Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Hank.

Wed 21st Feb 2018.

I literally bumped into Hank at the NSK Trade Store, the relatively new supermarket at S2. I'd just completed some transactions at AXA Insurers just next to it, and thought I'd just drop in and see some stuff, and who did I find, but my old friend back from 1961. Wow, that's 57 years ago ! This was a pleasant surprise because we have not met for some time.

When we were together at UM 1965-1968 we were housemates for 2 terms at "Kawasan Melayu," in Section 14, I think, in PJ. After graduation we went our separate ways, but frequently met each other because of various activities and common interests.

Since we were doing some shopping just now, we agreed to meet at the in-house eating place in half-an-hour, and we did. I had tea, Hank asked for cendul, but Hank had to leave at 4 sharp. But not before we agreed to have a golf game on Thursday March 1st. at S.I.G.C. Since he claimed to not have played for 5 years, and would have to look for his clubs, I said to just turn up with his reciprocal card and I'll bring the clubs and some balls.

In fact we took up the game together, way back in 1986, when we both got our handicaps, me in Seremban, and him at K.G.N.S. So March 1st would be an interesting game. That's plenty of years in the gap.

Hank is alone now, having lost his wife last year. He says he alternates between Seremban, where he has a house, and PJ, where his eldest daughter stays in his other house. I suggested he circulates an old photo if he wants to get a new wife. In the mean time he claims he cooks himself. I feel sorry for whoever is sharing his cooking.

There're a lot of stories about Hank, but they deserve separate pieces. I'll just state here that in 1991 I did an exceptional service for him, one that Sha, our friend, had once said "Hank, you're too much lah". On his request then, I agreed to hire his girl friend as my new secretary. I caught them a couple of times from my office window, which overlooked the back road to my office building, Hank dropping my secretary in his Mercedes, coming to work in the morning. He must have left house very early in the morning to be able to do this, because my secretary was never late.

I'll just stop here for now.


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Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Ujang-Banun Clan reunion.

Friday - Saturday 16-17 Feb. 2018.

While taking advantage of the Chinese New Year holidays, not everyone came for this year's Ujang-Banun Family reunion. Still, about 140 were counted present this time around, the third one, at Lonek. Mostly, we stayed at the many home-stays around Lonek and Batu Kikir, with Kemar and Nazir in hotels in Bahau. Mak Di and Ai took advantage of free sleeping in Bal's house, although I suggested that she bills them.

The banner said "since 2006." That makes this event a good 12 years old. I can't remember who first mooted the idea, but it's a good one. There's another one I was invited to, the Tanjong Jati Clan, but I only attended one gathering many, many years ago, at the Police Depot, KL. My connection is through my grandfather on my mother's side. The Ujang-Banun group has had more gatherings, obviously.

It's the second-generation who's managing this.  But the third and fourth generations contibute the biggest membership. And members are pretty far-flung - from Seremban, KL, Kota Bharu, Kedah, Kuantan, Segamat, Keluang, Terengganu, Singapore and even Sabah. And of course Bal & family from right here, Lonek. The biggest contributor of numbers was Anjang's group. Pin alone accounted (note the pun) for 9, with 1 AWOL (for more details, contact Mak Di). Azza is catching up.

The Singapore contigent was muted this time around. Sabah came full force, including one unborn. Ikhwan's group was also missing. But there was enough noise, and the 140 made the now-standard 2-day event no less fun. 

The committee hatched well-thought out activities last time, as also this time. The key word is participation, and there's always plenty of it. There was a good mixture of the physical as well as the spiritual. While fun and games were enjoyed, prayers for the dear departed, and supplication for continued well-being for all were offered. Two versions of the azan were heard. Farhan's was weak and clearly untested, but Anjang's grandson was good. Two imams also ably led, separately,  Magrib and later Isyak. Nazir threw in a surprise birth-day lunch for his 63 years, complete with a brief, tearful speech.

The food was much improved from the last gathering, both in quantity and taste, although I think it's the same supplier.

The mc for the 2 days was fluent and appeared experienced and obviously pregnant. But that didn't seem to affect her movement. In fact she was jumping around with mike in one hand and baby in the other. She even managed to make Kak Long Izan speak more than one sentence when asked about her recent Bandung trip.

The next gathering is planned for 2020. Meanwhile, there will be qurban for Aidil Adha. But Ai not-so-politely reminded everyone to keep his or her membership account up-to-date. 


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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Bandung

Thursday 8 Feb 2018.

