Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weather Dependent Travel

Heard over the news that some airports in Europe are closed due to heavy snow and very bad weather. All my children are away now. Tessa is in Italy, somewhere between Rome and Milan. Shaffik and Mini are in Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Sita, in Wales, is getting ready for a trip to Prague, Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck with Fahrul and the kids. All of them plan their holidays away from work at the end of the year. Maybe it is not such a good idea to go to Europe this time of the year after all, given the repeated end of year adverse weather conditions.

Due to the closure of the airports, planes are stuck and flights cancelled or delayed. The rippling effects of these delays are felt all over, even in areas where there are no snow!!

Three of our grandchildren are with us in PeeJay. They are keeping us occupied. They are quite big enough to do many things on their own but they do still need close supervision from us. It is very pleasant to have them around though as there will not be a dull moment with them around, their pranks and tricks keep us entertained at most times. One drawback though, they hog the TV. Its cartoon whenever they are around!! They tried to take over my laptop but I have the old, slow, laptop which I allow them to use, hence I am still in control of my laptop!!

Shaffik and Mini are due to return in a few days and soon after they will go back to Bintulu. The house will be quiet again...... hmmmmmmm....

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Long Distance Driving

For the wedding in Jawi, Penang I decided to drive and included a trip further North to Perlis. Immediately after the wedding reception at the bride's house in Jawi we made the two and a half hours drive to Kangar, Perlis and headed straight for Fahrul's parent's house.

We had, for quite a while, intended to visit the North again and also meet up with Fahrul's parents. They had been to KL several times and visited us and we had to look for opportunities to reciprocate. The wedding in Jawi gave us the reason to go further North and visited them. We arrived in their house in the late afternoon. It was a pleasant and easy drive, highway all the way and no congestion anywhere, except when we passed the area close to Butterworth when traffic was quite heavy. But that was only for a distance of about twenty kilometres. Lots of greenery with rice-fields as far as the eye can see on both sides of the highway the rest of the way.

While in Kangar we put up the night in Fahrul's parent's house. We had to. Fahrul's dad went straight for my big luggage and brought it right up to the bedroom upstairs. He said he wanted to make sure the bag does not get back into the car and insisted that we put up the night there. We were not given the opportunity to decline his offer!! We had quite a bit of catching up to do too. It has been quite a while.

Dinner that night was at a seafood restaurant, and there were many, close to the jetty for passenger and commuter boats to Langkawi Island, some twenty kilometers away from Kangar. One not familiar with the rows of seafood restaurants would be lost for choice of which to patronize. Apparently Fahrul's parents had their favourite.
The food at the seafood restaurant was good. We had fish, prawns, squids, crabs and vegetable dishes cooked in various styles that they continued to whet our palates. Not sure about Ram but I think I overate that night. The cool sea breeze and the lively atmosphere then only added on to the enjoyment of food served, food being my number one weakness. We later found out that the dinner cost less than half of what we would have to pay if it was in KL or even in JB for that matter.

We left after breakfast the next day and started our journey southwards. We decided to take the old road that pass through the villages and skip the highway, to the next town of Alor Star. It was not a good decision though as the road was quite congested all the way, made worse by the so-called 'nuisance' traffic, i.e those who, for reasons of their own, decided to drive slowly and hog the centre of the road!!

There did not seem to be much changes in Alor Star. I could get about town easily and remembered the roads and the various spots we used to visit when we were there previously. Ram wanted to check out the market-place, and I was lucky to be able to get parking space closeby. We spent quite a while there and then moved on to have lunch at a restaurant serving a wide choice of good local fare. Again I overate, phew!! And again, the food was cheap. The full meal for one person cost the equivalent of a cup of coffee at Starbucks or Coffee Bean!!

Our next stop was at Kamunting to visit a former schoolmate/classmate of mine. It took me a while to find his house. The place have changed a lot since my previous visit several years ago. I could not recognise the buildings and most of the roads have been upgraded or major reconstructions were still taking place with road diversions that was confusing me. I found the house after quite a while but unfortunately he was not at home. We met his wife and was also privileged to be able to welcome his grandchild of a few days, a first-borne from his youngest daughter. We learnt that he now has eight grandchildren altogether, beatimg me by two!!

