Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Asia's Best Kept Secret - At The Royal Albert Hall, London

I was on this laptop writing my previous post when Sita put on a VCD featuring Siti Nurhaliza in concert at the Royal Albert Hall London. I continued writing while at the same time listening to her songs but it got more and more interesting, attracting my attention, that I switched off the laptop and joined Ram in viewing the two and a half hour video show.

Sita bought the VCD for her mother. Siti Nurhaliza is one of Malaysia’s very popular songstress. I quite like her songs. She is versatile, able to adapt to any style, whether it is jazz, modern, classics, ethnic or foreign, she performs them very well. I think being accepted to perform at the Royal Albert Hall, London, says a lot on the capability of the singer. I like music, I listen, but nowadays I do not normally go out of my way to purchase music CDs or tapes. I used to buy them in my younger days but have stopped doing so since many years ago. So when Ram mentioned about Siti Nurhaliza’s Albert Hall CD, I was slow in purchasing one and finally Sita offered to buy one for her.

I have listened to her songs over the car radio and I very seldom watch TV thus I have not seen much of her on TV but I know of her popularity and have heard or read news about her in the papers. She is one commercially savvy personality, able to seize opportunities, and very focused in her music career. There have been attempts to ‘throw her to the dogs’ by those who are jealous but she has withstood all these, persevered and came out unscathed every time. She has her own production house now and I hear that it is doing very well. On April 1st. this year she brought pride to the nation. She glorified the country by performing at the Royal Albert Hall, London. This performance was jointly sponsored by leading corporations in the country. That’s how much confidence people have in her.

Watching her video I was attracted to how the performance was professionally executed. She was backed by professional musicians, back up singers, back up dancers, event managers, expert public relations supports and the Royal Albert Hall musicians. She had one of the best, if not the best, support to make the show something that the country can be proud of.

Just one singer, but a myriad of support groups and personalities are required to push that one singer to the pinnacle of her career. The overall event manager had, just before the start of the show, and after days of preparations, rehearsals and practices, called upon everyone together so as to psyche them up for the show by asking them to give their best, saying that they are there because they are the best, and that they should continue to give the best. Siti Nurhaliza herself talked to all of them by saying that they have been going through the routines and that they are a team and supports each other to make it a success. She acknowledged that she would be nowhere without the support they provide and that speaks volume of this petite lady. She is a motivator in her own right.

The show was indeed something that Malaysians can be proud of. They have put together a wonderful show. They have itemized the songs and arranged them in the order to build up audience support. The dances were very well choreographed and the songs, music, musicians and musical instruments very well selected and planned. The end result was something quite spectacular in its own rights. Proofs that local musicians and singers have the capability to be world class if they only stay focused and work hard at it. The announcer, a popular, multilingual local PR management man, announced at the start of the show, that Siti Nurhaliza was Asia’s best kept secret…… it is now secret no more …

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

The CD

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Exciting Weekend - With Family and Friends

The last weekend was an exciting weekend for Ram and I. Sita and baby Najla was home, so also Tessa, who had just returned from Aceh, Indonesia. As it is still the month of Syawal, the month of Eid’l Fitri celebrations, we had calls from my brothers/sisters, Ram’s nephews/nieces, other relatives, and their families checking whether we will be home during the weekend for them to visit. We were delighted. They are always welcomed to visit. We also had several functions to attend, a number of open houses to visit, a birthday party of a very close friend’s grandson, a wedding and also a newborn thanksgiving session.

We were juggling time and hopping out of the house to attend to the various functions or rushing home to welcome visitors to our house. We even managed to visit our neighbours. As always, there were food and more food. We just indulged. However, these gatherings, get together, visits and functions were not just about food. Food is only a part of it, not the main part though. It is more about meeting and fraternizing, sharing news and views, exchanging thoughts on issues, current and others. It is about respect for the elders and the younger ones alike, all in the spirit of Eid’l Fitri.

In preparation for the visits of relatives, Ram and I made some plans of what to cook and serve our guests. We woke up very early every day to clean up the house. We also cooked several different types of dishes, beef and chicken based, to be taken with either rice or buns and french loafs. There were also the cakes and cookies that Tessa and some that Sita obtained for us, including the colourful Sarawakian spiced cake that Mini and Shaffik brought for us when they came home recently. All these were served to our guests. Ram’s nephew and niece brought some food with them when they came. So there was more than enough food for everybody. At some point in time there were more people amongst our guests than there were chairs in the house to seat all of them. So children had to make do sitting on the floor. It was fun and we had a good time. The children especially, had fun, receiving ‘duit raya’ or money from their elders.

