Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Lazy Afternoon in Tenby with a 4 year old

Najla was relaxed. I tried to coax her to take an afternoon nap but she was determined not to do it. She sat on the edge of her bed in her room, legs dangling and swinging, a nursery rhyme book which she took home from school under the read a book a week scheme in hand and singing the ‘hickory dickery dog’ song. I sang along with her and we continued singing other songs from the book too. She clapped her hands or tap her toes together for added stimulus in her singing. Her room is comfortably arranged, several colourful paintings that she did herself placed on the wall, “ I painted that by myself Tok Bah”, she would say, “and that too, and that one too” pointing to all of them “ I did all of them by myself”. “Very nice”, I said. She used solid colours in all the paintings and her selection of colours in each painting are all matched, to my eye that is! Pink and green appear to be her favourite.

I asked her about her friends in school and she said that she has many friends. I asked her to name them and she came up with four names. I asked if there are any more of her classroom friends she replied in the negative. “That’s all” she said. So, she may be selective in who she makes friend with. We continued chatting. I asked if she has friends here at home she replied in the affirmative and named the children of the neighbours who are colleagues of Fahrul in Tenby. She sometimes plays with these friends but not everyday she said.

Najla was quite talkative this time. She was in a talking mood apparently. She volunteered information readily. After talking about school, her friends, her recent travel with her parents and Tante Tess, she volunteered that there will be an addition in her family.

Najla: I will have someone to play with in this house later (hands clasped and smiles of anticipation}
Tok Bah: Oh! Who is this?
Najla: My Mummy is going to have a baby…..
Tok Bah: Really……..
Najla: Yes… Baby is now growing in Mummy’s tummy…..
Tok bah: Ok. What do you want? A baby boy or baby girl?
Najla: Baby girl only. I want to play with a girl. You see all the toys in this room, in the boxes there….. and here under the bed…. They are all girl toys and I am keeping them for the baby….
Tok Bah: But what if the baby is a boy?
Najla: No the baby is a girl….. eyes lighting up and twirling around, looking at the ceiling, the walls around her and avoiding eye contact with me (that’s telling me she has decided that it is going to be a girl, period!!) ha ha ha! I hope she would not fret if later on it turns out to be a baby boy!
Tok Bah: Baby will be very small for you to play with.
Najla: I will give toys to baby and play.
Tok Bah: But if baby cries who will look after baby?
Najla: I will look after baby.
Tok Bah: Oh you want to look after baby? Questioning her with my eyebrows rising up…
Najla: Yes, I can look after baby….
Tok Bah: Sure you can? Again with my eyebrows rising up….
Najla: Nodding her head, with full confidence….
Tok Bah: When baby need to take bath, and change clothes and all who will do it?
Najla: I will do it……..
Tok Bah: questioning look?
Najla: I can change baby’s clothes, put lotion and powder, and give baby milk….
Tok bah: Reallyyyyyyy?
Najla: Yessssss, eyes rolling, looking at the ceiling, the wall and trying to avoid eye contact with me, hoping I will drop the subject…….. but when she finally looked at me she said,” Mummy help”…….. heh heh at last she gave in……
Tok bah: Ok you can bathe baby, change baby’s clothes, put lotion and powder on baby. Very good. But if baby poo poo, who wash baby?
Najla: (immediate abrupt response) Mummy.
Tok bah: Oh! Mummy wash baby?
Najla: Yes, only Mummy wash baby. Very certain of herself. It’s like, no way am I going to wash all those poo….. ha ha ha. And she continued: Oh we will need baby potty. Baby can use my potty.
Tok Bah: Your potty?
Najla: Yes. But the potty is not here. It is in Malaysia. It is in PeeJay house.
Tok Bah: So, with the use of baby potty you can help wash the potty?
Najla: No, Mummy. Very sure of herself, heh heh.
She appeared uneasy, sitting at the edge of the bed and appeared almost slipping off. She was probably uncomfortable with this interview on poo poo. So I changed the subject and talked about her recent trip back to Malaysia. Well, we know now how determined a four year old can be and how her mind ticks. A lovely afternoon chat……. We continued with the singing and chatted some more.

