Monday, December 24, 2007

Kid's Space

Our four grandchildren need space to stretch and also get out of the house. Last Friday morning the two boys, up early as usual, started running around the compound and around the car. We are exercising they say. I knew that they were hinting to go out. The sky was kind of gloomy at that time though and I told them that it is not a good time to go out to the park then. I promised them that I will take them to the playground in the evening if the weather is better. They continued their run around. I asked them what they wanted for breakfast and they said ‘roti chanai telor’ in unison (that’s the pan fried kneaded flour with egg combined). Dedek went on to add, “Roti planta also” that’s the same stuff but using planta margarine instead of egg. I asked them to take their bath, and ask the others to get ready too. The difficulty then was to get Najla ready as her response in the mornings are usually slow. With a lot of coaxing she finally got up from bed and got ready.

Off we went to town, with me pretending that I do not know the roti chanai restaurant. “I know, I know Tok Bah”, Dedek said, “I will show you” he went on. He proceeded to direct me, turn right here, stop at the traffic light, take this road, this one, this one and so on. But, when we reached the shop it was closed, perhaps because it’s a Friday and a day following the Eid’l Adha holiday. Huh! I said, where shall we go now that the shop is closed? “I don’t know Tok Bah, it is now your choice where to go”, replied Dedek. Babang was quiet, clearly disappointed. I took them to another restaurant that was open and ordered the roti chanai for them. Babang brightened up a bit then. Dedek could really finish his roti telor and roti planta, without much effort! The two little girls did not finish theirs and we had to help them as usual.

The sun was up in the afternoon and the day bright. The kids reminded me of my promise. I took them to the Millennium Park where there are children’s playthings complete with picnic spots, jogging track, and many children already running around. This park is a new one, just about a year old and already there are signs of abuse. Huh! People just can’t respect public facilities. There were graffiti everywhere and broken facilities beginning to show. I wonder what it takes for the public to be educated so as to be responsible towards public facilities. The children had fun trying out all the playthings one after another. They seem to be wanting to try everything all at the same time, thus running from one available unit to another. They tire themselves faster that way and were ready to go within the hour.

I had planned with Sita to take them to Pizza Hut, a popular pizza outlet in town, after the park. The two boys, noticed that I did not take the regular road home, asked where we were going next. I said that I was taking them to the ‘mengaji’ class (that is the quran reading class). They protested saying that there will be no mengaji class until the school reopens. I said that I have arranged for a special class for them. “Noooooh” Dedek said, “You cannot do that, because the mengaji teacher is away”. “I have arranged for you to attend another mengaji class at the PH mengaji school” I said. “PH mengaji school? Where is that?” Babang asked and I replied, “You just wait, I will take you there”. Dedek quietly said, “I think Tok Bah trick us again”. As we approached the restaurant Dedek said that this is the way to Pizza Hut. I said, “No, this is the way to the PH mengaji school”. Dedek and Babang exclaimed that yeah there is Pizza Hut. “Are we going to Pizza Hut Tok Bah” Babang asked, and dedek said, “Yeah, Tok Bah trick us again”. Hmmmm a little suspense for the kids makes the pizza taste better for them, perhaps. The two little girls were equally excited at going to Pizza Hut, and they seem to be wanting every pizza on the menu……. Ha ha ha….. kids…… never a dull moment…..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,

Friday, December 21, 2007

Eid'l Adha Away From Home

It was Eid’l Adha yesterday. We were in Shaffik’s house in Bintulu. I called mum early in the morning to wish her Eid’l Adha greetings. It had been customary for us to spend time with mum during the festive seasons but this time we had to take exception as we are in Bintulu and will be quite sometime yet before we return home. Anyway, we made it a point to go down and meet her couple of weeks ago.

The two boys woke up very early in the morning and got ready to follow me to the mosque for the Eid’l Adha prayers. They had some snacks before going but Dedek complained of being hungry when we were in the mosque. I think he was just bored at the prayer proceedings, not having understood what went on, and had his mind wondering to the good food that grandma was preparing at home, ha ha. Babang was attentive all the time though.

The mosque was full and overflowing. A usual phenomenon anywhere around the country. The mosques will be overfilled with people twice a year, (Eid’l Fitri and Eid’l Adha) almost full once a week (Friday prayers) and maybe just two or three rows of people praying five times a day!! (I am aware that most perform their daily five prayers without fail, and it is just that they do not do it in the mosque). Well, at least its testimony that people do still believe and submit to the Almighty, whatever reasons they have for not going to the mosque once a week or five times daily. The thought that there are millions in congregation in Mecca, Medina, Arafah, and Mina this time of the year, every year, shows the strength of beliefs and of the believers. May the Almighty be pleased and may He sow the seed of repentance on those who are unsure of their stand and beliefs.

The Eid prayers and the sermon that followed took about an hour and clearly Dedek was to his wits end with boredom. He was restless, changing his sitting position often and signaling to me that he wants to go home. Ha ha, I continued to ‘torture’ him and made him stay throughout the proceedings, and his displeasure clearly showed on his face. However, the moment we got into the car to leave the mosque after prayers were all over Dedek started yik-yakking as though it was a great achievement that he withstood the ‘torture’ that I put him through. Ha ha, true to a five year old mind, displeasures are soon forgotten in the face of fresh expectations and his expectations then was food waiting for him at home.

I met many old friends as we were getting out of the mosque, friends whom I knew when I was working here. There are a number of weddings being held before the year end and I got invited, by word of mouth, to a couple of them. Well, most of those I met have come to the stage where their children are of marrying age and some have just retired or about to retire. Being secretary of the Retirees Club I suggested that we should formalize some sort of arrangements for the group of retirees here and most of them agreed. We agreed to meet again, soon, to work out the details.

When we reached home and as soon as we entered the house Dedek went straight to the kitchen to take a look at the food that he is going to enjoy. Hmmm Yummy he would say and could not wait to eat. Later in the afternoon I took all the kids to the airport to await Sita’s arrival from KL. Of course Najla was the most excited amongst the kids. The moment she saw her mother, she was a changed girl as usual. She slowly started to whine and turned sensitive as compared to being playful before this. She remained that way for the rest of the day although her whining is not so bad now showing signs of maturing, I hope. All the kids got new toys from their Tante Ta (that’s Sita) and played their toys the rest of the day, Najla included but she insisted that her mother sits near her all the time!! A real demanding three year old!!

We had dinner at a family friend’s house. There was food galore, theirs and ours combined, spread full on the dinner table. The four kids together with our host’s kids played together. Najla however did not forget that her mum was around and showed her demanding streak….

This day was one day when I exceeded my food intake limits. I must remember to balance it out in the next few days. It is difficult, as I like food and I usually succumb, but I will endeavor to control my desires….. hmmmmm I need to exercise, exercise and exercise to work them out…. how I wish that it is as easy as A B C…………

MKI Ramblings Unlimited

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holiday Holiday Holiday

End of year holiday period. Son, Shaffik has work to do in Bali and being a holiday destination, Mini followed him. They are away for a week. We brought little Najla with us to Bintulu while Shaffik and Mini are away and thus have all four grandchildren with us. It is not often that we get all our grandchildren together and we do not want to miss this opportunity. We planned to be in Bintulu through the year end holidays since the Eid’l Adha celebration, Christmas and New Year fall within the same period.

Sita takes a few days off from work to join us in Bintulu but has to return back to Kerteh just after Christmas. Fahrul, with the office in UK closed for the holidays will be back in KL from Christmas through the New Year. I think he is also planning to join us in Bintulu for a few days. He and Sita have a big job of clearing stuff in the Kerteh house in preparation for Sita and Najla joining him in Wales, UK. Meanwhile, Najla remains with us until Fahrul and Sita have sorted out their stuff in Kerteh.

