Friday, June 30, 2006

Half-Way and Take Stock

Hey people.... Today is the last day of June. We are just about half way through the year. What have we done so far this year with our lives? Are they anything worthy of mention or do we need to review and consider taking steps to improve?

I know many friends, classmates during my student days and colleagues during my working days, who made resolutions after resolutions at the beginning of the year only to end up breaking these resolutions soon thereafter. It was like saying, hey lets have some fun and make a list of dos and don'ts again this year and see who breaks them first!! ha ha ha. Never a thought of improving oneself ending up bogged down with mundane routines throughout the year. Making resolutions at the beginning of the year is just considered the 'in thing' to do while not striving to uphold them will not tell on you!! To my mind it is better to take stock periodically, monthly, or quarterly or half yearly or whatever, to see what we have done, review them and take the necessary steps to improve, if improvement is what is needed.

This being half way through the year is a good time to take stock and consider alternative steps if things are not moving the right way. Think positive, make the move and change. I believe in the saying that 'things will not change if I do not make the change' No use in being negative by lamenting that this or that is not right, or cannot this or cannot that. Other people cannot change you. You have to change. Take charge of your life and make the difference. You will be surprised at how easy it is once you set your mind to it. Good luck and God bless.......(smile on my face)......

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Friday, June 23, 2006

Memories of a Former Boss Linger On

I received sad news of the passing of my former big boss, Tan Sri (Tun) Abdullah Salleh, the former Chairman/President of the company where I worked for 17 years before I retired. I was told he was a couple of weeks short of his 82nd birthday when he passed away yesterday. He was a dedicated Government Civil Servant before taking over the helm of the oil and gas conglomerate and stayed with the company until he was well over 65 years old at least. At that time he had the title 'Tan Sri' to his name but he was just as comfortable to be called 'Pak Lah', the normal way people called him, as against Tan Sri Abdullah. About four or five years ago he was awarded the highest state award which entitled him to use the title 'Tun' before his name. The last Prime Minister of Malaysia was also awarded the same state award and he is called Tun Dr. Mahathir now.

Mentioning Tun Abdullah's name conjure memories of a very simple man, kind and friendly. But make no mistake of this disposition as he was strict where work is concerned. In early 1982 I was posted to Tokyo, Japan, to take care of the design of an Ammonia/Urea Plant that was contracted to a Japanese Company. Just before I left for Tokyo, I made a courtesy call on him. He wished me well and cautioned me on the shrewdness of the Japanese and to be always careful in my dealings with them. I shall never forget what he said when he walked me to the door as I was leaving. "I know the Japanese businessmen well. They may bow lower and lower to you, but make no mistake, it may be you who gets 'screwed' in the end" he said grinning ear to ear.

I stayed in Tokyo for two and a half years. He came to Tokyo on three occassions while I was there, and each time I took care of his schedule and itinerary. The first time, I arranged for a car and waited for him at Narita airport. When he arrived and saw me he said, "Oh, you have been waiting for me here? It is a long way from Tokyo is it not? Thank you very much for your courtesy" Later he told me not to trouble myself waiting for him at the airport the next time he comes and if I wanted I could just meet him at the hotel. Ah! I thought, how different this man was when compared to other 'Numoro Uno' or "Head Honcho" of conglomerates who 'demands' service from staff wherever they go!! Some even to the extent of allowing the staff to be their porters!! (although some of the staff themselves relish on behaving like one!!) I was lucky that I never had to do that when I worked overseas.

On another occassion it was scheduled for him to meet the President of the Japanese Company. An interpreter sat between the two Head Honchos. About a dozen others, mixed attendees of Japanese and Malaysian staff, yours sincerely included, were there too. The two Presidents started conversing, one in Japanese and the other in English, with the interpreter interpreting what was said in the other's language. I think it was too much for Pak Lah having to wait for the interpreter to finish interpreting before he can continue speaking in English that he started speaking to the Japanese President in perfect Japanese. The Japanese amongst us just gawked, including the interpreter who, realising a little later that it was his duty to interpret started interpreting what the two presidents were saying into English for the benefit of others present. You can almost hear Pak Lah's chuckle then. I did not know that he could speak perfect Japanese and I could bet that the others present did not know too.

His wife passed away last year. She had been sick for quite a number of years. When we formed our Retirees Club some years ago we visited him to invite him to be our patron. He remembered my name although we have not met face to face for many years. He declined our invitation and insisted that he be allowed to be just an ordinary member. This was because he had to devote all of his time to attending to his wife. He said, "Where my wife is concerned, I must be there when she needs me, and everything else can drop". Thats the devotion of the man and we saluted him.

He is now gone. Only his legacy, contribution to the country, the company, the society remain and his memories linger on..... May the Almighty place his soul amongst those He accepts..... Amin...

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Monday, June 19, 2006

Another Day With Little Najla

Sita had some work to do in KL starting from Thursday and stretched until over the weekend. However Najla only needed our attention on Thursday as Sita can bring Najla along for her activities over the weekend, which was an outing to KL with children of a school in Kerteh where Sita and her officemates volunteers tuition classes in their spare evenings.

Sita took the Wednesday evening flight arriving KLIA at about 11.00pm. We joined her in the hotel that evening and spent the whole of Thursday with Najla. We took Najla home in the afternoon and in the evening Sita came home, fetched Najla and then went to join the schoolchildren group from Kerteh for the weekend KL visit spree. Tessa came home too and later sent Sita and Najla to the location where the schoolchildren were accommodated in KL. That same evening Ram’s niece and her family, on their way home from her elder brother’s house dropped by. For a while the house had some activities with the sounds of little children running around, that was so refreshing. We had dinner together at home.

Looking after Najla at her age of 21 months is much easier now, provided Sita is not anywhere nearby. She can be quite independent, playing on her own and require attention from us only now and then for toilet routines or meals. Otherwise she can be immersed in her toys and books. Yes, she likes books especially those animal theme books. She will ramble on in her baby language when turning pages of the book as though telling stories on the images she sees in the books. But…… the moment she sees Sita…. she will drop everything and cling to her mother…..

Sita staying over only on Thursday worked quite nicely for us as we had planned to go down to JB and Singapore for the weekend to attend a wedding in JB on Saturday and another one in Singapore on Sunday (Fathers’ Day!!). Mum, hearing that I will be in JB, suggested that we hold our family grouping committee meeting to discuss several outstanding issues and also future plans. This was held on Friday night in one of my sister’s house. So, my trip to JB this time, every time in fact, is full of activities. All these family activities keep me going and every day there is something to look forward to. Life is so much more meaningful this way.

We are going back to PJ this evening. All that we planned for on this trip were accomplished. We plan to leave at about 5.00pm, god willing, and hope to arrive home well before midnight. It is only a four hours drive at normal highway speed limits but with my easy drive I tend to take longer than that most of the time. Tessa sent an sms message about two hours ago that she was then at the airport, yet again on her official travels, about to board the plane for Jakarta. She is on her office’s mission to provide aid to victims of the Jogjakarta earthquake and volcano aftermath. We pray to the Almighty for guidance and protection for her. Conditions in Jogjakarta at this time is not conducive for visits but since she is on a humanitarian mission we pray for her well being…….. and may the Almighty be pleased and recognize her and her colleagues’ contribution to the victims in Jogja, as He is all Knowing and all Merciful, Amin ya Rabbul ‘Alamin…..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Johore Bahru

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Take Heart

A few days ago on returning from the mosque after the 'isya' or after dusk prayers I received a call from my brother-in-law, the husband of my youngest sister, that his nephew had passed away. This is his nephew from his younger sister and I know the family quite well. The couple have nine children and the deceased, 2 months to his 15th birthday, is the second amongst his siblings.

The deceased had heart problems (hole in the heart I think but had been attended to) from birth and had been in and out of hospital throughout his life. However for the past couple of years he has not been into the hospital and his health appeared to be ok, although he still had to be seen by the doctor regularly and continue with medications etc, etc.

One of the uncles, this being school term break, decided to take him and some of his cousins on an outing to interesting children places in Kuala Lumpur. They visited the KL City Centre and went to Petrosains and later to the Mall where there are kiddy rides. I think the excitement was too much for this 15 year old boy as he complained to his uncle that he felt faint and dizzy and a little later he fainted. He was brought to a clinic nearby and a short while later was rushed to the hospital, the National Heart Institute. He was put on life-support but two days later he succumbed.

Hush hush whispers were that he should not have gone to the Mall, he should not do this and he should not do that. If the uncle did not take him he would still be alive. And it is always the 'ifs' and the 'shoulds'... Hello hello.... what about the will of Allah, the Almighty, the Benevolent and the Merciful. Life and death is not for us to choose ...... when your time is up there is nothing you can do to stop it. So why speculate with the 'ifs' and the 'shoulds'......

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Weddings and Maulid

We had three wedding invitations last Saturday, all of them between 12.00 noon and 4.00pm. One was in Shah Alam, which is to the west of Klang Valley, one in Gombak and the other in Melawati, both in the north east of Klang Valley. We also had an invitation for a 'maulid' which was to begin immediately after the late afternoon 'asar' prayers, at a 'madrasah' or religious school somewhere in Temerloh, a district in Pahang.

Our plan was to try and go for the three weddings, if we can make it in time, and then proceed to Temerloh for the maulid. After the maulid session we planned to drive up to Kerteh to be with Sita and family. It would be late but Sita and Fahrul were made aware of our late arrival.

We went to the Shah Alam wedding first and then went to the other wedding in Melawati. We could not make it to the Gombak wedding as it was already quite late. From Melawati we proceeded to Temerloh.

The madrasah is located some 30 kilometers from the town of Temerloh, in a remote area called Bukit Tekal. We have not been to this madrasah before, hence I thought it would be wiser to go early as I will have to search for the place. It turned out to be quite easy to find. They had banners placed at strategic locations to guide us. By the time we arrived it was already passed 5.00pm and there was already a big congregation. They had prepared a nearby football field for parking and already the field was half full of cars. There were several buses too. I found out later that guests came from as far as Kelantan and Johore.

The maulid function was well organised. There were many religious leaders, from various states in the country and also from Indonesia. The Deputy Mufti of Pahang, or head of the religious department in Pahang, and other state officials were there too. The madrasah building could not hold all the participants and they had tents erected outside. We were lucky as Ram and I could get a place inside the building. The function ended at about 9.30pm followed by dinner. We only managed to leave the place at about 11.00pm. Getting out of that football field parking lot alone took us about half an hour!!

We headed straight for Kerteh, arriving at about 2.30am. The mutton briani I had for dinner kept me awake I think!! It was an easy drive too as there was very little traffic on the road. Sita and Fahrul woke up on our arrival. Najla woke up too but went back to sleep soon after.

We spent only two days in Kerteh as I have to be back in KL for my Retirees Fraternity committee meeting on Tuesday afternoon. The two days were enough for us to spend with Najla, for the time being, as Sita was scheduled to be in Kl the coming weekend. There was never a dull moment with little kids. Najla likes books and she kept us busy asking us to read her books for her. Sometime she will read the books mumbling her kiddy language as though telling a story from the book. She pulls some surprises too. One time, Fahrul arrived home and we asked her to go and see who was outside. She ran to the door, looked out and shouted 'awak' (that's how Sita calls Fahrul!!). We corrected her and said its daddy. She said awak again and giggled her inimitable giggle.... so cute. We still continue to correct her lest it becomes a habit to her.

Whenever I hold the camera she will start posing... and after taking her picture she will insist on seeing the image on the camera. Babang and Dedek also do the same everytime I take their pictures. I guess children behave the same way everytime. Perhaps Haadieya is still too small to bother with pictures as she appeared unconcerned whenever we take her pictures. Najla would also sometime take the camera and say, "tok bah smile" pretending to take my picture, never mind if the camera points to other directions, she will just pretend and giggle. She picks up the phone, say something in baby lingo and giggle... the way her mother speaks on the phone... how adults like us are not to be amused by their imitating behaviours?

We left Kerteh late Monday evening arriving home in PJ just after midnight. We took a very slow and easy drive home. Sita had a meeting in KL on Friday. She flew down with Najla on Thursday and Najla was with us when Sita went for her meeting. The house was again filled with the screams and laughter of the little kid, and of two adults having to now and again say.... please noooo ..... please don't... you will fall down .... you will break it ... and so on. But, as it is, we will not have it any other way. It is always fun with the kids around and we always look forward to it. When we are with Najla we miss the three kids in Bintulu and vice versa.... We are now planning our next trip to Bintulu.... must get into the Air Asia website now....

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Friday, June 02, 2006

Forced Plan - Cont'd

The return trip from Singapore was smooth. There was not much traffic on the road and we cleared immigration and customs very fast. We arrived at Ram's sister's house at just before noon.

After Friday prayers I went with Ram's nephew to visit the graves of our deceased elders, he showing me some graves of relatives which he knows and which I do not know while I showed him those that I know and which he does not know. I was home by about 3.00pm. Had late lunch and was about to rest and relax when I received a call from my brother-in-law that proved the 'forced plan' which I mentioned earlier. The saying "we propose while HE, the Almighty, disposes" holds true everytime. I had planned to go to Mums house later in the evening to prepare for the evening prayer and thanksgiving session. I had planned to attend Ram's nephew's prayer session in his house on Saturday morning. I had planned to attend a wedding on Saturday night. These plans were altered!!

My brother-in-law called asking me if I could rush to my niece's house, only about five minutes away from me, as her husband had apparently collapsed in the bathroom. I rushed to the house only to find the paramedics already there and learnt that he could not be saved. He had a heart attack apparently and my niece happened to come home just at about that same time to find him lying in the foetal position on the bathroom floor. She has three young children, a boy and two girls, maybe 9, 7 and 5 years old, who were then in their rooms, forced by their father earlier to take their afternoon nap!! Hence he was alone when he collapsed. He was only 51 years old. We made arrangements to transfer the body to Mum's house as it is easier to make the necessary funeral preparations and arrangements in mum's house than their own house which is an apartment on the fifth floor. I got the three kids together, helped them gather their clothes to bring along and took them in my car, fetched Ram and headed for Mum's house. While gathering their clothes, I overheard the 7 year old girl telling her little sister, "adek, get you clothes together, bring only the full dresses and do not bring any of those 'sexy' clothes". 7 years old and she already knows what to wear for what occassion. In the car the kids were telling me what happened. They had been scolded by their father for not sleeping that afternoon and that the last time he checked on the children was at 4.00pm as he had scolded the son again for not sleeping by saying, "its already 4.00 o'clock, why are you not asleep yet?". The mother came home at 4.15pm. Therefore the heart attack must have happened at about that time.

This is what I meant by a pre-plan turning into a forced plan. We prepared Mum's house to receive the body, cleared the hall of furniture, removed all pictures on the wall, gathered all the qurans and arranged them together in the hall. We had no notion that the prayer session we originally planned for this evening was to be for the nephew as well. When dusk prayer time came we prayed together in congregation, followed by reading chapter 36 of the quran all simultaneously and thereafter we did the 'tahlil' and supplication to the Almighty the usual way. After the 'isya' prayers all continued reading the quran in groups and in succession throughout the night and managed to complete the whole quran just before the dawn prayers. I led another 'tahlil' after that. Throughout the night, neighbours, relatives and friends came to offer their condolences and prayers. The body was bathed at 9.00am and prepared for the funeral and burial. We arrived home from the burial grounds at about noon. Only then we felt tired, sleepy and hungry!! However people were still coming to visit. By 3.00pm there was already a lull and people have stopped coming.

Ram and I decided to pop into her nephew's house even though their ceremony was already over. We were at least able to meet some of the relatives, her side, who were still around then. We had lunch there, mutton briani, as is traditionally the dish for celebrations of newborns. I was sleepy but the mutton briani kept me awake ha ha!! We chatted awhile with the relatives and went home just after the late afternoon prayers.

