Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Alhamdulillah syukur, we are back safe and sound, and in high spirits too. It has been a journey of wonder for the kids, seeing the Kaabah and praying in Masjidil Haram for the first time, feeling the nearness of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) as they stepped foot inside Masjid Nabawi in Medinah, and visiting all the places of interest associated with the struggles of Islam in the Land of the Anbiyyas. I shall write more in days to come when life is a bit more settled.

This picture was taken at 2.00 am (Saudi time) on the same day of our arrival, soon after we completed the Tawaf and Sae'i. It was a long day indeed; an eight-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur to Jeddah, followed by two hours of customs & immigration clearance and one-and-a-half hours of coach ride from Jeddah, arriving Makkah at 11 pm local time (4 am Malaysian time).

One hour was all we were given upon arrival (this included checking in, a very late dinner and freshening up) before proceeding to Masjidil Haram for the required Tawaf and Sae'i (which took almost two hours to finish due to the throng). We were dead beat by then, but immensely happy to have completed the first Umrah.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

MamaSox Rocks!

I hope this country girl hot mama with the winsome smile wins this season's American Idol. Despite her incredible talent, this young single mom to one little boy seemed as down-to-earth as could possibly be.

Crystal Bowersox, affectionately dubbed "MamaSox" by fellow contestants, has been breathing new life to jaded old songs for the past many weeks and her fresh take on Credence Clearwater Revival's classic "As Long As I Can See The Light" three weeks ago is nothing short of breathtaking.

It's been a while since I saw this much raw talent; the last time was in Carrie Underwood who went on to become a major country star. MamaSox, you rock!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What's in a (Karaoke) Song?

If you are a keen observer it would take precious little for you to realise there is more than meets the eye when a couple karaokes together.

Whether the couple is lawfully wedded or their association scandalously illicit, one could gauge the state of their relationship through their choice of songs during a karaoke session.

They tend to convey specific messages through the songs they render, together or singly. They may not even realise it themselves; it's the others listening in who do.

A guy I know stuck to his staple of Tom Jones' "Release Me" and Lobo's "How Can I Tell Her" during his troubled marriage. The wife retaliated with Abba's "The Winner Takes It All". She must have realised she was getting the short end of the shrift.

After splitting and upon acquiring a new spouse, the guy's repertoire changed to more cheerful, upbeat songs overloaded with messages of love. The air crackled with good vibes when the loving duo were around.

Last night, however, he got me off-kilter by singing that old disturbing standby "Release Me" again. What gives? I stole a glance at the wife; she looked pretty grim. I knew she didn't approve.

I'm clueless as to what's going on. I hope it's just a poor choice of songs. All along, they seemed quite happy together. Then again one can never be sure what goes on in the mind of a man. A worldly married man too, at that.

My personal dislike among karaoke hits are Willie Nelson's "To All The Girls I've Loved Before", Mary McGregor's "Torn Between Two Lovers" and Roberta Flack's "Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You." While the melodies are great, the lyrics have scant respect for the sanctity of marriage.

Perhaps it's my kampung upbringing. Or maybe I'm just too much of a hick. Songs that blatantly promote promiscuity or glorify adultery don't wash with old-fashioned me. So I'm a stick in the mud, but I'm alright with the label.

That's why as much as I love Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love For You", I balk at singing it in public, not when the lyrics express the sentiment of a woman waiting for the arrival of her married lover for a promised all-night romp.

Years ago during the time we were frequenting the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club (KLGCC) karaoke lounge, one of my favourite pastimes was to observe the antics of many dating couples, especially those cheating spouses with their respective 'flavours of the month.'

These husbands and fathers, almost always middle-aged or old and balding (but with deep pockets) would turn up with sexily dressed young women in tow, many of whom younger than their own daughters.

Over wine (and other intoxicants), these lovey-dovey odd couples would smooch shamelessly, and would duet mushy songs that would make a teenager wince. Pathetic couldn't even begin to describe the scene.

While not exactly in the rush (nor keen) to remarry during my post-divorce years, one of my favourite songs was Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make it Through The Night."

Outwardly, that song is a yearn for intimacy of the sexual kind. However, to me it carried an entirely different meaning; it was an expression of loneliness more than anything else.

The lyrics somehow translated into a longing for companionship, for someone to talk to and confide in. In other words, the need for a soulmate who need not necessarily be a bedmate.

