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