It was late afternoon already then and we had a long way to go to return to PeeJay. We continued on our journey southwards after saying our goodbyes, and after talking to my former classmate on the phone from his house. Soon it was dark and I noticed that I had difficulties lifting my leg while driving and it also felt a little numb. We still have about three to four hours drive to make to reach PeeJay. We decided to stop in Ipoh and checked into a hotel for the night. I did not want to take the risk of continuing the drive in the condition I was in. After a good nights' rest and relaxation through the next morning we continued our journey home arriving in the late afternoon. I guess I was just exhausted the evening before and the feeling reminded me that I am not as young any more. I should not overdo things and should take strides that are lower or slower in pace. May the Almighty forgive me and may HE be pleased and continue to guide me always......

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Surprised……. Inns That Were Not

Three weddings in two weeks, one in Kelantan, one in KL and one in Penang. For the out of town and out of state locations we accommodated ourselves in Inns, in group bookings to be together with family and relatives. An Inn is defined as an accommodation opened to the public offering more than six rooms and at least one food outlet. This is to differentiate Inns with bed and breakfast accommodations.

Since the weddings took place during the day, specifically in the afternoon, we planned other activities as well, to make full use of the opportunities being in the respective locations.

The Inn we stayed in in Kota Bahru had 35 large rooms each offering two queen beds and tea/coffee making facilities. We were assigned a corner room and had two windows, bright and airy. However, they had no food outlet. So, by definition, they cannot be called an Inn but only a boarding house. We had to go out for our meals or buy packed food to take back to the Inn. That aside, the Inn was well managed, clean and orderly, not anywhere near the facilities provided by the ‘starred’ hotels but sufficient for our restful needs. The staff of the Inn were friendly, accommodating and helpful. We managed to get about town while in Kota Bahru and my comments were posted here earlier.

Another Inn we stayed in was in Jawi, the Jawi Inn. It has only eleven rooms, two of them very large and others standard with two single beds. There was no tea/coffee making facilities in the room, no fridge, and non-functioning TV!! There was a space that looked like a restaurant but it was not functioning. There was also a small conference room. Does it deserve to be called an Inn?

We arrived at the Jawi Inn after a four hours long drive from PeeJay at 2.30pm. The room assigned to us was not ready. The previous guest had just checked out. We had to wait for our room to be cleaned. Then we had to do our bed ourselves!! There was only one staff manning the Inn. He man the reception, he cleans the room, he does everything else necessary to make the Inn function!! The job is rotated in shifts amongst three people. Yes, you guessed it. Many things had to give with a one man show. Top of the list was cleanliness. There were flies all over, even in the room. The Inn has a manager but he was away in Langkawi, playing golf!!

We had half a mind to check into another hotel or Inn but there was none nearby. Since the whole family was there, all eleven rooms were taken up by the family, and since the programme required us to be away from the Inn and we only require it for sleeping, we decided to stay on. After a short rest on checking in we had to get ready for the wedding solemnization ceremony. We returned after the ceremony and had another short rest before leaving for the barbeque dinner in the bride’s house. We returned after midnight tired and very sleepy. Woke up late the next morning and had to go out for breakfast. Then it was time to get ready for the wedding reception. So there was hardly time to notice the comfort or was it discomfort of the Inn. The bombshell came when the family requested an extension of stay from the 12noon check-out time to 1.00pm. The lone staff said, after consulting his ‘invincible’ manager of course, that there will be a charge for one hour!! No amount of coaxing would change his mind. We decided not to pay but to check out and gathered at a mosque in front of the Inn.

Soooo, will I come back and stay in the Inn in the future? Noooo never. Do I recommend the Inn to people? It will only give me a bad name! ha ha ha……..

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Monday, December 14, 2009

Two Weddings Back-to-Back

Having attended the wedding in Kota Bahru we have two more weddings to attend. One was for the daughter of Ram’s nephew in Kuala Lumpur (no pictures available yet) followed by the wedding of my nephew in Jawi, Penang. (Pictures of this wedding were posted earlier).

We received news of the KL wedding through sms and later received an invitation card. We would have appreciated it more and would be more responsive if Ram’s nephew had contacted us personally and perhaps discuss the wedding and its preparation. This was the wedding of an only daughter and the only child. At the very least they could have enlightened us on the preparation, the programme and if there was any need for input from us. Sms’ are too brief and impersonal and the invitation card just stated the date, time and place. The solemnization was on one evening and reception the next evening. That was all that we knew. We guessed then that the bride’s parents had everything thought of and can manage without our help, hence there was no need for us to ‘poke our nose into their business’, so to speak. We were just like any of his acquaintances or associates, not like family.