Now, who says karaoke is just plain old singing? It's a great way to de-stress, to observe the wiles of ageing Lotharios, not to mention a training ground for psychoanalyst wannabes. I'd say, it's karaoke or bust!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Joe's 33

From left: Joe's colleague Raphiza, birthday boy Joe, our eldest Naj, and our adopted son Jason.

Pak Abu, Ann, Fiza, Joe, Naj, Jason and the children's cousin Nabilah (who got engaged recently).

Son number two, Nafizul (Joe to everyone), turned 33 on April 10. He is still single, available and looking although I don't know what he is looking for.

If that isn't bad enough, his brother Naj is on the treshold of 35 and is still single too, although I am not sure about 'available and looking.'

To celebrate the occasion we had a small family dinner at Tokyu Tengu, the Japanese restaurant at Lake Club. Good food and good company, after which we adjourned to the karaoke room for an hour of singing.

Many happy returns Joe..... [Psstt, I heard through the grapevine that you have your eyes on someone already. Is that so? If betul, please tell me pronto so I can organise a meminang convoy..]

PS: if you see only leftovers on the table, that's because we forgot all about taking pictures until the meal was over! Everybody was so hungry. Not only that, Nawwar even refused to be photographed because she fancied she looked 'comot' after all that eating.....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Gripes

Allow me to wallow in self-pity for a while. I need to feel sorry for myself, to feel like a blinking failure, a complete berk who, at 56, have yet to realise her full potential.

I need to be angry for messing up my life. I also need to be absolutely infuriated for allowing my life to be screwed. And I need to blame someone for this mess. And so, I am blaming a woman called ME for allowing me to be a moron.

Now I fully understand why the cow ranks as one of my favourite animals. I am the ultimate Lembu, the dimwit Mama Cow who, in the tradition of bovines everywhere, allow myself to be led by the nose.

Hokay, I'm done. Now I feel a little better. It's good to feel lousy once in a while; it makes you realise you are no better than the next person (or could it be the next person is no better than you? Hmm, worth mulling over, this)

All things considered, I know I'm not half as bad. To prove it, I'll attempt to put things in their proper perspective:

1. I don't have a criminal record (traffic violation tickets and giving the occasional 'up yours' sign to rude motorists don't count)

2. I have never killed a man (although there were times I was sorely tempted to, maybe not kill but sock him where it hurts the most, perhaps a knee at his crotch)

3. I have never experienced real hunger (read Somalia, Darfur et al; even during Ramadan I wasn't really hungry, just lapar mata)

4. I have never been dirt poor (being broke occasionally don't count because I could still manage to stock up on Maggi Mee)

5. I still have my wits about me (well, at least I think I'm not insane. Then again, those who say they aren't, usually are..)

6. I have a roof over my head, decent clothes to wear, a car to move around, a bit of cash to enjoy the occasional dine-outs

7. I have a spouse & kids whom I love (although sometimes I feel like strangling them when they stretch my patience too thin. Then again I'm just as guilty for irritating them)

8. I'm not academically challenged (I can read and write!)

9. My language proficiency is commendable (I can swear in multiple Chinese dialects)...

and the list goes on.... If this is not good therapy, I don't know what is. Oh I forgot; I can sing! Maybe not as well as many others, but hey, that's alright. Now, that makes me feel a helluva lot better!

So who cares if my weight is ballooning and I'm having a hard time trying to shed the kilos? I'll keep trying! And who cares if I'm perpetually hungry? Speaking of hunger.. uh, I think there's some leftover spaghetti in the fridge...

PS: This sudden lack of self-confidence is brought about by that abominable internet application called Facebook. Explanation to come .....

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dead Wood?

Kayu, Act II; pix from here

View from our balcony. The cemetery's on the left.

Tiger Woods (henceforth referred to as 'Kayu') is back on the course, chasing not another skirt, thankfully, but another US Masters title after a five-month hiatus following his salacious sex scandal.

Apart from a fuller face and a hint of a pouch, he looked pretty much the same, right down to the ubiquitous smirk and the air of disdain that has been his trademark over the years.

As the norm, a major tourney as this brings Pak Abu out of the bedroom and onto the couch. He's been berthed there for the past two nights, and will be till Sunday, presumably to watch Kayu in action.

But each time I took a peep outside - I had never been able to manage uninterrupted sleep whenever he shifted bed - all I could see was an inert body in deep slumber, accompanied by snores and the occasional dose of incoherent mutterings.

I don't know if he actually did any watching at all, because I had to wake him up to remind him that he was supposed to be watching TV and not the other way around.

We are only 10 days into April and there have been three burials already at the Sg Pencala Muslim Cemetery overlooking my balcony.

Quranic recitals after Subuh prayers at the Sg Pencala mosque usually indicate a death in the Sg Pencala community and yesterday's grave-digging activity as the sun rose confirmed my suspicion.

Another servant of God has passed on; I heard the name of a woman mentioned as the deceased and the speaker calling upon mosque congregation to make doa for the departed. "Innalillahi wa'inna ilaihirraji'oun."

I think a few of the loudspeakers from the mosque, located 500 metres down the road from our condo, are pointed in the direction of Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

This is because not only could I hear the azan but also chunks of their kuliah subuh each time I stood on my balcony.

Be it by chance or design, I can't thank them enough for what I see as an act of kindness. It makes me feel death is just a step away, thus the need to constantly prepare for its eventuality.

Imagine the scenario; listening to the melodious recitals of Quranic verses, the muezzin's calls to prayers and snippets of lectures on Islam while looking down at the Muslim cemetery across the big drain. We are so blessed, Syukur Alhamdulillah..

Monday, April 5, 2010

When Kama Rambles

They say opposites attract. I say "uh uh, I'll go with that." Why? Because in my case they do and I can only speak for this old self. How does it work? Like I know! That's one of the mysteries of life, yet unsolved.

I've been hitched to Pak Abu for almost a decade (this is our ninth year), and I'm still trying to figure that out. We are as removed as chalk and cheese in more ways I care to count that I still marvel our union has not come unglued.

Just because opposites attract doesn't mean it's all peaches and plums till we kick the bucket. God knows how we get on each other's nerves sometimes, which is to be expected since we don't see eye to eye on so many issues. It's always a red-letter day when we actually agree on something!

There's a trick to staying married, differences notwithstanding; it's called tolerance. I'd be the first to agree that tolerating the other party's idiosyncrasies is among the hardest things to do. But don't forget; you have your own set of quirkiness and the spouse has to learn to put up with yours too!

You'll have a workable marriage if you take time to learn the ropes and not shoot your mouth too often. For instance, how to end an argument, the protracted kind that doesn't get anywhere because ego and foolish pride prevent both from admitting defeat.

He and I have got this one down pat. It's not that we are so magnanimous to give in so easily (like hell we do!). What usually happens is that we listen to our inner voice, the one that booms "enough ler oooi!" and take heed.

My standard retreat is to develop instant impediments of the senses, my favourite being the sudden loss of hearing and speech ability, coupled with what he calls my 'dirty look.' It's good to know the eyes convey what the mouth refrains from saying.

Usually, he takes the cue almost immediately for he knows he achieves nothing by raving and ranting to a deaf mute. I believe in the silent treatment in order to get our lives back on track. I must say there's always a degree of sportsmanship in all our squabbles.

Being married is good. Staying married is better. Living together happily in holy matrimony, till death do us part, is the best, although it doesn't always work out that way.

Only if all else fails should you consider the unpalatable option of separating. Believe me, divorce is not great. The aftermath sucks. It screws the lives of too many people you love. Go separate ways only if that's the only option left.

Always think - is it worth it? Do it only when you are absolutely sure Splitville is worth every second of the rest of your life. There is no guarantee to happiness, by the way. You can only be happy if you choose to be, wherever you are.

So iron out those little kinks in your marriage as you go along. Don't wait for them to mount or hope they'll disappear if you ignore them long enough. Tackle issues head-on. Speak your mind. Tell each other how you feel. Stay true to each other and profess your love often.

What's wrong in saying "you look nice today" or "you smell good" or "that colour suits you well" or whatever. Not every compliment is fishing for a roll in the hay (although most times they are... hehehe, just kidding!)

Lastly, don't stray. Straying is bad for it destroys trust. Also, you may get STD and your peter may develop warts and boils and shrink, and drop off. And that'll be the end of you as a man. Good luck and God bless!

PS: Comments on erring wives have to wait till another day, since they can't be threatened with the spectre of anything rotting and dropping off from the nether region...

Sunday, April 4, 2010

See How They Eat

The Melander family of Bargteheide, GERMANY. Weekly food expenditure = 375.39 Euros (USD500.07)

The Revis family of North Carolina, USA. Weekly food expenditure = USD341.98

The Manzo family of Sicily, ITALY. Weekly food expenditure = 214.36 Euros (USD260.11)

The Casales family of Cuernavaca, MEXICO. Weekly food expenditure = 1862.78 Mexican pesos (USD189.09)

The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna, POLAND. Weekly food expenditure = 582.48 Zlotys (USD151.27)

The Ahmed family of Cairo, EGYPT. Weekly food expenditure = 387.85 Egyptian Pounds (USD68.53)

The Ayme family of Tingo, ECUADOR. Weekly food expenditure = USD31.55

The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village, BHUTAN. Weekly food expenditure = 22493 ngultrum (USD5.03)

The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp, CHAD. Weekly food expenditure = 685 CFA Francs (USD1.23)

NOTE: Untuk renungan bersama. I do not know the origin of the above (it was e-mailed to me by Pak Abu who received it from his MCKK classmates' site). But if by publishing this infringes some copyright somewhere, please let me know so I can take it off pronto. Thank you.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Oh Girl..

This particular posting is dedicated to all of you out there who are parents with growing daughters. It matters not how old the child is because a daughter, almost always, speeds through your life only to transform from a loveable cherub to a loathsome mini monster in the blink of an eye.

A major portion of a daughter's growing up years is usually dedicated to giving her parents heart palpitations. What differs from child to child is the degree of pain inflicted upon those sorry old geezers (that's us, lest you forget).

I'm not sure about fathers, but show me a mother who has NEVER shed tears due to her daughter's shenanigans and I'll propel your arms towards the nearest cemetery, or to a granite statue of Mother & Child. There isn't a single mother living who hasn't, believe me.

All mothers, at some point or other, cry buckets over their daughter's stinging words or offensive behaviour, intentional or otherwise. All soft-hearted daddies react more or less the same way too.

Some parents retaliate with a stinging slap that lands beautifully on the young lady's unschooled mouth. Then there are those who use cheap household everyday things as a launch missile; I guess it's because it doesn't hurt as bad and also cheaper to replace.

Others avoid getting physical but resort to raucous verbal sparring of ear-splitting screeches and screams, the kind that amply inform half the neighbourhood of your parent-child altercations.

Parents walk on eggshells with growing daughters in the house. Trouble is, you don't want them anywhere else no matter how annoying at times when they get under your skin! She's still your child and you love her, warts and all.

Unconditional love is what the following story's all about. I read with heaviness in my heart about drink stall hawker Normah Abdul Mutalib of Langkawi, whose youngest daughter Halimaton Abdul Rashid, 15, left the family home in Baling to be with her 19 year-old boyfriend.

Halimaton, a Kedah top scorer in Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (the primary school evaluation exam) 2007, was reported as missing and feared abducted, by her family on March 22. Understandably her mother Normah, a single mom, was beside herself with worry.

Six days after her case was widely reported in the papers, Halimaton contacted her mother, admitting that she had left on her own free will to be with her boyfriend. She was defiant, refusing to come home; instead she said she wanted to get married.

A meeting was arranged for all concerned at the Langkawi district police HQ in Kuah. The intended groom, his parents and relatives were also there. I could just imagine the tense situation, the stand-off.

The two-hour meeting was not without its share of shoving, jostling and screaming drama however. The 15 year-old, a true recalcitrant, even threatened to jump into the sea if she was taken back to Baling!

The papers reported Kedah Islamic Religious Department director Datuk Khairuddin Zin as saying under the Kedah Islamic Family Law Enactment 2008, a boy under the age of 18 and a girl below 16 could marry provided permission is granted by the syariah court.

One could feel the pain in the mother's voice when she said: "For her sake, I will give in to her demand. I don't know what else to say. I am very sad and very tired." My heart goes out to this ibu tunggal selling cold drinks at a stall trying to make ends meet.

I'm sure some of you mothers out there are bristling with anger, waiting to comment. I'm just as piqued but let's take a step back and inhale deeply. Yes, she seems unreasonable and yes, why the haste? Can't it wait until at least after Form Five?

Most of all, however, we feel for the poor mother. Sampai hati dia lukakan hati ibunya, right? Then again, let's not be judgemental and shoot our mouths unnecessarily especially if we have daughters of our own.

Divine retribution can be swift, so let's not tempt Fate. Instead, just say a prayer for both starstruck teenagers. May Allah swt raise their blinkers soon enough.

To Normah, may she be blessed with infinite patience during these trying times. I know I will be at a loss if this sort of thing befalls me. May we all be spared such heartache.

Patutlah orang tua-tua kata "Jaga lembu sekandang lebih senang daripada jaga anak perempuan seorang...."

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kesian Cikgu!

Apa punya karangan daa.. mula-mula dia takut hantu, pastu hantu takut kat dia... ahahaha...!