Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat

It wasn’t till I set foot onto Uncle Sam’s land, the tradition of “trick-or-treating” became distinct to me. When I was in school, I remembered reading about it in magazines and I was pretty sure I had seen some horror movies of Halloween ghosts and what not’s on television. My memory is unable to back track so far off into the tele series in the late 70s and early 80s however. But I remember watching Laura Ingalls running around in the prairie with her little basket, off to the neighbors’ houses “trick-or-treating”.

And that was it with Halloween for me. What else could I expect of Halloween in the sleepy town like Seremban? Nak kena kejar dengan Pak Cik jemaah surau kalu berani nak carve pumpkin bagai!!!

I guess when you are 17 going on 18, there were loads of things you’d want to try our. Apalagi lah in this Uncle Sam’s land. In fact, that very same year was indeed the onset to a whole lot of new encounters, this small town girl was about to experience. New place, new culture, new friends and of course Halloween was another new thing as well. That October in 1982, I had my first “lemak-lemak labu” taste of this ghosts and spirits a plenty, community celebration a.k.a Halloween.

One of the first signs of Halloween is when the pumpkins start making their appearances on the door step. I thought to myself, “Rajin nye lah nak pi korek-korek labu tu and turn them into scary look a like creatures.” What a waste, Mat Salleh buat carvings hantu, and Melayu would have definitely turned it into masak lemak labu. East and west, a world of difference!!!

Okay what next, now that you have the pumpkin on the door step. Haa…time to go treat-or-tricking!! But before that must go get a costume. What shall it’d be? Frankenstein, ET, Darth Vader, take your pick. Well, just like the carvings I didn’t bother doing this ritual either. It was more for the children I must say. Going around all dressed up in costumes saying, “treat-or-trick”. Most doors they knock on would treat the children with candies and cookies rather than do a trick.

I went on my first Halloween so called party with this one senior guy (ehem..ehem..teka lah sapa??) We have been bumping into each other after our Anthropology class every Tuesdays. And later we were formally introduced at a friend’s makan-makan invitation.

The relationship had been casual, purely plutonic. If we happened to bump into each other oh well, we’d just smile and pass an exchange or two. We’ve gone to the library a couple of times together and being a gentleman he was, (masa tu lah…now, masih ka?? soalan cupumas tuh!! So, dah boleh guess sapa dia???) he had a few times walked me home.

State Street on normal days

That Halloween night we went to State Street were the party was. It was a cold night and the street was packed with crazy people dressed in all imaginable ghosts and funny looking costumes. I was somewhat confused as there were streams of people walking up and down. I wondered if they had an actual destination they were heading to. From a distant, I could hear music blasting. There was already a band playing. So we decided to hang out at the concert area for a while. The band played one song after another. Then it played this 60s number “Shout”, a catchy tune by the Temptations. And that song got the crowd on their feet!!! I remember the lyrics somewhat like this:

You know know you make me wanna
(Shout) Yeah, yeah
(Shout) Yeah, yeah, right
(Shout) All right, all right
(Shout) Come on now, come on now
(Shout) Yeah, yeah, yeah
(Shout) Come on now, hey, hey
(Shout) Alright now, yeah, yeah

Wah…ala-ala seronok gitu!! But the most funny thing was my senior was also moving to the steps of the song!! Hah..hah…tak ku sangka this engineering dude had some groove in him!! Ok, that got him scoring points in my books of liking, since I was also into dance and music. Ummppp…at the back of my mind, ader harapan nak ajak lepak-lepak listen to music lepas ni.

We stayed for a while at the concert area. The crowd began to swell and at one point it got pretty rowdy due to the madness in alcohol consumption. “Time to go”, my senior said to me and I followed him like a little lost cat.

The whole entire street was packed with people in costumes. Never have I seen people so absorbed in a celebration. Occasionally, we passed groups of students high from pot smoking. Ummpp…sekali dua bau smoke from their pot smoking tu did make me that little high, causing me to place one or two fuddled footsteps.

It was a good two hours we were at the party scene. We wanted to go grab something to eat, but the restaurants were packed. The line was long even for a mushroom slice pizza at our favourite pizza joint Rocky Rococo down on State Street. “Let's head back for home lah”, I said.

