Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Exclusive Toilet in Kuala Terengganu?

We are now in Terengganu. I had a one day facilitating job at the place of work where I retired from in Kuala Terengganu, held at a hotel close by and another day (Thursday) in Kerteh. Ram followed me as usual. We stayed two nights in the hotel, a cozy 300 rooms resort by the beach open to the South China Sea and overlooking Pulau Bidong, the island that used to accommodate boat refugees from Vietnam during the Vietnam war. Facilities available in the hotel were basic but yet comfortable and pleasant.

The facilitating stint is similar to the one I did a couple of weeks ago. There was no hassle and I enjoyed the activity, so also the participants I guess. I still have some difficulties standing too long and I am still using the walking stick but that was no hindrance. As had been commented earlier I looked dignified with walking stick ha ha ha!! Some of the young participants also said so, the ladies I mean…. heh heh! Maybe I should continue using the walking stick.

We checked out of the hotel at just before noon. My niece, a school teacher, and her family who was in Kuala Terengganu for holiday (the two weeks school holiday has just begun) picked us up and took us to lunch in town. After lunch we needed a rest room or toilet to ease ourselves. Furthermore we have a two hours travel to Kerteh by road and we can’t wait two hours. My niece mentioned that the Kuala Terengganu Municipality had built an exclusive toilet facilities in a public area meant for the use of the general public and tourists alike but we have to pay a fee to enter. That building, in a park, is really prominently named ‘Exclusive Toilet’ in large letterings. It is supposed to be a five star facility!! Yes, that’s what the locals call the facilities, Five Star Toilet. If the standard of public toilets in the local towns is anything to go by then an exclusive toilet should be a much desired outlet for our overfilled bowels or bladders. There were toilets that really put me off, that made me loose any desire to ease myself when entering them. Thus hearing that there is an exclusive toilet available we jumped at the prospect of easing ourselves ‘with’ pleasure…… hmmmmm. Never mind that we have to pay a fee, RM0.50 for toilet usage and RM2.00 for shower, it would be a pleasure to contribute for its maintenance. After all we pay similar amounts to use public toilets in the city like KL and PJ but the maintenance of these toilets are sometime much to be desired…… !!

So, into the Exclusive toilet we went. The entrance was lined with flower pots. There was a red floor mat along the path to the payment counter which was a glassed enclosure with two or three staff sitting inside. The signage was very clear, decorations appealing and atmosphere conducive for easinggggg…….. heh heh heh! We got receipts, without being asked, for our entrance payment, something not ordinarily practiced in most toilets in the cities even. There were two main doors, one for men and the other for ladies. We took our pick. On entering the main door of the men’s, I noticed clear division of areas for shower, toilets, urinals and wash basins. Surprise, surprise, the floors were clean and dry, I checked each open shower cubicle, and toilet cubicle and I could not find faults with them. They were clean and dry. The toilet cubicles were bigger than most public toilets I have seen. Each one of them consists of a toilet bowl, a side concrete table meant for storage of baggage or for changing of baby diapers or similar usage, and also washing facilities. A small drain covered by metal grids ran around the sides of the cubicle and designed such that any spillage of water goes directly into this drain. That was how they kept the cubicles dry…. It was a delightful experience. I did my small job and continued to marvel at the design of the facilities. I hope they continue to maintain the place as it is for a long time to come….

We took a cab from Kuala Terengganu to Kerteh, a journey that took us slightly more than two hours. One and a half hours into the journey I felt the urge for toilet again. I contemplated asking the cab driver to stop at a mosque along the way or to control myself until I reached Sita’s house. I decided to close my eyes and try to sleep hoping to forget that I needed a toilet. On reaching Sita’s house, I could not wait any more. I had to rush to the toilet…… hmmmmm. Then I remembered the saying of a fellow retiree, who is about the same age as I am, “At our age if you feel hungry …. eat only a little, thirsty …. drink only a little, sleepy …… sleep a little, and if you see a toilet anywhere you are ….. go in and do your job. You will never know when you will need it and usually you will need it fast. Heh heh, I should have asked the cab driver to stop somewhere for me to use a toilet……..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Meeting with the President of a Fortune 500 Company.

Sometime in early May I and a few colleagues, recently elected to sit as committee members of our retirees club, had the opportunity to pay a courtesy call to the President of the Company that I retired from. It is the national oil company which has gone global and is listed in Fortune 500. The president is a very busy man and being head of a global company he has to travel a lot. He had been away visiting customers around the world for three weeks and had just returned a couple of days prior to our meeting. It was pleasant for us to be recognized and accorded the appointment to call upon him so soon after his return knowing at the back of our minds that he would surely have other pressing issues to attend to in his office on his return.

