Thursday, November 26, 2009

On Indefinite Leave

In other words, I've gone A.W.O.L.! Mama mia!


Do visit me here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cakapaje/

Sunday, October 4, 2009

4 Babes and a Baby

Many years ago when the picture '3 Men and a Baby' was released, I waited eagerly to catch on the cinemas in Malaysia. Always a fan of a good comedy, what I wanted to see most wast Tom Selleck in a role which I had never seen before. However, as fate would have it, I never did get to watch it to this date. Don't know why, but when they came out with a sequel to it, it sort of turned me off. In fact, all movies with sequels, with exception for science fictions, always turns me off. Not to fret though, because in a way now, I have managed to relived the movie with some twist or two. For one, instead of 3 men, we had 4 babes! And as for the baby, well, I guess even an over-grown one will have to do.


This past Raya was a very quiet celebration for Emak and I. What, with almost the entire street empty with the Muslims off to their kampungs and the non-Muslims vacationing somewhere, Emak and I almost slept throughout the first week of Syawal. And while this Raya was quieter than then yesteryears, it also turned out to be something very much different.

Normally, we would drive south to Emak's hometown in Melaka Pindah, Alor Gajah, even if it be on the 3rd day or so, especially since her father and elder brother are not around anymore. But this year, Emak, Makcik Yam, and Maklang (Emak's youngest and eldest sister), planned a trip to Alor Setar where another of their sister, Mak Ngah, awaits. And there we were by late Sunday afternoon of 27 September.

At this juncture, I would like to apologise to all my friends for not being online. Fact is, the connection of late, really sucks. In fact, my mood to write even this entry has dissipated as I was cut off whilst writing that last paragraph above. So, I'll just end my entry here with a belated Eid Mubarak wish to all. And please do visit Painting Pictures here for pictures of the above, as well as Cakap Gambar later.


ps. Do give a thought to the people in the Pacific Islands, Indonesia, the Phillippines, and Cambodia, for the recent catastrophy they suffered. Al-Fatihah to all the Muslims there.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Stranger In The Midst

Except for the week before and the first 2 days of Ramadhan, I have been spending nights awake in Kampung Baru, hanging around a burger kiosk with the strange name of 'Mat Salai'. Nothing really much to shout about with a name as that, but the products are totally different from the normal beef or chicken burgers Malaysians have been accustomed to. For one, the patty used here are 80% meat which makes them more filling to the stomach. Then, there's the sauce used...


Surprisingly, the narrow street of Jalan Raja Muda Musa, can be very busy and congested, equal to the traffic chaos that can rule the day in Kuala Lumpur whenever Selangorians enjoy a public holiday. On such a day of the latter mentioned, yours truly remember being caught in a 3hour standstill which nearly drove him and all in the vehicle crazy. Off course, the heavy rain that fell during the rush hour traffic was faulted by many. What, with big puddles blocking nearly half the roads of KL and Malaysian drivers known for their selfish attitude of not wanting to give but demanding to take, it was a wonder that except for small arguments and shouting of expletives, the situation did not deteriorate into anything unhealthy. Well, to the human physique, that is. As for those many vehicles then, that was another story. But for this narrow street here in Kampung Baru however, it sometimes boggles one's mind thinking about it.

The kiosk owner normally arrives between 10 and 11pm each night, except for Mondays which he gives his 2 helping hands, and himself, off course, the day off. Troubled by an ailment medically termed as Frozen Shoulder, he relies heavily on Mat Nur, a young man of 24, who has proven to be more than a handyman, priding himself as the cook for the kiosk and occasionally assisted by a lady of late 20's who is a divorcee with a 7 year old boy, but yet to enroll in any school due to some problems relating to his documents. To complicate matter, the father of the boy had left the family sometime back and is now untraceable.

As the Kiosk Owner (KO) walks to the kiosk which was hemmed in between a Raya cookie stall that specialises in Kueh Bahulu and another where the specialty there is Rendang Minang, the KO raised his voice to Rahman, the 7year old boy, to take his toys further away so that the helpers' movement are not impeded. Ranie, the mother, quickly ushers the boy away fearing a tongue lashing from her employer, but one which was only hinted upon but never given. That Sunday night however, proved to be the last night for Ranie there as the KO, due to lack of sales and Ranie's lack of attention to work, decides to terminate her. But before doing so, he holds consult with Mat Nur, and Kak Na, the Raya Cookie stall owner, who bakes her Kueh Bahulu in an oven on the open space behind the 3 stalls there. And as if blessed by the month, Ranie found herself a new employer in Kak Na, with the chores to be determined later.

On hearing the growls of an angry sky above, KO looks up to a beautiful sight of a full moon projecting its light onto the rain clouds, illuminating them with blueish orange splendour and making the clouds look less frightening than their dark bulging sizes filled with tiny water droplets still building within, and one which would normally be followed by shearing winds, earth shaking thunder, and the deadly split-second strikes of lightnings. While the inhabitants of modern concrete buildings may pass the expected storm unaware, the people living in the traditional houses or other structures where the roof is nothing but a thin sheet of zinc, the roar of the rain falling can be totally deafening, causing groggy eyes in the morning for those unaccustomed to such sounds. Shivering cold as such nights can be, they are none the less dry while those on the streets are soaked wet as the canopy of the stalls they seek shelter in, do not have walls to stop the rain water sweeping in brought by the winds. KO shrugs his shoulder knowing that were the storm unleashed, there is nothing much he can do but accept the will of Allah s.w.t. willingly.

As he walks back to the stall, KO is greeted by Nurul Islam, a one-legged young man who walks the streets of Kampung Baru using a thick long cane as a staff, and a crutch. Dressed in kain pelekat and baju Melayu, and wearing the kopiah, Nurul is a familiar sight to the the people here, where on a glance, hel might be mistaken as an Indian Muslim due to his skin tone and manner of dressing. He is however, not.

Years ago, Nurul came over to Malaysia from his native Myanmar, seeking ways to eke a living, and is now beginning to hold trust for his help in healing an aching muscle with his massage technic. And it is for that very reason which KO has been trying to catch hold of Nurul these past few nights ever since knowing about it, in hope of remedying the ailment afflicting him. Having secured a time and date, KO politely withdraw to give a helping hand to Mat Nur who was attending to a growing number of buyers. Just like the passing traffic, the buyers can grow in numbers within a few short minutes, and later leaving it empty for a longer duration. The buyers and the traffic snarl there, KO begins to notice, behaves quite like the tides of the sea: when the tide is in, the crashing of the wave play like music to the ears; when it is out, one can lie on the beach without fear of being dragged out to the open sea.

Another young man walks by. Sporting a cap which resembles a cross between a beret and a jockey's cap, his walk is almost like a gait similar to, if one would remember well, Huggy Bear, a character in a 1970's TV hit series "Starsky & Hutch". With his tanned leather jacker worn over his shoulder even on a sweltering night, one may well be forgiven that this young chap is of African descent. He walks from one end of the street to the other and back, sometimes repeating it 2 or 3 times in a single night without any seeming purpose. His hands are bare from any purchases, except for a litted cigarette which strangely, always seem to be half-smoked. Not a full cigarette, or one near its end, but always half-smoked. And interesting character, KO must have thought.