I went to bed at 5.00pm, not having slept for about 35 hours. I thought I would sleep for one or two hours and then go for the wedding, but it was not to be. I woke up at about 8.00pm, and it was too late to go to the wedding. Ram said that I was sleeping so soundly that she had no heart to wake me up!! Hmmmmm..... I sent an sms message apologising for our absence at the wedding. We relaxed for the rest of the evening and slept early.

We left JB early Sunday morning arriving home in PJ at about noon. Tessa came home later in the afternoon and helped us clean the house. A new week cycle begins..... we have more plans of things to do ..... but we will just take them in our stride.....

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Pre-Planning and Forced Planning

Ten days ago Ram and I went to JB on a planned trip. We had planned to drive to JB on Tuesday, take a cab to Singapore (I have given up driving in Singapore.... too much hassle!!) on Wednesday to visit and also attend a 'maulid' in one of the mosques in Bukit Timah on Thursday evening , return from Singapore to JB on Friday, attend Ram's nephew's new grandson thanksgiving ceremony on Saturday morning, attend a wedding on Saturday night and return to PJ on Sunday.

On arrival in JB we went to see my mother. I mentioned to mother that it had been a long time since we held a prayer session for my late father and the other deceased in the family and mum agreed that it was high time we hold it. I only had Friday evening free and hence it was decided that the session be held on Friday starting from the dusk prayers onwards. Again, by default, I was to lead the congregation. We decided that we should not cook but buy cooked food instead. All my siblings were duly informed and except for one or two members, most agreed to attend.

Yes, nice plan, and properly scheduled..... But.... it was not to be...... The Almighty has His plans imposed on us.....

Ram, her elder sister Siti and I (younger sister Shidah decided not to follow as she was not well) took a cab to Singapore on Wednesday afternoon. On arrival at the Rochore Road terminal we hopped on the MRT light rail transport, and headed for Kembangan area to visit Ram's 'distant' half-sister whom she calls Achi Limah or 'Chik' (no blood relation to Ram but by family lineage they are half-sisters.... its complicated and the family is reallyyyy big....) It has been a very long time since we last visit them. It had been too long I guess, as Chik, very much older than us, is beginning to be forgetful. She could not remember us and kept asking who we were. When we explained she understood and asked how so and so is and where so and so is. She remembers receiving news of the demise of Ram's sister and brother-in-law but after a while she asks the same questions again!!

Chik's daughter sent us to Pasir Ris where Ram's nephew and family lives. Ram's nephew was away in Philippines but his wife and children were at home waiting for us. They had expected us but Siti's presence was a surprise to them. Siti had not been to their house for a long time too. It was nice to visit. We stayed for two nights.

On Thursday morning we took the MRT to Tanjong Pagar station and then took a cab to visit a 'makam', a grave of a well known 'ulama' or religious guru and personality, Makam Habib Noh. At the makam we met members of our mosque group (they came in two buses) who were in Singapore to attend the 'maulud' too. At the makam we realised that we were only a short walking distance to the MRT station, hence after visited we walked back to the station and took the MRT to Bugis station and went for lunch at one of the popular local restaurant, good food and cheap by Singapore standard. Two doors away from the restaurant was the former house of another close relative. Siti was seen walking around 'inspecting' the house. I imagine memories flooding back in her mind.....

We went back to Pasir Ris after lunch, rested awhile, and then left for the mosque at Bukit Timah for the maulud. The session was scheduled to start soon after the late afternoon prayers. We took the MRT to Newton and then took a cab to go to the mosque. There was already a huge crowd and the mosque was full of people. We followed all the proceedings held that lasted through the dusk (maghrib) and the after dusk (isya') prayers. The crowd were made up of Singaporeans, Malaysians, Indonesians, Bruneians, and there were preachers and 'ulama's' from Egypt, Saudi Arabis, Iraq, Iran, Indonesia, Thailand and phew... many more. It was a very good and enlightening session. The maulud and praises for the Almighty and the prophet pbuh. was performed with full enthusiasm. The session ended at about 10.00pm. We took a cab to Pasir Ris after that.

Early Friday morning we returned to JB taking the MRT from Pasir Ris and then a cab to JB arriving home in JB at just before noon.... to be continued....

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petalinh Jaya