Tessa is also on holiday, in the UK now. The Brits get out from the cold and she goes to the cold! Ha ha ha. But then, this is the only period that she can get away from work for an extended period of time. I think apart from spending time in London and midlands she will also spend some time in Tenby, Wales and that area of UK.

We left PJ on Sunday afternoon and our flight touched down Bintulu an hour after Shaffik’s flight left Bintulu. He had passed the spare keys to his car the last time he was in PJ/KL, so it was convenient for us transport-wise. Shaffik left his car at the airport when he and Mini flew out and we picked up the car when we flew in. Very convenient indeed.

Najla was very excited to take the flight to Bintulu and the three kids in Bintulu were equally excited awaiting our arrival, for obvious reasons. They had earlier made special request to Tante Tess (that’s what they call Tessa) through several phone calls for remote controlled helicopter! And they wanted one each. Tessa gave some excuses like the helicopters being big and difficult for Tok Bah to carry them etc. But no, the kids could not be conned anymore. They said not to trouble Tok Bah with the big stuff and to send them by MAS Cargo instead. Hmm hmm, a five year old has all the solutions!!

Indeed, the helicopters, in their boxes were quite big. I had to pack them in two big bags, one helicopter each and a third bag for our clothes and stuff. Add to that the stuff we have to bring along for Najla, there were quite a number of bags to transport. Anyway we exceeded the combined allowable baggage weight just by a couple of kilos and were allowed to go through. The three kids in Bintulu were all ready to greet us on our arrival. We can sense their excitement. They commented things like, “Hwaaa….. so many bags,” and “Tok Bah, why you bring so many big bags?” etc. etc. I just replied that they were all clothing and some foodstuff, nothing else. “Oh!” they would say, but a short while later they would ask, patience got the better of them I guess, “Didn’t Tante Tess ask you to bring something for us?” I replied no she didn’t and that Tante Tess had send something by MAS Cargo! I do not know what she sent but she sent something!! Dedek commented, “Oh mannnnnn….” Ha ha ha. They were really restless. They clamored around when I finally opened the bags and on seeing the boxes of helicopters Dedek commented, “Ah haaaa…. Tok Bah cheat us!!” Hmmmm you just can’t fool a five year old heh heh…. The rest of the evening was pandemonium when both of them tried to fly the helicopters, knocking them about and the two little girls chasing after the helicopter as well. Now, only one helicopter remains flyable after the other had a disaster, a broken main propeller after a crash!! Perhaps five year olds are not ready to fly helicopters ha ha. They were so forlorn after the disaster. I told them to wait for daddy to come home and patch the helicopter up. But it was fun watching them while it lasted……

The Broken Pink Propeller

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


The thesaurus says dedication is devotion, commitment, allegiance, loyalty and so on. What does it take for one to be dedicated, or devoted or committed? How does one know that one is dedicated? Will dedication be obvious and shows up? Can it be measured?

To be dedicated one needs to love it. That is the start, I think. Without love dedication has no meaning. Dedication also comes with satisfying benefits, without which it also has no meaning. So it works both ways. Beneficial to both parties, the dedicated person as well as the dedicated receiver; huh it’s getting a little confusing!

Whenever someone talks about dedication it is almost always referring to work. Seldom would one refer dedication to persons or personalities, like dedicated to parents, to children, to loved ones, to celebrities etc. Dedication to another person would make one reserve one’s own time and energy to the person, just like one’s reservation of time and energy to work.

Work can be a passion and can also be a bore. If it is a bore than it is time to change as something that is boring or unpleasant will create negative impact and ultimately cause stresses detrimental to an all round well being. Once this happens something will give. Either the quality of work deteriorates or health is affected. The negative process is usually slow, very slow, and the person experiencing it would not realize what’s happening until it is too late. If change of work is not possible then it is advisable for a change of attitude towards work. Look for alternative approach towards the work to make it pleasant. Self search and try to identify why work is a bore and then make the effort to turn the negativity around. Be aware of the negativity and the stresses caused by it. Address it early before it gets entrenched in inner feelings. Creative thinking is necessary for the turnaround.

Thinking back to the days gone by I have been passionate over several things. Most of all over my work and career. Although I did not excel in the science of chemistry when in school, it was my weakest subject, my career developed in the chemical industry and later in the oil and gas sector where chemical reactions rein control in the processes. I struggled somewhat to understand the chemical processes but my passion for the job surpasses all the setbacks and I managed quite well in the end, if I may say so. Devotion to my employers, to my career, my job was the underlying factor for progress in my career, inadequate understanding of chemical reactions not withstanding. I can surmise that it was devotion and the love for my job that withstood the tests in my career, and I made it, successfully too.

My other passion and devotion was towards immediate family, parents, grandparents, siblings and later my immediate family. They were the loves of my life. They are and have been my inspiration. I was responsible to them, for them and ever devoted to them. My parents and grandparents had been examples for me to follow and to whom forever committed and subservient. My immediate family on the other hand was forever my responsibility and I was equally devoted to them. My whole existence therefore centers on them.

My ultimate devotion is without doubt to my creator, the Almighty, the One and only, whose supreme authority can never be questioned, and whose position remained unscathed whatever my situation would be. My devotion towards Him will not add anything to His existence nor will my turning away from Him, may He forbids, remove any part of His existence. It is I who needs Him and can never be otherwise. Although my whole existence centers on my family it however depends on Him. I cannot progress without His blessings and without Him I am nothing. This devotion to Him is not equitable with the two earlier devotions above. This is the ultimate and the crucial one for me……….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Eye - Very Anxious Moments

We were in Terengganu over the last week. I had my regular commitment to attend to at my former place of work. As usual Ram followed me and this trip we were quite free as Najla was not with us. She had followed the other grandparents and is apparently enjoying it very much being doted upon there. Furthermore she has her cousin, a little older than her, to play with. Sita was supposed to fetch her back yesterday but she wanted to continue for another week. So it would be another week of quiet and easy life for us. But no, it was not to be. An emergency cropped up and we had to take urgent steps to address it. It is the eye again, causing apprehensions and worries.

The winds were blowing furiously and unabated in Terengganu on the days we were there. It is the monsoon season and it is normal for the weather to remain adverse for days on end. The two different hotels we stayed in were both by the beach. Ram started having irritations in her ‘borrowed eye’. That’s the right eye, with a cornea transplant done several years ago and was continually giving problems until January this year when a corrective surgery put things right, and for the whole year, until now, she was ok. One morning, in the hotel in Terengganu, she woke up with pain around the eye and on the right side of her head. The right eye was red and swollen. The incident of December 24th 2004, of infection of the eye, came flooding into my mind (read my blog posted on Sunday January 23rd 2005 of this incident). I prayed to the Almighty for protection and guidance, for avoidance of a repeat of the December 2004 incident. I was worried that perhaps due to the continual strong winds, and while Ram was out in the open (although she spent most times indoors) some dust may have got into the eye. We rushed back to KL and on the way made calls for an emergency appointment to see the eye specialist at the Tun Hussein Onn Eye Hospital.

We arrived at the hospital on time for the appointment. The doctor took a look at the eye and the cornea and found that one of the stitching on the cornea had snapped. According to the doctor it is quite normal for the stitching to give way after some time!! The two pointed edges of the stitch that snapped were rubbing against her eyelid causing the irritation, swelling and the red eye. Phew……. what a relief it was for Ram and for me too. The doctor removed the snapped stitch and prescribed some eye drops for the eye. The swellings have subsided now and the redness is slowly disappearing. Ram is slowly getting back to her normal routines, with vision on the eye ok as normal. We thank the Almighty for his guidance and protection.