Suddenly, when all the buyers have left, 2 children crossed the narrow street and asked for a 'Teh Mat Special', a concoction of specially prepared tea and cream milk, shaken in metal cannister, and served in a plastic cup with white foam sprayed on top of the drink. Always happy to oblige children, Mat Nur wonders out loud at the danger of this street, where at any given moment, young motorcyclists would be whizzing by without much thought for the pedestrians there.

At 3am, the tide of cars come streaming in again only to grind to a halt. Along the stretch of this road, food stalls occupy the parking spaces and several cars park at their whims, blocking almost half of one lane. Then, some unthinking driver decided to double park just so he and his party could walk a shorter distance to the eatery of their choice, only to be asked to drive away by the stall operators. Such vehicles would only block the smooth flow of traffic and hence, put a damper on any buyers who thronged the street there. That in turn, would result in poorer sales for the stalls.

By 4am, KO is beginning to feel the strain on his left shoulder. His upper arm now throbs with a dull pain and he decides to call it for the night. Taking out the cash box, he counts the collection for the night, and then gives Mat Nur his salary for the day. Both men smile at one another as they shake hands customary to Muslim tradition.

Normally by 5am, Mat Nur would tidy up the kiosk and secure it with a long chain. The ratlle of the chain as it is pushed along the metal walls of the kiosk is now another sound to be added to the cacophony that can be on that street. That same rattling sound will be heard again around 4pm the following day.

***.***

To friends and visitors of this blog, should you pass by Jalan Raja Muda Musa in Kampung Baru, KL, do drop by the burger kiosk, easily recognised by its unmistakable bright orange colour. By chance, you might meet the Kiosk Owner who is also known by some as cakapaje.

Also, do click here for some pictures which might interest some.


* To my friends, kindly accept my apologies for not being able to visit you of late.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Kompot: Tail of a Kitten

Old folks used to say it is bad luck to take pictures of a cat. They said, the cat would meet with premature death.

While I believe what those old folks said were mere superstition, I somehow never did snap any. Either there were no real reasons to do so, or I just feared to have guilty conscience hanging on my shoulder. Until about 2 months ago.

While trying to take a picture of a tree, Cing - one of the 2 strays that come and go as they please to my house (the other being Ku) - walked across the street right into the frame. As the picture was devoid of any subjects except for the tree and other small plants, I naturally was thrilled to snap Cing, and the picture is now somewhere in my Painting Pictures blog. Since then, more opportunities came my way.

***.***

The sound was unmistakably that of a kitten. From its mewing I gathered it was still small, the age where it still craves for the mother's milk as well as the warmth of her body. Judging from its cry for a great part of the night, I had feared that the mother may very well not return due to a matter where mortals are incapable of avoiding. Sadness crept within but there was nothing I could do - the kitten, was well within a neighbour's compound.

Thomok II was the last cat I had as my own. A tomcat he was. And like many other tomcats in urban areas where territories overlap one another, Thompok IIconstantly comes back all bruised and battered, involved in a scrap with a larger and more ferocious tomcat living next door. Still, Thompok II held his heads high and continued to defend his patch within the grounds of our yard.

The next morning, the next door children sounded full of joy. Then, one of them said "comel nya!". Instinctively I knew my asumptions the previous night was wrong. This kitten must have been separated from its family and brought to the neighbour. But this initial sigh of relief was later pestered by the kitten's continous cry thoughout half the day. Stepping out to have a look myself, I was greeted by the neighbour, a tall but friendly guy. In fact, he and his wife have been nice especially towards my emak. Problem is, the kitten is now afraid of their children - all 3 are rough and tumble boys - and have fled across the fence into my area. As one who love cats, I just could not resist taking it into my arms and began carressing. That, turned out to be a mistake.

Thompok II was the kitten of a stray that gave birth to more than several litters of cute and adorable kittens, many within the small shed at the back of the house. Eversince he began eating solid food, we became attached to one another and over the years, he learnt a trick or two: he liked to sit on my shoulder, balancing himself rather precipitously when I stand and walk. Another was to greet me when I come home from school by jumping onto me quite like a dog with it's master. However, what I least liked about him was when he catches mice and leave them on the front of the kitchen door, perhaps as a gesture of thanks. Either that, or he must have thought that I needed to eat more.

Sometime last week, the neighbour and his family went back to their kampung. Seeing that the kitten is already attached to me, they gave me his ration for the several days they'll be gone. And for the 4days and nights after, the kitten and I became more attached. In fact, she began following me for short walks, something another cat from another time long ago did.

Thompok II was named after another cat several years before: Thompok. Then, we were living in Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan, and had to move to KL, bringing Thompok along with us. As the roads then were small and treacherous at certain stretches, it was a 2night trip, with a stopover somewhere in a chalet near a beach in Terengganu (can't remember the other stop, though). The next morning, the entire family took a walk along the beach...with Thompok walking beside us, running further inland whenever a wave come too close for comfort, then resuming its position beside us when it was safe. At one point of time, we even put him on a coral and there were visibly, not a single protest from him. I may have been only 6 then, but I remember the day very well even now. Sadly, slightly more than 2 weeks after we settled into the house in Section 20, PJ, Thompok dissapeared from our lives.

However, all was not well for Kompot and me. For one, I realise the growing bond between us have to be broken before the neighbour return. This, would make it easier for her to return to her 'family'. Another, was that emak's rashes was beginning to redevelop, the allergy which could perhaps be the kitten itself. Emak is also squeamish with cats, especially when kittens rub themseves at her legs. There has been several occasions in the past when she literally jumped out of her seat when a kitten does. At her age now, this is something to be avoided. But oh, she does love cats and this is evident with Kompot.

The neighbours - till earlier today - had not given her any name. Thus, for reasons quite evident in the second picture, I had begun calling the kitten 'Kontot', to which she responded quite reluctantly. 2 days before the neighbours returned, Emak changed the name to 'Kompot', which she said describes the tail more aptly, and far more better than the one I gave. I have to agree. And so too it seem with Kompot.

Early Friday morning as I stepped out of the house, 2 of the boys came running towards me shouting "ayah beli bola pingpong! Kucing to tengah main ngan bola tu!".

I was glad to hear that as it means the neighbours are beginning to understand Kompot's need for affection and attention. But at the same time, I felt a tinge of sadness as I do miss giving it to her. To force her to return to her 'family, I had to use the water hose to spray her, and chase her every time she wandered into our yard to her favourite berth, that of large vase and home to a fern plant; n the past few days she was with us, that was where she would emerge from every time I called her name.

Several hours ago as I stepped out of the house as I normally do on very warm nights, Kompot was sitting on the wall dividing the 2 compounds. Soon as she started her mewing, I stepped back in and closed the door. Whether she likes it or not, she belong to the neighbours and she must learn to accept it. As I did.

Kompot, by the way, has a new name already. Perhaps due to her constant mews, the boys named her Siti Nurhaliza.



ps. To my friends: I lost my hp and all the numbers contained within. Kindly email me your number so we can keep in touch. Thank you.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Cello Hums Again

Just how does one describe the sound of a cello? A hum? Honestly, I do not know. What I do know though, is that I love the sound reverberating from one, having seen it played countless times on the TV series 'Air-Wolf'. Never once did I thought I could listen to it's deep soulful hum played in front of me. Well, actually, even that is not right as I normally have to hide behind a wall.

The picture on the left is a sketch by aN_archi, a friend of Cikgu Nazir, and a multi-talented teacher who will be retiring in less than 3 months now. When he uploaded the picture as an entry several nights back, it reminded me of Syairah Hanin, a young pianist and cellist, who is now studying - of all subjects - Mathematics, in Berkeley, California.

When I first learnt of the subject she was pursuing, my mind immediately recalled 'Numbers', a TV series using Mathematic equation to solve a crime. "So, you're going to join the series after graduation?" I asked her sometime last year.
"Yeah! Why not? Or perhaps, make my own", she replied.
Quite a sassy young lady she is, perhaps following the lead of her eldest sister, Syairah Hanis, who is a young architect with a firm called Stern Architects, Inc.

Sometime last week, Syairah Hanin came back for the summer holidays. A few days after that, I thought I heard her cello hummed again, but was disappointed that the sound came from a radio of her neighbour. Seriously, she would never play the cello with me around for some reasons. But once in a while, I managed to steal into the house without her realising it, and listen to her cello being played from behind a wall. I just hope that I would be able to catch her again before she goes back for her studies.

That's her up there with her cellom. On the right is her cousin, Nursara, who is quite attached to her. Can't remember the occasion the picture was taken, but it was sometime last year, just before she went off for her studies. And the reason for this entry is the likeness between the sketch by aN_archi, and the picture above. Off course, except that Nursara is lively girl and not a cat as in the sketch.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Piece Of History In Ashes

It seem like a long time ago, now. When we moved to Petaling Jaya from Kota Bharu, Kelantan, the only noteworthy place to go then was PJ New Town, or 'State', as it was called, by virtue of the State Cinema located there. It still is. Both, the cinema, and the area around that it - a landmark that refused to be demolished. Not that there were no efforts to do so before, mind you. But it stood defiant against the partial redevelopment around it.

Other than State, PJ had nothing much to offer then with the exception of Section 14, where a large open air eatery by the name of Medan Selera can be found. It was nothing grand. But folks around PJ would throng to it at night, and especially during the weekends. Off course, there was also the wet market located some 200-300 meters up the road. It would not mean much to some, except in a stall just outside the wet market, a Makcik sold what was reputed to be the best Lontong dish in town. Though the Makcik - I was informed - is no longer around, her dish is still much sought after by many and is normally sold out by 9am. The business now run by her son, has remained true to her recipe; a legacy that stood the test of time and development (they now operate in the wet market/parking complex).

Opposite to the wet market then, was a cooperative supermarket with the name Usahajaya which provided delivery right to the doorsteps of a buyer.But unlike the business of the Makcik and her Lontong, Usahajaya began losing its customers to a new competitor, whose very presence spoke of a reputable name in the business, Cold Storage. The new supermarket and the building it resides in, was called Jaya Supermarket.

Pic courtesy of MStar Online.

For some PJ folks, the supermarket of Jaya itself may not be much to gawk at as there was, some few years before, another supermarket by the name of Thrifty. Thrifty, as the name suggest, sold its goods at a much more competitive price. But as it was a supermarket and nothing more than that. Jaya, on the other hand, was more than a supermarket. It was a mini shopping complex. It had entertainment (in the form of a pub-restaurant on the 1st floor, complete with a live band). It was new. It was trendy.

Perhaps more importantly, it was located on the northern part of PJ - the Federal Highway was and still is the border line. Being on the northern part which was experiencing rapid development then, meant Jaya was also easily accessible to the rising number of middle class residents there, as well as the more affluent folks of the Section 16 enclave.

When I read about the tragedy in the old Jaya, I was as much shocked about the death as well as the puzzled about the demolishing job. Shocked, as it does seem strange for a building as sturdy as Jaya could collapse so easily (I have to add that I do not know the stage of progress of work done). Puzzled, as I had actually forgotten that Jaya had been closed and was marked for redevelopment. But when I read MStar (from the same link below the pic), then it dawned on me that I must have not visited visited the area for a very long time.

For many who are not aware of the area, apart from Jaya Supermarket, the other attraction there is the street leading down to the Section 14 Mosque, where hawkers would be selling their delicacies which include, a favourite of many and yours truly, the popiah of a one S.A.Bakar. I don't know if he is still in business. But for one who had been selling popiah on a bicycle, Bakar had managed to purchase 2 double-storey houses somewhere in PJ.

It does seem sad, now when one reflect upon it, that the building is no longer around. It, was The Place to be. It, was what spurred the growth of the area. It, became not just a landmark, but also an icon. But it, was also the scourge of many cursing motorist who had difficulty finding a parking bay, causing many to double or illegally park their vehicles. And that, led to more swearing as traffic builds up, at times one whole round around Jaya Supermarket. And off course, the later on addition of Metrojaya did not help one tiny bit at all - it just added on to it. And later still, the presence of more commercial banks and franchised food outlets made the streets there a chaotic scene.

In a cruel manner of speaking, perhaps it is better the way it presently.

Now, and I believe this to be the same prayers as many others, let us hope that the redevelopment would look into all aspects of the area such as traffic problems, and the presence of undesirable elements.

Jaya Supermarket. Adios, old friend.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Coconut

It lay between the sea and dry land, as if caught in a dilemma of going ashore (for good) or back to drifting on the currents of the open sea, which ironically, had the coconut drifted on perhaps, a journey more than a thousand miles from its home soil when it was torn apart from its bond to the tree that had been its family.

For a span of time which the coconut may have lost count, it lives on the very will of Allah s.w.t.: fight the frightening tall waves of sea storms, sleep through the dull dead calm of an open sea, grapple against the invasion of microbes and gargantuan sea creatures as they try to penetrate through the husk onto the kernel and inside of it - it survived, enduring the harshest of condition that it was meant to live through.

But now, it seem lost and at wit's end. Caught between the pull of two desires. One, to lay itself on the soft ground of the shore and grow to be tall and proud. Or, to return to the sea that had made it into a small legend. A hardy being. One, that had stood the test of time.

In all probability, it would return to the sea for a short spell while it search for a more conducive place to lay its roots. Literally. As it does, it will tell its future generations of the tales it had been harrowed upon; the memory of how it survived, shall be passed down via the very genes of its offspring - a tough, resilient coconut.

The same, sadly, cannot be said of my PC. Barely.


ps. Kindly visit Painting Pictures and give comment. If any, it would help yours truly to improve.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Just Be Aje

This is a story about a very short-sighted Sunbird with the name - well as the story goes, rather coincidentally - Aje. And as the story would have it, being short-sighted means Aje is not able to fly far from his home, very much unlike the other Sunbird, or rather birds for the matter. No matter how much Aje would love to, he has to remind himself that he is not like a bat armed with sonar and acute hearing, and able to fly through a maze of objects in the dark. No, Aje have to remind himself repeatedly he is not, remembering an episode in the past when he was inspired to think he was, by an affliction which strikes all those young at heart, humans included.

Then, springing to life at the end of the rainy season, Aje was, like all creatures big and small, yearning to immortalise his name within the Sunbird community and make a claim to a small territory of his own. In other words, Aje was looking for a mate to make a nest.


The day, just like any, began when Aje traipsed along a big branch on the tree where Aje lives. The tree, being a large one at that, off course have many branches as any large tree would have. And as the tree was large, this branch was one which Aje had never been on. Aje being there too, was rather fortunate (or unfortunate as the story would tell) after having glided down from the top branches quite like a flying fox, and he was very much surprised to land on this branch he had never been before. Well, in truth, it does not matter if he had or not. Being short-sighted, almost everything and every place is new to him.

From a distance of no more than a meter, Aje's short-sighted eyes caught the blurry shape of what he thought was another Sunbird, and moved closed towards it. As he got closer, his nose picked up the sweet scent of nectar, which smells like perfume to most birds (and bees and their likes). "Aha!"thought Aje, "could this that which my heart seek?". Aje moved closer.

"That's a lovely plumage you have" said Aje as he balanced himself on the branch just beside that which his heart seek.

"And that perfume you're wearing," Aje continued without waiting for any reply to his ice-breaker "it smells so much like nectar".

Under normal circumstances, the pick-up line would have gotten Aje into a female Sunbird's good book already as it is the highest form of flattery from a male. However, Aje received not a single reply even after several tries, and quietly said to himself "Must be one of those shy types I've been hearing stories about. Well, this would make it more exciting".

As it is with birds of all feathers, the males would have to do make a show of himself to catch the attention of the females and win their heart in the process. Some birds like the Peacock, would normally not have to do much as they let their tales be told by their tail. Other birds like the Magpie, whistle the females over with their melodious chirp. But a Sunbird?

Aje could not figure out what was it he was supposed to do and was looking around all over just for some small hints. He tried to play a game or two, but that which his heart seek, remained quiet and aloof.






Almost at wits end, Aje then remembered the tale of legendary birds of old who jump about quite feverishly just to catch a female's attention, and thought it might be a good idea to do so. But what the legend did not tell, was that those birds were Mexican Manakins, which Aje, apart from the legend told, have no inkling at all as to what they are or how they really go about in times such as this. Nonetheless, Aje, being young at heart - and like all young at hearts, a foolish one too - was willing to do just about anything now.



Aje hyped himself to the occasion, initialy humming a slow tune and then rapidly building it to a faster and faster beat. And as it got faster, so did Aje's body move with the rhythm until soon, he was prancing about quite like a mad bull seeing red. Off course, Aje was not seeing red. In fact, he practically see nothing at all except for blurry images all around him. But let that not stop Aje.

Between twigs and thorns, leaves and brushes, Aje was putting his best feet forward with a confidence he has not known before. He became bolder and with each pass, he would move nearer and nearer till he felt his feathers almost ruffling the female, and which got him thinking "She's beginning to take notice!".
In his excitement, little did Aje realise that the flapping of his wings has created a fair amount of air-wave, enough to rock the 'female' back and forth.

Finally, just as Aje thought he was about triumph, his right leg snagged on a twig causing Aje to fall over with the scene quite like those of a horse in a show jump. But off course, Aje is not a horse and thus came tumbling down only to land on another branch below. "She tripped me!" cried a bruised Aje, body and ego. And off course, a broken heart too.


Eversince then, Aje has sworn to remain his true self: Not a writer, nor a photographer. Not even a Manakin, or a bat. "Just be myself," vowed Aje the short-sighted Sunbird. And that is the way it has remain since.


Moral of the story: Just Be Aje.



Sekadar hiburan untuk teman teman, terutama rerama salju dan juga mereka yang sedang berduka, dengan harapan ianya dapat mengukir walaupun senyuman kecil di bibir anda.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Life That Was

Falling from a higher altitude, they looked very much like confetti in a ticker-tape parade - all white and graceful, swaying gently to the wind. Their drop was mesmerising, even as the leading birds regrouped into the V-formation that must have been. The descent was necessitated by the need of a landmark for navigation, in their annual migration to escape a bitter weather.

Soon, with weather permitting, they will mate and have hatchlings. With abundant food, the younglings will grow fast and ready to fly. And by the time the monsoon approach, these birds would have left this ground, flying back to where they came from, in a pattern that seem endless throughout time. The younger generation, as did the generation before them, will learn the migratory routes: wind patterns, resting places, and nesting grounds, from generations before, with little deviation, save those Allah has willed.

The migratory pattern of these birds and other creatures alike, are not without purpose. With each coming and going, they unwittingly bring with them new lives, adding to the bio-diversity of a locale. Without which, the growth of place becomes stunted and dull, with the likelihood of inner-breeding rearing its ugly head. Surely such are sights we can do without. If truly so, then together we must find a way to assist nature live its natural course.

Happy Earth Day. (New update at Painting Pictures).


* Kindly visit sis/blogger Rerama Salju. Whilst recuperating from a surgery, she suffered the lost of her younger brother in an automobile accident. The brother who had just visited her in the hospital, was the youngest in the family, one whom she had cared for and loved since birth.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Barbarian in Class

It has to happen, sooner or later; inevitable, and yet, certainly a welcome step towards the correct direction. After all, many societies in the past rose from their wild and barbaric ways to become a great civilisation. Through infusion of knowledge from other societies where some are far flung even in the modern mode of transporatation available today, these societies learnt to improvise, adapt and adopt, to become a respected civil society that is more often than not, feared by many. The history of mankind is replete with such stories. The same however, cannot be said for a certain barbarian living in this world of ours today.

"Some people drink deeply from the fountain of knowledge. Others just gargle", so said Grant M Bright, a certain leadership and management development expert. If truly so, then Bright must have expressively thought about this certain barbarian, which truly can be a strange thing as the two have never met, and nor is Bright even aware of the latter's very existence - apart from being barbaric, he is also a hermit. For the barbarian though, the truth of the quote may well depict him; having been forced to learn a new set of skills, the barbarian goes about trying figure out how best to adapt and adopt the newly acquired knowledge into his life - he is currently gargling. The success or failure of his forray into this field, will only be evident with the passing of time, or the life of him...the barbarian Aje.


Sometime last week, my friend Manan dragged me to Subang Parade. "It'll do you a world of good!" he said as I tried to keep up with his fast-paced walk. In his eagerness, he forget that his old friend here do have some problems with his left leg, which Aje was not about to cry out. I mean, hey, a Barbarian is supposed to be one tough hombre.

As we parked at the basement of SP, the walk was (thankfully) short. The entrance via SP's IT Centre, and up the escelator, led us straight to a camera shop where I was introduced to 2 gentlemen there by the name of Abas and Edwin. Both, I was told, posses some of the highest skills and technical knowledge in the world of Photography in Malaysia. While Abas rose in status from being a simple Sales Technician to becoming quite a well known name, Edwin is endowed with sharp eyes for beauty and is artistic in his approach. Both, needless to say, are well respected by many photographers. What then, one may be prompted to ask, was Aje doing there?

Well, as it turned out, Manan had enrolled himself into a 2hour basic photography class conducted by Fotobilk, with Abas imparting his knowledge and experience. And though Manan have had 3 or so years of experience in photography, the talk by Abas should not be something to be missed, he said. And since Aje was getting into it as well, Manan dragged him along.

Edwin (l) and Abas (r). In absence of one, Aje regard these two gentlemen as his sifu.

As it promised to be, the class was basic but rather invaluable to anyone new, either as a hobby or for work purpose. Manan, Aje, and the 8 other people there were briefed on the basics of photography and some mechanics of the camera. It was here then that Aje found out that Photography, is both, an Art as it is a Science; we were told that there is even a PhD in photography, which off course, had that Aje's mouth gaping wide. Needless to say, time pass by too fast when one is having fun, leaving Aje in want for more knowledge ( a later story).

Armed with the basic knowledge, Aje found himself taking more and more photographs from a garden in Kota Damansara. Surprisingly, for such a small patch, Aje took more than 500 pictures. One thing though, before Aje finishes off with his story, both Abas and Edwin had advised against cropping pictures as it would lead to a lesser development of skills needed. And true, ever since then, Aje found that certain pictures do need the depth (or width) to convey the message or beauty of the scene. However, due consideration have to be given to space limitation and even upload speed of large uncropped pictures. To his best though, Aje will try not to crop any of the pictures after this date. Now undoubtedly, the question remains in the minds of several (Aje himself included): Has the class done Aje any good?

A barbarian Aje may well be. But to be conceit, and a fool at that? Its best left to others to judge and give fair comment as only in such manner can Aje improve himself; kindly visit From A Small Patch I, II, and III at Pictures-Only, thank you.

Update: Thanks to my niece, Hanis, I have uploaded the pictures at Picasa web with the link as follow and slideshow below it:
From Emak's Patch


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lightning Struck

In the days of old, most people do not have to worry about lightning strikes simply because they have little or no electrical wares. And since most houses have tall trees around them acting as lightning rods, people lived in relative calm during thunderstorms. Unless, off course, if they happened to be out in the open field when it happen, or high up on a branch of a tall tree. Oh, and another; those tall trees around their house, do sometimes attract lightning. And when that happen, chances are the tree or part of it, might come crashing down on the house. Still, this is rather remote.

Living presently and in the city, one's daily life can be severely affected during thunderstorms. Like last Monday afternoon.

It has been the norm for me to pull out the Internet Modem's connection whenever I suspect or know of a coming thunderstorm. And I seriously thought I did, and thus went down to read papers with Emak and not worrying about the PC itself as most electrical appliance are quite safe with the main switch of each house shutting down automatically when there is a sudden electrical surge. Rare, but when it does happen, it would then lead to a blackout. But hey, the temporary darkness is better than having all the appliance burnt to crisp.

Lying on the sofa with a Harkah in hand, a sharp crack of lightning whizzed inside the living room, followed by an extra loud thunder which literally rocked the smaller items in the house, and had me jumping up in shock. It may have been in my mind only, for had it not, then surely I would have been burnt to cinders. Still, at the precise moment just before the crack, I saw a flash crossing my lower legs. The Malays would call it 'kilat', as it definitely was not a 'petir'. And neither was it 'The Kilat', a band that rose to fame in the early '70s for winning the 'Juara Kugiran' competition on RTM1.

Anyway, after saying zikr, I later went up soon as the weather permitted, and tried to go online as usual. But woe me, I soon found that the crack I heard was real as was the strike. My faithful modem which had been serving me for almost 3years now, refused to come to life; it, was struck by lightning! Well, power surge via the telephony line actually. Still, it left me dumb struck for 2days.

Looking back, I am off course thankful that it was just the modem. But, it made me wonder: Could not we have a more safer appliance like days of old?

I remember my arwah grandmother had a gramophone which had thick needles that can sew through the tough hides of an ox. Off course, I am exaggerating on that last part, but the point is, it was safe to play even during thunderstorm as it was not electrically operated, rather, hand-cranked. I imagine, many would be suffering stiff shoulders each morning having to crank their modem and PC the previous night just to stay online. As much as I would like to come online anytime irrespective of the weather, alas, I do not think it is a good idea.

Its quite a pity that I have yet to take a picture of the gramophone, which sadly, only the shell remains now. Perhaps, the picture below would have to do for now.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Desaru: The Hunt For Enggang (II)

When MS and I spoke earlier this morning, he mentioned that I ought to take as many shots as possible to familiarise myself with the camera, as well as gain experience on photography techniques, especially since I have had no formal training on the subject. True, and I have been doing as he advised though admittedly, not on daily basis. I also read somewhere, famous people in their respective fields such as Tiger Woods, practice a thousand swings daily just to keep in form and better his play. And as much as I would like to take 1,000 shots a day, I have to keep in mind of my other limitations and responsibilities. However, I did manage to take more than two thousand shots during the 4day stay at Desaru. Of those, only a meagre few are worthy of mention and display. Some of these though, are meant for private use or safekeeping.


From the first morning experience at the beach in Desaru, Aje noted that the sprays of the wave after hitting the rocks on the beach can be quite an awesome sight. Thus, on the second morning, Aje positioned himself behind Emak just to snap pictures of the wave. Though he cannot admit to being successful, he hope the picture here would be able to convey what his eyes and mind perceived; that a wave can be a frightening force and at the same time, a fascinating watch.

As the wave hit the rock, a split second vaccuum is created in the area infront, imprinting an image of a mini amphitheater with the rock itself as the stage as well as backdrop, and Emak as the sole attending fan being entertained to the natural symphony of life beautifully played by the waves, the sand, the rocks, and as the accompaniment to the aria sung by the birds there.

The beach of the resort we stayed were wonderful as was the resort itself. The staff were, expectedly, friendly. What was better though, was the very competitive promotional rates given (only for weekdays and non-holiday periods). However, the rooms we had was rather stuffy perhaps due to lack of use. This, unfortunately, is a prevalent thing with most resorts which are normally out of one's way. The trick here, Aje learnt, is to ask for the upper floor rooms. Somehow, they are in better condition than those on the ground. (pics of sunrise and resort at Resort and Surrounding).

Though the beach at Desaru is great, it does have steep drops at places which can be rather dangerous to unwary waders. Comparatively, the lesser known but no lesser beautiful beaches along the road to Sedili Kecil, are flat and much safer.

Sedili Kecil, the town itself, is a one-street town with only several rows of shops, with the number of chalets and small resorts numbering more. Like many village-town, it is quiet and offer one a true retreat from life. This, is especially true for anglers. When Aje was there, an angler managed to land a 2kg kerapu. Perhaps, the fish farm at the mouth of the river, assisted in more ways than one (more pics at Sedili Kecil).

Undaunted with the non-sighting of the Enggang, Aje made his way around, driving through small roads and even walking into bushes alone; life, after all, is incomplete without an adventure, no matter how small the adventure is. While driving through a little used road which led to a resort already abandoned, Aje noticed a large activity of birds and decided to check it out. As he slowed down the car to a park, a bird (kingfisher?), flew by and perched itself on the branch of a tree directly opposite the road. To climb out with the intention of taking its picture would only scare the bird away, and thus, Aje just snapped away from inside the car. Quite like a safari, huh? (more pics on this at Kingfisher Alley).

With his spirit seesawing between the delight of capturing pictures of colourful birds, and the disappointment at not finding the Enggang, Aje began contemplating driving back. Along the way, he managed to snap several more pictures of a monkey, 'terkukur' bird, a robin, and a Kingfisher of the same colour as the one in Kota Damansara (more pics at Desaru: Misc).


The Sun then begins to drop ever lower as if reflecting Aje's resolve to capture at least on single picture of the Enggang he saw days earlier. The sighting then, was almost magical with the feeling quite like falling in love at first sight. Perhaps, Aje was just not meant to take the picture of the Enggang. Yet, ven as he drove back to the resort, his eyes ran wild, hoping for a last minute miracle. And a miracle it was.

Not 3km away from the resort, a flock of 6 Enggang flew gracefully across the road in front of Aje: it was a sight to behold. Aje parked the car as some of the birds made their way into the thicket. But one, was perched on an outer branch providing Aje with a semi-clear view for several shots. And when 2 more birds came swooping from behind, Aje shot them as well. And though the pictures of the flying Enggang is bad, he nonetheless uploaded it just to share his experience with other bloggers and friends (The Enggang may look small here. But click on the picture - and others - for a larger and clearer view). (More pictures at An Enggang in Desaru).

One would have thought that the new sighting would make Aje elated. Though he is thankful and happy, the white Enggang he saw earlier, was not with this flock.

Returning home to Kota Damansara, Aje searched the Net for articles and pictures of the Enggang and found out that they are not as exotic as he thought they were. And nor are the Enggang an indigenous bird of Borneo only (read here). Another blogger (here), also claims that the species can be found in abundance in Teluk Batik, Perak. That, is quite puzzling as last Aje was there some 3years ago, he does not remember ever seeing one.

All told, Aje also discovered that Enggang comes in a different sizes and hues. Yet, the picture of the white Enggang haunts him. Apart from the eyes which are large, round and mesmerising (to the point they look almost artificial), the white Enggang has a smaller tip at the top of its beak. And now that Aje knows of this comparatively nearer place to look for Enggang, insyAllah, when the chance avail itself, Aje will embark on 'The Hunt for the White Enggang'.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Desaru: The Hunt For Enggang (I)

It was not a planned trip; not the trip that was planned to take place in early May. But alhamdulillah, we were nonetheless happy for it even if it meant that the May trip is now out of the question. The family - those that are here - managed to go for a short break together for the first time in more than 20 years, even though Emi and his family had to cut short the trip on their second night due to health problems. Ironically, the trip was largely sponsored by him.

When Emi asked Aje to drive Emak and Yasmin (Din's wife) to Desaru, it took everyone by surprise. Still, it was an offer not to be refused. Din, who was already there overseeing Emi's project had been there for over 2 weeks. With the works almost completed, Emi wanted to personally see its completion and decided to bring his family along. And as it had been from the past, he takes pride in showing Emak most of his works. Thus there we were; Aje, Emak and Yasmin. (Due to genuine reasons, pictures of Emi's project is not to be displayed).

For Emak, apart from seeing Emi's work, she gets to soak her body in the seawater and sand in a bid to cure her rashes. For Yasmin, well, she gets to be her beloved hubby. That, leaves Aje not knowing what to do there except for the plans he had in mind as mentioned in 'Saddle-sore Aje'. Never in his dreams did he expect to to encounter a sight which left him yearning for more.

The morning after the first night, Aje drove Emak and Yasmin down to the town of Sungai Rengit. Apart from being the southern most town on the Peninsular (and the Asian mainland), the town was supposed to bring back memories of Aje's first visit to the area some 32years ago. Sadly, things have changed quite a bit over the years; the imprinted picture of the estuary no longer exist due to land reclamation works and what remains is a sorry stream that's hardly worth a stopover, what else a picture.

Before going out on his own to capture memories of yesteryears' with his camera, Aje took Emak and Yasmin back to the resort. It was during that drive Aje spotted a huge bird with gleaming white feathers and a beak which distinctly belong to the family of Hornbill birds - Enggang! The Enggang, is a native of Borneo and never did Aje thought of being able to see one here in the Peninsular. With its long tail and and beautiful beak, it is said to be regal for a non-predatory bird. And truly, it was. However, it flew off before Aje could get a shot at it leaving Aje with his mouth gaping.

After leaving Emak and Yasmin at the resort, Aje went off on his own with his mind set to capture at least one picture of the Enggang. Queries with the hotel staff and several locals along the way, Aje headed for several spots which the birds (there is actually a flock of 8) have been seen, beginning with a small river near Sungai Sedili.

After patiently waiting several hours, a fisherman informed Aje that for the 25years he had been living there, he had never seen the bird at all and directed Aje to Kuala Sedili, another river further north, which Aje did. The hours which Aje spent there however, was not wasted as he managed to take a number of pictures of some beautiful Kingfishers such as the one below (more pictures at River Kingfisher).

The wait at the Kuala Sedili proved quite futile for Aje's quest. Yet, Allah s.w.t. being the Most Kind, rewarded Aje with another beautiful sighting, that of an Eagle (more pictures at Desaru Eagle); Aje, however, could not make out the Eagle type.

As the day was getting late, Aje made his way back to the resort filled with his resolve to search for the Enggang.

The next day, with his duties dispensed, Aje headed south, this time along memory lane of where his family once stayed during their vacation some 32years ago. He found the chalets, and the particular one where Aje aggravated his left leg condition with a jump over the railing of the balcony. Serve him right too for trying to show to a pretty young lass there. Wonder though, what has become of her now (more pictures of the area at Beach In Memory).

Yet, for the half of the day Aje spent looking for the Enggang, he could not find any. But in between the search, Aje found several spots of more birds as well as beautiful flowers. One in particular, had Aje amused. The bird (a robin?), had tried to weave a nest at a small branch. Entrhalled, Aje watched the whole process up to the point where the bird, inexperienced at the art perhaps, gave up within less than 30minutes. (More pictures at Weaving Nest).


As for the wild flower below, it caught my attention as it looks quite like a Venus Flytrap (Flowers Desaru 1, Flowers Desaru 2, and Flowers Resort).




To Be Continued (its 3.20am!)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Birdshots

Foremost, do forgive that Aje fella for putting up nothing but pictures he's taken recently. He is, after all, going through a photography craze (kemaruk!). Well, admittedly, he's not talented at all, the poor bloke. But, it does seem to keep him happy.

When I lost the pictures folder yesterday, I thought that was it. Then, I remember having a nephew who is quite an IT wizard (in the making) and asked for his advice. The solution he gave? It was so simple and it made me feel like a fool: All I needed to do was download 'PC Inspector Recovery' from the Net, he said. And with that, I managed to extract quite a number of those pictures with several displayed here, and at Pictures-Only.

Soon after that, and heeding MS's advice, I decided to learn using Picasa and found it truly an amazing software. Its not just that it is able to enhance the images (which I am not too keen about), but it helps to suppress the file size, making uploading of images a breeze. And as for the images I've uploaded today, I admit to using 'sharpen'. 'soften', and 'contrast adjuster', without touching on the other tools available there. Even that, I found the colours, especially for the series of Kingfisher shots, somewhat too rich for my liking. The 2 pictures of the Magpie below, however, seem to pale in comparison.



The Kingfisher (below), was the subject of my stalk for several hours, after having spotted only its blue-colour tail flying into the darkness of the tress of the forest there. After waiting quite a bit and was about to hightail out of the place, a movement caught the corner of my eye and instinctly knew it was the bugger. Alhamdulillah, it was as though I was being rewarded for the patience and managed a series of shots. But he does look kind of odd here, with the head and lower body in brown, and the chest in white.

MS told me of a story of a Singaporean who patiently stalked a bird every weekend for a whole year. Travelling all the way to a point in the Muar River, the man was rewarded for his dilligence, and patience, with the 1st prize in a Sony Nature Shot Competition Worldwide. Well, I do not think I can ever come close to the quality the guy managed, but I can understand and appreciate what he went through. Perhaps, when I gain more knowledge and experience, the reward, will be the picture itself, as I believe it was with that Singaporean. And who knows, the trip to Desaru tomorrow, might just give me more exposures. InsyAllah.

Update 1.09am / 010409: The Desaru trip has been postponed to Thursday morning, leaving me either the morning or afternoon free to snap more pictures at the lake. Boy, I really am 'kemaruk'!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Down...But Not Our For The Count

Don't know how it hit me. Perhaps, moving around in the bushes of the forest surrounding the lake, a female mosquito or two, thought I was bringing their saviour and sucked up my precious blood. To them, its a case of life or death. To me, it was a case of lowering my blood pressure. Literally! Well, the LBP, that is, as the doctor said to me when I went to the clinic for the fever that somehow is still lingering. Now, whether its the rain that has been falling incessantly every afternoon, or the mosquito bites that got to me, I have no idea as yet. But one thing for certain, they left me in a state of 'kemaruk'.

Except for meal times, I have been sleeping the fever off the whole of last Saturday and Sunday. And during the meal times, I have been eating a whole lot more than my normal diet! Even today, I'm still feeling sleepy all day long and have been eating more than I should. Talking of which, I have, for the past 3 days, been craving for a good 'ayam kampung', but the nearest around is in Ulu Subang Jaya, which the restaurant in my opinion serves the best 'Ayam Kampung' around. But since I am in no condition to even drive, it will have to wait till tomorrow or the day after. Well, the wait will perhaps serve to whet my appetite better when I do 'tapau' the food there. And though that may very well be, I'm afraid MB, my friend, will have to wait for another photo-shoot session before I can meet his expectations. Simple reasons being, while fidgetting around with Picassa, I accidentally deleted the entire folder containing the pictures taken using the Canon. Woe me. But, that ought not be a big problem.

The other night when I was with our bro MS - back on a short break - he was teaching me about the big picture in photography. Sheesh! And here I was, taking up a long lost interest (30 odd years long), and finding it a totally different picture than when I learnt and thought than. And the only real reason for doing so, was my frustration at not being able to take close-ups of pictures at events which I had covered, either with LKKPP or webtv8. Thus, when MB commented using 'artistic outlet', believe me, that came quite as a shocker and realisation as well, as all I wanted to do initially was take pictures especially at events. But no sooner after that, I found the interest to take pictures of the natural world, without any thought about them being 'artistic' at all. Guess, I now have to refocus my thoughts accordingly. As MS mentioned, I now have to think objetively. Points, well taken. Thank you MB and MS, for you honest opinions.

Now, as for my putting up the pictures in my blogs, it was also initially meant for the events. After covering many events without still cameras at hand, it was getting bloody frustrating. And when there was - my brother's Olympus compact camera - it was not sufficient. Then my itchy fingers put up pictures captured by the Canon, only to find I was sorely missing certain things - the skills needed! That, is a big 'Boyo!' Oh well...that's Aje for you.

Don't matter, a fighter never quits...they just get knocked out! Hehe...nah. InsyAllah, I intend to pursue this. InsyAllah, I will be better. And when I do, year from now, I can look back at these earlier pictures and laugh out loud. By the way, as it is, I am beginning to. Especially with the picture of the Toman. No, not because its well taken, but I found out that many regular visitors to the lake have never been able to even glimpse at it.

With the folder gone, I may down but certainly far from out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wild Shots

During my last photo-shoot session at the Taman Rimba of Kota Damansara, I met a gentleman who was cleaning his fishing net at the car park. It may have been a ridiculous idea to think that the man had been netting fish in the lake of the Park, but nonetheless, I did throw the question to him to which he politely deny. Apparently an avid angler (and trawler), he travels quite a lot to rivers and lakes of Selangor and beyond. Then, it was his turn to ask of my presence, noting the camera I was totting. And soon, he was telling me about places which I should go to for better shots of nature, especially birds, such as Tanjung Sepat, Batu Arang, FRIM, Templer's Park, Selangor State Forest Reserve, Batu Dam and quite a number others which I am tempted to go. But for now, till Emak's condition improve to normal, I have to restrict my shots to just within Kota Damansara. Hearing this, he pointed out a section of KD which I was never made aware of; a small natural lake where many more birds and some wildlife still exist. I immediately made my way there, putting on hold my intention of trying to shoot a beautiful Kingfisher I had noticed on previous visits but was too far to capture on film, as well as the thoughts of shooting birds (swifts) skimming the waters of the lake at Taman Rimba. And I was glad I did.

On my first visit, I managed to venture into the interior of the forest surrounding this nameless lake accompanied by several schoolboys whom I met there and who kindly led the way.

I was stunned by the simple beauty of the lake and the natural world there. For the 3 odd years I have been here, I never thought that such a place could exist just on the fringe of a city, and took quite a number of shots as seen in this entry (more are being compiled for later). However today, when I tried to get more shots, the weather was not too permitting.

At past noon, the area was still shrouded with mist due to the long morning downpour. Still, not to be outdone, I waited and was suitably rewarded but not with the picture below.

Looking at the colour of its plumage as well as the long tail, I would swear the bird is a Macaw. But as evident from the shot, it was too far away to make a distinct identification. Off course, not having the much needed telephoto lens which can cost RM7,000, does not help either. This picture of the Macaw is grainy as it had be enlarged several times, unfortunately.

As the Sun was not at its best, I had to adjust the camera setting accordingly resulting in some overexposed shots such as the one of the Toman fish above. This is no fisherman's tale, but the the Toman could have been about twice my arm's length!

And off course, like in many forest, monkeys or apes are bound to be seen such as the baboon above. Perched more like a bird, this baboon looked menacing enough in real life. Much unlike the one below.
If truly the hobby of Sport Fishing and Photography has lots of similarities, then it must be the thrill of the catch (shot) that come one's way after a long wait that top the list. Patience, indeed, has its rewards.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Saddle-sore Aje

Growing up watching and reading lots of western, one of the things which puzzled me was the term 'saddle-sore', used by the characters in reference to a hard and long ride on a horse. For one whom had his first (and only) horse ride at the age of 27, it was kind of hard to imagine anyone getting sore sitting on a horse. That is, off course, till yesterday.


Its been about 32years now since I stepped on the shores of Desaru, Johor. Then, as a young teenager, the family like many, were on vacation during one of the school holidays. Not much I can remember about it now except for a few things and sceneries such as a WWII bunker that stood like a lone sentinel guarding a beach there. Logic may point out that it may have been built by the British as one of the means to fend off the Japanese expected invasion from the sea. But if I remember it well, someone mentioned it belonged to latter. And I had thought of visiting it again just to take pictures and make some notes. Sadly, it will have to wait till another time, perhaps in May or June of this year.

As it was a quick dash down south(10hours driving to and back, with about an hour only on the beach of Tanjung Balau), where Emi has a small landscaping project going on there, the only thing I could do was walk on the beach in vain hope of taking some nice pictures; it is not Tanjung Balau is not scenic, but that novice photographer in Aje still have lots to learn. Timing, for instance, may account quite a bit for a beautiful photograph, such as those recently taken by Pak Idrus in one his recent postings.

Tanjung Balau may have once been a laidback fisherman's village with the tropical jungle (and perhaps swamps) bordering its interiors. Then, it could have looked like many of the coastal villages of the Johor waters. But now, the village is nowhere to be seen. Well, at least, not from where I was. Instead, in the middle of an open ground just beside the beach, stand a RM5.9 million Fisherman's Museum. Had I not been told of the Museum, I would have thought it was just another government office complex. Another thing I was informed about the museum, it receives very few visitors to justify its presence. Apart from the locals, the only human presence are of the nearby Felda settlers, and Singaporeans on holidays. Malaysian tourists, it seems, only come trickling few as the beach is quite way out, a local informed Aje. A surprising thing, however, is the presence of lifeguards here then.

When I first saw it from afar, I had thought it was a small lighthouse and did not think much about it. But when as had to park quite near the building, I was slightly amused to find that 'Baywatch', is alive and well in Malaysia (minus the babes). In fact, later, when I was walking on the beach, the personnel there sounded their siren to warn some other visitors from straying too far seaward.
Well, the trip though short, was quite worth it for me. As mentioned earlier, perhaps in May or June, I may bring my Emak and her sister, Makcik Yam, down to Desaru for a short break. This trip, may have been a recce of sorts for it then. If it does happen, insyAllah, it will certainly be more than the 2nights my Emak had planned for. Travelling with the elderly, one has to take into consideration of their body aches on long drives. Talking of which...

Driving a 4WD for the first time in my life, I found it quite enjoyable as the drive was made easy when compared to a normal car. However, I do have one small gripe about 4WD: the manufacturers, ought to put more comfortable seats especially for the driver. Even before reaching back home, my rear was feeling kind of sore.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tis The Season....Again!

Yup! The new season has started already, and several houses in the neighbourhood have put up their tents and what not. Soon, the crowd will arrive, and the music begins. And the tale of a near frightful affair for cakapaje.


I thought I had landed myself in deep shit. No kidding! It all began when the family of an elderly lady called and said that a ring has been bought for me. I however, did not give it much thought till about 2 weeks later, when the family came for a 2night stay. Living in Alor Setaq, the family's visit was actually to welcome home the elderly lady from Haj. Then it hit me like "Oh oh! This is something serious!".

Anyway, when the family arrived, I was not in, coming back only late at night. When I walked into the house, the elderly lady and the family was about to retire for the night but delayed it on my accounts. And soon, we were happily talking away. That is, until I was shown the ring.
Nothing special, they said, as it was a token of affection. It does not matter to me actually, as I was never a 'ring' kind of guy. And just about then, the parents told me about her, their daughter.

She, the parents said, can be quite an animal (not literally, mind you), and do not take easily to strangers. I just kept on smiling but my mind went like "oh oh! Where are we going from here?"
As though they read my mind, the elderly lady put it to me softly.

It seems, the parents will have to be away for a short spell and would like me to look after their daughter. In my mind, I yelled immediately "A Tigress Snare!". I mean, one don't just place their daughter under someone's care unless its for...marriage? But off course, being the polite host, I just smiled and nodded. I then asked to see the daughter, in line with custom of the society. Unfortunately, the daughter was already asleep in the bedroom upstairs. Thus, I reluctantly agreed to wait till morning.

Early next morning, the moment I had anxiously waited for arrived. Even before she was brought down, I had already smelt her smelling like roses. Well, like shampoo and soap mixed together actually. But then, with a lady, one is not supposed to say that, should one?

Anyway, soon, there we were, face to face. Initially, she was rather shy and kept turning away from me. But after some sweet words, she took to me like, well, a tigress! "Don't take kindly to strangers, huh?" my mind went as I recall the parents words. And like a tigress, she soon helped herself, marking me her scent onto me with her drool! I was, like almost wet at the shoulders! Like any man with a conscience, my heart soon melt and I gave in to her.
Cute little things, isn't she? And on the right of the picture below, is the elderly - my Emak's younger sister.

The ring, it seems, does not fit.

Feeling Like A Fool

I'm beginning to feel like the village fool, I am. Not for any reason, but it suddenly dawned on me that its a rather stupid thing to be putting up the pictures I've been taking. Its like, I'm the only one who knows how to take a pretty picture or two. That, and the fact that its as though cameras are a real novelty when almost any Tom would have one. Some, even have two! And that does not include those expensive accessories they tot around with them, making Aje look like a bigger fool. But sigh...if I can't be Someone's fool (that is with a capital 'S', mind you), than at least I can be the camera's. And when you think about those fools who were fooling around with the people's money somewhere in Shah Alam, I'm not so bad after all.

I read somewhere but can't be sure where (now I'm not only a fool, but senile as well!), one of the Chief Executive Officers of a water supply company earns something like RM400,000 plus per month. I mean, that's like wow!

Had not the PR Selangor State Government's initiative to bring back the water supply under its control, the people could have been fooled further as there were plans (prior to March 2008) to increase the water tariff in the state, citing rising expenditure cost. Huh? OK, perhaps the CEO and the management team is asking for more perks which by the way, the monthly pay quoted above is not inclusive of any (perks). Its good that PR won. Otherwise, the CEO and his company, instead of providing service to the people of Selangor, were leeching them dry. Literally! Hmm...talking about leeching.

2 days ago, I went for a traditional medicine treatment in Taman Tun Dr Ismail. The treatment, quite similar to leeching (for medical purposes), and can be found within the annals of Islamic history. In trying to find a hadith for this, I instead found this blog here which some may find useful for them. This one and only entry in the blog, is dated May 2008, and it may be wiser for one to call the number there if one is interested.

Anyway, in wanting to rid of a childhood problem that has persisted, I was recommended to this 'AKUBEKAM' here. Nice set-up they have there, but I think I may need to go to another of their centre as I am not too comfortable with one of their consultants.

Now, I have had 2 'bekam' (blood letting or cupping) treatments before. One, was by a Chinese medicine man in Malacca but who has since migrated to Germany. The other, was by an elderly Malay gentleman in Ampang who was reputed to have been a Jungle Scout for our Army Commando units. And now with this latest, I found out that each have their own techniques as well as apparatus to treat patients. The recent treatment, despite the consultant mentioned, was far more pleasant than the previous two. And though I am feeling much better now, it was not so soon after the treatment.

After having drained a fair amount of blood from my body, I found myself woozy and soon as I got back home, took a nap. But upon waking up, I suddenly found I had a ravishing appetite that had me consuming more than double than my daily diet. Now that, is another thing which may prevent me from going for a follow-up treatment, as close friends may testify, for my physique, I really do not eat much at all! Unless, off course, the food is too good to be left alone by itself. But I guess, that pretty much is the same for almost everyone.

Back to the 'bekam', I am, trying my level best, to convince my Emak to follow suit to treat her rashes as well as her high blood pressure which of late, seem to affect her more often than before. Think I may have succeeded as she has agreed to go sometime next week. But knowing her, she may just pull out at the last minute. Sigh.

Lastly, as befitting the title of this entry, I do hope the song below bring smiles to listeners. Which reminds me, I do find the need to visit Pok Ku, and to listen to his collection of Eva Cassidy, a recording artiste I have been fortunate to listen to with courtesy of Pok Ku himself, off course.