Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Bridge Too Far

It was a disaster waiting to happen, and when it finally did last week, the price to pay was pretty steep. For starters, Pak Abu is RM2,000 poorer for it (alaahai, kesian), all because of my dental stump (poor me too!).

My dental bridge fixed in 1989*, which was supposed to have lasted longer than it actually did, came loose due to a broken tooth that had left a stump embedded in the upper gum.

(*You know how it was to be a rural schoolkid in the 1960s, when the "gomen" dentist set up shop 3-4 times a year at one's school and pulled out kids' teeth with joyful abandon at the merest hint of a cavity. No filling, no nothing; extraction was the only answer.

This "cabut gigi" spree had resulted in many of us "budak kampung" growing up with yawning chasm in our mouth, that had to be rectified with dentures, bridges, or, if your folks have 'fulush', implants.

Also, in those days braces were unheard of. If your chompers grew willy-nilly like a lopsided picket fence, so be it. You just had to live with them, or wait until you earned your own money to have them straightened).

I thought the stump could wait until after Raya, but the pain was too much to bear. So off I went to a dentist here in TTDI a week ago to have it removed. The extraction left a messy tear that required several stitches.

I went through Raya with barely bearable pain from a swollen gum (the stitches were only removed yesterday); but a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do come Raya (and for this woman, it was cooking nasi minyak and kuzi ayam for days in a row).

Anyway, the swelling has subsided somewhat although the pain is still there. It's so tough coping with dental stress faced with the abundance of lemang, rendang, ketupat and serunding, not to mention 17 types of diabetes-enhancing cookies.

I am staying put (no visiting, no open house and yeth, definitely no meetings with clients, no thir!) until the gum heals completely, at least another week, says the good doc. What a Raya!

On that score, I herewith lisp to you ... "Thelamat Hari Raya Maaf Thahir dan Bathin!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Kuzi Ayam MakTok

This recipe is Arabic in origin and is usually made with lamb. But I learned the chicken version and have been cooking this every Raya since. The recipe is here to oblige blogger Ezza who had asked for it.

It is very easy to make and can be eaten with either nasi minyak or roti Arab. It's also ideal for children because it's not hot, but if you want a little sizzle, just add one or two more cili merah. I like cooking it the way it is, though. Happy trying and please tell me the outcome.


Seekor ayam, sederhana besarnya
1 tin susu cair (Ideal)
1 botol sos tomato (del Monte)
1 sudu besar rempah korma (serbuk atau paste)
6 biji bawang merah
4 biji bawang putih
3 biji cili hijau
1 biji cili merah
2 labu bawang besar
3/4 cawan minyak sapi
1 sudu besar kicap manis
Garam secukupnya

Cara membuat:

Ayam dipotong kecil-kecil (bite-sized), kemudian digaul dengan sedikit garam kunyit dan digoreng hingga separuh masak. Angkat dan toskan lebihan minyak.

Bawang merah, bawang putih, cili hijau dan cili merah dikisar (blend) tapi janganlah sampai lumat. Bawang besar di hiris bulat-bulat.

Dalam mangkuk berasingan campurkan susu cair, sos tomato, rempah korma, kicap manis dan ramuan yang telah dikisar. Kacau hingga sebati.

Panaskan minyak sapi dan tumis bawang besar hingga naik bau. Masukkan ayam, kacau sedikit hingga ayam sebati dengan minyak sapi, kemudian tuangkan campuran susu cair tadi. Masak diapi sederhana hingga kuah menggelegak dan ayam empuk. Masukkan garam secukup rasa, angkat dan hidang.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Kenangan Raya 2009

1st day raya: Lillie nervously waiting for her turn to bersalam bermaaf-maafan. She'd better, after whacking poor Milo recently. No duit raya for you, Lillie, this year..

2nd day raya: Ann and Awwa having tea on the steps of their stepmother's beautifully preserved ancestral home called Rumah Bulat in Rembau. Macam anak dara kampung betul..