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Friday, December 07, 2007

Standard Operating Procedure

A couple of days ago a mishap took place during the preparation of a high profile international event at a popular holiday island. There were three deaths while several others were injured, a couple of them seriously and critical. They were practicing a tactical procedure that included a parachute jump and during the jump they were caught by a side draft that took them away from the set course and into the sea.

News reports on the incident insinuated that the jump was authorized against adverse wind conditions and this brought immediate terse response from the ‘numuro uno’ of the army, no less, to put the record straight. The jumpers had followed the SOP or standard operating procedure and the jump was authorized since the wind speed then was within allowable range. It was while they were executing the jump that there was an unexpected cross-wind that blew them away from course. There are SOPs to address the unexpected and they were followed by the jumpers however, it was not known then how some failed to successfully execute the recovery procedure, overcome the cross wind and did not survive. An investigation was to follow to get into the root cause.

The numuro uno himself is an accomplished jumper, a very dedicated army man and known to be very protective of his men. It was said that when in uniform he will never remove his beret. In deed one of his men I came across previously did say that he was really a properly trained, strictly dedicated army man. When in jungle operation he will not remove his boots or uniform even when he sleeps!! He has gone through ‘the mill’ in his army career starting as a cadet some 35 years ago and rose through all the branches of the army to reach the position of the army chief. It is therefore natural for him to be protective, strict and serious.

I know this man. He is Ram’s nephew, the son of Ram’s elder sister. I have known him since he was a kid, followed his rise in the army, his various postings and skill trainings, and watched him when discussing work. I have seen how he reacts to situations and how firm and tough he can be. I know that he is dedicated to his job, one who thinks, talks and behave army, rational thinking and positive outlook. His curt response to the press over the above incident shows the type of man he is made of. I would conclude that, given the opportunity to relive the above situation, he would not have done it differently. He would have authorized the jump all the same, given the same conditions. It is strictly procedural and no wavers, with the SOP as his guide.

The mention of SOP reminds me of the times when I was working where SOPs were part and parcel of work. The SOP is a useful tool to employ in anything that is to be done. Routine activities that are so repetitive and so frequently executed would have their SOPs embedded in the minds of those executing them. Let’s take a simple example, at home, when cooking; the SOP for a particular dish will be the total procedure of cooking it. If that dish is cooked so often, the SOP is like second nature to the cook. However in a work environment, or when the application involves many people, it is best to have the SOPs properly documented and each and everyone involved informed of the SOPs and trained to apply them, so that all will apply the same procedures. It is like the operating manuals except that the SOPs would be more detailed than the manuals where every little step is noted and recorded for all to apply. Hence, for those who do the work repetitively or often would know the SOP in detail and would also be able to identify any errors and inadequacies in the SOP. The SOP should then be reviewed and updated and all involved be informed of the changes made.

The paratroopers, jumping out of the sky as part of their routine, would certainly know the SOP for sky jumping like the back of their hands. Each one of them knows that their own lives are at stake, would strictly follow the SOP and take every precautions seriously to safeguard their own lives. Hence insinuations that the jumpers’ side-stepped the SOP would certainly invite terse comments from those in charge. Sky jumping is not like any ordinary activity. It has to have an exacting, strict procedure with no compromise. Lives are involved here and there should be no wavers. None whatsoever…..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Change For What Change Is

Change is the process of making new approaches to one’s targeted end results. Change will inevitably crop into one’s life again and again. Everyone will try to change and for the better although it does not always work that way. Why? Because the agent of change one employ depends on one’s own perception of its capability and sometimes that capability falls short of targeted and achievable results.

A family unit will need to change as it expands and as the family becomes bigger with the addition of children. A lot of changes will need to be met as the children grow up. The lead in any of the changes will be the head of the family, which is the father and next comes the mother. Children observe. They look for guiding factors in their parents and these will motivate them to change, hence if the factor presents positive traits the change will be positive and if it is negative so also the change. It is important, therefore, that parents project positive changes in front of their children all the time lest they grow up being negative.

I would say that if you want anything to change you must change first. There is no point in asking people to change if you yourself do not change. Change is difficult, especially when a routine has been so entrenched, that any attempt at change is thwarted at the slightest excuse. Perseverance, then, will be the essential key to achieve the intended change. Do not give up. Change becomes insignificant if the lead gives up. Leading by examples they say motivates and I believe this is very true in every day life. When you are in the lead, lead well and continue to be positive in and be seen to lead. Soon you will see the changes taking place. Walk the talk they say. This is a good way, if not the only way, of motivating others to change.

When change becomes inevitable, the imperative will be to get all others involved in the process of the change. Concerted efforts certainly will influence change and participation by all can only accelerate it. Get consensus, then execute together. Change can then happen.

Look at life. What is current and what needs changing. Look for the motivating factor and pick an agent for it if necessary. Set a time frame if necessary. Execute the change process and make the change. Go on…….. make the change……. and continue to enjoy…………

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Monday, December 03, 2007

High Performance Training Center? Whatever for?

Sometime ago the government, or rather the cabinet, approved a proposal to build an elite sports training centre in the UK. It was to be built at a site where the Rubber Institute research centre stands at Brickendonbury, north of London. This proposal received a lot of flak from the public and we, amongst retirees, had our private discussion on the subject and most were against the project. The original budget for the project was RM 490 million but this was scaled down to 70 million. Even for that kind of expenditure I thought, was a waste of public funds. We do not need such a training centre, more so in another country. Why the UK? What advantage that location has over any one of the many training centers within our country. Would the centre in UK produce better athletes? I do not believe so. It is not the centre that matters but instead the quality of the training and the determination of the athletes to excel. The training centers in the country to my mind are not inferior to the one they plan in the UK. Even if there is a need for better facilities, can’t these be built in the country and maybe upgrade the existing ones to the standard desired.

I detect an egoistic phenomenon in this proposal for a ‘high performance’ training centre. We are so engrossed in trying to achieve better or more than others, never satisfied with what we already have, always the upmanship attitude (is there such a word?), and at all cost too. Then when we arrive there it is all forgotten. The follow ups and continuity are not there to match the original intent. Is that not a waste? It is the public funds being used for all these ego trips and we are not prudent at all.

I read in the news recently that the high performance training centre at Brickendonbury 60 km north of London where the Tun Abdul Razak Rubber Research Centre stands was rejected by East Herts Council as inappropriate development within a green belt. The argument forwarded was that it was too large a center for a contingent of only 26 athletes at the Athens Olympics. It went on to say that a FIFA standard football pitch with elaborate fencing and intrusive floodlighting is unreasonable for a country that has played only once in an Olympics football tournament and had never made it to the World Cup. The council's main consideration was that Brickendonbury houses heritage listed buildings on a green belt and any development would be against national planning policy. Several buildings, 11 of them, with 3 listed as curtillage buildings, were to be demolished and new buildings rebuilt to accommodate athletes and officials, training facilities and other related amenities.

I am sure this proposal will not end there. The proponents to the project will continue to pursue and appeal the decision. I do not think they can accept the ‘bubble pricking’ rejection sitting down. But then, at what expense? Already they have spent at least 2 million on the proposal. How much more will it take to satiate the ego?......

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Love and Devotion

Love is a many splendoured things, so is the title of the song. Love is natures’ way of giving, a time to be living, a golden crown that makes a man a king……. the lyrics go on……
When I fall in love, it will be forever ……. so is another song …… or I ‘ll never fall in love….. in a restless world like this is, love is ended before it’s begun …….. and too many moonlight kisses seem to cool in the warmth of the sun….. the lyrics went on…. Yet another singer, a lady singer, sang, “What’s love got to do with it?” Everything I would say. Love has got everything to do with it!!

There are many interpretations of love and just as many definitions of it. I used to inscribe the following on my desk in class: ‘Love is the attraction of one person towards another (physical, sensual, spiritual ……. etc.) in the presence of emotional security’. I had the opportunity to visit my ‘alma mater’ many years later and dropped in into the same class. The same desk was still there and the inscription I made was also still there although others after me had added on other inscriptions to it and coloured them as well but my inscription still stood prominent in the centre of the desk.