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Tenby, Wales

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tenby, Wales, in January

Ram and I are in Tenby now. We came together with Fahrul and Najla last saturday. Sita Stayed back in Malaysia as she has commitments to satisfy in Kerteh,and since Najla is already in school, albeit playschool, we thought she should not miss it and since we have the time we can help look after her for a while. So, here we are in Tenby.
View from the Balcony - Tenby town is in the clouds

The weather now is cold, very cold and wet. I do not mind the cold weather so much but when it rains coupled with strong winds, gloomy skies, and wet grounds, I prefer to remain indoors. It has been raining every day since we arrived and for long stretches of time every time. Ever since we were here we saw the sun for only two hours yesterday!! The rest of the time was gloomy. So, we have been at home all the time except when we have to send Najla to school and back.

All dressed up for school- No that's not a ballet stand!!
Must not forget my lunch box

Monday, apart from going to school, Najla attends ballet class in the late afternoon. It is held at the Leisure Center, a Community Center, where various facilities are available. There is a large swimming pool, and several indoor courts. We sent her there and waited while she attended ballet lessons which was fo about half an hour. Apparently there are several classes for various age groups and various stages of ballet lessons. Najla is still in the beginners class. As soon as class was over she headed straight for the cafeteria and ordered slush and a doughnut. She finished the whole doughnut and the slush, a fizzy shaved ice drink, which for Najla, it is a rarity to finish all the food and drink in front of her. We were quite surprised and thought she must be hungry after all the ballet movements in the class. We found out later that it has been her standard practice tp gp tp the cafetria after each ballet class!! Motivation to attend ballet class perhaps.

She is adapt at playing alone and sometimes transport into a make believe environment. She also seem to enjoy musical sounds and do sing to herself sometimes. So I spend time with her, singing along with her children songs and nursery rhymes and other times talking to her about school, what she likes and general things like that. She can be talkative when she wants to!

MKI Ramblings Unlimited
Tenby, Wales

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

All Together Now....

A rare occasion when all my children and families were together under one roof. Sita and family came back for a short 'coming home' holiday, son Shaffik had some work to do in KL and brought the whole family along and of course Tessa had to make time to be in PeeJay amidst her busy work schedule. Siti and Shidah, Ram's sisters were also with us for the weekend. We took the opportunity to take a few family photographs and went out for dinner together at a restaurant not too far away from our house.

Having our four grandchildren together was alot of fun. They played together whenever at home, while Najla joined in when she is not sleepy with jet-lag. And as always they were full of antics to keep us adults entertained. The house was 'alive' with the children running around and it's been quite a while since the last time all were together, about two years really. Wow how time passed us by.

Some of the pictures taken:

The whole Family
At Dinner

The Proud and Glowing Grandparents!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nourishing the Mind as Part of Health and Wellness

I wrote earlier of the need for us to nourish our mind as part of health and wellness. It is my belief that our continued existence and wellbeing partly hinges upon the use of our mind in its proper perspective. The mind is a powerful tool to us. It can make and it can break us. When used positively it enhances quality of life, and we need to continually improve our quality of life. Thus we need to be positive in our thinking.
Positive thinking is a skill by itself. Circumstances around us usually present opportunities for us to react, and the way we react requires some skill. These skills would usually be acquired over time based on life experiences and exposures. One has to be able to differentiate between the realities and the imaginaries and these too are acquired based on experience and exposure. It is the realities that should be our focus of attention and to be able to look at realities squarely and then react accordingly is to take things positively. Do not allow imaginaries to colour our actions or reactions as imaginations can be just up in the air and can just fizzle out in space.
In addition to positive thinking setting our minds towards achieving goals and striving towards set objectives will help nourish our minds. We all have daily objectives and daily goals to meet. We wake up each day with set things to do. They may be routine things and they may also be new things to do. Whatever they are how we plan them and how we execute them will need our minds to be at work. We certainly would not want to do things blindly or without any purpose. Hence, proper planning would make life a lot more pleasant. And proper planning need our minds to be at work, recalling experiences and past practices to achieve the things we have set to do. That is the beauty of the mind. The recalling bit, the experience bit, comes naturally when prompted with the need to achieve what the mind has been set to do. Am I making sense?
My favourite on nourishing the mind and enriching it is reading. Reading triggers the mind to work and depending on what you read the end result will be the mind working at a pace suited to what is read. Heavy stuff may load the mind more. We have heard the expression ‘going out of my mind’. That is when the mind is working at a very high load that the thinking process becomes stressed and overwhelmed. We also have heard of the expression ‘clear my mind’. This is good when the mind is stressed and ‘overload’. Just clear the mind of the load, or stop thinking of the issues causing the ‘overload’ and think of more pleasant things. I practice looking at images in the mind. How do I do it? I just close my eyes and picture in my mind pleasant sceneries that I have experienced before, at the same time think of pleasant, favourite music or sounds (sometime I think of the Azan, the call for prayers, or some verses of the Holy Book), while making deep and slow breathing. Go on, take a couple of minutes, close your eyes and do like what I do. Isn’t it pleasant? You may devise your own way of clearing the mind. Do this once in a while and it will help revitalize your mind. Some people go into deep meditation to nourish their minds but I believe in doing these short spurts of revitalizing the mind. It works wonders for me and I am sure it can help you too.
MKI Ramblings Unlimited

Friday, January 09, 2009

Health and Wellness

I was discussing with one of the current staff at the petrochemical plant in Bintulu on the need of doing exercises to maintain good health. He is due to retire in three years time but he looks older than me. This is what he said and not me!! He asked me what my secrets are in maintaining good health and good looks.
I think there are no secrets to maintaining good health. You need to maintain three basic principles, i.e mind soul and body to be nourished all the time. To nourish the mind the brain needs to be working; to nourish the soul your spiritual inclinations need to be enhanced and to nourish the body, body input has to be properly balanced. Let me elaborate how I look at and how I practice the three principles:
1. Nourishing the mind. The major underlying factor will be positive thinking. We should not entertain negativity. Our plans, our actions, and the things we say and our whole outlook should be positive. Be prepared to learn new things. I may be advanced in age but I know the knowledge and skills that I possess are nothing but smaller than a drop in the ocean. I therefore would not hesitate to look for answers to questions I have. Read and you shall gain knowledge. And when you read you trigger thoughts while at the same time nourish your mind. It does not matter what you read but read useful things. If you read rubbish you will reap rubbish but then it helps in you determining and differentiating what rubbish is ha ha! No need to look for thick novels or sophisticated technological books to read. It is good if you can but not necessary. Not unless you are going for a formal recognition of the knowledge gained. What is needed is something that keeps the mind ticking. A working mind helps keep a healthy body.
2. Nourishing the soul. Everyone believes in something, be it real, be it imaginary, be it physical or be it spiritual but beliefs give value to life. If one does not have beliefs one will be a very dull person. Beliefs would usually enliven the spiritual wellbeing of a person. Our daily action or inaction will somehow anchor on our beliefs and usually if we believe it is right we will have no hesitation in proceeding. The right beliefs then set the soul at peace. When the soul is at peace other elements in life will be at peace setting aside negativity and enhancing life qualities. A religious person need not always be a person who nourishes his soul. He has to believe in the positive aspects of the religion, the advantages he can gain from the religion, before he can free himself from the clutches of life’s woes and the negativity in life. There is a difference in saying I cannot do it as against I am unable to do it but will make efforts and find ways to do it. The first one is giving it up and the second one pursues further.
3. Nourishing the body. Our body functions according to what our mind sets it to do. At the same time our body’s ability to function depends on its state of wellness. And the state of wellness depends on how we have been treating it. If we treat it well it will function well and the reverse is also true. The first two issues above have a part on the ability of our body to function well. They help nourish our bodies. In addition to that we have to further nourish it with positive body enhancing elements, the main ones being replenishing and replacing the replaceable in our bodies; the nutrients, minerals, a bit of calories (please note that I say only a bit) and others. Our bodies need nutrients more than calories to function properly. But when we are hungry what do we do? We eat more calories than nutrients. Why? The foods we get nowadays are highly processed foods that contain more calories than nutrients. Nutrients are lost when the foods are processed leaving their calorie contents high. By nutrients I mean the mineral content and body building elements of the food. Calories are just energy providing elements which when not utilized are converted as fats and stored as energy reserve in the body. This reserve accumulates over time and what is the end result? Overweight and obesity. Any wonder why we see many oversized people in a crowd nowadays?
It is not easy to balance the daily life requirements, to maintain smooth execution of all our plans for our body. Having concentrated our efforts towards enhancing our body function with the nourishment above we need to balance it with proper bodily activities daily. One major activity is exercise, or making sure that the body parts are actively inducted. This has to be done daily which is a difficult task for us to carry out nowadays as life is much simplified now with all the modern technological aids available. Physical activity is low. People lead sedentary lives nowadays. Again, any wonder why we see many oversized people in a crowd nowadays?
I do believe that by positively nourishing the mind, soul and body quality of life will be enhanced. One’s wellbeing and general outlook will certainly be balanced when the three elements are in balance. So, one may be young or may be old, but when the elements are in the right balance ones general outlook will emit an aura of wellbeing.
Some of my thoughts above need further clarification and there are more stuff I can write on the subject. I will try to add more facts to the above later, and soon I hope…… if I can find the time to write…….
MKI Ramblings Unlimited

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

PETCHEM Plant Revisited

We are still in Bintulu, having been here during the turn of the new year. As I mentioned earlier, I am committed to provide services to my former place of work in Bintulu. For that I am provided with all the necessary facilities like accommodation in a hotel, a car for my mobility and travel assistance where ever and whenever necessary. I am also allowed to plan my work schedule such that I can accommodate any personal activities within a reasonable time schedule. On top of this commitment I have another one day commitment, twice a month, at another former place of work in KL. Hence I have to juggle my movement schedule, Bintulu – KL/PeeJay, and by doing so Ram and I get to be home in PeeJay at least once a fortnight while at the same time accommodate our grandchildren’s demands on our time. It works well for me. Ohhhh ……. Life is so wonderful….

Although we stay in a hotel we spend quite a bit of time in Shaffik’s house, to be with the grandchildren. They would jump at the idea of joining us in the hotel. The hotel is located in a complex that includes a shopping mall, children’s playground and other facilities which is a natural attraction to the kids. So, it was hotel room, watch TV, video games on my laptop, go down to the mall, back to hotel room, mall again and so on every time the kids come over!!!

The grandchildren, all three of them have just started school. Babang and Dedek are in normal school now while little Haadieya has just started playschool. When asked after the first day of school, she said she did not cry in school, no no no, she insisted that she did not cry in school but we understood from her mummy that she insisted that mummy must be within her sight all the time!! Heh heh, not too confident to be left on her own with strangers in the school yet….. Babang and Dedek on the other hand had no problems on the first day of school. They are independent enough to be left on their own.

I have left this former place of work in Bintulu for more than twenty years. With this new commitment I get the opportunity to go into the facilities and had a first look at all the units yesterday. It is an oil and gas installation, a petrochemical plant, producing ammonia and urea fertilizer. More than twenty years ago I was involved in the implementation of the project starting with the initial groundbreaking and leveling of the site, and on to the design, construction and commissioning of the ammonia and urea plant plus their related facilities. I was fortunate to be given the responsibility of commissioning and start up of the urea plant. So, going into the site yesterday brought back memories of the time I commissioned it more than twenty years ago. It has been 24 years to be exact. Some of my former staff who was with me here more than twenty years ago are still here but they have aged, some marking time for retirement, while many others have retired with a few being re-employed on contract basis. It was pleasant to meet them again after all these years. All remember me very well and some of the new ones were happy to meet me knowing that I am Shaffik’s father. Shaffik and Mini are both working here now – second generation intervention, heh heh. In fact I found out that there are a few second generation employees here.

The plant itself is not exactly what it was when I was here as there had been revamps and rejuvenation projects over the length of time, either to debottleneck, to update, or to increase capacity. The major equipments however are still there. Hence it did not appear alien to me. I could still figure out the processes and operation requirements. Walking around the site was like walking through a time tunnel seeing old equipments still standing with new equipments erected in between old ones. Similarly, meeting old staff and many new and younger staff, up and about in the plant areas, was indeed invigorating. I will get to continue doing this for the next six months or so and I hope it will be an exciting six months……

MKI Ramblings Unlimited

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Temporary Residence In Bintulu

We are now in Bintulu. I have completed my commitments in the east coast of the Peninsular and I have a new commitment in Bintulu. The grandchildren being in Bintulu add on to the pleasure of being in Bintulu. My commitment will be for the next six months, which means that we will continue to be away from PeeJay for an extended period again.

What's my commitment in Bintulu? Technical training coordination for a batch of young recruits in the oil and gas industry. An interesting job, not too heavy for a retiree, while at the same time rejuvenating the mind and body! I was doing the same thing the last six months and this new commitment is a continuation of the previous one. Being close to the three grandchildren is an added bonus.

I hope to find more time to post something here in the future and just letting this short one be a start for 2009.........

MKI Ramblings Unlimited