We walked home that night. It was a long walk back to my apartment and it was dead cold too. Halfway home, it started to snow lightly. Snow flurries fell and covered the ground like a fluffy white carpet. Ahhh…it was snowing, how beautiful (and romantic too!!). Surprisingly, it wasn’t as cold as how it felt earlier and the gush of fresh air was indeed making the walk a very pleasant one.

It was a good 30 minutes walk from State Street to my apartment in University Avenue. When we arrived, I contemplated if I should ask my senior up for some coffee as I wasn’t too sure if my roommate was home. But since it was still a long walk for him back to his place, I figured, one cup of hot coffee would not do any harm. Plus it was cold, there was nothing like a good cup of Folgers. So he was invited up. Normally, I’d have reservations about inviting guys up the apartment, but well, it wasn’t like I hadn’t gone out with him before. And he decided to be funny, there was always the vacuum cleaner or my thick calculus text book I could use to defend myself with. Hayooo…kalu kena ketuk dengan calculus text tu, mau jadi high, more high then the ganja smoking kat Halloween party tu..

One cup of coffee followed by the next one and later we stumbled upon a horror movie on television. My roommate later came back and some other friends had followed her up to our place too. In no time, we were already into out next pot of coffee. Then the frozen Pillsbury croissants went into the oven. Macam party lah pulak dah…

As the night was getting late and my senior and the other guests excused themselves, all geared up to venture the cold again, back to their respective apartments. I thanked my senior for being such a spot taking me to the Halloween party. After he left, I felt a funny feeling that something was brewing....ummpp…I wondered what it was!! (ehem..ehem….buat-buat innocent lah pulak!!)

Just as I was about to sneak under my comforter that night, the phone rang and my roommate said it was for me. Heh..heh…guess who was on the other line?? Siapa lagi if not my Halloween chaperone…..

Thank god for call waiting from Wisconsin Bell. Otherwise other callers would be guessing siapa lah yang bergayut till the wee hours that Halloween night.

And that was how it all began….

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bajaj Thriller

The seats of the Jakarta Bajajs are just a few centimeters bigger those trishaws found in Melaka town. These motorized three wheeler are found a plenty in the busy streets of Jakarta. Looking at their size, they are obviously meant to ferry petite and medium sized passengers from point A to point B. Most of the times these destinations are not far from the other. dia Ibuk-ibuk yag mau naik Bajaj...

Similar to those tuk-tuks in Bangkok, the Jakarta Bajajs comfortably sit at most two passengers at one time. Ahh, that’s what most people think (and what we thought so too)!!! Contradictory to our earlier anticipation, these machines could actually take MORE than just small sized people. All three of us, Muni , Jupe and yours truly, sized XL and bigger got into these diesel powered locally chauffeured motor vehicle. And very much to our amazement, it went super fast and got us to our destination in a nick of time.

What’s the trick?? No rocket science really. Hail down those eager Bajaj drivers and get into the vehicle slowly. Adjust your sitting position, alternating one in and one out. may even have just one bum seated, but never mind, that’s the thrill part and something you’ll laugh out loud when you relate the story to friends and family back home later. But do be sure to have the little machine well balanced. Makna nya yang passenger yang size besar tu, bagi duduk in the middle. You wouldn’t want a lop-sided Bajaj traveling dangerously all that 3 kms to your shopping destination, would you? And yes, don’t forget to inform the driver to wait for you to close the Bajaj door. Otherwise off he’d go speeding away, while you struggle to get the door shut. (Muni could attest to doing this stunt, not for the weak heart definitely) Heh..heh…

View from Bajaj...road side tv sales

Back alley ironworks

From the Bajaj you could see many things. In fact, the best way to come up close and personal with the Jakarta street life could be done while on these Bajaj rides. It takes you thru those back alleys, and it is able to squeeze in so darn close between the moving vehicles both on your left and right. As Ustaz Akhil Hayy puts it, in Mat Rempit term “sepadi” jarak nyer!!

Never mind the heat, or fumes from the rest of the traffic, after all your destination is just meters away. There was one time Muni even managed to check her schedule on the O2!!! Wah, gaya wanita-wanita korporat naik Bajaj!!! Sempat check email and hantar text messages to anak-anak buah di office. Beloved Boss tetap akan meng-check kerja mu, walaupun squeezed in a Bajaj!!

See how close are these vehicles

One other thing to remember when traveling in the Bajaj, is to never ever stick your head out!! What ever pictures you wanna take, snap it from inside the vehicle. And try to also get a driver who is still “ganteng”. Jangan lah like us, one time tu, got into one pakcik tua’s Bajaj. Poor ole man, how he had to press hard on the accelerator to get his machine going. Iyer lah, Ibuk tiga ini, waduh kok besar banget size nya…LOL!!!

Of course we could have gone into the Silverbird taxis. But tak thrill lah kan….plus when taking the Bajaj, you need not worry about the infamous Jakarta machet (traffic jam) coz these Bajaj drivers are all pros at the art of cilok mencilok.

So, if ever you are in Jakarta and if ever you wanna try to be extra adventurous, go ahead, hail down a Bajaj. Sit back, relax, enjoy your ride…(for we surely enjoyed ours, the stunts, the fumes and the sweat, everything!!!)

Thousand Apologies

My chronicles on Jakarta Splurge & Spa and 3Gs in Shenzhen have not quite made it into the blogsphere. Sorry yah Gang (3Gs, Muni & Jupe) , the overwhelming work commitments had me shelving our adventure stories for a while.

I did get to write a wee bit about our escapade sometime back (see September postings). Then came Ramadhan and Syawal. Obviously, stories of both holy months had to take precedent over others. Macam tak sesuai pulak nak bercerita tentang joli-joli and jalan-jalan tatkala kita melakukan tuntutan agama di bulan Ramadhan yang lepas.

With Syawal coming to an end, I guess I’ll be musing the adventure stories again. Hope this time I’ll be able to finish them. is still C-R-A-Z-Y, but I shall try to get them stories out yah!!

So, wait ah…juz a little bit longer, it’s coming slowly but surely :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

An Offence In Jakarta

This could not be happening to us twice, I thought to myself when I saw the policeman flagged down our cab. Obviously our cab driver had failed to stop at the red light and had caught the sharp eyes of Pak Polisi, who was just standing around the corner. The last time, when a similar incident as this one happened to us, we were in Bangkok. The Bangkok cabbie was also stopped for not abiding the traffic rules and regulations.

And, now on this very historic day, on these busy streets of Jakarta, en route back from Mangga Dua Mall to our hotel in Central Jakarta, Pak Polisi had raised his hands and instructed our cab driver to pull to the side. All panicky and full of swears, he had no choice but to stop by the busy street.

Pak Polisi then came over and told the driver of the offence he had committed. He argued, saying that the light was still green when he made the turn. Our cabbie was asked to produce his documents. Unfortunately, he couldn’t find a single piece of paper, proof of him as the authorized person to be behind the wheels. Boy…talk about living (and driving) dangerously!!

Mangga Dua Mall...where we had shopped earlier, before the cabbie incident

This upset our cabbie even more. As he dug into the glove compartment looking for something which we suspected, was never really there in the first place, nasty words came out from him. “Anjing…Pak Polisi, anjingan.” He even had the cheek to have me be his alibi. He said, “Ibuk nampak tadi yang lampu itu masih hijau? Ibuk silakan kasi tau sama Pak Polisi saya ngak buat salah apa-apa.” I gave him this dirty look which communicated in not so many words this message, "Hey, you screwed up, you get yourself out of this.”

Gotcha.... our driver

The three of us didn’t quite know what to do actually. We wanted to get out of the cab and go get a new one. Upon looking at his pathetic face, we however didn’t have the heart to abandon this cabbie. Hence, we decide to just stay put in the vehicle. It’d be just a while more, I assured both Muni and Jupe who were comfortably seated in the back.

Our cabbie, this small built Javanese man, went out from the car and went to “settle” things with the policeman. It was no secret that he didn’t have enough to get himself out of this rut. With a sad and pitiful face, he turned to me asking if he could borrow IDR20,000, the needed amount to pay off the anjing Pak Polisi. He promised he’d pay me back later. I handed him the money and he went out and came back not long after that.

He then continued to drive us back to our hotel. It was a long ride that was. Fortunately, our cabbie’s mood was back to normal and he was his usual chirpy self, some 3 kilometers away from the place he was stopped. He had now somewhat become our city tour guide. He even took us pass routes where we could view street demos from close vicinity. Ok lah…he was already forgiven for what he had done earlier on.

When we arrived at our hotel, I paid him the fare we owed him. Before I got out, he told me to wait as he wanted to pay me back the IDR20,000 I lent him earlier. Naahh…I shook my head indicating that he need not have to pay me back.

I must say, he was taken aback from my response. Alah tak pe lah….what is IDR20,000?? Equivalent to about RM6.00 our money. Sedekah je lah…

That day was his unlucky day, to be stopped by the angingan Polisi (as how he put it). I have had my fair share of escaping from our own Abang-Abang Polis back home. Thus, I knew how he must be feeling…

Saturday, October 18, 2008

New Mommy

She has delivered!! Yes, Manis has had her little kitties yesterday. Alhamdulillah, Mommy Manis & all her 4 little ones are coping well. And who is the most happy person in the house with this new addition to the family?? Nissa, of course!!! (Mama Nissa pun excited jugak, but still geli tengok those tiny kitties)

I'm a proud Mommy..

Manis' partner came to visit her last night. We could have sworn that he was Masam. But we were so wrong!! He wasn't Masam. He was another good looking cat, with white and black spots on the upper part of his body. Cisshhh, kau Manis. Curang ya kau dengan Masam!! No wonder si Masam seemed like he had a bone to pick with Manis, rupa-rupanya berbagi kasih. (laa...jadik cat soap pulak cerita Manis' love triangle ni)

Age - 12 hours

Look at tiny...

Will post more of their pictures. My Raya celeb has resumed (after the one week of PMR break).Yesss...makan time and I bet I'll sesat barat looking for the Raya open houses later today. Am hoping that it will not pour dragons and elephants as how it did the last couple of days.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Malam Jumaat

I had just gone online on YM when an old friend buzzed me. He asked me what I was doing coming online at night. I told him, "Kerja lah."

His spontaneous online reply was, "Tonight kerja? Of all the nights?"

I wrote back, "Iyer lah. Esok got submission. Have to finish lah the work."

He immediately responded, "Tonite???"

By then, I was somewhat annoyed with this guessing game. I wrote back, "What's with tonite? Got Miss Universe on tv ka?"

His response was, "Wei....MALAM JUMAAT laaaaa!!!"

My reply, "Laaaaa....ITU je ker????"

His reply, "WOMEN!!!"

With that last exchange, he went idle afterwards.

Ummppp...this MALAM JUMAAT business has never failed to amuse me right from the time I first entered the workforce. Come Thursday evenings, almost everyone would be so eager to clock out on the dot. The office would be deserted latest by 4.45pm. Even the Pak Cik Guard showed his eagerness to leave the premise, leaving his replacement looking sad as a lost puppy.

If on other days, we'd see the male staff hanging around for a game or two of ping pong, and the ladies would sweat it out doing step Reebok in the training room, Thursday evenings would display subtle moves of almost everyone. When the much awaited 4.15pm arrived, everyone was ready to make the dash home. Akak-akak typist tu, siap put extra layer of lip gloss lagi before going off...fuhhh!! Kelasss...menarik lagi tertarik!!

And before they bid good-bye and head for the exit, they'd give me this look and pass this comment, "Hai, tak balik lagi. MALAM JUMAAT lah. Pahala lebih."

At times when I felt like stinging back I'd say, "Ohh...must it be JUST malam Jumaat je? There are many other nights to be at IT. You poor thing..."

But most of the time, I'd just smile and say, "Ya sila kan dulu... Have fun!!!"
What else is there to say, right??

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Newest Addition

Azmah, my assistant at the office delivered her third baby two days back. Alhamdulillah, both Mommy & baby boy are fine. Being the good boss that I am (ehem, ehem...), my colleague and I went to visit her at a hospital in Bangi during lunch break today.

Azmah was in the midst of baby feeding when we arrived. The little angle is such a cutie, weighing 2.6kg, all full of dark hair and thick lashes. He's going to grow up a good looking one, this baby, I assured the Mommy.

We exchanged pregnacy stories as well as the gory details of our previous deliveries. By the end of the conversation, each one of us had re-lived most of our labour room experiences. From the breaking of the water bag to the epidural to the screaming, even till the stock made it out. It is simply amazing, we, women can go through all the excruciating pains and imperturbably talk about it. Sememangnya ini lah kita yang dinamakan wanita - mother, wife, sister, friend and a super dooper, determined soul. A big pat on the back to us all !!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The "Darth" Side

One colleague at work was complaining about the cab she sat in this morning. “That was the worst ride of my life,” she said. According to L*n*a, if she was the RTD officer, she could have issued this guy multiple summons on the spot. Firstly, the cabbie didn’t bother to use the meter even though she demanded upon it. Secondly, he didn’t display his ID card in the cab. Thirdly, and probably the most yucky thing of all, his cab was disgustingly loathsome. There were times during the ride when she had to hold her breath, for the fear that she may throw up there and then. Ewwweeewwww….how I don’t want to imagine it here!!

I asked if she had taken down the id**t’s cab number. L*n*a said, “He sped off so fast. I didn’t even get one last look.” You poor girl, one of those bad days huh?? But it’s not only L*n*a who has a story to tell. Others could vouch having bad cab stories of their own as well.

If one were to compile the many “interesting” (read : horrible) stories of KL cabs, this one would probably be an insignificant entry. Perhaps it’s nothing compared to the dare devils who speed like mad on the highways, those who do hit and run of motorbikes and pedestrians, those who cut cues and those who are drunk while driving (yesss….ader!!).

Whenever complains are brought forward, the finger pointing will start. The cabbies will say it’s the government who is at fault. Their deals as cabbies are mere pittance. Thus, pushing them to the edge, far beyond the normal man’s sheer endurance. Coupled with the stressful driving conditions in the city, it is no surprise the widest of beastly qualities within them emanate.

The authorities on the other hand say that they will kaji and kaji the situation. Cabbies do hit and run, they’d kaji. Cabbies overcharge they’d kaji (or it is gali?). Cabbies are rude, they’d kaji. For heavens sake, have the guts to pull their license, if they are not up to mark.

In order to get the whole system into shape, the authorities say that they have to go see what others do else where in the world. All right lah we say, off you go do your study trips. We put our trust in them to go get more ideas, share technologies, “cut, copy or paste” whatever is good. However, upon spending public money, upon having fun watching the belly dancing and the many other what-have-you’s, they still don’t have a report to put to us. No action plans, not follow ups, nothing and they expect us to understand their lackadaisical attitudes.

In the end, when they want to put matters to rest, they’d say they need more time as the earlier study was non conclusive. Moment of truth, no jawapan!!!! Urgghh, so sakit hati and how not to?

How to be world class if our own backyard is messy? How to lure tourist to the nth million if the mode of transport doesn’t even appeal to us, the locals. We could be showering Datukships from the sky, under the pretext of tourism to every (James) Bond, (Jackie) Chans and not forgetting the recent Khan ( fuhh there are so many of them we could be bestowing Datukships to, from the kuch kuch lead role to Genghis, to Kublai to Aurangzeb to even Chaka Khan perhaps??). Big joke, it will not happen this world class, “glokal” thingy!!

At times when the Darth side of me, overshadows my typical Melayu - ever so forgiving, ever so “tak pa” attitude, I’d love to see what would happen if we adopt Mr Trump’s practice in the Boardroom. Given a responsibility, fail to deliver, face the music - “You are fired”.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Woody Inquiries

It was never meant to sound like an advertisement that posting of mine - "Woody Obsession". However, it somewhat created avid interests from furniture seekers all over. Inquiries came in various forms, through emails, text messages and some colleagues at work even asked me if I still kept the advertisement of the furniture shop. Guess, more folks are going for "wood stuffs" these days.

Advert is not very clear, it's Jln 9/1B

And because of that too, I don't mind sharing the info of the place where we did our haunts (and yes, the guy at the shop did ask me to tell my friends about his shop, so kira I'm doing him a favour lah here). Incidentally, the shop placed an advert in an English daily yesterday. Hence, making me able to cut the advert and scan the address of the place. It's kind of tiny the address. So, I did a search on Google map for better directions to get to the shop.

Map to Craft Roots@Bandar Sunway

Location of the shop

And these are my messages to those who have inquired.

Girls at work - go check it out.
AT - yes they do deliver outstation.
Pilot's Wife - not sure when I'm going again. Kinda filled up the space in the house already and last but not least to
Anon 10:43 Oct 10 - go terjah the place, before the new deliveries are gone.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

RIP Flora

Those dark blue eyes drew me closer to her as I bent to take a look. Ohh…she was such a beauty. But what alarmed me most was her tiny boned body. She was tired, probably too weak to figure out what had happened to her. She made loud cries, an indication that she was scared, I think. But, she had me at hello, that was for sure. And with that, I had finally soften my NO PETS AT HOME ruling.

Flora - day 1

Those blue eyes belonged to Flora, an abandoned cat which was brought home by Farah. She had found the little kitty left in a box by the garbage dump on her way back from tuition class. Initially I thought it was Nissa who had taken in the kitty. Bibik later clarified that two days back, Kakak Farah came home, panting and panicking, carrying this big box in her hand.

Ohh…how could someone be so cruel to have done that?? To just leave the little kitten all by herself, a new born separated from its Mommy. Kalau iyer pun tak mau, give it away properly, send it to PAWS… Ohh…I don’t know, do something but don’t just abandon it.

Cats….ummppp…how shall I start?? To say that I don’t like cats, well, that’s not quite correct. I like them, as long as they don’t roam in my home. As long as they don’t suddenly jump at me and as long as they don’t gesel-gesel at my feet, I’m OK with them. But, apa nama nya nak bela cats if I don’t even dare stroke them. I think all my life I have never carried a cat (mintak maaf banyak-banyak to all the cat lovers here). I can’t imagine having to feel its spine, its limbs, all so warm underneath those thick fur. To sum it up, I am DEAD PENAKUT of cats!!!

I don’t really know what made me feel this way. Perhaps I had bad experiences with cats earlier on in my life, I don’t know and I can’t quite recall.

Anyway, two days back when I saw Flora, I said to myself, “OK, let’s give this little one a try.” Plus at that time ABE was feeding it with milk with a syringe. Memang tak sampai hati sangat-sangat nak say NO. Both Nissa and Farah were crowding the little one and Bibik was going like, “Kak Nissa, tengok tu, dia minum.”

Ok, ok….even though Nissa never actually asked me if she could keep the little kitty, I knew I couldn’t possibly say NO, couldn’t break her heart. And with that, Flora became a member of the family. After all she had me at hello, didn’t she?

Feeding time

Nissa was not well yesterday. ABE , who was still on Raya leave (punyer la lama choti Raya daaa) took her to see the doctor and she was given some antibiotics for her tonsillitis. However, she was more than happy to be home coz there was Flora to care for. When I came back from work last night, Bibik said both Nissa and Bapak had been tendering and nursing the kitty together. Before Nissa went off to bed, I told her she could keep Flora, provided Flora doesn’t come into the house. She renegotiated with me and said Flora has to stay out when I’m in the house. “Ok lah…ok lah,” I told her and that made her so happy.

I wouldn’t say I was not excited about Flora. Being new at this feline thingy, I text both Muni and Jupe enquiring tips on how to care for an abandoned kitty. Both of them are pros at cats, unlike me, a meek rookie. A to-do list was already in my mind, well, you know like to go check out the nearest pet shop, the kind of food for kitties etc, etc. The weekend would have been good to get things done, I thought to myself, plus Nissa could come along.

But ini lah yang dikatakan, kita hanya merancang, ALLAH yang menentukan. When I woke up this morning, Bibik with shivers in her voice, passed this message to me. “Ibuk, Flora tu, Flora udah meninggal.”

My immediate response was, “Nissa sudah tau?”

Bibik said, “Udah, itu lagi menangis di atas.”

Ohh..dear, Nissa must have been so broken hearted!! I then went to see her in her room and all I could see was this sad face. She told me her eyes were watery and she didn’t know why. She said, “Masuk dust kot mata Nissa ni.”

I told her it’s OK to cry. It’s OK to feel sad. Flora is gone now, but at least she was with us, not mati kelaparan ker by the rubbish dump. At least Flora was loved before she left. I saw her take out her diary and I left her to be on her own.

Bye, bye Flora

I stayed on to accompany Nissa burry Flora (yess…I was late to work againnnn!!!). Bibik dug a whole by the fence under the mango tree. OK lah I thought, kinda serene gak that place. Flora will be at ease for she’d be in her own heaven.

Still mourning

Masam, bakal jadi pengganti

I know Nissa will be mourning the passing of Flora. Luckily, there is still Manis, the visiting cat. And there is also Masam, the other visiting, randy male. By the end of today, I know Manis will be upgraded to the resident cat, no longer holding the visitor status. I don’t know where Masam is, but he’ll come back when it’s meal time, for sure.

Manis, the expecting one

Incidently, Manis is also pregnant. So diharapkan apa yang hilang akan berganti. I am so very keeping my fingers crossed that Manis will have a good delivery and she’d tender to her kitties. At least till they are slightly stronger, thus making their survival rate better.

Nissa & Manis

I guess I will proceed with my preparation on receiving the new felines. Setidak-tidak nya Nissa’s sadness akan terubat and for me, I’d have just a little more time to work on my inhibitions.

Rest in Peace, Flora. You were very much loved by all of us. You had me at hello, you had me at hello.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Assorted Visage of Raya

A good one week of festive celebrations has passed with Syawal marking its 7th day today. Now that most of us are back at work, the days will even fly faster.

However, before I get all worked up with the overwhelming commitments both at home and the office, I do want to share these assortment of captured images of my dear ones at Raya.


Mom at home

Alim and Ilham

Alina and Nissa

Mom and my cousins - Datin Jem & Kak Midah

BIL - Shah, cousin - Jenal & ABE

One big happy family of the Jenals, the Jamaludins & the Dato' Zuls

Dato' Ambassador & Pak Dr

Nadhira - Pak Dr's #1

Nissa & Auntie Yatie (who made the girls extra girly that morning..)

Mrs Dr & Fuad Najmi

Ammar Al-Baker, bro Ali & Alim

Cousin Jan, my sis Shamilah (heavily pregnant at that time, delivered her #3 yesterday) & Ammar Al-Baker

Farah & little cousin Nadhira

Faris, the Abang to all the adik-adik

and last but not least, the Zuls

Wishing everyone Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Raya oh Raya!!

Raya oh Raya…. These few words to describe it aptly - fatigue for the adults, sheer happiness (much thanks to the duit Raya) for the children. There was the visiting and of course not to mention the eating as well. Whatever gram mage I had lost during the fasting, I gained back (the lost plus, plus) in two days of continuous eating. Bad girl…bad girl me…but what to do, sodap-sodap belaka the juadah Raya, how not to indulge in them.

The first day of Raya had us traveling back to our kampung in Kuala Pilah. Although both my MIL and Mom now stay in Seremban, we still have our Mak Ngahs and Mak Langs in Kuala Pilah. ABE’s family hails from Seri Menanti and while mine is from Juasseh. The usual Raya ritual is to go visit ABE’s Mak Ngah and then to Juasseh to visit my Mak Lang and Mak Chek. Mak Lang and Mak Chek are Abah’s cousins.

The crawl up Bukit Putus Road

Wahhh...jam lorrr....

Relax lah....Never mind the jam. Moms here would be snapping away...

The drive to Kuala Pilah was…ummppp how shall I put it…menguji kesabaran (even during the fasting month kesabaran tidak tercabar to this extent). When we got to Paroi, there was already a crawl up the Bukit Putus road. Ahh…for folks who travel up and down the Seremban – Kuala Pilah trunk road, this is one stretch of road that would give either shivers to your stomach or for the not so weak at heart, the least you’d be asking for after you get down at Ulu Bendol is a bottle of Minyak Cap Kapak, hoping that it would help with the motion sickness you had experience before. But for me, I’ve traveled these sharp cornered roads since I was young, so no excuse nak mengada-ngada nak singgah kedai mamak beli asam (but I’d still carry my Vicks, just incase)

Somehow this year...dear Dato's Raya greetings were all over town...ain't it cost cutting time Dato?

There have been road construction works along the Seremban – Kuala Pilah trunk road (and mind you, the construction work has been going on for appeal to Dato’ MB doregh lah siapkan jalan ni…. raghmai yang dah tak soba dah ni….who knows, my speaking Noghori might get to him). I recall last year we had to brave the jam up Bukit Putus as well and this year, ulang tayang lagi!!! Hati ada skit hangat juga laaaa…Dato’.

The Merc that caught fire....

Anyway, no point bising-bising lah kan…since we were determined at visiting our relatives over the hills of Bukit Putus, we’d just have to go with the flow. As the vehicles crawled slowly uphill, we saw thick black smoke ahead of us. Then there were two firemen on motorbikes heading towards the few cars in front of ours. Not long after that, as we turned at one of the bends, a sight of what was causing the crawl was clear in our view. Gosh..there was a brand new Merc on FIRE!!!! An E-Series halfway blazing away. Ayoooo……..sedey tu!!!! I offer sympathies to the owners of the Merc..rasa nya dapat claim from insurance la kot. But till the replacement comes in, patah kaki la kau jang!!!