Love need not necessarily be confined to the love between two lovers, but a manifestation of one’s inner feelings to any others in seeking ones personal and emotional stability. Love can be represented in many ways, and when it is in play, emotions will always accompany it. When one is capable of love, giving and receiving, one is capable of mustering anything one sets one’s mind to. A project to progress, a job to complete, a routine to perform or whatever one has to accomplish will be achieved easily when the process is carried out with love. When one is in love one can achieve anything, hence feel free to exercise love in one’s life.

The strongest love is maternal love, the love of a mother towards her child. A mother drops anything and everything to attend to her child’s immediate needs. No other love can match the love of a mother towards her offspring’s.

With love, devotion will automatically follow. Stability of mind and soul in the presence of love will spur one to devote time and energy towards one’s love, no matter what the love is. Therefore one should always think positive and think with love on anything one set one’s mind to.

With a lot of love, this restless world should be a better place to live in…….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Hectic Period

It has been a very hectic month for us. We have been to the east coast twice and in between there were several weddings, family open houses and thanksgivings to attend and loads of errands to run while all the time having little Najla in tow. It was tiring and taxing for us but it was fun all the same. All the activities took us all over the Klang Valley and at some point we had to criss cross from one end to the other to attend the functions. The traffic conditions does not help and we had to waste away precious time in slow or jammed up traffic.

One weekend some fortnight ago we had to endure traffic jams all over the Klang Valley when the traffic police decided to exercise road-blocks at all entry points to KL in an attempt to restraint a group of dissatisfied people, of the opposition actually, from participating in an organized street protest that was considered illegal by the authorities. The group had applied for a police permit to gather in a public place but was rejected by the police and in a show of protest the group decided to go ahead with their plan, with or without permit. That was why it was considered illegal. Of course when the police decided to prevent the gathering the scene became ugly. What else can happen when tempers flared? In the end the innocent public, who do not want to have anything to do with the gathering, have to suffer in some way or other, enduring the massive jams for days prior to the event.

The above traffic scenario was repeated this weekend when another group of people decided to go ahead with their plan to do street demonstrations at the British Embassy, purportedly to hand over a petition to the Queen of England on some issues that had been left in the lurch by the British Government for decades. This group had filed a US$4 trillion suit on the British Government on this issue. For that they chose to have a gathering on Sunday and decided to ignore the warnings of the police when their request for a permit to gather was rejected. True enough, the action of the police blocking traffic entering the city for days prior to the day of the event, caused massive traffic jams all over the Klang Valley. Again we had to endure this nuisance. I have no sympathy for these people at all. They are professionals but they behave like hooligans. I am sure there are better ways for them to forward their dissatisfaction, whatever they are, rather than being a nuisance to the rest of the population.

I read, in between the news and political happenings in the country, that a general election is imminent. Perhaps this was why the various groups decided to stage the demonstrations and street protests. But to me this is immature behavior. It can only disrupt peoples’ routine and create further discontentment and dissatisfaction, inviting hatred and dissent to all sides irrespective.

We are now in Sita’s house in Kerteh, having postponed our return to PJ, originally scheduled for Friday evening. We have to pass through KL to return to PJ. Tessa sent us a message that the twin towers will be closed over the weekend and to avoid going to KL. We had a free weekend without any commitment and hence decided to stay on and only return to PJ on Monday. Hopefully all the above happenings will be over by then. We have some commitments and doctors’ appointment to keep next week and have to return to PJ before then. We will be taking Najla along with us ……….. our joy…… keeping us on our toes ……

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I Am Fine Thank You

I got this somewhere sometime ago and can't remember where.

There is nothing the matter with me,
I am as healthy as can be.
I have arthritis in both my knees,
And when I talk, I talk with a wheeze.
Sleep is denied me night after night,
But every morning I find I am alright.
My memory is failing,
my head is in a spin,
But I am awfully well for the shape I am in.

How do I know my youth is all spent?
Well, my ‘get up and go’
has got up and went.
But I really don’t mind when I think with a grin,
Of all the grand roles
my ‘get up’ has been.

‘Old age is golden’ I’ve heard it said,
But sometimes I wonder as I get into bed,
With my ears in the drawer
and my teeth in a cup,
My eyes on the table until I wake up,
Where sleep overtakes me, I say to myself,
“Is there anything else
I could lay on the shelf?”

When I was young my slippers were red,
I could kick my heels over my head.
When I was older my slippers were blue,
But I could still dance
the whole night through.
Now I am old and my slippers are black,
I walk to the corner store
and puff my way back.

I get up each morning and dust off my wits,
And pick up the paper and read the ‘obits’
If my name is still missing
I know I am not dead
So I have a good breakfast – and face what’s ahead ….

I am beginning to feel that the events and facts above are just starting to be true for me bit by bit..... ha ha ha!! Will it get worse? Ohhhh Not so soon..... I hope!!

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wales, Heathrow, KL

We had two days in Tenby before catching the flight back home. On arriving Tenby from York we were so tired that all we needed was sleep. The next morning we made another trip into Tenby town, browsing around the town, had pizza for lunch in one of the local restaurants and purchased some souvenirs to take home. There were many people browsing around like we do and I guessed that they were tourists like we were because they spoke English differently, some with slang and some others with foreign accents. I could make out a French family and a German family. There were Koreans and Japanese too. (Somehow I will not miss seeing Japanese in any town that I go to in my travels!!)

Having gone into Tenby town a second time I realized that the town is made up of a couple of main streets with just a small number of side streets. It will just take you about two or three hours to leisurely browse around the shops there. It is small but all the necessary daily requirements are available.

Dusk was at about 4.45 pm. We headed home for prayers and later went out again for dinner. We went to a seafood restaurant in another small town nearby, about only 10 minutes drive from Fahrul’s apartment, called Saundersfoot. It has a nice beach in some sort of a cove. There are also a few nice hotels in this town with one that was outstanding, on the side of a hill overlooking the sea, the beach and the cove. Again, most of the people about town were tourists and outsiders.

Little Najla Outside of the Apartment - Tenby in the Distant Background

Tenby and Saundersfoot appear to be the upper class residential areas with many of the houses being let out for short or long term rents.

Fahruls Apartment is on Level 3 - Back ViewI was told that the towns will be crowded with tourists in summer with demands for accommodation very high and that income from rent in summer covers the requirements for the whole year. Indeed a good investment for the future. I detected Fahrul’s interest here!!

Sita Pointing to Fahrul's Apartment - View From Main Entrance to the Complex

The morning of our last day in Tenby was spent packing up all the stuff we need to take home. Some clothing was left behind confident that we will be coming back. We like it here. It is so peaceful, the scenery invigorating and the pace leisurely. Pockets of villages and small towns with places of interests (at least for us senior citizens) are available within short driving distances. Not the hustle and bustle of Reading and London. We have had enough of London, having lived there for a while some twenty years ago, with the place busier than ever. We certainly will put Tenby in our future travel plans, as long as Fahrul is there, accommodation catered for heh heh.

We left Tenby mid-afternoon heading for Heathrow for our 10pm flight. M4 was busy as always but we managed to arrive at the airport timely for checking into our flight. All the formalities went without a hitch although the security checks were extremely stringent for some and lax for others, I wondered why? They scan everything, laptops, belts, coats etc etc and yet for some they don’t. One guy had to even scan his shoes!!