2nd day raya: Naj and Ann lepaking, kampung-style, in Rembau. Boleh dirasakan suasana kampung yang aman damai...

2nd day raya: When silat meets kungfu, tak kering gusi dibuatnya.. The boys said depa seronok dapat experience suasana raya kat kampung..

1st day raya: Ann with her Tok Bet, cousin to her late Grandpa, arwah Tan Sri Rahman. Picture taken at Tok's (grandma) house in Section 16, PJ.

2nd day raya: Kids with their dad and his wife, visiting her kampung in Rembau. Check out the classic tangga batu, peculiar to traditional houses in Melaka and Negri Sembulan.

1st day raya: Ann with her beloved grandma, Puan Sri Halimah. This is her 35th raya without arwah Pak Rahman. We love you Mak/Tok!

1st day raya: "The" place where everything happens - Tok's living room. Disinilah kenduri, mesyuarat, sembahyang berjemaah, muzakarah, argue, settle scores, meminang, bertunang, menikah.......all under Tok's watchful eyes..

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Raya at the Abus

Raya at the Abu's - as usual quiet and sederhana
tetapi tetap meriah..

Pakji & Makji getting chubbier by the day...

Awwa and her precious 'princess', Lillie the green-eyed monster..

Naj catching 40 winks
while waiting for food to be served....
Ann about to polish off Mak's nasi minyak and ayam kuzi...

Joe with a nervous smile
contemplating the damage to his pocket this year
(anak2 sedara bertambah ramai)

The standard fare each raya at the Abus..
nasi minyak & ayam kuzi hidangan wajib..

Deretan cookies.. macam-macam ada!

Briged Biskut Raya; berbaris macam askar..

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Eid Mubarak

Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri
Maaf Zahir & Batin
Hijrah 1430

Kama & Pak Abu seisi keluarga

Friday, September 18, 2009

Raya and Me

The last 'Raya Di Kampung' I had with Opah (grandma) and Tok Ayah (grandpa), my beloved grandparents, was in 1974. It was the most proper Raya ever and Dungun never felt so peaceful. I said 'proper' because that particular Raya encapsulated all the Rayas in my 20 years of existence then.

Waking up on Raya morning to be greeted by the serene, smiling faces of Opah and Tok Ayah was a delight in itself. Helping Tok Ayah make 'nasi himpit' (rice cube) the time-honoured way (using a wooden block covered with white muslin) the night before, was unforgettable. Nasi himpit was his forte and he did it to perfection, always.

The memory of kissing their hands asking for forgiveness, before adjourning to the dining table for Opah's special Raya dishes, especially her rendang and kuah kacang, remain etched in my mind until today.

Visitors arrived in droves - friends and acquaintances, neighbours, childhood friends and former schoolmates - keeping me on my toes until late evening. Never mind that I was pooped by dinnertime; I was just thrilled to see them all, people I had known all my young life.

That year 1974 marked the last year of my singlehood. Free as a bird then, I was under no obligation to 'divide' Raya. There was no husband to answer to and no in-laws to please. Life was without knots and twists.

I was then a year into my job as a reporter with the afternoon daily, Malay Mail. I had shunned university for the job, much to the disappointment of my grandparents who had wanted me to finish my studies 'properly'.

Unfortunately, Opah passed on without ever knowing that I did return to school (in 1981), graduating three years later (with a husband and three little tykes in tow).

And so there I was, at the tail-end of Ramadan in 1974, joining the 'balik kampung' (returning to hometown/village) exodus, heading towards tranquil Dungun to be with the loving grandparents who had raised me from birth. Little did I realise that Raya was the last ever that I would spend with them both.

Subsequent Rayas were spent all over the place but Dungun. In fact, the first Raya I celebrated as a wife was in London, where we lived for a while. With the exception of London, throughout my marriage, every first day of Raya would invariably be with the in-laws.

I got to see Opah and Tok Ayah only a week or two into Syawal. Deep down it must have hurt them somewhat, but they never said a word. In fact grandma would only utter "suami didahulukan" (the husband comes first). Unsatisfactory as the arrangement was, spineless me meekly acquiesced.

When the marriage unraveled in the 13th year, Raya was no longer a day I looked forward to. Grandma was but two simple tombstones under a frangipani tree facing the South China Sea in good old Dungun.

Grandpa was ailing fast and living in Kota Baru with my teacher uncle whose kindly wife Cek Su was the most devoted daughter-in-law I had ever come across in my entire life. God bless this absolute gem of a woman who is just a few years older than I am.

The way she took care of her husband's father, by then bedridden and almost completely senile, put me to shame. I never had the opportunity to 'jaga' (care for) my grandpa, for he was adamant about living out his last days in Kelantan.

All through my 14 years of being an 'ibu tunggal' (single mother), Raya was celebrated in Kuala Lumpur to enable the children to be with their father and his family, especially the kids' 'Tok' (paternal grandma). History repeated itself with my own mother; we only got to spend Raya with her a week or two into Syawal.

Because of all the domestic upheavals, Raya had long ago lost its shine on me. I can't remember the last time I was excited about Raya. In fact, I became robotic with each Raya.

It was just another day, the day you didn't fast anymore after Ramadan. I had never bothered much with new clothes and such. As long as the family was happy and satisfied, I was fine.

This is my eighth Raya with Pak Abu. My take on Raya hasn't changed much; the only saving grace is my husband and children. Because they are precious to me, I think I shall make extra efforts to revitalise my feelings towards Raya.

But it feels like championing a lost cause or trying to recapture one's lost youth. Is it still possible? How do you regain a love long gone?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

16 Sept - Hari Malaysia

It has been 46 years since Persekutuan Tanah Melayu (Malaya) became Malaysia. On this day in 1963 we welcomed Sabah and Sarawak into our fold. Let's not forget history. Selamat Menyambut Hari Malaysia!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Lembus Among Us (and Them)

Lembu 1

When cows start getting bad press, it's time to consider all your options. Shall you treat this as a load of bullsh*t and get on with the more important things in life or, shall you allow yourself to be led by the nose by those who don't seem to know any better themselves?

I hate bad press. It gives me the crawlies. I dislike it even more when it involves things I like. Like cows. As some of you would have known by now, I love all things
bovine, so the recent spate of bad press involving cows had me sufficiently piqued.

Cows and kovils are like love and marriage; they need each other. The recent spat, however, has nothing to do with either. It's politics of the day that turned everyone into LEMBUs. The only exception here is that, unlike many, I welcome being called one.

Lembu 2

As if that wasn't bad enough, now you have some goons prancing about with sharpened bamboo poles in Jakarta, bent on "sapu-ing" Malaysians, and the good Pak Duta (safe in his Kuala Lumpur diplomatic enclave) dismissing it as merely "showing their nationalistic fervour."

Let me tell you that I, for one, have every reason to be afraid of sharpened bamboos because those 'pendet akal' thugs might just decide to forcefully ram their "nationalism", not down my throat, but into my torso. I don't want to bleed for my country this way.

When I think about the 1.8 million Indonesians (legal and accounted for) working and studying in this country, I feel proud for Malaysia. Whatever its shortcomings, this land is a good, kind land; it is a land of hope for so many of my saudara serumpun.

But when I think of the subsequent 1.5 million illegals from the same source, my sense of benevolence dissipated. All I can see is a rising crime rate (numbers recently released by the authorities indicated the highest percentage of crime was indeed from this sector).

So now we are hosting some 3 million of them. Bearing in mind that our population is only 27 million, that's one hell of A LOT. And what do we get in return? Knee-jerk reaction one time too many, that's what.

Remember Manohara? Silver-tongued Mom turned out to be a bigtime swindler and convicted felon on the Interpol list. Pendet? Not our bloody fault. Aren't you listening at all? Go throw those rotten eggs at The Discovery Channel office (wherever that is).

Negara Ku (Terang Bulan)? Rasa Sayang? Wayang Kulit? Angklung? Keroncong? Sure it's from your shores but where do you think we Malays come from? Planet Mars? (We might as well, given today's sentiment and scenario). It only became 'your shores' and 'my shores' because of the dictates of colonialism. We used to be ONE, remember?

Then there's the issue of abused maids. Let's not forget that for every sialan/suay employer in this country, there are 10,000 good ones who treat their maids like family and I
personally know a good many of them.

Why don't you talk about those who bring their maids for umrah/haji or those who take them along on their foreign jaunts? Gee, some of us have yet to experience a foreign holiday, and those maids are already on first-name basis with the koalas and the kangaroos, not to mention pretty adept at navigating Bayswater or throwing snowballs in the Alps!

Lembu 3

Some time last week, The Star reported a molest case involving a vet. Apparently, a 27 year-old kindergarten teacher brought her sick pet squirrel to the vet somewhere in Ampang. Unfortunately, the teacher got more than what she bargained for.

I don't know where this vet graduated from, but I sure hope it's not from any of our local menara gading (higher educational institution), because if indeed he is an alumnus of one, I would like nothing better than to ram his blooming arse with a gading (tusk) myself.

You see, the vet told the distressed teacher that she should place the poorly squirrel between her breasts for warmth (do they really teach this in vet school?) And she did! (She must be VERY distressed indeed). Then the squirrel got entangled with her bra clip, so our chivalrously hamsap vet plunged his hand right into the bra to help.

The randy SOB then complimented the lady on her figure (and the breasts I'm sure) before sucking her t*ts (I kid you not!). Don't ask me about the squirrel; for all I know, it could very well be nestled in her cleavage still at the time.

To cut a long story short, the woman wrestled free and made her escape but not before hearing the vet telling her that she didn't have to pay for his service (I don't know which one he was referring to, though, the 'warm your pet in your bra" advice or the sucking). She reported the matter to the police.

The vet, in his 50s, has since been arrested. I hope he will be deregistered. At his age he should have known better. Slimeballs like this should never be allowed near any animals (am loathe to imagine him alone in a barn, with an unsuspecting cow...) or humans, especially kids. Pets, almost always, are associated with children and I dread to think of kids at his mercy.

PS: The squirrel died as soon as it was brought home, probably from all the excitement. Poor thing....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Doggone It!

After 6 beers...

After 2 glasses of wine

After 2 bottles of wine - shared, of course

After too many Margaritas

After 3 Kamikazes

After 7 Rum & Coke

After one large Purple Haze

After 3 Martinis

After one bottle of Tequila .....

Thursday, September 3, 2009

When Jealousy Reigns

Lillie, our homegrown green-eyed monster...

How do you turn a cat - manja, accomodating and somewhat timid, scurrying helter-skelter into any hideyhole in the presence of strangers - into a ferocious, snarling feline overnight? Easy; just bring home another, even more timid, cat and the battle lines are drawn.

Peace at home was shattered for five days when 10 month-old Lillie, usually gentle if a little wary of unfamiliar faces, went into an attack mode to defend her territory from an unsuspecting 'intruder'. And to think that the latter was meant to be her playmate.

Having fostered no less than 100 cats thus far (25 all at once in the 1990s, living peacefully together too), I thought it would be good to get Lillie a friend. I didn't want her to acquire the 'only-child' syndrome; intolerant and selfish, and above all, demanding.

So much for my wish. Without me realising it, Lillie was already all of the above, and then some. Despite her humble beginnings (SPCA alumnus), our now-rotund Lillie, by my reckoning, had turned into a prissy snob.

She was obviously quite happy with her placid condo lifestyle, eating premium kibbles, relieving herself in a tubful of fragrant, clump-free litter, not to mention fortnightly trips to Dr Christine's for a foamy bath and flea shots.

Thus sweet Milo was Lillie's nightmare came true. Four-month old Milo, a pretty little thing in greyish-white fur (being half-Siamese and all) popped into our lives last week, courtesy of Nawwar's vet friend, the ever-smiling, soft-spoken Dr Aina.

A dedicated cat lover herself, Dr Aina runs a makeshift rescue transit centre at her home. Always on the lookout for suitable 'parents' to farm out her many temporary boarders, she heard of our quest for another cat to be Lillie's companion, and brought to us Milo.

Lillie's sweet disposition changed instantaneously upon seeing Milo. She hissed and growled incessantly, physically taking potshots at the already nervous and jumpy kitten. On one occasion, Milo hopped onto the windowsill in panic and on another, got herself cornered at the balcony trying to escape a fury-laden, manic Lillie.

I was so afraid she would sail into open space and perish from a 10-storey fall that I decided to have her temporarily caged for her own safety. It was as though she knew the odds, that each time I opened the cage door, she would willingly step in.

Lillie, now irate, would swing her paws through the bars. She would also purposely push her paws inside and scoop out Milo's food, messing the floor. Each time I took Milo out of the cage, she would rush in and finish Milo's food, pointedly ignoring her own in the kitchen.

To ensure Milo's safety, I had to place the cage in my study and close the door each time I let Milo out to roam. I could sense the poor kitten's nervousness, especially as Lillie could be heard pacing the floor outside, growling, waiting to sneak in should the door opened.

Milo was also nursing a surgery wound; she was spayed just a day before coming to us. I believe that was another reason why she wasn't actively fighting back. The soreness was still there and she was feeling some pain.

On the couple of occasions that we buka puasa outside, I would let Milo out, making sure both the study door and the windows were secured before leaving. Milo would then climb onto one of the open shelves and stay perched until I returned.

All these while, Lillie's frustration must have accumulated steadily. She must have been very annoyed at not being able to land a scratch or two on Milo. Dr Aina had asked for a one-week grace period; if the two still couldn't click after a week, she would take Milo back.

In the meantime, I had grown to love the nervous bundle. We had bonded well and she would readily jump into my arms. Strangely enough, Milo never meowed. Instead, she made tiny squeaky noises like those usually made by mice.

Opportunity presented itself to Lillie on Friday evening just after the news. It was an oversight on my part, with disastrous result. I forgot to close the study door and went about doing housework, and the next thing we heard was a mighty scuffle followed by howlings in the study.

I rushed in, only to see poor Milo all bloodied, her sutures ripped, her wound gaping. I quickly grabbed her and hugged her close, her blood seeping onto my caftan. By this time Lillie had slunked under my bed, probably satisfied to have caused some damage to the hapless kitten.

A horrified, tearful Nawwar placed a call to Dr Aina who turned up 30 minutes later. A quick check confirmed that the wound had to be restitched. Poor, poor Milo. We had to bid her adieu.

It's back to peace and quiet on the homefront. Lillie's reverted to her old self but I shed a silent tear for a sweet kitten that got mauled whilst under my care....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


karma chameleon.... Boy George, is that you?

A mere cat among the meerkats.

The solemn, owlish trio..

Wheeeee...! here I come, sliding down the tree...!

Scratch my neck, mamma.... aaahhhhh

"Everybody's kungfu fighting...!"

All aboard now! The bus's leaving soon..!

"Rock-a-bye baby in a farmyard...'

"Wind Beneath My Wings..."

Say Arrggghhh....! Phew, such bad breath!

"Hungry Like A Wolf"

"Baa Baa White Sheep.."

"You Keep Me Hangin' On..."

At a snail's pace...

The Puss and The Cork..

Here comes lunch!

"Ooopss! I Did It Again!"

Ooooh boy! This exercise is hard work!