We had the wedding of my nephew in Jawi, Penang, with the solemnization ceremony on the same day as the reception for the KL wedding. We opted to be in Jawi and skip the KL reception, after all what was important was the solemnization ceremony for which we made a point to attend both, and on the assumption that Ram’s nephew do not really need us around except as guest in attendance. However, a couple of hours before the solemnization ceremony I received a phone call from the father of the bride requesting if I could be his spokesman during the ceremony. I would have gladly obliged but his spokesman for the engagement ceremony several months ago would be present for this solemnization ceremony and I thought he should continue to be the spokesman for continuity. We were not at the engagement ceremony (somehow they missed us) and were not sure of what transpired then.

Wedding solemnization ceremony is a mix of religious demands and cultural tradition. It is a formal affair and is a revered and holy occasion at the same time. Culture and tradition liven up the ceremony and add value to the ‘coming together’ and unison of two families. It is like a merger, one that should last for lifetimes of the families. These cultural and traditional values are now lost in the modern mainstream. Religious requirements however, are still adhered to as it is demanded and without which there is no wedding. Several elderly folks present at the ceremony, and also at the reception ceremony the next evening I was told, had ‘raised eyebrow’ and I am sure many amongst them had questions like “where are our heritage, our cultural values?” etc., running in their mind while observing the proceedings. Money and material wealth appear to have ruled their lives and taken over the wealth of culture and tradition.

The wedding of my nephew in the bride’s house in Jawi, Penang was also held over two days, starting with the solemnization ceremony held immediately after the late afternoon prayers in the local mosque. This ceremony followed the religious requirements as well as traditional practices. An afternoon tea reception followed in the bride’s house. The bride’s family then invited us to return later in the evening, i.e. after the late evening prayers for a barbeque session just so that the two families could meet, interact and acknowledge the unison of the two families. There was much exchange of light banter and pleasantries that we forgot time and left for our hotel soon after midnight. The actual wedding reception was held the following day at lunch time. The reception by the groom’s side was held two days ago in JB i.e. a week after the ceremony in Jawi. The bride’s family and relatives arrived the evening before the reception day and were received in a get together dinner session in the groom’s parent’s house before they proceeded to their hotel. The two families continued with the light, friendly banter and pleasantries and by now the two families were like old friends. There was all round camaraderie and friendliness. The cultural and traditional practices do play big roles in making this camaraderie happen.

The actual wedding reception was held in the afternoon of the next day. Friends and families gathered together and the bride’s families present interacted with the JB families and guests. There was a lot of fun and laughter amidst an informal setting. I believe everyone enjoyed themselves meeting up with friends and relatives. I met a distant cousin whom I have not met since I was in primary school and another cousin that I have not met for many years! It was indeed very pleasant……….

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On The Road - For Three Weddings

On the road again. There were three weddings over the last two weeks starting with one in Kota Bahru on 30th and 1st, then another wedding in KL 0n the 4th. The third wedding was in Jawi, Penang on 5th and 6th and then for a reception of the same wedding in JB on the 11th and 12th. So we were all over the country in two weeks.

We started off for Kota Bahru taking the early morning flight on 30th from Subang, not too far away from our home, and definitely much closer than having to travel to KLIA in Subang. It was a one hour flight arriving in Kota Bahru airport at 8.30am. Ram's niece, and mother of the bridegroom had arranged for a self-drive car for us to pick up at the airport. Hence transportation for the two days we were there were taken care of.

It has been a long while since our last visit to Kota Bahru. We wanted to meet friends and relatives while there this time and in between the wedding receptions. We were quite free in the afternoon on the first day and in the morning of the next day, as the receptions on both days were at around lunch time. However, due to road construction activities in the city, especially the building of a second bridge close to the current one across the Kelantan River, there were massive traffic jams on both sides of the river. We spent the whole evening just to cross over the bridge and later cross back just to visit a friend living on the other side of the river. It took us one and a half hours to cross over the bridge one way!! There goes the evening.

We took the opportunity next morning to go about the city. There definitely has been a positive change in the road system around the city and it is much easier and pleasant to drive around. The city also looks much cleaner now compared to how it was several years ago i.e. when we were last there. There are several new buildings amidst old building in the city centre and I hope that there will be efforts to preserve some of the old buildings as pride of heritage. Noticeably the old palaces and government buildings are still standing and have been nicely spruced up, adding on to their touristy and aesthetic values.






After the wedding reception on the second day it was time for us to go to the airport and fly back to Subang. We dropped off the car at the airport and checked in for the flight. There was a slight delay but no hassle. We were home in good time, and planned for attending the next wedding and the next trip out of Klang Valley......

