almighty, and I subscribe to it fully. Ours is to seek and work for it but in the end it is He who decides whether we are meant for it ……………. Princess, colonels, businessmen and all are but little players seeking only small opportunities in the pursuance of individual sustenance for life in this world and the hereafter, very little, when compared to the vast opportunities He has laid down on this earth for us to seek…………………

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


After meeting my long lost friend and classmate at his home, (see my last posting) we proceed onwards to Perlis. We got back onto the North/South highway and it was an easy drive thereon. We got into Alor Star and checked into the hotel, rest awhile and then got ready to go to Kangar.

It is always my preference to stay in this particular hotel in Alor Star as it is located next to the main stadium and the public swimming pool with restaurants, food courts and food stalls nearby. There is a very large parking lot there too. This place is convenient for me as I have a place to jog and do my morning exercise routines. If I feel like a meal or a drink there are many food outlets to choose from.

We took the shorter route, the old road through the various villages, to Kangar, instead of using the highway. The distance traveled by using the highway will be double the distance by the old road but the travel time would be the same. This is because of the ‘nuisance’ traffic one comes across all along the old road. I call them ‘nuisance’ because you will find the slow coaches and the motorcyclists traveling slowly in the middle of the road without a care for the faster traffic behind them. Other than that you will have to be aware of people crossing the road, domestic animals included. You can sometime find a cow or two, standing in your path in the middle of the road!! All these nuisance aside, the drive is scenic as you will get to see the village sceneries, the simple life of the village folks as you drive along. I always enjoy doing this as it reminds me of my childhood days in the village. The highway cuts across rice fields and rubber or palm oil estates and the scenery is always monotonous. Anyway it takes about half an hour to travel from Alor Star to Kangar.

We arrived at the house in Kangar at about 6.00pm. Sita, Fahrul and baby Najla were already there, having flown there by Air Asia the day before. As always baby Najla was full of smiles and giggles when she saw us. However we noticed that she was always looking out for her mother and would become restless if Sita was not anywhere near her. I guess she was just confused and stressed out with the many people and unfamiliar faces around her. We spent some time playing with her. Other relatives were around too. There will be a thanksgiving prayer session later in the evening, after the evening prayers and close relatives had started to trickle in. My son-in-laws father works at the local University and he had the University’s Imam to lead in the prayers and the thanksgiving ceremony. We were done by 9.00pm and it was then time for food. Ram and I did not take lunch earlier in the day although we had tit bits and fruits that Ram brought along. So this meal was something we were looking forward to. They served rice with fried fish, curry fish, curry meat, vegetables and some appetizers. Oh food, food, food, glorious food. I was tempted to go for seconds but something told me no, no, no, your aneurysm remember!! I have to keep my weight down, reduce my blood pressure and so on so on. As always, food is the first contributing factor to all the ailments!!

We went back to the hotel at close to midnight. The next morning I woke up early, did my usual exercise routine, had breakfast and got ready to go back to Kangar. We arrived at the house when guests were just starting to trickle in. The invitation window was from 12 noon to 6.00 pm. Apparently there were quite a number of weddings in the region on that day. The caterer supplying food for this wedding had six other weddings to cater for simultaneously. And that was one caterer. There must be a number of caterers around and that would make a lot of weddings. True indeed, as most of the guest that arrive early said that they had two, some three and some four other weddings to attend for the day and had to rush through. Those that came later mostly said they came from another wedding, or this is the third, or this is the fourth wedding they attend and so on. It is traditionally the practice to hold wedding celebrations in a window of a few hours to cater for this sort of staggered attendance of guests. This particular caterer even made an error of supplying more food to this house. Judging from the food that was sent, there were a lot more than required for the number of invited guests. Invited guests were 1300 but the food received could have served 2000 guests. I am sure that one of the other six weddings had less food. Six weddings to cater for, each with varied amounts of food meant for anywhere between 1000 to 2000 guests, a normal number of invited guests at most Malay weddings, caterers are bound to make mistakes. Murphy’s law (if there is anything that can go wrong, it will go wrong at the most inopportune time or period) attest to it. I wonder how the unfortunate party handles the shortage of food.

The wedding couple came at about 1.30pm and went through the routine of “bersanding” that is sitting on a throne-like dais, the traditional ‘tepung tawar’ that is blessing the newlyweds, the ‘makan beradap’ that is wedding feast for the newlyweds and the standard picture taking sessions. As an elder, Ram and I were called upon, with other family elders, to perform the blessing of the newlyweds. That consists of sprinkling of saffron coloured raw rice, scented water and some other stuff on the newlyweds. For doing that I was presented with a boiled egg fixed on an artificial flower petal. So also were the others who blessed the newlyweds. This is to signify good life and offsprings for the newlyweds, I think. But generally the wedding ceremonies held nowadays are so much simplified that many traditions are slowly being forgotten.