The wife and I were in Bandung these last four days. With Kak Long Izan and 3 daughters and grandson. And Balkis. The ladies had planned for this without me, but when I found out about it, I forced myself in. But it was Kak Long's show all the way. I just watched. I think she's ok.

I was here in 1996, for golf. That's 22 years ago! I don't remember the traffic being bad then. But the weather is just as cool now as it was then. Every day in the early morning it was 21 degrees C this time around. When we went up to Kawah Putih it was a fingers-numbing 14 degrees!

It was four hectic days, and I enjoyed it. Food was good, the sights were enjoyable, the people friendly, and even with rain, the weather was refreshingly pleasant. I took morning walks each day after breakfast, and enjoyed them because of the cool temperature, and the guest-house we stayed at is in an up-scale area fronted with a well-kept quiet street, with security.  Once you step out to the public roads at both ends of the short street, it was the scene common to all of the city - a truly horrifying vehicle-choked mess.

"Macet" is the common term used to describe the continuously jammed traffic. I've been to Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta, Mumbai, Delhi (both Old and New) and Johannesberg. We're forever complaining about KL traffic. But I don't think I've seen worse traffic chaos than Bandung. It's literally bumper-to-bumper. You can't even see the pavement. And 90% of the roads are too small even for two cars to pass each other.

The great thing is, the 4 days I was there, even with the 2-hour trip up Kawah Putih, with the steady drizzle, the mist, and the thousands of motorcycles, bicycles, and horse-carts, I didn't see a SINGLE accident! Our van driver even made a U-turn in the middle of the congested street, even having to make a 3-point turn because of the narrowness of the road, the other road users tolerated it and not a sound of irritation came from the other vehicles or their occupants. It was truly amazing.

I got to see the local scenery, tasted the local food (very much like our own, only somehow tastier because of the ambient temperature), chatted with a few of the citizens, and waited patiently for the ladies who spent too much time shopping, especially at Pasar Baru. It was a nice break from my eternal golf, and I didn't even miss it.

We speak the same language, the Indonesians and Malaysians. It's a different dialect of the Malay Language. Even the spelling is the same now, when decades ago they used the Dutch spelling. Still Bal learned a few rather strange words for common things. Like "pangkas rambut" (gunting rambut), "dorong"(tolak), and of course "macet"(traffic jam). And, commonly, all the sales girls at Pasar Baru were crying out "boleh, boleh, boleh, blanja lagi!"

We told Kak Long to plan for the next trip. Maybe Hanoi?


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Sunday, December 31, 2017

2018

Sunday, January 1, 2018.

2018 is here!

We should all look forward to a "better" new year, and for that I'd received, and sent, several best wishes yesterday, the last day of 2017. I'd also won from Ismail Yassin 5 out of the 9 holes we played yesterday, also the last day of my 2017 golfing calendar. And that was with giving him 5 strokes! But I must add here, he's 6 years older. Not a whole lot older, but older, he he.

But "the future's looking dim" Cliff Richard says in his song.

We're all enclosed in an economic situation, like it or not. And that, in turn, is affected by the political situation, also like it or not. If the politics are well-managed, the economy would be, too. That seems like a truism. 

Which is why we all should pray hard that the walls crumbling around us are somehow stopped by a strong and wise government intent on saving our souls. But right now, that is not, to borrow from golf, a "given".

From the day the present government came to political power, things have been going from bad to worse. The price of goods and services, the two things closest to all of us, have gone out of control. We all know this, we are experiencing it, and I need no further illustration. The values we are taught from school - respect for elders, respect for race and religion, respect for integrity and respect for truth and all good values - are all thrown out of the window by the political leaders we had willingly or by default put into office in 2013. Scandals after huge scandals, mind-boggling in their sheer size and incredible wantoness, are exposed almost on a monthly regularity since  2013. The latest one thrown into our faces is the loss of ownership by Felda of not one, but three pieces of prime land with a commercial value of 1 billion. Having worked there for 21 years, I feel an extra pain. Older statesmen who chide the incompetence of leaders are not just shoved aside. They are not just blasted, blamed and belittled. Why, they even get their very ancestry, truthfully or made-up,  dug up, dirtied and denigrated. Never mind if one had served long and well. Never mind if you are no. 2 now. Which is a warning to current minor sycophants. If a past leader gets shit treatment now for differing opinion, what future do you have ? 

And forget about democratic values ( yes, they talk about these, and holy Islamic teachings, too, but talk, as they say, is cheap, and talking is not doing, or to use the popular parlance, "cakap tak serupa bikin"!). Criticism is despicable, whether it's constructive or destructive. Parliament cannot parley. Reports are to be kept locked up. The police and the AG are servants of the leader, not the Constitution. In fact, the Constitution can be discarded. 

Not a very rosy 2018 outlook.

But things can be different. We all can make the difference. If we choose to.


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Monday, December 11, 2017

Melang vs Merak Kayangan & Tg, Malim revisited.

Monday December 11, 2017.

The school holidays mean lots and lots of weddings to attend. But when family members are involved, the choice is easier.

Ati's daughter, Husna, got married on Saturday 2nd December, at Melang Inn Hotel, KP, with Jimi's daughter that night in KL at Merak Kayangan. Ati's must be attended, of course, but Jimi is also family, and he'd pestered that I must come, to the point that he even got the plane ticket for Idah to go to Kota Bharu on 8th. for the"menyalang" there. Just a couple of days before that, Idah felt she should instead join me to Kuala Kangsar for Husna's "menyalang" there, again in a clash of dates.

Melang Inn isn't in the same standard as Merak Kayangan. How can it be, Paradise against the former garbage dump site of Kuala Pilah town. In retrospect, Melang Inn turned out far nicer than Merak Kayangan.

A lot of money must have gone to Jimi's reception. Why, even his RSVP invitation card outweighed Ati's by about 1,000 times. But Melang Inn turned out quite tasteful and so much more family. Merak Kayangan's sit down dinner had its trappings of selected dignitaries, "silat" and live music, with numbered tables and domed dishes. Melang Inn was "buffet style" and Minus-1 karaoke music. But Jimi's was stiff and too extended, and Ati's cosy, noisy and fun. And surely Ati's table was tastier and the desserts so much more varied and enjoyable. And Jimi didn't even come to my table, maybe because he was too concerned with his VIP guests, and I know they are of recent origins. And because of his treatment to us that night, my relationship with him will not be the same again after this. He may be a millionaire many times over to-day, but he shouldn't forget that he was put on his first million by me, when he was struggling for work in 1985. Now I shouldn't forget about Soo Pin's 20K for my 1995 campaign that he never passed to me.

On the 9th. about 5 car-loads of us, Ati's siblings, trooped to Kuala Kangsar for the return ceremony. Hadi had booked for us a home-stay close to his house in Kampong Jamuan. The double-storey bungalow easily housed all of us, with room to spare. I had also alternatively booked a hotel room in Kuala Kangsar town, but decided to stay at the relatively comfortable home-stay.

But before Kuala Kangsar, we had decided to make a detour to Tanjong Malim. The incredibly bad traffic made that decision easier, but it was something that had to be done, anyway.

From 1951 to 1956 we stayed in Tanjong Malim. That's 61 long years ago !

Dad was a lecturer at the then Sultan Idris Training College. I attended Std. 1 to Std. 4 at Sekolah Latihan Tanjung Malim, and SMC 1 & 2 at the nearby Methodist English School until 1956. Yan was born here, a breach-birth that caused her learning difficulties later because of oxygen deprivation. I showed her the location of the old hospital, now obviously moved.

Much earlier, when talking about this Kuala Kangsar trip we already knew when Husna got engaged, I had mentioned of the daun pisang Indian shop in Tanjung Malim. Calit remembered and mentioned it just before we left on Saturday. But we couldn't find the stall, and Calit inquired at a couple of eating shops, and was told "no daun pisang shop, only Indian eating shops".  So we ended up at the famous  Yik Mun pau shop on the Slim River road at the end of what was the old main road but now a large junction pointing north-south to the highway,  and had, not pau, but yong tau foo and mee curry. And some paus, after that.

Sunday, before the "jamuan" at Kampong Jamuan, the three of us, Calit, Din Pendek & I went for a ride to Kati town and around KK. Actually, we got a bit lost in the process, but because of that I ended up at the KK Golf Club that I didn't know existed, because if I knew, I would have brought my clubs, because definitely there was time for a quick round in that 9-hole flat course. While driving, Conen called, and we waited for him in front of the mosque opposite MCKK, and led him to our home stay, but not before losing our way again.

We had a "baca Yasin" at Hadi's house the night before. The Sunday reception was standard and ok, and we all left for home around half-past two. Just like the coming trip, the return journey also had its traffic jam, only worse, and with intermittent rain for flavour. All the rest areas we tried to stop at were choked up with cars trying to do the same thing, and we finally settled for Tapah, and even then waited forever for a van to vacate a spot even though the driver and his passengers had got into the vehicle for the last 10 minutes and he probably fiddled with his phone or purposely wanted to irritate us he knew, from our turning signal, were waiting to park. That, and another stop for satay at Dengkil, closer home, meant that it was 10.30 when we reached the house. Whew!


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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

73

Tuesday December 5, 2017.

73 !

This morning Ah Meng arranged for a foursome, celebrating my birthday. The fourth guy was Richard, but he refused to the 3/hole. So I only managed to make money from Ah Meng and Ah Man. Considering one carries a 12-handicap and the other a former Club Medalist, that was no mean feat.

Other well-wishes also came on whatsapp and fb, from both family and some very old friends. Thank you, all.

This 73 carries many thoughts.

It marks 50 years since I earned my first salary.

That was October 1968, in Alor Gajah, Melaka. I had graduated that year from MU, and this was my first job. I only stayed 5-and-a half months,and bought my first brand-new car there, bought in Melaka town, but registered in Seremban town - NC 8157. It cost me 5,300. 5,000 from the Government loan, and 300 from my late mother. That was my month's pay. Today a Proton would cost about at least 3 years salary ! Then off to KL I moved.Then to Seremban. Back to KL again. Back to Seremban. Then KL. Then Port Kelang. To PJ. And finally back to Seremban, and drew my last pay there end of 1999. That's 31 years, and about a dozen different positions in five different organizations.

Then the retirement years and all kinds of personal forays into little businesses, for the next 18 years. The total is now 49 years plus - a 50-year saga of sorts.

There was the start of the family through all these years.

My marriage at 27, and the four children coming over the next dozen years. The kids had to be sent to kindergarten, then to primary and secondry schools, to  different universities, both local and abroad - one in Australia, another in Hawaii.  There's great satisfaction in their scholastic successes, in their stable marriages, and their ok careers, and their own offsprings ( 10 of them, to be exact ), and life's general progression.

There were the distance travelling. Alone, with friends, and with the whole family. Lots of long flights. For studies; for holidays; for work, but a lot also just for golf, discovered late at 43, but completely hooked  till now. 

The first plane flight was much earlier, whilst in second year at the university in 1966. That was to Brunei for 3 months in a Geography Department's survey assignment. Kota Kinabalu was still Jesselton, and the connecting flight from there to Brunei was in a Dakota aircraft, with the small rear wheels and you walk uphill through the aisle when boarding.

The 6-month study at Birmingham University in 1974 was the longest flight ever at that point of time, with stop-over in an undeveloped Dubai airport. Wales was part of the study scope. Another 6-month study period at the AIM, Manila, came in early 1980.

Work took me to London again, and Rotterdam, and Wurth, Germany, and Gottenberg, Sweden. In 1997 a State study visit took me to Mauritius, Johennesberg, South Africa, and India, and I took opportunity to visit the Taj Mahal. We were in Bombay and New Delhi. A business trip also took me to Melbourne, and a long road trip to Canberra, then up the end of the Great Dividing Range where we even had snow, down east to Sydney where we rested, saw some buskers at the harbour side, went to the night-club district before taking the 8-hour flight home the next day.

Family holidays were in Malaga, Spain, visiting al Hambra in Granada, London, England, with trips to Harrods, the West End area and Soho, Tower of London etc. We took the fast hovercraft from Dover to Calais and stayed in Paris and went up the Eiffel Tower. We went to Disney World at Orlando, and that was one long flight, in fact 30 hours of it. We visited Banjat in Hawaii in his second year at HPU. On the flight back in the half-empty MAS flight, we were upgraded to business class. Both ways we stopped in Tokyo and saw a bit of it for both overnight stays. But the first US trip, alone, was to attend Calit's commencement in Madison, Wisconsin in the dead of winter. We visited the late Karim from Bukit Temensu, doing his Education PhD, who had his whole family with him, and if you didn't see the children, you'd think they were American kids, with their "awesome" and so forth. Calit and I stopped over in L.A. and went to Disneyland.  We also attended Adik's graduation in Sydney, together with Bang Piei and Cik Ani. And there were road trips to Singpore, and flights to Sabah and Sarawak, also.

There was also my individual ferry trip from Melaka to Dumai, Sumatra. We travelled overland to Pekan Baru and Bukit Tinggi, visited the Pagar Ruyong Palace, and ended up in coastal Padang, but couldn't find any "nasi Padang"!

Of course a big chunk of the flying was for golf.

We flew to Bangkok several times, to play there, and in Pattaya, and up north in Chiengmai. We flew to Phuket many times, when there were only two full courses there. We flew to Perth more than once, and to Melbourne. We went to Jakarta and Bali and Bandung for golf. But the ultimate golf experience was to play at the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland. On route we stopped over in Istanbul and visited several tourist spots like the Blue Mosque and Topkapi, and saw live belly-dancing.


Not to forget the Pilgrimage to Mekah. I'd done mine before 40, back in 1983. It was the last mua'sasah years, but I stayed in an apartment just across the road from the Holy Mosque, and I could see Baitullah from my window. Idah did hers many years later. She, too, had a good stay in Mekah and Madinah.

And the houses we stayed.

In Ampang Jaya (twice, 2 different houses) Murugesu Garden, Damansara Utama, Taman Shahbandar (twice also). The Damansara house was my own first house. In 1995 I bought the present Taman Shahbandar house.

And of course the family members expanding, and new friends made.

Not a remarkable 73 years, but pleasant enough.

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Friday, November 17, 2017

Small miracles happen.

Friday 17 November 2017.

Small miracles happen.

No earth-shattering moments, or heaven-shaking explosions, but miraculous all the same.

Thursday, I had to sacrifice my golf and my fiddling with the internet to send my only daughter to Ipoh for her High Court appearance Friday. Hanif was engaged elsewhere, and I couldn't let my daughter drive alone for the longish distance.

Friday noon I had to make a bigger compromise by converting the compulsory Friday prayers into the solat musaffir jamak-kathar, may Allah Forgive me. Maybe what happened later was some sort of message for me, but I offered a sujud in thanks later that day.

We arrived home, the three of us minus Dekna we dropped off at the AG's in Putrajaya around 1.30. It was now about a quarter-past two, and a slight drizzle fell. As usual, the wife scooted into the house with 3-year-old Wafa, and there was just poor me to unload, stack and store the stuff we managed to collect the last two days on the road. Because of the hands-full situation, I just put the 2 bunches of house keys and car keys on the boot of the old Volvo that was left parked in the porch all the while. I must have placed the 2 sets of keys right up to the edge of the Volvo's back glass screen, where there is a slight indention between the glass screen and the top of the boot. That, in hindsight, must have made the keys less slippery on that boot top. That the house keys were in a leather-like key-holder, and the car keys were in a ring with a designer key-strap may have also helped.

Anyway, while I went to clear the stuff into my den and the kitchen, the wife hurried to change to go for her precious Pekerti meeting at the Pekerti Hall about 2 K away. I got Wafa some chocolate and a drink she wanted, conscious that I needed to perform my already delayed prayers. As I went back to my den and started to sort out the debris, I remembered to look for the keys as is my habit when returning home. By then the wife had, I vaguely remembered hearing, driven out. As usual, she didn't check for anything before putting the key in the starter switch and starting the car. Now I realized, suddenly, the keys were not where I expected to find them, either on my writing table or on the cupboard ledge, their usual spot. I went outside the den and couldn't find them on the centre dining table or the decorative side-table, the only two likely places in the sitting room. With sudden panic I rushed outside into the car porch, to see maybe the keys were on the two tables there, while suddenly remembering maybe I had put them on the boot-top of the Volvo, which was by now no longer there ! My heart sank when I now realized they had been left on the Volvo and I had forgotten about them. And now they were already probably lost.

In TDS, with several new additions, there are probably 100 road bumps, installed to cut down the speeding vehicles moving about the housing estate. To go to the Pekerti Hall, you have to also go through narrow, congested roads that lead to the heavy Ampang main road, through about 3-4 traffic lights, and a U-turn to the Klana Resort and the Hall some 300 m from there. What I'm saying is, if the wife, because she was late, sped through the bumps and the swerves and sharp turns, there was no reason for anything on the flat top of the car boot not to slip off, fall on the road and get lost forever!

Once I accepted that I had left the keys on the top of the boot cover, I did the only thing left to do - call the wife on her mobile phone.

Now, this wonderful contraption is not attended to by my wife like normal people. 50% of the time, calls are unanswered. The rest of the time the device is left somewhere else. In other words, if getting her on the phone is that important, don't hold your breath!

But this time, one ring, or maybe 2, and she answered! I said to check on the boot-top straight away for the keys. I had time to scold her why she doesn't check the car before driving off, as if that was her fault!

I called Wafa, grabbed an umbrella, took the spare house key (her spare key she's supposed to always take with her, and this time didn't), and was about to lock the house door and somehow try to trace the car track from the house to the road junction at the "Angsana" and look for 2 tiny bunches of keys on the road or on the side of the road - a scheme that looked hopeless even before it started, when Idah called back. "The keys are here" she said.

I called Dekna and related the whole thing, more out of relief than anything else.


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