Najla was very good on this return journey. Asked her where we were going and she replied we were going home to Tok Bah’s house and then we will drive to Kerteh. She explained the same travel details to her other grandpa when talking to him on the phone!! She slept most part of the plane journey and when she woke up she was playing with the TV screen controls and engrossed in it. She did not give any problem at all, a contrast to the trip into Heathrow from KL. On arriving we asked her where her dad was and she replied in Tesco (Tesco is the hypermarket where we get our groceries). We corrected her saying Tenby and she said no it is Tesco. Perhaps we took her to Tesco ever so often that the name is on her lips.

No Peace Unpacking with Najla Awake and Active!!

We are now grappling with jet-lag and odd sleeping hours. I hope things will get to normal soon as we have to get back into our routines and cannot afford to be awake at night and asleep during the day……….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Friday, November 02, 2007


It was Sunday and it was cold and wet in the morning. We took an extra hour before getting ready to go to York. Finally dragged ourselves out of the hotel and got off leaving Reading at about 10am. The weather continued to be ‘lousy’, had to have the car headlights on when driving. Keyed in the York address on the GPRS and headed off as directed. However there was roadworks in one of the streets with traffic redirected to an alternative street and the GPRS got lost, and so were we. Well! the GPRS was not lost actually but reprogrammed the route that took us through country roads to Oxford before heading us onto the motorway northwards. The weather remained gloomy almost all the way with the sun visible only when we approached York.

We finally arrived at Syez’s house (my niece) house at about 2.00pm. Her husband Din and their three pretty girls were waiting for us. My sister, Syez’s mum, was also there having arrived in York the day after we arrived in UK. The two younger children appeared awed on meeting us. They have not seen us before and were therefore quite apprehensive I guessed. They and Najla were even cautious initially, sizing each other up. The elder daughter remembered us although it has been four years since the last time she met us. The children speak fluent English, Yorkshire English, and Najla was just staring blankly at them in wonder!! Every time I speak Malay to them they replied in English. They will have a lot to change, especially in language, when they return and attend school in Malaysia. That would probably be in a couple of year’s time since Syez, although completed her doctorate, is staying back for a couple of years to lecture in the University here.

We had a lot to talk about and lost time to catch up with. I had some photos taken at the recent silver jubilee family gathering stored in a thumb drive and passed it on to Din to copy and for everybody to view. We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening chit chatting and the children were playing with each other. Najla took a long time to settle in. She kept asking her mum to take her home; that she did not want to sleep here; and so on and bla bla bla….. I think it is all because she could not communicate with her cousins. She even threw tantrums and gave her mum a rough time.

One of our activities the next day was to send the three children to school, Anis in Primary, Amira in preschool and Yasmin in nursery, all in the same location within walking distance from the house. This was also an opportunity for us to take a walk around the neighborhood even if it was just a short walk. Later in the morning we took a short drive to see the town. A very old town. One of the buildings we noted was built in 1585, that’s more than 400 years ago. It must have been refurbished many times over but the wooden structures appear to be very old and had been well preserved. The wood structures were slotted together using wooden pegs with no evidence of metal nails being used. We spent about two hours going around the town and browsing in the shops there some selling traditional Yorkshire products and some modern day designer goods. We were more interested in the local crafts and home food, chocolates and sweets.

The time came for us to say goodbye to Syezlin and family. We left at about 3.30 pm to return to Tenby. Its about 340 miles to Tenby from York and estimated travel time was six and a half hours, a long drive indeed. We were unlucky as the motorway out of the midlands southwards was busy that afternoon and we were delayed at some stretches. However we caught up lost time at some traffic free stretches and arrived in Tenby at just about 10 pm, tired and aching in the joints! Anyway, tired as we were, the trip was worthwhile even if it was just an overnight one. We were glad that we could make the trip and caught up with these kinfolks in York. May be yet a while before we can meet them again and hence it was better to make the trip now than wait until we have more time later, as it may just not happen! But we do look forward to be able to make the trip again later, God willing, and may He be pleased…….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
York and Tenby.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Long Distance Drive

Friday evening. It was time to drive out of Tenby and off to Reading and then to London. It’s three and a half hours by road to Reading and we arrived at our hotel just before 10pm. The drive itself was pleasant, not much traffic on the road as there was more traffic in the opposite direction. It was Friday and apparently people were getting out of London for the weekend.

The following morning we went off to London by train from Reading. We were not confident to drive in London yet, especially trying to find parking space in the city. Hence the train decision.

Reading Station To London
Najla was excited when we told her that we will be taking the train. We were invited to an Eid’l Fitri gathering organized by the London office that Fahrul belonged to, held in the afternoon at one of the halls in London. So we had plenty of time to get there. Guests at the function were mostly Malaysians from various companies and organizations that have branch offices in London. There were also others from the oil and gas industry that have some sort of working relationship with the host. We also met the Malaysian Military Attaché who happened to be buddies with Ram’s nephew through their career in the army. Ram’s nephew is now his boss as the army’s ‘numoro uno’.

Food that was served at the hall was truly Malaysian and we had a lovely time. There was also ‘teh tarik’ a concoction very familiar with most Malaysians which is really tea with milk. (Milk is typically condensed sweetened milk. Other types of milk will not give it the unique teh tarik taste). But what makes it different is when it is prepared and while still piping hot the tea is ‘streched’ (that is the tarik part) by pouring it from one container to another at an arm’s length height. This action causes the tea to foam at the top. Drinking it now gives the tea that distinctive taste. I had one big cup while Ram could not resist the tasty concoction and had two cups.

Najla was kept entertained in a children’s playroom where there was a clown and a couple of artists doing face painting and keeping all the children entertained. The artist painted Najla’s face as a cat, which was nicely done. She was beaming when she look into the mirror and was very excited after that.
The Kitten????
She kept meowing away like a cat whenever we talked to her and sometimes pouted her lips. She was so cute acting her part. She refused to have the face wiped off and remained like that until we got back to Reading at night. Wherever we went after that people were acknowledging her and she continued her cute and cheeky ‘perkings’ (is there such a word?).

We later went to Malaysia Hall to perform our afternoon prayers (a small mosque is available in the building) and also to meet up with Ram’s grand-nephew, who is studying law in King’s College, London. There is also a restaurant in the building serving Malaysian food. The place was very crowded as, by coincidence, the students in UK were having their union’s general meeting and election of its officials. We found out later that Ram’s grand-nephew was standing for the post of Chairman. He did not tell us but we heard the announcement as the proceedings could be heard from the mosque. However we could not wait much longer there and left after prayers and after the short meeting with Ram’s grand-nephew.

From Malaysia Hall we took the double-decker bus to go around London. All of us went onto the upper deck, Ram and I had to struggle up the steps but it was worth the effort. We had a good view of the city from the bus. It was getting dark by then and the lights were a fascination for Najla. She was ‘meowing’ away through the journey, and her painted face was the attraction for other bus passengers. Soon enough it was time for us to go back to the hotel in Reading to rest and recharge for our trip to York…..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Reading, UK

Friday, October 26, 2007

Around and About in Pembroke

We spent the day hours driving around and visiting the various towns in the Pembroke area, or is it County. There are towns like Pembroke Dock, Carmarthen, Milford Haven, Haverford west, Tenby of course and moving a little farther there are Swansea, Cardiff and Sita’s favourite now Bridgend, where the Designer Outlet is located. We enjoy driving through the countryside, up and down the country roads through the rolling hills, passing by farmlands and various industries. It was pleasant, invigorating and relaxing for us, a contrast to the busy cities we are so used to. Of course we would like to visit the cities as well, London, Reading and further afield, York and Lancaster where we have kinfolks to visit but for the moment, the countryside in Wales are indeed something we enjoy.
Longer day hours however was spent at the designer outlet where there are sales, sales and more sales with fantastic discounts…….. or so they say. The place was really crowded with people and while Sita and her Mummy were busy shopping I had to keep little Najla busy. There were plenty of kiddie rides and playthings to keep her occupied. Some time were also spent in the hypermarket buying groceries and kitchen necessities, especially when Fahrul and Sita are starting their new home here. Other times were spent getting the apartment organized and furniture assembled etc.etc. So we were quite busy for a few days.

