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