A few days later, baby Najla had her body temperature on the high side with running nose. Sita was also not well. Because of too much food? maybe…. Running around too much and stressed up? maybe that too. We brought both of them to the clinic and got medicine for their ailments. That’s the easy part. The difficult part was to make Najla take the medicine. It’s a ‘fight’ whenever it is medicine time!!

In the coming week or so we have more functions to attend, especially during the weekends. Many are holding their ‘open houses’ in these remaining days of Syawal. We look forward to catching up with more of our neighbours, friends and relatives. It is not often that we get to meet so many at one time and Eid’l Fitri and Syawal certainly fill the gap. There are also weddings to attend on all the weekends until January. The Christmas holiday weekend is especially full of weddings. We have four wedding invitations that weekend alone. Hmmmm …. I look forward to attend all the functions but aware that I must double up on my workouts being more aware that I can easily put on the bulges either in my thighs, paunch or waistline ……………

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Little Najla

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Haziq, A Cut at The Chin

Ram and I were attending a wedding reception last Sunday evening when son Shaffik called just to inform us that grandson Haziq had a fall while playing ball with his brother Hifzhan. He fell forward and hurt his chin. To break his fall he had used his fist to the floor but he fell on the fist hitting his chin with his thumb. He must have had his thumb pointing upwards when he fell. That ‘thumbs up’ had caused a small tear on the skin at his chin. He was taken to hospital and had a small stitch done on the tear in the chin. It’s not serious, said Shaffik but blood oozing out of the tear had the little kids screaming with fright!! Understandably so.

The next day I called the kids. Hifzhan picked up the phone and as usual he was very excited talking to me. He rambled on about, amongst other things, his drawings. He had drawn power rangers he said and he is still colouring it. He also said that he watches his favourite tv programme and played with his younger brother and sister, but not once did he mention about Haziq’s fall. Only when I prompted him did he say that his brother had a fall and he went on to explain in detail what happened to the brother and how he was treated and so on. He was a bit longwinded, and sounded like his grandfather rambling on and on. So, the brother having had a cut on his chin was insignificant to him. His power rangers have the upper place in his thoughts. I had to cut his ramblings short to speak to Haziq.

As soon as Haziq came on the phone he straightaway gave a description of what happened. Tok Bah, Dedek play ball with Babang. Dedek fall. Dedek had a cut on Dedek’s chin, bleeding and bleeding and bleeding. Dedek very scared. Dedek cried and cried and cried. Daddy took Dedek to hospital. That uncle at the hospital put medicine and stitch Dedek. Now no more bleeding. He said all these in almost one breath. He sounded cheerful. He must have got over the initial trauma of the bleed. I asked whether he will play ball again and he said yes. So, that little accident was none the worse for him. All in the process of growing up……

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Hifzhan & Haziq

The two brothers. One is serious, showing off his drawings of power rangers, the other happy to show his new patch on the chin! Posted by Picasa

Haziq and His Chin Patch

Haziq insisted that his father send this picture of his patched up chin!! Posted by Picasa

Hifzhan and Power Rangers Drawing

Hifzhan insisted that his father send a picture of his Power Rangers drawing!! Posted by Picasa

The Cheeky Fellow

Showing off his chin-patch in another view!! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

On The Roads - Festive Holiday Deaths

The first few days of Syawal were spent mostly with family. Either the younger ones come and visit us or we go out and seek our elders. The main purpose is of course to seek forgiveness while at the same time to exchange news, views or just to keep in-touch. Shaffik, Mini and their children were with us, so also Tessa. We drove down south in two cars and stayed in Ram’s sister’s house in Johor Bahru. Sita, Fahrul and Najla had gone up north to Fahrul’s parent’s house for the Eidl’Fitri celebrations. On the second day of Syawal they came down to be with us in the south. It has been the tradition, as I mentioned in my previous post that my siblings and their families gather together on the third Syawal every year. Hence, if the children had to be away from us on the first day of Syawal, usually to be with the other parents, then all will make it a point to join in the gathering on the third day. This day has always been the day the young ones look forward to every year. Some would prepare for it and practice their acts well in advance to be ready for presentation to all on this day. (Read my previous post on the Annual Family Gathering).