Ram and Sita were also busy on one of the days when Sita and Fahrul had two of his colleagues and their families over for dinner. I had to distract Najla away from the house to allow Sita and her Mummy to prepare the dinner unhindered by Najla. These colleagues have been in Tenby/Milford Haven for a couple of years on another project and are due to return home soon.

So, we had quite some activities in Tenby and occupied somewhat. Our onward plans were to be in Reading and London in the weekend and then drive up to York and Lancaster, and …… we are really looking forward to it.

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Tenby, Pembroke,

Thursday, October 25, 2007

In The UK - Wales

Fahrul is now working in Wales, UK and Sita is making alternative arrangements at her workplace to follow him. As the arrangements may take a while she decided to take a short break from work and travel to the UK with Najla and joined Ram and I on the trip. We had planned for end October and early November to travel as that’s the free period window I have from my commitment to my former place of work. It was also convenient for us to travel as a group especially with Najla on a long haul. She is active and a long period of sitting in a plane would certainly bore her. True enough, half way through the flight she threw tantrums and was difficult to handle (she is sometime like that with her mum around, always demanding her attention!!). Once she was tired enough throwing tantrums she slept like a log until almost landing time!! Ha ha, some peace for the rest of the journey.

Formalities on entry into the UK was smooth but we were last exiting the plane having had to organize Najla waking up from her slumber only after we had landed!! We took the shuttle to our hotel, a cosy medium sized hotel, close to the airport. Fahrul joined us there later. It is about four hours drive to Tenby, where Fahrul lives now, and arriving Heathrow in the late evening made it necessary to put up in a hotel first and leave for Tenby fresh in the morning.

Although it is only four hours to Tenby we took much longer to arrive as we stopped at several places along the way. At Swansea, or Abertawe in Welsh, we stopped for a longer while, visiting the mosque, buying kitchen stock and groceries etc. etc. Finally arrived in the apartment in Tenby in the evening when it was already dark. Could not see much of the town that night.

The next day we went around town. The weather was good and sunny. It’s a Sunday and hence there were people all over the town especially at the esplanade and by the beach.
I spied many people walking their dogs, or was it the other way round, and I also spied some bad habits of people. There were signs everywhere that says ‘bag it and bin it’ and bins provided everywhere but dogs were allowed to do their jobs along the walkways and paths!! Wasn’t all that signs that says ‘bag it and bin it’ meant for them? There were also sweet and choco wrappers, empty drink cans and bottles, and other rubbish just dumped on the sides missing the bins that stood just a few yards away.

The town has a rustic atmosphere, picturesque and historical. It was crowded with people and most of the restaurants and food courts were full. We had fish and chips for lunch, my favourite, and will not miss it whenever I am in the UK. Apparently the restaurant we went to was the popular one in Tenby and hence it was crowded with people, but we were willing to wait. It was a pleasant wait, it turned out to be though, and we were very pleased with the food we ordered….. yummy.

We also visited the other towns not too far away, like Milford Haven where Fahrul’s office is, Pembroke Dock and others I can’t remember their names. In between the towns we went through the countryside with wide farms and rolling hills depicting clear agriculture activities. I noticed a few oil and gas installations, refineries and gas processing plants too. Hence, the area although appeared remote had high end industries in its midst. Commercial activities also appeared very active. Large shopping outlets, designer outlets can also be found. We already know what we need to do in the next few days, especially Sita, having to bring the apartment to higher comfort…… that’s shopping galore for her while Ram and I do not mind tagging along, and tag along we did with little Najla keeping us occupied as well……

Next? London in the weekend and York & Lancaster after that......

In Milford Haven - Fahrul's Office - see the flag on the left

Tenby As Seen From Fahrul's Apartment

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

25th Anniversary

Our family Association is 25years old. Started by my late Father and Mum, a family association was formed about 25 years ago for the purpose of getting all of us siblings in one big family for a common cause of getting everyone close together, do charity and be noticeable as a group in the community. Members contributed funds regularly so as to enable the above objectives be met and also any projects we had planned be executed. Funds were also invested to make it grow. We have gone through various phases of change in the last 25 years and have achieved some good things and met some disheartening things too along the way. We progressed and we learnt from the mistakes we made.

As the eldest amongst my siblings I was appointed Chairman of the group, (maybe by default I was re-elected every time), and Mum remained Patron of the association. There are ten of us and together with our spouses there are twenty and with our grown up children there are now 80 adults in the association. Many are professionals in their own fields. There are two confirmed Doctorates in the family, with one more in the final stage of getting her PhD. There are managers, engineers, accountants and finance disciplined members, teachers, businessmen and businesswomen, all with their own expertise to contribute to the association. Amongst them a secretary and a treasurer with assistants were elected to sit in a management committee with me and several others elected as committee members to head various portfolios in order to further progress the cause of the association.

The group met annually and celebrated as a big group traditionally on the third day of Syawal, ie. during the Eid celebrations when most or all siblings and their families meet in JB and spend time with Mum and other elders there. A big hall with full catering is required to accommodate all members and we usually hold the gathering in hotels or large restaurants that have a big hall for private functions.

This being the silver jubilee, a working committee was formed to look into the preparations for its celebration. The venue selected was a fairly new hotel and the menu for the night was mixed traditional and modern cuisines. The committee chose to make several surprises that night, and decided to launch a family book and a logo of the association. Mum as Patron was to launch the book and logo.

The function went well that night. We were a little delayed in starting but everything went as planned. Mum took centre stage in the launch of the book and the logo. Ram and I had a surprise for Mum when we presented her with a token gift, a woolen shawl, in honour of her contribution and dedication to guide us in our lives and for being instrumental in guiding the association to what it is today. As Chairman I was asked to give the opening speech and I opened by highlighting the background of the association, as many were still not born yet when it was formed, and specifically mentioned the sacrifices Mum made to make the association one that can be reckoned with. Sita was asked to do the honour of presenting the token gift we had brought along and placing it on Mum. I could see that she was really caught by surprise. There were other surprises that night. One was an award for me for leading the association throughout the 25 years, and a special award to Mum too. The citation for me mentioned the sacrifices I made and also for Ram who stood by me all throughout. I thought an award for Ram would have been more appropriate!!

One of my nieces, who is a very good singer having had proper training, and who was a finalist in the national singing competition, and her younger sister who attends a special school for artistic children, performed several songs between that night. They were really good and performed just like professional singers. Others too helped keep us entertained that night. Games for the children were played. Hifzhan and Haziq took part in some of the games and I could see that the kids all had a good time. Mum of course was the happiest that night. She was really enjoying herself too watching all her grandchildren and great grandchildren having a good time. The night ended almost at midnight.

The next morning we gathered again for a general meeting to decide on several policy issues and others about the association. This was held in Mum’s house which is considered the base address of our association. We had a good meeting and several good decisions were made that day.

My hope is that the association will go on doing well and that Mum will still be around to guide it for many more years to come. She is 86 now but is still very alert and strong for her age. May the Almighty protect her and extend her life, bestowing upon her the best of this world and the hereafter. May He be pleased………

Sita Presenting Shawl to Mum

Mini and Tessa

Fahrul, Sita and Najla

Shaffik, Mini, Hifzhan, Haziq and Haadieya

The PeeJay Clan

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ramadan and Syawal

Ramadan has ended and Syawal has begun. The last few days of Ramadan saw us preparing for the coming of Syawal, shopping for various food essentials to be cooked for the guests expected on the first day, cleaning the house and the compound etc. etc. We lack sleep that couple of days. It was just Ram and I doing the chores with Tessa helping out the weekend earlier. Our children returned only on the eve of the big day. Fahrul and Sita with little Najla on the other hand had returned to Fahrul’s parent’s house for the celebration, so it was quite convenient for us to do our chores in the house without Najla tagging along with us all the time. But it was fun though. When Shaffik returned with his family there were more hands to help do the chores and having our three grandchildren with us was a pleasant relief even for the aches and pains due to the lack of sleep.

