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!)