In the three days we were in the south, we managed to spend time with mum, visited quite a few of our close elders, visited our ancestral graves to offer prayers there, and had a wonderful time at the family gathering. After that it was time to go home. Sita had to go back to Terengganu as Fahrul had to go back to work on Monday. Siti and Shidah followed us back to PJ as they wanted to visit their brother-in-law who had been in ICU of the hospital since the first day of Syawal. We left Shidah’s house just after the after dusk prayers and reached home at about midnight. It was quite an easy drive as the traffic was moderate. We had expected the traffic to be heavy as it was a Sunday. Perhaps it is already late in the evening and most travelers have already reached their destinations.

It is common to have the roads and highways clogged with traffic on festive holidays or any holiday that follows a weekend. With it will be the usual reports of accidents and crashes, some of which causing loss of lives. This happens every festive holidays, involving motocycles, cars and public transport as well. The highway authorities, the police, the emergency services are always vigilant during festive periods or when there are extended weekend holidays. These are the times when the accident rate and road death statistic increases. Campaigns upon campaigns on road safety, road courtesy, manners and so on have been held but the statistics remain the same and in some instance increased. Why? If one were to ask anyone on this subject, all will agree that the individuals should drive carefully, observe the rules and regulations, think safety, think of the loved ones and so on and so on. None will say it is ok to drive recklessly, to disregard the traffic rules, to throw cautions to the wind, and yet when on the road, I see many driving recklessly, zig-zagging in traffic, tail-gating, driving on the emergency lane, overtaking dangerously.

Just this holiday season alone more than 160 deaths on the roads were reported. There are four major festive holidays in a year and the total deaths on the road would be quite a few hundreds. Isn’t this senseless? When would people wake up and heed the rules and regulations? The attitude of individuals always wanting to beat others to their destination, always wanting to be in front, always wanting to be the first, some call it ‘kiasu’ or not wanting to be beaten or lose out, is I think, the major reasons of these senseless death. Then there was the discovery that many drivers and motorcyclists were found without proper driving license, their proper driving skills in doubt, and some others found high on drugs. Why does this happen? The high number of accidents and deaths only goes to prove these facts are true. So, who is to blame? Is it the authorities, the parents and elders, the individuals or who? I just wonder. I wonder whether these senseless deaths will continue in the future as it had over the past many years, despite all the campaigns, reviews of the rules and regulations and their penalties, improvements on the conditions of the roads, of vehicles, stricter enforcements and so on. I wonder ……………..

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

An Annual Family Gathering

I am the eldest in a family of ten siblings comprising of four boys and six girls. My mum, as have appeared in my previous postings, is still active at 85 years old. My sister, the second sibling, and her family live with mum in the south. So she has company while having freedom to do her own thing. In addition most of my other siblings live in the south too except for three of us who live in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Terengganu and Malacca. Whatever it is, we are not too far away from her, as it is only a few hours drive for us to meet up with her. Other than that, wherever we may be we are only a phone call away from her. I, on my part keep regular contact with her, especially when I am unable to personally meet up with her.

It has been the tradition, started by my late father, for all ten siblings, their children and grandchildren to gather together on the 3rd. day of Syawal during the Eid’l Fitri celebrations. We would allocate some funds for the function and have the gathering in a hall somewhere, sometime in a hotel, and some others in a large restaurant with a large enough private hall, depending on which location is available with the most appropriate cost effectiveness. The number of attendees has grown over the years to more than a hundred. A gathering of four generations really.

24 years ago, my late father and my mother called upon all of us to form an association, a grouping where we collect funds and save for the benefit of the family. All of us responded positively to this call then. Mum suggested a small figure that everyone contributes monthly to the kitty or pool but all of us spontaneously agreed to contribute double the amount monthly. The fund is to be invested and we were to institute some sort of thrift and loan procedure. We were to have proper accounting, organized and formalized committees. We were to meet regularly and once a year holds a gathering of all, to be organized by the children with supervision of one of the elder siblings in rotation. Each family were to present something at the gathering, a play, or a song, or a pantomime or whatever, to encourage the children on staged performances. All these plans made by my father went well over the years. It has brought the family close, very close, and the cousins, second cousins get along with each other very well, all aware and proud that they belong to a big family group.

When we started the kitty, only six of us were married and there were only a number of children. Now, all of the siblings are married, and the tenth sibling, my youngest sister, has eleven children of her own. Many of us siblings have grandchildren of our own too. It was decided recently that the monthly contribution be reviewed downwards as many of us siblings are either retired or retiring very soon and that the children are also going on in age and the grandchildren are growing big enough to take over soon. Hence the contribution structure was reviewed to accommodate this change in time and situation, but the main constitution with its preconditions remain unchanged with a view to keep the grouping intact.