The Eid celebration started with the men from the neighbourhood gathering together, with children (about 30 of them) in tow, and went from house to house to recite the Eid ‘takbir’ glorifying the Almighty for the opportunity given to meet Ramadan and all the benefits that came with it and then meeting Syawal. Of course when we went house to house there was food galore…… different houses different types. We covered all the houses in our street in about four and a half hours and finished just before 1.00 am. The children were the happiest though as they not only get to enjoy the food, they also get to collect little packets containing money. We also prepared packets for them and we added sweets and chocolates too. Hifzhan and Haziq were very happy to receive many packets that night.

The Eid prayer was at 8.30am in the local mosque. The mosque was overflowing with people, usually it is on Eid Fitri and Eid Adha, most dressed in their finest and colourful traditional dressings. Hifzhan and Haziq followed their father, Ram and me to the mosque. After prayers we had breakfast of those foods we prepared for this occasion. We had prepared sweetmeats, curried chicken and beef to be taken with plain rice and also steamed rice packed and wrapped in coconut leaves.

My sister and her family, children and grandchildren, came later in the morning followed by Ram’s nephews and nieces and their families. The stream of family members continued until about 5.00pm. We left for JB just after the dusk prayers to continue the celebrations there and also visit our elders in JB. The celebration culminated in a gathering of all my siblings and their families in a hotel, for dinner, on the third day of Syawal. We have a family association called Tabung Cahaya Cita-Cita or TCC and have kept the tradition of gathering everyone on the third day of Syawal. This time it’s the 25th anniversary and special programmes were made for the occasion. Mum of course was the happiest. As chairman of TCC (by default, being the eldest sibling!!) I gave a speech at the opening and paid tribute to Mum and late Dad for their sacrifices and all that she has done for the family. One can see the glow in Mum’s face registering satisfaction of a job well done, and the token gift we prepared for her enlightened her further. Sita did the honour of presenting the special gift of my family to her. Mum was also called upon to present the TCC logo and also launch the TCC book which will be a compilation of TCC’s background and write ups on each of the siblings and their families. The highlight of the book, as planned, will be on Mum and late Dad. We have set ourselves one year to complete the book. I also received a special award for my role as Chairman having led TCC all these years.

There were singing and games for the children that night. Everyone had a good time, I think, and all night long, Mum was beaming and grinning at the antics of her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Yes, there were four generations in the hall that night and our prayers amongst others were for Mum to continue in good health and be able to be present at many more of this annual gatherings. May the Almighty grant us our wish and may He be pleased……..

My Immediate Family

Four Generations Gap - Haadieya Presenting Flowers to the Patron

The Patron and Senior Members of TCC

Part Of The Crowd

Hifzhan and Haziq After the Balloon Game

Najla Playing By Herself

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Sunday, October 07, 2007

End of Ramadan

We are in the last week of Ramadan. This is the time most devotees, true to the demands of self submission to the Almighty, spend waking hour’s time, especially at night, in full devotion to Him. It is only at night that the call for submission is greatest. It is not easy, and only those used to the routine of waking up in the wee hours would be able to get into the routine. I struggle, every year I do, and I try my best to devote time to Him. I am neither pious nor religious but I do realize the need to connect with Him, if not for anything else, for my self esteem and inner peace. I think I have had good training and guidance in the religious aspect of life and I try to impart the same values to my children and possibly my children’s children. So, when the time comes to answer the call for submission I do my utmost, within my means and ability, to submit. I would expect my children to do the same too. May the Almighty be pleased……..

Every Ramadan our community mosque, just as all other mosques and prayer houses in the country, hold prayer congregations daily especially in the evenings following the breaking of fast, performing additional prayers to the regular obligatory ones. The additional prayers called for are twenty non-obligatory but highly called upon prayers and is usually performed immediately following the after dusk prayers. However there are some people who would only perform eight and not twenty, supposedly following the Prophet’s practice of doing eight in his time. The reality is, after the completion of eight prayers, more than half of the congregation will leave the mosque. There are a lot of sideline dialogues, some fanatically inclined even, on the whys and what fors of doing eight or twenty. To me eight or twenty is not the issue. It is how sincere you offer the prayers that matters. It is not the form but the substance that is called for. The obligatory prayers must be performed without fail. The twenty or eight are non obligatory, hence no detriment if it is not performed, so why argue? If it is performed and performed with full sincerity and in total submission to the Almighty then it meets the spiritual obligations demanded from us. No need to snigger upon those who do not do what we do. Be thankful that He has granted us the will to do it.

Another practice that I think is not according to the demands made upon us is the import of persons able to memorize the whole Holy Book (Hafeez) to lead in the non-obligatory prayers and reading verses from the Book during the prayers, end to end, over the thirty nights of Ramadan. It is traditionally done that way in the holy mosques in Mecca and Medina. But do we have to ‘ape’ what they do in the holy mosques? You are asked to read verses from the Holy Book in your prayers, yes, but for all within your capability. To import someone to do it for you when you cannot do it yourself is a bit much I think. I do not think that’s what is called for. I think there is no difference, to the Almighty, in reading short verses that you know of and memorize from reading the whole Book. Again I would like to go back to the basic principle of sincerity in what we do. Do we import Hafeez to show off? If we do then it is against the basic principle of total submission. May the Almighty guide us in the right path always, Amin………

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Double Birthdays

Some birthdays in my family are close to one another. Granddaughter Najla’s birthday is just one day after mine. My other granddaughter Haadieya and two grandsons Hifzhan and Haziq (all siblings) have birthdays in the same month but on different days. However, granddaughter Haadieya’s birthday falls on the same day as Ram’s. Tessa, Sita and Mini all have birthdays in the same month whilst Shaffik’s and Fahrul’s birthdays are ‘standalone’ days. Traditionally we will group together on certain selected days for dinner or lunch, home or away, and celebrate the birthdays with everyone trying to accommodate time for the gathering. This means that there will be three or four birthday gatherings in a year, and opportunity for the family to get together.

Najla’s birthday this year and mine fell in Ramadan and hence not much was done to celebrate other than the usual wishes and gifts. No fanfare. We have got into the
daily Ramadan routine and hence continued with it and did not feel like it was a birthday. Sita took Najla out shopping on her birthday and some of Sita’s friends and workmates who are very familiar with Najla joined them.

Sita’s live-in maid who takes care of Najla when Sita is at work ran away and left Sita stranded without help to look after Najla. We volunteered to take care of Najla, thus Najla stays with us in PJ and Sita returns home to PJ on her weekend off days. It is nice to have the sounds of the little girl and the patters of little feet running around the house. She would alternate playtime with her grandmother or with me and is not difficult to handle at all. But……… not so when her mother is back. She will demand a lot of attention from Sita and would not allow Sita to do anything else except tend to her. She screams, she cries and she throws tantrums when Sita is around, a complete opposite behaviour to when her mother is not around!!

On certain days of the week we would join the community in breaking fast in the mosque and on these occasions Najla would follow us. We have to bring her along or else Ram will miss out on these gatherings. She will insist on wearing a full dress complete with headgear to go to the mosque. So cute. And when in the mosque she will sit quietly beside Ram during prayers and gave no trouble at all. Other children would be running around and be boisterous and all but Najla will just sit quietly and watch the other children. It is nice to have her around, a little tiring for us having to ‘chase’ after her, but the house seems more lively now. I am wondering now how it will be once Sita gets a replacement maid. Ah well …….. lets see how it goes…..