It was a good 1 hour of traveling before we arrived at Seri Menanti. As usual when we got there, Nissa refused to get down. Panas lah, the tanah got water lah, her feet would get dirty lah, got mosquitoes lah kata nya. Adoi lah….this candle princess of mine. Luckily for her, ABE was in the mood to pacify her. Else she’d be dragged out by Mom, the Jerit Queen.

MIL's kampung house...neighbours to Mak Ngah & Pak Ngah

Actually amongst all of ABE’s relatives, I like his Mak Ngah and Pak Ngah the most. A very humble couple and I always felt very at ease in their kampong house (at times more at ease than when I am at my MIL’s). From the time we first got married, we have never failed to ziarah them on the first day of Raya. Pak Ngah who is suffering from diabetes, is so frail now and I could see his health deteriorating.

Nissa & Farah with their little nephew. And with that, both ABE & I have become Atuk & Uwan... Gosh, so old already ka?

We stayed at ABE’s Mak Ngah’s place for quite a while. More of his relatives arrived after we did, and as usual when they meet, the berborak session pun started. Even though the kids were so bored to their bones, I had to allow this one time in a year for ABE to rekindle old times and catch up with his sedara-mara. Thank God for the Astro at Mak Ngah’s house, that helped ease the kids’ lonngggggg wait for their Daddy to finish with the catching up.

Yup...that was rebusan in the big pot

Mak Lang's house ID

After that long pit stop at Seri Menanti, we headed to Juasseh, a small kampong situated on the way to Bahau. Our next stop was my Mak Lang and Mak Chek’s homes. One of the signature Raya dishes of the family is the Rebusan Daging (comprising all the tunjang, “gearbox” and the tulang-tulang dibuat soup). This is one dish very much sought after by almost everyone in the family, from the Tan Sris to the Datos to the anak-anak cucu cicit and Raya would definitely not be the same without the Rebusan Daging. It was like no Raya if there was no rebusan. I remember my late grandmother sitting in her kitchen warming up the rebusan, waiting for her children and their stock to come back for Raya. And when we came back, wallah…..dig in!!!

A family send off...bukan nak gi mano baghroh yo...

As predicted, there was rebusan at Mak Lang’s house. It was sinfully delicious and my children had a jolly time digging in. I did take a few small sips, couldn’t afford to really go all out for it…hai, tak muat pulak baju raya lepas ni!!

The girls and their Atuk Kassim & Aunty Marissa (in blue). Nissa practically didn't want to lift her mud she said. Hayooooo.......

After Mak Lang’s house, we moved on to visit Mak Chek. Both houses were not far from each other, so it made sense to just walk there. Again Nissa was up to her acts. Jauh lah, bugs lah, my feet hurt lah were some of the excuses she came up with. It was my uncle who came to the rescue this time. Puas lah he memujuk Nissa tu walk with him, in the end, Nissa agreed.

ABE and the gang

Makan..makan…those were the words of my cousins and Mak Chek. Hai orang dah served, tak kan pulak tak jamah. So there I went again….eat and eat again. I can’t explain how full I was, all the lemang, rendang, ketupat and kuah kacang mixed in my belly. I have a term for this feeling of ultimate fullness – kenyang bodoh and precisely that was how I felt after all the eating.

By the time we were done at Mak Chek’s place, it was almost Maghrib. There was still one last house to go to, another Mak Lang in Batu Kikir (yes…that Batu Kikir, Jembatan Bosi…as how it was sung in the song).

Mak Lang is a another aunty from my mother’s side. He late husband was my mother’s cousin. It was dark when we got there. Mak Lang’s house was packed to the brim with her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Full house!!!!

I told my cousin not no serve us with rendang or lemang. If it was dinner she was preparing us, telur goreng with kicap would suffice. And dinner that night was fried vege and telur goreng with kicap. My kids ate like there was no tomorrow!!!

By the time we headed back to Seremban, it was 9.00pm. As it was pretty late, the jam back to Seremban had cleared. Kids had dozed off in the back seat, so typical of them lah. Makan, suka hati….and next is to zzzzzz.

It had been along day for us, but I was happy that we managed to ziarah all of them. It’s not often we get to do this….only during Raya that we head back to Kuala Pilah and meet up with them. Time and time again we explain to the children the importance of knowing their roots. They just don’t exist in the concrete jungle of KL or Shah Alam out of the blue. There is kampong, there is sawah bendang…just that we have merantau jauh, but never are they to forget their asal usul. They may be young to understand the whole works now, but I know someday they’d truly appreciate these practices we instill in them.