Back in Malaysia, the special MH feeling

June 22, 2009

To be back in the cabin of Malaysia Airline 747 is like  being home.

It would be perfect if not for  the watery sambal on the nasi lemak. Otherwise it is like being back in KL. The chicken satay is the best in the world. For me at least because I never take chicken satay except on board Malaysia Airline.

You will be fed like a pig. You can eat non-stop. For a compulsive, obese eater it must be a feast , a non stop eating spree.

I am very predictable. I will have 3 sticks of chicken satay, avoid the starters and then bunk off. Prior to boarding I would have my routine at the seafood bar, complete with champie and the ocassional caviar.

Six hours into the flight I would have my maggi mee. The Maggi Mee is mandatory, the highlight of the whole journey.

The leading stewardess apologized profusely for the watery sambal. I said fire the caterer!

By then we would be approaching KLIA. Paula Malai Ali Asha Gill  is such a gem. I love her. You never get bored seeing her managing her arrival at KLIA in  her special way.

To all Malaysian, selamat pulang……

KLIA gets better by the day. I usually travel without any check in baggage so it is plain sailing.

At the immigration counter if not for the spoilt chip in my passport, the autogate is “wow!!” a breeze.

Walking through the waiting areas you see a more organized section. There was no tout approaching me. You can even buy the KLIA express tickets on board.  That is very smart.

My favourite Gate is number 5.  The door open and you step outside. Zapp!!!  You realize that you are really back home. The humid and hot wall of air jolt you into reality.

It is bloody humid and hot!!!

Your country is very hot!!!! Give me June in London and Paris minus the rain, please.


I am Lord of Kendal

June 17, 2009

I am Lord of Kendal. There is a street named after my peerage, Kendal Street. At the end of the street is my public House, the Lord of Kendal. My London abode stands at the junction of Porchester Place and Kendal Street.

I love this place.

To the left is the Arab quarters. How the place has changed in the last 30 years. There was a Safeway, a wollworth and Bali laksa House. Now it  is the place  for  tabouleh, tajines and kebab. Why not?

To the right is  the  quaint English quarters. There are many squares with well manicured English gardens. Within sight is Hyde Park. Parallel to the park is Bayswater Road.

I took a walk from Porchester Place to Lancaster Gate and then Queensway along Bayswater Road. It was a good 3 km walk. On the way back I stopped at Malaysia Hall. The Great Hall was no longer the Grand Hall where  we used to play table tennis and have our concert. I peeped inside and saw prayer mats.

I passed through Westbourne Terrace leading towards Sussex Garden. It is an old city but it is  a much better place then it was 30 years ago.

I love it. It is my kind of city. It is my city.

Damn the Parisien Traffic

June 17, 2009

I missed my flight to Dublin. I left the hotel at 8. The bellboy was in his element. As if knowing that I was going to give him a generous tip, he went out of his way to secure me a taxi to Aero Gare  De Gaulle. I gave him ten Euro.

The Lebanese driver was not not that smart. It was not a familiar route . Why did he go through Champ Elyse? Why did he pass through  le Bourget knowing fully well tha salon le bourget would cause tremendous jam.

We arrived at terminal one at qurter past 10. The flight was to leave at 10.25 . I never like terminal 1  of de Gaulle.
I went round in circle. Still I could not find Aer Lingus.

So I decided to take the train to Gare du Nord for the Eurostar.

Damn that driver! It cost me 75 euro!!

But I was so cool. This was just part of a traveller’s fun. Enjoy the eurostar!!! Here I am enjoying my glass of champagne as the train rolled down into the tunnel.

handicapped Ulama – The banning of the sale of alcohol by the Selangor Government

June 14, 2009

Islam is a sensible,logical, practical and simple religion. If one is knowledgeable, or alim or ulama in plural  arabic, one would be able to explain the many wisdoms contained in the message of God. However many of  religionists  who claim to be alim or ulama, fail miserably.  They are mainly  self seving religionists with inflated ego of piety, self righteousness, and holier then thou attitude. The unnecessary separation of knowledge between secular and religious knowledge  are self imposed, self inflicted limitation of knowledge. As a result they cannot present, sensible, logical argument to bring good over evil.

How would you explain the action by the state government to ban the sale of alcohol based on the argument that the Muslim majority demands so. No culture ever unreservely say that alcohol is good. Every culture knows that that alcohol brings more bad then good things.

My quesrtion, why was this argument not used? That there are bad things then good things about alcohol. The Quran says so.  the people knows this. Why wasn’t  this argument  used? The fact that the muslims are in the majority the government can see the legislation going through, but the fact remains that using logical, sensible, quran commpliant argument, not only promote the religion but it shows how  logical, sensible, practical and simple  the religion is.

Am I a secularist? Yes if secularism means the study and the practical implementation of the sunatullah or the knowledge of God.

Walking to School – along the North South Trunk Road

November 2, 2008

My primary school was and still is located along the NS trunk road. Being the main artery the traffic then was already pretty heavy. There were the regular stage buses, Lien HOe, which went asunder last year. There were the taxis, but the logging trucks with logs a metre in diameter were common.  Car ownership was still low. Another regular user was the Malacxa Singapore Express Bus which is still in existence but no longer plying the trunk road.

Still it was the trunk road.

There were no school buses so everyone had to walk to school. It would be unthinkable now, seven year olds to twelve year olds walking to school along the trunk road. There a few who cycled to school. I had my first bicycle when I was in Standard Three. To think about it now, I would say it was more dangerous to cycle then to walk.

My abah sent me to school on his rickety bicycle on the first day only. We call it basikal kargo because it had a wide carrier to carry the product of his toil. He could only afford to take a one day break from the regular routine of tapping rubber. I was seated on the front beam of the raleigh for that 20 minutes ride. Longer then that you would have gone numb or your legs would be having pin and needles.

There were the regular road safety campaigns. There were fatalities but because of the low volume of traffic walking to school was pretty safe. I remember one campaign, where we were told to switch walking opposing the direction of traffic. It was something we needed to get used to and the senior boys were tasked to maintain order.

Walking in the hot sun for that 2 km walk was arduous. We walked in group. Our first stop would be Kedai Wak Palil. It was our pit stop. Next to the sundry shop are rows of tempayan for storing rain water.

Because they were not covered, the tempayan were perfect breeding place for mosquitos. The cool rain water, free from any pollutants satisfy our thirst. First, we needed to chase away the mosquito larvaes, or otherwise we would have ticklish larvae in our tummy.

There was one special day I remembered. Mak Nab was there at Kedai Palil. She bought me a packet of tapai ubi. Mak nab was the mother of my Kelas Dewasa Cikgu.

Ini budak pandai, she said.

The second and final pit stop would  be kedai Eng choon. We would be hanging there, seated on the gunny sacks nibbling dried anchovies or lobak asin, much to the chagrin of eng choon. Conceptually it would be quite similar to the modern day loitering in malls. Ocassionally we would be shop lifting. Our favourite was the telur asin. We were never caught.

Next to Kedai IEng Choon was Kedai Eu, the shop operated by Poh’s father. He was more vigilant.

The next stage was the walk along the laterite road home along the irrigation canal we called Parit. The walk would take us a good hour to an hour and a half. We could afford to take our own sweet time, until we were nine or so because after standard three of the primary school we would have to attend the afternoon religious school.

We would reach home by half three allowing us to have the rest of the afternoon to organize our kampong boy activities. The walk was long and tiring but by five we would have been rejuvenated.

Of TOYOLS and a Piece of Pristine Taman Negara in Batu Pahat

November 1, 2008

Really,  I did. I saw toyols. My second cousin Tahir was with me and he saw them too.

I must be eight at that time. So was Tahir. Me, emak, Tahir and mak mah were visiting Mak Long in Sungai Biur. Sungai Biur was a Kampung in Batu Pahat. It was my favourite kampung for one reason, it was a riverine kampung.  It was accessible only by dugouts. We had to take a bus to Parit Raja and from then on ride on the dugout canoe with the outboard motor.

Imagine a little piece of Taman Negara in Batu Pahat.

For those who are  thinking  of retracing my exploit and travel to this exotic part of Batu Pahat, they will be dissapointed. With the construction of the dam and water treatment plant in the early seventies, the river and its rich biological habitat and habitants dissappeared. This could be the only written record of Sungai Biur.

Pak Long’s house was by the river. He had a small kolek or dug out. That would be under my custody every time I visited him during the holidays. I never fancied swimming but I certainly loved exploring the river in the dugout, alone. Pak Long would be setting up the rawai, a long line with multiple hooks. I was contented with the hook and line. The harvests would be baung, putih, kelah, seluang. The river was wide, and the water was clear but peaty.

That particular afternoon Mak Long took us to a neighbour’s house. By the kampung’s standard the house was relatively big. There was the amben, the platform that connect the two tiered stairs. While the ladies were chit chatting tahir and I were hanging around at the amben watching the riverine activities unfolding.

The house was weired. At one end of the main house there was a non see through mosquito net which even in  the late afternoon, during the time of our visit, was still drawn. It was not stowed away as commonly done.

There was something else too. Hanging on the panel or dinding of the house on a piece of nail was a gold chain, things that people would stow away for custody.

Unexpectedly something appeared from the safety of the mosquito net. Two bald headed kids,  naked and giggling, ran out, past us and off they went having a whale of a time swimming and jumping into the river.

They were playful and after some time walked past us again and disappeared into the net.

We told the ladies of what we saw. Did you see? We asked them. They did not.

Mak long was not surprised. The neighbour had been known to keep toyols.

Budak kecik belum baligh yang masih bersih memang bolih nampak, commented Mak Long. I was angellic, have not reached puberty, and therefore could see the other beings, literally translated.

Did you see the necklace? The toyols protected the house of the owner, clarified mak long.

That was the first and last time I could see toyols or ghost for that matter. I am glad  I have lost my angellic disposition.

Looking back, and remembering the kampung,  I realized how we have lost a piece of paradise, how easy and how immediate it was.

Old Malaya – Kiss kiss bang bang

October 28, 2008

My family was extremely conservative. We never went to the movie. I guess we could not afford it. It never occured to abah or mak to see a wayang. To us wayang meant wayang cina, or chinese opera.

The only movie we saw was in the kampung, the Wayang Gambar Jabatan Penerangan on the school padang. The sight of the landrover of Jabatan Penerangan would get us kids excited. Usually it would be in conjunction with Merdeka or any health campaigns. Get your cholera jabs, or get your vaccinations, the Jabatan Penerangan officer blaring during the intermission.

The FILEM NEGARA production films did not make an impression on me. I could not remember any.

My first film was SITORA. I saw that in Singapore. My Pak tan lived in Tanjung Penjuru. Quite near to his barrack like house was an open top theathe the one the Indonesian call MISBAR, bila gerimis bubar. Literally translated it mean if it rains thats it.

SITORA was frightening so I never enjoyed it. Half of the shows I had my eyes covered.

Our only source of entertainment was the radio. It was the pop yeh yeh or the sandiwara or the serial Bangsawan. The aunties were keeping me company again. There they were doing the afternoon eagerly waiting for the series while picking up hair ticks or kutu among themselves. An un-pretty sight. Things you see in Zoo negara only.

Rahman Saiman was responsible to get me to see this movie KIss Kiss bang bang. He said there would be a lot of kissing. The term x was unheard of. I was sold. I managed to get nenek to give me one dollar.

The bus fare was 40 sen return, the mee bandung was going to cost me 30 sen and the ticket was 20 sen and the 10 sen for a drink.

Off we went as planned. The mee bandung next to ODEON was typically Batu Pahat. It was not like mee bandung muar.It was a real treat, especially the blanched egg in the thick nut and coconut gravy.

As for the movie, it was acctually a Japanese movie. I could not understand a word. I waited for the kissing but there was none.

What do you expect from a 20 sen morning matinee show but there were many like me who were sold. ODEON was packed.