Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lagi Cerita Maid

No worries, it’s not at all about Bibik. She’s just fine slogging in the kitchen. Even more motivated now, upon getting an advance of her half year’s salary two weeks back, to purchase a few hectares more of farm land back in her village in Lampung Tengah, Sumatera. Well, that’s my Bibik, all her money goes back home. I support her fully - her perancangan and simpanan di hari tua.

Well if it’s not about my Bibik, who’s Bibik is it then? Errr..confusing as it may be, this story is about my other Bibik. Yes, as at 12.00pm today, I have TWO bibiks, both are registered under ABE’s name. Say what?? Four persons in a household and they need like two maids, you gotta be kidding me!! Correction, it’s three adults (Mom, my youngest sister and hubby), two kids and a baby who need two maids. Ahhh…that sounds more like it, yes??

In the past few months, Mom has been expressing her concern that the maid in our Seremban house is unable to cope with the abundance of house chores. Two kids, aged between 4 and 6 and a new born – 5 months, have pretty much been draining the maid’s energy and time. She is obviously struggling to get her work done. It is not fair to let her shoulder the blame, as the house in Seremban could be quite a challenge to manage. I know how it is coz’ I still remember how long it took me to mop and then vacuum the whole house that time when I was laying idle during my wait for SPM results. And there is still the laundry, the dishes, the cooking, the ironing to do, definitely not a place for the not so cekal hearted domestic help!!! And I think because of that too, we have lost a few maids in the last one year alone. Two ran away, I think, and another two were sent back as they didn’t quite fit in. Suffice to say, last year was really a bad maid year for Mom’s household.

Since each of my siblings has one or two maids to his or her names, I was the only one whose is still in the singular, I told Mom that I’d help out. But first, I’d like to go check with the Immigrations Department if the maid could be under my name and not ABE’s. There's a blanket ruling at Immigrations that only the head of the house (husband, in my case here) will be named as the employer of the maid. I strongly felt that this ruling could not be applied to my situation. After all, the maid was for my Mom, it just defies logic for a SIL to take a maid for his MIL. Lainlah if I wasn’t working and I didn’t have the source of income to justify for my maid application. Doesn't hurt to ask, perhaps there is an exception to this ruling.

So, there I was, all armed with my reasoning and logic matrix, deliberating with the officer in charge at the Immigrations office. Explained to him the situation of my Mom, elderly and in dire straits of a another help in her house. And moi, as the daughter, would like to provide her with the domestic assistance. Just before I could relate to him the whole story, he said to me, “Kena guna nama suami Puan.”

“Kenapa pulak, ni untuk Mak saya?”

“Ohh..tak boleh, itu peraturan kami.”

“But the maid is for my mother, tanggung jawap saya, bukan tanggung jawap husband saya.”

“Ohh…memang tak boleh, kalau nak ambil maid kedua, ketiga, mesti jugak atas nama suami puan.”

Then I gave him a situation that would require him to use his reasoning (read: slow brains).

“Ok..kata lah, lepas ni suami saya nak ambil maid untuk mak dia pulak, so how?” He replied, “Tak de masalah, boleh ambil sampai 3 maid.”

Obviously this guy felt the question coming, he was prepared with the answer. My next question was, “Kalau kakak husband, siapa punya responsibility, katalah dia tak mampu nak ambil maid atas nama dia.”

His response, “Suami puan punya tanggung jawap lah.”

My question, “So how, quota 3 maid dah penuh??”

He just gave me a blank stare and replied, “Macam tu, kena mintak tolong orang lain lah Puan.”

I was fuming with irritation by then. I asked him the rationale to the rigid ruling. His relpy was, “Ada urusan dalaman yang saya tak boleh bagitau pada Puan.”

Isshhh…budak ni, nak kena ni!! The tone of my voice was not polite anymore. “Urusan dalaman yang macamana?? Saya berhak nak tau sebab saya tergolong dalam kategori yang nak mohon lebih dari satu maid!!”

He then shyly said, “Tak de Puan, dengan cara ni kita tau lah samada suami tu ada satu isteri ker, dua isteri ker dari permohonan maid dia.”

Huh???? Am I hearing his response right? Is this the Immigrations Department or Pejabat Kadi, that you make it a business to know who's who with more than one wives???

When the officer replied in such a manner, I knew I had to give him a piece of my mind. I told him that wouldn’t it make more sense if the logic to this was, one household, one referral point and in this case, the husband. And if anything happens to the maid, the authorities would know who to look for.

His last one liner was, “Ha ah, system kita memang macam tu.”

I rest my case after wasting a good 15 minutes trying to get that answer out. Instead, in the end, I was the one who furnished the pathetic guy with the parting shot. Thanked him for his assistance and made my way out of the Immigrations office.

As I walked to my car, I thought to myself, “Who is the smart aleck who designed the system at the Immigrations Dept?”

Ohh.....please let it not be anyone of the BIG boys in system design!!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Quiet Celebration

It has been a quiet celebration this year. With the ushering of the new lunar year, the year of the ox, I thought I’d hear the cracking sounds from the burning of the firecrackers by the neighbours’ children. But somehow, there is none. Mr L*m, my front neighbour has been home through out the entire celebration. If in the past years, his house was closed during the holidays, this year, he opted to stay put. When asked by Bibik if he was going anywhere, he said, “Tak da mana mau pigi lorr, duduk di rumah saja.”

Same goes with Uncle Ch*rl*s my back neighbour. They too have not gone out of town, unlike the previous years. Funny, I thought to myself, as they would normally be away on the first day. Well, that was in the past, guess the arrangements have changed and perhaps now, they no longer need to travel far to visit their families.

Mr L*m and Uncle Ch*rl*s are the two Chinese families in my housing area, an area where it’s predominantly populated by Malays. There used to be an Indian family right opposite my house, but they have moved many years ago. I guess being the minority group is not easy, but being the friendly and good natured lot that they are, I see them blending in pretty well with the rest of us. As I leave for work, I always “bump” into Mr L*m when he performs the morning prayers. Always smiling he would tegur me and say, “Pigi kerja ka?” I’d say yes and wave him good bye.

On the contrary, I seldom meet Uncle Ch*rl*s. He fenced his house area with a high wall some years back, hence blocking the view of his house. When we asked why he erected the wall, he said that he segan to us, who’d have the excellent view of his back yard which at times was messy. The feeling was mutual as our backyards were not tip top either. But I am always able to have a good glimpse of his house. All I need to do is just go to Farah’s room, and I could see everything, even his fish pond. Bibik has a contrasting story to tell, of course. She said that Uncle Ch*rl*s’ “aunty” is very garang and they always have violent exchange of words. For whatever his reasons are, the wall has served its purpose and not a decibel of sound is now heard from his home.

However just a few days before new year, Uncle Ch*rl*s gave Bibik some ikan keli. He said it was from his pond. Bibik made ikan keli goreng cili padi that day and the kelis were yummylicious!! Ada budi ada balas kan, so yesterday a pot of briyani was sent over to Uncle Ch*rl*s at lunch time. Bibik said he was so happy hingga tak terkata!!

The year of the Ox has just rolled in. Much has been said about this animal, the ox (incidently ABE was born in the ox year!! I really gotta go check what is said about these "ox people"). My hopes in the Ox year?? Of course, for all good things and prosperity to come our way, and may we be strong willed and determined to face all the on coming challenges. I also wish for good health and success at fostering better and stronger relationships.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lunar Celebration 2009

Wishing all friends a very Happy Chinese New Year.

Gong Xi Fa Cai!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Waterlily in Shah Alam

The stretch of road at Batu 3 Shah Alam looked like a spilling river when I drove pass it this evening. There were already a few cars stranded by the roadside. I just hoped that I’d be able to get home safe. As I focused on the traffic, I recalled the YM conversation I had with Kak Ezza earlier. She buzzed me just after I finished my meeting. We chatted for a short while, nothing specific, just the ordinary gurl stuff. I welcome chats such as these, more so after head banging meetings like the one I had today.

Kak Ezza said that she may be meeting a fellow blogger, Waterlily later tonight. She asked if I was free to join. Ohh…of course, I wouldn't want to miss this opportunity. Then Kak Ezza was silent, and I thought perhaps tak jadi kot the meet tonight.

I had just finished dinner when Kak Ezza called. She said that she was on the way to Pelita in Shah Alam Mall to meet up with Waterlily. She asked if I wanted to come along. Ohhhh sure lah. I changed, grab my tote and told ABE that I was going to Pelita for teh tarik. Asked him if he wanted to come along. Half asleep, he replied with a lame NO. Ohhh…lupa pulak, jam sudah lebih 9.00 pm, it’s like way pass his bedtime (yess, he sleeps much, much earlier than me!!!)

Kak Ezza, Waterlily, her son Shafiq and adorable girl Sasha

It didn’t take me long to get to Pelita at SA Mall. As I walked towards the restaurant, I could already see Kak Ezza’s back. Waterlily was already there with her family, 3 beautiful kids and her DH. I approached the table and we hit off from there. As expected, bercerita tak habis, macam dah kenal for ages. Guess that’s the power of blogging, even though we have never met in person, but we surely know so much about each other.

I’m glad to have gone out to meet both Kak Ezza (who had her hubby, Abang Aziz as her chaperone) and Waterlily just now, even though my head was still pounding with the lingering headache that started earlier during my meeting.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Out on a Date

After I posted “going out on a date with ex-boss later” as my Facebook status yesterday, text messages of the various inquisitive manner came flooding my mobile. Ada yang kata, “Dengan si DIA ker?” Ohhh pleaseeee….tak kuasa nak layan si DIA itu!!!

I suppose it’s so easy to over generalized the term “boss” is associated to one of a male gender. Heh..heh…sorry to disappoint you people out there lah yer, my “date” was this one charming lady, a person whom I used to report to many years back.

Mee Ying, as how she is affectionately called, sms-ed me last week, checking if that the mobile number was mine. I immediately returned call to her. Like a small child elated to meet up a long lost kar che, I conveyed to Mee Ying that we must meet before she returns home. Mee Ying now resides in Melbourne after leaving the company that we used to work for.

I took leave yesterday afternoon for my date with Mee Ying. Since she was putting up at the Legend, we decided to just meet at the hotel, saving us some traveling time, thus allowing us more time to catch up. Traffic was smooth yesterday and I didn’t have much problem with my drive to town. The sky did look a little gloom, so I said a little prayer for it not to pour. I certainly didn’t plan to be caught in the infamous KL jam.

Not long after I arrived, Mee Ying came down and met me at the lobby. She looked just the same as how she was the last time I met her, no signs of aging, fit as a Tweety bird and as chirpy as she has always been. We then settled at one corner in the lobby of the hotel for some latte and smoothies.

Down into the history books now

We spoke and rekindled the old times, those days when we laboured together ensuring the eight stores and their fleet were in good shape. As we talked we recollect the few unique characters whom we both knew and were familiar with. Some names came easy, whilst others took a little longer to recall. I actually owe it to Mee Ying for putting the trust in me to undertake the task of running the Training Department in the company. That time, I was one fresh employee who had just jumped camp, from the government service, trying to set firm footing in the corporate line.

How goods were arranged - FIFO, first in first out

Under the tutelage of Mee Ying, new things I learnt was in abundance, it wasn’t just in the area of operational and service training, but also in the human resource area per se, a discipline which I hadn’t much experience and knowledge. Both of us were responsible in the sourcing of staff for 3 new stores and training them till they could spurt out the display locations of items in the store with perfect accuracy. At the request of the customer, the staff would be able to provide answers that customers were seeking for, thus leaving them with a lasting shopping pleasure. My vocabulary at that time consisted mandate of the management – reduce shrinkage, and high margins. I remember one festive season the entire team had worked extremely hard to achieve a minimum of a million dollar sale for the day. In fact, we did even better when we closed shop that day. It was a whopping cumulative cash sales of more than RM3 million for the three stores in the Klang valley!!! Being a cash and carry outlet, transactions were all in cash. Just imagine how much of the purple and blue notes the cashiers collected from the moment the store opened till it closed its shutters in the evening. When I walked into the strong room where the day’s collection was kept, I saw only smiles on the faces of my frontlines. More sales meant huge bonus for them, of course. Well those were the good ole days, when we had a team of very competent and dedicated work force, right from the MD himself, down to the store hands.

Both of us chatted for quite a while, talking about family, how the kids have grown and how we have aged (she a bit, me a lot…heh..heh). I was very sad to know from her that our first MD had passed on. He left on the day that the new company took over the old place. Must have been so heart broken for he was the man who made the buisness happen in Malaysia. He, in fact was the first person who laid bricks during the store construction, when the first three stores were built sometime in 1993 – 1994.

These days, whenever I pass the store, I become a little melancholic upon seeing how much the place has changed. It now operates under a different name, and its business concept has also changed, catering to the present market demands. During the times when I do go there to shop, a few of the old staff would come over and acknowledge me. I’m happy to know that they still have their jobs, especially during these challenging times. Some would give me updates that so and so have left the company and now working at another place. I’m happy for them, and I trust all the teaching and training had made them more marketable in the job market.

But then life has to go on, that we both agreed. Mee Ying, by now must have landed at Melbourne as she took off on the MH flight at 9 this morning. I’m so, so glad we met and managed to talk about a few things that have been toying in my mind since I returned from Perth.

To Mee Ying and family, wishing you a very Happy New Year and hope to catch up with you in Melbourne!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Flower Girls and Palm

My mobile rang for quite a while before I finally answered the call. It was my aunty on the other end.

“How old is your little girl?” she asked.

“Err…Nissa is going to be eight in March.” I replied. “Napa aunty?”

“Tak de lah….I’d like to make her as one of the flower girls for Along’s wedding,” she further rendered.

Kek lapis - one of the hantaran at my cousin's engagement last Dec.

A few more questions followed suit and when the conversation ended, I have somehow given my consent to be one of the coordinators at her son, my cousin’s wedding this March. My task (as at now, I’m sure when the day draws closer, there will be other assignments) is to oversee the flower girls – three of them, Nissa, TM’s girl Alina and another cousin’s daughter, Baby (can’t recall what’s her actual name, sorry lah babe, aunty ni dah tua, pelupa sangat these days).

My uncle, in pinkish reddish baju melayu during the merisik-meminang act

Errr…what have I done??? Ni lah, main selamba je agree and now ada portfolio pulak dah. I tell myself, tak pe lah, what are families for kan? If none other than to extend a helping hand.

The first assigned task is to look into the tailoring of the flower girls’ dresses. My aunt, Datin R, has given me a sketch of how the dress is to look like, to be sent for tailoring, using the lace and satin silk materials she got for the three girls. Okay, that would be easy, I thought as I’d just need to get the girls’ measurements and send the kains, plus the design to my tailor. Then I remembered, it will be Chinese New Year in about 9 days. Gosh…the kains and what nots have to go out to Tay, the tailor a.s.a.p, like this weekend for sure!!

The next question put to me when I collected the materials from her house last week was, “Can you do the beading for the girls’ dresses?”

A couple of “errrr…”, “ahhhh…” of unconvincing sounds of refusal, and responding as if cat got my tongue, I ended up giving an affirmative answer.

‘Err…boleh, boleh lah kot,” I responded. Again, I just didn’t have the heart to say no, and this was the least I could do for her. Tapi dalam hati dok berkata-kata…hai when am I ever going to find time to do this beading work?? Well, I guess if there is a will there’s always a way.

With my schedule already going topsy turvy (and not to mention the procrastinator that I am), I’d better get myself organized in getting this task done. It may seem trivial, but with all that’s going to happen in these weeks to come, I don’t want to end up juling-juling doing the beading on the very last minute.

So, last night while waiting for my girls at Kumon, after a good hearty curry laksa at a kopitiam in SA Mall, I set a timeline in my PDA, siap letak alarm lagi to remind me of the important check points to this task. Fuhh…ini baru cousin’s wedding, I can’t imagine what my PDA would be like, when the time comes for me to handle the planning and preparations of my children’s weddings. I bet you this old and faithful aide of mine would be filled with to do tasks, arranged in the order of importance and urgency, colour coded differently representing the different check points and timelines, and alarms set to go off at frantic and frenzied intervals.

OMG…will you, Palm be able to take the exertion??? Most of all, would Kay herself be able to endure the stress??? Err…think I’ll cross the bridge when the time comes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Just another Sunday

I'm still not in the mood to write anything "serious" in the blog. Entah lah, call it baffled, abhor, sad, disbelieve...semua of these gamut of emotions ada, when thinking about what's going on in Palestine. I've not even turned on my PC since work on Friday and by my standards that's a very long time to be away from the cyberworld. Much of my quick cyber hops is done on the N95. Itu pun just to check FB and postings in blogger.

However this morning, I was accompanied by Manis & her little ones while I had breakfast. Manis must have gotten up on the right side of her bed this morning for she willingly posed for my camera. She is usually camera shy but this morning she obligated.

Even animals have that eternal love, while us man & woman, what are we doing to our own kind??

If nothing else can cheer you up today, I hope these shots of Manis will.

Friday, January 9, 2009

It's Self Defence - She Says

The sufferings of the innocent Palestinians in Gaza has taken a toll on my writing. I am lost for words, my appetite sulks and as at yesterday, I have stopped reading the foreign news section in the papers. Tonight, I just couldn't get myself to watch the news on tv. No more of these heart wrenching images.

It has been 10 days after Israel began its attacks in the Gaza Strip. The worst blow came yesterday when they bombed the two schools. Many of the dead are children, women and elderly men. And this was what the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni had to say about the conflict in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli offensive, "It is the expression of self-defense, the right of self-defense of a state".


And how does that make me feel??

I want to scream my lungs out!!
But that won't change anything though.

I ask from you Ya Kareem. I seek from you Ya Rahim, have mercy on these innocents.
Help them Ya Allah, help them Ya Rahman.....

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Final Entry - Perth

This is my final entry on our trip to Perth. My narrated entries were only up to day 5, leaving day 6 and 7 still untold. Although there are still a few more observations of Perth that I’d like to write on, I figured some of them could be saved for later, when time permits. (Ohh..yes, work has started to pick up!!!). And before the story goes stale, I reckon I'd capture the holiday highlights in a pictorial video presentation.

Our last few days in Perth saw us lazing by the beach, with kids taking dips into the cool waters of the Indian Ocean. We traveled the coastal route from Scarborough up North to Mandurah down South, stopping at picnic areas to rest and have our snack breaks. The kids had their fair share of beach bumming, going in and out of the water, chasing waves till the sun came down. As for ABE and I, well, we just let ourselves go with the flow, sat back, admired the beauty created by God Almighty, as we were calmed by the coolness of the deep blue. Time ticked and passed rather slowly…but no one seemed to be bothered. Hey…we were on holidays!!!

Enjoy the video folks, and to Faris, Farah and Nissa, cherish the good times we all had together during the trip. The song “Laskar Pelangi” is specially dedicated to all of you…know that everything starts with a dream, go ahead, dream what you want to dream, and realize that only YOU can make your dream come true!!!

Laskar Pelangi by Nidji

Mimpi adalah kunci
untuk kita menaklukkan dunia
tanpa lelah sampai engkau

laskar pelangi
takkan terikat waktu
bebaskan mimpimu di angkasa
raih bintang di jiwa

menarilah dan terus tertawa
walau dunia tak seindah surga
bersukurlah pada yang kuasa
cinta kita di dunia


cinta kepada hidup
memberikan senyuman abadi
walau ini kadang tak adil
tapi cinta lengkapi kita

laskar pelangi
takkan terikat waktu
jangan berhenti mewarnai
jutaan mimpi di bumi

menarilah dan terus tertawa
walau dunia takseindah surga
bersukurlah pada yang kuasa
cinta kita di dunia


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Day 5 - Off to the Valley

We spent a good two hours at AQWA, I think. By the time we got out, the sun was blazing right at the top of our heads. Mau rasanya nak take out the umbrella, but macam social misfit pulak lah, especially when the Mat Sallehs were spreading out in the sun to get their tans.

Lunch that day was McDonalds drive thru. The kids ate their fish fillet, while I steered the wheels towards Swan Valley. Our earlier plan was to actually take the coastal road and check out the beaches. Unfortunately, moi took the wrong turning and the next thing we knew, we were already heading towards the valley. Since we were doing pretty good with time, I figured there was no harm at visiting the valley that day.

Well, what's in the valley, one may ask. Swan Valley is Western Australia's oldest wine growing region. I felt that it would be a good educational tour for the kids as it's not always one gets to see a vineyard.

As we approached the upper Swan, the vast vineyards lined both sides of the road. We then decided to stop at Charlie's Vineyard. My girls were a bit apprehensive when we got to the place. I knew they thought that their Mom must be insane to have brought them to such a place. I told them, tengok pokok anggur, makan anggur and having a closer look at the wine is not haram, but if you consume it, ahh..that's haram. (At times generalization that kids learn in school about halal and haram can be a challenge to us parents.)

The guy at the wine shop was kind enough to explain to us how wine is made and the different types of wines. In fact, it wasn't just the children who had their Wine 101 lesson, I learnt a few new things about wine as well. As the shop had often received visitors from Malaysia, he could tell that we were Muslims and non drinkers. He then recommended us their tea and nougat varieties. I got the Island Groove tea, a mild mix of fruity and floral flavoured tea, something I'd have during the weekend afternoons while reading. The kids wanted the assorted nougats coz they liked the chewy taste of the sweets.

We later drove pass the town. It would have been good to go walk in one of the parks, but since it was such a hot day, none of us wanted to end up baked in the hot afternoon sun.

Day 5 - AQWA

The main attraction at Hillary Boat Harbour is the Aquarium of Western Australia or AQWA. Not only AQWA has a decent collection of sharks, stingrays and colorful fishes, it is also known for its research in marinelife. I've not been to Akuaria KL, so it's not fair to make any comparisons. But between AQWA and the Aquarium in Sydney, I prefer the latter.

The mighty, mighty shark

Neon spotted stingray

Check out these corals

They maybe small but they can be deadly, these jelly fish.

Getting close to the fish, feel free to dip your hands in...ohh yes, there were stringrays in the touch pool as well!!!

My friend the seal, taking an afternoon nap....

End of tour... (there are more pics of AQWA, will post the rest next time)

Day 5 - Drive up North

Saturday - 13 th December 2008.

It was a beautiful sunny day and there was no better way of spending the day, other than going to the beach. We actually did a lot of things on this day. We started with the morning drive along the Riverside Drive up to Mitchell Freeway and exit at Hepburn Avenue, heading towards Hillarys Boat Harbour.

I must say the highways or freeways as they are known Down Under, are pretty much similar as the ones we have in our country. Cuma wider, and NO TOLL of course and it felt safer to drive on them. Noone was doing the racing game as there would be stiff penalty for those caught speeding. The speed limit was only 100km/hour and of course, yours truly had to be extra careful when pressing on the accelarator.

As we arrived at Hillary Boat Harbour, boating enthusiasts were already busy getting their boats out to sea. There were boats of all shapes and sizes, and some even were up for sale!!!

Boats lined up the harbour front

Small beach for little kids to wade around

Hai...minat ker boat kat belakang tu???

Faris said he was aiming for the one in the background.

While the guys couldn't decide on which machine they wanted, we girls did what we are always best at...SHOPPING!!!

Crafts at the morning market

In the end, the guys showed us this tiny one...errr they said this was the cheapest, going for AUD$39,000. A stern NO from yours truly, and that put a stop at this boat "choosing(????)" fiasco!!!

Day 4 - Fishing Boat Harbour & Freemantle Prison

Located in the heart of Freemantle, the Fremantle Prison is one of Western Australia's premier heritage sites. Built by convicts in the 1850s and was closed as a place of incarceration in 1991 after 136 years of continuous use. (We didn't enter the prison as it was about to close by the time we got there, plus the kids wanted to go see sunset at the harbour area.)

We ended our day tour of Freo at the Fishing Boat Harbour, where one finds a thriving community of restaurants and cafes, plus a beautiful and memorable sunset.

aahhhh...that's where his eyes were set on!!!