Each annual gathering was a scene of fun and laughter, with the antiques of the young ones on stage. They play games, they sing, do short acting stints, read poem, and so on. The gathering this year was no different than the others. We gathered at 8pm on the third day of Eid’l Fitri, starting with a group photograph session and individual family photo session. Then came the speech by the patron, that’s mum of course, giving her advice and encouragement, followed by study excellence award to the children who passed exams meritoriously. Dinner started then while family presentations and performances were held. Games for the little ones, the young ones and others were also held. Somewhere in between a speech by the group chairman was called upon. That’s me. I am the chairman ‘by default’ being the eldest!! My speech of course centered on the activities throughout the year, the collection and disbursement of funds and what is planned in the coming year. Although the committee meets, and a general meeting is held, it is imperative that the message of maintaining the association active be made to all, and this is the occasion when all are present. The gathering ended at just about midnight with one of the young ones reading the closing do’a or prayers .

I am satisfied that these gatherings have in a way taught the children to support each other, help each other, work in a group for a common goal, give and take, planning and organization, stage presentation, public speaking, finance control and many other organizational benefits. There are hiccups and minor issues to be dealt with but these are not obstructive to the progress of the grouping and can be addressed positively. My late father had a very far sighted view indeed. If only he is alive now to see how his plans have materialized, he would be beaming with pride just as mum is now.……

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

The young one rendering a song for the crowd

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My Brother and His Family

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This Rambler's Family

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My Immediate Family with Mum

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In serious discussion - the AGM

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Thorn amongst the roses - the main committee

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Waiting for Meeting to start

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Two younger brothers and other family members. One (in yellow) has found it boring already?

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Tea and snacks after the serious discussions!! Oh Oh! Still in deep discussion??

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Monday, November 07, 2005

Intensive Care

Ram’s brother-in-law, the husband of her late elder sister, who is now 81 years old, is in hospital. He has been in hospital since October 25th, initially admitted with complaints of being too tired, exhausted, and unable to get out of bed unaided. He was brought to the hospital by ambulance. He was reluctant in going. This was two days after he held a prayer session in his house for his late wife who passed away just about a year ago, on the 20th day of Ramadan to be exact. Most close relatives came for the prayer session. He already appeared very weak then and had difficulties moving about, meeting the family members, welcoming his neighbours and other guests. On hearing that he was taken into hospital, most went to visit him in the hospital too. All agreed that he was too weak, pale and frail.

Ram and I visited him too. He was his usual talkative self. We noticed that, in spite of being weak and frail, he was always moving, fidgeting, and appeared easily agitated. He does not seem to be happy where he was. He seemed to want to be taken home. He even said so. They keep taking samples but never found anything, so I might as well go home, he said. The hospital was thorough in the tests, they have to be, in order to have a proper diagnosis. They administered medications and treatment to him but his condition got worse. It was noticed that he was not accepting the health administration but was instead fighting it. He even removed by himself one of that stuff that they stick in his arm to administer treatment.

He was moved from the normal ward to a close observation ward but a few days later had to be taken into the Intensive Care Unit as his condition got worse and worse. He had problems breathing, with poor lung condition and pneumonia. Oral administration of medications failed as he kept vomiting them out. He had to put on a breathing mask and that too he kept trying to take off. He appeared to be fighting the treatments given to him, weak and frail as he was. He did not, and could not talk, but gave signs that he wants out. One of his daughters gave him a pen and he wrote that he wants to go home. He gave the nurses a rough time, but they persevere. They carried out their duties, nursing him, with dedication. We were all praying for him to get better, the nurses and the doctors helped to make it better for him, and all of us submitted to the Almighty to ease it for him whichever way it was but he was, all the time, persistently avoided treatment.

He was taken into the ICU the last day of Ramadan. His condition had gone from bad to worse. He needed help to sustain. Various gadgets were hooked up on him. He appeared lost, disoriented and I assume extremely stressed out. He had used all the energy he had to fight against whatever treatment administered, and that probably was one of the reasons his condition deteriorated. It was decided that he be allowed to have complete rest while treatment is given to his lung condition and it was agreed that the procedure be initiated the day after he was taken into the ICU, that was the first day of Eid’l Fitri.

After the Eid’l Fitri morning prayers, Ram and I went straight to the hospital. His children were all there too. It was explained to us that he will be put under sedation, a breathing apparatus will be hooked up and he will be aided to breathe and that treatment of his lungs and the pneumonia be administered. He will not be aware of the treatment, and under the relaxed condition it was hoped that treatment will proceed positively. It has been five days now and it was reported that his lung condition had improved much and that he can be taken off the breathing aid. All his children played a role in his recovery I think. Their Eid’l Fitri celebrations were very subdued, spent mostly in the hospital, keeping vigil on their father. One of his daughters, a doctor, played a major deciding role in all the medical processes. His eldest son, a General in the army, shuffled time between his duties to the nation and duties to his father, coming to the hospital two or three times in a day, and he did well. Another son, living in a neighbouring country came twice and both times spending most of it with his father. His other children too paid similar attention to their father. Ram’s two other sisters, Siti and Shidah, living in the south, came up to visit as well. All, in a way, contributed to his recovery, as it would have reassured him knowing that they all stood by him.

They have stopped administering the sedatives since this morning allowing him to recover naturally. Indeed when we saw him today he was responding to our call, but he was, as before the administration of the sedation procedure, moving his hands, legs, body and so on, perhaps slowly feeling conscious and feeling all those intrusive gadgets on his body. The breathing aid will be taken out as soon as he is fully conscious. We are yet to see how his response will be when fully conscious but we have high hopes. We would like to see him continue with life as normal, to be self sufficient, able to move about and attending to personal needs unaided. We continue to pray for guidance from the Almighty as we believe in putting our whole trust in HIM. We try, we do our best possible but in the end it is HE who decides one way or another and to HIM we submit………..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Ram's Brother in law taken in April at baby Haadieya's birth function.

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Thursday, November 03, 2005

Eid'l Fitri

Ramadan has ended. We have entered Syawal in the Hijri calendar, which means the end of Ramadan fasting, of abstaining from personal pleasures during the daytime, of restraining oneself from daylight personal delights in food, drinks and those that one usually take pleasure in. It is not the end of fasting however, because it is espoused in the religion that one should continue Ramadan month with 6 days of fasting in Syawal to derive benefits of fasting equivalent to one year. The 6 days can be performed any day in Syawal except day 1, which is the day of rejoicing, of victory from one’s fight against temptations, succumbing to the daily pleasures in life. Why one month of Ramadan and six days in Syawal is equivalent to one year? I look at it this way. It has been said that the benefits provided for our deeds are usually given in multiples of ten. Taking the ten multiplying factor, one month of Ramadan is equivalent to 10 months and 6 days in Syawal is 60 days, or two months making it a total of twelve months.

It is the practice in our community that on the last day of Ramadan, and eve of Syawal, immediately after the post dusk prayers, we go house to house within the community and recite the ‘takbir’, glorifying the almighty and offering short prayers. We divide ourselves into streets and in my street there are about 15 households to visit. Children will usually follow the adults and take part in the takbir and then partake on the food that each house lay out for the guests, neighbours really. However that’s not all that the children look forward to. It’s the ‘duit raya’ or money in colourful envelopes, that is top in their list. Babang and Dedek followed us around but halfway through Dedek could not continue as he was sleepy. The house to house visits ended at just after midnight and Babang followed us all the way to the end.

In the morning, at about 8.30 there will be a congregation at the mosque offering Eid prayers, afterwhich the family will get together in the house and the young ones seek forgiveness from the elders and there will be exchanges of those little, colourful envelopes again, usually to the children and to the elders. So for those who are still working, it will be give only while we retirees give and receive!! The family will sit together over breakfast, a heavy one indeed, the spread usually of rice, meat chicken and various other food, cooked extensively beyond the normal daily food. Then the younger ones in the family will start moving about seeking their elders to seek forgiveness. So Ram’s and my nephews and nieces would come and visit us. Ram and I had prepared for this morning breakfast days in advance. We prepared sweet meat, spiced chicken, rice cubes, and rice cooked in coconut leave packs, and also macaroni. Some of these were offered at the evening takbir. Son Shaffik prepared our traditional family drink, a concoction that is prepared using 12 various herbs and spices, good for cleansing the body system. The recipe of this drink was handed down from my great grandmother, and five generations now.

The whole month of Syawal will be a month of visiting the elders, neighbours, friends and colleagues. There will also be a lot of eating. Many will hold open-houses and invite people over. Food caterers will be making roaring business catering to the open-houses. Royalties, Ministers and Dignitaries will usually hold their open houses on day 1 or 2 of Syawal and open to the public. This is one occasion that the public can get very close to the King and Royalties, the Prime Minister and other Ministers and their family members and shake their hands, and partake in the food spread offered. So it will be a month of eating and be merry. One whole month of food, glorious food. One month of fasting followed by one month of eating….. in the end back to square one, and you wonder why you are overweight?.........

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Dedek Exhausted Already?

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The Neighbours in Our House for the Takbir

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