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Another Wedding In Pictures

Another wedding. This time it is of my nephew, the youngest son of my third sister and fourth sibling,to a girl from Jawi, Penang. We drove to Jawi for the function held over two days. More of the travel later and here's some of the pictures....



























MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In Kota Bahru For A Wedding

Two days in Kota Bahru (KB) for a wedding. (The wedding was in Pasir Putih, some 40 kilometers from KB but all decided to stay in KB). This time it’s the wedding of Ram’s grand-nephew. It has been a long while since our last visit to KB and we had planned to squeeze in meet-ups with old family friends while there, and if time permitting. There are several, including my paternal uncle who lives part of the time in KB and partly in KL. Let’s see the wedding pictures here first and more rambling later…….

Groom's Parents With Gifts For The Bride:



The Bride - Full Anticipation



Grams & Mum Ever So Happy...



Goodbye Bachelorhood:



Parents of the Groom:











Family Lunch:





With Family:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lunch

We were out on errands around town and came lunchtime. Ram suggested we try out this celebrity restaurant somewhere in Section 11 Petaling Jaya owned by a singer popular since the late 70’s. It was quite easy to find the restaurant as it’s in a block of shops facing a main road. There were sufficient parking spaces in front of the shops and we found one very close.

The restaurant was quite nicely decorated, lots of potted plants and nice seating arrangements, with an outer terrace and an air-conditioned interior seating. There were people sitting at the outer terrace and more people in the interior portion. We found a corner seat for two and made ourselves comfortable. The waiter came to take our orders of the day’s special. There were two separate set meals on the day’s special and Ram and I decided that we order one of each and as we usually practice share the food when it comes. It took a while for the food to come. There were not too many customers, as there were still many empty seats and yet we had to wait awhile for the food. I wonder how it would be if the restaurant had been full with all the seats occupied.

The food came and we were at it right away but not because the food was anything to shout about but because we were hungry. The dishes was nothing special after all, and are of ordinary ones that we can get at other outlets, and having tasted them here we thought that those others that we have tasted elsewhere were much better and tastier. The d├ęcor and settings in the restaurant certainly does not make the food any better. Then came the bill. We were quite surprised as it was pricey, really pricey and not commensurate with the food served and the ingredients used in cooking the food. The special was nothing special after all. Perhaps we took the wrong choice of food and perhaps other dishes they serve are much better but after paying the bill we were not set to return anytime soon or later. ……….

Friday, November 27, 2009

Singapore – The Journey to Cross Over

My recent posts were about a trip south to Singapore to attend a wedding. We have been to Singapore countless times. It is just across the causeway from Johor Bahru where both Ram and I grew up. When I was in school I used to go across by stage bus and later crossing over and travelling around by scooter and much later still driving across by car with my children in tow. In those days crossing over was with no hassle at all, no passport required and no customs checkpoints. Later came passport control and custom checks. There were times we travelled to Singapore for several days in succession, one day for shopping, next to lunch and watch the latest movie, another day to attend a theatre show and dinner and each evening returning home in Johor Bahru. Ram in her younger days however used to sleep over in relatives’ houses in Singapore as her mum grew up there and has a big family who maintain contacts to this day.

After Ram and I got married we lived in Klang and later Petaling Jaya and by then trips to Singapore were infrequent. Most times we would drive over until driving was made difficult by too many traffic controls, restrictions and fees such that it got too expensive to drive your own car. Public transport in Singapore had by then become a convenient mode of movement around the island, so there was no need to drive your own car. We would leave our car in Johore Bahru , use public transport to go over and continue using them on the island. Or, if we have to go over direct from our home in Petaling Jaya we would fly and then use public transport on the island.

Last weekend, for the first time, we took an express bus to Singapore. No big deal to many but for us it was something that we had to try out, to see whether it is convenient, pleasant and restful, as touted by friends who had regularly used the express bus service. We opted for the service with starting point very close to the LRT station where we can conveniently reach since there is a LRT station on the same rail line close to our house. It was indeed convenient, very comfortable and pleasant. We arrived at the bus starting point in good time and had help from the bus operators in storing our luggage. They were friendly and helpful. The journey took just about five hours with one stop at a rest area in between. On arrival at the immigration and custom checkpoints the bus operators were again helpful guiding us through the checking process. Our destination in Singapore was at a shopping square very close to a MRT station. No hassle for onward transportation from there.