On meeting us he immediately put us at ease by starting with small talks on the view from his office at the 82nd level of the building and other environmental issues seen from that level of the city and the surrounding hills. After the usual pleasantries he mentioned some areas of concerns, especially health of his staff, the state of affairs amongst the young and younger set of staff within the company and how he visualize areas of inputs that we the elderly generation can contribute to the company. We also discussed joint activities and areas of cooperation between the Retirees and the organization. All in all it had been a good meeting, indicative of his full support for our movement. We chatted on a lot of general issues, friendly banters even, and not necessarily related to activities of our club. We felt very comfortable with his acceptance and hope that this relationship flows down the corporate hierarchy, right down to those whom we interact directly for our activities. We left a good half hour beyond the time allocated to us and we noticed that he too was at ease with us, the reason for the extension of time I guess. He promised to find time to join us in one of our activities and I hope this will happen soon as it will boost participation of fellow retirees in the club’s activities…

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Friday, May 18, 2007

Thanksgiving and Maulidul Rasul

May 1st every year is a public holiday in Malaysia and this year 1st and 2nd of May happened to be public holidays. Son Shaffik decided to take a break from work and brought his family back to PJ for the week. Sita too decided to do the same. Since all our children could come home at the same time Ram and I decided to hold a thanksgiving session; thanksgiving mainly for the Grace blessed by the Almighty for Ram to have the pleasure of regaining her sight in the right eye. The children agreed. However since it was close to the month when the Holy Prophet, pbuh., was born, all of us agreed to hold a Maulidul Rasul session as well to commemorate the birthday.

We started planning for the occasion and I checked with my ‘guru’ his availability and whether he could lead the Maulid prayers. His affirmative answer set our plans in motion. We scheduled it for 11.00am so that by the time prayers were over its lunchtime. I estimated that there would be at least two hundred guests, male and female, including some forty six orphans and young students coming from the ‘madrasah’, and add to that number about one hundred people from amongst my close relatives other friends and neighbours, a big crowd was expected to be in the house at one time. We had to erect tents in the compound of the house and to have tables and chairs to accommodate all of them for lunch. We also had to create space in the house for people to sit during the prayer session. Furniture from the hall and one bedroom had to be moved away somewhere to create the space. We were thankful that our immediate neighbour was kind enough to allow us to store the furniture in their house overnight. The logistics for all these were arranged by our children with Tessa taking the core lead.

A local caterer was arranged and menu selected for lunch to be served to the guests. We opted to serve local and traditional food. My sister volunteered to cook eggs ‘telur pindang’ which was eggs cooked traditionally and continuously for three days and nights, on low fire, and using herbs and spices, a specialty of people from my home state, Johore. These eggs, placed in colourful pouches, were distributed to the guests during the session when praises glorifying the deeds of the Prophet, pbuh., were chanted. Other door gifts were also arranged to be distributed to the guests. Special gifts of cash and kind were also arranged for the orphans and young students, mostly sponsored by our children and some of the guests and relatives. Distribution were carried out by our family’s young including grandsons Babang and Dedek. I am sure they had fun doing it.

Audio/video system was set up so that people sitting in the areas not visually apparent to the main hall could view and hear what went on there. Three TV screens and several speakers were set up for this purpose. All contributed by those who wanted to participate in the function.

Mum came all the way from Johore Bahru with my niece and her children to join us in the occasion. Ram’s sisters from Johore Bahru also came to help out, and so also our other kinfolks from around the Klang Valley.

1st of May came. Everything was in place. Preparation was made and ready. Audio visual system tested and working perfectly. Guests started trickling in from 10am. Our guru and his entourage, including the orphans and young students in a big bus, arrived at just after 11.00am. When everyone was comfortably seated I gave a short speech welcoming all the guests and then quickly passed the session to our ‘guru’ to lead. He started off by describing the various ways celebrating ‘maulid’ is traditionally held and mentioned which version that he will perform or the day. He also included a short ‘ tazkirah’ during the session. The prayer session ended at 12.40 pm when everyone adjourned, men to the garden under the tent, while the ladies stayed in the house for lunch.

The Main Table

Male Guests at Lunch

Ladies Having Lunch in the House

Students, Orphans and other guests at Lunch

Children Receiving Their Gifts

The last guest left at about 3.30pm. Clearing up, tearing down the tents and other paraphernalia commenced then. Furniture was brought back from the neighbour’s house and all rearrangement work was completed by 6.30 pm, thanks to the helpers that Tessa brought in.

So the day ended. We were pleased that all went well and as planned. We thanked the Almighty for making the occasion a pleasant success and we also thanked all those who had volunteered and/or contributed one way or another, to the occasion. May He be pleased with all our efforts.

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya.