Saturday, January 1, 2011

Crank The Music Box, Love .....

From left: Uncle Som and wife Suraina, Kak Maz (a.k.a Anak Si Hamid), Kama, and Iain standing next to his beloved music box.

From left: the Federation of Malaya Annual Report 1954, the Colony of Singapore Annual Report 1953, Guide to Kuala Lumpur 1962, Penang 'Pearl of the Orient' Guidebook (early 60s, I think).

I watched, fascinated, as he carefully placed the tiny steel needle in an equally minute groove in the gramophone head, before lifting the head and gently lowering it onto the long-play vinyl that he had earlier placed on the music box turntable.

Strewn on the bamboo mat carpeting the living area were stacks of LPs, many with covers frayed or torn, but all carrying one of the most recognisable trademarks in the world, the picture of a dog listening to his master’s voice being played from a gramophone.

Names of singing heartthrobs of yesteryears leapt out the sturdy, well-preserved 33½s and 78s - Nona Asiah, Zaharah Agus, Kasmani, R Azmi, P Ramlee, Pat Boone amongst them - and many more I neither recognised nor recalled.

There he stooped, the lanky owner of this treasure trove, at the corner where the waist-high, wood-cased, twin-door music box was, earnestly cranking its lever, after which he lovingly caressed the box's textured grain.

Soon the soothing voice of P Ramlee filled the air…. “Tanjung Katong airnya biru, tempat mandi nak dara jelita, sama sekampung hai lagi di rindu, inikan lagi hai jauh di mata…”

Closing my eyes, I leaned back on the comfortable rattan easy chair appropriately draped with batik, and was soon transported back to my childhood days in Terengganu half a century ago.

I opened my eyes as the song drifted to conclusion, my mind hazy with memories of long cool evenings spent beside the radio with my grandparents, listening to Aneke Gronloh and S Affendi.

What bliss it was to be here, in this house radiating with love and affection of all things old; the books lining both walls in a nook opposite the kitchen, all those knick-knacks and bric-a-brac priceless and sentimental, and collectibles enough to set the eyes of the discerning aglow.

We were at the KL home of blogger Anak Si Hamid a.k.a. ASH and her husband Iain for lunch. Uncle Som (whom I had known since my childhood days) and his wife Suraina were the other guests.

What a lovely turn of event from a simple dinner a year before. The Soms and the Buchanans became acquainted during a makan session that Pak Abu and I had hosted in conjunction with the visit home of London-based bloggers Kak Teh and Awang Goneng last year.

Ash and Iain had returned to Malaysia at around the same time, taking residence in Kuala Lumpur for almost a year. The couple would be going home to Leicester (UK) soon, and had wanted to return the favour.

Pak Abu and I were only too happy to oblige, especially after Ash indicated she would do the cooking herself. I was already envisioning a hearty meal of salads and roast and pies. As it were, I wasn’t that far off.

Lunch was simply superb; lasagna, baked chicken, Iain’s tangy green salad sprinkled with apple cider, olive oil and honey that had Suraina and I completely hooked, and stewed (?) carrots cooked in a way I had never tasted before (with a sprinkling of cumin), so tasty that I kept returning for more.

For desserts we had what looked like mixed fruit parfait (I returned for second and third helpings, and was too embarrassed to go for more) and a sinfully rich cheesecake, the kind that could (and did!) give me a glorious migraine. The throbbings were well worth it.

We had tea overlooking a garden of sorts, with mature fruit trees and plants and creepers (including daun kaduk and the ubiquitous screwpine), a place where bats, birds, butterflies and civet cats dropped by to visit every now and then, this in addition to the two house cats they already had.

Because their house was the last lot at the end of a cul-de-sac, the surroundings was pretty quiet; a perfect place for the irrepressible 'dynamic duo' to potter about and indulge in their hobbies of reading and uhm... collecting....

I was almost reluctant to leave; it felt so comfortable, so 'lived-in', much like my grandparents' old wooden house in Kampung Sura, Dungun, where old books and magazines filled every nook and cranny, all because Grandpa was an avid reader.

We are going to miss you when you go home to UK, Ash and Iain, and we await your return, hopefully by spring, you say. The next time it's going to be my home-cooked food, with fellow bloggers for company....


Wake UP! said...

The food sounds delicious. Nyum! Nyum!

Kama At-Tarawis said...

indeed wakey.. i wish i can cook like that. i'm hopeless in the kitchen:(

anak si-hamid said...

Your visit was a pleasure! It is always fun to share our table, and our little enthusiasms, with kindred souls. Now, when Winter starts to drag, the memory will keep us warm. So thank you, Puteri and Pak Abu, Som and Ju, for your sparkling presence.

Love and best wishes from a scratchy old 68 (with permission from AsH).