Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dust Mites, Begone!

Giving the small carpet a much needed once-over, for this little piece of floor cover is Lillie & Awang's favourite wrestling pad. Imagine the amount of cat fur shed here...

A marked difference between the left and right sides of the carpet after being vacuumed.

Vacuuming the big cushion revealed its original mossy hue from dirty grey.

Out with the old and in with the new; sucking out stale air from a small cushion by putting it in a clean garbage bag.

Ewww! It's dust mites galore...!

If only we could see dust mites having a whale of a time on our beddings and sofas, and in the lush softness of our carpets, we'd probably get the heebie-jeebies each time we think of using the mattress or the divan.

Dust mites are microscopic beings that live and thrive in household dust. They feed off tiny flakes of human skin and breed in carpets, beddings, curtains and furniture.

Not content with soiling our abode, they are also bent on fouling up our health. Dust mites have been identified as being the main cause of allergies to asthma, bronchitis, hay fever, itchy burning eyes, runny nose, shortness of breath, sinus infections, headaches, colds and flu and God knows what else.

Let's give this scenario some thought. We are about to lower our derriere onto a sofa, or our body onto a mattress, well knowing it is crawling with millions of dust mites waiting to pounce upon our skin.

Our only saving grace is that we don't see the teeming mass with our naked eyes. If we do, we'd probably think life in a vacuum wouldn't be half as bad, after all.

For the sake of sanity, I personally have adopted the attitude of "what you don't see you don't worry about." It's either that or the nuthouse for finicky, neat freak me.

So when Pak Abu informed that the purchase of his new golf set "Ena" came with a free cleaning service for our sofas and beddings, a no-obligation product demonstration as it were, I gave my okay without much ado.

The appointed day came a couple of Thursdays ago with the arrival of Rukhaidah Abd Karim and Adnan Mohd Noh, two staffers from Filter Twin Sdn Bhd, hauling what looked like a mini UFO on wheels.

Pak Abu and I sat there fascinated as they assembled the contraption and proceeded to explain, step by step, the functions of the machine and what they intended to do in our house.

Dubbed "Dust Mite Terminator" but professionally named FilterQueen, it removes dust and dirt from surfaces using cyclonic action and patented filtration system before releasing cleaner, healthier air back into the environment.

This American-made and patented product has been around since 1928 and has been in Malaysia for the last quarter of a century (26 years to be exact).

I'm plugging it for the simple reason that I saw how it effectively dredged those microscopic thingies from my carpet, furniture and stuffs, and I want to share the experience.

Unlike those fancy, cutesy Japanese brands that won the day by putting a higher premium on the aesthetics (but I'm not saying they aren't any good, lest I get sued!), FilterQueen is a sturdy cylindrical thing in black, with a no-nonsense, menacing look that screams "Watch Out Dust Mites! We Mean Business!"

The likeable duo of Rukhaidah and Adnan spent more than one hour vacuuming and dislodging our unwelcome dwellers. Out they came in mini piles, giving me the chills just knowing they were in every nook and cranny of this teeny weeny pad of ours.

Thank you guys for the demonstration. We really appreciate it. And to my readers, do check out their simple website at (looks unfinished though; perhaps it's under reconstruction).

Alternatively, you can call Sales Executive Rukhaidah or Quality Air Consultant Adnan at 603-8024 9636 for a no-obligation demo. Their office is located at The Summit, Lot S2.52, Persiaran Kewajipan, USJ1, 47600 UEP, Subang Jaya.

FilterQueen isn't the cheapest thing ever invented (that much I'll allow), but it sure does one hell of a job. And if you are keen, they have easy payment schemes too to suit your budget. Alternatively, they also offer monthly cleaning service for your home/office at specific rates.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lillie - A Year Later

Lillie exactly one year after joining the Abu household.

Lillie as a newcomer a year ago, getting the feel of poetry in my Poetry Corner besides burying her nose in Jonathan Kellerman's pyschological intrigues..

March the twenty-ninth of 2010 marks one year since Lillie came to us as a six-month old kitten, nervous and jumpy, from SPCA. How she has grown in both size and maturity.

She has given us as much joy as pain and unnecessary drama, that Lillie. Once highly strung and impossibly possessive, she has mellowed considerably since the arrival of Awang Jules (here and here) a month ago.

Ridiculous as this may sound to saner minds (I know mine isn't), her poo once evoked enough creativity in me to pen an impromptu poem. Cats do such things to their masters I believe (only that I don't know who is the master here, for I certainly don't feel very 'masterly' around Miss Lillie..).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bookshop & Bakery - The Dream Lives On

January-March's pickings. Am thrilled to find another Ann Rule after almost a year's break. Dean Koontz and Stephen King are Pak Abu's staple while Jonathan Kellerman and John Grisham are shared favourites. I had read Pearl S. Buck's 'The Good Earth' many times over the years but had never properly owned a copy until last week...

Another week is wrapping up and there's a lot to thank God for. For one, I am still breathing and that is a good enough reason to celebrate, for no gift is worth more than the gift of life.

Life's back on an even keel now that we've got wheels again after being carless for three weeks. Bought a secondhand car, a real beaut and at a decent price too I must say; so now there's one thing less to worry about.

Ever since Pak Abu's job contract ended mid-January, he's been spending most of his time on the golf course; much to my liking of course because he was out of my hair. Then disaster struck with the loss of his set. The smile returned with the arrival of 'Ena' last week; thank God for that too.

The Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair 2010 concludes today, bringing a much-needed relief for Nawwar. She's been living and breathing books for the last eight days, coming home past midnight sometimes in order to ensure a smooth flow of supply from the bookshop in PJ to the booth in PWTC.

She wishes to thank her mother's blogger friends and readers who stopped by her booth to say hello and to browse. With the exception of Dr Iskandar (Dr Bubbles) who introduced himself, they turned up and addressed her by name but didn't want to be identified!

The pins and needles are still bothering me and I'm thinking of paying a long overdue visit to the doctor Monday. Let's see if he can lay this bit of a bother to rest so I can get on with the business of living.

I was pleasantly surprised to note that 14 books were purchsed since January. That's more than the usual quota of two books a month. No regrets though. As far as I'm concerned, it's money well spent. The only regret, if any, is that books are so darn expensive in Malaysia.

Inculcating the reading habit among the young will remain a pipe dream if the prices of books are beyond the ordinary rakyat. Even with discounts, the prices remain steep, with ordinary paperbacks costing upwards of RM35 apiece.

Is there anyone out there who can explain why books sold in Malaysia are so expensive? In Thailand, one can get the same title in paperback at half the price.

I am curious to know the intricacies of book-selling business in Malaysia because son Naj harbours this dream of owning a bookshop. Hopefully that will come true some day, as with Awwa's dream of opening up a bakery....

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pins & Needles

Lately I've been waking up to pins and needles in my left hand. Worse, my grip isn't what it used to be. This is all bad news because I'm a southpaw and save for eating and writing, it's 'Ms Leftie' who's been busy all these years.

The other night the pricklings were more painful than usual, prompting Pak Abu to help massage the hand in an effort to alleviate the pain. Then he noticed what I didn't; that the veins were rather taut and the skin surface were darker than usual, the kind associated with oxygen deprivation.

Now, all these certainly have me worried a bit. Frankly, it takes a lot to get me to this worrisome stage. I don't usually pander to my aches and pains, contributing them to the ageing process most times. I am, after all, in my mid-fifties.

But I guess I can't continue to be flippant about my health anymore, not when these seemingly minor ailments are beginning to have an impact on my total well-being, physically and otherwise. Oh how I hate the thought of going for a medical check-up!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Crackpot's Crockpot

The sweet and graceful design of Noritake "Blue Hill"

The microwave-safe and dishwasher-proof Corningware bowl.

Sometimes I wonder if I still have it all together. The possibility of a screw loose somewhere looms large at times, especially when I mull over things that certainly seem ludicrous at best.

How many women do you think worry about who gets the crockery in the event of a divorce? Any sane mind would fight tooth and nail to get her rightful share of whatever's owned, jointly or otherwise (harta sepencarian in Islam), instead of splitting hairs over mundane pots and pans.

Strange as it may sound, in my case I fought over nothing and asked for nothing but to be let free. And when it was finally granted, I left, with only my clothes and my books for company.

Back to that kitchenware issue; it has been 23 years since the ex and I parted ways in 1987, yet I still pine for my beautiful Noritake 'Blue Hill' complete dining set and my Corningware set-of-three square bowls.

This sounds pathetic I know, but I think of them often. I was not in a position to take them along with me when I left the matrimonial home - I was carless, homeless and penniless to boot - but my love and attachment for them never fade.

At times I think I am an unmitigated fool whose priorities have gone askew; then again I have never been one enamoured by jewellery and such. The said tableware, however, is a different kettle of fish altogether (which is stranger still because I don't even like to cook).

I believe it's how the history of those two crockery sets link with my life's journey that set them apart and endear them to me to this day, even when they are no longer in my possession.

The blue-flowered Noritake set, for example, was purchased for RM2,500 (or thereabouts, can't recall exactly) in the early 1980s. It held some 100 pieces; the very first expensive, complete dining set I ever had the privilege of owning.

Made of fine porcelain, it graced our dining table each time we entertained (which was quite often), and during festivities. When not in use, it occupied a prominent spot in the display cabinet. The Noritake set was truly my pride and joy.

Then there was the Corningware bowl set, a surprise birthday gift from the ex. To say I was floored would be to put it mildly. I was young (in my mid-20s) and impressionable, thus getting a set of three expensive kitchen bowls costing RM500 as a birthday present, instead of something more personal like a bolt of silk for example, was rather regretful.

I kept my counsel though - it was a gift after all and should be accepted with grace - and this blog jotting is the first time anyone hears of my heart's lament. [I guess 30 years is a decent enough stretch to reveal a long-buried resentment].

Like the Noritake set, the Corningware bowls served us well and I know they are still serving the current household, bless them both. I remember giving them a wistful last look before packing off, well knowing they would never be mine again except in spirit.

Today, there is a similar Corningware set-of-three square bowls, but of a different design, in my kitchen, courtesy of Pak Abu's golfing skills (he won it in a tournament some years back).

But there is no Noritake and never will be again, because I realised long ago that my heart has room only for the one I left behind...

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Meet Ena, my current competitor for Pak Abu's affection. Patah tumbuh hilang bergantilah katakan. Punyalah laju beli replacement golf bag untuk ganti yang hilang lesap bersama-sama kereta yang kecurian dua minggu lepas.

Agaknya, ditakdirkan saya pergi dulu, entah-entah selaju inilah jugak dia cari pengganti kot. Apa tidaknya, dapat peluang keemasan untuk upgrade ke model yang baru sikit. Apapun, kalau ditakdir macam tu, apo nak dikato eh?

It was a good thing the stolen set was insured. Kalau tidak lagilah semput nak kena keluar fulush beli yang baru. Penyudahnya, Pak Abu cuma guna slightly over RM1,000 duit sendiri; selainnya tu covered by insurance.

Dalam minggu pertama kehilangan golf setnya, Pak Abu macam kucing hilang anak. Duduk bangun semua tak kena. Restless semacam. Mood pulak lebih jo'ong (cloudy) daripada awan musim tengkujuh yang pernah saya lalui zaman dolu-dolu.

Ada sorang mamat suruh dia pi tinjau kat Cash Converter kalau-kalau dah dikorbankan kat situ oleh penyangak terbabit. Maka dengan penuh harapan berangkatlah kami buat intaian kat CC outlet di Taman Megah. Malang sekali takder di sana.

Disebabkan golf ni berhantu, come hell or high water nak kena pi jugak ketuk bola tu, so dia pinjam member punya spare set. Jenuh swing tak menjadi. Maklumlah, barang pinjam. Lagilah mendadak angin puspus. Silap cakap sikit melenting, sentiasa berasap nak meletup macam Pinatubo. Sakit jiwa dibuatnya.

Finally, one day last week, terburailah all the pent-up emotions. Berdentam dentum macam pertunjukan bunga api sambut tahun baru. Nasib baik cepat dapat insurance approval. Kalau tidak, mau aja saya pindah duduk kat budget hotel atau rumah tumpangan mana-mana sementara dia beli set baru. Lotih den!

As for the stolen car, kelibat pun tak nampak. Kami pun dah talqinkan. Peluang dapat balik is as good as nil. Dengar cerita spare parts kereta jenis ni amat laris sekali dipasaran. Kalau jumpa pun, kerangka ajalah kot. Takpalah, dah ditakdirkan rezeki kami setakat itu saja dengan that car.

So now kami berdua berkongsi kereta dengan anak-anak sementara shopping around for a decent secondhand car. Tak guna beli yang baru pun, it's an unnecessary waste of hard-earned money.

Mudah-mudahan by March end, dah ada wheels balik. Seksalah tinggal di bandar dan takder kereta. Patah kaki betul dibuatnya. Kalaulah Kuala Lumpur ni macam London, berselirat dengan tube lines dan bus service yang sungguh reliable, lainlah cerita...

Book Galore at Dakwah Corner

Some of the titles bought at Dakwah Corner
Makkah Al-Mukarramah

Awwa taking a breather;
the calm before the (book fair) storm...

The past few days have been busy ones for my youngest daughter Nawwar. Now that her Arabic classes are temporarily adjourned, she is filling time by helping out at Dakwah Corner Bookstore in Section 14, Petaling Jaya. [They are also on Facebook, here]

The local branch of this Makkah-based book chain has been in operation since October 2008. Their shoplot at the Right Angle, PJ (near Section 14's famous Mesjid Bulat) is a treasure trove of multi-lingual Islamic publications and multimedia works as well as Muslim items like robes, attar scents and the like.

Plucky Awwa is knee-deep in books currently, for Dakwah Corner is among those participating in the nine-day Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair 2010 (KLIBF 2010), set to open tomorrow at the Putra World Trade Centre.

She had been spending long hours at the store for the last couple of days, sorting out hundreds of titles from tons of newly-arrived consignments from their parent company in Saudi Arabia, meant for the exhibition.

The Fair, into its 29th edition this year, officially begins tomorrow (March 19) and ends on Sunday, March 28. Some 857 booths have been taken up and 2 million visitors are expected to visit this grand event.

I first knew of Dakwah Corner's Malaysian branch last year and checked out the place out of curiosity really, to peruse the titles that they carry locally. We visited their main outlet in Makkah two years back during our Hajj and bought some books there as well.

The bookshop in PJ also provides free Islamic literature for people who want to learn more about Islam. I personally like Dakwah Corner because of the abundance of titles in English. I find reading the kitabs in English much more satisfying somehow.

And the section for children is filled with colourful and beautifully illustrated reading materials guaranteed to hold your kids' attention for hours while at the same time inculcating Islamic values into their young minds.

So don't forget to check out Dakwah Corner at the Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair 2010. They are located at booths D 04 & D 05, PWTC Hall 2. Look for Nawwar, Siti and Imran; they'd only be too happy to assist you. Mari kita sama-sama berdakwah setakat termampu.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Weekend Rant

I am not exactly thrilled to open the papers these days. Being greeted by far too many unpleasant tidbits as one's breakfast fodder is hazardous to one's mental health. Unfortunately, I do not have the privilege of choice in this matter.

Like it or not, scanning the dailies is one thing I have to do as a public relations consultant. The need to be on the ball is key to my professional survival. Reading the papers, therefore, is my occupational hazard.

Before I ramble on, let me get something off my chest first. I have a wish that I have been harbouring for a while now. I want to strangle the next person who rubbishes the media, mainstream or otherwise.

So if you happen to find yourself in my company, please be warned. Stop being a self-righteous prick by branding this paper and that as a propaganda machine because they are, no matter where they stand; to the left, right or in no man's land.

For every newspaper that is unashamedly pro-establishment, there is another that's nothing less than the opposition mouthpiece. They answer to different political masters after all, thus serve their respective master's interests.

So stop pontificating. Chuck that 'holier than thou' attitude before I swat your face with 'ollewspaper'. I am first and foremost a journalist; insult the papers and you are insulting my profession.

Time to go read the papers. I need meat for my writing...

PS: I used to read the official newspaper of an 'Islamic' political party in days of yore for its pretty decent articles on Islam, before the tone and manner of writing in that party organ became so politically rabid and lopsided that I lost interest...

Saturday, March 6, 2010

To Sir With Love

Cikgu Din, still slim and trim after all these years, with his erstwhile pupil, who has grown fourfolds from size S to XL in just as many decades.

The reunion also brought together four 'old gals' of Sekolah Tun Fatimah (STF), Johore Baru. From left: Fatimah, Zahana (my sister), Rohani and yours truly. A pleasant surprise that really was.

Standard 6, Class of '66. The guy in off-white shirt and brown pants sitting next to me is Zubir Embong (now Datuk Zubir and a former MP), a school rascal if ever there was one, whose gocoh (fist fights) sessions were legendary. In the back row are some of our former teachers; one of them Zubir's father, Cikgu Embong, who would seek Cikgu Din's intervention to bring his exasperating son to book.

Cikgu Din

When I was seven in 1961 he must have been in his mid-20s. A looker he really was; small-framed with sawo matang (darkish) skin and thick, wavy hair done in the style of Elvis Presley (with a hint of 'curry puff' for that killer effect), and a broody look reminiscent of Marlon Brando.

All the bachelor teachers, himself included, were housed in a rumah berek (barrack-like housing) painted yellow just down the slope from our wooden house on stilts in Kampung Baru, Bukit Besi.

Because of our close proximity to the teachers' housing, I inevitably became his little helper; carrying his teaching paraphernalia and students' exercise books that he took home daily for marking. I enjoyed being useful, and he graciously allowed me to.

His was the quiet voice of authority in my life then, apart from Grandma's ceaseless prattle and Grandpa's occasional rejoinder. At home Pah and Tok Ayah ruled, but in school it was him I looked up to because in my young eyes, he was king of all he surveyed.

It's a marvel how the memories of him, and him alone amongst all those who had taught me in Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Besi from 1961 to 1966, stood out in my mind over the years.

I carried him with me throughout the changing seasons of my life, never forgetting how deeply I felt for this teacher who held my hand when I first step foot into school, and again in the last year before I moved on, out of the school and his life, and out of Bukit Besi itself.

I had often wondered if I would ever see him again. We lost touch when I left Bukit Besi to continue my schooling in Dungun 33 kilometres away, and eventually to Sekolah Tun Fatimah in JB.

By the time I completed Form Five and moved on to Kuala Terengganu to begin Sixth Form, memories of him were deeply entrenched in the far recesses of my cluttered mind, to be aired every now and then with a wistful "Whatever happened to Cikgu Din...?" And nobody seemed to know the answer.

By the grace of God, it was in the holy city of Makkah Al-Mukarramah while on the Hajj pilgrimage in 2008 that the link long severed was finally resumed.

In the throng of millions, who would I meet but a couple from Trengganu who turned out to be neighbours of Cikgu Din! They said they knew him well, that he was in his 70s and a bit frail physically but still on the ball otherwise.

I made a promise to myself that I would find time to visit him upon my return. Before I knew it, a year had passed and I was up to my ears with work. Then our secondary school in Dungun held a reunion and off I went, but the trip was too fleeting to go a-hunting for Cikgu Din's abode.

A week ago today, in a place where his life and mine first became entwined, Cikgu Shamsuddin Yusof and I met again after 44 years. What an emotional moment it was when I took his hands and kissed them, eyes brimming with tears. Words were redundant at moments like this....

PS: Some 100 former students, and about 10 teachers, turned up. The reunion was for Standard Six classes from throughout the 1960s to year 1970.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dungun Di hatiku

Penghujung Mei ini genap tiga tahun Mak kembali ke Rahmatullah. Allahyarhamah Nor Zaleha pergi mengadap Ilahi berikutan kidney failure pada umur 72 tahun, meninggalkan lapan anak, lebih dua puluh cucu dan hampir sepuluh cicit.

Semasa menghadiri majlis reunion bekas pelajar Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Besi pada Sabtu lepas, saya bersama adik, Nor Zahana, yang juga alumnae SKBB, meluangkan masa menziarahi pusara Mak dan Bapak di Dungun. Malang sekali kami tak pasti yang mana satu pusara Opah.

Lama betul tak karau air; kat tepi pusara tu ada satu perigi, so kami karaulah air setimba sorang untuk disiram keatas pusara keduanya, disamping mensadaqahkan Al-Fatihah keatas roh mereka. Semoga Allah swt mengasihani mereka dan memberi kelapangan kepada mereka. Amin.

Saya sentiasa berpesan dengan anak-anak: sekembalinya saya ke Rahmatullah, saya mahu pusara saya tanpa adornments (binaan/hiasan). Jangan sekali-kali dibina apa-apa diatasnya. Cukup hanya dua nisan untuk menandakan tempat...

Pantai Dungun yang damai dan hening tapi amat mengguris perasaan. Sayu betul hati semasa berdiri di sini. Pantai ni membawa berbagai kenangan manis; inilah tempat saya menghabiskan masa buat revision dan study sebelum exam, tempat kami girl guides ber'campfire', dan tempat bersantai dengan kawan-kawan sekolah. [masa tu belum ada manmade embankment seperti dalam gambar].

Namun demikian, duka hati ini terubat kerana dapat berjumpa dengan guru-guru yang mendidik saya sejak Darjah Satu (1966). Bayangkan saja, kini usia saya menjangkau 56, dan diketemukan kembali dengan mereka setelah hampir setengah abad tidak bersua. Alhamdulillah, syukur. [Reunion story to come..]

Monday, March 1, 2010

Kereta Kena Curi

Our trusty four year-old jalopy, a metallic champagne-coloured Wira, registration BJH 241, got stolen this morning at Glenmarie, Shah Alam.

Pak Abu parked the car in front of an office and went inside for a meeting at 11 am; he came out an hour later, in time to see the Wira being driven away!

Unfortunately, there was no opportunity to give chase. A police report, however, was made 30 minutes later at the Shah Alam police station.

What's even more painful (to Pak Abu especially) is that the boot held his entire golfing paraphernalia :- golf set, golf shoes, his broad-rimmed felt hat, additional woods and irons, tubes of brand new balls, tees....

This is truly a case of one downgrading too many. For the past few years, we have been steadily trimming our lives of excesses (although Pak Abu drew a line at golf and club memberships).

Top of the 'downgrade list' was the car; it was goodbye to luxurious and fancy wheels and welcome to Kereta Nasional. Between Perdana, Waja and Wira, we decided on the most economical.

We must say we have been happy with the Wira. It took us from point A to point B without much fuss; besides being affordable, it was also easy to maintain and even easier to handle.

And now someone has helped to further downgrade our transportation - to naught...!