Our return journey four days later was by the same mode in reverse. Not much to comment about on the mode of transport as it was just as customer friendly. I guess they maintain their standard of service to customers. For each direction we have to exit the bus twice for the customs and immigration formalities. Once at the Singapore side and then on our side. The bus operators continued to be helpful to the passengers. I had to use the toilet facilities after completing the formalities on our side of the crossing and how disappointed I was with the facilities provided, and this was at the entry point into our country. We are still far far away from the ‘international’ standard that many of us dream of!!

There was a singing celebrity amongst the passengers of the express bus we took on our return journey. While waiting at the lounge before boarding the bus I noticed this burly, robust, casually dressed, long haired person, probably slightly younger than me, walking in with a sling bag on his shoulder. Although his back was towards me I could make out that he is the popular, veteran, Malay singer whose songs are of the Malay rock/jazz and contemporary type. He went about doing his thing quietly and unobtrusively, very low profile. When he turned and looked at me I nodded and smiled at him. He acknowledged the nod and smile and bent his body forward slightly while doing that, obviously according respect to an elder. I guess my nod and smile was with an unspoken message, “Hi, how are you and I recognize you” and his nod and smile was, “I am fine, thank you and I know that you recognize me”. This was when we were still in the waiting lounge in Singapore. I was picking my memory for a name to this person. However when the bus stopped at the rest area half way through the journey there was a small crowd around him. Some calling out his name (only then I remembered his name as Ramli Sarip! ha ha!) and some taking pictures with him while others requested his autograph to which he modestly agreed every time. He would wave back at people waving to him from their cars or from distances celebrity style.

Health and wellness aside, the rain in Singapore was no help in lifting up our spirit; but this Singapore visit did forge closer relationships with Ram’s Singapore family and a new family as a result of the wedding. We do not know when our next visit will be made but we are quite determined that the next visit will be using the same mode of transport, perhaps with another celebrity along for the ride?......

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Singapore – Fairy Lights Street

Three days and nights in Singapore would have been exciting, fun and memorable. Past visits experiences come to mind every time and current scenes would inevitably be comparisons to contend with, new buildings in place of old ones or in former open spaces, new skylines, new traffic systems, new restaurants and outlets and so many modern changes supposedly set to make it more attractive, friendly and comfortable for customers and the public at large. Yes, we were looking forward to this visit but……… two days before the trip I fell sick.

I had a long day of lecture mostly standing and talking to the class on a very dull, rainy day. I was later caught in the rain, drenched somewhat, on my way home. When home I was really ‘pooped’ and not up to do anything but to go to bed early but, when I got up the next day, I felt horrible. My head was heavy, I was nauseating and the room seemed to constantly twirl around me. I was in bed most of the day and wondered if it would be possible to make the trip to Singapore planned for the next day. We had planned to attend a wedding and also spend a few days there. I went to my regular private clinic and saw the doctor who prescribed something to overcome the problem and assured me that I can make the trip to Singapore.

So it was, early the next morning, we were on the express bus to Singapore, arriving at the hotel at about 4pm. Ram’s nephew was there to meet us. He was making or rather checking preparations for his daughters’ wedding to be held in the hotel the next evening (see my last pictorial posting on this). Rain continued to fall in Singapore. Throughout our stay rain halted our movements starting from late mornings to early evenings, the best part of the day really, to move about the city. My health condition was also not completely up to mark. Hence our movement about the city was rather limited, but we did make efforts to move about every opportunity we got, rain notwithstanding.

Orchard Road, the main shopping street of Singapore, was lighted up for Christmas. It was like a fairyland in the evenings, with lighted up buildings, Christmas decorations everywhere, lighted up streets and of course shopping frenzies. Discounts were offered; buy one free one, price cuts up to 70%, special discounts to house membership cards or special cards on top of the discounts on offer, and a myriad of ways to entice shoppers to make their purchases. The streets and shopping outlets were crowded with people, especially in the night when the lights were on. We were part of this crowd.

One difficulty we had when in the area was to find suitable food outlets. There were many food outlets, a food-court in almost every shopping complex, but hardly any that we would be comfortable with given the restrictions on our food consumption. We managed to find them though and made do with what were available. The food offered were ok, nothing to shout about as we have tasted better, but suited our taste buds.

Noticeable everywhere were the friendliness of the elders, the smugness of the middle-aged and care-free of the young. I guess modernization has its effect. But service seems to be up to mark. Cleanliness appears to be naturally inclined by everyone and public toilets a boon. High marks for the regimented ways these are maintained. Regimented? Yes…. many laws, rules and regulations to make everyone toe-the-line and make the city a pleasant place to be in. Without them would the city be what it appears today? I wonder and continue to ponder……………….








MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Monday, November 23, 2009

Singapore – Wedding In Pictures

On the road again. This time to Singapore for Ram’s grandniece’s wedding. The wedding was held in a hotel in the Orchard Road area and that was where Ram and I stayed for three nights. Marriage solemnization was held in the hotel in the early evening followed by the wedding reception after a half-an-hour break for the evening prayers in between.



Bride-in-waiting:



The Solemnisation:




Homage To Elders?




Here They Come - Wedding Reception Begins




Bride's KL Family



3 Generations -



With Bride's Immediate Family:



Bride's Singapore Family:


There are more weddings scheduled in the next few weeks. More of these to follow.....

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Relaxing Time

Saturday, a day in the weekend, starting from Friday evening, when Ram and I can just relax and not have anything to chase, no commitment to attend to and nothing specific to do. Only for the day. Come evening we will have guests to entertain in the house but for the 24 hours preceding its relax time. The first whole day we have to ourselves since several weeks ago. Somehow we had things to do, visits to make, commitments to address, weddings and two funerals to attend, and a myriad of errands to run and responsibilities to handle these past few weeks. Several weeks ahead of us we have a full calendar of activities, but today? its relax time.

How did we spend the time then? Lots of prayers, reading the Holy Book, sitting at the patio and enjoying the lovely evening calm, sleeping early and waking up very early, reading short stories, watch light movie on DVD, and sitting around doing nothing.... a beautiful day. It has been quite a while since we had the opportunity to do this and we fully enjoy this luxury of spending relaxing time together.

We spent additional time in our obligatory prayers, we read the Holy Book together, choosing one chapter and understanding the content, its purpose and intent and reflecting on its implication to our lives. Caught up on the news and did some light reading at bed time. Watched one of those 'feel good' love you, hate you and love you type of movie on DVD and the rest of the time just lazing around. A beautiful day indeed.

One day like this is something that we look forward to cherish. We may plan for it but there is always something to deprive us from achieving it. Murphy's law states, "if there is anything that can go wrong, it will, and at the most inappropriate time". So, whenever Mr Murphy is proven wrong, we get to enjoy the time more. We are looking forward to the next opportunity of a good time doing nothing.....

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya

Thursday, November 05, 2009

A Day Of Lecture and Facilitation

I have often mentioned in my past write-ups that I have commitments to address at my previous place of work. These commitments had been in various forms, some were just consultations, some were talks and dialogue sessions, some lectures and facilitations. Others were audits of activities and performance, situational assessments and reviews, skill development schemes and so on. In a nutshell all were to do with human behaviours. All would demand my experience recall. They have been interesting, invigorating and reminiscing opportunities for me. There is a saying that if you enjoy your work and what you do you will not work a day in your life. To that, I have not been working at all since I retired.

A few days ago I facilitated a session where the participants were new employees, some young and fresh university graduates while some others not so young having had varied working experiences elsewhere. There were 46 of them altogether. The topic of my lecture and facilitation was ‘Introduction to the Downstream Oil and Gas Activities’. It is an information type of facilitation consisting of half-a-day lecture and half-a-day group work. The content of the lecture was mainly on the utilization of hydrocarbon and how it is reconstituted to form the various products in the downstream of the oil and gas industry.

To concentrate on how hydrocarbon is reconstituted, refined, broken down and to continually talk about the chemistry of hydrocarbon would make it very dull for the participants. As the participants are of different backgrounds and disciplines like, finance, HR, security and others, to make the lecture interesting is indeed a challenge. I found that whenever I go into the chemistry of it many of the participants will have blank stares as though they look through me into outer space. It’s as though I talk about alien things. Of course there are those who had strong chemistry background and would knowingly respond to me and I would then take the opportunity to get them involved in the presentation as well. Otherwise I would intersperse my presentations with real life examples and analogies or related stories and experiences that I went through in my years in oil and gas.

I am no politician and where politics is concerned I tend to stand aside and watch the happenings but I noticed that when I tag on current politics to the oil and gas scene, whether local or overseas, there was interest amongst the majority of participants and at times the discussion became lively. Of course I steered clear of being specific, of indicating alienation to any political group, by generalizing always but I do note that amongst the young minds there was the tendency of them looking at current things negatively. I don’t commit myself to any side and would leave the discussion hanging for the participants to think for themselves. My objective was to interestingly present the message of oil and gas to the participants, in any way that could easily be understood, and that’s the core. Anything additional on the sides I consider fringes to spice up the presentation, nothing more……… May the Almighty be pleased......

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Friday, October 30, 2009

Two Generations Removed....

Md Yasin bin Abdul Jani, 1896 - 1957


The man in the picture is my paternal granddad, Md Yasin bin Abdul Jani. This write up is meant for my siblings and their children, my cousins, second cousins, and others who may know of our families, and remember this man. My memory of my granddad is sketchy and information I have on the man is also sketchy. It is my hope and wish that this write up is corrected for anomalies and inaccuracies and records straightened up if possible by anyone with the correct information.

Migration of Indonesians to Malaysia (Malaya) and vice-versa, if any, started even before the times of that (warrior?) Parameswara in 1400s (based on the history lessons I attended in school) and the absence of any identity checks and records made it rather difficult to track or make traces of the migration. I guess this migration phenomena continued ever since although there is some form of identification efforts to differentiate the people from the two countries and others now.

Three young men, Abdul Jani, his elder brother Aspani, and another brother (name unknown), all still bachelors I think, migrated from Pekan Baru, Riau, Sumatra in the mid 1800s by a rowing boat to look for better pastures across the sea. After several days of travelling in the boat and braving the waves, guided by the positions of the sun in the day and the stars at night, and food rations running low, they landed in Tanjung Minyak Beku which is at the coast of Batu Pahat, Johor. How long they stayed there is not known. Perhaps due to difficulties in making a living In Batu Pahat the three brothers decided to move on. They then continued in their boat and followed the coast northwards landing in Kesang. They eventually parted ways there. Aspani, who was a skilled goldsmith, decided to venture South, landed in Singapore and worked as a goldsmith. Abdul Jani, decided to settle down in Parit Jawa and went into farming. The third brother continued migrating North. It was believed that he finally settled down in Lumut. I think he took the boat with him. Not much is known of the two brothers. I remember my dad once visited a relative in Singapore, a sailor, who was a descendant of Aspani. I was a small boy then and I do not remember what happened after that visit. (Singapore was then a bustling seaport and many young men in Singapore became sailors to see the world).

Abdul Jani set up home in Parit Jawa, got married and had three children, Md Yassin, Fatimah and Othman. I do not know much about the life of Abdul Jani, what he did, where he lived and who he married, but I do know that he maintained contacts with his other relatives in Sumatra. So also information that I have on Fatimah and Othman are rather sketchy. I remember some of their offsprings and that too are sketchy. Other family members could perhaps add on to the facts that I noted here.

Md Yasin joined the Police force and rose in ranks to be a Police Inspector until retirement. He set up home in Muar, marrying a woman, Damnah bt Said from his father’s village in Riau, Sumatra as his first wife. If I am not mistaken this was an arranged marriage. His job as a police officer (people called him Merinyu Md Yasin) had him posted to various towns in Johore. I know that he was posted to Muar,Tangkak, Pontian, Kota Tinggi, Keluang and other towns. His job had him dealing with the local public a lot. He was one of the few who owned a car. He was a friendly, good looking man, with good (maybe enviable at the time too) government position, respected and popular amongst the locals wherever he was posted, and especially so with the pretty ladies. His family remained in Muar whenever he was posted to other towns. He married several times, in the various towns that he was posted to. How many times grandpa married I am not too sure but I remember my dad said many times, more than the fingers of both hands! However he had children only from two of the wives, from my own grandma, Damnah, and another grandma Rafeah Ismail (we called her Tok Nyah). Tok Nyah hailed from Pontian, married grandpa after the death of Damnah, and lived with grandpa in Muar and later Johor Bahru.

I did not get to meet my own grandmother, Damnah, but I do remember my step-grandmother, Tok Nyah and got to meet, only once, two other step-grandmothers, one in Kota Tinggi and another in a seaside village in Johor Bahru. I do not remember their names and do not have any information of their lives. I know that they do not have any children with my grandpa, hence no unknown cousins anywhere!

Grandma Damnah had seven children. Five of them died either at birth or when still very small. My dad was fourth and an uncle, Abdul Jalil, sixth. Abdul Jalil, after a skirmish with the Japanese soldiers during the Japanese occupation, died at their hands as a young man in his twenties. So my dad was the sole survivor (coincidentally in the middle) amongst his siblings from grandma Damnah. Grandma Damnah died when dad was about 5 years old. She was laid to rest in Pekan Baru, Riau. One of my paternal uncles managed to locate her grave when he visited Pekan Baru not too long ago. We made a promise that if we can get away from our busy schedules we would go together to Pekan Baru and he would show me where her grave was located but that did not happen. My uncle passed away suddenly before we could make that trip. I am still determined to locate my grandma’s grave and am looking for pointers and the Almighty’s pleasure towards locating it.

Grandma Rafeah or Tok Nyah had nine children, seven boys and two girls. These were the ‘paternal’ grandma, uncles and aunties that I know of and grew up with, while my dad was always considered as Tok Nyah’s eldest. All the children were born in Muar where Tok Ayah and Tok Nyah lived until they moved to Johore Bahru sometime in 1948. I remember the large wooden bungalow that has quite a large, open yard in the front and side of the house. I played in the house and in the front yard a lot, faintly remember the naughty pranks I played on my uncles, and had my grandpa or grandma’s protection whenever I get the wrath of uncles and aunties, heh heh. I was the eldest grandchild you see, and I got away with anything. Tok Ayah built a raised floor wooden bungalow in a village some 15 kilometers away from the Johor Bahru town centre. It was raised tall enough for cars to be parked underneath the house. It was a large house with several rooms upstairs and a fairly large kitchen with attached dining at ground level in the back portion of the house. The compound of the house was also large, much bigger than the former house in Muar. I spent a lot of time in this house and played with my uncles and aunties.

Tok Ayah came to our house in another part of Johor Bahru often. He usually came alone and by bus. He had to take two buses each time. I don’t remember him sleeping over but remember playing with him often, hide and seek, cowboy & red Indians, tops, kites and so on. He passed away late 1957 of a lung problem. He was quite sickly towards the end of his life and came to our house very infrequently. On the day he died, I remember sitting at one edge staring at his body and wondering why he was so still, did not get up and why people were coming and going to see him. I used to miss this man much after he was gone but had the uncles to contend with after that. Dad was busy with his work and also the political uprising at the time, hence less time for me allowing me to spend a lot of time with my uncles. However dad would catch up with me whenever he was free, going on outings, playing games in-door and outdoor. I have a lot of fond memories on this………..

This Picture Was At The Muar House Before Moving To JB. Standing Back from Left: Salleh, Mahmood standing in-front of Ibrahim (Awang), Tok Ayah, Md Shah (Idris), Mariam, Hamzah. Sitting Left: Fatimah (Sarah) with Baharudin (Musa) and Tok Nyah with Md Nor


MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Petaling Jaya

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Memories

A Beautiful Lady and Her First-born, Taken More Than 60 Years Ago! No Prize For Guessing Who They Are!


Third week of Syawal is usually a time when I go down to JB to catch up with family and friends. This time people are getting back to their routines after a week or two of running around in celebration and receiving visitors at home in between. That is how Eid Fitri is observed. One month of Syawal dedicated for seeking amends to one year of happenings in ones' life.

We had planned to leave PJ early Wednesday morning with a first stop at Brother Abid's house in Melaka for lunch. That plan was thrown a'skewed however with the passing away of a 74 years old maternal uncle (in-law) on Tuesday night. Ram and I were at Aunty's house that night until the wee hours. The funeral service started at about 10am Wednesday and over by about just after noon. So, lunch in brother Abid's became late high tea and with the usual courtesy Eid Fitri visits in Melaka we ended the evening and rested for the night in Abid's house. We had a long day Thursday and needed a good rest. We had to catch up on lost sleep too.

Thursday was indeed a long day. We left Abid's house and headed for Muar and then to Batu Pahat, then to Pontian and finally JB arriving at almost midnight. We took the opportunity to visit friends and relatives in the various towns we passed through. The visits were ok but it was tough on our tummies with all the good food served upon us on these visits. Indeed my waistline has changed and weight on the upper scale now ha ha ha!

In Front Of My Sister's House with Brother-in-law and his grandchildren, a Brother, His wife, Nephews and Nieces



Ram & Her Niece



While in JB we spent a good part of the time with mum and also visited Ram's and my relatives, including my younger brother Kifli who was not well and housebound due to some problems with his leg. On these visits we saw some old photos of Ram's and my relatives, and some of mine too. I manage to retake these photos for my album, not as good as the original but suffice for my purpose.
Ram's Dad

We had to return to PJ by Saturday as we had several invitations for the weekend to attend to and these invitations involved eating and over eating..... phew!!! how do I get back my old waistline????? A tough one that..... We managed another visit on the way back to PJ, this time an aunty and family living in Senai, some 30km out of JB. More food..... my oh my.... glorious food.... Aunty even packed more food for us to take home in spite of having eaten in her house .....

Ramlah & Ramlah (Ram and My Auntie - same name)
With Aunty & Family

Ram's Eldest Brother

MKI Ramblings Unlimited,
Petaling Jaya