Although the invitation window was until 6.00 pm there were still guests trickling in after that and even as late as 9.00pm. And I know that the hosts would genuinely welcome them. Generally Asians would accommodate the late comers, most would be late out of circumstances and not out of purpose. This is the Asian way and is usually accepted, and gracefully too. Asians do not normally turn away guests. They will accommodate them as best they can given the circumstances then.

Ram and I finally left the house in Kangar at about 10pm. One of my former staff and his wife were also attending a wedding somewhere in Alor Star. We arranged to meet over coffee at a sidewalk café not too far away from our hotels. Finally got back to the hotel at about 1.00am.

The next day, a Sunday, we drove back to KL. Traffic on the highway was rather heavy on this day. The rest areas along the highway were all crowded with people and parking lots full, and the toilets…….. oh my…. long queues. The food and drink stalls at these rest areas were really doing roaring business, cash registers clink non stop!!!

We have another wedding invitation, near our house, to attend. The invitation window was until 4.00 pm. We arrived a little later than that but there were still many guests arriving even after 5.00pm. So, the practices in Kangar and the practices in Petaling Jaya are not much different as far as wedding goes. Whether this will change in time is left for the imagination, given the tendency of the current younger generation to shed traditional values and try to adopt, or even ape the so called modern, western values. Is our traditional values backward thus disadvantageous? …… is the western values modern and advantageous? ……. I just wonder. …….. and ponder……

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Last weekend we traveled north to attend a wedding of my son-in-law’s younger brother held at their parents’ house in Kangar, Perlis. We went on Friday and came back to PJ on Sunday. It is a six hours drive to Kangar and we left early on Friday morning driving leisurely. There was not much traffic on the road and I was tempted to speed. It was fortunate that I did not as there were speed traps along the way and I would have been caught if I had.

About midway through the highway, we diverted to a small town called Kemunting, slightly north of Taiping, a town in a hilly area just at the foot of the Main Range. My intention was to visit a former classmate of mine whom I have not met for a very long time. I have his address but was not sure whether he is still there and just thought I would take the chance hoping that he is still living at that address.

It was not difficult to find the house. When we arrived, the house was very quiet with all the windows and doors closed. No car in the driveway, no shoes and slippers lying around, one or two letters sticking out of the letterbox, empty clothesline, all telltale signs that the occupants are away. I rang the bell anyway, several times, and waited. After a while someone opened the door and peered out. It was him, hair totally white, slightly built but otherwise appear sturdy and sprightly, a clear indication that this man looks after his health and well being. He then came out and asked if I was looking for some one. “Yes, you”, I said, because I could already recognize him and his voice and mannerism, which has not changed over time. He came closer, looked at me, put his hand on his head and exclaimed some gibberish thing and said Kamil?? I could see the excitement in him just as I was excited meeting him. He opened the gate wide and insisted that I park my car inside. After that it was a long question and answer session, both seeking to know what happened to ourselves over the past forty years or so!!

We were very close during our schooldays. We share the same birthday even. We were classmates, study mate, play mate and what have you during our upper secondary schooldays. There are two or three other very close classmates in our group including the lawyer guy who have had four strokes (see my previous posting here). Two others in this group have died one of cancer and the other of heart problems and both were leading doctors in their respective towns.

This classmate who lives in Kemunting, comes from a family of Arabic descent. His father was a well known and respected writer, historian and educationist, his paternal grandfather also a writer and an Islamic religious leader. Both of them have a number of books published to their name and credit. His siblings are doing well in their respective careers. He joined the army after leaving school and left at the age of forty or so and went into contracting business in the telecommunication field. He has left this business now and is currently doing consultancy work on a freelance basis. I could see and guess, from what I see and hear, that he has had a good life, or has he? …………..

He was alone in the house when we came. His wife had gone to their eldest son’s house for the weekend while his three other children are away on their own, living in the Klang Valley area. Only the youngest child is not yet married and is in the final year at the University. He has six grandchildren. I learnt that he is in Kemunting only during the weekends and is in Kuala Lumpur on weekdays. Apparently his wife does not want to leave the Kemunting area having had built up her circle of friends, community activities and so on and is comfortable there. He has to be in Kuala Lumpur during the weekdays for his work and hence both of them live alone part of the week. I thought that this sort of arrangement is not quite right for a husband and wife, not really a good life ………… especially now when we are at the ‘twilight’ years, but it seems that they are comfortable with the arrangement, so I guess it is alright, for them at least.

We exchanged contact numbers and promised to contact each other and meet up with the lawyer friend sometime somewhere in Kuala Lumpur later. Before leaving he suddenly asked me how he should address me and he was very polite about it. I said I am still the same Kamil. He was wondering whether I have a title or something, a royal or state award and he wants to address me appropriately. "Rubbish" I said. "Call me Kamil as you have always called me".

Titles are worldly make beliefs, use and misused by some for worldly gains, an arm-booster, but what you have in the end is the name given by your parents when you were born ……… that’s everlasting. I wish I can be remembered after my death by my name, what I have done and what little contribution I made to this world, and not because I have a title given by the state or royalty……

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya