Saturday, August 28, 2010
This is indeed a strange whodunit, one with no ending in sight. Yet. It has unsettled the household; the bucket owner loudly laments the absence of pegs to hold her laundry to dry.
Let's revisit the crime scene (if indeed a crime has been committed, that is); A bright red plastic bucket, along with its contents of plastic clothes pegs, for months comfortably hooked to the balcony railings, have disappeared into thin air.
[The owner begs forgiveness for the use of plastic; her level of eco-consciousness is appalling. But she promises to go rattan for bucket and wood for pegs in the near future].
One moment the RM3.90 bucket chockful of pegs (of various shapes, sizes and colours) was there on the 10th floor balcony, firmly anchored to an iron railing; the next moment it was gone without a trace.
It has been two days, and neither bucket nor pegs have surfaced. They seem to have vanished, wiped off the face of the earth.
Every nook and cranny of the condo floor space has been swept, peered into, meticulously searched. Nothing. The house help too has been thoroughly cross-examined. Still nyet.
Bibik, when did you see the bucket last? Where was it when you saw it? Ever notice any suspicious looking character sniffing around the comely red bucket?
Nggak ada, puan! Said she nervously, no doubt thinking of the pegless laundry waiting to 'fly (me) to the moon' or 'go(ne) with the winds' in the event of a strong breeze.
Attention was also closely paid to the guilty-looking felines; did they or did they not launch the bucket off the balcony? If they did, where did everything land?
As it were, there was no pawmark to lay the blame at their door for now, although the bucket owner certainly wouldn't put it past them to have a paw in the mysterious disappearance.
Nothing was ever found, on the ground below or anywhere in the vicinity. Whoever or whatever had carted off the bucket had left no trace whatsoever. It was a slick act.
In the meantime, life has to go on. Dirty clothes need to be washed and hung to dry (the household has yet to opt for a drier; the lady of the house prefers natural sunlight).
And so this morning a new bucket and some pegs (see above) were duly purchased at Jusco to replace the missing ones.
But the mystery still begs an answer; "Just where did the bucket and pegs go?"
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
This talented young singer/composer is my niece Puteri Suraya, whose father is the eldest among our siblings.
Known in the indie music circle as Yaya, this lanky young lady fronts Static Emily, an indie group she started with like-minded friends some years back.
To my knowledge, they have not cut any album yet, but have been performing live at functions and in clubs, and have appeared on TV.
Yaya performs in between studies; she holds a diploma in communications and is currently pursuing a degree in a local university.
She seems to be able to manage her time a-okay and is doing pretty well in both studies and music. Attagirl, go Yaya go....!
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
All of a sudden, I felt all choked up inside, especially when I looked at the picture of my two girls in hijab... Ya Allah, let it be their garment of choice until the day they breathe their last..
In the spirit of Ramadan, I would like to share some of the pictures with my readers. In the stillness of the night, I am feeling melancholic :-(
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Hati saya memang dah lama terguris, dan sebak saya tidak dapat diluahkan hanya dengan kata-kata di blog. Memadai saya kata bahawa saya sebenarnya amat takut.
Kecut perut memikirkan kemurkaan Ilahi. Apalah agaknya malapetaka yang akan menimpa kita ekoran kerenah umat Islam yang memperlekehkan agama sendiri untuk kutip 'political brownie points.'
Kes terbaru melibatkan khatib Masjid Padang Menora di Pulau Pinang yang dengan sengaja menggugurkan nama Yang DiPertuan Agung dalam doa khutbah Jumaat pada 25 Jun di masjid tersebut.
Bab tak ikut 'prepared text' yang disediakan oleh Majlis Agama Islam tu biasalah. Ikut kalu, tak boleh pulak selit ayat-ayat cinta politik.
Bukan tak tahu, mimbar sesetengah masjid, terutama masjid dikampung-kampung, dah lama jadi 'political platform'. Sekarang masjid bandar pun apa kurangnya.
Kini, di Masjid Padang Menora Pulau Pinang, nama Yang DiPertuan Agung Tuanku Mizan dengan sengaja digantikan dengan nama Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang Lim Guan Eng (LGE).
Bagi saya itu satu penghinaan kepada baginda on two counts; sebagai Ketua Agama Islam Negara (subsequently, hina agamalah tu) dan kepada institusi raja-raja.
Yang peliknya, bila isu itu jadi pengetahuan umum, pihak berkenaan menuduh ini semua dakyah UMNO, kononnya kerajaan BN punya fitnah.
Masalahnya, khatib tu sembahyang sorang2 ker? Bukan ker ramai yang berjemaah solat Jumaat? Takkan kesemua jemaah tu berbohong? Kalau nak bohong buat apa puasa dan bersolat?
Alih-alih, khatib tersebut, seorang pengikut tegar Parti PAS bernama Zakaria Ahmad, mengakui dalam satu wawancara dengan akhbar Sinar Harian bahawa dia dah lama berbuat demikian (dah dua tahun katanya).
Tapi bacalah pulak putar alam dia untuk meloloskan diri dari sepitan. Halus licin bak sutera jawapannya; terkedu orang mendengarnya hingga tenggelam motif sebenarnya.
By the way, orang PAS dah lama angkat LGE sebagai Khalifah, menyamakannya dengan Khalifah agung Islam, Umar Abdul Aziz.
Bagi sayalah, walau benci macam mana pun sesama Islam, amat tak patut kita cemari nama negarawan/pahlawan/ilmuan ulung Islam itu dengan mengangkat seorang al-kafirun ke tarafnya.
Bab khutbah ni pulak, di bawah ni saya perturunkan rukun-rukun khutbah sebagaimana yang saya fahami. Terima kasih kepada tuanpunya blog, Pejuang Bangsa, atas penjelasan.
Pengetahuan agama saya daif sekali; tidak setinggi dan sedalam orang PAS yang bijak memetik pelbagai ayat dan hadith. Saya hanyalah hamba Allah yang amat kerdil dan tidak sempurna.
Rukun khutbah yang perlu ada di dalam syarat SAH solat Jumaat ada lima:
1. Puji-pujian kepada Allah Subhanahu Wata'aala
2. Selawat ke atas Nabi Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam
3. Berpesan supaya bertaqwa.
4. Membaca ayat dari Al-Quran pada salah satu dari kedua-dua khutbah.
5. Doa kepada orang-orang mukmin pada doa kedua.
Yang jadi musykil sikit pada saya sekarang ialah .... LGE tu tergolong di dalam golongan orang-orang mukmin ker?
Boleh sesiapa jelas secara terperinci apakah ciri-ciri orang mukmin? Kalau LGE tidak termasuk dalam golongan ini, maknanya rukun kelima tidak dipenuhi, menjadikan solat Jumaat itu tidak sah. Ini bukan perkara kecil.
Tuan Guru Nik Aziz pulak bila kena konar dan susah nak explain, terus kata 'itu pendapat peribadi.' Peribadi kot mana tu, Pok Nik? Ni bukan sembahyang sorang-sorang kat rumah; ni solat Jumaat!
Tak aci la response macam tu Pok Nik! Takkan takder fatwa kot? Kan ker Pok Nik suka keluarkan fatwa menghalalkan cara 'at the drop of a hat'?
Thursday, August 19, 2010
[Interesting as the account would be, for courtesy's sake in this blessed month, we'll steer clear of the other, and much more intoxicating, major vice ... :-D]
Unlike most women who tested the waters with mentholated or low-tar cigarettes, I started strong, with a real 'kaw' brand, Benson & Hedges.
Ask me not the reason for picking up the habit because, after all these years, I still do not know exactly why. The most likely answer would be that I was seeking acceptance amongst my peers, to be regarded as 'one of the boys.'
Being young and impressionable, having a cigarette between my fingers seemed like the most glamorous thing ever. It felt so grown-up, so adult, to smoke a real cigerette in full public view.
My immature young mind saw smoking as a way of shedding my 'kampung' past. The gauche Dungun girl was no more; in her place was a worldly (so I thought!) young woman making her life in a big city.
At the time, there was no way I could fight (even if I had wanted to) the urge to steer clear of cigarettes. Not only they beckoned everywhere I turned, they were also cheap (at RM2.50 per pack) and plentiful.
Also, it was a different era altogether, a time when smoking was as natural as belching and breaking wind. Besides, there was no stigma attached to smoking.
And there was nobody breathing down your neck expounding the virtues of not smoking either. Neither were you treated like a pariah for puffing away.
Back then, doing cigarettes was so lame and tame compared to what many others were indulging in - smoking pot - hashish, ganja, marijuana, the works.
Everywhere I turned on the editorial floor, I saw cigarettes dangling from someone's lips. In fact, one would be hard put to find a non-smoking journalist.
The editorial floor reeked of stale smoke, but we were too busy churning out stories on our rickety typewriters, and chain-smoking, to worry about such trivial things like stale air.
In today's newsroom, however, off you go to the corridors for a puff. Newsrooms are so clean and sanitary you could eat off the floor.
And the atmosphere of today's newsroom too is so boringly mellow, unlike in days of old when the air would be blue with curses (we swore a lot, and loudly too, those days).
In all, I had put in some 32 years of puffing. I shall refrain from calling the habit 'filthy', not because I once belonged to the same fraternity but because I don't fancy being sanctimonious.
I was packing in two and a half packs a day. That translates into 50 sticks daily. I had gone through the whole gamut of brands in the process; you name it, I had tried it.
From lembik ladylike ones like Cartier and Virginia Slims to jantan macho ones like Camel and Dunhill, I have had a whale of a 'good' time congesting my lungs with tar and staining my nails and fingertips with nicotine.
Whilst servicing the Thai Tourism Board in the early to mid '90s, I was taken by a rather mild local Thai brand called 'Falling Rain' and bought them by the cartons each time I travelled north.
In addition to cigarettes, I was also addicted to cigarillos for they complemented 'the other vice' pretty well. Those days, apart from work, my life revolved around the two vices and nothing much more.
I had never taken a shine to kretek; not only I found the aroma cloying, kretek also had this disgusting tendency to burn holes in your clothing quite easily.
Smoking was indeed a strange habit, at least where I was concerned. Throughout my four pregnancies, I could lay off cigarettes (and 'the other vice') without any hassle at all.
Yet I picked up where I left off the moment I returned to work. Excuses reeled off easily then for not quitting, the main one being "I can't think/write creatively without a cigarette on my lips."
Of course it's crap reasoning. I should know because I have been writing creatively for the past six years without this crutch. I quit cold-turkey in 2004 and have not picked up a single stick since.
I guess I just didn't feel like letting go because smoking was such a pleasurable thing to do. Shoot me if you must, but that was the absolute truth.
It didn't matter that smoking was harmful to your health. All things considered, smoking was really one of those 'feel good' habits.
Three years into my marriage to fellow smoker Pak Abu, I was beginning to feel tired of smoking. Somehow it had ceased to be an enjoyable pastime.
Each time I reached out for a cigarette (after a meal, especially), it was a reflex action more than a real need, and I knew it. I still craved for them, though. Like most diehard smokers, my addiction was intense.
Then one day in 2004, with one half-full pack in hand I suddenly decided the stick I was puffing on at the time was to be my last. Scrunched the aforesaid pack and launched it into a wastebasket I did.
Thankfully, I did not suffer any withdrawal symptoms for quitting cold turkey. Instead I felt a sense of relief that I had managed to overcome my 32 years of addiction without as much as a whimper.
For so long I had nursed this notion that Hell would freeze over before I could, and would, lay off cigarettes. I had not banked on quitting being so painless.
I guess I had once again underestimated my own willpower. Still, it felt good to be in control of one's own destiny...
It was a strictly family affair, although eldest son Naj was unable to join us (he had to attend a client's buka puasa do). He dropped by the house later in the evening for coffee, though.
As its name suggests, Italiannies serves authentic, and decidedly delicious, Italian fare. Servings traditionally come in big portions; one dish can eat two or more.
We ordered family portions of spaghetti with meatballs, caesar's salad mixed with fruits, fried calamari and baked stuffed mushrooms, eaten with bread dipped in olive oil and seasoned with herbs.
The outlet's general manager, Celina Wu, is a close buddy of Awwa. They have known each other for almost a decade. They were once college mates and working colleagues.
By the same token, I have known bubbly Celina for just as long; she used to ferry Awwa when they were co-workers at the same food outlet in the heart of Kuala Lumpur a few years ago.
Celina even broke fast with us once. All these, and we weren't in the loop until last night that she is the daughter of our good friend and fellow Lake Club member, Pansy.
In all, it was a pleasant evening out and a welcome break from the usual buka puasa fare of kuih muih, rice and lauk pauk.
I wouldn't recommend going Italian or Mediterranean during the fasting month though, because the food is rich and creamy, thus heavy on an empty stomach. If you must, go for rice-based, all-in-one paella; it's nice and filling.
In fact, I felt a slight twinge of headache when we got home, no doubt from the cheeses. Nevertheless, we enjoyed both the food and the company.
The birthday boy received two Greg Norman golf shirts, one black the other red, courtesy of son Joe.
Ann says she would match by getting him a Panama hat to replace the felt one he lost when our car was spirited away by thieves a few months back.
Currently Pak Abu is exhausting his supply of freebies - baseball caps, T-shirts, handtowels - for his daily swing.
Happy Birthday Pa.... Semoga Allah swt perkukuhkan lagi iman, panjangkan umur, murahkan rezeki dan pelihara kesihatan, and that you'll have many more years of good golf....
Sunday, August 15, 2010
The kids would somehow be extra attentive and caring. Perhaps it was the realisation of an approaching Syawal, thus sharing the apprehension of their (then) single mom coping alone on a shoestring budget.
I remember only too well the times when the working ones took me shopping for new clothes and raya cookies. Ramadan and Syawal spending were then kept to the barest minimum.
Those were the days soon after my company had gone bust and I was between jobs. Money was hard to come by; I could hardly afford anything on my own.
Ramadan will always be bittersweet for me. It was in Ramadan more than a decade ago, just a few days short of Hari Raya, that I was in receipt of a legal missive threatening me with bankruptcy.
It was bad enough that the PR outfit I started from scratch went under in the aftermath of the 1997 economic meltdown (here), resulting in the loss of my house to settle business debts.
Being such threatened took me to a new level of depression never before experienced. It was as though I was trapped in quicksand, and sinking fast.
I remember bawling my eyes out reading the letter, feeling helpless and in utter despair. There was then nothing left; I was on ground zero with zilch to my name.
But I had four lovely kids whom I loved with every fibre of my being, and I had Him, to Whom I held fast. I knew everything happened for a reason and my faith in Him was absolute.
Although that was the lowest ebb of my life, crawled out of the pits of despair I did. No doubt that is all history, but I have never forgotten those trying times when putting food on the table was hardship unto itself.
Thank be to Allah swt the threat of bankruptcy is no more, nor are there financial issues to clog my brain this Ramadan. I have been blessed many times over since those desperate days; Alhamdulillah syukur.
All the same, this year's Ramadan is beset with emotional turmoil. My niece Amirah, the eldest child of my sister Ana, is a sweet young lady of 25 who lost a leg to cancer five years ago.
The prognosis isn't good, says her dad when we visited her in KLH last week. Her situation is critical and right now all we are left with are hopes and prayers.
And yesterday we paid another visit to our close friend Rahmat, recently diagnosed with lung cancer, stage four.
He was all skin and bones, very much thinner than the last time we saw him a month ago. He tried hard to speak; the words came out low, slow and raspy, but audible.
Like I said, there isn't much to be joyous about at the moment. Sorrow weighs heavily in my heart for I too feel like I am living on borrowed time..
Saturday, August 7, 2010
Ramadan bazaars will definitely make their presence felt next week, sprouting like mushrooms after the rains. Tens of thousands of 'lesen berniaga bazar Ramadan' have already been issued throughout the country.
And a quick scan through the papers revealed numerous buffet ads offered by hotels and restaurants, in town and elsewhere. As usual, the mind boggles at the spreads that await.
The fares are sinfully lavish, between 80 to 100 dishes on each menu, covering a wide range of local and international cuisines.
In some five-star hotels, it costs no less than RM100 per person to enjoy this undoubtedly scrumptious spread. Any which way one looks at it, that's a lot of money for just one meal.
In most outlets, prices are upwards of RM60; The Mines, Legend and Corus each at RM85++, JW Marriot and Impiana at RM78++, Grand Seasons at RM75++.... the list goes on....
Istana offers only RM99++ for earlybird vouchers, otherwise it's RM110++/pax. Dorsett shaves 50% off the quoted price of RM69.90++ for children 4-12 years and wargamas (the elderly) upwards of 55.
Other promotional stunts include opening/closing 'specials' in which a 50% discount is offered to patrons in the first 5 days and last 3 days of Ramadan.
Understandably, this is the time for hotels and restaurants to make a killing. And we have not even taken into account the endless chain of 'buka puasa' dos organised by companies and corporations.
Despite such steep prices, there is no dearth of patrons out there willing to be slaughtered, pursewise, in the name of gluttony. Such is the attraction of this Ramadan buffet phenomenon.
Let's take a step back and consider this; you break your fast by paying RM100 to eat one single meal, the spread of which comprises 100 dishes. How much more can you eat beyond your normal consumption?
Is it not a sin to overeat, for overeating means sheer waste of good food that could be fed to the poor and the needy? This is not what fasting is all about.
Fasting is about restrain, moderation, empathy; it's not about stuffing oneself silly come berbuka time, until one is too full to move even an inch. Someone bloated with food is not likely to do his/her tarawikh, that's for sure.
We are encouraged to break fast with something sweet and light. According to Tradition, our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) broke fast with only one or two dates before doing his solat Maghrib.
Yet Some of us do by devouring platefuls of food like a hungry wolf, and return for more, and more. Gluttony rules in Ramadan. This is all so wrong, so very wrong...
PS: Although written in good faith and with the best of intentions, someone's bound to be riled by this posting that can be misconstrued as a bit of pontificating. To such person/s, I offer my apologies.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Giving Gladys Knight's "Midnight Train To Georgia" a (hopefully decent) shot. Apologies for the poor visual...
The Royal Lake Club's OAP* team lost by a slim margin, coming a close second to a youthful media team. Well, you win some, you lose some. That's what competition is all about.
Kudos to the new inter-club champion; rest assured we'll return next year to avenge our defeat. Whatever the case, I had a blast belting out Gladys Knight's "Midnight Train To Georgia"...
OAP (Old Age Pensioners)