No prize guessing who this was for!

All dressed up ready to join us to the mosque

This is when her mum is not around!!

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Month Of Ramadhan and A Funeral

We are already in the third week of Ramadan. The month where Muslims all over the world fast during the day hours and devote themselves to the Almighty much more than they do in other months of the Muslim calendar, and especially so in the last ten days of the month. In the evening, after dusk, most will spend time in the mosques and prayer houses praying in congregation and submitting to the Almighty, seeking His forgiveness and blessings. Other times various supplications are made to Him including glorifying Him and His Prophet, reading the Holy Book or doing deeds to the community, the poor, orphans and others, all done with sincerity in seeking His blessings. It is said that there is one night, within the last ten nights of the month, where the Almighty bless those who submits to Him with blessings equivalent to a thousand months.

Apart from doing the above I was busy throughout, running errands and doing chores that are never ending. However there is one chore both Ram and I enjoy doing now. It is looking after little Najla. It is not a chore really as it is something we really enjoy. Sita’s live-in maid who has been looking after Najla ran away (We found out later that she had gone home perhaps to spend Ramadan with her family). So we volunteered to look after Najla while Sita make some other arrangements for Najla. We told her not to rush into things. Najla should be ok with us. Sita comes back over the weekends and leaves Najla with us during the weekdays when she is at work. Najla is always like an angel during the weekdays when she is with us but when Sita is home in the weekends she quickly turns into a moaning, crying baby difficult for her mum to handle, and is very demanding of her mother. We understand that. Its normal for little kids to demand their mothers’ attention and time one way or another.

Last week we had a funeral to attend. My uncle, Mum’s younger brother, passed away in his house in KL just before the breaking of fast. He was 76 last May. Some years ago he had to be operated on to remove a tumor or growth in the brain. That tumor or growth had affected his vision and stability and at one stage had made his face swollen and badly distorted on one side. He was ok after the operation and was very cheerful, but only for a couple of years. There was a relapse and then whatever doctors did to him could not get him back to his normal self. His condition deteriorated and deteriorated fast. He was bedridden the last year and was completely oblivious to people around him the last six month. He was a uniformed army man who rose through the ranks and retired a Major. A much disciplined man who would do things around the house by himself and at specific schedules and intervals, of course certain chores were shared with his wife. Silverwares, brassware, copperwares and others in the house will be polished spick and span. When he dresses it will always be smart dressing, typical army style. I think his wife is also as disciplined as he is after all the years of being an army wife! So, it was heart rendering to see him so helpless at the very last stage of his life. He needed help for everything. The look of dismay and disappointment was always obvious when you look at him. May the Almighty protect him and place his soul amongst the chosen ones.

Mum came to see her younger brother and pay her last respects. My sister and husband brought mum from JB. His other surviving siblings, another sister older than him and several others younger were also there. Two of them are younger than me (one aunty and one uncle!!). We sat together to pay our respects and read the Holy Book as much as we can before the funeral rights were performed. There was a steady stream of people dropping by, neighbours, family and friends from near and far. Prayers were held in the mosque nearby immediately after the midday prayers followed by burial and the last rights. So ended the life of a man whom I admired for his strict disciplinarian attitude. It will only be cast in memory now. He has three children, all married with families of their own, two living in KL and one living in San Francisco, California. Any of them as disciplined as the father? I wonder………………….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Friday, September 07, 2007

Golden Anniversary

After attending the Merdeka Awards Launch I began to visualize the changes that have taken place over the 50 years of independence, and when I thought about it even more I realized that it was really what I saw and, experienced and went through all my life. It was about all the changes that have taken place around me. I also realized the impact these changes have on my life and how it was shaped.

I can still remember the excitement in my house over the merdeka or independence issue. My mum and late dad were both very active in the then current political issues to the extent that their lives were dedicated towards the achievements of the time and maintenance thereafter. Pre-merdeka, dad would be working as an auditor during the day and mum as a religious schoolteacher and in the evenings and night they would be away attending meetings and other functions related to the political movement. Dad was later transferred to the Marines department as Deputy Port officer and Mum rose to be the headmistress of the school she taught in.

I was born in the era of Japanese occupation. Life was difficult then I was told. I practically lived on tapioca as rice and milk were scarce then. Mum would boil tapioca and add extra water, the excess was used to feed me supplementing mum’s breast milk. Things changed slightly when the British took over after the Japanese left and I could vaguely remember those times. Various canned foods and other daily needs and goods were available and almost all British made. We had none of the luxuries of life we have now. Commuting was always on foot although dad had a bicycle to ease his movement. We could count the number of cars on the road then and that too belonged only to the prominent ones in society. When I started schooling I had to walk to school every day. When I was halfway through primary school a bus service in the town was started and that eased our commuting needs somewhat, but the buses they had were few and it took a long while for one to catch the next bus if one missed it. So I ended walking to school everyday just the same ha ha!

In the process of my growing up through pre and primary school I saw a lot of changes in the way things were done around me. Development slowly took place, starting with the basic infrastructures like piped water into the houses, flush toilets, electricity supply into the house and so on. Telephones were those for the public strategically located around the town and were the oversized ones like those you see in the movies of the forties and fifties!! Vandalism was not known then!! So, you can imagine how the people aligned themselves to the authorities of the day, the British and the Malay Administrators. We were so used to obtaining water from wells, lighting up kerosene lamps in the evenings, toilets being located outside of our houses with the night-soil man coming around to collect our toilet ‘spoils’ daily. Hence when these changes took place people were just elated. We thought of them as wonderful and unbelievable developments.

Campaigns for independence started then. The leading political party of the day, of which my mum and dad were heavily involved in, went around in their campaigns to garner support for independence. The support, I think, was overwhelming and the three major races in the country worked together to achieve the objectives. Although the communists that were anti British were strongly fighting to liberate the country through its communist ideologies the general population was not in their favour. They were literally ‘hounded’ into the jungles and they fought the British from there.

Then came independence, Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka shouted the first Prime Minister followed by resounding cries from the throng of people gathered there. I heard the proceedings over the radio at home. I was as excited as my parents were. I was about 13 years old then. I knew what it was all about but had no inkling of what was to follow. My friends and I shouted Merdeka but did not really realize the implications. My dad and mum told me that Merdeka was for us, for my generation to carry on the torch of independence and for future generations to reap the benefits. It had not much impact on me then. All I knew, or rather was told, was that the ruling political party had the mandate to run the country without intervention of the British. We were on our own to chart our destiny my parents said. You must study hard, educate yourself so that you can contribute to society later on. Slowly, as I grew up I realized those words that my parents told me. I realized how important education was. I slowly realized that my knowledge and skills helped me to shape my working life while at the same time gave me the opportunity to participate in nation building and the well being of society. My parents’ involvement in community work, political work and so on gave them a good standing in society. These attitude and attributes somehow brushed on me as well, such that I would voluntarily involve myself in community work whenever I get the opportunity.

Independence has been obtained, 50 years on now, and the time of nation building has passed. We are surrounded by the fruits reaped out of the nation building. Now is the time to carry on the nation building and its maintenance. We need to sustain the chain of development and advance forward to better things. What we thought was a wonderful facility once, like that public telephone, or the piped water in to the house, has become an ordinary thing now. What was wonderful and unbelievable when I was young is very basic now. The era has changed and improved our quality of life. It is the continuance of discovering the wonderful and the unbelievable that should be the order now, such that the chain can continue, and that our grandchildren can then have at least their basics then from what we now discover as wonderful and unbelievable……. Am I making sense? Ah well…… I am entitled to some nostalgia and also dreams ………. May the Almighty continue to guide us always…..

Some Very Very Old Pictures .......

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya.