mardi, août 30, 2011

Rantau Panjang - Part II

It was a strange Merdeka Celebration indeed.

We had just come home from Kota Bharu visiting and beraya. By the time we got back, it was close to midnight. Rudy sent the girls home and asked me if I wanted to go out again.
I was very tired.
But then he said, "Ada orang main dikir,"
knowing full well I would jump up and follow him.
We went by motorbike. Me riding pillion. And arrived just in time for the fireworks. In Kelantan, mercun is always spectacular.

It was a modest clearing. There were Malaysian flags everywhere. No party signs, not one single one. The dikir group was already assembled. Rudy met his cousins and friends. After greeting family, I stood transfixed, enjoying the calm festive camaraderie. Wholesomeness.

The songs were familiar to me. But the last one got to me.

Hidup bersatu
Amalan kita
Hapuske sengketo
Teruske cito-cito
Satu Malaysia...

A way of life
One Malaysia

As I was about to leave, I was a bit teary. It was quite emotional, this simple celebration.
Then I saw their photos on the wall.
Six Prime Ministers.

Tunku. Tun Razak. Tun Hussein Onn. Tun Mahathir. Pak Lah. Najib Razak.

Selamat Hari Merdeka. My Country.

Rantau Panjang - Part I

This was our house last night, lighted up by the continuous
fireworks display courtesy of the neighbours.

You know you are in Rantau Panjang when you are in a different country after
crossing a treacherous river to buy your groceries. It was Ikesha's first boat ride and she was such a natural. I love the floating jetties that remind me of my childhood
in Chenor Temerloh Pahang.

f row - ikesha, ilena
b row irani, inas, daddy, mak and iman

Selamat Hari Raya Maaf Zahir Batin
dari kami sekeluarga di Rantau Panjang

vendredi, août 26, 2011

My Raya

I seem to remember Ramadhan better than Hari Raya. Here is one of my recollection of my very first experience fasting. But then, this is my post for Raya. Perhaps, my fancy would take flight and I would remember the best moments of Raya as I go along.

When I was a little girl, about nine years of age, we took a family photograph for our first Hari Raya card. My mother just gave me the photo to scan a few weeks ago. I was shocked, I was in a very short dress and my brother was in shorts. Mak was in baju kurung but Encik (my Dad) was in his bush jacket!

And yet, as I reflect on my earliest Hari Raya, I remember it was of course the occasion to go home to Chenor. A quaint kampung if there was any. Sungai Pahang beckons and there were rambutan trees everywhere. We played badminton in the evenings. And ran in the kebun getah. Dad had hunting trips! Grandfather Tok Salehuddin enjoyed his dinner with the table filled up - a hugh lazy susan table that could fit 10 people. The whiff of ikan goreng and daging pacak from the cupboard that stood in water containers and and had gauzy wired cabinet doors - ooshmuryummy! We had fruits of every kind - apart from rambutan, all from the garden and coconut - kelapa gading!

The night before raya we couldn't sleep, the excitement was certainly the highlight of the year. Whether it was Tok Salehuddin's grand lavish cengal mansion or Tok Jaafar's small and filled to the brim kampung house ten minutes away, both were in full Raya spirit of baking, cooking and sleeping all over the house with midnight rendezvous of chatting with the cousins.

At night we had grand main mercun affairs. Houses against houses, the skies truly ablaze with the display. 30 das, 60 das and mercun putar. Bunga api and mercun roket.

Lemang and rendang were home cooked in the garden, and I know the older teenagers were all a-courting while they fill the bamboo with glutinous rice and stir the dodol and wajik. The air was pregnant with riang ria atmosphere and the whiff of goodies were oh so sedap, almost Arabian Night like in its spicy entrapment.

Duit Raya? Well it was nice. Encik had all this stack of 50sen coins wrapped in paper and he would give two pieces away to everyone. I didn't remember how much I got but I remember my great grandmother giving me a ruby ring which was lost the very same night!

Later on, I stayed with Grandma and Grandpa in Chenor, so Hari Raya would begin with picking up my aunties and uncles from the train station as they return from MCKK, SDAR, STF and the likes ... a little bit like the train from Hogswatz. Only, theirs were better as the coaches had sleeping berth. Oh, how I longed to go to such schools and how disappointed I was that I went to Seri Puteri in the beginning because I couldn't take the train.

Now I celebrate Raya in Kelantan most years. It still has that old kampung charm and yet I do miss my family, cousins and childhood friends. Sham, Ros and Saharbanun, this is for you.

Remember those Raya cards with lovely pictures of old malay houses and the coconut trees?

Selamat Hari Raya. Maaf Zahir Batin.

Keep safe and drive safe.

mercredi, août 24, 2011

Ikesha's garden

Pakcik Hassan from Al-Manar wanted to find out about the lovely Aloe Vera. That reminded me that I haven't posted about my favourite pastime after reading and writing. Gardening gives so much pleasure and enhances our meals, always a special treat when we include some greens and appetisers, ulam like bunga kantan, pegaga and bunga lengkuas. And ulam raja. My grandmothers both left me with this legacy and I always think of them when I am here planting, weeding or watering. Ikesha and Inas are my green fingered daughters.

Ikesha loves flowers. Here is her arrangement of bunga kantan, misai kucing and what we call the red flower...

This is for Ikesha when she comes home from the kindergarten. A half bowl of cherries we picked from the hugh tree behind the house. We only pick from the bottom of the tree. I tell the girls the rest are for thhe birds...

Ikesha helped me plant this pomegranate tree. We have three more at the back of the house. This is the first fruit from Ikesha's tree.

This is our bunga kantan or a type of wild ginger flower. It is lovely when cooked with fish dishes, and exotic when eaten raw as an appetiser with rice. We slice it real fine (julienne). As we say, sedap!

Some fruits from our garden, ciku and nona. We also have kedundung, mangoes and longan. I only have space for small trees about 5' to 8' tall. Except for the cherry tree which is now 3 years old and 12' tall. We used to have passionfruit over our fence, I am trying to regrow them.

Here I introduce the red flower comes from...surrounded by bunga melur a type of jasmine which sends a beautiful fragrance throughout the open lawn. I use white flowered plants for this purpose, we have kasidang, jasmine and fragrant white orchids ...

This is Ilena stepping out. She looks tired, the girl is fasting. Photo taken by Ikesha. For a five year old (in about a month's time), she is quite a talented girl!

mardi, août 23, 2011


My angelic five year old daughter Ikesha is pelat - and a while ago, to the highest degree. I suppose I can blame our household that speaks in Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Indonesia, English, sings in French and at times, speak Kelantanese.

The problem is Ikesha understands everybody. Oh! Rue the one who fails to understand her 2 to 3 minute commentary of the day.

Anyway, we see the light at the end of the tunnel. After watching the final instalment of Harry Potter, she has finally conquered the words Voldermort, Snape and Slytherin, Harry, Happy, Hello (anything that starts with H), Weaseley. And her favourite - Dumbledore. Ron still gives her problems.

With all her difficulties at forming words, she is the most focused student during her mengaji lessons at Uztazah's house!

Thank you Ayoh Wang for sharing!

dimanche, août 14, 2011

I feel for Chong Wei

Lee Chong Wei.

We were there with him every step of the way. At our kitchen table. I couldn't breathe at times.

He clawed his way forward with every stroke, smash and net play (quite dangerously).

And yet it was not meant to be.

The nets did not favour us. The referees were tense and weren't sure whether the shuttle was in or out.If we felt bad and disappointed, the national shuttler must have felt a thousand times worst. I can't imagine how that must feel for we were so crestfallen when Lin Dan threw his shirt off in joyous abandon. I felt at that moment, I could be wrong.

For Lin Dan, it was personal. For Chong Wei, it was the pride of the country riding on him. And he bore it with a sense of responsibility so profound.

Chong Wei was a worthy opponent, no doubt. It was a fierce battle between the dragon and the tiger. But in my heart, Chong Wei won the ultimate prize. Adoration from 28 million fans. For though he lost, the nation today is clearly behind him. We feel his pain. We urge him on.

We do not forsake him.

As he did not forsake us.

One game. One vision. One Malaysia.

P/S Congratulations Nicole David. And hurrah for Asyraf Haziq who kept his composure better than some double or triple his age when addressed by foreign media.

mercredi, août 03, 2011

Asian of The Year 1998 and IMF

During the 90s, Anwar Ibrahim was the 'brilliant' Finance Minister of Malaysia, which was one of the four dragons of Asia to watch out for. One of his measures to put our economy in check was to promote Inflasi Sifar. In this, then PM, Tun M's approach and the Finance Minister's were at opposite ends. Following the IMF doctrine as far as possible, AI placed very stringent measures including strict housing loans and credit cards measures in what seemed overnight - suddenly a whole generation of young executives n families were in serious trouble. While the aim was prudence, he was ruthless in implementation. And he went on to smile on the cover of NEWSWEEK etc. It is this disregard for the people during his heyday I will always remember. I survived the times, but the memory remains as a strong reminder of what a thoroughly self righteous leader can do.

View covers here, here and here.

By the way, the last cover to me was akin to the saying, washing your dirty laundry in public.

Call me old fashioned, but the Malay in me didn't like that at all.
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