Monday, October 27, 2008

Kuching Revisited

We are now in Kuching. We have been staying at the Hilton over the weekend together with Shaffik and his family. We took Air Asia from Bintulu on Friday and will be flying out back to Bintulu this evening.

I am writing this blog at the study table in my hotel room, which faces the famous river that cuts the city into the northern and the southern halves. There is a huge, multi-pillared, circular building, with umbrella-like roof in final stages of construction coming up across the river from the Hilton. It has now blocked a major view of the distant horizon. I was told that this will be the new court house. It stands next to the old Fort which has now been dwarfed and look quite insignificant, as though it has seen its glorious days as a historical landmark of sorts. Little boats ferrying pedestrians across the river still ply from various points along the esplanade and the residential areas across. Other large buildings in Kuching North (the hotel stands in Kuching South) mostly government administrative buildings can still be seen. Most significant of them are the dome and main pillar of a mosque standing magnificently amongst the other buildings and the luscious greens surrounding them. A beautiful view indeed if not for this humongous court house! There is another mosque in the south standing by the river. This was the original town mosque which was a landmark for the old Kuching city.

It is still Shawal and we made several Hari Raya visits to relatives and friends in Kuching. We visited Ram's niece and family and also Mini's cousin and family. Ram's niece and husband have retired and their children have all grown up and are on their own. Mini's cousin are still bringing up young children. It had been quite a while since we last met them and it was pleasant to have met them again.

One friend we visited was a former colleague of mine during my working days in Bintulu. He has since risen up the corporate ladder to be the Chairman of the states economic development corporation, while at the same time being an elected representative to the state legislative council. I took a chance and sent him a sms message on his handphone that I was in Kuching with the family. He immediately called me and asked how long I would be in Kuching and then allocated time for me to visit him in his house. It was a very pleasant meeting for us indeed. He has not changed much even though it had been more than twenty years since we were together, still lively and sprightly and full of jokes as before. He lives in a big house, gated and with security personnel guarding it. He came out to the gate to receive us when we arrived and appeared excited to see both of us (in all the excitement I noticed that he was barefooted!). He remembered Shaffik too. We talked about old times, about how others amongst us then are getting on now and of course interspersed with current local political and world economic scenarios. He, being in the government sector and privy to some of the latest info gave us some insights into the current scenarios, some of which were quite surprising and eyebrow raising to me, a laymen and without access to the real information. It was a short visit as it was slotted in between his tight schedule but we promised to get together again in the near future and I hope it will be in my house in PJ then.

Kuching city used to be limited to the water front and near the river with the commercial centre on the south side and the residential areas on the north side. Now it has two mayors, one for the north and one for the south. Shopping activities used to be centred along the water front but now, as one drives out of the city centre one should be able to see tall buildings coming up, large shopping complexes, commercial buildings, office buildings, apartment and condominiums sprouting up everywhere. We visited one of the shopping complexes yesterday. It was large, much like the ones one see in big cities and the day being a Sunday just as crowded with people.

The weather now looks good, and from the window the esplanade at the water front beckons to me for a walk. So, I shall walk the pavement for a while, to as far as my leg can withstand it supported by my walking stick of course. I shall write again, by the grace of the Almighty.....

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Kuching, sarawak

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Oh oh .... It has been 3 weeks?

It has been 3 weeks since my last posting. Alot have happened in the three weeks with the significant ones being the family gathering on the third Shawal, and the passing of son Shaffik's father-in-law, who succumbed to the big 'C'. He had a mild stroke and was taken to hospital. Once one is in hospital all kinds of tests will be conducted and one of the tests done on him indicated that he had the big C of his lungs. It was very fast indeed. Only 10 days and he succumbed. It was mentioned that he went peacefully though and not before he had moved his bowels and emptied his bladder, had a light meal, a few spoonful, and then all realised that he had 'gone'. So, he had cleansed himself before answering 'the call to return' they said.

I was in the East Coast, in Kuala Terengganu, attending to my commitments at my former place of work when I received the sad news from son Shaffik. Ram and I managed to get a flight out to Bintulu but could not be in time for the funeral. Anyway, our presence are usually required for the family that's left behind since the one that is gone is gone. So it was never too late then.

Our presence in Bintulu was, I think, most looked forward to by our three grand children, especially the little one, the 3 year old Haadieya who was most excited of all when we arrived. From then on it had been Tok Bah this and Tok Bah that and Tok Mi this and Tok Mi that.... demanding our attention always. She is especially fascinated by my mustache and beard, playing with them while seated on my lap!! We will be over each other, all four of us, i.e 3 genuine kids and one much overgrown and overaged kid in bed when waking up in the mornings, throwing the bed and beddings a mess, all to the annoyance of Tok Mi ha ha, but leaving me without a care in the world for that precious, cherishable moments.

Babang or Hifzhan, the eldest, is always serious and disciplined but would lighten up in my presence. Dedek or Haziq on the other hand is ever the playful one and come up with surprising statements and comments now and then. The little one of course is the attention grabber. One day we were in the car and Dedek was playing with the car air-cond rear blower fan control switch, turning it up and down successively:

Tok Bah: Dedek what are you doing?
Dedek: I am testing the aircond?
Tok bah: No no no, you will only spoil the blower playing with the switch that way
dedek: But babang asked me to do it
Babang: Noooooo
Tok bah: So dedek, if babang ask you to jump out of the car will you jump out?
Dedek: No! But when I ask Babang to pee in his pants he did!!
Babang: Dedekkkkk (on top of his voice) and they were on each other with Dedek giggling away.....

Another occassion we were on the road again and the three kids were in the car. We played the spelling game, and naturally the two boys tried to outdo each other. But the little girl, not being able to spell, wanted to get into the act as well. So Dedek gave the little sister words to spell:

Dedek: OK Haadieya, spell hand
Haadieya: C T U.....
Babang: Wrongggggg
Haadieya: Yes C T M.... hand
Dedek: Correct Haadieya. See babang, Haadieya has not gone to school yet and she already can spell.....

See, you will not have a dull moment with the kids around. I forget everything else in this world with them around....

The family gathering on the third day of Shawal saw a whole day event that catered for all ages in the family. Details and pictures can be found at the following site You are welcomed to visit.... Happy reading...

MKI ramblings unlimited
Petaling jaya